The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Plainfield's Brooklyn Road finally gets its due

West 7th Street was once two separate roads.

Plainfield's Brooklyn Road will finally get its due -- as part of Union County's 7th Street raid improvements slated to get under way about August 1st.

Back in the day (1870 or so), West 7th Street started at Park Avenue and stopped at Plainfield Avenue. Across the avenue, the street was known as Brooklyn Road. You can see the ghost intersection by noticing the sharp turn in the road at the traffic light. (This is similar to the way the intersections of Front Street, Park Avenue and Somerset Street were straightened out in the 1960s.)

The Union County roads department has announced that milling, paving and striping are to begin August 1 and run for five nights on the stretch from Park Avenue to Clinton Avenue. Work crews are slated from 7:00 PM to 6:00 AM, during which time the road will be close except to local residents and emergency traffic (the Plainfield Rescue Squad is located at West 7th Street and Spooner Avenue).

The street is also known as County Road 601, and is one of Plainfield's busiest streets. Often I must wait for a leisurely parade of cars, vans, trucks and New York buses to pass before I can get out of the driveway.

Over the 35 years we have been at this address, the road has taken quite a beating. A couple of years ago, a novel approach was to mill and apply two long patches that left the original asphalt in the middle and along the gutters on both sides. This was not very successful and after the first winter, the failing bond with the old pavement generated a whole new series of potholes forcing drivers to try to straddle the strips of potholes as they drove to avoid cratering.

Among the most frequent commercial vehicles passing through (besides the NYC buses) are the Pepsi delivery trucks from the Pepsi bottling plant on New Brunswick Road. This bottling plant replaces a facility that used to be in Plainfield. Does anyone remember the location of the Plainfield bottling plant? (Was it next door to the Fire Headquarters on West 4th Street?)

The County advises the Traffic Bureau is available to answer any questions you may have about the road work. Call them during regular business hours at (908) 789-6011.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Plainfield residents eligible for gun buyback this weekend

Plainfield residents are eligible to participate
in this weekend's gun buyback program.

Plainfield residents are eligible to participate in a no-questions-asked gun buyback program this weekend.

Cash payouts of up to $200 per firearm are being made available to members of the public, according to acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park, Freeholders Chairman Bruce Bergen, Sheriff Joseph P. Cryan, and Union County Public Safety Director Andrew Moran.

The event is being held from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Friday, July 28 and Saturday, July 29. One of the three locations for the buyback, being coordinated by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark, is the Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church on Lyons Avenue in Newark. The other locations include Antioch Baptist Church in Camden and Friendship Baptist Church in Trenton.

New Jersey residents can turn in up to three firearms of any type, no questions asked, and receive payouts of $100 for a rifle or shotgun, $120 for a handgun or revolver, and $200 for an assault weapon. Police officers and law enforcement firearms experts will be on hand to assist with the valuation and securing of turned-in weapons. 

Pursuant to New Jersey Statute 2C:39-6g, all weapons being transported to the gun buyback locations must be carried unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gun box, or securely tied package, and locked in the trunk of the vehicle in which it is being transported. Also, pursuant to the statute, driving to and from the locations must "include only such deviations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances."

Since 2013, two law enforcement-run gun buybacks were held in Union County-- including Plainfield-- resulting in the collection of nearly 1,500 firearms.

"We were extremely pleased with the results of our previous events, and we recommend and encourage that any resident of Union County seeking to dispose of a firearm or firearms participate in this program," Prosecutor Park said. "One of this Office's top priorities is investigating, prosecuting, and preventing violent crime - and reducing the number of dangerous weapons in Union County neighborhoods is a simple, effective way to work toward that goal."

"It's an imperative for us in law enforcement to do everything in our power to take as many guns off our streets as possible, and buybacks such as these are useful mechanisms through which many hundreds of firearms are collected at once," Sheriff Cryan said. "These are weapons that are out of the picture for good - they'll never be a factor in an intentional or accidental incident that results in an injury or death - and all of us are a little safer because of it."

The Attorney General's Office is paying for the gun buyback with forfeiture funds obtained by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey State Police, and the three participating County Prosecutors' Offices, in Camden, Essex, and Mercer counties. Payouts will be made on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The gun buyback has also been promoted through radio, newspaper, bus transit, social media, and other advertising throughout the month. Any resident with questions about the buyback effort can call the Attorney General's Citizen Services unit at 609-984-5828 or visit; frequently asked questions and answers can also be accessed online at

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

GOP asks for a helping hand on killing Obamacare

Cartoonist Matson, for
The Hill.

Shifting our gaze from Plainfield today.

From time to time, Politico magazine publishes a roundup of editorial cartoons. The toon above is from the most recent collection (see here), featuring the Obamacare repeal drama and assorted Trump activities.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Plainfield gets nearly perfect score on audit

Mayor Mapp's insistence on dealing with the city's
auditors' recommendations has paid off.

Plainfield's CY2016 audit was released on Friday, revealing a near-perfect score on the questions of Recommended Actions.

Thanks to the persistence of Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, himself a Certified Municipal Finance Officer, Plainfield has gotten its act together big time since he became mayor in 2014.

In addition to missing cash problems that affected the Health Division, the Tax Collector's office and the Recreation Division in past years, there were longstanding problems -- noted in the audits' Recommendations sections. Among the perennial process and record-keeping issues in Plainfield have been failure to deposit cash on time, purchases circumventing the purchasing procedures, and sloppy record-keeping.

As I pointed out in reviewing last year's audit (CY2015, see here), in his third year in office, Mayor Mapp had reduced the flagged items in the Recommendations section from 34 findings (filling five pages) in Mayor Robinson-Briggs' final year, to seven findings in 2015 -- four of which concerned infractions of purchasing rules.

This year, there is only one recommendation, and that concerns the outsourced animal control program:

Monthly animal control reports filed with the state were not filed on a timely basis and were not always filled out accurately, resulting in paying the State incorrectly.

RECOMMENDATION: That monthly animal control State reports be reconciled with license fees collected.
The audit document should appear on the city's Municipal Finance web page (see here) within the next day or two.

Congratulations to Director of Administration & Finance Ron West and his crew for their hard work. We can practically see the Promised Land from here.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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