Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Commentary On The 2-6

As an observer of Plainfield politics since 1983, I can attest that things can get as wild and woolly here as in any major city across the state. The size of the prize doesn't even matter sometimes, as witness the recent kerfuffle over a single voting district containing less than 3 percent of the city's registered Democrats.

A resident who agreed to fill in a vacancy on the Democratic City Committee duly filed petitions to be elected this year for a full two-year term. Cue the theme from Jaws here as a state official who lives in the district (one of 68 citywide) decided he wanted the seat and put the strong-arm on the local chairman to make it happen.

The incumbent resident was asked to step aside. He agreed, but then felt aggrieved. After all, he was quite active on the local level, so much so that he and his wife were being honored this month for their support of a major cultural institution.

He asked this blogger for space to tell his story. No sooner did it hit the blogosphere than it got more page views than the total of registered Democrats in the voting district in question. It went on to garner nearly triple that number of page views.

For whatever reason, the state official withdrew himself from running for the district seat. Maybe he thought the reaction over his move would reflect badly on his run for re-election to state office this year. Maybe his action made the slate, with a gubernatorial candidate at the top, look bad. Perhaps the threat of a write-in landslide by the wronged person's friends played a role.

As in most political brouhahas, it's not over until it's over. What is the status of the original filer now? Will his friends write him in to show their distaste, or skip voting for re-election of the state official in his own hometown?

I conclude with the words of the person who was asked to step aside, yet forgave the local chairman and even pledged support to his re-election campaign:

"I am convinced that side deals will only continue to erode our already fractured and fragile system. I am taking the opportunity of what has transpired with me these past few weeks, to once again ask for a more civil political discourse where we honor and respect differences as a bridge to a better future for all of our citizens."


  1. If Plainfield is going to truly succeed in its quest of a renaissance it will have to make peace with the county. Just look at the success Elizabeth has had.

    Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage and State Senator and Dem Chair Ray Lesniak made peace years ago. And Elizabeth has reaped the award – whether the expansion of Union County College or the large influx of investment monies.

    Plainfield is indeed different from Elizabeth, and we don’t necessarily want to become like Elizabeth. But our infighting has cost us - it has stifled us.

    As the Mapp administration attempts to “bring the bacon home” from the County, (and we are certainly do ours as we deliver the votes), it will have to give the County a seat at the table. It will need to form a coalition and show true leadership. An example of this occurred recently and unfortunately it wasn’t pretty. But there were no side deals - just lots of big personalities.

    And it’s wrong Bernice to make innuendos that the “state official” violated election laws - that is not true. And just as Jeannette Criscione circulated her petition in her neighborhood for the committee seat so did Jerry Green. It’s public record.

    For whatever reasons Mr. Green withdraw his petition - I’m personally happy he recognized he should as he has bigger fish to fry. And the 2nd ward, 6th district will once again be served well by Peter Price. Peter has dedicated his time here in Plainfield volunteering and giving back. And Plainfield is a better place with him in it.

    Jim Spear

    1. "Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage and State Senator and Dem Chair Ray Lesniak made peace years ago. And Elizabeth has reaped the award...", or in other words, the Mapp/Green/Price fiasco was all for the benefit of the Queen City and peace with the County.

      But according to the book "Governing Middle-sized Cities" (page 125, published 2000), "Under the tutelage of state senator Raymond Lesniak, the most powerful Democrat in Union County with 'connections reaching to Washington', Chris Bollwage spent ten years planning to wrest the mayoralty, and control of city politics, from [Thomas] Dunn and his faction."

      So spin it any way you want Mr. Spear. Whether it is war or peace, whether recent or out of the primordial ether, this was a cheap political move of miscalculation by two overtly ambitious politicians whose egos can be their own worst enemies.

  2. Plainfield has enough "political games" and we need to have concerned residents and not professional politicians running Plainfield. We've seen what harm those who have been in office, local and state can do to Plainfield. Let's move forward with our city and it's successful future in place.

  3. Without knowing the specific details of this transaction, I think it should be noted that there is nothing illegal or unusual about the Union County Democratic Chairman's request to fill his county committee seat in his hometown. This is the usual procedure in most counties (in both parties) as a courtesy and a recognition of the Chairman. The attempts by some to spin this as evil political maneuvering are uninformed or misguided. As other commenters have pointed out, we have enough big issues to deal with in Plainfield without wasting energy on trivial ones like this.

