Sunday, March 1, 2015

Scaled-Back Fiestas Up for Consideration

Fiestas that are popular with participants but not so much with residents are proposed this year with earlier music cutoffs and more consideration for downtown merchants.

The resolutions are on Monday's agenda and if a council consensus approves, will be up for a vote on March 9. The meeting is 7:30 p.m. in Municipal Court.

Nightclub owner Edison Garcia is seeking use of city parking lots on two holiday weekends, one in July celebrating U.S. Independence Day and the other in September billed as "Outdoor Fiesta," but on a weekend traditionally marking Central American Independence.

Garcia began the fiestas in 2009 on parking lots 8 and 8A behind stores on East Front Street between Somerset Street and Watchung Avenue. Another night club owner followed suit with fiestas in a city parking lot across Watchung Avenue and even proposed a downtown rodeo, which was denied. The two nightclub owners began competing for favored weekends in September.

While the events attracted thousands of visitors to Plainfield, they also displaced shopper parking and included amplified music that residents said could be heard a mile away.

Over the years, the council approved the fiestas only with increasing restrictions on noise, imposition of fees, demands for police presence and rules for beer sales. For 2015, the events will begin at 1 p.m., with music to cease at 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 6 p.m. on Sundays, in contrast to 11 p.m. closings in the past. The City Council approved a $2,500 per day fee for the fiestas in 2012 and also began requiring greater police presence due to the size of the crowds. The proposed resolutions for Garcia's fiestas stipulate that all equipment debris and litter must be removed, and all vendors must obtain city permits..

Garcia wants to hold his first fiesta on July 4, 5 and 6 and the second on Sept.11, 12 and 13.


Electronic Packet!

A snowy day is perfect for all you meeting mavens out there to explore the new electronic packet for Monday's meeting. Just click here and choose the date, March 2
The entire 163-page packet will appear!

Third-time Charm for Fleet Manager?

City Council activities resume Monday with an agenda-fixing session that includes yet another pitch for the twice-rejected "manager motors" position and salary.

Mayor Adrian O. Mapp brought up the plan for one person to be in charge of all city vehicles in January, but the council rejected proposed ordinances to establish the title and salary.

Mapp called a special meeting on Jan. 26, at which both ordinances passed on first reading. The vote followed explanations by Personnel Director Karen Dabney and Public Works Director Eric Watson on the rationale for the new title. The city's  vehicle fleet is worth $7.1 million and at present various employees earning a total of $322,000 are monitoring it.

But at an agenda-fixing session on Feb. 9, a council majority declined to move the ordinance to the regular meeting for a final vote. Readers may recall that the Feb. 2 agenda-fixing session was canceled due to bad weather and the council held a marathon double meeting on Feb. 9.

The flip-flop was perceived by some to be based on behind-the-scenes politicking by Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Green, whose allies on the council dominate. Green supported Mapp for election in 2013 against incumbent Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, but the tables turned soon after Mapp's win. Mapp led the progressive "New Democrats" political club for several years and was often in opposition to the Regular Democratic Organization led by Green. After winning in November, Mapp faced a council majority of Green backers who blocked some of his initiatives and Green explicitly condemned  Mapp in a citywide mailing.

Another issue for some was the perception that the job was being created for a specific person. In addition, Councilman Cory Storch voted "no" because his questions to the administration were not fully answered.

Now the ordinances are once again up for introduction on first reading. The hurdles again include gaining a consensus to be put up for a vote at the regular meeting. Then if passed on first reading at the March 9 meeting, the process of consent at the April 6 meeting and passage on April 13 would be necessary for them to take effect 20 days later. That's four steps to go in what is now Round Three.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Housing Headache for "Head of Housing"?

Who hasn't heard from Assemblyman Jerry Green that he is "head of housing"?

