Monday, May 31, 2010

In the Garden

Lychnis, or Rose Campion, after watering.

You have to get up early to see the flowers of Spiderwort.

Sundrops offer a brief but dazzling display in Spring.

This Purple Coneflower will soon sport big, lovely petals.

Memorial Day Observed

A small crowd gathered at the War Memorial Monday to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The ceremonies included laying a wreath, firing a salute and lowering the flag to half-mast, along with prayers and remarks by officials.

Veterans from the American Legion Johnson-Jeter Post 219 and VFW Post 7474 took part.

Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs praised all who served and those serving now in the military, as well as those who have returned "a little differently than they left us."
The mayor also took the occasion to speak against gun violence in the city, which has seen multiple shootings in recent weeks.
"Put down the guns," she said. "The city of Plainfield is not in a war."
She asked those present to call on anyone they know who is involved in the shootings to "cease and desist."
Emily Washington, past Union County American Legion president, asked those present to give a yellow rose symbolizing peace to any veterans they know.
Veteran John Pritchard rendered an original lyric, "Names Upon the Wall," to the tune of an Elton John song.
World War II veteran Lewis D. Matthews was an honored guest at the ceremony.

Commander Lamar Mackson of American Legion Johnson-Jeter Post 219 and Commander Leroy Sampson of VFW Post 7474 placed a wreath on the memorial.
Asked about confusion over the time of the ceremony, Mackson took the blame for not having sent out a press release, saying he just took the post. One person arrived at 9 a.m. and a couple arrived at 11 a.m., just as the ceremony concluded. The Central Board of Veterans Organizations of Plainfield began the morning with memorial services at 9 a.m. in Evergreen Cemetery and 9:30 a.m. memorial services at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, preceding the 10 a.m. services at the War Memorial.
--Bernice Paglia

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Last Memorial Day, Plainfield Plaintalker reported on ceremonies at the War Memorial and also posted on the memorial erected on the grounds of City Hall. At the suggestion of a reader, I am reposting the latter. Click here to read it.

Let us also think today of the many young men and women who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan alive, but with loss of limbs and other very challenging conditions. They must be taken care of as they try to put their lives back together.

The ceremony last year was at 10 a.m. at the War Memorial. Plaintalker II will endeavor to be there Monday to see whether there is a ceremony this year.


Think Good Thoughts

Random image: Mountain Laurel on Park Avenue.

The days before an election in Plainfield tend to produce some of the unkindest behavior from candidates or their supporters. Wild allegations fly and mud is flung. A past example is the trick in which someone opened a Courier News box in front of City Hall and inserted scurrilous fliers in each newspaper. It was clever in a fiendish way: People may have thought it was part of the newspaper; by doing it in that location, the buzz was magnified by employee gossip; and the claims were so outrageous that they just might have engendered sympathy rather than contempt for the victim. All that for a quarter.

The anticipation of such pranks is enough to make a person paranoid. Is the lack of information on city Memorial Day ceremonies meant to ensure a photo op just for candidates in the know, making others appear insensitive? What else may happen on the final weekend, when the big bombshells are tossed?

The antidote for pre-election malaise may be to ignore all the last-minute volleys. Ballots have been received and there has probably been enough factual material out there so far for voters to have chosen the candidates they favor. So stick to pleasant and positive activities meanwhile and just remember to vote on June 8. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Your polling place is indicated on your sample ballot.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Special BOE Meeting Tuesday

A very small notice in Saturday's Courier News alerts us to a special Board of Education meeting Tuesday, with an executive session and the note that action may be taken.

Neither of my browsers could bring up the district web site this morning, so I don't know whether the meeting is posted there. It is listed for 6:30 p.m. in the Plainfield High School Conference Room, 950 Park Ave.

Once again Blogger has messed with the orientation of my image, which contrasts the legal notice with stamps depicting works of the Abstract Expressionists. People of a certain age (or art enthusiasts of any age) will appreciate these stamps, as they are evocative of a very special, exciting time for artists as they broke all sorts of aesthetic frontiers.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Garden Images

This rose bush was planted by Ned Taylor, a past resident of our building. It comes back every year and reminds our longtime residents of Ned.

Silver dollars (Lunaria) on the way to maturity. If only they were real silver dollars for us cash-strapped folks.

A close-up of a Sundrop. In a group, they are spectacular, though short-lived.
Neighbor Kimilla donated this spectacular lily to the garden.
Every day brings a new story to the garden. We hope you are enjoying your own unfoldings.
--Bernice Paglia

Jerry Thinks Bernice is Dan or Vice Versa

So here is what Jerry wrote in reaction to my blog post:

"On another note, I’ve worked with the Hispanic community and the Mayor to put together a coalition. And I find it very embarrassing for Bernice to make a claim that the Mayor put someone on the committee that does not reside in Plainfield; this is not true. Nevertheless, this is business as usual with Bernice; she is being negative and misleading the public with her inaccurate information that she is posting on her blog. Mrs. Salavarrieta is not a member of the committee. The Mayor just asked her if she would be involved due to her experience in dealing with similar issues. Mr. Ortega agreed that she would be a great asset. Bernice, it is time that you get your information correct. Let’s learn how to be a part of the solution and stop feeding the problem. This initiative did not start yesterday. Some members of this committee, as well as, people from the community have been working for a while in addressing issues that face the Hispanic community in Plainfield."

Jerry, it is time that you get your information correct.

It was Dan Damon, not me, who pointed out the non-residency of Carmen Salavarrieta. I know all us Caucasians look alike, even on the interwebs, but pleeze my man, check the facts. Click here to see what Dan wrote.

Somebody is OUT OF TOUCH with the community.

--Bernice Paglia

"Come on, let's be honest here."

Jerry Green's flier on the primary mentions the Second and Third Ward candidate he is endorsing, Councilman Rashid Burney, and then his "opponent," Rebecca Williams.

To contrast the two (ignoring the third primary contestant, Don Davis), Green cites Burney's accomplishments and then proceeds to attach to Williams some baggage by linking her to the currently notorious Dr. Steve Gallon III. In 2008, Gallon recommended the temporary hiring of Dr. Inez Durham to hold a vacant administrative position. Green links Gallon, Durham and Williams by saying the candidate's "team" benefited from Gallon's tenure.