  4. I know this is off subject to the current post, but in hopes of it being visible I’m posting it here. In response to Bill Kruses’ comment on Muhlenberg. Yes, the deal does seem to have momentum, however, the public community was assured there would be NO housing on that property. If it made sense when it was said over two years ago, it certainly makes sense now. I am very disappointed to say the least. Not only is there a housing component, this particular component opens the door for drug/alcohol rehab, methadone clinics and any other mental disability you can think of including Vets with PTSD (which is the main plan). I promise you this will turn out to be one big group home. Let this happen and come back in 5 years to see the results. Picture Park Hotel on steroids. Bill also mentioned property taxes and the opportunity for the city to collect some taxes. Do we need more properties on our tax roll, absolutely, however don’t forget this project comes with a PILOT. So while we may collect some monies it does come with a negative cost to the quality of life and property value for the surrounding community and it may actually prove to increase the taxes because of the additional services the city may need to provide. Police, fire, public works, etc..

    The city at the insistence of the community should deny any type of housing on this property, especially the “Dwelling Unit” which is code for group home and “Assisted Living Facility – licensed by the DOH. Once this door is open you cannot discriminate on what type of group home or assisted living facility could occupy the space. Combined, the number of units could be close to 600. If the developer feels they can’t do the project without the housing component then let them find somewhere else to build this group home or deny the PILOT. The sad truth is, unless the property was for sale on the open market we will never know what opportunities we could’ve had for that property and our community. I would rather see the property sit vacant than to have the proposed housing, I am not alone in my thinking. This deal is not good for the city and will not benefit the tax payers.

    It’s amazing how the plans of the “powers that be” made sure to overwhelm the community with a significant amount of meaningless meeting design to smokescreen the real plan. Most of us know 600 units of residential rentals was never on the table as a real option. Vets’ with PSTD and other brain trauma and treatment facilities was always the plan. What a waste of tax-payers money and time for all the consultants and studies. Now that the deal is either completed or in the final stages of being completed they decide to hold a community meetings at a location foreign in respect to the other meetings that was held and with very little public notice. I’ am expecting to get at least 3 recorded phone call in respect to Mondays meeting.


    1. Robin you are so confused and disjointed it is amazing. First of all I don't recall the city ever saying there would be "NO" housing component on that property. I recall many citizens being against a housing component - and mainly the prior rumor of 600 some odd apartments (which by the way was never an actual plan but an idea by a developer that whispered into JFK's ear). The current plan is a draft development plan - not an actual plan. There is a difference. This plan allows the city to set parameters and guidelines. The housing component is tiny and from what I understand it has a huge age restricted element (55 and over). The methadone and drug treatment scare tactic of yours is just that since it has been requested that those services not be permissible.

      As for the "meaningless meetings" - those were for the purpose of the consultants understanding the community needs, how the tract functions within the city and future planning etc. There report reflected that information from their research. Per usual you fail to understand that the property is privately owned and the city has to function within the parameters of an open market. Also, a PILOT typically generates more revenue for the city (over the period of the PILOT) than standard tax collection would - the only thing it does is take out any school contribution AND create a graduated fee schedule that ramps up with each year. It is a no-brainer way to incentivize development and growth and does not hurt the city in the least.

      As for the meeting location - where does it say that all meetings have to be held in the same locations or have some relationship to other locations - you are just looking for things to complain about. Also - the meeting was moved from this week to next week just so proper notice could be provided to the public. Your posts would be much more effective if they were 1) based in some fact and 2) didn't have a so much baseless complaining about nonsense like the location. By the way - have you fixed PMUA yet? Have you gotten the costs down so they are aligned with other cities the size of Plainfield? Guessing the answer is no.

