Sunday, January 31, 2016

Council to Consider S. Second Street Financial Agreements

Among proposed new ordinances Monday, two deal with financial arrangements for the South Second Street redevelopment project on a 5-acre city-owned site in the West End..

One is for the residential portion, consisting of 90  1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units of affordable housing in two five-story buildings, with 10 units set aside for special needs tenants. The other is for a one-story, 44,000-square-foot warehouse with a specialized staging area on approximately 3.75 acres.

The properties would be exempt from taxes under the agreements, but would be subject to "annual service charges" for up to 35 years for the residential side and 25 years for the commercial section. Each of the 20-page agreements refers to the Long Term Tax Exemption Law but neither uses the sometimes controversial phrase "payment in lieu of taxes," or PILOT. At the end of the terms, the properties would be subject to regular taxes

The two agreements mention several benefits, including giving city residents first dibs on employment and aiming for 20 percent minority and women sub-contracting. Five percent of the revenues from the annual service charges would go to the county and a 2 percent administrative fee would go to the city.

The residential project's benefits include provision of affordable housing, as well as approximately 100 jobs created during construction and three permanent jobs.

Benefits of the warehouse project include retention of a major employer, ABC Supply Company, Inc., described as a major Urban Enterprise Zone merchant that provides jobs to city residents. Construction of the project will develop a "blighted vacant property" that has been vacant for more than 15 years. About 75 jobs will be created during construction and 15 permanent jobs for which city residents.will be preferred.

But the projects and all the benefits hinge on council approvals.

"Without the tax exemption granted herein, the Project would not otherwise be undertaken," the agreement says.

If the council moves the ordinances to the Feb. 8 agenda, they will be up for passage on first reading then. Second reading and final passage could come at the March 14 regular meeting.


School Board Election 2016 Update

click to enlarge
Today there was a legal notice in the Courier News regarding the school board elections and there is also a notice on the Plainfield Public Schools website.
click to enlarge
 Both refer candidates to the New Jersey School Board Association's Candidates kit.

Please read the notices and act accordingly if you plan to run for a school board seat.


Is Downtown Block In Need of Redevelopment?

The City Council will consider Monday a resolution to determine whether a whole downtown block is in need of redevelopment.

Readers may recall that in October 2013 the Housing Authority of Plainfield sought two city-owned lots on Block 247 for redevelopment (in green, above). The city never conveyed the lots to HAP and as I recall, one of the issues was the lack of a redevelopment plan. The redevelopment process has many steps, the first of which is an investigation to see whether a site meets certain criteria that indicate it is "in need of redevelopment." The governing body authorizes the Planning Board to perform the study and the results go back to the council. If a need for redevelopment has been found, the council can ask the Planning Board to make a redevelopment plan.

The block is bounded by Madison Avenue, West Front Street, Central Avenue and West Second Street and all eleven lots on the block will be studied if the council approves the resolution on Feb. 8. There are businesses along the West Front Street side and a large apartment building on the Madison Avenue side. Block 247, Lot 7 is Municipal Parking Lot 9, bounded by three of the streets. Block 247, Lot 9 is city-owned and is currently being used as a staging area for the PSE&G upgrade of the electrical system.
The work should be nearing completion soon.

There are several other items related to redevelopment on Monday's agenda, including two financial agreements for development on South Second Street and council approvals needed for the South Avenue Gateway project. Posts on those items will follow. The agenda-fixing session is 7:30 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Yet Another Snow Report

Urban mountaineering
The snow piled up in Lot 6 will complicate parking for the Plainfield Symphony Society's After Dinner Dance scheduled to be held tonight Feb. 6 at the First Unitarian Society's Parish Hall across Park Avenue. Attendees for the fundraising event had been advised to park in Lot 6 but will have to find alternatives, as the snow now covers half the lot and the walkway to Park Avenue is blocked.
I emailed Mayor Adrian O. Mapp some questions about snow operations and received a response from City Administrator Rick Smiley:
- Are there other dumping sites, i.e., parks such as Milt Campbell?

  • 3 dump sites; (lot-1 behind Strand), (lot 7 behind Scotts drugs) and (lot 10 parking bureau). City parks may be utilized if needed.

Does DPW have any interim estimate of the tonnage/cubic yards moved already as of this morning?

  • Preliminary numbers indicated approximately 25,000-30,000 cubic yards.

- Will there be a report on your Friday message or at the Feb. 1 council meeting?

  • We will be providing the City Council a Storm Jonas preliminary report.  This has been placed on the agenda as a discussion item.

- Who is helping? I saw PMUA, DPW and also private trucks (M&A Tree Service being one).

  • 4-Contractors; (Plainfield) All auction demolition, (Plainfield) Messercola excavating, (Somerville) M&A Tree Service and (Kenilworth) Slack environmental services

  • P.M.U.A assisted with snow removal for 2 shifts.

-Will FEMA help pay for the effort?

  • It is our intention to submit any storm related cost we can to FEMA

The City Council meeting is 7:30 p.m. Monday in Municipal Court. Temperatures in the 40s with a high of 57 degrees projected for Wednesday should melt some of the snow.


Mapp Opens Local Democratic Campaign Season

City Council candidates seeking the Democratic party line are invited to submit their information by Feb. 10 for review by a screening committee, Mayor Adrian O. Mapp said Friday.

Mapp won a two-year term as chairman of the Democratic City Committee in June 2015. He asked "anyone who is qualified" for either the Third Ward or Citywide At-large seat to email their background and reasons for running to

The screening committee will be expected to recommend a slate by Feb. 24. The City Committee will then meet to endorse candidates, although Mapp reminded members that as chairman he has the authority to appoint anyone to run on the line.

A candidate must be "a legal voter of the city" and a resident for a least one year of the ward or wards to be represented, and will serve four years if elected, according to the city's special charter. All Democratic and Republican council candidates must file for the June 7 primary at the County Clerk's office by 4 p.m. on April 4.(Independents file by 4 p.m. on June 7.)  Incumbents are Gloria Taylor in the Third Ward and Tracey Brown in the citywide at-large seat, for which she has already launched a re-election campaign.

Committee member Jim Spear said the group owed it to incumbents to "tell them what the process is going to be," but Mapp said it was an open meeting Friday that anyone could attend. He said he was sure people in the room would inform the incumbents.