The use of the term "team" reminds me of the time I had the temerity to interview John Campbell for Plainfield Plaintalker in December 2008 and Green then linked me and Campbell with the McCain-Palin team.

At the time, I wrote: "Tossing out smears against people has become a recurring theme on Green's blog. Because most of his charges are vague and lack factual substantiation, or as in the above case cross lines of confidentiality, they boil down to misguided mudslinging that adds nothing to the public discourse. Having an elected official who behaves this way leads to feelings of disenfranchisement and lack of legitimate representation in the halls of government. Conversely, Green seems blind to the shortcomings of the current administration and therefore cannot address objectively such things as the churn of finance directors since 2006 and the lack of movement on capital projects."

Green's relentless condemnation of Christian Estevez continues in his campaign flyer as well. He calls the former school board member "an embarrassment to Plainfield" and claims Williams' imagined allegiance to Gallon forced her to support Estevez for re-election.

(As usual, Green uses both "embarrassed" and "embarrassment" in his diatribe. Here's a bet you will never lose: Wager that any Green speech will include these words.)

It has been a long-standing practice among the RDOs to create baggage for opponents of those on the party line. But we are not talking about Gucci- or Louis Vuitton-quality baggage that can be proved. We are talking more like what Sir Mix-a-Lot calls "Swap Meet Louie." Just don't let the Green/Mary Pong team sell it to you.

--Bernice Paglia

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How's Things? Not So Grate

As a pedestrian, I am always making sure I don't run afoul of hazards underfoot. Lately I have seen several drainage grates that could be a problem for anyone not looking where they are walking.

Maintenance of these necessary but humble structures seems to be lacking in several spots around the city. Their function is to carry away stormwater, but they have to be properly situated and be free of debris.
A few years ago, three drains behind our building had to be fixed. One works well, one has sunk and the third is full of silt and is overgrown with weeds. Maintenance of these drains seems to be way far down the owner's list of things to do. I have mucked out the silt-filled one a couple of times myself, but given a choice between doing that and hopping the bus to Westfield to go shopping, guess what wins out.

Here's another one on a Connolly property. For some reason, Blogger has re-oriented the image from what appears in my Pictures file, but you get the point. Alongside the drain is a gaping hole that can admit all sorts of debris into the storm drain.
Maintenance seems almost to be a lost art nowadays. Maybe nobody walks around and checks things like faulty grates, or maybe they do and hope nobody notices, lest it affect the bottom line.
My hope is that at least once a year, a property owner walks around the premises with open eyes and takes responsibility for all repairs, even down to the level of storm grates. I for one will be grateful.
--Bernice Paglia

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Demolition Tab Needs Report

It was two months ago that a centerpiece of the North Avenue streetscape was demolished after being declared unsafe.

The 1886 building was torn down in just one day, but work has continued at the site ever since. The debris had to be removed and disposed of, then the excavated basement had to be filled in with big truckloads of soil. And for weeks, workers have painstakingly toiled to seal off a party wall that connected the building to one next door. The wall had to be scraped inch by inch before the surface was sealed.

On April 5, a proposed resolution was titled, "Authorize approval for the emergency procurement for demolition services in excess of $21,000." The actual amount being authorized turned out to be up to $200,000, which will be a debit in the FY 2011 budget year that starts July 1. It is hard to believe two months later that the demolition, disposal and site remediation costs will come in under $200,000. The engineering firm of Remington & Vernick also monitored the demolition process for a number of billable hours.

This matter should be discussed at the June 14 City Council meeting, so the governing body knows what kind of hit the upcoming budget will take even before all other municipal costs are figured. In addition, all the separate costs should be fully documented. And if there is any update on the missing owners, that should be included as well.

The building that was torn down is not the only questionable one in the North Avenue Commercial Historic District. Council members have asked for an assessment of another building that has stood open to the elements for many years. If a report on its condition and prospects has been prepared, that should also be part of the discussion.

It is a bad time to be going into a new budget year with a deficit of one or possibly two tax points. If Gov. Chris Christie is successful in reducing the allowable cap, it will be even harder to maintain city services at past levels. The more information the administration and governing body have up front, the better they will be able to deal with the new exigencies.

--Bernice Paglia

Monday, May 24, 2010

Walkability vs. Danger

Random image: White Star of Bethlehem.

Today's Courier News has a brief article about yet another possibly gang-related shooting, the seventh in about two weeks.

Within that time span, I walked to and from the NAACP forum at Whitney Allen Young Apartments on Central Avenue, just six blocks from where I live near Park & Seventh. Later, a trusted friend told me he would have advised me to get a ride or stay home, had he known I was walking, because of the shootings which had begun by that time. I passed by the periphery of the neighborhood where the apparent gang dispute broke out.

Recently I walked even further, to a Board of Education meeting at Washington School. This school was built as a community center and many public events take place there.

But officials even express concern when they find out I walk the half-block or so to City Hall or the five short blocks to Municipal Court, in order to cover City Council or other public meetings.

All these neighborhoods have residents. Granted, I am a stranger to some. But within these neighborhoods, those who live there must run errands, wait at bus stops, go to schools and in other ways expose themselves to random danger. What will it take to reduce or remove this factor from the daily lives of individuals who have nothing to do with gangs?

So far this time around, only those suspected to be gang members have suffered harm, and true to their code, they aren't talking to police about what happened. But in the past, innocent bystanders have been harmed or killed. (Personally, I don't think going to these destinations in a car gives an individual much more protection from gang violence than being on foot.)

There is a tendency (expressed in fact at the NAACP meeting) to blame news media and bloggers for "negativity," including reports of shootings and gang violence. One candidate at the forum suggested that the cure was for the city to have its own newspaper. But pretending these crimes don't exist won't make them go away.

Walkability - meaning access on foot to stores, transit, restaurants, schools and libraries, personal service providers, parks and more - is a key factor in attracting people to urban centers. If walking is equated with danger, the community loses its appeal and even its viability as a place to live. Those with the means to pick up and relocate or avoid living there in the first place will do so.

Plainfield deserves the benefit of best practices and strategies to rid the city of gang activity. Gang members intent on destroying each other must not be allowed to overlay their violence on the lives of everyday people (or even bloggers).

