Mondays, PLAINFIELD TODAY is a digest of Plainfield-only news from the past week: That Was The Week That Was -- or TW3 -- with links to the online stories.
GOVERNMENT / POLITICS
DEATH OF COUNCILOR RAY BLANCO -- Plainfielders were deeply shocked and saddened to learn on Saturday of the sudden passing of Council President Ray Blanco, stricken with an apparent heart attack while home alone on Friday. Word began spreading by phone and email late Friday evening, and PT first made the news public on Saturday morning ("Council President Ray Blanco Dies"). Later on Saturday, Bernice posted a moving personal remembrance on the Plaintalker ("Remembering Ray Blanco").
On Sunday, the Ledger ran a long and thoughtful news obituary on the front page of the New Jersey section ("Ray Blanco, popular activist, politician and producer"), for which PT supplied the photo used to illustrate the piece. The Courier also ran a news obituary ("Plainfield's Ray Blanco dies at 50"). A memorial service has been set, with details in today's papers (see CLIPS).
SOUTH AVENUE CONDO PROPOSAL -- While the Ledger and Courier editors decided the schools were the big issue last week, the citizens and the blogs focused on the proposed South Avenue condo development.
The Plaintalker ( "Zoning Board Continues South Avenue Hearing") and PT ("Viagra for Plainfield planning?") beat the drums in advance, and are at least partly responsible for the room-filling turnout at Wednesday's special Zoning Board meeting.
Both continued in their Thursday posts with reportage -- the Plaintalker ("South Avenue Hearing Continues") -- and an assessment by PT ("Development Puzzle: First pieces on table") of issues and concerns presented by the applicant's expert witnesses.
Apropos of issues related to successful transit-friendly development, the Courier carried a notice on Friday ("Proposed tunnel is topic of rail group") of a meeting of the Raritan Valley Coalition set for this week to discuss the proposed second Hudson River rail tunnel. Having a MIDTOWN DIRECT CONNECTION from Plainfield to Manhattan would be key to really putting Plainfield on the development map.
This of course would have to include solving the perennial problem of getting the Raritan Valley's diesel trains onto the electric-only line for Manhattan. It's NOT insoluble -- there have been electric-diesel combo engines for years. But the politicos -- local and state -- have to have the political will to get it done. When will we hear of our elected officials pushing for a truly comprehensive planning and development view?
CHARTER CHALLENGE COURT CASE -- Superior Court Thomas Lyons finally ruled on the challenge to Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' qualification to serve in light of the residency requirement of the City's special charter. Bernice broke the story with a post on Wednesday ("Mayor Prevails in Residency Challenge") and the Courier filed a report on Thursday ("Challenge against Plainfield mayoral post nixed"), with the Ledger following up on Friday ("Residency lawsuit vs. mayor is tossed"). The Courier editorialized on Saturday ("Ruling for Plainfield mayor best for city").
The residency requirement was brought to light by Bernice back in the early days of the Mayor's term. Several GOP activists filed the suit, but it was clear to most obervers at the time of filing that it was long past any time frames set out in law.
The judge, however, did set out some enlightening thoughts on two issues involving the charter: four years residency cannot not mean four consecutive years as it is NOT specifically spelled out. However, the special charter's four year requirement TRUMPS the general state law of one year's residency since the Legislature enacted the special charter and it is presumed the Legislature knew what it was doing in giving the City a different rule. File all of that away under INTERESTING THINGS TO KNOW.
SCHOOLS: UNIFORMS & BUDGET -- The editors at the Courier (Tuesday: "Plainfield considers uniforms at all city schools" AND Wednesday: "Uniform discussion at forum tonight") felt that the school uniforms story was more compelling than the South Avenue condo proposal, and deployed its reporter accordingly, including a followup story on Thursday ("Plainfield soliciting support for public school uniforms").
The Ledger chose to focus on the impact the state-mandated FLAT BUDGET (which is, in reality, a REDUCTION in funding), by focusing on the danger to an important preschool program at Woodland School ("Preschool program for disabled in danger").
CRIME & JUSTICE -- A man was attacked and robbed by a group of men on Sunday (7/24), in an incident that was reported as a brief by the Ledger in the print edition only on Thursday. The incident was typed up and posted online by PT ("Group attacks man, robs him outside bar").
The system has finally meted out justice in the 2004 slaying of Ana Castillo-Rivera in her apartment on Clinton Avenue. Her husband, William Rivera, was found guilty of murder on Thursday, as reported in Friday's Ledger ("Plainfield man found guilty in his wife's 2004 murder") and Courier ("Man found guilty in wife's 2004 murder").
Also this week, as reported by the Ledger ("Judge rejects teen's bid to toss murder confession"), a Somerset County judge rejected the bid to throw out the confession of a North Plainfield teen accused of murdering a Salvadoran man visiting his family in North Plainfield. Though the crime occurred in the Somerset County borough, the teen's accomplice was a 13-year old Plainfield youth who has yet to come to trial.
MISCELLANEA -- This year, Plainfield's observance of NATIONAL NIGHT OUT -- the first Tuesday of August -- has been stretched into a week of events. PT posted links to the online calendar and a downloadable flyer ("National Night Out weeklong celebration begins today") on Sunday...
