Thursday, October 08, 2009

Forum Draws Large Crowd

Taxes took the limelight at a candidates’ forum Thursday, along with education and the closing of Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center.

About 150 people crowded the Anne Louise Davis Room at the Plainfield Public Library for the forum sponsored by Women for Progress in Plainfield. Though advertised as a mayoral forum with one unopposed 4th Ward candidate also speaking, two Assembly incumbents and their challengers turned up and 4th Ward candidate Bridget Rivers did not.

Those seeking a four-year mayoral term are incumbent Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, Republican James Pivnichny and independent Deborah Dowe. Assembly candidates Linda Stender and Jerry Green are seeking re-election for two-year terms representing District 22 and face challenges from former Mayor Marty Marks of Scotch Plains and Bo Vastine, also of Scotch Plains.

Moderator Martha Royster firmly kept speakers in line, several times consulting the audience for a show of hands on questions they wanted answered.

On taxes, Robinson-Briggs talked about development and said the governing body needs to “get on board to have projects get on board.” In a related question on cutting City Hall expenses, she said the city is not filling vacancies and will be meeting with unions on halting raises to “flatline across the board.” But she said the city’s 550 employees are “human beings with families that need to be supported.”

Pivnichny said he would cut jobs from the top, not the bottom, and noted a city tax increase was averted by deferring pension payments.

“This made the numbers look good this year,” he said, but added the funds will have to be paid back with interest in coming years.

Dowe pointed to tax breaks given over the past decade and said she wanted to expand business and manufacturing in the city, which lost 1,100 jobs with the closing of Muhlenberg. She would seek to cut city expenses through shared services with the school district and the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority.

On what she would do in the Assembly for senior tax relief, Stender named a number of state programs that assist seniors with property taxes, drug costs and utility expenses. Green said state funds help seniors stay in their homes, claiming the state put $150 million in the budget “that George Bush cut out.”

Marks said not only seniors, but young couples are losing their homes and causing a “mass exodus from the state.”

“The overall tax climate is killing them,” he said.

Marks called for elimination of corruption and duplicative county governments to reduce taxes.

“Obviously, this is about looking forward, but with the record of our opponents, I don’t think we can afford one more day of them,” Vastine said.

As for giving seniors rebates, he said, “It’s their money.”

Vastine also cited corruption and overspending as causes of high taxes.

Mayoral and Assembly incumbents took some heat for the August 2008 closing of Muhlenberg, which left an estimated 200,000 Central Jerseyans without a local acute care facility Vastine said Green formerly held a $50,000 consultant position with Muhlenberg parent Solaris Health Systems. Dowe noted her long involvement with activists who fought to save, and then to restore the hospital.

On education, candidates sparred over a new school funding formula that Green voted for, replacing the designation of the state’s 31 neediest districts for so-called Abbott funding. Aid is now spread among more districts with needy students. Marks said the state stills sends $100 million into Plainfield, but “It is not finding its way into the classroom.”

Marks said 60 percent of Plainfield high school students “did not graduate through normal means.”

Green charged, “The Republicans don’t even want the city to have Abbott money,” and told how he challenged GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie for alleging waste in school spending.

Other topics included how to improve the city’s West End and the issue of gay marriage, which Vastine recently called on his blog a “red herring” in the campaign. Vastine noted that President Barack Obama himself does not support gay marriage. Green said if re-elected, “I will support gay marriage.”

Another forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Plainfield, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at Emerson School, 305 Emerson Ave. It will feature mayoral and Assembly candidates and will be conducted in accordance with LWV guidelines.

The general election is Nov. 3. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. To vote, be sure to register by Oct. 13.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most Intelligent Sounding: Deborah Dowe

Related to Widest Audience: Linda Stender

Best on Single Issue: Bo Vastine on early childhood education

Best Booklist: Martin Marks

Best Non-party Line Answers: Jim Pivnichney

Best on Taxes: nobody

Best on Muhlenberg: nobody

Best on Crime: (don't know-arrived too late)

Best Overall Performance: Linda Stender

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jerry said it. Now Vastine continues to hid behind Obama. it is time for vastime to tell Plainfield what is his poisiton. He has been very slick and slippery about not mentioning how he would vote and has instead been throwing stones at everyone else.

So Vastine, what will it be: Gay marriage or nor? A simple yes or no will suffice.

Plainfield wants to know. And we want to know now.

Yes or no:

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that Mr Green has said what we all knew all along - that he will support gay marriage, as he as supported civil unions etc. I wonder if the New Dem and Dan Damon will continue to cherish and idol worship Bo Vastine, who has yet to come out and say anything on this matter.

He scurries and hides like a rat on this.

I wonder if Rebecca will come out and praise and support Jerry. Since she asked and this is so important to her - I wonder. I really wonder.

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, would like to know if the newest candidate for assembly, Bo Vastine, is for or against gay marriage, or as Jon Corzine puts it, marriage equality.

But I would also like to know whether the oldest candidate, Jerry Green, is for or against an absolute ban on pay-to-play for the local, county and state levels.

So why don't we wait til the next debate on the 28th and ask them in a format that allows rebuttal so we can pin them both down at the same time?

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 8:46 am: I think the tone of the comment about me "I wonder. I really wonder" suggests that I am being disingenuous. I am not. I was not at the forum last night because of work. I arrived after it was over, so I am dependent on published reports of what was said. Here's my statement to the assemblyman on the issue of gay marriage: "Thanks for the clear and unequivocal support you expressed on 10/8/09 in support of the passage of gay marriage legislation in New Jersey. I hope that you will be able to gain the support of the majority of legislators for this, as Governor Corzine has said that he will sign the bill into law." Is that clear enough for you? I am happy about this, along with all the other LGBT activists and friends who are supportive of this legislation. Now, on to all the other issues, like property taxes, reopening Muhlenberg, redevelopment, pay to play, rebuilding roads, higher education assistance, code enforcement, shared services, police brutality, undocumented workers, day laborers, and school bullying. I'm sure there are a lot of other issues.