Last year, he told residents of Liberty Village that he is "head of housing in the whole state of New Jersey." His point was that any decisions regarding housing need his sign-off.
So how embarrassing is it when his running mate in recent years hits the headlines with what the press dubs a "scandal" over housing funds meant to rebuild homes after Hurricane Sandy. She has since stepped out of the 2015 Assembly race, leaving Green to seek a new running mate with the March 30 filing date looming.

The situation led to speculation by PolitickerNJ that Legislative District 22 may now be in turmoil.

March is indeed coming in like a lion as far as the political climate is concerned. Will Green's leadership shepherd it to an "out like a lamb" finish by March 30?

Meanwhile, the housing ploy is now the subject of an investigation by the state Attorney General's office, according to a press report.

The residency issues in this case bring to mind similar questions that came up in 2006 regarding a former mayor's status. A judge ruled that the questions came up too late and anyway the mayor, a Green protege, met the four-year residency requirement by living in Plainfield at various times over eight years.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Muslim Program Draws Large Crowd

Wednesday's program on Islam in American History attracted a full house, mostly Muslims, and was very well organized. I decided to be there not as a blogger but as someone enjoying a cultural event. Much of the information had to do with the origins of the Nation of Islam and the transition of many to the Islamic faith observed worldwide.

Maxine Salaam, a primary organizer of the event, said she hopes to bring other such events to the community in coming months with the goal of increasing awareness and understanding of the Muslim community in Plainfield.

I learned a lot about the Muslim community as a reporter covering Plainfield from 1987 through 2003. I knew many of the individuals whose names were called Wednesday for their accomplishments. Plainfield's diversity is one of its main attractions for many residents and programs such as the one Wednesday help us get to know our various communities.

Please take a look at the two lists below - maybe you know some of these names as well.


First Plainfield Muslims (Posthumous)

As part of a program Wednesday presented by Masjidullah, Muslims in Plainfield were honored for being first in their fields or making significant contributions to the community.


Mr. Frank Ware & Mr. William Anderson were both of the first African American Muslims to help establish as a business the “Steak - N –Take and a Grocery Store on Plainfield Ave and W. 4th St. in the early 1970’s.  It has been stated that there was an Ice Cream Parlor within that business which was also a first among AA Muslims to be established.
Mr. James Robinson aka James Ali is revered as the” vessel” through which Islam came to the city of Plainfield” as early as 1957.  Documentation in a booklet authored by Mr. Jaami Sharif indicated James Ali as working in partnership with an Auto Service Station called, The Hyway Esso and later on named, Exxon located on the corner of South Ave. and Scott St.   James Ali later relocated from that business and in 1982 set up his own auto repair operation.

Mr. James Anderson aka Saleem Shakir is referred as the 2nd of the first earlier AA Muslims to help spread Islam in the Plainfield community in the late 1950’s.  He is also known to be responsible for bringing many newcomers into the teachings of the Nation of Islam within the Plfd.  area.
It is noteworthy to mention at this time that the late Malcolm X aka Minister Malcolm/ Al Hajji Malik Shabazz  from the Nation Of Islam named;  James Robinson, James Anderson and James D.Laws as the 3 James Brothers; King James, Jesse James and Frank James.

Mr. John Roney and Mr. Robert Bailey are also known as early trailblazers starting up as Barbershop owners in Plainfield as first AA Muslims.  Mr. Roney’s located on Grant Ave between S. 2nd and 3rd St. and  Mr. Bailey’s shop located on ????

Mr. Brad Reed aka Rasheed Abdul-Haqq is stated in a blog; Plainfield Today of 2/2015; He is remembered for operating a limo service which made runs within the NY and NJ airports.  Fortune 500 companies utilized his services for many of their visiting executives.

In the blog, Doc’s Potpourri posted, Rasheed as a true citizen and civic servant interested in its youth and general betterment of the city.  He forced the city to repaint and refurbish the railroad bridges in Plfd and served diligently on the Board of Ed.