--Bernice Paglia

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Layoffs Looming

The second round of layoffs due to budget cuts will take effect Wednesday, but some of those affected may find a new door opening by way of consultancies.

Although the layoff plan came from the administration and was passed by the City Council, a series of "Request for Qualifications" and Request for Proposals" notices ensued along with talk of saving at least a couple posts by outsourcing the duties. Click here for one Plaintalker report on the subject. By now, all the RFPs and RFQs that were published as legal notices are also posted on the city web site under "Information/Downloads."

Administrative hires do not require City Council approval, but contracts for consultants usually do go through the governing body. However, with only little over a month to spare before the end of the FY 2010 fiscal year, contract amounts may fall under the threshold for council approval.

Due to the June 8 primary, the City Council does not meet until June 14 for an agenda-fixing session, with the regular meeting to follow on June 21. The first meetings of the new FY 2011 budget year will be on July 12 and July 19.

Although there was an indication that efforts will be made to retain Laurence Rice as videographer for the local access television channels (Comcast Channel 96 and FiOS Channel 34), another skilled employee may not be so lucky. Despite outpourings of support for planner April Stefel, her numerous duties, including management of brownfields remediation activities, seemed destined to be handed off to Remington & Vernick, an engineering firm that already handles much city planning and engineering work.

The first round of layoffs caused a cascade of "bumping rights" that left the City Clerk's office hard-hit, with two seasoned employees moved to other City Hall jobs. The learning curve for their replacements nearly caused a standstill in operations one month and is still affecting efficiency in meeting the workload, which includes dealing with elections and annual liquor license renewals in addition to ongoing service to the governing body.

How this second round pans out remains to be seen, both in terms of efficiency and costs. The budget process usually includes hearing from department and division heads on their needs for the new fiscal year. Their budget requests are subject to initial modification by the administration before the governing body gets a crack at the budget. If key functions are spun off and outsourced, will consultants be willing or even able to sit through budget sessions to explain why they need funds? It's something to think about.

--Bernice Paglia

Friday, May 21, 2010

Random Images

The wise and all-knowing Mau.

Plaintalker II has been a bit thin on images, so here in no particular order are some hyperlocal photos.

Who wrote this sign? A stoner?

Oliver Brown, ready to ride on North Avenue.

My neighbor is growing fava beans this year and they are flowering.

In the garden: Love-in-a-Mist.

--Bernice Paglia

More on Forum: Two Tricky Questions

Three Democratic candidates for the Second & Third Ward at-large line in the June 8 primary responded to many questions at the May 16 NAACP forum, but a couple seemed to be kind of tricky.

In the first one, moderator George Gore asked candidates to say how many food pantries there are in Plainfield. Incumbent Second & Third Ward at-large Councilman Rashid Burney guessed there might be five or six.

Rashid Burney

Former Third Ward Councilman Don Davis said he didn't know, but mentioned many organizations to which he belongs that take food to the needy and do other charitable work on holidays.

Don Davis

Community organizer and frequent New Democrat campaign manager Rebecca Williams said she has participated in food drives and put the number of food pantries at two dozen.

Rebecca Williams

Gore then said the real answer is 22, and went on to say a lot of funding the food pantries get comes through the City Council. But he said the council doesn't know what comes from the county. This observer was not sure what the point of the question was, beyond testing the candidates' knowledge of city food pantries.

In another question, Gore asked the candidates to talk about a "coal plant" in Linden.

Again, candidates did not have answers at their fingertips.

Burney said he had heard of it, but had not had a lot of opportunity to look into it. He said coal gives off gas and asked, "Do we need this? What's in it for the community?"

Davis said he was glad it was in Linden and not in Plainfield.

"I definitely need more information," he said, pledging to call up colleagues in Linden to "find out what is going on."

Williams said she would "respectfully defer" giving a comment and said if Gore e-mailed the question to her, she would research it.

Gore himself made no further explanation.

Plaintalker's online search turned up a lot of information as well as reactions from opponents of the plan, which involves piping carbon dioxide from burning coal 70 miles out into the ocean floor, where it will presumably be sequestered permanently. But opponents fear a carbon dioxide leak may occur and put many people in danger.

Click here for a news article on the deal, which could yield $2.5 million for Linden. But click here to read about what opponents say. And here is what PurGen says.

While it was very eye-opening to read about this innovative proposal, especially in light of the Gulf Coast disaster, Plaintalker did not see what it might possibly have to do with serving Plainfield citizens of the Second and Third wards over the next four years, except to the extent that a City Council member might have to call attention to environmental issues in general. On the face of it, even though a municipality approved the deal, it would seem that state and federal authorities are the entities to look out for the public good as this project develops.

The candidates still have 17 days on the campaign trail. Good luck to all, and watch out for those tricky questions!

--Bernice Paglia

Candidates Share Views at NAACP Forum

Incumbent Councilman Rashid Burney touted his independence, Rebecca Williams cited her long campaign and civic involvement and former Councilman Don Davis named his constituency service at a forum where each is seeking a four-year City Council seat representing the Second and Third wards.

The Plainfield Branch NAACP sponsored the forum, which was held at Whitney Allen Young Apartments on May 16. The candidates made opening and closing remarks and answered questions from the floor before an audience of about 40 people.

Although he received the Democratic Party line just before the April filing date for the June primary, Burney said he thinks for himself. He said he backed Barack Obama for president early on, while the Democrats were still solidly behind Hillary Clinton. He also voted against “Music in the Plaza,” a pet project of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, because, he said, he personally spoke to merchants regarding the effectiveness of the event in attracting business and found it lacking.

Having successfully guided campaigns that put several New Democrat candidates on the City Council, Williams said, “I know how to get things done.”

Once elected, the New Democrats became titular members of the Regular Democratic Organization of Union County, but several, especially Councilman Adrian Mapp, have retained their independence and often challenge the administration.

Davis served a four-year term on the council, but lost a re-election bid in 2008 to Mapp. He said he has taken all the Rutgers courses necessary to become a certified municipal official.

