Thursday, September 25, 2008

Homicide - Courier - Monroe & West 3rd, number 3 for 2008

Published in the, Thursday, September 25, 2008

Man killed in Plainfield drive-by, police say

By MARK SPIVEY • STAFF WRITER • September 24, 2008

PLAINFIELD —A 31-year-old man was killed in a drive-by shooting in the city Wednesday night, Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig said.

Plainfield police responded to a report of shots fired near the intersection of Monroe Avenue and West Third Street around 9 p.m., where officers found the victim, a black male, Hellwig said.

The victim, whose town of residence was unclear, remained unidentified late Wednesday night pending notification of his family.

Officials from the Union County Prosecutor’s Office’s newly-formed Homicide Task Force, established just one week ago, were on the scene along with the Union County Sheriff’s Office officials. Investigators are following “numerous leads,” according to Hellwig.

The homicide was the city’s first in more than six months and its third of the year.


Online story here.

(Note: Online stories may be taken down by their publisher after a period of time or made available for a fee. Links posted here is from the original online publication of this piece.)

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Plainfield Today, Plainfield Stuff and Clippings have no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of these articles nor are Plainfield Today, Plainfield Stuff or Clippings endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Muhlenberg - Courier - OpEd of Dr. Brian Fertig

Published in the Courier News, Sunday, September 7, 2008 [not on website until 9/09/2008]

Closure of Muhlenberg demonstrates deeper crisis

By Dr. BRIAN FERTIG • September 7, 2008

Health care nationwide is in a crisis of uncoiling despondency. Half of New Jersey's hospitals are financially in the red. Inadequate insurance coverage and dramatic cutbacks in state government funding, despite a rising charity-care requirement, explain the dilemma. Hospital inefficiency related to bed inoccupancy and lower quality of care with more prolonged and complicated illnesses requiring longer lengths of stay and increasing number of procedures amplifies the dilemma.

It is plausible to restrain government spending for inefficiency. However, desultory withdrawal of funding to some of the state's most efficient facilities is a senseless instigation to this health care calamity and geometrically rising costs; Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center is a paragon precedent to this point.

"We were rearranging the furniture on the slanting deck of the sinking Titanic," was quoted by the commissioner of health, who also referred to the hospital as a "sacrificial lamb."

Muhlenberg became the topic of escalating news coverage as it was being closed. It made the front page of The Washington Post on July 7. Daniel Schorr lamented the closing on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." A heartwarming yet discriminatory documentary will undoubtedly be done on the historic nature of this institution based on its foundational stabilizing value as the city of Plainfield's largest employer and the elite ilk of standards and delivery of health care care throughout its 130 year existence.

"Done deal" from the start has never mattered; this fight needed to be fought and the story needs to be told.

A prevailing consensus of desolate presentiment daunted any effort to preserve the vitality of Muhlenberg's acute-care facility. Nevertheless, the gravamen of common sense, political correctness and reverence for the cost-efficient and highest quality of health care delivery (including the Reinholdt report) consummated a personal decision to embrace this battle. It appeared not only possible but easy to expose the sophistry for desecration to the sanctuary of health care, basic human rights and life.

Moreover, our New Jersey state elected officials, whose decision it was to withdraw state funding for hospital charity care, after all, embody a sympathetic cord for their multicultural underprivileged constituents. In fact, there were pre-emptive intentional, conspicuous measures to lead the bereaved public down a garden path of understanding and hope. Effusive emotion, sentimentality and factually incontestable well-articulated moral indignation failed to achieve any measure of moderate retrenchment by the Corzine administration. This became the defining watershed red flag for distrust.

Befitting a similitude to a hidden twist to the theme of a detective mystery, beguile and vulpine leadership became implicit, although the motives remain murky. The only explanation can be jockeying (e.g. for broader national-scale universal health care) or other even more villianous corruption.

It is a bewildering reality sometimes to have to think of our friends or elected safeguards as foes. Several tacitly credible reports have incriminated state governing officials of collusion and political blocking designed to disrupt and diffuse any focus capable of exposing an effective generator of outrage. One source points to stealthy manipulation of isolated executive individuals for the People's Organization for Progress. Another source supportive of the loyalty and virtue of the People's Organization cite threats from government officials to such individuals (who are state employees) if their level of advocacy for Muhlenberg persisted.

