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.  


Friday, August 21, 2015

Writing and Memory #6

Writing is painful/
Facing one's sad verities/
Emblazoned in words.

Life’s sad vagaries/
Often occlude happiness/
Thwarting life’s fullness.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Writing and Memory #5

 The persisting past/
Fabricates childhood bliss through/
Memory’s deceit.

“Now smile and say ‘cheese’”/
Childhood’s formal portraiture/
Instamatic joy. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Writing and Memory #4

Distilled memories/
Of blissful childhood wracked and/
Rooted in the past.

As I grew older/
I put away childish things/
Now I want them back.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Writing and Memory #3

Memory impales/
Through its bitter verities/
The wish to forget.

Life’s long struggle to conceal/
Inconstant terrors. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Writing and Memory #2

An acknowledgment/
That love’s true inconstancy/
Is life’s saddest jest.

The past dissembles/
Then rearranges itself/
Revealing little.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Writing and Memory #1

Our auspicious start/
Hand-in-hand through life’s journey/
Never letting go. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Theory of Life

“Autobiographies do not form indisputable authorities. They are always incomplete, and often unreliable. Eager as I am to put down the truth, there are difficulties; memory fails especially in small details, so that it becomes finally but a theory of my life, with much forgotten and misconceived, with valuable testimony but often less than absolutely true, despite my intention to be frank and fair.” -- W.E.B. DuBois

A theory of life/
With memory's perfidy/
Occluding small truths. 


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Baldwin Day

The life and work of the late, great writer James Baldwin occupies a central place of importance in my own life and intellectual work. Each year on his birthday (August 2), I present images and haiku based on my understanding and interpretation of his influence. I have added a couple of new thoughts, followed by some from the previous collection.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Another Community Outdoor Movie Night in Hannah Atkins Park!

The Plainfield Division of Parks and Recreation is hosting another summer movie night for the kids, hosted at Hannah Atkins Park this evening (Thursday, July 23). Tonight's film is PADDINGTON, which will begin at 8:30 pm. Melvin will be popping plenty of corn this evening--the weather is forecast to be beautiful--spend an evening under the stars! Bring a chair, snacks, and enjoy it with the kids! At right is the entire summer schedule of films  (for kids and adults) at a variety of locations. Next week's film is the Academy Award-nominated Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay (for adults, co-sponsored by Arista Care at Norwood Terrace/United Presbyterian Church).

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hooked on Fishing...Not Drugs!

This Saturday, July 18, from 9:00 - 11:00 am, and continuing for the next several Saturdays (July 25, August 1, August 8) at Cedar Brook Pond, the Plainfield Division of Parks and Recreation is sponsoring "Hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs," a program for youth in Grades 6 -12. This nationally recognized program was created by the Future Fisherman Foundation--click on the flyer to enlarge and read more about the program! 
For your convenience, you can register online via Community Pass: 
(it takes about 30 seconds!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Community Outdoor Movie Nights in Plainfield!

The Plainfield Division of Parks and Recreation is hosting its summer movie nights, beginning tonight (Thursday, July 2) at Rushmore Playground (1401 W. 3rd Street). Bring a chair, snacks, and enjoy "Annie" with the kids! Below is the entire summer schedule of films at a variety of locations. Some are for kids, pre-teens, and adults--clip the entire schedule--all movies begin at 8:30 pm on Thursday evenings through August!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bilingual Day Care Center Transition

On Thursday afternoon before heading to the special meeting regarding the transitioning of day care services from the city of Plainfield to a non-profit provider, I wrote a response to one of the local blogs (Plainfield Latino) to clarify my reason for supporting the transition, as well as to clear up some misstatements in the editorial--by the time you see this, my comment will probably already be  published on the Plainfield Latino blog.

However, I figured I may as well post my reasons here, on my own blog, as well--I have a couple of additions. In the time since I first sent this comment to be published on the blog (yesterday afternoon), we ended up passing the resolutions to begin the transition process. It passed 4-0, with “YES” votes from Councilors Rivers, Storch, Toliver, and me. Councilors Brown, Greaves, and Taylor were not in attendance. I am confident that I made the right decision in supporting the resolution, which will help all of our residents: 

  • the children will be well-served by HOPES - ask the parents/children at the HOPES center at St. Mary's Church, or at one of the other Plainfield locations
  • employees who want to continue working at Bilingual Daycare may continue to do so - the Personnel Division is working with the affected employees on this
  • HOPES will run the daycare at a more affordable price than we are currently paying (Bilingual Daycare costs for these 69 children are over $15,000--several thousand above the average cost of daycare from other providers)

I have made a couple of additions in red.
[Original comment published on Plainfield Latino] 

There are some inconsistencies in this blog post [post on the transition] regarding the transitioning of the Bilingual Daycare Center to the nonprofit organization (HOPES), which is very experienced, which has a great reputation, and which is ALREADY providing bilingual education services in Plainfield (as are many others, as Mr. Goldstein also noted). I hope to correct them, from my perspective. We may still disagree on whether the transition is the best thing, but I figured I should at least let folks know why I think the transition would be a positive thing and why I support it. I could not be present at last Monday's meeting, but I could hear (some of) the discussion and concerns, which are what I want to address. 