Among the questions:

Moderator George Gore asked candidates how many were NAACP members and whether they would attend meetings and give updates if elected. Burney held up his membership card in response. Williams said her check to the Plainfield group was never cashed. Davis said he would respond “100 percent” to the invitation to meet with the group.

On their opinions of Gov. Chris Christie’s budget, Williams said as a professor she is a member of the NJEA and would march with the union, which is facing stiff pressure from Christie to give concessions. Davis called Christie’s budget moves “devastating” to the city and said, “We don’t need outside interests.” Burney said $5 to $8 million has been cut from the city’s budget and asked why “people who make millions-plus” were not feeling the pain.

Asked whether they thought primaries were important, all agreed they are, with Williams calling a contested primary “the sign of a healthy party.” Davis and Burney both stressed the need to work together after the primary.

On changes needed to the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority, Williams called for commissioners to serve “with no benefits and no stipend” as true volunteers. She also wants the authority’s services to be brought back under city control. Davis called the Rock Avenue transfer station “one of the greatest assets” of the authority and called for greater use of the facility by other municipalities. Burney said as council president last year, he called for curbs on travel expenses and other spending and had a meeting with PMUA officials that resulted in a six-point agreement on reforms.

When Gore asked candidates, “What do you feel the City Council is dong wrong?” Williams said the council and mayor should resolve the issues between a volunteer youth baseball league and a city-run league. She said she favors keeping the volunteer league and not creating another bureaucracy by having a city league. Davis said what is wrong is “The council fighting the council, the council fighting the mayor and the mayor fighting the council.

“Fighting over petty issues will get us nowhere,” he said.

Burney said one of his frustrations as a council member was that the governing body should be spending time on strategic issues. He named his work in creating the Shade Tree Commission legislation as an example.

The candidates agreed that better code enforcement could ward off another situation such as that in which one owner acquired 26 apartment buildings and then allegedly let them decline. Burney called for “pro-active enforcement” before things get bad, while Williams said the council’s repeal of the Safe Homes initiative should be reversed. Davis said stricter fines could help.

Asked whether they would help the Fourth Ward, Burney said he would work with all his colleagues and called the Fourth Ward an “untapped resource.” Davis said Fourth Ward Councilwoman Bridget Rivers is his campaign manager and he will definitely work with her. Williams said she has worked with Rivers and her sister, former Councilwoman Joanne Hollis.

“Our city is really one city,” she said.

On their opinion of “negative bloggers” and Courier News reports that allegedly portray the city as “unsafe and mismanaged,” Williams said she is a member of the ACLU and will vociferously work for First Amendment rights. As print media dwindles, she said, blogs have taken over. Davis said the city needs its own newspaper. Burney said, “We have to come to reality. This is the future. We have to make sure our own point of view is heard also.”

Burney and Williams have blogs of their own, as do Councilman Cory Storch and Council President Annie McWilliams.

In closing, Burney cited his experience as a corporate manager and his council accomplishments, including creation of the Shade Tree Commission, legislation for domestic partner benefits and a Halloween safety campaign. Davis said Plainfield is at a crossroads and must be moved forward. He cited his 20 years’ experience as owner of a vacuum cleaner company and his status as a certified government agent.

“With your support and your guidance, I will be your voice,” he said.

“I’m a fighter,” Williams said. “I was brought up to be a fighter.”

Williams said the Second and Third Ward “needs someone more responsive to Plainfield.”

Although major crime is down, she said, burglaries and home invasions are up. She said she would insist that the administration adhere to budgetary timelines and advocated development of a cultural, educational and sports complex in the city.

The primary is June 8. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Democratic winner will face Republican challenger Jim Pivnichny in the Nov. 2 general election. The First Ward City Council seat will also be on the November ballot, with incumbent Councilman William Reid and Republican Sean Alfred vying for the seat.

--Bernice Paglia

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Committee Reports Need to be Shared

In January, the City Council adopted a new committee system, with three of the seven council members on each of four committees. The assignments are: Administration & Finance, chaired by Adrian Mapp, members Annie McWilliams and Cory Storch; Economic & Community Development, chaired by Cory Storch, members Rashid Burney and Annie McWilliams; Public Safety Committee, chaired by Bridget Rivers, members Rashid Burney and William Reid; City & Neighborhood Services, chaired by Linda Carter, members William Reid and Bridget Rivers. The committees were charged with meeting monthly and reporting back to the full council and the public.

The ambitious innovation has resulted in verbal reports at council meetings, although as previously reported in Plainfield Plaintalker, they are a bit hard to follow as they often refer to issues that may need context in order for the average listener to grasp the issues. Written reports are supposed to be available on request in the City Clerk's office and to be posted on the city's web site. So far the latter has not happened.

Plaintalker II obtained the May report from Administration & Finance Committee Chairman Adrian Mapp. It addresses 11 issues. Plaintalker's notes are in blue.

May's Finance and Administration Committee Report
The Finance and Administration Committee met on April 27, 2010, present were Council President McWilliams, City Administrator Bibi Taylor, Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson and me, Chair of the Committee.

1. The committee requested an update on the CFO search and was told that the DLGS extended the deadline for filling the position to July 19, 2010. The committee requested copies of all correspondence to and from the DLGS regarding the CFO position. (This refers to the lack of a chief finance officer, a statutory position, since December 2007. The state Division of Local Government Services has insisted the city must have a permanent CFO in place.)

2. The committee discussed the process for dealing with the defeated BOE budget and proposed a special joint meeting with the BOE for Thursday May 06 to discuss the budget. The committee recommends having a resolution on an amended BOE budget ready for a vote at the regular council meeting scheduled for May 10, 2010. (This occurred on May 10.)

3. The committee also discussed the idea of mandating a change in the City's external auditors every X number of years as per the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC). Plainfield has had the same auditing firm for decades. This is a discussion that should be taken up by the full governing body.

4. The committee recommends changing the city code to require the formal approval of the Bills List by the governing body on a monthly basis; this is standard in almost all of the state's 566 Such a change would add more transparency and would assist the council in better exercising its financial fiduciary responsibility.

5. The committee requested all details on the request by the administration to pay an additional $287,000 to the developer of the senior center for what has been described as add-ons. The request was for itemized billings that would list the add-ons and the cost for each add-on plus who authorized said add-ons. The committee was made aware of a lease that was entered into by the city and an adjacent property owner for addition outdoor space for the senior center. No lease was approved by the council. (Action still pending)

6. The committee requested the bifurcation of the resolution transferring title to the senior center from the request for payment of the add-ons.