...ROUTE 78 RECONSTRUCTION -- Be forewarned: Route 78 between Route 24 and the GSP will be a nightmare over the next few months while the EASTBOUND EXPRESS LANES are reconstructed. This is not a simple mill-and-pave, it is a RECONSTRUCTION. The bright lights planning this maneuver evidently intended to do both the East AND West bound express lanes at the same time. Yep! The press stories ("Route 78 Indigestion") prompted such an outcry that the work has been postponed for a week, but make your plans for ALTERNATIVE ROUTES now. Or be sorry.
...After all that, how 'bout a little whimsy? Maybe you want to stroll on over and check out PT's Wednesday post ("Signs of the times"), an album of Plainfield pictures presenting signs of our times...
Last Friday's H.I.T.S.: "HITS: Heard in the street" --Green, Moriarty & Sweeney break up?... Pallone a hot ticket?... Mapp targeted?..." plus yesterday's (technically delayed) post on South Avenue condos --
Last Monday's TW3: "TW3 - Jul 17 - 23, 2006" -- Digest of past week's Plainfield news
Drake House: "Restoring a piece of Plainfield history"
Fire: "One person injured in West 2nd Street house blaze"
Muhlenberg RMC [last item]: "Hospital receives $60,000 grant"
Restaurant Review: "Cousin's serves up Caribbean fare in city"
School Violence - SL: "By the numbers, schools show a sharp drop in violence"
School Violence - CN: "School violence drops statewide"
Shiloh Court Groundbreaking [last item]: "Single-family houses a major development"
CONNECTIONS? FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Arts: "'The Black Factory' engages audiences on the nature of racial tension"
Athletic Field Maintenance: "Suburbia's game within a game: Finding time for care"
Crime-Fighting Mayor: "Miss. Mayor's Anti-Crime Tactics Draw Fire"
Crime Fighting Tool: "Bail Source Hearings: Where does the money come from?"
Development: "Blight, Like Beauty, Can Be in the Eye of the Beholder"
Development: "Cities Shed Middle Class, and Are Richer and Poorer for It"
Development: "Homes for Those Displaced by Renewal"
Development: "New Condos in Old Industrial Spaces"
Development: "Landmark hotel sold at auction for luxury condos"
Flood Insurance: "Flood Insurance Often Insufficient"
Gangs, Bloods - SL: "State roundup nets 41 reputed gangsters"
Gangs, Bloods - CN: "More than 60 charged in statewide gang sweep"
Gangs, Bloods - NYT: "N.J. Police Arrest More Than 60 in Gang Crackdown"
Gangs, Bloods - TT: "Alleged gang members are arraigned via video"
Gangs, Bloods - AP: "More arrests expected as police try to decimate street gang"
Gangs - Editorial, SL: "Ganging up on street gangs"
Gunplay: "3 men charged in 2 unrelated slayings" -- Using guns to settle grudges...
Hudson River Tunnel - SL: "$1 billion is earmarked for rail tunnel to Manhattan"
Hudson River Tunnel - NYT: "Port Authority Set to Vote on Hudson Tunnel Fund"
Immigrants, Illegal: "Riverside OKs measure to punish landlords, employers of illegal aliens"
Mortgage Creativity: "Re-Refinancing, and Putting Off Mortgage Pain"
Property Violations: "Tenant's gripe with landlord: Too many violations"
Public Employee Contracts - "Mayor's ad against labor contract has Council fuming"
Public Employee Contracts : "Montclair hikes pay of town manager to $145K"
Real Estate - Bergen Record: "North Jersey feels housing market chill"
Real Estate - NYT: "Housing Slows, Taking Big Toll on the Economy"
Redevelopment Plans: "Bloomfield OKs updated study to jump-start redevelopment"
TAX REFORM - GREEN / MORIARTY / SWEENEY PROPOSAL
Tax Reform, CN: "Corzine plans major address on property tax reform"
Opinion, SL: Paul Mulshine: "On taxes, Corzine misses the big picture"
Special Session, CN: "Hopes dim for special legislative session"
Legislature, CN: "Officials set to puzzle property tax reform"
Corzine Plan - Editorial, CN: "Corzine's pension plan deserves shot"
Analysis, SL: "Governor's proposals today stress link between property taxes and budget woes"
Analysis, CN: "For now, N.J. to see property tax reform talk, little action"
Analysis, NYT: "New Jersey Lawmakers to Tackle Rising Property Taxes"
Sweeney & Moriarty, Courier Post: "S.J. pair renew drive -- sans Green -- to reduce benefits for state workers"
Corzine Speech, SL: "Corzine sets out steps to restrain property taxes"
Corzine Speech, SL: "Text: Corzine's address to Special Session"
Corzine Speech, CN: "Corzine puts it all on table for tax reform"
Corzine Speech, NYT: "Corzine Offers His Ideas About Fixing New Jersey
Legislature, SL: "Legislators of both parties say they're ready to act"
Legislature, CN: "Central Jersey legislators applaud Corzine's proposals"
Support, CN: "Supporters of citizens' convention get behind Corzine plan"
Proposals, CN: "Proposal for two-tiered benefits draws state workers' opposition"
Tax Relief, SL: "State doles out millions in town property tax relief"
OpEd, SL: John Farmer: "The property tax spiral"
Analysis - SL: "Why some low property tax bills are no bargain"
..... - "Taxes driving people out of Jersey"
Editorial, SL: "Time's a wastin' on property tax relief"
Editorial, CN: "Nice speech on reform, but now's the hard part"
Analysis - CN: "Corzine not shying away from tax reform plan"
-- Dan Damon*