Monday, February 1, 2016

2nd Annual Latino Action Network Legislative Conference

Incoming Latino Action Network President Christian Estevez moderating morning Plenary Session with members of the NJ Hispanic Legislative Caucus, including Asw. Annette Quijano, Sen. Nellie Pou,  Asm. Marlene Caride, Asw. Annette Chapparo, and Asw. Eliana Pintor Marin.
This past Saturday, January 30, I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd Annual Latino Action Network Legislative Conference, held at the Robert Treat Hotel and Conference Center in Newark, NJ. Incoming LAN President (and PACHA Commissioner) Christian Estevez moderated the morning Plenary Session with members of the NJ Hispanic Legislative Caucus, who discussed issues of concern to the larger Latino population in New Jersey, including education, child care, earned sick leave, in-state tuition for DREAMERs, municipal IDs, and driving privileges for undocumented residents. I was especially happily to see some of my students from Essex County College in attendance at the conference--the Essex County Dream Team was represented!

Workers' Rights Panel.
Latino Action Network Steering Committee Swearing-in.
Several concurrent  breakout sessions included Immigrant Rights, Environmental Justice, Educating Our Children, Latino Youth Activism, Voting Rights, Affordable Housing, Political Empowerment, Health Enrollment and Access. One of the panels I attended was the Workers Rights panel, moderated by Craig Garcia of New Jersey Working Families. This excellent discussion focused on the fight for justice in the workplace, the recent successes in local worker mobilization to organize unions within their workplaces, and the importance of community engagement to improve working conditions.

Also speaking that day were Ambassador Phil Murphy, Sen. Ray Lesniak, Asm. John Wisnieskwi, Sen. Teresa Ruiz, and Sen. Steve Sweeney. NAACP State President Richard T. Smith also spoke, stressing the importance of coalition-building among communities of Color. The Keynote Speaker was Mayor Steve Fulop of Jersey City. Below, in part, are Mayor Fulop's remarks:

All in all, the conference was a great success, as attested to by the packed rooms for the entire day. I look forward to the next event, and to building upon the new networks!



Saturday, January 16, 2016

Saturday, Jan. 16 - 8th Anuual MLK Food Drive and Potluck Celebration!

“I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for the minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.” --Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mayor Adrian Mapp's 8th Annual MLK Food Drive and Potluck Celebration will begin at 5:00 pm this evening, Saturday, January 16, 2016, at the home of the mayor--535 West Eighth Street. Click on the flier below and print it out. For the past 8 years, the Mayor and the First Lady have served as hosts for this event honoring the legacy of Dr. King. Bring a dish to share for the potluck, and meet and greet your friends and neighbors!  
PLEASE BRING DONATIONS of canned and packaged goods, as well as toiletry items (toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorants, soap, shampoo, sanitary napkins, lotion, mouthwash, and other sundries). As Mayor Mapp noted on his own blog post about this yearly event, "We look forward to welcoming you and to having a good time with all as we collectively do for others as we would have them do for us! [...] We hope that you will be a generous donor this year."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Youth Summit Listening Session - Tonight at Plainfield Public Library

Tonight (Thursday, December 10, beginning at 6:00 pm, the City of Plainfield will host another "Listening Session" for the Youth Summit on Education and Employment at the Plainfield Public Library. If the young people you know have not attended one of these listening sessions, I strongly urge you to bring them--and to come yourself--to be a part of the planning for this event, scheduled for early in the New Year. Many folks repeat the old platitude, "the youth are our future," but then don't bring them to events such as these.

The GrassROOTS Community Foundation, a public health and social action organization, will be facilitating the discussion and the summit.  It is imperative that young people be a part of the planning in order for this summit on education and employment to be successful for THEM. I hope that you will attend!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

World AIDS Day 2015 - Think Positive: Rethink HIV

The theme for World AIDS Day 2015 is "Think Positive: Rethink HIV." #rethinkhiv 

The First Unitarian Society of Plainfield is hosting a World AIDS Day event today (December 1) from 12:00 - 5:00 at 724 Park Avenue in partnership with the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation and Iris House, with free HIV testing (see below).