7. The committee discussed the need to change the table of organization for the PPD and the administration asked that this be postponed until after Director Helwig returns from vacation. (Need more details)

8. The committee again discussed the need for IT and Media to become a division that conforms to the department/division structure required by the Charter and the Code. The committee previously recommended having these two functional areas folded into one under the Director of Administration and Finance. (Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs wants IT and Media to report directly to her)

9. The City Administrator promised a budget status report to the council by Monday that includes the current fund and the capital fund. (Both the May 3 and May 10 meetings were largely taken up with the Queen City Baseball League issue. Plaintalker's notes do not reflect such a report, but maybe I missed it.)

10. The committee recommends moving the responsibility for economic development from under the Director of DPW to a Deputy City Administrator who would be in charge of economic development. This realignment would give economic development the focus that it needs. (That was the plan under Mayor Albert T. McWilliams. Since 2006, the Robinson-Briggs administration has left the deputy city administrator post unfilled.)

11. The committee strongly recommends filling the vacant position of Director, Administration and Finance. (City Administrator Bibi Taylor was also acting director of Administration & Finance through January. No action since then.) The committee also requested a status update on the MOU entered into by the City with the DLGS as a condition of the extra-ordinary aid that went into the FY2010 budget. (The Memorandum of Understanding was tied to acceptance of $250,000 in extraordinary state aid and imposed many spending constraints.)

So readers, what do you think about the committee system? Would you like to see all reports posted as soon as possible online?

--Bernice Paglia

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

PMUA Owed $1.2 Million

A tax lien sale notice spanning six newspaper pages reveals $1.16 million owed to the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority, mainly by homeowners across the city.

The PMUA provides sewer and solid waste services to Plainfield through an interlocal service agreement. Ratepayers are billed four times a year. The tax liens are on money owed for more than a year. Amounts owed range from $96.89 on a Pineview Terrace property to $47,160.81 for two apartment complexes owned by United Plainfield Housing Corp.

The tax lien sale will take place at 10 a.m. on June 9 in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave. Bidders must register on or before May 28. Investors purchase the liens and pay the amount owed, which is then owed to them at interest rates of up to 18 percent. Click here for an explanation of tax lien sales from the state Division of Local Government Services.

Former Mayor Harold Mitchell, now chairman of the PMUA board of commissioners, said that even though times are hard, the bills must be paid.

"If they don't pay, then everybody else carries the load for them, like anything else," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the PMUA sent staff to City Hall to help set up the sale. More than 1,100 properties are involved.

The list does not include multi-family properties owned by landlord David Connolly's subsidiaries where the PMUA is under a bankruptcy court order to provide service even though not receiving full payment. The authority also felt a fiscal blow when Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center closed in August 2008.

"It's not just the Connolly properties. It's everything," Mitchell said.

--Bernice Paglia

Monday, May 17, 2010

Last Day to Register

Correction: My apologies, the last day was May 18.

Don’t forget, Thursday (May 20) is the last day to register to vote in the June Primary!

The only contest is for the Democratic line for the Second and Third Ward at-large seat. Candidates are incumbent Councilman Rashid Burney, former Third Ward Councilman Don Davis and activist Rebecca Williams, an organizer for many past New Democrat campaigns.

Primary date is June 8. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Unaffiliated registered voters may declare a party affiliation at the polls.

Independent candidates may file on Primary Day to be on the ballot for the November 2 General Election.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

West Seattle

Why is there a link to the West Seattle Blog on a hyperlocal blog about Plainfield?

It's not just because it is now the home of ex-Plainfielders Audrey and Peter Zekonis, my daughter and son-in-law. They have lived in several Seattle neighborhoods, but when I looked up the West Seattle blog, I was captivated by what it highlights - the year-round farmers' market, community members helping each other with projects such as building handicapped ramps and community gardens, the camaraderie and pride of place (those sunsets off Alki!) and many more things that are good examples for any other neighborhood in the nation.

We can't compete with the Puget Sound views or the whale-watching, but some of the activities could be replicated here. Take the Tool Library for an example. Maybe you need a certain tool but can't afford it or don't want to impose on a neighbor. After the recent West Seattle Garage Sale, a lot of leftover tools were donated to the Tool Library for take-out by residents needing a specific tool for a project.

I know of at least one neighborhood years ago where several homes were being renovated on one block in Plainfield. Neighbors shared tools, advice and even each others' bathroom facilities when needed. Of course, this assumes a level of trust among neighbors that may not be currently present in all Plainfield neighborhoods. But I do believe there are some close-knit groups here who work on building trust and preserving camaraderie to the benefit of all.

West Seattle Blog has many contributors who spot things like traffic jams on bridges to and from the peninsula, and there is also a crime watch in cooperation with West Seattle police. I know of at least one neighborhood association in Plainfield that has something similar, but more would be welcome.

So take a peek now and then at the West Seattle blog, admire those great images and take a hint now and then about how life could be better here through the cooperation of neighbors.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

No Gallon News on May 18 Agenda

Unless there is a walk-on item, it does not appear that the May 18 school board meeting will contain any item related to the removal/suspension of Dr. Steve Gallon III.

There will be an item related to the continued employment of Business Administrator Gary Ottmann.

"RESOLVED, that the Plainfield Board of Education approves the annual employment contract for the 2010-
2011 school year of Gary L. Ottmann, School Business Administrator in accordance with the terms contained
therein. This contract has been reviewed and approved by the Executive County Superintendent, pursuant to
the requirements delineated in N.J.A.C.S.6A:2A-3.1. Salary and benefits have not been changed from the
2008 – 2009 school year and are subject to change pending contract negotiations. "

Traditionally, top officials not represented by unions receive comparable raises to what the unions receive.

The meeting is 7 p.m. in the Plainfield High School Media Center (?the PHS library?) at 950 Park Ave. The entire agenda is on file here.

--Bernice Paglia

Garden Police on the Case

Last fall, my neighbor and I searched the back yard for mantid egg cases without success.

