Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Merchants Question Directory Plan

A merchant’s puzzlement over a solicitation for a new business directory led Plaintalker to investigate.

The solicitation includes an undated cover letter in English and Spanish from Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs on city letterhead, an advertisement request form for ads ranging from a $10 listing to an $1,800 back cover and an ad size chart. The dubious part, at least to the merchant, was that checks or money orders were apparently to be made out to an individual, not a company or organization, with no refunds.

Members of Plainfield merchant groups drew a blank on the proposed directory, pointing out the Special Improvement District and Chamber of Commerce jointly sponsor a quarterly publication called Positively Plainfield that includes a business directory at no charge to merchants. (Correction: It is a SID publication only.)

The mayor’s letter urges cooperation with “Mr. Ray Mikell,” which is also the name listed to receive fees for ad requests. A call to the phone number listed on the ad request form resulted in a message saying Ray Mikell is “a design and concept company for municipalities.” Fees are to be mailed to a city post office box.

Plaintalker called the Rahway Center Partnership, where Ray Mikell is listed as executive director, but Mikell was on another line and did not return the phone call by the close of business hours Tuesday. A call to the mayor also was not returned. The Rahway Center Partnership recently published an 80-page business directory, which is online on the group's web site.

The perplexed merchant who questioned the request said he never heard of having to send fees to an individual, not even for his high school reunion.

Suburban Jeweler owner Lisa Cohen, a past SID president, said she found it “concerning” that business might be going to a competing SID. Donna Albanese of the Plainwood Square Merchants Association said she had not received the solicitation letter and pointed out the Plainfield directory provided “at no charge” to business owners.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I didn't always sound so negative (aka cranky, bitchy, crybabyish), but this sounds like more of the same enabling by the administration of small-time entrepreneurs who have access to City Hall. If it's not pay to play I'm pretty sure it's charm to play. There's not much difference in the end results, which are generally poor for the community and good for the businessman.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds very fishy, Bernice. How is it that the mayor is signing on to dubious schemes like this with this person? I owned a business and never, ever received a solicitation asking for checks to be made out for an individual who could pocket the money. This mayor is under a microscope so the fact that after four years she still has no idea of what is appropriate or inappropriate is very disturbing. Why wouldn't she go to the Plainfield SID? It sounds like the Union County "controllers" may have its hand in this. They brought us David Brown the new PWUD and Economic Development director, as well as Jennifer Wenson-Maier. The Rahway connection is troubling. And since the Plainfield SID offers a directory free, why would anyone sign on to an outsider publishing a directory? The mayor has no sense of judgment.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Again...this woman, who I now refuse to call Mayor goes out of her way DAILY to prove what a complete and total incompetent HOT mess she truly is. This crosses every aspect of acceptable government involvement with personal and private enterprise. I have never seen one person who excels at attempting to prove how short sighted, foolish, irresponsible and unethical she truly is. How nice for Plainfield that she doesn't even care to try and veil herself in a cloak of mystery...we get to see the Chershire Cat for what she truly is. More than disturbing...

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the citizens should build a document outlining all the failings and incompetence of this administration, the shady dealings (such as this), and go to Trenton, demanding an investigation.

I think also concerned citizens should launch a campaign to get people registered to vote and involved, inform them of the city's massive disarray and how the citizens are at risk, and campaign for a mayoral recall.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just had to check on the definition of the word clueless which is what the Mayor is -

Clueless - Definition
clue·less[ kluless ]
1. incompetent: incompetent or ignorant ( slang )
clue·less·ness NOUN
Synonyms: naive, inexperienced, impractical, incompetent, oblivious, ignorant, ill-informed, green

Fits her to a "T"

Funny that it mentions Jerry too!

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a recall is a great idea, but is involves money we don't have. I think the citizens must now, more than ever, go to council meetings and VOTE for people who they believe are smart and will foster a better Plainfield.

Having said that, let's take the high road and say that this is a scam, and the mayor knows nothing about it, and is not endorsing it. My question is, for goodness sake, why would she not get back to callers to clarify the situation and start investigating this. If the mayor is involved, she really is a dolt.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't the Mayor read the Positively Plainfield newspaper issued by the Plainfield SID on a quarterly basis and note the business directory? What an embarassment that the mayor of a city with several large commercial districts isn't familiar with a major marketing piece highlighting available goods and services.

On another related note - this fee solicitation sounds like the same type of crime statistic information and prevention thing she was promoting for the FOSH area. I think attendees had to pay a private party to attend that event.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, it's just possible that this publication isn't a worthless scam as the other comments assume it is. If you take the time to look at the PDF of the Rahway version of the book you can come to the conclusion that it's a business-to-business guide, as opposed to the business-to-consumer guide that is Positively Plainfield. Is it for profit? Yep, sure, but why not? Is it unusual to make the checks out to an individual? OK, but that by itself doesn't a scam make.

And from a looks standpoint it's way ahead of Positively Plainfield, so let's show a little humility.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was not clear in your post if the return was to be sent to a Plainfifeld Post Office Box or a City of Plainfield Box.

Was this a mailed solicitation and if it was a joint solicitation, were any Plainfield monies used for the printing and mailing of the solicitation materials?

Just courious

5:59 PM  

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