Councilwoman Rebecca Williams said she will also post the details on her blog.

Also on Friday, members observed a moment of silence in remembrance of Lillian Jamar and Dottie Gutenkauf, both longtime Democratic City Committee stalwarts who died in 2015. The vacancies caused by their passing were filled, as well as another caused by a member's relocation due to a fire. Committee member Agurs Cathcart was named parliamentarian, succeeding Gutenkauf.

Mapp also discussed the need for poll workers for the June primary and November general election, as well as the April 19 school board election caused by a Board of Education decision to revert from November elections. The City Council moved school board elections from April to November in 2012, and after four years the BOE had the right to move them back to April.

Mapp said poll workers serve for one year.  They can apply at the gmail address above, and must be available to take training. He said he gets to choose who the poll workers will be.

Regarding the three school board seats up for election, Mapp said there would be no party endorsement, but he expects a challenge to the incumbents.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Snow Removal Continues

Lot 6 snow pile - seen from above
DPW - the hardest-working guys in snow business!
A passer-by checks the scale of the the pile 

As I write, more trucks are unloading snow in Lot 6 overnight. This is a massive cleanup! I hope there will be some FEMA money to help with the costs.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Winter Storm Jonas, The Denouement

Block 832 began reverberating around midnight with the sound of back-up alarms, as plows and trucks converged on Municipal Lot 7 for snow removal operations.

The trucks are filled with snow from somewhere in the city and they are dumping it at the rear of the lot. Then the giant plows or whatever they are called - big machines with buckets in front (front-end loaders, perhaps?) - are pushing the piles up higher and higher. I expect to see some mountaineering by schoolchildren tomorrow.

Update: The snow-filled trucks apparently arrived all night. I think I heard one around 5 a.m. When I looked out this morning, one whole end of Lot 7 was piled high with snow.

This lot is 94 feet wide. The portion between the back fence and the driveway off Park Avenue (where it says "City of Plainfield Exempted") is about 70 feet wide. The snow looks to be about 12 feet high, so in cubic feet I'm guessing we're looking at 79,000 cubic feet of snow. If the pile is higher, so is the total cubic feet.
Here's a map that shows the dimensions of the space. Click to enlarge.

I will try to get some figures from the city on snow disposal. It looks like a terrific job by the Department of Public Works!


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wishing for Spring

Every time I go to a doctor lately, I am asked whether I have had any falls. So far I have had none to report, but it is a reminder that I am now in the age group where falls are likely and will be dangerous.

So tonight when I ventured out for the first time since the blizzard and found large swaths of the sidewalk on East Seventh covered with ice, I turned around and went home. Some of these ice patches are in front of Municipal Lot 7. I am hoping to see some salt on them soon. The sidewalk in front of my building had not yet been touched since the blizzard when I took a taxi to the mall this afternoon, but it was cleared by the time I got back.
I am not interested in finding out the hard way which of my bones would not survive a fall, so I may skip a meeting or two while Winter is doing its thing. The good news is it's only about eight weeks until the first day of Spring! And Daylight Saving Time starts on March 13!


Regarding Ordinances and Resolutions

At last week's City Council meeting, two different officials confused a resolution with an ordinance.

So what, you may ask.

Well, at a time when the city is trying to foster civic engagement among young people as well as the increasing Latino population, the administration and council almost have a duty to be very clear on what is going on at council meetings. It is part of educating the public to use proper terms and procedures. Who knows? A young person or a Latino may want to seek office someday soon and will need a basic understanding of how municipal government operates.

Meetings are televised, another reason to use accurate terms. Like those individuals who yell out answers to quiz shows on the radio or television, some know-it-all citizens are no doubt yelling at the council videos when a member of the administrative or legislative branch mixes up key terms.

So what is the difference between a resolution and an ordinance, anyway?

A resolution reflects an action taken by the governing body, such as confirming appointments, authorizing payments or contracts, issuing approvals for use of municipal property, honoring or recognizing outstanding citizens for their accomplishments. A majority of the council must approve a resolution for it to take effect. Several resolutions may be passed in a single "consent" vote .

Ordinances are more weighty and, if passed, become part of the Municipal Code. They have to be introduced on first reading and there must be a public hearing before final passage on second reading. They take effect 20 days later unless vetoed by the mayor. A two-thirds vote of the council may override a veto.

Resolutions and ordinances are separate on the printed agenda. Resolutions are designated with a "R" and a number and the year. For example, the contract with Comcast for ads was R 047-16. Ordinances are designated with "MC" for Municipal Code, along with the year and a number.. The Municipal ID ordinance that is up for second reading and final passage on Feb. 8 is MC 2016-01.

The first public comment session is for resolutions and ordinances only (the second public comment portion is for any topic). Residents usually identify the item by its designation on the printed agenda when coming to the microphone..

If anyone has more to add to clarify the two, let's hear it. Council President Cory Storch is encouraging greater civility and collegiality at council meetings; I am advocating for better understanding of the governmental process in 2016 and beyond.


Alonzo Adams Featured in Art Show

Art in the Atrium Celebrates ‘Visual Griots’ at Annual Show

Art in the Atrium, which curates the largest exhibition of African-American art in New Jersey, will hold the public opening for its annual show on January 29 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Morristown at the Morris County Administration & Records Building.

The title of the exhibition, which runs through March 16, is “Visual Griot’’ and  celebrates the work of featured artist, Alonzo Adams, and nearly 20 additional artists. There will be a press and patron reception at the administration building on January 28 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Adams, of Plainfield, will give a tour and talk at both events.

The theme of the exhibition is a reference to Adams’ paintings and other pieces, which allude to the stories of his subjects and are sometimes vehicles for social commentary.

“Most of the work in this show tells some kind of story about the artist themselves and what they're trying to relate to the viewer,’’ said Victoria Craig, director of administration for Art in the Atrium.

The show will feature pieces from Adams’ new series, “Code Blue,’’ which explores threats to young black men --  from police brutality and other forms of violence to institutionalized racism and economic disparity.

"I'm raising two young black boys and with everything going on right now, I worry about them whenever they leave the house. I'm putting a body of work together that addresses that,’’ said Adams.

“My work is usually an autobiography of my life. Sometimes it includes things that I didn't personally experience but had a deep impact on me,’’ he added.