    2. I was expecting your comment so I’m not surprise by your stance and your need to protect and defend. I can see why it’s easy for you to say my comment is just a scare tactic since you don’t live in the immediate area or maybe you don’t even live in Plainfield at all. And yes it was verbally said there would be NO housing on that property (do I need to call people out) and please don’t try to make it seem as if I don’t know what I’m speaking of. As we all know, I haven’t missed one public meeting concerning that property and have been very much involved.What you should do instead of trying to discredit me is walk the neighborhood and ask any homeowner how they feel and I guarantee you their fear is real even without my input. How about this, why don’t I just post the proposal from CHA (the selected developer) along with all the questions asked by the RFP committee and CHA’s answers and let the residents decide if there is reason to be nervous. What seems disjointed is your comment of the PILOT generating more income over the period of the PILOT. I believe the specifics of a PILOT has been mention and explained enough times that we all get it and most of us well versed on it by now. Please stop trying to convince us that offering this developer a PILOT and maybe a Redevelopment Area Bond is more financially sound than having this privately owned property assessed at the current tax rate. Your jab about the PMUA, is that suppose to scare me into silence? What it does is makes you look like a conniving tormenter.

    3. "PILOT typically generates more revenue for the city (over the period of the PILOT) than standard tax collection would". how do I go about getting a PILOT on my property. Since they pay more to the city in the long run.

    4. Robin - first of all, there is no proposal from CHA - this development plan was requested by and paid for by the City at the request of the Planning Board. There is no formal proposal from CHA that I have heard of and I don't think the state has even approved a purchase.

      And the PMUA comment was intended for you to realize that you have your own projects to work on that you have complained and moaned about - but my bet is that you do nothing but kick the can down the road and show you are all talk and no action.

      By the way - why do you always have to threaten to expose people? Thats just really strange and a touch creepy. And considering your shaky history with details and facts, probably not smart for you to do.

    5. How soon some forget. From TAP Into Plainfield, March 4th:

      "City officials met with JFK Health System, the owners of the site, on a monthly basis; consultants were hired and a committee was formed. The city then received six RFPs, and picked Community Healthcare Associates, LLC, or CHA, to develop the site that includes 200K square feet with healthcare components, or what was described as a medical mall with healthcare.

      Providers have not yet been identified, but CHA now has site control, and can solicit potential healthcare tenants.

      According to its website, 'Community Healthcare Associates, LLC (CHA) is a healthcare real estate developer that specializes in re-purposing medical facilities.'"

    6. No proposal from CHA? Who has the property under contact? CHA didn’t submit a RFP with anticipated use? Is that not a proposal? First if you stand by what you’re saying sign your name and don’t hide behind Anonymous, I may be a little more giving if I knew that I was communicating with someone that had some real knowledge, otherwise your rant is just that and I find no validity in what you’re saying. Were you at the last planning board meeting? FYI, I never moaned or complained about PMUA, I’m proud that we (us folks) created such an entity, and for the record, I have always supported it a hundred percent. No housing on the Muhlenberg site means just that. NO HOUSING OF ANY KIND! So stop trying to piss on my head and tell me it raining. BWT – for the benefit of community, some people and things need exposing.

    7. And CHA requires the right to have a certain number of dwelling units/apartments or the project won’t make sense. But how many units will make sense?

  5. Our system is broken and factured. We are no longer a 2 party system, the D and R Machines are ignoring the unaffiliated voters. We need to allow their vote in the primary process so that we can engage that voting group.

    Unfortunately we have a line that decide who will be on the ticket from a smallest percentage in years and we have many that are disenfranchised with Electoral Process and do not vote.

    1. Unaffiliateds can have a say by declaring a party at the polls. They can also file on June 6 and automatically get on the November ballot for any office.

    2. Much of the problem is some people don't understand the process. Some people only see what they want to see and spew negativity. Some people only see half the picture, make a wrong conclusion and spread it as gospel. Some people can be blindly led. I wish people would become critical common sense thinkers and have an overwhelming desire to make Plainfield a better place.
      Nancy Jordan

    3. I am well aware of the process that you can becomes a member of the major parties on primary day.

      The point is that we do not see outreach from either parties try to bring them into the fold and grow the base,

      There is a very large group of unaffiliated that have been disenfranchised with the process during the last election.

      How do we move forward, you rarely hear a rally cry to bring them back home to the major parties.

      Unaffiliated are growing and want their voices heard, we can not ignore that percentage of votes.

      We the People, not just Democrats and Republicans are part of the process.

    4. According to the Board of Elections, there were 8,158 unaffiliated in Plainfield in May 2012, 8,345 in May 2013, 8,073 in May 2014, 7,992 in May 2015, 8,268 in May 2016 and presently 7,810. Democrats have increased from 11,978 in May 2012 to 14,754 presently. It would appear that Democrats want their voices heard.