This may explain the fundamentally extraneous cynosure to Solaris Health Care Systems for the impending closure of Muhlenberg's acute-care operation. We need to remember that the state funding for charity care had been voluntarily taken away by the state government. Regardless of whether Solaris sees or even planned this as an opportunity to expand JFK Medical Center, it is curious that virtually no attention had been directed to the actual fundamental cause of the problem.

Framing the vital distinction of Muhlenberg's acute care provided the tangible opportunity to destabilize the accepted sophistry of the state's administration. The spurious reasoning that closing the acute care at Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center protects the financial interest of New Jersey taxpayers or ennobles fiscal responsibility is ridiculous and outrageous.

Muhlenberg has a record of scintillating efficiency and quality of care that irrefutably translated into cost savings. Repeated vacuous demonstrations directed by the People's Organization for Progress acclaimed only blank signs of "Save Muhlenberg." There had also been the conspicuous absence of worthy statewide media coverage.

It is retrospectively predictable for the state to grant the certificate of need filed by Solaris. The animus builds along with predictable prolonged legal courses of action between the sister hospitals of Solaris; this attention fulfills the function of political blocking. For Solaris to serve as a scapegoat for our state's administration, via state denial of a certificate of need, would only translate into a sooner realization that the New Jersey state government, and not Solaris, is the elemental problem to Muhlenberg's fallout. This would logically revivify the legs of Muhlenberg's supporters by directing their focus and goals.

The value of the New York Giants as a role model for champion teams must be epitomized. They have fought for Team Muhlenberg as they did for themselves. They even likened their achievement of the 2007-2008 greatest playoff and Super Bowl run in professional football history to the accomplishment that supporters of Muhlenberg pursue.

Tiki Barber, the "Mighty Mouse": He is relatively small, but found the holes that O'Hara, the front line and team created, to produce incredible statistics and outcome. The New York Giants consummated their world champion status after consecutively overcoming three redoubtable strongly favored and probably more talented opponents. Metaphorically, Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center epitomizes Mighty Mouse as a small Giant.

Built in 1877, a 400-bed hospital at its height, it has ranked No. 1 in the entire state of New Jersey (of almost 300 hospitals) and even in the top 10 percent in the country statistically for parameters of care. These include: infection rates in the intensive care unit; emergency cardiac angioplasty time; and neonatal morbidity. This efficiency of care results in decreased mechanical ventilation, transfusions, dialysis requirements, and so on, that underscore prolonged serious illness with an incommensurably high cost of delivering health care.

Champions know who they are. Fundamentals make team Muhlenberg a betting favorite. Getting knocked down can be disorienting; getting back up coupled to a cyclopean instinct of faith for the triumph of justice reorientates focus and innately the direction of the field of play. Muhlenberg's offensive game is poised for long gains, ball control and predictably a touchdown win and renaissance for the people it serves.

Both the certificate of need filed by Solaris Health Systems and the Reinhardt Report by the commissioner of health recognize and praised the outcome, quality and safety of Muhlenberg's patient care. This small community regional medical center that served the predominantly underprivileged and racial minorities of Plainfield outperformed the care of an overwhelming majority of larger medical centers in well-to-do areas.

The game plan for Muhlenberg at this point must be to illuminate Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center so brightly that it clearly exposes the sophistry of our governor's reasoning and decision-making to withdraw charity care funding to the hospital. Evidence-based medicine and statistical validation of the highly efficient delivery of care at Muhlenberg needs to be tangibly demonstrated. This can be done. Such a sophisticated analysis endeavor is the current challenge. The depth of this analysis, as already discussed with a leader in this area of econometrics, needs to be impervious to anticipated widespread scrutiny.

Dr. Brian Fertig is an endocrinologist living in Edison.

Online story here.
(Note: Online stories may be taken down by their publisher after a period of time or made available for a fee. Links posted here is from the original online publication of this piece.)

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Plainfield Today, Plainfield Stuff and Clippings have no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of these articles nor are Plainfield Today, Plainfield Stuff or Clippings endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Armory - Courier - Bids on Armory start at $1M

Plainfield Armory going up for sale; bids start at $1M

Courier News, Thursday, June 30, 2005


Staff Writer

PLAINFIELD -- It was once considered a good location for a new senior citizen center and has been used as a place for martial arts classes, speeches and large-scale gatherings.

