Monday, October 24, 2016

Why I Am Voting For Rebecca

Councilwoman Rebecca Williams
Reporters are never supposed to endorse candidates, but because Councilwoman Rebecca Williams is running unopposed, I guess a few words in her favor can't be construed as partisan.

Elected twice to the Second & Third Ward City Council seat, she is now running (on the line, for the first time) for the Citywide at-large seat. She defeated incumbent Councilwoman Tracey Brown in the June primary and is on the ballot in Column A with a roster of Democrats topped by Hillary Clinton for president.

Having observed municipal government in Plainfield for more than thirty years, I have a pretty good notion of what constitutes effective public service. A responsible council member goes through the packet each member receives before a meeting and prepares to support a resolution or ordinance by reading it and asking any necessary questions. If it is unacceptable, the councilperson should be able to state reasons for not approving it. In my opinion, Rebecca understands her role as a legislator.

Rebecca also advocates for community causes through social media and her blogs. She informs herself and does not berate members of the administration over items that are already explained in the packet. She knows Robert's Rules of Order and honors proper procedure in meetings. She is one of the few council members who give committee assignment reports to the full governing body and public.

As the only openly gay council member, she highlights significant dates in the LGBT community to foster understanding citywide and to counter homophobia. She has met attacks on her personal status and beliefs with forbearance, even when the attacks are extreme.

Rebecca celebrates Plainfield's diversity and champions its cultural assets, encourages civic engagement and supports city youth in their aspirations. For all these reasons, she has my vote on Nov. 8.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Casino Question on Nov. 8 Ballot

An off-topic commenter who types in all caps wants you to know about a rumor that a casino is coming to Plainfield. Also I have been deleting numerous emails from another annoying person who wants people to vote "No" on the question.  Today I realized that my nearly life-long aversion to gambling has prevented me from even thinking about this question. I tried to inform myself online with no luck until I came across an overview by Ballotpedia, which includes both sides of the issue. Click on the link below.

 (Allowance for Casinos in Two Additional Counties)

My dislike for gambling comes from seeing its effects on relatives in both my family and my ex-husband's family. It is too easy to get caught up on the fantasy of luck that will solve all your problems. In fact, the gambler often loses much more than he or she ever gains, leading to debt and even prison for taking money to support the gambling habit.

At my 1958 wedding reception when relatives were filing up with envelopes as was the custom, one gambler uncle whispered not to tell his wife that he had taken out some of the gift money! In my family, as a child I felt queasy at the sight of daily racing forms used for betting. Visiting Atlantic City, I had no desire to enter a casino and felt sorry for those mindlessly playing the slot machines. 

The arguments pro and con casino expansion appear to be based mostly on economic considerations.. Look at your sample ballot, read the overview at the link above and vote!

Lot 6 Gets Makeover

A very popular parking lot was among four locations that just received milling and paving with funds left over from a larger road project.

Municipal Parking Lot 6 downtown, Melrose Place and Melrose Avenue in the West End and Academy Street in the East End were refurbished at a cost of $150,000, according to a resolution the City Council passed on Oct. 11. The city had joined the Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council to save costs on road resurfacing and the contractor, Tilcon New York of Piscataway, was able to add the lot and the small streets to its schedule.

City Administrator Rick Smiley said Lot 6 will soon have two pay stations for credit card use and more lights. For a short time while work is being completed, attendants will take parking fees, he said. As of Friday, the paving was complete and striping will follow. (Old-timers will recall when there was a booth and an attendant taking fees before parking meters were installed.)

The parking lot is behind Bill's Luncheonette and other popular East Front Street destinations. Here's how it looked in March 2015:


Footing for Pay Station
Entrance/exit with planter

The parking lot once had an entrance on the west side and exit on the east side. When it was changed to an entrance and exit both on the west side, trucks tended to run over the concrete because the turn off East Second Street was too sharp.   Now it should be easier for delivery trucks and such to make the turn. And I really like the addition of a planter!

I need to do an update on the statistics below, but besides income from parking meters, the city receives income from monthly parking permits. Most of the lots need upgrades. 

Here is a 2009 overview of municipal parking lots.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Art Does the Trick

This traffic control box was one of four in the city to be covered with art in December. This box used to be covered with posters and advertisements, but I realized yesterday the artwork has stayed clean. Well, there was one small stick-on ad for naughty toys that has since been removed.

Read Plaintalker's post on public art here.

Read more about Union County's Art Outside the Box program here.

The first time I visited Seattle, I was amazed by all the public art. It is funded through a 1 percent for art allocation of capital improvement money. Here is the rationale:

The program specifies that 1% of eligible city capital improvement project funds be set aside for the commission, purchase and installation of artworks in a variety of settings. By providing opportunities for individuals to encounter art in parks, libraries, community centers, on roadways, bridges and other public venues, we simultaneously enrich citizens' daily lives and give voice to artists.

Read more about Seattle's Public Art here.

A former chairman of the Plainfield Cultural & Heritage Commission here proposed a plan to set aside $50,000, or about $1 per person in Plainfield for art. The commission ran into problems with appointments a few years ago and lacked members for a while. I believe it still gives grants, though the commission's 2015 budget amount was $27,500.

Next Clean-up on Park Avenue Sunday

Besides cleaning litter, Queen City Pride Plainfield NJ is also taking down illegal signs on poles.

Queen City Pride invites volunteers to join an effort Sunday to clean up Park Avenue from Sloane Boulevard to Seventh Street, up the east side and back down the west side, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The organizers are dubbing it the "Puttin' on the Ritz" campaign, which gave me an instant earworm of the Irving Berlin song. But then the hip-hop dirge "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash took over my brain as I pondered some other urban issues around Park & Seventh.

Anyway, the Oct. 15 turnout was the best yet, organizers said, They are recommending the effort as a way for those who need civic hours for Boy or Girl Scouts, Confirmation or school to gain credits. 

The group now has a Facebook page and has taken down 350 of those ads people post on poles.

Congratulations to all who took part or will join in on Sunday!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

LWV Candidates Forum Wednesday

League of Women Voters 
of Plainfield
Candidates Forum
Wednesday, Oct. 26
7 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.
Plainfield Public Library
Anne Louise Davis Room
800 Park Ave.
Two Third Ward candidates
One Democrat - One Independent
Seeking 1 4-year term

See Candidate Information Here