Friday, September 28, 2012

Presidential Debate Watch This Wed, October 3

The first presidential debate between President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, focused on domestic policy, will be televised at 9:00 pm this coming Wednesday, October 3rd. We will hear, for the first time, these two candidates face each other to discuss their respective visions for our country's future.

Mimi and I will be hosting a Debate Watch Party on that evening at our home, starting at 8:00 pm. Please join us, along with other Democrats, friends, and supporters, for refreshments and camaraderie. All we ask, as usual, is that you please a non-perishable food item for delivery to one of our local food pantries.

Debate Watch!
Wednesday, October 3 at 8:00 pm
535 West 8th Street
 We look forward to seeing you!

Warm regards,

Adrian  and Amelia


Monday, September 24, 2012

"Baracking" on Doors in Allentown, PA: A Way to Make a Difference

This past Saturday I joined forces with volunteers from Plainfield and a few other nearby municipalities on a bus trip to Allentown, Pennsylvania. We all came together with Obama for America (OFA) and headed to Pennsylvania, which is considered one of the swing states. Everyone on the bus was “fired up and ready to go” to PA to stump for the re-election of President Obama. It was a diverse group of individuals deeply aware of the importance of going the distance and leaving no stones unturned. This trip was organized by Black Women for Obama (Vera Greaves and Audrey Gatling), Latinos for Obama (Noemi Candia and Chris Estevez), and Madras por Obama (Kim Wei). 
There was also very strong support from the Union County Canvass Coordinator Carmencita Pile, affectionately known as CT, who was very instrumental in coordinating this group of Obama volunteers who journeyed to Allentown to "Barack" the vote. The group covered many miles on the streets of Allentown Baracking on doors to identify registered voters supportive of President Obama and registering new voters who pledged their support. 
All in all, the bus trip was very successful; it resulted in hundreds of newly registered voters for Obama. With only 43 days remaining to Election Day, I encourage all supporters of the President to find volunteer opportunities in their local communities and to set aside one or two days to go to Pennsylvania to Barack the vote. We owe it to ourselves, to our families, to the next generation, and to the future of this country to get involved in this campaign and to get President Obama re-elected. 
Baracking on doors in Allentown this past Saturday was an experience to remember; it was a way to get involved and to make a difference.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Outsourcing the Collection of Municipal Court Fines: A No-Brainer

For the past two months, my colleagues on the Plainfield City Council have failed to grant the 4-vote majority needed to approve the outsourcing of municipal court fines owed to the city by individuals who have been found guilty of violating the law. 

As of the writing of this blog post, those overdue fines total over $784,000, or roughly 6 tax points. A tax point is the value of a penny, which means that for every penny collected per $100 of assessed valuation, the city collects over $125,000. In these very lean economic times, with the severe financial hardship facing many a property owner as a result of the burden of ever rising property taxes, the city of Plainfield owes it to every tax payer to maximize every possible source of revenue. By so doing, the weight of an unbearable tax burden is reduced for everyone.

In business, smart planning aimed at collecting what is owed increases cash flow and reduces the need to borrow or to liquidate assets to fund day-to-day operations. Similarly, in municipal government, the more revenue that is generated, the lesser the need to raise property taxes. Hence, the refusal on the part of the city council to grant the 4 votes needed to outsource the collection of municipal court fines is very puzzling.

A few years ago, the New Jersey state legislature created the legislation that empowers municipalities to enter into third party collector agreements. Third parties are allowed, as an incentive, to collect up to 22% over and above the fines that are outstanding and must turn over to the municipality 100% of the original fine levied against individuals who have been found guilty of a violation, thus leaving the municipality whole.

You might ask why I am so supportive of the idea of outsourcing this function. The answer is simple: 1) Every dollar in fines that is not collected is an extra dollar that has to be paid by property owners; 2) Exhaustive efforts are made by the court system to collect the fines owed, in many cases without success; 3) A fine is a debt that is owed to society and it must be paid; it is not a burden to be placed on the shoulders of the innocent.

