Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Summer 2013 Images

Flower-of-an-Hour, a relative of Hibiscus, called a "noxious weed" by some, but I love the colors.
A strange bug with white toes, if bugs have toes. Click to enlarge and guess whether it is a fly or a wasp or what.
The Praying Mantises, once the size of a staple, are now mature. The female's abdomen is swollen with eggs that will hatch next spring. After mating, she will make a case that will protect the eggs all winter.
Hawk Moths look like little hummingbirds. To the Mantis, this one looks like dinner.
Another bug of mystery. Nice outfit, though. Love the oblong dots.

What would I do without the garden! Every season has its surprises and delights!


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Collection Plan Rejected Again

Councilman William Reid dislikes debt collectors so much that he would rather see the city lose up to half a million dollars in court fines rather than seek an agency to recoup the money. Councilwoman Rebecca Williams says letting the fines slide is a slap in the face to officers who wrote the tickets and "makes a mockery of the court."

So went the latest standoff over the administration's proposal to seek a collection firm for $750,000 in fines owed to the Plainfield Municipal Court. The council was asked Tuesday to authorize a "request for proposals" with a proviso that the selected company could keep up to 22 percent of what is collected.
Only four council members were present Tuesday and there was no consensus to move the resolution to the agenda at the Sept. 10 regular meeting.

In public comment, resident and blogger Dr. Harold Yood urged the objectors to reconsider, saying the offenders likely had multiple fines. He acknowledged Reid's concerns about debt collectors, but said,"You are dealing with people who broke the law."

Yood said, "Compassion is great - it's wonderful. But you are not dealing with the average citizen. You are dealing with people who constantly (flaunt) the law."

His words did not sway Reid, even though the councilman had just cited an instance of trying to help someone who could not get out of jail until he paid off numerous traffic tickets in half a dozen towns.

Public Works Director Eric Jackson, sitting in Tuesday for City Administrator Eric Berry, said Municipal Court officials had asked the administration to bring back the collection measure, which had been rejected last month.

Jackson said the administration would be sensitive to Reid's concerns and noted many fines were owed by people outside the city.

"We're not intending to beat down residents," Jackson said, urging reconsideration.

Note: Whatever past experience may have soured Reid on debt collection, debtors now have new safeguards against harassment in the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 2011. The Federal Trade Commission enforces its provisions. Debt collectors may no longer call people at odd hours or at work and may not tell others why they are trying to track down the debtor. The legislation was not mentioned at the council meeting, but Plaintalker encourages a look at it and also urges reconsideration of the proposed legislation sought by court officials.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Remember Our Military Personnel This Weekend

On this Memorial Day weekend, take time to remember those who served their country - those who came home and those who didn't. And give your thoughts and prayers to all who are still serving at faraway places throughout the world.


City Hall Gets New Address Marker

Workers installed this handsome new street number plaque over the front door of City Hall Thursday.
The original large brass numerals were removed during a facade restoration in 2008.
Here you can see where the individual numbers used to be.
Next time you are near City Hall, take a look at this stately stonework eagle ... and the new street number at 515 Watchung Avenue.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Plaintalker II

Click here to go to Plaintalker II. Please bookmark it. You can still search the Plaintalker archive for news from June 2005 to May 12, 2010.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Check Plaintalker II

for news about a fiesta planned for the July 4 weekend.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Testing, Testing ...

Plaintalker II is still in the works, although some readers prefer the original Plaintalker. Blogger has many more features for newer blogs and it is cumbersome to look things up among Plaintalker's 2,400-plus posts for links.

Click here to go to Plaintalker II. The entire archive of Plaintalker will remain accessible indefinitely and I will include links to past stories that are related to new ones.


Brownfields Work to be Outsourced

The city recently advertised for RFQs (Requests for Qualifications) for "Management Services for the Brownfield Development Area" and "Environmental Consultant for the Brownfield Program."

The legal notice appeared in the Courier News, but has yet to appear on the city web site except as a brief flash before the main page comes on. The web site section devoted to RFPs and RFQs does not have the Brownfields RFQ.

Brownfields are sites where environmental remediation must take place before development or redevelopment. With its legacy of industrial uses, Plainfield has quite a few.

Until a layoff plan was announced this year, April Stefel managed the extensive accounting for management of Brownfield sites. Although the Plaintalker report excerpt below indicates she did a good job, it will now most likely go to an outside source.

Here is the excerpt from a City Council meeting that included comments on the layoffs:

"Several residents spoke in favor of retaining April Stefel, a certified landscape architect in the Planning Division who is staff liaison to the Shade Tree Commission and manages several other programs, including brownfields studies.

Shade Tree Commission Chairman Gregory Palermo praised Stefel for her “marvelous success” in coming up with grants for tree planting and maintenance.

“The grant money should be thought of as found money,” he said, “but it is not going to be found unless someone is looking for it.”

(Disclaimer: I am a member of the Shade Tree Commission.)

Stefel herself explained that she is responsible for more than $5.6 million in grants and that she had suggested her pay could be given back from various grants, but an analysis she made in December was lost or never given to the administration. She detailed the work she puts in to report to state agencies on grant-funded programs, saying the brownfields work alone takes up half her 63 part-time hours per month."

The scenario above points to yet another possible assignment for a favored engineering firm instead of having a highly qualified Plainfielder on the case.

When the Brownfields issue first emerged, it seemed to almost a vital element for redevelopment. Click here for one of several Plaintalker reports on Brownfields.

But at this juncture, maybe the best thing for the city would be for Stefel to become the consultant, although she would not have benefits.

The city in the last couple of months has published a number of RFQs and RFPs, including several that would apply to Stefel's previous duties.

Anyone working on the FY 2011 budget should take stock of these choices between in-house staffers and outside consultants, for every-day monitoring of ways to save money.

--Bernice Paglia