Monday, February 23, 2015

Grand Opening of Farmers Insurance in Downtown Plainfield

Like signs of an early spring, new businesses are sprouting in downtown Plainfield.  The newest one is Farmers Insurance at 110 East 4th Street.  I attended the grand opening today.  The business owner, Jayme Vinas, took an old shell of an industrial space and made it comfortable, attractive and modern.

Mayor Adrian Mapp and Deputy City Administrator/Economic Development Director Carlos Sanchez were on hand to celebrate with Mr. Vinas, his family and friends and yours truly.

Farmers Insurance is open for business. They offer auto, home, commercial and life insurance policies.  Farmers can be reached at 908 205 8822. 

Interestingly, the "Telephone Building" is directly across the street.  This is one of Frank Cretella's residential projects, now completed and occupied.  This part of downtown, although right next to the downtown train station (the Manhattan bound side), has had a vacant and deteriorated look, that is up till now. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Latinos rally at City Council Meeting

Monday, February 9, 2015. A big turnout of Latino residents at our City Council meeting.  They were there to support a resolution urging the state legislature to allow undocumented state residents to have driving permits.  I wonder if this was a sign of the future for Plainfield politics and government. But first let's take a look at some facts about Latinos in local government.

As many in Plainfield know, there are no current Latino City Council members.  Ray Blanco was the last and he claimed to be the first.  There have been a few Latino Board of Education members over the years.  Christian Estevez was a example from the recent past.  Orlando Gonzalez was another, from the 1990's (he was my running mate along with Beulah Womack and served one term).  David Rutherford is the only current BOE member. None of Plainfield's three state legislators is Latino.

The Mapp administration appointed Carlos Sanchez to a cabinet level position but there have been few high level Latino officials over the years.  There are a number of Latinos in the police department but I believe they do not approach 40% of the force.  With over 40% of the population, Plainfield Latinos are woefully underrepresented in governmental positions.

As for politics, the Latino show of force quickly awakened the interest of local politicians and organizers in the audience. Along with sincere expressions of support for the Latinos at the Council meeting, there were some who worked strenuously to turn them against the Mayor.  There were a few speakers who in the past year made negative and unsupportive comments about Latinos who on February 9 suddenly saw the light.

So after many years of disengagement, they were out in force and seemingly organized to voice their position.  I said at the meeting that this was by far the most Latino residents at a City Council meeting over my nearly three terms in office.  They were there, not to lobby for a special interest (like a taxi company) or to protest a violent crime against a Latino but to support legislation. And they are using social media to organize.  This is different.

To repeat what I said at the end of the Council meeting to the Latinos in the audience, don't believe everything you hear from local politicians.  Check the facts against the statements.  Check me out also.  As an ally of Ray Blanco and supporter who helped create the Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs, I am not a recent convert to the cause.  Although the Commission was ineffective, basically inactive, during the Robinson-Briggs administration, Adrian Mapp gave it a new life with his commission appointments in 2014.

There are many agendas in play in Plainfield, especially as we approach the June primary.  I hope to see many of the new faces at future Council meetings.  The more residents that get involved, the better our city government will be.  But keep your eyes wide open as you step into Plainfield politics.

Monday, February 2, 2015

I am running for re-election

I am declaring my intention to run for re-election as 2nd ward City Councilman in the June Democratic primary.  I care deeply about Plainfield and believe that I have much to offer city government as we work to make Plainfield a better place. 

When I first decided to run for City Council, at the urging of Al McWilliams, I wanted to make a difference in a city government that was an impediment to progress in Plainfield, that there was tremendous untapped and frustrated potential waiting to be unleashed.  Certainly the last administration limited Plainfield's progress but still I made a difference. I will share my accomplishments as a Councilman and goals for the next four years in future blogs.

Plainfield's potential is actually increasing with the one seat ride and a decreasing crime rate. Now, with a new and more capable administration, I am highly motivated to complete unfinished business.  I have been an advocate for road paving, surveillance cameras and flood insurance rate reductions.  I feel strongly that my experience and knowledge of our city government  is needed to move these initiatives and others forward.  I have been a positive influence on the City Council as it struggles to cooperate with Mayor Adrian Mapp. 

The only reason I am running for Council is to make a difference for our city.  I am beholden to no-one except my constituents. I hope the way I have conducted myself, ethically and with common sense, will gain me your support in the June election.