We thought maybe the feral cats had devoured all the praying mantises.

So while weeding this past week, I was very happy to discover an inch-long baby mantis on a leaf.

We hope there are many more who will grow to garden-patrol size.


Fiesta Planned for July 4 Weekend

Last year, nightclub owner Edison Garcia enticed hundreds of people from around Central Jersey to a fiesta celebrating the Independence of Central America.

This year, he expects to replicate the success of the event with a fiesta celebrating this nation's Independence Day.

"Our community is getting bigger and bigger," he said. "We decided to be part of the American celebration."

A resolution granting Garcia the use of Municipal Parking Lot 8 on July 3 and 4 was introduced as a new item on May 10 and was passed without comment by the City Council. To see a slide show of last year's event, click here.

Garcia said Friday he wants people to visit Plainfield and experience the city as it is now.

"It's not like it was 20 years ago," he said.

Extensive advertising last year brought Latinos from locales including Elizabeth, New Brunswick and Bound Brook to the Queen City, he said.

"They were impressed - they were really happy."

The event last year featured a vast array of ethnic food, a mechanical bull riding contest, a beer tent, vendor stalls and music. Coming in advance of the November mayoral election, it also had some politicking. The July date is after the June primary, which has three Democrats vying for the Second and Third Ward at-large seat, so may be less of a target for candidates.

Garcia said the fiesta will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 4, after the traditional parade that draws a large crowd to the downtown.

Last year, Councilman William Reid asked Garcia to publicize the upcoming 2010 Census at the fiesta. The census is now in its follow-up phase, with workers going door-to-door to homes where residents did not return mailed forms in April. Publicity at the fiesta this year could help assure residents that they can safely respond.

Lot 8 is behind stores on the north side of East Front Street, between Watchung Avenue and Somerset Street. It is bordered by the Green Brook.

Plaintalker II will give more details closer to the event.

--Bernice Paglia

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Brownfields Work to be Outsourced

The city recently advertised for RFQs (Requests for Qualifications) for "Management Services for the Brownfield Development Area" and "Environmental Consultant for the Brownfield Program."

The legal notice appeared in the Courier News, but has yet to appear on the city web site except as a brief flash before the main page comes on. The web site section devoted to RFPs and RFQs does not have the Brownfields RFQ.

Brownfields are sites where environmental remediation must take place before development or redevelopment. With its legacy of industrial uses, Plainfield has quite a few.

Until a layoff plan was announced this year, April Stefel managed the extensive accounting for management of Brownfield sites. Although the Plaintalker report excerpt below indicates she did a good job, it will now most likely go to an outside source.

Here is the excerpt from a City Council meeting that included comments on the layoffs:

"Several residents spoke in favor of retaining April Stefel, a certified landscape architect in the Planning Division who is staff liaison to the Shade Tree Commission and manages several other programs, including brownfields studies.

Shade Tree Commission Chairman Gregory Palermo praised Stefel for her “marvelous success” in coming up with grants for tree planting and maintenance.

“The grant money should be thought of as found money,” he said, “but it is not going to be found unless someone is looking for it.”

(Disclaimer: I am a member of the Shade Tree Commission.)

Stefel herself explained that she is responsible for more than $5.6 million in grants and that she had suggested her pay could be given back from various grants, but an analysis she made in December was lost or never given to the administration. She detailed the work she puts in to report to state agencies on grant-funded programs, saying the brownfields work alone takes up half her 63 part-time hours per month."

The scenario above points to yet another possible assignment for a favored engineering firm instead of having a highly qualified Plainfielder on the case.

When the Brownfields issue first emerged, it seemed to almost a vital element for redevelopment. Click here for one of several Plaintalker reports on Brownfields.

But at this juncture, maybe the best thing for the city would be for Stefel to become the consultant, although she would not have benefits.

The city in the last couple of months has published a number of RFQs and RFPs, including several that would apply to Stefel's previous duties.

Anyone working on the FY 2011 budget should take stock of these choices between in-house staffers and outside consultants, for every-day monitoring of ways to save money.

--Bernice Paglia

Restrictions on State Aid May Continue

Someone mentioned to me recently that stern conditions on acceptance of FY 2010 extraordinary state aid will elapse at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

But the last sentence of the Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the director of the state Division of Local Government Services states, "It is finally agreed that the terms of this agreement shall be binding upon the City for any and all subsequent years in which Extraordinary Aid funds are allocated to the City."

For FY 2010, the city sought $3.5 million, but received only $250,000. The aid came with many conditions outlined in the four-page MOU, including 13 personnel requirements and six procedural and operational requirements.

Among the personnel requirements were a hiring freeze on new employees, a salary freeze for all employees not covered by a current contractual agreement, no money for charities or "sunshine fund"activities, a reduction in force through attrition and many more constraints.

Anybody connected with the FY 2011 budget process needs to review the MOU, because unless the city intends to forego applying for and accepting extraordinary state aid, the agreement will continue to impact personnel and operational functions.

Unfortunately, the city is still without a permanent finance director and a chief finance officer to guide the budget process. There has been no CFO, a required statutory position, since the end of 2007. The city received an extension to hire one by July 19. At present, City Administrator Bibi Taylor is also serving informally as acting director of Administration, Finance, Health and Social Services, which has the largest number of divisions among the three departments mandated by the City Charter.

Taylor is thus carrying on the legacy of former City Administrator Marc Dashield, who found himself wearing two hats in two prior budget years. The dual burden contributed to the late passage of those two budgets.

If there is a citizen budget advisory committee this year, each member should get a copy of the MOU as context to budget decision-making. Imposition of these conditions must be weighed against the value of possible extraordinary state aid for FY 2011.

--Bernice Paglia

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Watching the Pot

Last night I decided to leave the school board meeting at around 9:30 p.m. I see that the meeting did not open until nearly 11 p.m., and after the nugget of news, it was not reported how long it took the board to deal with the 41-page agenda.

Lately I have had to do a lot of waiting. We are waiting to see whether our building will be sold, and waiting to find out what it might mean in terms of our living situation. I am presently waiting to see whether the latest repairs will mean the ceiling leaks will not recur. We are also waiting to see whether the landlord will pay the water bill before the latest shut-off notice kicks in.

