Sunday, August 16, 2009

Monday night Council agenda

I am posting to alert citizens to the fact that there are two new items on the Council's agenda for Monday's business meeting:

1. A resolution for the transit oriented vision study. The city will apply to use $80,000 from our Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) fund to pay Rutgers and NJIT to assist Plainfield in creating a vision for our downtown and along our rail corridor. I plan to vote yes for this resolution.
2. An ordinance creating an IT position including a salary range and job description. I will vote yes for this also.

These items should have been on the agenda for last Mondays meeting. I was expecting to see them at that time. It is unfortunate that we are not following our normal procedure for these important and necessary initiatives. I hope an explanation is provided for this. Nevertheless we need to move forward on both fronts.

Since I have been very involved with the vision proposal I can shed more light on that process than on the IT initiative. We have been working hard with Rutgers and NJIT to craft the vision proposal so it meets Plainfields needs. There has been input from the Council, the Mayor, City Administrator and the Planning Board members. This proposal has received attention from the Courier News (a favorable editorial this past spring) and I have reported on it at several Council and Planning Board meetings. In addition to meeting Plainfields needs the study needs to align with the academic calendars of both partner institutions. We have a timetable that all parties agreed to and it includes an approved Council resolution by 8/17. That sets the stage for an application to the state UEZ office and eventual approval so that all partners can get to work this fall and into 2010. So I am not happy that this was not up for discussion last week and I promise to have a full discussion this coming Monday. But we need to approve this resolution now.

I should also note that there is a lot of speculation that the Monarch tax abatement will be put back on the agenda Monday. I have not heard this and I do not believe that a group of Council members would orchestrate such a move without disclosure to the rest of the Council. Call me naive but we will know for sure on Monday. This has become a hot button issue because people are upset about their taxes and PMUA fees. When this does come back to the Council and if we do vote on it, many will say a yes vote puts you in the developers and Jerry Greens pocket. All I can say is that neither Jerry Green or the developer has lobbied me for this tax abatement. I am not categorically against tax abatements and am still gathering and weighing the facts in this particular proposal. If I do vote against it, I will still be open to the possibility of tax abatements in the future if I think they will help Plainfield.

Lets focus on the facts and not the personalities.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Passing of Rick Taylor

Rick Taylor was a unique figure in the history of Plainfield. As Lois and I became more involved in the 1990's in the political life of Plainfield, we saw Rick as larger than life, a media star who was not content to see Plainfield as a small, out of the way place. We came to know him first through the Courier-News, the Star-Ledger and even the network tv news.

In some ways he put Plainfield on the map with his amazing ability to use the news media to promote his interests. The details of local government he left to others but he worked his way onto a bigger stage with his connections to Jesse Jackson and other African American leaders. To his credit many residents and people who worked for him during his time as Mayor of Plainfield were helped to see Plainfield in a broader context.

Lois was involved in one of his mayoral campaigns (she was into local politics more than I was in those days) and I also knew Rick as a fellow not for profit executive director from his work at Grant Avenue Community Center. I always liked that after his government service ended he stayed connected to city government and attended Council meetings. I will miss his blunt manner and sometimes poetic way of speaking. I liked how he carried himself - like he knew he had to be reckoned with and you'd better know it too. I didn't agree with everything he did as an elected official but when you wanted some action or decision to happen in Plainfield, you wanted Rick Taylor on your side more than anyone else in town.

My condolences to Mayor Ricks family and close friends.