Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mapp: Biometrics on the Payroll Horizon


Salaries and wages for more than 500 employees are a major cost for the city, including $14.8 million for police and $9.7 million for fire personnel.

Allegations of time-sheet cheating reminded  Plaintalker that in 2010 the City Council asked for a biometric system, which the administration of former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs rejected.

From May 2010: 

--The administration withdrew a resolution to hire Automatic Data Processing to provide time, attendance and payroll services after council members asked for a biometric system rather than a time clock plan to replace an outmoded manual human resources management system. The issue came up on May 3 and the governing body was told there might be objections from unions over biometrics. But council members said they want to get the latest system if there is to be a conversion.

In July 2010, the city issued a Request for Proposals for a biometric system. In 2012 a new payroll system was approved, but it was not biometric.

Biometric systems use a person's actual characteristics such as fingerprints, iris or facial scans or even "hand geometry" to record work time and attendance. ADP, one of the largest providers of payroll services, explained the rationale for use of biometrics in a 2008 publication that cited cost savings as the main factor. One element is the elimination of "buddy-punching," or the ability of one employee to sign in or out for another.

Mayor Adrian O. Mapp spoke in favor of biometrics when he was council president in 2012. Asked for a comment Tuesday, he said he is a "big proponent" of biometrics time and attendance systems.

"Rest assured that biometrics will be coming to the City, in the not too distant future," Mapp said. "This is an administrative decision that does not need approval from collective bargaining units. The process is already in motion to make this a reality. My administration will continue to work on improving processes and putting better controls and greater safeguards in place for the benefit of our customers."

--Bernice

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

PPD Sergeant, Lieutenant Indicted



The headlines went up online line yesterday and will most likely be in print today - Sgt. Leslie Knight and Lt. James Abney have been indicted on official misconduct, conspiracy and theft charges.

Knight has been very active in community affairs, most recently the back-to-school event in August.
Photo: AWARDING FORMER MAYOR SHARON ROBINSON BRIGGS FOR A LIFETIME COMMITMENT IN SERVICING THE PLAINFIELD COMMUNITY!
Facebook
Abney was recently named coordinator of the Office of Emergency Management. He also succeeded Knight on the Planning Board.

The outcome of the cases remain to be seen, but it is disappointing to see two sworn officers indicted. They run the risk of being barred from public employment, a fate previously suffered by former Detective Richard Brown, once a mayoral bodyguard, who was charged in 2009 with with stealing more than $8,000 in PBA funds while serving as treasurer of the organization. Police Officer Samad Abdel, once the division's gang expert, was barred from public employment after pleading guilty in 2007 to official misconduct for his part in an insurance fraud scheme.


Here is Monday's press release from the Union County Prosecutor's Office
:
Plainfield police officials indicted on official misconduct, conspiracy, theft charges 



A Union County grand jury has returned a 39-count indictment against two Plainfield Police Division officials accused of stealing a combined total of more than $11,000 by repeatedly filing fraudulent timesheets for overtime and extra-duty work shifts, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Monday. 

Plainfield Police Sgt. Leslie Knight, 44, and Lt. James Abney, 46, each has been charged with second-degree official misconduct, second-degree engaging in a pattern of official misconduct,
second-degree conspiracy, third-degree tampering with public records, numerous third- and fourth-
degree charges of theft by deception, fourth-degree falsifying government records, and several related offenses.

An intensive, months-long investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Unit and the Plainfield Police Division’s Internal Affairs Unit revealed that Knight allegedly billed the City of Plainfield for more than 30 overtime and extra-duty shifts she worked during times in which she
was also being paid for regular, on-duty work, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor
John Esmerado, who is prosecuting the case. The amount of illegally obtained payment claimed by
Knight totaled more than $6,800 during the 2012 and 2013 calendar years, Esmerado said.

The investigation revealed that Abney engaged in similar criminal conduct in 2012 and 2013, when he served as a sergeant and later as a lieutenant, according to Esmerado. In his case, those actions yielded more than $4,200 in illegally obtained pay, Esmerado said. 

Knight and Abney both served as ranking officers, to whom other officers would report regularly, during the time in which they are alleged to have illegally billed the City, Esmerado added. The pair also on several occasions allegedly signed off on each other’s fraudulent overtime or off-duty timesheets, and Knight oversaw the administration and scheduling of extra-duty work for the entire Division during the time she was orchestrating the alleged scheme. At one point, the indictment
against Knight alleges, she signed in to the Division’s payroll system under another Division
employee’s username in order to secure payment for her own fraudulent work claims.

The charges against Knight and Abney were issued via summons on Monday, and both are
expected to travel to Elizabeth for criminal processing early this week. Convictions on second-
degree crimes typically result in penalties of 5 to 10 years in state prison, while third-degree offenses typically result in terms of 3 to 5 years. Convictions in this case additionally would result
in Knight and Abney being permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey. 

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven
guilty in a court of law.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

On the Nov. 4 General Election

The first signs up at Democratic Headquarters were for three school board candidates. Interesting, considering board elections are supposed to be nonpartisan.