    5. Timothy - in a general sense I wouldn't argue with you but in reality your statement is just populist blather that assumes no gray area in people's thinking. Many are unaffiliated because they don't care at all - they didn't care in 1968, 1988 or today and they don't want to be bothered enough to pick a party or vote in general. That is supported by a lack of participation by unaffiliated voters even in general elections - going back many years. Some are certainly not aligned with a party for other reasons but many are just not interested one way or the other.

      Your vitriol would have a little more weight if you weren't just out for your own agenda - your constant spooning with Bridget Rivers is proof of that. She has proven she isn't qualified to be a council person let alone the Mayor. And until recently she was part of Green's machine, right down to her union county data entry job that he got her - not to mention the number of her family employed through Green in one way or the other. She is exactly the kind of politician you should be fighting against - which is why your empty Trump-like generalized outrage is such a turn-off.

    6. Bernice - just another reason why I admire you so much. Thank you for taking the time to do Timmy's research for him. His statements are almost always rantings of emotion and lack of understanding and this is yet another example of the utter lack of facts in his comments.

    7. Thank you Bernice,

      We are not defined by party, but by unity.

      Plainfield deserves higher turnouts in Union County, we need to support, inviting our neighbors to get involved with the process. Ward 4 -3 has over 97% turn out.

      A door to door to campaign to excite and motivate the residents. Last elections we had 23321 registered voters and 14097 cast ballots or 60%
      The more we have voting, gives our area more clout with Elizabeth, Trenton and DC. It is a win-win for everyone.

    8. More like 23,321 registered with 15,075 votes cast - which includes mail-in ballots. Turnout was 65%.

    9. Tim, I'm not sure what numbers you are looking at, or for which election, but as of April 2016 the 4-3 had 862 registered voters (currently 922) and only 305 cast a vote in the presidential election. That's 33%, not 97%. For the uncontested City-At-Large slot it was just 298 votes, up from 187 who cast a ballot for either Rebecca Williams or Tracey Brown in the June primary. That was just shy of 40% of registered Democrats.

      But to your points about unity, motivation, clout, "disenfranchisement", etc., you've made the choice to stay unaffiliated and not participate in the primaries. That's a bit crazy in a town where 62% of registered voters are Democrats, and they outnumber Republicans by a margin of 15-1. It should go without saying that if you want any clout over who runs and who wins, you need to participate in the primary process, even if it means holding your nose. There's always the possibility of an independent running in November, but history shows their candidacies don't fare very well.

      I do know a number of people in town who typically vote Republican on the county, state, and national levels, but many are registered Democrats simply to have some sway on the local electoral scene. And mind you, election turnout stinks nationally. You come into town swinging for the fence, berating officials, reprimanding the masses, but probably should think of being a singles hitter and going for average.

    10. Alan,

      Thank you for catching that, it was 4-5 that had 97% turn out in 11/6/2016.

      The source was UNION County Election results 11/6/2016

      The point was that we have to have UNITY with everyone, too many registered voters unaffiliated, democrats or republicans are not involved but are first to complaining about when something is wrong.

      If we had a stronger turn out, Plainfield would get more respect due to the numbers, as stated 40% or 65%, we need to get to 97% overall. And yes, nationally people are complacent, but that does not make it right, we all need to strive for the best of our community as a whole.

      Yes, I may come out swinging, our government is all about checks and balances. Our first amendment gives up the right for freedom of speech, some may not like what I have to express, but at least I always sign my name to the posts that I right, unlike the majority who attack on the blogs.

      I will leave this chat on a positive note.

      President Barack Obama Farewell Speech 2017
      “Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose”

    11. 35%, based on 862 voters last year, 33% on the 922 currently registered. My mistake.

  6. Timothy lacks an understanding of the primary process here. Unaffiliated voters are just that--UNaffiliated. That basically says that they do not care to participate in a primary either Democrats or Republicans. They prefer to vote in general elections. Why should someone who is not affiliated with the Democratic or Republican party have a say in who the parties choose to represent them? They shouldn't. I am a Democrat, and I don't want Republicans choosing my candidates. I am sure that Republicans feel the same way. Politics 101.

  7. Timothy says, "We the people, not just Democrats and Republicans"? I always thought I was a people? I am glad to hear that the PILOT provides for an escalation. I look forward to seeing the formula. Bill Kruse