Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hispanics - AG Peter Harvey's Plainfield Meeting - 2005

AG meets to discuss attacks on Latinos

Plainfield crimes spur talks with activists, police and community leaders
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Star-Ledger Staff

Plainfield needs to make "systematic changes" to prevent crimes targeting Latinos, according to state Attorney General Peter Harvey, who met with community leaders for two hours last night behind closed doors.

"I don't just want to be in response mode," he said to reporters following the meeting.

Of the attacks that targeted Latinos in Plainfield and North Plainfield in spring 2004 and summer 2005, only one of the beatings has involved charges of bias intimidation.

To make sure those patterns don't emerge again, Harvey proposed giving immigrants identification cards so they can open a bank account and deposit their wages instead of carrying around cash.

"They have cash in their pockets and some people know it," he said, adding that many of the crimes happen after someone leaves a bar.

To make the community safer, Plainfield needs to hire more Spanish-speaking police officers, increase police patrols, educate the community about safety and hold more meetings between law enforcement and residents. Harvey also suggested posting signs in Spanish in bars alerting patrons to past attacks and linking car services with bar owners to encourage patrons to get a ride home.

Harvey scheduled last night's meeting shortly after activist Carmen Salavarrita renewed claims of bias attacks against Latinos last month. Harvey said that it is "fairly rare" for a community to come together and show concerns about bias crimes, even though he meets frequently with local law enforcement and residents.

Almost 30 people, including Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow, Plainfield Police Chief Edward Santiago and Safety Director Jiles Ship, attended the meeting at St. Mary's School on West Sixth Street.

Salavarrita believes some of the attacks on Latinos have been bias crimes, even though officials have said otherwise.

"A lot of people want to keep it quiet but that's not going to solve anything," she said. Salavarrita, who lives in Piscataway, said victims come to her for help because she has close ties to the community as a board member of Plainfield's El Centro Hispanoamericano and as a trustee of the Plainfield Health Center. She blames "a group of black people" for the attacks.

Another Latino activist, however, says the entire community is actually working together.

"The message we are sending is our community will not be divided," said Flor Gonzalez of the Latin American Coalition.

Gonzalez was not the only one to downplay Salavarrita's allegations.
"Crime statistics reflect that victimization is not solely a Hispanic issue," Santiago said. The police chief agreed the city needs to hire more Spanish-speaking officers in addition to the 14 currently on staff.

"We are getting more and more investigations that require interviews with Spanish speakers," he said after the meeting.

Santiago suggested starting a citizens' education program at the police academy to increase awareness of safety issues.

Councilman Ray Blanco similarly dismissed the claim that there is tension between the African- American and Latino community.

"They're not killing us on the streets," he said to a resident who had come to give Harvey a personal letter. "You know this and I know this."

Julia M. Scott covers Plainfield. She may be reached at jscott@star or (908) 302-1505.

© 2005  The Star Ledger
© 2005 All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Maps: Plainfield: Ward 4 Districts

Click to enlarge or print.

Maps: Plainfield: Ward 3 Districts

Click to enlarge or print.

Maps: Plainfield: Ward 2 Districts

Click to enlarge or print.

Maps: Plainfield: Ward 1 Districts

Click to enlarge or print.

Plainfield 2010 Primary Election Results (Council)

Plainfield 2010 Primary Election Results (Council)

District-by-district results for City Council seats.

Wards 2/3 at-large was a contested race between three Democrats --
  • Rashid Burney (Regular Democratic Organization [Incumbent])
  • Don Davis (Hold On To Plainfield)
  • Rebecca Williams (New Democrats for Plainfield)
Republican Jim Pivnichny ran unopposed.

In Ward 1, Democrat Bill Reid and Republican Sean Alfred were unopposed.



District 01
District 02 14
District 03 20
District 04 24
District 05 13
District 06 38
District 07 35
District 08 30
District 09 18
District 10 30
District 11


District 01 15
District 02 13
District 03 20
District 04 22
District 05 42
District 06 35
District 07 26
District 08 25
District 09 49
District 10 24



District 01 49

District 02 25

District 03 37

District 04 20

District 05 22

District 06 24

District 07 35

District 08 34



Total voter turnout was 2,286 citywide.

In Wards 2/3, 1,549 Democratic votes were cast. With
a total of 7,384 registered Democrats,
this is a turnout of 21%.

(As for unaffiliated voters declaring themselves at the polling place, my experience in one of the busier districts at Evergreen School was ONE person declaring Democratic voter affiliation on Primary day.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gangs | Bystanders caught in middle of Plainfield gang feud | NJ Newsroom

Bystanders caught in middle of Plainfield gang feud

Wednesday, 19 May 2010 14:25


A man and two women suffered injuries in the West End neighborhood of Plainfield in what police are calling a gang related feud between rival gangs that has been seething for months.

The 45-year-old male victim in the shooting that occurred around 8:40 p.m. Sunday, drove himself to the former Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center after sustaining a gunshot wound to his upper left arm. He told police he was driving his 2002 Volkswagen Jetta near the 400 block of Liberty Street near the Liberty Village housing complex when someone shot at his vehicle, shattering the rear window and hitting him in the arm. Investigators say the victim, who told them a group of "young boys" fired the shot, was otherwise uncooperative.