First, this has been a topic ever since the previous administration--I know, because I remember it from 2011 or 2012 (I came on the council in 2011). I think the CBAC might have recommended it, given the cost to the taxpayers in comparison to other daycare providers. [Alan Goldstein noted that it had been a discussion item of the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee in prior years, when he served on the committee.]  The previous administration had discussed it, but it never came to anything--possibly because of turnover in the cabinet's top administrative ranks--I don't know, but it was dropped for the time being. So, it didn’t come out of the blue—the director and staff have known for a long time that the idea of transitioning to a non-profit was in the air.

Regarding the present, though, the 69 children who are annually served by the Bilingual Daycare Center will continue to be served--they will stay in the same building with the same name, and there will be no interruption of services for them. To frame this as something the administration is doing to target Latino children is very misleading--for what reason would any administration do this? The 69 children will not suffer but will be well served, as are the many thousands of other Latino children currently being served other nonprofit providers as well as by HOPES. The fact that the Bilingual Daycare Center only serves 69 children per year clearly means that literally thousands of other Latino children are being served by the other providers in the city. 

I have not been hearing (and I have talked to some of my constituents about this over the past few weeks) that the services from all the other daycare centers are inadequate or lacking in any way, and I have not seen any data or evidence from anyone on this blog to that effect, either. 

Again, the fact is that the Bilingual Daycare Center is not closing--the way the program is being administered is changing to a nonprofit, which is how many other bilingual daycare centers in the city operate. HOPES has been around for 50 years, and has had great success. [HOPES will also be bringing several ADDITIONAL services to the Bilingual Day Care Center. Services that are not provided at present: a nurse, a mental health expert, a nutritionist, and a couple of other services.]  

Please note: one of HOPES's Day Care Centers operates at St. Mary's Church (and has been doing so for years) and primarily serves the Latino community. It would make sense to talk to the parents of some of those children, as others have, to see how they feel about the quality of bilingual daycare provided to them by HOPES--also, talk to some of the parents at the other day care centers in the city. I attended the graduation/move-up ceremony of one of my goddaughters at St. Mary's a while back--the children, parents, and staff all seemed quite happy and well-adjusted. Anytime I had to pick her up, everyone was wonderful to her and all the other children. Posting accurate information about what the transitioning of providers from the city to a nonprofit organization means is important to our community—and we owe it to the parents who have their children at some of the other bilingual day care programs in the city. 

If the city council decides to approve the transition, I am confident that the children, our primary concern, will be well-served. I hope that I have clarified my position. Again, we may disagree on this as a matter of policy, but my intention is to vote in the way that I feel will give the city (and especially the children) the most positive result. 


P.S. Keep in mind as well that the administration makes proposals, but the city council has the final say. Each councilor will vote for what she (or he) thinks will work, just as each of us voted for the budget and its amendments.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dog Days - Keep Your Pets Inside!

Many of you will remember that, earlier this year, the Plainfield City Council passed an ordinance (MC 2015-09)* to amend and supplement Chapter Five, Article Seven, concerning the care and treatment of animals. We amended Section Eleven and added Sections 6A and 6B. This was in response to what happened to Buddy, a Plainfield dog who became a local media sensation after his story of being kept outside in impossibly cold weather went (sort of viral) on social media. Part of the ordinance changed the laws on tethering animals, and the other part (Section 6B) made it illegal to keep an animal outside and unattended in extreme weather--either under 32 degrees or OVER 85 degrees. 

The weather outlook for today fits the parameters of the ordinance--meaning, it is supposed to hit about 93 degrees, so make sure that pets are kept inside, cool, and hydrated, and follow the law. If you see an animal being mistreated, or kept outside in violation of the law, please contact the authorities.

Fines are as follows: Unless otherwise established by law, any owner or person who violates the rules and regulations set forth herein shall, in addition to any other fines or penalties established by State or local law, be subject to the penalties set forth in Section 5:9-2.* Sec. 5:9-2. Penalties. (a) For a first offense, a fine of not less than Seventy-Five Dollars ($75.00) nor more than Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00). (b) For a second or subsequent violation, a fine of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00). *State law reference: As to penalties, see N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.19 and 26:4-94.


*Check the Municipal Code or Ordinances for the complete law.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Back to Life...Back to Reality...Again!

Ladybird's "Eartha"
Whose piercing gaze spears the soul
And arrests the heart.


Eartha Kitt, painted by Ladybird Cleveland. Photo by Van Vechten, 1954.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


I will be focusing mostly on the upcoming Democratic primary election in the days leading up to Tuesday, June 2. I want to make sure that folks really understand how crucial it is to come out and support the COLUMN C Candidates for City Council and Democratic City Committee. Our opponents have tried to paint us in a negative light, with trashy mailers filled with lies. You have to ask yourself, what does Jerry "I run this m&#@!" Green get out of portraying our city so negatively, especially when there is so much positive to say? Do the Jerry Green Team members think that potential residents, businesses, or developers will want to invest in Plainfield after reading his garbage? Do you think Jerry Green would send such filth to Clark, or Fanwood, or Scotch Plains? The answer is "NO"--Jerry Green disrespects Plainfield so much that it is only here that he would stoop to such filth. 

In the meantime, Plainfield is moving forward. Public Safety remains a top priority--among the City Committee candidates in COLUMN C are Plainfield Police Captain (ret.) Siddeeq El-Amin, who is running in Ward 1, District 1, and Fire Chief (ret.) Cecil Allen, who is running in Ward 3, District 5. The fact that crime is down significantly all across the city since the new administration took office reflects the commitment to improving the quality of life for our residents. We can only be successful if you come out and vote--many of the voting margins in our districts come down to 2 or 3 votes or, in the case of one district, a single absentee ballot made the difference. It's your city, folks!