Art in the Atrium is a nonprofit volunteer organization founded in 1992 in Morris County to showcase the work of emerging and established African-American artists. Its annual exhibition is the largest of its kind in New Jersey.

"Every year it creates a venue for a lot of artists whose works wouldn't normally be seen,’’ said Adams. “And it’s been the springboard for a lot of works getting collected by museums and added to corporate collections.”

Other artists in the exhibition include Lynn Cabbell, Jackie Collier, Andre Woolery, Les Floyd, Stephen Ellis, Sherry Shine, Wannetta Phillips, Howard Cash, Mel Wright, April Harrison, Richard Clark, Anthony Boone, Leroy Campbell, James Denmark, Barbara Bullock and Janet Taylor Pickett.

Art in the Atrium began in 1992 after Craig’s husband, attorney Charles Craig, noticed that none of the art exhibited in the Morristown administration building was by African-American artists.

The organization formed to mount an exhibition of black artists and has expanded to include other events such as seminars, jazz brunches and collectors’ workshops.

The first Atrium exhibition was held on the second floor, but now, art work is displayed throughout the county administration building.

In addition to its other programs, Art in the Atrium cosponsors artist residencies in the Morris School District that benefit between 200 to 500 students each year. It also awards an annual scholarship to a student artist, whose work is often exhibited in the show.

This year, it will include a gallery of children's work featuring their response to past Art in the Atrium exhibits they visited during school field trips.

For more information, visit

About Alonzo Adams

Known for his figurative paintings, Alonzo Adams’ work recalls the portraits of artists who inspired him: Rembrandt, John Singer Sargent and Henry O. Tanner.

His oil paintings have been auctioned off at Sotheby’s and collected by Maya Angelou, Alonzo Mourning and Bill Cosby, who first gave Adams exposure by featuring his paintings on the set of “The Cosby Show.’’

Adams was one of the first African-American artists to become an Absolut Artist and in 2004 became one of the first inductees into the newly created Rutgers African American Alumnae Association Hall of Fame. He formerly served on the board of the DuCret School of Art in Plainfield, NJ.

Thanks to former colleague Carrie Stetler for this information.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

City To Buy Comcast Airtime for Branding

To attract economic development, the city will spend $75,000 in Urban Enterprise Zone funds in 2016 on Comcast ads.

The City Council approved the expenditure unanimously on Jan. 19, though not without some commentary about council inclusion in the ads Councilwoman Bridget Rivers led off  by asking who would be making decisions about the ads and whether the council would be included.

"The City Council will be consulted," City Administrator Rick Smiley said, "but the content decisions will be by the mayor's office."

Rivers pressed for the council to be included in the decision making and Smiley said the ads would be about transportation and construction. (The resolution, R 047-16, cites the "one-seat ride" and the city's transit village designation as items of interest to investors, developers and new homeowners.)

Smiley said he could not speak to the actual content, but said he knew some would be done by Comcast.

"So it's safe to say no administrators and no City Council will be involved?" Rivers said.

"I wouldn't say that," Smiley replied.

"So you can include the council?" Rivers said.

"I think the ordinance as it stands is a sound ordinance," Smiley said/

"I can't support it as it stands," Rivers said. "We are a strong part of re-branding."

Rivers said the measure required the advice and consent of the council as well as the administration.

Council President Cory Storch pointed out the ads would be very short and the city would have to get the message across very fast. He said he believed the best salespeople would be business people, with one public spokesperson. Noting the ad spots were only 30 seconds or so, he said it would be hard to fit in more than one elected official.

"It's appropriate that it be the mayor," Storch said.

Councilwoman Gloria Taylor said, "It's a shame that we have to make sure that the council is included in some aspect, because you would assume that the council would be included. I think you would want that. Why are we being so guarded?"

Taylor said she thought the executive of the city should be the lead, but she said she didn't think the citizens wanted it to be.

Taylor told Smiley, "Your response is kind of negative," and repeated her opinion that the council should be included.

After she chided Smiley further, he said the council was not being excluded from the process, but he was not privy to the scripts.

"Please forgive me if you think you are being excluded," he said in apologizing.

Storch, who earlier named some of the council committees for 2016, then said he, Rivers and Taylor would be liaisons for Economic Development.

"I hope we will get behind this," he said.

The roll call vote was then unanimously in favor of the resolution. The term of the agreement is from Feb. 29 through Dec. 25.


Monday, January 25, 2016

State of City Address Moved to Feb. 4

Tuesday's State of the City Address
by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp
has been rescheduled to 
Thursday, Feb. 4
7 p.m. at the Senior Center
400 E. Front St.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Toliver Calls for Municipal Complex at Muhlenberg

The Jan. 19 City Council had barely started when Councilwoman Diane Toliver said she wanted to read something to the public. I couldn't write fast enough to capture the statement, so later in the week I asked her for the text, which she sent over by email. Here it is:

Council  members,  Administration  and  tax payers of the city,we are always looking for cost effective measures to save the citizen on taxes. I've noticed a lot of our government buildings are old and cannot no longer expand with the many changes of the future, some are well over 100 years old and the cost to maintain them will continue to rise.


I'm asking the governing body and the administration to consider expanding our Municipal and some government building to the Muhlenberg site. A Municipal Complex would be a worthwhile study in conjunction with the one that was previously proposed a you have economic development to draw potential buyers for Muhlenberg hospital. The site would make an excellent Municipal complex for the city of Plainfield. 

The city would save million of dollars housing our Municipal court,police department, detectives bureau,parking authority, PLFD Ambulance and numerous other potential departments in the annex building under one roof. The study would provide pros and cons,rent,upkeep,office supplies,utilities, shared services etc. Also, what will be the outcome if nothing is done? Therefore, I'm asking my colleagues and the administration to take a serious look at the potential for this site.

Council President Cory Storch then asked whether the administration was prepared to give an update on the Muhlenberg property at the February meeting. City Administrator Rick Smiley said there would be conversation in February on the topic.

In council comments at the end of the meeting, Councilwoman Bridget Rivers said she hoped the administration would look into Councilwoman Toliver's suggestion.
Readers may recall that the Muhlenberg campus was subdivided into three lots and relocation of the Satellite Emergency Department from the former hospital building to Kenyon House at the corner of Park Avenue and Randolph Road, only the vacant hospital remained on the largest lot. It was the site once proposed for a 600-unit residential building that was vehemently opposed by a large number of Plainfield residents.