Now, the Plainfield Armory is for sale at a minimum bid of $1 million.

Assemblyman Jerry Green said the State House Commission decided last week to sell the property, recommending to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs that it be auctioned off after it was declared a surplus building.

The commission is in charge of selling and leasing state-owned property.

Green, D-Plainfield, said it would be preferable for the city to retain control of the armory by purchasing it from the state. He said city officials, including Mayor Albert T. McWilliams, were sent a letter in April notifying them of the sale, but they never replied.

"By him or the council not responding, they (the state) decided last Monday to put the property out to bid," Green said.

McWilliams said he never received that letter -- a copy Green submitted showed it was dated April 27 -- but said the city might be interested in the armory. However, McWilliams added that the building needs a new air-conditioning system and other upgrades.

"There's a lot of work that has to go into the site, but it's a great location," he said.

A spokesman for the state Department of the Treasury, which manages state-owned properties, indicated there is at least one month for Plainfield to act.

"The property will be offered to state agencies and the municipality first, and if there is no interest expressed, it will be sold at an auction with a minimum bid of $1 million," spokesman Tom Vincz said Monday.

The statement Vincz read was part of a letter sent to McWilliams, dated June 22. In it, Gene Hayman, chief of the Office of Real Property Management at the Treasury, asks the city to contact him by July 29 if officials are interested.

If the city does nothing by then, the state will auction the armory to the highest bidder.

The building at the corner of Leland Avenue and East Seventh Street is about 18,000 square feet, and when it was considered as a possible new senior center site six or seven years ago, it contained mostly small offices and narrow corridors. The tight spaces and lack of handicap-accessible features made seniors hesitant about relocating there.

Vincz said the older building is a candidate for the state and national Register of Historic Places, meaning there would be restrictions on alterations and uses by any potential buyer.

"In other words, you can't knock the building down," Vincz said.

Green noted that armories such as the one in Red Bank -- which became an ice rink -- have been converted for public use, which is what he would like to see in Plainfield.

"It's a lot of options out there. I have staff doing research now how other municipalities have responded to this," he said."

Armory - Ledger - State puts Armory up for sale

State puts Plainfield armory up for sale

Friday, June 24, 2005

Star-Ledger Staff

The Plainfield armory is up for sale with a price tag of a million dollars, officials said.

The state-owned building will be offered to state agencies and the city first, said Tom Vincz, a spokesperson at the state Treasury Department, which is overseeing the sale. It could not be determined exactly when the property will be put on the market.

The armory was closed in the early 1990s because it was underutilized. But instead of selling the space, the state rented it to veterans groups.

Recently, the Military and Veterans Affairs Agency requested the armory be designated as surplus, prompting the sale. On Monday, the State House Commission approved the sale.

Plainfield Mayor Albert McWilliams said the city might be interested in the property if the price is right. But the building needs "hundreds of thousands" of dollars for a cooling system and to make it handicapped accessible, he said.

"If we had the money to do the upgrades, it would be a great community center for the city," he said. "We would have to look at the details."

Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-Union) has worked with the state to make sure the city has first dibs.

"I think the city should control a valuable piece of property," he said.

The armory is eligible for the state and national registers of historic sites, said Vincz, meaning the building cannot be torn down.

Julia Scott cover Plainfield. She may be reached at (908) 302-1505 or

Armory - Courier - Task force considers Armory

Courier News, Sunday, July 10, 2005


Plainfield eyes deal for armory

PLAINFIELD -- A task force has begun meeting to consider the possible acquisition of the Plainfield Armory by the city.

Mayor Albert T. McWilliams announced the establishment of the group earlier this week, and the task force met for the first time Wednesday night, he said.

The nine-member panel, chaired by resident Michael Pyne, an AT&T executive who has been active in several other city groups, will consider possible uses for the property and the feasibility of acquiring the armory, from finances to development.

A public hearing may be scheduled to gather community input.

The state announced in late June that it had declared the armory, at the corner of Leland Avenue and East Seventh Street, a surplus property and would sell it at auction with a starting bid of $1 million.