That shooting incident remains under investigation, but no suspects have been arrested at this time. Police said there might be a connection between the Liberty Street shooting and a second shooting that occurred during the wee hours of Monday morning less than a quarter-mile away at the Elmwood Gardens.

The first officer who responded to that shooting was already in the area and heard the gunfire. Upon arriving at West Second and New streets in the Elmwood Gardens housing complex around 2 a.m., the officer found a 21-year-old Dunellen female suffering from a gunshot wound to the upper left arm.

The second victim, a 30-year-old woman, was found several minutes later a half-block away suffering from a gunshot wound to the right buttock. Before being transported to the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Brunswick, both victims told investigators they did not see the shooter or shooters.

An immediate search of the area turned up no leads, but several witnesses told police the shots came from a Black 2003 Mercedes-Benz bearing Virginia plates that was seen in the area driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Police later found the suspect vehicle approximately 1.5 miles from the scene of the shootings near the corner of West Fifth Street and Stanley Place fully engulfed in flames.

Emergency crews extinguished the fire, which was believed to be the result of arson. A search of the vehicle by the Union County Sheriff's Identification Unit and Arson Task Force found several live rounds of ammunition near the car's passenger door. The vehicle was later towed to police headquarters.

Investigators say the shooters intended targets appear to have been two males who were at the scene but both remain unidentified at this time. Police say despite increased police presence, trepidation between the Libside and West Third Street gang sets appears to be escalating.

"They don't seem to care," said city Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig. "We've been trying to keep the peace down there, because there's certainly been some things brewing."

According to Hellwig, the feud has been simmering since the beginning of the new year. The violence between the two gangs appears to be escalating at the expense of innocent bystanders, which has forced police to develop an aggressive operational strategy to address the issue.

The three West End housing complexes, Elmwood Gardens, Liberty Village and the nearby West End Gardens, are all managed by the Housing Authority of Plainfield, and have become the nucleus of gang activity for years, but officials said residents, understandably reluctant to speak for fear of retaliation from gangs, hamper efforts.

Anyone with information on either of these shootings is asked to call Plainfield Police Detectives Edwin Maldonado or Nash Brown at 908-753-3415 or Detective Eugene Goldston at 908-753-3531. All calls will remain confidential.

Article #12310

NOTE: Story was taken down during the day.  Below is text of email I sent to NJ Newsroom folks on 5/21/2010 -- Dan

Good morning,

NJ Newsroom ran a story yesterday AM on recent gang activity in Plainfield.

I aggregate links to news stories of interest to Plainfield readers on my blog CLIPS, and posted a link to the story in my usual fashion.

As I scanned the item preparatory to putting up a link, it seemed very similar to my recollection of the Courier News item "Three injured in Plainfield shootings as gang feud escalates" of 5/17/2010, and I put a link to their story alongside the one to yours. (The story was actually broken on my local news blog, Plainfield Today, early Monday AM as part of a roundup of police news --
"3 shot over weekend, pedestrian struck, plus unremarked bias incident")

I was told by someone yesterday afternoon that your story had been taken down, and that Plainfield police director Martin Hellwig had confirmed that no one from NJ Newsroom had contacted him about the story, though there was a direct quote in your piece.

As a news junkie (and retired public information officer for the City of Plainfield), I have had the highest regard for NJ Newsroom since its inception and admire both the news stories and the wide variety of opinions expressed on issues of concern to New Jerseyans.

This experience, however, has left me feeling uneasy. In print media, there might be a correction or a small notice about what had gone awry. Scanning your site, I don't find somewhere that a reader could turn for clarifications or corrections or admissions that a mistake or ethical lapse had been made.

I hope you will consider a little 'corner' for such, so that your deservedly good reputation will remain of the highest order.

Dan Damon
Dan Damon

The needler in the haystack

Where Plainfield turns for news

Our lives begin to end when we are silent about things that matter.
--- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Freeholder seat: Carter to replace Van Blake as candidate

FREEHOLDERS: Van Blake loses endorsement, Carter as replacement

(Five items: Oldest to newest) plus PLAINFIELD TODAY and JERRY GREEN'S PAGE

Dems dump Van Blake in Union County

By Max Pizarro | March 8th, 2010 - 1:08pm

Union County Democratic Committee Chair Charlotte DeFilippo and Assemblyman Jerry Green Green (D-Plainfield) this morning told Freeholder Rayland Van Blake of Plainfield that he wouldn't be getting the party line to run for a second term.

"As far as I can tell, they're looking to basically flip years in the upcoming election as far as the freeholder seat is concerned, between Linden and Plainfield, and I get bumped out because of that," said Van Blake, a former Plainfield City councilman and television actor who won off the line in 2007 as a member of the New Democrats.

"The assemblyman and the county chairman told me flat out that's what it was," Van Blake added.

There's a mayor's race in Linden this year, and Democrats want a freeholder candidate to help create line strength on the ballot in their bid to upend independent Mayor Richard Gerbounka.