The Nov. 4 Democratic roster includes Cory Booker for U.S. Senate, Bonnie Watson Coleman for the 12th Congressional District, Union County candidates for surrogate, sheriff and three freeholder seats, and also three City Council seats. I guess signs will follow.

The state Division of Elections web site is very informative. It is a good resource for voters as well as anyone running a campaign. The Election Information part is fascinating. Candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives are running under 49 slogans, including "Bullying Breaks Hearts," "Politicians Are Crooks" and "We Deserve Better." We have all heard of dark horse candidates, but who knew there is a candidate named Dark Angel running for a seat in the Tenth Congressional District?

One very sad fact was that the voter turnout for the June primary was only 8 percent statewide. In Union County, it was just 11 percent.

The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 4 general election is Tuesday, Oct. 14. City Clerk Abubakar Jalloh has announced special hours:

THE DEADLINE FOR REGISTERING TO VOTE IN THE NOVEMBER 4, 2014 GENERAL ELECTION IS TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2014. IN ORDER TO ACCOMMODATE LAST MINUTE REGISTRANTS, THE CITY CLERK’S OFFICE HAS SCHEDULED MORNING AND EVENING VOTER REGISTRATION HOURS FOR OCTOBER 14TH.

ON THAT DAY, THE OFFICE WILL BE OPEN FROM 6:00 AM TO 9:00 PM.

THE CITY CLERK’S OFFICE IS LOCATED ON THE FIRST FLOOR OF CITY HALL, 515 WATCHUNG AVENUE. REGISTRANTS MAY ALSO VISIT THE CITY’S WEBSITE TO DOWNLOAD A VOTER REGISTRATION FORM AT


HTTP://WWW.PLAINFIELDNJ.GOV/DOCS/VOTERREGAPP.PDF


Propagating Yarrow

Yes, there is an election coming soon, but for me, this time of year is all about next year's garden.

One of the plants I wanted to propagate was the white Yarrow that came to the garden by way of my neighbor's packet of wildflowers two years ago. The Calendulas and Cosmidium did not reappear, but the Evening Primrose, Sweet Alyssum, Catchfly and Yarrow did. I'm not sure why these were touted as wildflowers - to me, they are mostly regular garden flowers.
Anyway, I cut off the flat panicles of Yarrow once they had dried out and tried to separate the seeds from the flower heads. The seeds (upper right) were tiny, gray with white edges, and very hard to pick out from the chaff.
I managed to get quite a few separated. Then somewhere I read about how easy it is to divide Yarrow. Back to the garden with my Japanese hori-hori knife.

Soon I had four clumps of Yarrow instead of one. I cut them way back and planted them, trusting the autumn rains to bring back their ferny foliage.
 Success! The white flowers are Sweet Alyssum, which is also having a resurgence after being cut back. 

Yarrow also comes in many lovely pastel colors. If you have some and want more, divide them now and you'll be rewarded next summer. Fall is a great time for neighborhood plant swaps, too.

I know gardening is not as fascinating as Plainfield politics, but it is a great way to lose oneself in nature and forget about Democrats' inhumanity to Democrats for a while.

--Bernice


Saturday, September 27, 2014

City Liquor Licenses Dwindling

I'm told the denial of an appeal for Arlington Liquors for the 2013-14 term and the license renewal denial for the 2014-15 term means the license is now defunct.

That reduces the city's number of liquor establishments to 32, according to the City Clerk's office. (The number may be even lower, as one license was listed twice on the June 16 agenda.)

The number had been as high as 38 at one time, exceeding a state formula for numbers of liquor establishments by population. Those which preceded passage of the formula were "grandfathered" and allowed to remain in business.

Arlington Liquors was regarded by many as the bane of the neighborhood when it was on Randolph Road near Arlington Avenue and continued to have problems after it relocated at city expense to West Front Street near Clinton Avenue. Police reported 80 violations even after owner Vadrajan Naicken was ordered to take special measures, including security cameras and guards, to deter crime.

Council members have long complained about problems associated with certain liquor establishments. Most recently, Councilman William Reid has been outspoken about the effect of some on neighborhoods. Issues have included sales to underage persons, public intoxication, loitering, public urination, littering, fights, drug activity and attacks on intoxicated individuals in the vicinity of bars or liquor stores. When the number of social club licenses dropped from five to four, the council decided not to grant any new ones.

At the same time, the city has many responsible license holders who do business without any problems.

City license fees are currently $2,500 annually, except $188 for social clubs. All are subject to stringent state regulations as noted in Chapter 4 of the Municipal Code and the ABC Handbook.

--Bernice

Friday, September 26, 2014

On Passing of Joann Hollis

Condolences to Council President Bridget Rivers and her family on the passing of her sister, Housing Authority Commissioner and former Councilwoman Joann Hollis.

Joann was devoted to Plainfield and left a great legacy of service to her community.

--Bernice

Thursday, September 25, 2014

No Internet!

My internet connection failed Wednesday night, so i was unable to post anything. I am promised a FiOS installation Friday, so maybe I can resume by the evening. Sorry for the interruption. I am using the Plainfield Public Library wi-fi right now.

--Bernice