The Plaintalker II , another blog stated the words of Rasheed Abdul Haqq as being posted on the Cafeteria Walls of P.H.S. which sums up our program presentation this evening.
   His words read “Every Journey Starts With The First Step.  Fulfillment Of  A Wonderful Destiny     Must Have A Beginning – So…….Start Now!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"First" Muslims in Plainfield

As part of a program Wednesday presented by Masjidullah, Plainfield Muslims who were first in their fields or made contributions to the community were honored. Please also see a posthumous list in a second post

Plainfield Community Muslims Setting a Historical Precedent

Ms. Deborah Celestine

First African American Muslim Woman to serve as Vice Principal of Plainfield High School (2007-2012)

Mr. Ernest Wiggins, aka Ernest Shakir
 First African American Muslim having established an auto body repair shop known as Wiggins Auto Body and also 1 of the 3 first AA Muslims to set up Temple #80 on 4th and Grant Ave., now known as Masjidullah

Dr. Asayah Aquil aka Elaine Thomas
First AA Muslim from Plainfield and of the Graduation Class  of P.H.S. 1972 to establish a Chiropractor Office in Newark.

Mrs. Faheemah El-Amin
First AA Muslim to be elected Councilwoman in Plfd. (1990) and also established Faheemah’s Childcare Center in 1984

Mr. Guy Wallace
One of the 3 first AA Muslims to manage and establish a Steak N Take Out on the corner of 4th and Plfd. Ave. (1973-1977)

Mr. Hassan Abdur-Rashid aka Salaam
First AA Muslim in 1987-2006 to establish and own a Fresh Fish  and Fish Take Out called, The Salaam Fish Market once located on Grant Ave. and S. 2nd St.

Mr. Herman Austin
First AA Muslim to serve in the Plfd. Fire Dept in 1980.

Ms. Jamillah Curtis aka Ernestine Evans
First AA Muslim Woman to acquire a license and certification as
a Black Seal Fireman (1983-2001) as well as establishing Quamarah’s Natural  Hair Care business located on Pearl St. and Watchung (2001)

Mr. Jaami Sharif aka James D. Laws
One of the 3 first AA Muslims to establish the Temple#80 (NOI) in 1970 now known as Masjidullah located on 4th and Grant Ave.

Mr. John Muhammad aka John Austin
One of the first of 2 AA Muslims in 1980 to serve in the Plfd. Police Dept. for 28 yrs and also from the 1974 Graduating Class of PHS

Mr. Linward Cathcart

One of the early first of AA Muslims serving to help establish Temple #80 in The Nation of Islam in Plfd.

Ms. Mahasin El-Amin
First AA Muslim Woman to join and serve as a Police Officer in this Plainfield community (2005)

Dr. Maryam Suluki
First AA Muslim Woman to establish a Dental Office/Practice in the city of Plfd located on 8th and Crescent Ave. and also on 9th just around the corner from this Public. Library

Mr. Mustapha 
First AA Muslim to be nominated as a candidate for the Plainfield Office of Mayor in 2013

Mr. Rashad Porterfield aka Rashad Shabazz
First AA Muslim to establish a transportation service in Plfd. in 
1980 with the business name Amaker&Porterfield Transporta-
tation Service. In 1994 established a Medical Transport Ser-
vice and the owner of the A & P Driving School in 1998

Mr. Siddeeq El-Amin
One of the first 2 AA Muslims to serve on the Plfd. Police Force in 1980 and then in later years promoted to Captain of the

Mr. Yusuf Bilal aka Joe Tucker
First AA Muslim of Plfd. to be inducted as a Martial Arts Black Belt of Tae Qwan Do Hall of Fame in Korea. He is also one of the early members to help establish Temple#80 in 1970 now Masjidullah

Mr. Yusuf El-Amin

First AA Muslim and a former resident of Plfd. 1979-1988 to be a member of the N.J. Highway Patrol in 1977 and then on to serve as a State Trooper in 1981 and promoted as a Captain of the N.J. State Police in 1997.