Thursday, October 12, 2006

Abbott Funding - Courier - Letter: New Dems will work with Green

Published in the Courier News, Thursday, October 12, 2006

[Letter to Editor]
New Democrats will work with Green

Your Saturday editorial mischaracterized the New Democrats as "the faction of the party warring with Green." Your readers were left with the false impression that the Town Hall meeting was nothing more than just another war between the New Democrats and Assemblyman Green, and our genuine desire to perform a public service was overshadowed, to some degree, by your comment.

During the past three weeks, I, as president of the New Democrats and as a freeholder, have had some very good dialogue with Assemblyman Green over the need for us, as community leaders, to come together under the banner of unity for the benefit of the school district and the residents of Plainfield. I have assured the assemblyman that I would work with him and other local elected officials to help, proactively, mobilize the Plainfield community to influence the special legislative committee's decision.

At the forum on Abbott schools funding issues, David Sciarra of the Education Law Center and Richard Shapiro, special counsel to the Plainfield schools, both underscored the need to put aside local differences and broadly organize to favorably influence the outcomes of the schools funding debate that is under way in Trenton.

The special legislative committee's report to the Legislature is due Nov. 15, a little more than five weeks away. Time is short, and it would be negligent of the stakeholders -- the district, our entire legislative delegation, parents, students, taxpayers and all interested community organizations -- not to get busy organizing and lobbying.

Assemblyman Green should take the lead in fighting for Plainfield's interest in the Abbott funding matter.

Specifically, he should invite the special committee to hold a hearing in Plainfield. He should publicly lay out his plan of action for securing the Abbott District plan in general -- and Plainfield in particular. He should immediately convene a broadly representative task force of Plainfield stakeholders -- the Board of Education, teachers and staff, families and students, nonprofits, and business, political and neighborhood organizations -- to plan a concerted, organized, common effort to put the needs of Plainfield and its children before the committee while there is still time.

The New Democrats would support and endorse such a signal of leadership on the assemblyman's part and would eagerly and wholeheartedly support organizing a response to this threat against Plainfield's children, Plainfield's taxpayers and Plainfield's future.

The situation provides a perfect opportunity to put into practice the assemblyman's new mantra: "Progress through unity in the community."

To that end, the New Democrats political club, under my leadership, stands ready to work with the assemblyman and to help.

Freeholder, Union County

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Plainfield resident since 1983. Retired as the city's Public Information Officer in 2006; prior to that Community Programs Coordinator for the Plainfield Public Library. Founding member and past president of: Faith, Bricks & Mortar; Residents Supporting Victorian Plainfield; and PCO (the outreach nonprofit of Grace Episcopal Church). Supporter of the Library, Symphony and Historic Society as well as other community groups, and active in Democratic politics.