The apartment proposal was based on astudy by a real estate expert Jeffrey Otteauwho said he found it to be the best use for the site. The city later hired a firm to make a separate Muhlenberg studywhich concluded that medical uses would be best for the site.

In September, another study found the hospital site to be "in need of  redevelopment" and recommended a "non-condemnation" approach, which took the previously-considered use of eminent domain off the table. Attorney Steven J. Tripp said Muhlenberg favored non-condemnation. The next step is for the council to ask the Planning Board to make a redevelopment plan.

Toliver's statement is somewhat a bolt out of the blue. It stands in contrast to many residents' desire to see a medical use for the site. There would probably have to be a feasibility study of what it would cost to consolidate city operations on one site, and what would become of the emptied city buildings. If there is any interest in the concept, working out the details might span several years. Currently, the capital budget is limited and there are many future demands on it.

The promised conversation about the Muhlenberg site could come up at either the agenda-fixing session (Feb. 1) or the regular meeting (Feb.8). Both will be held in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hillside Avenue Historic District Reorganizes

It would have been easy for Libby and Peter Price just to enjoy living in their new home in the Hillside Avenue Historic District, but in April they took on the challenge of reviving the district association. At a reorganization meeting on Jan. 17, the new group was able to share a litany of accomplishments, ranging from restoring its fiscal health to getting city approval for 4-way stops that improve traffic safety.

Each of the city's six residential historic districts - Hillside, Van Wyck Brooks, Broadway, Netherwood Heights, Putnam-Watchung and Crescent Area - are meant to have associations to uphold the goals of the city's Historic Preservation Ordinance, in conjunction with the Historic Preservation Commission. Associations also help publicize the city's rich architectural heritage with house tours and other events that draw visitors from all over, another reason to keep them strong.

But as people come and go, associations may weaken or disband. Another goal in reviving the Hillside group was to use social media both to foster camaraderie and to keep up communication. There is now a Facebook page, a Hillside Avenue District website and a district email account. The group also initiated dialogue with city officials, which is ongoing and helped with projects such as new street and stop signs and the first-ever 4-way stops. High public interest led to city establishment of other 4-way stops at dangerous intersections.

As association president, Peter Price reported all the innovations at the Jan. 17 meeting, including improved street lighting and deer crossing signs.

Price was re-elected to serve as president for 2016, along with Dawn Jenkin as vice president, Nathan Vaughn as treasurer and Mike Seganish as secretary.

City Council President Cory Storch, who represents the Second Ward, commended the group for its work and gave updates on city redevelopment, code enforcement and road repair plans. HPC Chairman Bill Michelson and Vice Chairman Larry Quirk conveyed the commission's delight at having the district active again and said the HPC is is working with homeowners in historic districts to provide help and guidance on rails, stairs and fences.(See the HPC's complete Design Guidelines here.)

Two district homes will be featured venues for special events later in 2016.
In September, the Plainfield Symphony 97th Season Gala will be held at the Price home, 966 Hillside Ave.
In October, the  Friends of the Plainfield Library Wine Tasting will be held at the Vaughn home, 999 Hillside Ave.. (Photos provided by Peter Price.)

Friday, January 22, 2016

South Second Street Redevelopment Plan Going to Council

Planning Board members voted unanimously Thursday to send a South Second Street redevelopment plan to the City Council for approval.

The redevelopment site is a large tract between Grant Avenue and Plainfield Avenue where plans have already been made public for 90 units of residential housing and construction of a 44,000-square foot commercial building.

The discussion Thursday night included comments regarding the board's insistence on directing the redevelopment process rather than letting the redeveloper guide it.

"We're not giving away anything," said Ron Scott Bey, who was re-elected chairman for 2016.

Planning Director Bill Nierstedt also alluded to the ethics of the Planning Division and said they "haven't gotten in bed with the developer."

Nierstedt said the developer did not agree with everything in the plan, but will work with the city.

Chief of Staff John Stewart, the mayor's liaison to the Planning Board, said the city planning office "in good faith" wrote a redevelopment plan.

The City Council passed a resolution in November authorizing Mayor Adrian O. Mapp to execute a redevelopment agreement based on a 60-page draft that accompanied the Nov. 23 resolution. It did allow for modification "as deemed necessary by the mayor in consultation with the city's staff and professionals."

Among the terms proposed in November:
The developer will pay the city $250,000 for the five-acre plot and the city is selling it "as-is."
The developer will have to deal with any environmental issues.
The developer can terminate if there is no PILOT agreement within 90 days.
There will be a $50,000 donation to Hannah Atkins Community Center
A 20 percent goal for minority employment is part of the deal.

This development is very significant for the West End, which has not seen major development in recent years. Click on links below to read prior blog posts regarding the development plans.

West End Site Eyed for Redevelopment

Crowd-Sourcing, Anyone?

South Second Street Redevelopment Unveiled

Some Details on South Second Agreement

East, West Get Council's Best


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dunkin' Donuts, Shell Station Approved

After approving a new Dunkin' Donuts and Shell gas station on Terrill Road Wednesday, Zoning Board members were effusive in praise for the project.

"Thank you for investing in Plainfield," Jim Spear said.

Board Chairman D. Scott Belin thanked attorney James Turteltaub and his team of expert witnesses "for the professionalism of your presentation" and called the venture "a nice addition to Terrill Road."

Plainfield Gas Realty LLC proposed the gas station and restaurant last year, but a December hearing fell through when officials realized that nearby property owners on the Scotch Plains and Fanwood side of Terrill Road had not been notified as required. (See Plaintalker's December post on the Dunkin' Donuts/Shell application here.) The former plant nursery site bordered by Terrill Road, East Third Street and McCrea Place will be cleared for the new use.
Planning witness James Henry (L) and attorney James Turteltaub (R)
Much of the hearing on the proposal centered on signage Tuesday. Turteltaub and board members went back and forth over sign issues until they reached a compromise after 11 p.m. Signs for Dunkin' Donuts, Shell and current gas prices will be lower and smaller than first proposed and a ground-level "monument" sign will be placed near a driveway.

The Dunkin' Donuts will be open 24 hours a day, but the drive-in menu board speaker will be turned off at night for the sake of nearby residents. Belin said there is a large new apartment building across the street in Scotch Plains. On the Plainfield side, the lot abuts a residential neighborhood.