The link below will take you to the official government site, which lists activities and events:

The statistics for American youth (especially African Americans) remain alarming--here is a link to the CDC site with statistics (the left navigation bar on the site will take you to other HIV stats for other populations):

The statistics clearly show the likelihood for youth to contract HIV/AIDS--70% don't even know that they are infected. 

As in the past, I have posted the IMPACT (Intensive Mobilization to Promote AIDS Awareness through Community-based Technologies) Initiative Statistics for Plainfield for the year ending 2014. 

Plainfield remains on the list of the Top Ten Cities in New Jersey with the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases (we remain at number 9). The IMPACT Initiative is “… a city-by-city community mobilization initiative designed to galvanize and support African American leaders to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in cities with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS.” (from the NJDHSS web site).
So, even as we observe World AIDS Day, we can rethink HIV.


Monday, November 2, 2015


Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Election Day. I am asking you to support Cory Storch and Barry Goode, the Democrats in COLUMN B. I have served with Cory Storch (2nd Ward) on the council and he continues to put Plainfield first. Barry Goode (1st and 4th Ward) has shown, through 20 years of community work, that he will be a strong and dedicated public servant. I am also asking you to support Emily Morgan in COLUMN 3 for the Plainfield Board of Education. Emily is a committed and knowledgeable voice who is beholden only to the children and other residents of Plainfield. She brings a fresh perspective to the issues facing our school district, and she will serve with honor and distinction. We need strong voices on the city council and on the school board who will serve only the people of our great city. When you vote tomorrow, please support these three candidates.  Polls are open from 6:00 am - 8:00 pm.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Trunk or Treat and Doggy Howl at Plainfield City Hall!

The Plainfield Division of Parks and Recreation will once again host Trunk or Treat on Friday, October 30 from 6:00 - 8:00 PM in the City Hall parking lot. There is an application (at the bottom of the post--or just contact Recreation at 908-753-3097 to get an application emailed to you) that all those who will be opening their car trunks must complete. Applications will be available at the event if you cannot email/fax in advance. This is a fun and safe outing for the children of Plainfield. I participated last year (and will again this year), and the kids truly enjoyed moving from car to car for treats--many volunteers helped out last year. If you want to enjoy a good time with the kids in our community, come and participate--decorate your car, or just bring candy donations to the event. Car check-in begins at 5:00 pm, and all cars should be decorated by 5:30. There will be prizes for Best Dressed Car, and prizes will be awarded for Best Costume.

As if that weren't enough, Plainfield dog lovers can enjoy the Doggy Howl Costume Contest, set for Halloween Day, Saturday, October 31 from 12:00 - 1:00 PM, also in the parking lot. You are encouraged to bring some pet food to donate to the Plainfield Area Humane Society. The doggy parade and judging will take place at 12:30. Come show off your dog and give to a good cause at the same time!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Today - October 11- Is National Coming Out Day! Celebrate!

Today, October 11, we celebrate National Coming Out Day, an international observance held annually. Many of us aware the homophobia can rear its ugly head in shocking and unexpected ways, such as at the last Plainfield City Council meeting, where my humanity (and the humanity of all LGBT folks) was challenged as we had to bear the homophobic and transphobic attacks of Alex Toliver, who came to the microphone to disparage me for standing up for myself. There are a number of LGBT and transgender teens and young people living in our city, as the support I was shown at the July 4th Parade will attest, so for anyone to demean and disparage any member of our community on the basis of who they are is deeply offensive and goes against the ideals of our nation and certainly of our community. This was covered in the Courier-News: 

Plainfield Ex-Officials Comments About Lesbian Councilwoman Denounced
As the only openly gay council member, as a PROUD and OUT member of the LGBT community, I hope that folks will come out at our Tuesday, October 13 meeting at 8:00 pm at the Municipal Court to voice their support the resolution observing National Coming Out Day here in Plainfield, and to make a statement that homophobic and hateful attacks (of any kind) against any council member need to be gaveled down as soon as the first slur is uttered. As a co-advisor to the Gay/Straight Alliance at the college where I teach, we observe this day in solidarity with our LGBT students and allies, colleagues, and friends.  

Click on this link for the Human Rights Campaign's National Coming Out Day page, and show your support.