-- Chad Weihrauch

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Muhlenberg - Courier - Green airs differences with Solaris

Published in the Courier News, Thursday, September 4, 2008

Plainfield, Solaris air differences at Muhlenberg meeting


The State Department of Health and Senior Services is attempting to mediate a series of disputes between the city of Plainfield and Solaris, Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center's parent company, regarding the recent closure of the 131-year-old hospital.

Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard met with Assemblyman Jerry Green, D-Union, and officials from Plainfield and Solaris in Trenton on Wednesday in a session that lasted nearly three hours — the talks revolving around disagreements regarding some of the 18 conditions outlined by Howard in a written decision released in late July approving Solaris' certificate of need to close the hospital.

"They got to discuss a variety of concerns centering around the (certificate of need)," said department spokeswoman Donna Leusner, "And she (Howard) is working with both parties to resolve the issues."

Those issues include a dispute over the adequacy of schedules for transportation to other medical facilities supplied by Solaris to city residents, plus the lack of a "watchdog" entity to ensure the conditions for closure continue to be met by the company, two topics that, according to Green, dominated the meeting. The assemblyman said he believed that without tangible amendments to the original approval of the certificate of need, the city would lean toward filing a formal appeal of Howard's decision, the deadline for which Green said is next week.

"I would say right now that I'm more inclined (to believe an appeal is pending), because there's so much mistrust there. I would say unless the commissioner makes these adjustments, there's a good opportunity that the city would appeal," Green said. "If she doesn't render a decision in a favorable way, there's going to be a problem, but I want to give her the benefit of the doubt first."

Leusner said her department was aware of the possibility for such an appeal. Yesterday's meeting was the second in three weeks to include the commissioner, Green, and Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs in discussing the hospital, which city officials have said was vital to the community. Solaris has cited massive financial struggles stemming from low patient volumes, high rates of charity-care patients, and continuing state and federal reimbursement cuts for such patients as reasons for closing the hospital, the annual losses for which officials have said were approaching $20 million.

Solaris spokesman Steven Weiss characterized yesterday's meeting as being positive, expressing optimism that its eventual outcome could prove agreeable to both his company and the Plainfield community.

"The meeting itself was really a beneficial and healthy dialogue between the interested parties," Weiss said. "They're (the Department of Health) going to look at what can be done to look at some of the conditions to see if they can simplify some of them to make them more beneficial to the community."

Weiss said yesterday's meeting also touched on the hot-button issue of the possible sale of the hospital or parts of the hospital grounds. Green and others have accused Solaris of being uncooperative with prospective buyers, but Weiss said his company explained during the meeting that such transactions are complicated.

"We were clarifying the parameters that our investment bankers use for the sale," Weiss said. "There are a lot of specifics when it comes from turning a nonprofit (facility) into a for-profit."

Weiss added that Solaris remains willing to listen to any offers for parts of the 17-acre campus. Green has said he knows of no fewer than four interested parties.

"We remain open to being approached," Weiss said.

Yesterday's meeting originally set up as a showdown between Green and Solaris over the possible approval by the state of nearly $170 million in bonds for the financially distressed health-care company, funds that the assemblyman last week said he hoped to get the state to defer pending the city's grievances being addressed.

Green softened his stance slightly yesterday, saying Solaris officials spent part of the meeting emphasizing the fact that the denial of the bonds in question could spell financial disaster. The matter was originally due to come before the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority on Aug. 28, but was postponed, although the case now appears on the authority's Web site under a list of pending business with a decision date yet to be set.

"They were pleading their case, and they made it very clear that without financing in place, all the things we're talking about, including employees, (could be in jeopardy)," Green said. "Without that revenue needed for Solaris to get in good financial shape, then it could be a crisis for them. That's why it's important it should be give-and-take on both sides — they have financial concerns, we have health concerns."

Mark Spivey can be reached at or 908-707-3144.

Online story here.

(Note: Online stories may be taken down by their publisher after a period of time or made available for a fee. Links posted here is from the original online publication of this piece.)

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Plainfield Today, Plainfield Stuff and Clippings have no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of these articles nor are Plainfield Today, Plainfield Stuff or Clippings endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

About Me

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.