Not only did the applicant agree to plant 153 trees and shrubs on the site, the company will also put in new sidewalks and curbs and overlay portions of East Third Street. Planning Director Bill Nierstedt also said the company could agree to donate street trees to another location if they could not plant any around the site as now required for new applications.

Another applicant did not do so well. Noble Way, Inc. wanted to convert first-floor commercial space to residential use at 1437-1439 Park Avenue, where there was already an apartment on the second floor. After a lengthy presentation, board members voted 4 in favor and 3 against the application, which meant it failed.

The board also held its annual reorganization and re-elected D. Scott Belin as chairman and Alejandro Ruiz as vice-chairman. Peter Vignuolo will be the board attorney for 2016 and Rosalind Miller will serve as secretary.

Planning Director Bill Nierstedt reminded all that the Planning Board reorganizes at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in City Hall Library. One of the applications to be heard is for South Second Street Redevelopment, a proposal unveiled in November.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Municipal ID Card Gets Initial Approval

An ordinance to create a municipal ID card passed on first reading Tuesday, but not before members of the City Council and the public demanded input from a non-profit group that started issuing ID cards three years ago.

Carmen Salavarrieta of Angels for Action will meet with city officials to forge cooperation before the ordinance comes up for second reading and final passage on Feb. 8.

Both cards benefit populations including Latinos, young people, parolees, homeless, seniors and others who need ID cards and may not have some of the standard identifications such as a driver's license. Many speakers noted the usefulness of the alternative IDs in case of accidents or medical emergencies where families need to be notified to aid a loved one. Both require proof of identity and Plainfield residency and have fees for the cards.

See more details on the proposed municipal ID card here.

Despite much talk of cooperation, speakers in public comment at the council meeting also expressed some turf issues.
Sharon Robinson-Briggs
Former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who endorsed Salavarrieta's card before she left office, recounted how Salavarrieta was invited to other municipalities to teach officials how to replicate her effort. (See Angels for Action ID card info here.)

Robinson-Briggs' rival and successor, Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, called on Salavarrieta to "cease and desist" soon after taking office in 2014. He charged the organization with improperly using the city seal and said he had received complaints about cardholders being unable to get back documents they submitted in order to obtain the cards.
Carmen Salavarrietta
Although Salavarrieta cited Latino organizations she consulted in developing the cards, Flor Gonzalez of the Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs named other Latino groups the commission had met with while researching the municipal ID card.

Carlos Ponton of PACHA mentioned meeting with members of the Tri-County Latino Coalition of New Jersey regarding a municipal ID card and also consulting with the Center for Popular Democracy.

Councilwoman Gloria Taylor suggested the ordinance could be held until Angels for Action was included, saying it was "not right and not fair" to leave them out of the discussion.

"Let's try to build it and work out a win-win," Taylor said.

After City Administrator Rick Smiley said the ordinance was up for first reading Tuesday and the administration would have an opportunity to speak with Angels in Action before second reading, the council voted approval unanimously.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sample School Board Petition Available Online

I just read Dan's blog about a delay in nominating petitions being available for the April school board election. The New Jersey School Boards Association has a sample Nominating Petition that might suffice. Ask the NJSBA about whether it would be acceptable and if not, why not?

Their email is info@njsba and their phone number is 888-88NJSBA.

Here is some general information on petitions from the Union County Clerk's office. My understanding is that petitions for the Plainfield April election must be handed in to the Plainfield board office, not to the county clerk.

Qualifications and Instructions for Petition
Candidates filing a nominating petition for school board must meet the following qualifications:
  • Must be a citizen of the United States of America
  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must be able to read and write
  • Must be a resident for at least one year preceding the date of election in the municipality where he/she is to be elected
  • Is not disqualified as a voter pursuant to N.J.S.A. 19:4-1
  • Is not disqualified from membership for the conviction of crimes pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:12-1*
  • Is a registered voter in the school district
*Within 30 days of election or appointment to the board, a member must undergo a criminal history background investigation through the New Jersey Department of Education.

Instructions for Petition
  1. Before circulating the petition complete section “A. Nominating Statement” and section “B. Signatories” above the area for the signatures, printed name, residence and mailing address.
  2. Then have voters sign, print their name and print their complete residence.  The candidate must sign if he/she is the person circulating the petition.
  3. Once all signatures are gathered the person who circulated the petition for the signatures must take the oath in section “C.Verification” before a notary public.
  4. Section “D. Notice” is the notice to which all candidates must comply.
  5. In section “E. Candidate’s Acceptance and Oath of Allegiance” the candidate must take the oath before a notary public.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Council Notes and Meeting Advisory

Tuesday's City Council is likely to be brief, with almost everything on the agenda slated to be passed in a single vote. The governing body declined last week to move a PMUA appointment to the agenda, so that's that. Some fiscal matters and legal settlements will require separate votes. The most newsworthy items may be the vote on an ordinance for municipal ID cards, and a new item, an ordinance that will allow the mayor to name the city's representative to the Plainfield Area Regional Sewerage Authority. Currently, the PARSA representatives must be the executive director of the PMUA or PMUA members. It may seem arcane as an issue, but for some reason anything having to do with the PMUA gets a lot of page views and comments on the blog. If this ordinance (MC 2016-2) passes Tuesday , it can still be cut off at second reading and final passage. If it clears that hurdle, the next one is the actual nomination of a commissioner and two alternates. Depending who they are, the council may approve or reject the nominees.

And so it goes.

Stay warm if you intend to venture out Tuesday night. The meeting is 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. and the forecast is for a low temperature of 19, with wind chill values between 10 and 15 degrees.

Please note the State of the City Address will take place next week. If you can't read the fine print on the post below, click to enlarge it or note it will take place at 7 p.m. in the Senior Center, 400 E. Front St. I will probably be walking over, but if you are driving, allow extra time to find a parking place and don't park in any space behind the building that is designated for residents of The Monarch (the upper three floors of the building).


Special Meeting for State of the City Address

CDCs Uphold MLK Values

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

It seems appropriate on the day we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to talk about community development corporations, sometimes called faith-based organizations.