As far as the whole Gallon story, there will be an outcome, but we don't know what or when.

An old adage comes to mind here, reminding us all to have patience and not to get all worked up while waiting for something to happen. Some may think the pot has already boiled, but I think it is still simmering and my attention is not needed every minute until it does come to a boil.

"Que sera, sera" and then you can read all about it. Surmising, speculating and second-guessing meanwhile might possibly be a waste of time.


Commentary: A Wynn-Wynn Situation

Yet another hour of the governing body's time and energy was spent Monday on how to settle a conflict between a volunteer youth baseball league and the city's Recreation Division, which launched its own league with paid coaches this year. Both leagues need access to municipal ball fields, but the Queen City Baseball League has had lights turned off, bases under lock and key, its banner vanished and other signs that the Recreation Division accidentally or on purpose is making the season difficult for its 50 or 60 young players.

In talks and protests since last fall, parents and coaches have suggested that Recreation Superintendent Dave Wynn's style of management is part of the problem or maybe is the problem. There was supposed to have been a sitdown last fall with Wynn and the administration to get to the bottom of the issues, but on May 3, Queen City players and advocates packed City Hall Library and had the ears of the governing body for two hours.

The clash is taking up many hours out of the lives of City Administrator Bibi Taylor and Public Works & Urban Development Director David Brown II, as well as the seven council members and the mayor. Calls are being fielded at all hours, from what Taylor said Monday, and Public Works Superintendent John Louise is being dragged into it as well.

When Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs was first elected in 2006, she said publicly there was not enough for children to do in Plainfield. Wynn correctly pointed out the city's huge roster of athletic programs and events for children and before long, the mayor was one of Wynn's most staunch supporters. Even when council members later sought to cut back on public events as the economy worsened, Wynn dodged the fiscal bullet. But some events took on political overtones, such as the Music in the Plaza series that featured the mayor's re-election campaign image on all its promotional materials.

The situation escalated Monday with the council proposing passage of two ordinances aimed at defusing the problem by changing who would be responsible for field access.The mayor was absent, but Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson, the most highly paid city employee, read off a series of remarks from the mayor, including one in which she threatened legal action if the council passed the ordinances.

"I am very sorry to hear that," Council President Annie McWilliams said, but noted seven days had elapsed without the administration naming a requested "point person" to replace Wynn in the current dispute.

Both measures failed, with McWilliams, Adrian Mapp and Rashid Burney voting "yes" and Linda Carter, Bridget Rivers and William Reid voting "no." Cory Storch was absent.

Then there was the notion that a newly-minted Recreation Committee, advisory in nature, should be made into full-blown commission with broader powers. Taylor objected, saying that would produce another budget line item with no duties assigned.

Responding to the mayor's suggestion of possible legal action against the council, Mapp noted budget decisions are coming up and said the "next level" might be to remove salaries from the Recreation Division.

Despite the heated nature of the controversy, Taylor described it at one point like this: "When you start a new program and mesh it with the old, you will have hiccups."

Apparently in this case, you will also have an ever-expanding sphere of well-compensated officials trying to deal with what time the ballfield lights should go out and why bases are being stored in the ladies' bathroom.

It is hard to conceive of any other organization where a middle manager can be at the center of a months'-long controversy without suffering any consequences. Parents and coaches are upset, children are perplexed, government officials are being drawn in when they have plenty of other things to deal with in these still precarious times.

Two commenters at the end of the meeting summed up their feelings, which no doubt many Plainfielders share.

Dwayne Wilkins of the new Recreation Committee said of seeing the children at the May 3 meeting, "I struggle with that."

Their plight "should not have to go to the highest levels of government," he said.

Lamar Mackson, who grew up in the city in what he described as "simpler times," said he was "hurt and distraught by what we're doing here."

"When you look at the headlines, there is nothing but distress coming from Plainfield," he said.

Mackson said he wants to see things that put Plainfield in a better light.

He said of the controversy, "It's just unconscionable."

--Bernice Paglia

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some Council Highlights

Here are some highlights of Monday’s City Council meeting:

--Councilman William Reid apologized to Council President Annie McWilliams for an outburst at the May 3 agenda session where he accused her of disrespecting him and being unethical over something that happened at the April 12 business meeting. Reid had claimed he was not given information on a last-minute item passed out to council members.

On Monday, he said he is very passionate about city affairs, but in the May 3 instance, “My negative passion came out.”

“I will attempt to repress that negative passion in the future.”

--The governing body took no action on the defeated school budget. As officials explained at a special meeting Friday,the council could not cut the $21.8 local tax levy because it was mandated by the state. Council members said attempting to identify changes that could be made among budget lines was pointless, as the council would not have time for a thorough review. The state deadline for changes is May 19.

--The administration will attempt to get more people trained for the role of Zoning Officer in order to help enforce a sign ordinance. At present, although proper signage is desired, enforcement is on the shoulders of already burdened Planning Director Bill Nierstedt. City Administrator Bibi Taylor said David Brown II, the new director of Public Works & Urban Development, is taking a course to become qualified and will encourage others to earn the title.

--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.

--Council candidate and former mayoral candidate Jim Pivnichny objected to a contract for engineering services with Remington & Vernick, saying it would cost $88,725 for just one-third of a mile on Watchung Avenue.

“This one really bowls me over,” he said.

But Taylor said sometimes such projects take up to two years, and Brown said the award resulted from a “fair and open” bid process.

--The council granted approval for the city to turn over four West End parcels to habitat for Humanity and seven parcels to Plainfield Community Development Corp, which is affiliated with the Housing Authority of Plainfield. All the properties were part of a redevelopment plan for 197 scattered sites. Some may recall that when the 197 plan first came about, a Westfield company was assigned more than 60 lots to redevelop, while non-profits only got four. The Westfield company built about 30 pre-fabricated homes, but failed to build the rest.

--The council spent more than an hour discussing issues related to youth baseball. The volunteer Queen City Baseball League had used ball fields in the past, but now that the city has begun its own youth baseball league, the volunteer group has experienced problems with lighting, access, equipment and scheduling. About 50 young players, along with parents and coaches, came to the May 3 agenda-fixing session to ask for help. Speakers suggested the team was being sabotaged and called it a “control issue” with the Recreation Division.