11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 8:46 - Jerry finally "found" Plainfield's gay community in 2005 when he needed a wedge against McWilliams who had a ton of gay support. Jerry actually has made some real progress in his understanding of gay issues since that time. But this election is more important than any single issue.

OVERALL, who will be the best candidate for the 22nd District? The problem with Jerry is that he always puffs himself up, cries victim, and gets aggressive in public situations. That is so boring and useless! People want things DONE and done well. You just can't point to any project important to Plainfield over the past several years and say "great job, Jerry". The downtown still looks bombed out. And single construction projects like the Monarch won't solve the deeper problems.

What I don't like about Bo Vastine is that he seems unwilling to show how conservative he really is. Then again, even if he or Marks were to win the seat, the Assembly is still overwhelmingly populated with Democrats so their damage on a state level could be minimized while they - perhaps - could help on a local level.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I wonder if Rebecca will come out and praise and support Jerry. Since she asked and this is so important to her - I wonder. I really wonder."

yeah, right.
this is personal for the 'new dems' and has nothing to do with issues, gay rights, or any such thing. I dare Rebecca to say anything good about the assemblyman. Double dog dare.
And may I add that for the 2nd ward leader to be colluding with republican candidates is just outrageous, and if I were the committee chair, I would oust her immediately.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bo vastine is an extreme right wing Repbublican cut from the same cloth as George Bush. He speaks very badly of Plainfield and our children when he is not in Plainfield. He tells other towns that he is going to cut off all funding for urban districts.

Yes there are other issues. So far Bo Vastine and marks have been busy throwing stones. They do not want you to know where they stand. They do not want you to know that they will trash Plainfield every chance they get, just to appease Westfield, Scotch Plains, Clark.

On Oc 28th these types of questions need to be brought forth. People in Plainfield need to know the truth.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 11:31 -- Assemblyman Green didn't "finally" find Plainfield's gay community in 2005. Perhaps you weren't here in August 2003 when he met with members of our community to get their input on the "Family Equity Act" proposed by Loretta Weinberg. It ultimately led to domestic partnership and then to civil unions. Neither of those would have passed without Assemblyman Green's leadership. He has supported us all along.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

12:34 is right: Where is Vastine and Marks on gay marriage? Why have him and Marks not come out on this and tell us the truth?

I have more respect for a man who comes out and says what he stands for even if I do not agree with him.

But to hide behind the President, and slither around on the issue speaks volumes about the character of the person(s).

Come on Vastine - tell us where you stand.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Any care to ask Jerry about where he stands on pay to play ? Cash "donations" , underhanded deals with county authorities and land deals?? Anybody ?? Abbot Money on a state and local level not reaching the children in school? Corruption and political patronage jobs choking the tax base to death in this state? Rotting infrastructure that as of next year we will have no way to pay for it? An Public Employee Pension system that is underfunded by estimates of 24-30 BILLION Dollars that WILL HAVE TO BE PAID? Any one care to ask these questions to Jerry? Property taxes that are choking our seniors and businesses out of the state ? Jerry ? Bo ?Oh, and again...SO GLAD JERRY WANTS ME TO GET MARRIED. Now that we have satisfied the people that political ads are made for, could we actually talk about things that will matter to life in the Garden State...or maybe we should start asking Jerry where he stands on mammograms since "red herrings" are the ONLY thing that please the crowd. Maybe Jerry and the rest of the useless State Legislature could pass a bill barring NASA from crashing rockets into the moon because it's too traumatic to our children to hear about the moon getting hit with rockets and sends off the wrong message. I think THAT should be the very next issue for our "ELITE" governing body to tackle next. Talk about dancing while the Titanic sinks.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People, gay marriage is all you care about?

If gay marriage passes in New Jersey - with or without Jerry- I still won't be able to live here because of taxes - lack of proper medical care - no development in our city.

How about we address those issues that affect how we live overall in Plainfield so we can stay.

So, what has JG done on any issue other than giving usual lip service to whatever will get him re-elected.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Yep I Said It! said...

Jerry's puppets have a lot to say I see or is it just Jerry commenting??? Hmmm . ..

8:39 -"hide behind Obama"? You mean like YOU (oops I mean Jerry) did during the primary when he cut and paste Biden's picture near him for his campaign literature. And -when Obama won the election he threw a big Inauguration event using Obama's name on the invitation. None of those monies went to Obama -they went towards Jerry's campaign. Five hundred bucks a pop!

8:46 - Rat's don't scurry and hide they ATTACK! It's mice that scurry and hide.

And why are you picking on Rebecca??? This makes me believe you ARE the Infamous Jerry Green. Why would Rebecca praise and support YOU (oops again I mean JG) just because he SAYS he is for Gay Marriage? Give JG time and then he will say when the moment calls for it - "What I meant was . .. "


11:31 - I agree.

11:48 - "dare Rebecca to say anything good about JG. Double dog dare." HUH???!!! Triple dog dare her and I will gladly take the dare! The question is WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT JG? I triple dare you!!!

I respect Rebecca for believing and supporting what is right and working towards improving Plainfield. For the local elections -what is wrong with looking at each candidate as an individual not as a party. Do you have any idea how many true die hard Republicans voted for Obama but retained their Republican affiliation?

12:34 - Don't you think you should support what you have said with quotes, facts, something??? And then you identify yourself as ANONYMOUS. SHAME ON YOU!!!

And last but definitely not the least ... Rob -I look forward to reading your comments. Well said. Thank You!

10:26 AM  

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