One of the largest CDCs in the nation is New Community Corporation in Newark, which began in response to the aftermath of 1967 civil disturbances. Its mission was to provide vital services to a community in turmoil and it is still helping people obtain housing, jobs and food.

Locally, there are several CDCs with varied missions. A Plaintalker post from 2007 describes efforts of Liberty CDC (affiliated with Mount Olive Baptist Church) to address gun violence. While that program was later disbanded due to budget cuts at the Union County Prosecutor's Office, other CDCs are still viable.

- Plainfield Grassroots Community Development Corporation helped organize the Youth Summit held this weekend. Other programs include an SAT prep club and the "Out of the Box Club" for math and science. Correction: It was Grassroots Community Foundation that helped organize the Youth Summit.

- Premier Community Development Corporation develops housing and also has programs on financial literacy, computer literacy and nutrition.

- SHEELD Community Development Corporation is affiliated with Shiloh Baptist Church and offers tutoring, according to a city services directory.

- Cathedral International CDC is affiliated  with Bishop Donald Hilliard's church, Cathedral International. Its mission includes job creation, economic development, life skills training and development of affordable housing.

- United Plainfield Community Development Corporation  is affiliated with United Church of Christ Congregational and offers many social services.

These are just some of the organizations that provide needed services to the community. Staff, volunteers and the institutions that support the work of CDCs are "doing for others" in their own quiet way.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mayor Aims To Clear Up PARSA Appointment Powers

An ordinance on Tuesday's City Council agenda could help resolve the problem of Plainfield's representation on the Plainfield Area Regional Sewerage Authority.

PARSA is one of three authorities that deal with city sewage. The Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority is in charge of the 110-mile sewer system within the city. PARSA conveys sewage from Plainfield and seven other municipalities to the Middlesex County Utilities Authority for treatment. All eight municipalities are supposed to have commissioners on PARSA to represent their interests, but Plainfield's representation has been in dispute for several years.

The Municipal Code currently limits Plainfield appointments to PARSA to either the executive director or a member of the PMUA. The ordinance amends the code to allow the mayor, with advice and consent of the City Council, to make PARSA appointments, the rationale being language in the city's special charter that says in conflicts it prevails over other laws.

Although there can be one Plainfield commissioner and two alternates, all seats are vacant. PMUA's Assistant Executive Director, David Ervin, retired from the authority in 2011 but remained on PARSA as a commissioner until his term expired in January 2015, based on provisions of the state municipal utility law.

The last two alternates were former PMUA members William Reid, whose City Council term ended on Dec. 31, 2014 and Harold Mitchell, a PMUA holdover until June 2015.

Once Ervin's term expired, Mayor Adrian O. Mapp nominated Thomas Crownover to serve on PARSA, but the appointment failed due to the conflict over how PARSA appointments had to be made.

The ordinance was added to Tuesday's agenda as a new item. At the end of the Jan. 11 meeting, the council went into executive session. I did not stay for any outcome of the executive session, but apparently the council emerged and agreed publicly to add the ordinance to the agenda. That would seem to bode well for passage on first reading Tuesday, but it will still have to pass on second reading and it will not become effective for 20 days later. The timing means no appointment can be made until March at the earliest.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Flash from the Past

Reddy Kilowatt

I have always liked Reddy Kilowatt, going back to my antediluvian school days when children were given such tokens. (Another was a miniature loaf of Wonder Bread, not so intriguing.) I was over-serious and fretful a lot of the time and this jaunty fellow with a light-bulb nose and lightning-bolt limbs was a reminder to be upbeat and energetic, or at least get my nose out of a book once in a while.

My daughter knew of my second-childhood wish to have a Reddy Kilowatt pin once more, so when she spotted one while on a trip to Hawaii, she bought it for me.

Looking around the interwebs for some background on Reddy Kilowatt, I found out that he was an icon also to Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead.and that he figured in a celebration of Lesh's 70th birthday.

There is also a website devoted to everything Reddy Kilowatt.

Nowadays with incandescent bulbs outlawed and LED (light emitting diode) a prime successor to Mr. Kilowatt, I suppose he has to retire in favor of his great-grandchild, Leddy Kilowatt.

Whatever you find illuminating, remember to stay on the bright side in 2016!




Thursday, January 14, 2016

Budget Argument for April Election Is Flawed

Anyone who says an April school board election will give voters a say on the budget is only partly correct - no matter what voters say at the polls, the local tax levy will ultimately stand.

In addition, someone commented that the budget comes from the state, also true to an extent.
From 2014-15 budget presentation (click to enlarge)
In 2014-15, 80 percent of the budget came from the state and 3 percent from federal sources, leaving 17 percent to be paid by Plainfield taxpayers.

For the current year, including debt service, city residents are on the hook for $23,958,938 and the rest of the $183,528,630 is from other sources.

In many surrounding districts, the proportions are the opposite. Property owners pay most of school costs, with some state and federal revenues.

Maybe it is time for a reminder that from 1992 to 2007, the local tax levy was always exactly the same: $17,683,906. The disproportionate allocation of state education funds to the neediest (Abbott) districts led to a call for local taxpayers to pitch in more. Read this 2010 Plainfield Plaintalker post to see changes after the School Reform Act of 2008 took effect.

The "fair share" dollar amounts have increased, though the proportion is still low. The goal in 2008 was for Plainfield eventually to pay about $33 million. As you can see, city taxpayers are still far from that amount.

Citizen participation in school affairs appears to be quite low compared to the old days of the Citizens School Budget Advisory Board. Perhaps there are reasons why it dropped off, but the time seems opportune now for more interest and scrutiny on the part of community members. The watchdogs of the past are gone, it seems.

Please feel free to add your thoughts and opinions to this topic, and especially to bring more factual information to light.


Law Forbids Leaving Dogs in Cold

Last March, the City Council approved legislation setting rules for tethering animals and for not leaving them out in extremely hot or cold weather.

Here is the ordinance on leaving animals outdoors:

Sec. 5:7-6B.   Restrictions on leaving animals outdoors.

    (a)     It shall be unlawful for any person to leave any animal outdoors and unattended for a continuous period of time greater than one-half (1/2) hour if the National Weather Service has issued weather alerts or storm warning, or if the temperature during such period is either below 32° F. or above 85° F. The animal shall be considered outside regardless of access to an outdoor doghouse or similar structure, unless such structure is a properly functioning climate-controlled and weather-resistant structure.
    (b)     No animal shall be left outside during snow storms, ice storms or thunderstorms.
(MC 2015-09, March 9, 2015.)