Although the council asked the administration to name a neutral “point person” to assure access for the volunteer team, Taylor said she and Brown were acting in that capacity, in consultation with Recreation Superintendent Dave Wynn. The council had two ordinances up for a vote Monday, one to put the Public Works Division in charge of ball fields and one to restrict Wynn’s powers to playgrounds. But Taylor said, “These ordinance mix apples and oranges,” and at the vote both failed in 3-3 ties.

Prior to the vote, Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson said, speaking for Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, that the mayor felt the legislation was heavy-handed and if it passed, she reserved the right to take legal action against the governing body.

Councilman Adrian Mapp noted a new budget year was coming. Not hearing a willingness to change the behavior that led to the friction, Mapp said the next level might be to take away the salaries for Recreation.

More later on some of these issues.

--Bernice Paglia

Monday, May 10, 2010

Signs: My Emily Litella Moment

The appearance of a lengthy sign ordinance last week was initially intriguing, because it seemed to be banning the ubiquitous neon and flashing LED signs that are all over the business district. My blog post attracted many comments, many of the same "what's all this fuss" ilk as my initial reaction.

Over the weekend, I looked up the old sign ordinance on Rashid Burney's web site, where he has the Municipal Code and other documents posted. A lot of the language from the 2002 ordinance sounded suspiciously familiar. Today I checked with Planning Director Bill Nierstedt, who put the ordinance together. Turns out it is mostly the same as the old one, but instead of laboriously picking out details of changes, the language "repeal and replace" is used.

Nierstedt said the main difference is that a chart is included, covering all the sign rules.

So if certain signs are already prohibited, why do we see them all over?

The city official who must enforce the prohibitions is the Zoning Officer. After former Zoning Officer Jocelyn Pringley passed away several years ago, Nierstedt inherited the role and all its many responsibilities. This in addition to his heavy burden as Planning Director, which requires not only dealing with developers and property owners who want to build or change things, but also attending many night meetings. As the organization has flattened, Nierstedt's tasks have expanded tremendously.

So store owners with neon or flashing signs need not expect to be grandfathered in. Their signs have already been illegal since at least 2002. And with Nierstedt's burgeoning duties, perhaps they just can't be a priority. In the Special Improvement District alone, there are about 400 businesses. Checking on each one and following through on violations could be a very time-consuming project.

Unless this duty is statutorially assigned to the Zoning Officer, perhaps Inspections could take it on. Attractive signage is a key element of any downtown. Or if neon and sparkly signs are not all that bad in some folks' eyes, maybe they should be permitted. Most likely merchants have been approached by vendors of such signs and the business owners simply don't know what is permitted in Plainfield.

Reassignment of enforcement, rethinking of the rules and merchant education are some future possibilities for proper signage. The last time there was a consistent effort to unify signage was way back in the days of the Sign & Facade program. Maybe it's time to take another look at the issue.

--Bernice Paglia

Sunday, May 9, 2010

From Mousie to Mau

Some readers may remember the forlorn little feral kitten that I decided to look out for in 2008. I guarded his food dish so he could eat without the bigger cats knocking him out of the way. Eventually he climbed up on my lap one day. In November 2008, he received vet treatment necessary to bring him indoors. He weighed less than three pounds, but rapidly began to gain weight (and attitude).

I was calling him "Mousie" for his diminutive size and meek demeanor at first, but lately his main nickname is "Mau."

Today I was looking up "Mau" online and to my surprise found out it is the Egyptian word for "cat." So here is my big old Mau, hamming it up for the camera!


Reid Confronts McWilliams Over Perceived Slight

Someone today reminded me of a blog topic I meant to write about but forgot with all the incursions of workers into my apartment this week to check on a big leak.

Very late in Monday’s City Council meeting (May 3), Councilman William Reid began a diatribe against City Council President Annie McWilliams over a perceived slight at the April 12 regular City Council meeting. Reid claimed McWilliams excluded him while passing out a last-minute resolution on a proposed $16,000 increase in spending for a “visioning study” on future city development.

“I figure that you bypassed me because you know that I ask questions,” Reid said, adding he was “astounded at the very large disrespect” of the perceived omission.

“You’re learning fast, tricks to get stuff past us,” Reid said, insisting that McWilliams “never, ever do it again.”

Councilwoman Linda Carter recalled that the council went into a two-minute recess to discuss the item, which was received from the administration just that night, as McWilliams also attested. The measure passed after the recess. Reid made no mention April 12 of a slight.

But Reid again told McWilliams Monday, “Please don’t do that any more. If you are going to do that, call me and I will keep my butt home.”

None of the explanations offered mollified Reid. When McWilliams said his protestations made her appear to be unethical, Reid said, “It was unethical.”

As McWilliams asked to defend her action, Reid said, “You can’t defend it to me.”

As the discussion wore on, Reid insisted information was kept from him.

Councilman Cory Storch suggested that a face-to-face private talk would have been more in order than a public confrontation, but Reid was unappeased.

Reid is the First Ward representative. He came on first as an appointee in 2007 succeeding Rayland Van Blake, who left the council to become a Union County freeholder. He ran for the unexpired term in 2008 and has now filed to run for a full four-year term in the November general election. His Republican opponent in November will be Sean Alfred. Reid is also the campaign treasurer for Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs.

--Bernice Paglia

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Welcome to Plaintalker II

Plainfield Plaintalker began in June 2005, a joint venture of myself and Barbara Todd Kerr. The initial goal was to inform residents of news, especially on municipal government and redevelopment in Plainfield, that the mainstream media may have skipped.

Along the way, we decided to add posts on other aspects of daily life in the Queen City.

Time constraints (Barbara was working, I was retired) led to my being in charge of the blog. I bought a camera early on to add images to my posts. Blog posts are reaching the 2,400 mark and my images number more than 1,500. With the five-year anniversary approaching, it seemed like time to launch a successor to Plaintalker.

I hope you will enjoy reading it. Plainfield Plaintalker remains online for research or going down memory lane. In Plaintalker II, you will still find news reports, vignettes of the city, nature photographs and occasional commentaries. As before, you may comment on any post, although comments will be moderated for good taste.

--Bernice Paglia