Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Notes on School Board Results

The voters have spoken.

They did not say exactly what I had hoped to hear, nor what Jerry Green may have hoped to hear. The top vote-getter was incumbent Patricia Barksdale, from the so-called “New Democrat” slate. Incumbent Lisa Logan-Leach, Green’s former aide and a frequent challenger of Schools Superintendent Steve Gallon III’s recommendations, came in third.

While Brenda Gilbert of the Green-backed slate came in second, she most likely will not be biddable to Green’s influence once in office. Gilbert was among a group of Democratic City Committee members that Green once purged from the party for their refusal to bow to the leadership. She ran for office later with the backing of dissident Johnny Walcott, who once formed a group he called the “Real Democrats” in opposition to Green’s Regular Democratic Organization.

Barksdale, Gilbert and Logan-Leach won three-year terms and will be sworn in at the May 5 reorganization, along with Katherine Peterson, who won the unexpired two-year seat. Even though she ran on a slate, Peterson came across in public forums as an experienced, sensible educator who will address issues based on her own opinion.

Rasheed Abdul-Haqq will most likely continue adding his voice to the conversation on Plainfield schools long after he must step down. It’s possible that his support for the observance of the two most important Muslim holidays upset some people, but he is a man of conviction once he makes up his mind on an issue. Putting one holiday on the calendar was supported by the board in 2007-08 and when in coming years the holidays fall on school days, expect to hear from him. But meanwhile, expect to hear from him on many other issues.

Let us hope that the other candidates – Mahogany Hendricks, Joanne Hollis, Joseph Ruffin Sr. and Terrence Williams – stay involved and follow board action through 2009-10. Board President Bridget Rivers is running for the Fourth Ward City Council seat and if she wins, an appointee will be needed. And next April, three more seats will be up.

As for the budget, the voters said “no,” but to borrow a phrase from my daughter when she was a willful two-year-old, “That’s not the right answer,” according to the state. The increase, only the second since 1992 for the local school tax levy, has been mandated by the state. Unless the new state funding formula is overturned, Abbott districts will have to pay more each year in local taxes toward the cost of operating public schools, including charter schools. Suburban taxpayers pay most of the costs in their districts, with state aid covering the rest. In Plainfield, it is the reverse. The district will still receive many millions in state aid, but the proportions will gradually shift.

I am relying on figures from the Courier News for this blog post. After visiting the endocrinologist in Summit, I walked to the Muhlenberg Campus for blood work and walked home. Later, Maria and I visited many polling places and all the fresh air and exercise did me in. I did not stay up late for results. I will confirm the unofficial results with the clerk today. The official results will be announced Monday or later by the county clerk.

Congratulations to the winners and good luck to the others in future school board races or in other public service.

--Bernice Paglia


Blogger RASRAHMATAZ said...

I just hope those who didn't win still stay involved in moving this district forward. It has always puzzled me how and why folks can be so passionate about a "thing" one minute and then totally checkout in the next minute. PEP needs some new committed and and forward-thinking leadership. I hope these folks will take it over as it's time for me to move on...
This is an opportune moment for those who ran for office to truly show their level of servitude without all the pomp and circumstance.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s going to be very interesting to see how many cuts the New Democratic-controlled city council makes with the New Democratic-controlled budget, one that was defeated by the public. Clearly the public realizes there’s an abundance of New Democrats with very high-paying jobs on the Board, and also that there are more politics being played at the School Board than there is at City Hall.

Are they going to cut school services and teachers? Or will they get rid of political appointments over at the Board of Ed?

Here we talk about the School Board candidates, but no one is discussing the high-salaried individuals that the Superintendent brought with him. In discussing his salary and benefits, along with those be brought along with him from FL, those benefits and salaries, along with the New Democratic employees brought on board this past year, we’re talking almost $2 million in salaries and benefits!

I’m happy to see that the ministers as well as the gay community did not feed into one of the bloggers who tried to create a problem out of nothing between these two communities. The public needs to stand up and make it clear that they will not tolerate these types of actions. The current administration respects all peoples’ rights, and it’s nice to know that no one’s rights will be violated by the current administration. Where this current administration has shown respect to the gay community, the past administration has shown no respect whatsoever.

It was embarrassing to the gay community in how Adrian Mapp recently put down the former governor of NJ, Jim McGreevy. Everyone in the 2nd ward knows that the former governor has built a great relationship with the New Democrats as well as the McWilliams family. I can see Adrian Mapp trying to play to the church community hoping to win their support by putting distance between he and the former governor. I wonder if this was his buddy Dan Damon’s idea.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Bernice said...

In response to the first part of 12:17's comment, the budget will not go to the council because the amount was mandated by the state under the new school funding formula. As for the rest of the comment, it is what Rick Taylor used to call "donkey dust."

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to 12:17. What the heck are you talking about? First, the council has no authority over the school budget.

Second, I live in the 2nd Ward, and have never seen McGreevy at a single political event - new dems or not

Third and Last - New Dems are democrats - period. For whatever silly reason dictated by Plainfield law, Jerry Green or the State, each Democrat needs to have a different name unless endorsed by the Democratic party. So again, what in the heck are you talking about?

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read JG column, and he stated that you should move because of your unfair attacks on (I am still not sure who). Would be great if he took his own advice.

I am writing to you because JG does not post comments unless they are in support of his honor.

I am amazed at his thought process. He talks about how he is above the fray and everyone else is attacking him. Makes you scratch your head and wonder if he really is that dense.

In any event, Bernice, if JG is getting to the point where he wants you to move, you must be doing something right.

There must be something about you girls that bothers him (he can't talk to big, bad Maria because his lawyer advised him not to - and he wants you to move). Can you believe him?

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the second commenter, the school board members serve voluntarilary, NONE are paid! What are you talking about?? My mother served for years on our local school board in the city I grew up in, also voluntarily. You should be ashamed at trying to disparage volunteers who sit at meetings until late at night on behalf of YOUR/OUR children. Although I may not agree with everything the different school board members do, I appreciate their service.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernice, you are being unfair to all those who sniff donkey dust in raising the level of the commenter who wrote about Mapp/McGreevey and the New Democrats. Mapp did not "put down" McGreevey in the article published in PolitickerNJ. He simply said that McGreevey was not a part of the New Democrats, which is true. McGreevey enjoys a neighborly friendship with the McWilliams, who live across the street from him. He also enjoys a very close friendship with Sen. Ray Lesniak, who enjoys a close relationship with Jerry Green. Everyone knows that Lesniak and Green don't like the fact that democrats have organized under the slogan "New Democrats for Plainfield" to run in a different column, but this is America and this is what the primary process is all about.

Regarding Mapp trying to play into the "church community," which one do you mean? The First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, Shiloh, United Church of Christ Congregational, St. Mark's Episcopal, where he is a member?

As to the "gay" community, what are you talking about? Is there one gay community--that's like saying the "black" community, as if there's no distinction other than color. What an insulting concept.

5:36 PM  

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