The tethering ordinance may be seen in the Municipal Code, Chapter 5, Article 7.on the city web site.

The laws came about after the plight of a dog named Butch was publicized on social media and animal activists rallied for the legislation.


No E-Waste Recycling at Transfer Station

My favorite electronics
Got new electronics over the holidays? Did you know the old ones must be recycled?

E-Waste alert - as of Jan. 1, you can't drop off old televisions, computers, e-readers or any other electronics at the Rock Avenue transfer station.  PMUA officials are working on the issue, but meanwhile residents are advised to use other recycling programs in Union County or see whether stores accept electronics for recycling by manufacturers.

PMUA Executive Director Daniel Mejias said Tuesday the authority may have an answer by February on E-Waste disposal. The authority was looking at a 30-cent per pound charge, which equates to $600 per ton. Based on last year's tonnage, he said, it would cost the PMUA $90,000 for disposal.

Fanwood's recycling center takes electronics, but asks for a small donation per item. Among other stores, Best Buy has a recycling program.

Setting your old TV out on the curb is unacceptable. It may also attract metal scavengers, who smash TVs and other electronics for the valuable parts and tend to leave a mess with the remains.

The E-Waste dilemma was among many items covered at the PMUA meeting. 

- Mejias said the transfer station passed a DEP compliance inspection, rating 100 percent on keeping normal hours, receiving only licensed materials and not exceeding a 280-ton daily limit.

- CFO Duane Young said the authority had stabilized rates and has not had an increase in five years. In fact, there had been a couple of rate decreases, he said, but called it "unrealistic" to think the trend could continue in light of rising costs. 

- Mejias said the authority's goal is to increase shared services contracts to offset operating costs. The authority has not lost any of its outside contracts and is seeking more. 

- PMUA commissioners approved introduction of the 2016 solid waste and sewer budgets, with passage expected next month. (A call to the authority earlier Tuesday revealed that there will be 20 days' public notice before a rate hearing.)

- In a community outreach project, the PMUA gave out 177 pairs of gloves to children whose parents brought them to the Front Street office. Mejias said the effort was "well-received."

-The authority may replace small pickup trucks in its fleet with hybrid vehicles that can use alternate fuels, Mejias said, "being mindful of the carbon footprint."

- In an end-of-year sewer report, Mejias said 27.44 miles were flushed and 18 miles "televised," referring to use of a robotic camera to examine and assess the interior of sewer lines. Of 101 sewer calls, he said, only three pertained to the PMUA.

- The question of an appointment to the Plainfield Area Regional Sewerage Authority is unresolved. (Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and the City Council are in dispute over who has the authority to appoint a PARSA representative.)

- A commemorative booklet is planned to mark the authority's 20th anniversary.

The authority will reorganize at its meeting next month, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 9 at 127 Roosevelt Ave.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

More on Jan. 11 Council Meeting

Latinos thronged Monday's council meeting in support of a long-desired municipal ID card, developed by the Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

PACHA President Flor Gonzalez called it a "happy day" that should have happened a long time ago. She said it would have helped a man who was recently badly beaten and not found by his family until days later because he carried no identification.

The City Council agreed to put the ID card ordinance up for a vote at the Jan. 19 meeting and if approved, final passage could take place in February.

Carlos Ponton, vice president of PACHA, said the group had been researching municipal ID cards "for the better part of last year." The card will also be available for others who need identification, including seniors, young people, homeless persons and individuals who have a gender identity that differs from what is on their other ID cards.

See Plaintalker's previous post on the ID card ordinance here.

Monday's meeting also included a discussion on use of the city's mass communication system. Councilwoman Gloria Taylor said she was concerned over use of "robo-calls," "when they should be done and by whom." She said she was denied use of the system to publicize a meeting she was holding, and also alluded to "questionable" use of the calls.

Most likely Taylor was talking about a November incident in which Mayor Adrian O. Mapp used the system to say that Schools Superintendent Anna Belin-Pyles had made an "executive decision" to cancel a youth summit meeting. See Plaintalker's "He Said, She Said" post here 

Taylor spoke at length Monday on the need for a policy on use of the robo-calls. Corporation Counsel David Minchello said a draft policy had been prepared, allowing use of the system for both council and administration for events or emergencies. It is not to be used for political purposes, he said, but the issue is "what is political" and who should be the arbiter - the council, administration, or city clerk's office.

Taylor made several other points before City Administrator Rick Smiley said he believed the final determination on use of the call system should be made by his office.

Council President Cory Storch, looking on the sunny side, called it "progress" that the council and administration had agreed to discuss the matter. The discussion concluded with Minchello suggesting a small committee representing both branches of government could work on the draft policy and put it on the February agenda. The council agreed to the plan.

Storch, who will serve as council president for 2016, led another discussion item on council  meeting conduct. He said Robert's Rules of Order are "not that clear to the public" and maybe not to some council members. He asked Minchello to explain "point of order." Minchello said a "point of order" stops the meeting, but is "procedural, not substantive." The council president is the arbiter, he said. (An online definition says a point of order calls attention to a violation of the meeting's rules.)

Storch also commented on the use of extended time in public comment, which he said recently has been used more and more often. (Observers have noted that some speakers are held to three- or five-minute limits, while others are granted extra time.) When Storch asked Minchello whether giving extra time could lead to legal exposure, Minchello said limits should be uniform. Storch then advised potential speakers to keep to the limit.

"If you have a lot to say, practice ahead of time," he said.

The reminder resulted in all but one speaker adhering to the time limit Monday.

Another item Monday was Mapp's nomination of PMUA Alternate No. 1 Commissioner Robin Bright for a full five-year term, replacing Commissioner Jacinth Clayton-Hunt. The board of commissioners has five voting members and two alternates who only vote in the absence of  one or two of the five. A consensus to move the resolution to the Jan. 19 agenda failed in a 3-3-1 roll call, with Storch, Rebecca Williams and Barry Goode saying "yes," Taylor, Bridget Rivers and Diane Toliver saying "no" and Tracey Brown abstaining.

Clayton-Hunt, whose term is expiring on Feb. 1, will remain on the board as a holdover

The regular City Council meeting is 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19 in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. .