Judge Joan Robinson Gross, who heads up the Plainfield Municipal Court, is the consummate professional; she is known to be impartial, apolitical, thorough, and fully dedicated to the effectiveness and efficiency of our local municipal court. She always tries to provide information upon which informed decisions can be based. Given much of the commentary generated in the wake of the council’s failure to act on the proposed outsourcing legislation, the following information was recently provided by Judge Gross to a member of the administration: 

“Upon my return from vacation on this date, Court Administrator Susan Sanchez and I had a "briefing meeting" meant to update me on various issues that arose during that time. I understand from her that the City Council is reluctant to approve collection of fines by an outside agency. While I offer no opinion as to the ultimate decision of the Council respecting the Council's independent review of matters effecting the City, I want to make sure that all factors were presented for consideration. They follow:
1.     The Court has followed all procedures in house towards the collection of fines that were allowed time payments. In fact, no debt may be turned over for collection unless the court has made all possible efforts first. If a defendant has not honored the contract of partial payments, notices are sent. It is only after a defendant has failed to respond to the Court's "collection" notice or notices either by bringing the contract current or arranging an extension that a bench warrant for their arrest is issued.
2.     Bench warrants for failure to pay fines essentially means that a person is arrested and required to post bail, money which often would have been better used by paying the fine. If a third party has posted the bail, the court cannot use that bail money to satisfy the fine unless the third party, the surety, has signed a bail waiver turning the money over to pay the fine. Too often, once bail has been posted, the defendant is released and still doesn't pay the fine.
3.     A fine and any accompanying financial penalties flow only from a guilty plea or conviction for an offense whether criminal, traffic or city ordinance charges. Unlike another debt that may require collection efforts, a fine is a sentence and until that fine is paid, the defendant has not "suffered" the sentence. After all, if a defendant was sentenced to a jail term, the sentence would be served. Those who do not pay the financial sentence, unless modified by the court, have not paid their debt to society in every sense of the word.
4.     Modifications of the original financial sentence are allowed. If the Judge makes a finding that the defendant's failure to pay is more refusal to pay than inability to pay, the defendant may be ordered to jail and pay the fine in jail time worth about $50.00 per day. Community service may be served in lieu of payment of the fine. In extraordinary matters (related more to documented serious health problems), the entire amount owed may be suspended. In these scenarios, neither the City, the County or the State benefit from fines and penalties originally imposed.
Of course, if you are in need of any other information, feel free to contact Susan or myself.”

Each member of the governing body has a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard the public purse, and collectively we must always choose the greater good over the perceived discomfort of the guilty few. If, as has been quoted, “service is the rent we must pay for this room on earth,” then fines are a mere debt to society that guilty parties must pay. I urge all of my colleagues to read what the judge had to say and use it to come to the right decision for the people of Plainfield. Let us all be advocates for the tax payers and not be the voices for those who have been found guilty of breaking the law. I submit to you that the outsourcing of the collection of municipal court fines is a no-brainer.



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Real Leadership for a Better Plainfield – Now is the Time to get on Board

Most of you are aware that I have declared my candidacy for mayor of the city of Plainfield. My goal is to provide Real Leadership for a Better Plainfield. I am hoping that my service to the city over the past 14 years, my service to the County of Union as a former Freeholder, my vision for moving Plainfield forward, my experience and deep understanding of municipal government, are some of the key factors that have or will caused me to earn your support.

Plainfield needs a new leader; a leader who understands the nuances of government, one who knows the importance of surrounding oneself with decent competent talent and, one who knows how to get the job done. The job cannot be done in isolation and certainly not by standing alone on an island. It can only be done through the collective efforts of many working together as one. To that end I have established relationships within the city with individuals who are willing to lend their support both financially and with sweat equity to assist me in achieving the goal of becoming the city’s next mayor. I have also cultivated relationships across different NJ counties so as to be well positioned to gain access to resources that Plainfield needs in order to move forward.

Furthermore, I am in the process of creating a team of volunteers who will commit to  working very closely with me over the next several months leading up to primary election day in June 2013. The best outcome will be achieved through partnership, cooperation and collaboration. I am asking you to join forces with me as we partner to create a compelling platform with a vision that is appealing to, and right for all of Plainfield.

To sign up for my Volunteer Team, please email your contact information to or call (908) 577-0630. I look forward to partnering with you to provide Real Leadership for a Better Plainfield. Now is the time to get on board, on the road to victory.
Warm regards,


Thursday, September 6, 2012

DNC Watch Party at Home of Adrian and Amelia

As you know, President Barack Obama will be accepting the nomination of the Democratic Party tonight at the DNC in Charlotte. Mimi and I are inviting you to join us for cocktails at our home, 535 West 8th Street, as we cheer the President on to victory in November.
President Clinton did an excellent job, in his address last evening, of warming the stage for President Obama. I am sure that President Obama will electrify the audience tonight. Please stop by for some fun with friends and supporters. Our Watch Party begins at 8:00 pm; Mimi and I look forward to seeing you.

Warm regards,