Thursday, June 14, 2007

Getting the News Out

Freelancing is taking up more and more of my time lately. Most of it has been feature stories, but I have also been reporting some news. I hope my readers can keep track of the ongoing subjects such as redevelopment and the school leadership situation whether the stories are here or in print. Thanks to everyone who has given me kind words lately.

The school situation is far from settled. Many questions have come up over the action taken Friday night (reported on the blog). About five times the usual number of attendees came to the work & study meeting Tuesday, but the format did not allow for questions to be asked other than those regarding agenda items. The public will have a chance to ask general questions at next Tuesday’s business meeting. That meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m. at Cedarbrook School, but the location may be changed. I will be checking the legal notices for any special meetings.

Some residents are questioning the process by which Superintendent Paula Howard’s resignation was accepted. The board accepted it on Friday (June 8), effective June 6, the day it was tendered in writing. An interim superintendent and interim school business administrator/board secretary were hired Friday and were on the job Monday. Some think Howard should have had 60 days more on the job.

The precipitating factor in the new hires is said to be the need for a new business administrator since Victor Demming left the district June 1. The agenda for the board’s June 5 meeting had a resolution to hire a new BA/BS, as well as to hire an interim BA/BS and to engage a firm for financial matters through the end of June. But the board took no action on any of the items and Howard gave her written resignation the next day.

The dilemma supposedly then became that there was no superintendent to recommend a new BA/BS. Hence the emergency meeting Friday to accept the resignation, hire an interim superintendent and upon his recommendation, hire an interim BA/BS the same night.

There are lots of questions here for all involved. Lawsuits are on the horizon. And all this is happening just as state officials are scrutinizing the way the district functions. Sorting it all out may take a while.

Meanwhile, the City Council will resume its meeting schedule next week with a 7:30 p.m. agenda session Monday at City Hall Library and a regular meeting at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Municipal Court. Redevelopment contracts and liquor license renewals are among likely topics.

The council was on election hiatus for the June 5 primary. Incumbent Second Ward Councilman Cory Storch won over contender Tony Rucker and Storch will now face Republican Deborah Dowe in November. The Democratic City Committee held its reorganization Monday and Assemblyman Jerry Green retained his seat as chairman of the Regular Democratic Organization.

As I reported for the Courier News, Paramount Property Management has several new tenants downtown since purchasing the Pittis Estate, and Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs has announced a simultaneous groundbreaking and start of construction July 3 at the East Front Street site where Dornoch Plainfield LLC will build a new senior center and 63 condos. I also reported the sad news of Cassell “Sonny” Wood’s death in a car crash.

If I hadn’t been so busy, I would have taken a photo of the portrait of Anne Louise Davis in the room named in her honor at the Plainfield Public Library. I’m hoping people will remember her today, Flag Day, for her devotion to the flag and the ideals it represents, as well as for her total dedication to the city of Plainfield. If you are new to the city, ask an older resident about Anne Louise and her headstrong ways when she had an idea about how to better the Queen City. The portrait shows a lovely young Anne Louise, but even in her older years she cut an elegant figure as she went about her business of public service and advocacy for her causes.

--Bernice Paglia


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