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

No Consensus for November School Board Election

School board elections will likely revert back to April this year, barring litigation, because there was no City Council consensus Monday for Mayor Adrian O. Mapp's move to keep them in November.

Corrected Consensus on a resolution for November school board elections failed 4-3, with Barry Goode, Rebecca Williams and Council President Cory Storch saying "yes" to putting the measure up for a vote at the Jan. 19 council meeting and Gloria Taylor, Bridget Rivers, Diane Toliver and Tracey Brown saying "no." Before seeking consensus, the council heard more than 20 residents, including six school board members, speaking out on their perceived pros and cons of school board timing.

In 2012, either the Board of Education or the City Council had the power to move school board elections to coincide with the November general election. The matter could also have become a public question for voters to decide. The City Council acted first, voting to move the election to November. The law allowed for either entity to reverse the timing after four years, and on Nov. 10 the school board did so at a work and study meeting with no prior notice.

Charges flew in public comment. Terri Slaughter-Cabbell said the board showed a "total lack of transparency" with the walk-on vote, calling it "a disservice and slap in the face to the community." But Board President Wilma Campbell said it was done in a public meeting.

"We have not done anything improper or illegal," she said.

School board attorney Lisa Fittipaldi also defended the action, though later Plainfield Corporation Counsel David Minchello said later he "disagreed vehemently" with her. Minchello said there was nothing in the statute to say the date could not be changed after the board's action.

Board member David Rutherford, who defended the change to April on his Plainfield View blog, called New Jersey "the most meddling state" and wondered whether the city budget would turn up in the Board of Education packet.

Opponents of the April election said Plainfield is the only district changing back from November and it will cost $100,000 or more. But residents will get to vote on the budget in April, supporters said. Resident Jim Spear punched a hole in that argument by pointing out that Plainfield is an Abbott district, which guarantees budget passage even if voters reject it.

Besides possible costs of an April election, opponents said polls will only be open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., in contrast with November's voting hours from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. But April election supporters argued that November elections are too political, even though school board candidates are separate and labeled as nonpartisan.

In remarks after the consensus failed, council members repeated a lot of the same arguments.

"People don't go all the way down to the end of the ballot," Rivers said of the November elections.

Taylor said she liked November elections better, but called the mayor's proposed resolution "too fast." She also found the proposed reversal of the board's decision "disrespectful." Repeating her charge that it was "too soon," she said the matter could be fixed "next year." Taylor also saw it as a turf issue and said it was disrespectful of the city to take on the board's role. Calling it a "power play," she said of the rejected resolution, "It's not all wrong, but it's not right."

Storch said litigation over the issue would be a one-time cost, but the estimated $115,000 cost of an April election will be recurring.

Barring a stay of the board's decision, the new timeline means candidates must file by February 29 for an April 19 election. See all election dates here.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Keep BOE Issue Factual, Please

So tonight the City Council will be asked to consider a resolution to move the school board elections back to November.

Blogger Dan Damon posts this:

Consider this: for the four November elections (2012-15) a total of 44,706 votes were cast for 3-year board seats; from 2005-2008, when elections were in April, the total was 16,788. So, how would reducing the turnout by 60% be "progressive"?

In my opinion, he is making the same mistake Norman E. Ortega made on his analysis of the 2014 school board election results, namely confusing total votes with turnout. Each voter is entitled to three votes for school board candidates, so the turnout is much less than the total votes cast.

Getting the facts from the school board is not easy. I made an Open Public Records Act request on Jan. 4 for two items:

OPRA REQUEST: Text of resolution hiring Norman C. Payne, including date of hire, date of resolution, title, salary, term of employment, recorded vote by board
(If more than one title, text of resolution, date of hire, date of resolution, title, salary, term of employment, recorded vote by board for each title)

OPRA REQUEST: Text of resolution to change school board election date back to April,  date of resolution and recorded vote by board.
It is my understanding that a reply is due within seven business days and responses must be in writing. As I have stated, my preference is to receive the responses by email at the address above.

Today I got this response first:

The requested information is on the District’s website under minutes.

So I spent a while looking around a large batch of minutes that were just posted recently for meetings going back several months.

I had to run an errand and when I got  back I found a subsequent message:

The information you are requesting is located in the September 22nd and November 10th minutes.

September 22 was the date of a special meeting. Here is the information I requested Formatting did not survive the cut-and-paste):

The Superintendent of Schools recommends and moved by Mrs. Campbell and seconded by Mr. Moore for adoption of the following: RESOLUTION WHEREAS, the Plainfield Board of Education recognizes that a highly qualified, competent, skilled, and dedicated workforce is essential to the success of the District and the students. RESOLVED, that the Plainfield Board of Education approves the appointment of N. Christopher Payne as Chief Information Officer and Technology Officer effective October 20, 2015 or sooner at a prorated salary of $125,000.00. The motion carried on a roll-call vote with Mr. Campbell, Mrs. Campbell, Mrs. Coley, Mr. Moore, Mr. Rutherford and Mr. Wyatt in favor and none were opposed.

The November 10 meeting was a work-and-study session. Here is the reference in the minutes:

Mrs. Campbell stated that as a Board they had an option to change the Board Elections to April after four years of having November elections. She questioned whether the process had become too political. It was supposed to be separate and apart from partisan elections and people were confused in thinking that when they voted for a particular board candidate they were voting a party line. She stated a resolution had been prepared to change the election back to the third Tuesday in April and then read the resolution out loud.
Mr. John Campbell stated that he believed education was too important to mingle in politics. The motion to move the election was carried by a 7-1 vote. Mrs. Campbell moved and seconded by Mr. Moore to move the election to April. The motion passed on a roll-call vote with seven members in favor and one opposed.

In my opinion, the board had the right to make the change as provided in state law. I feel it is the method that is questionable, and perhaps the notion that voters would think they were voting the party line, as the general election ballot separates the school board election from other elective offices identified by party. Some might say Democrats confused the issue by linking the party to board elections in various ways, i.e., announcing slates at party meetings or mingling campaign signs for the general and school board elections.

I have joked that Plainfield's favorite sport is jumping to conclusions and now I would add that perhaps Plainfield's favorite exercise is spinning. The issue of when school board elections should take place may end up enriching some lawyers, but meanwhile can we please try to be factual in discussing it?