Council President Robert Bunk, the Democratic Party candidate for mayor, has trouble on the ground in Linden owing to the anti-organization mayoral candidacy of Councilman Derek Armstead.

Moreover, the county's lone freeholder from Linden, Nance Ward, moved to Westfield.

Van Blake says the party's dumping him to run a Linden-based freeholder candidate.

"It would appear that way," he say, when asked if he believes the reasoning is to stregthen Bunk's bid against Gerbounka.

But that wasn't part of the meeting the freeholder had today.

"They told me I didn't have the support locally so they weren't going to take the chance," Van Blake said. "I know I didn't have the support of the mayor but I do have the support of the people. The New Democrats are still supportng me."

On his way in to a meeting with Green, Van Blake would not immediately comment on his next move until after he speaks with the veteran assemblyman

DeFilippo: Van Blake 'disappointed' as freeholder

By Max Pizarro | March 8th, 2010 - 4:39pm

Union County Democratic County Chair Charlotte DeFilippo says Freeholder Rayland Van Blake is a nice guy.

"I like him, he's charming, but he has a tremendous amount of commitments," she said of the Plainfield freeholder she relieved of the party line this morning.

"There's a place for any good Democrat in the party," DeFilippo added. "He's just disappointed. You have to decide, or people will decide for you. People didn't see him at a lot of things - your involvement in county events has to be higher than the average person's - and people are disappointed. Do I like him? Absolutely. I just think he has to focus on one thing."

Van Blake's allies believe they have a Plainfield version of Cory Booker in the making in the television actor with a financial background, a former footfall standout in Plainfield.

But star power potential wasn't enough for DeFilippo, who said Van Blake simply didn't dig substantially enough into the freeholder job during his single term in office.

The county chair denied she intends to fill the seat with a candidate from Linden.

"I fully expect there will be a candidacy out of Plainfield," she said. "There will be somebody else who's high energy. It will be somebody from Plainfield.

"Would I take a Lindenite if no one was available?" DeFilippo added. "Absolutely."

The party will have a candidates' screening on Wednesday night.

Scutari: new freeholder candidate will be from
Plainfield or Linden - probably Plainfield

By Max Pizarro | March 9th, 2010 - 9:19am

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) didn't protest the Democratic County Committee's decision to deny the party line to Union County Freeholder Rayland Van Blake.

"He's a nice guy, but we're going to respect the committee process," Scutari told

Union County Democratic Committee Chair Charlotte DeFilippo said yesterday that Plainfield would be her first town of choice in seeking a Van Blake replacement, but didn't rule out Linden, which lacks a freeholder and is the scene this year of a mayoral contest.

"Both of those (Plainfield and Linden) have been considered, and one of those towns will certainly be represented - probably from Plainfield, in the near future," Scutari said.

Green backs Carter for freeholder seat in Union

By Max Pizarro | March 9th, 2010 - 12:07pm

Although he won't support Union County Freeholder Rayland Van Blake, Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-Plainfield) says his city will have a freeholder candidate on the Democratic Party line this year.

"I am calling on all of the county chairs and asking them to support (Plainfield Councilwoman) Linda Carter," Green told

Like Van Blake, Carter comes out of the political fold of the Plainfield New Democrats.

Chair of the Democratic Party in Plainfield, Green said Van Blake - a budding television actor and freshman freeholder trying to juggle government and the demands of his entertainment career - had no support for re-election among local Dems: not among the establishment ranks, and not among the New Democrats.

A rare point of agreement between two feuding camps, and useful considering Union County Democratic Chair Charlotte DeFilippo's warning to Green that if the warring factions in Plainfield couldn't present a candidate they could agree on, she would turn to Linden - where she could use a freeholder candidate to build ballot strength for her mayoral candidate.

"When was the last time Adrian Mapp and I agreed on something?" said Green, referring to his political antagonist, who last year ran against Green's ally, Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson Briggs, and lost.

Mapp is himself a former freeholder and organization Democrat who lost Green's support and the party line in 2007 and subsequently became leader of the New Democrats.

"As the chairman, I wanted to give the county respect in terms of their concerns," added the assemblyman. "I reached out to Adrian Mapp (chair of the New Democrats) and the mayor and all the key players so they all understood what was going on. No disrespect to Rayland but a lot of people were complaining about him not spending enough time on the freeholder board. What we did was come up with is an alternate plan."

Green said he told Van Blake that if other chairs backed him, he would support him, but no one wanted to give the freeholder another shot.

"We all agreed that if there was going to be a problem with Rayland, we would present Lynda Carter, and so right now, I am calling all the county chairs on her behalf," said Green. "The New Democrats are not happy with Rayland's attendance record, and now we have a quality candidate."

The screening committee is scheduled for tomorrow evening.

Green looked at the positive.

"This is the first time we've all come together," he said. "They feel Rayland's a nice guy, but agree that you can't just show up on Thursday and expect that to be the extent of the job. I didn't just make the decision on my own. Lynda Carter is a New Democrat. Everybody understands I work very hard at what I do. If someone wants me to stick his neck out for a losing cause then I wish him luck."

The 31-year old Van Blake went to Green's office yesterday and complained, but the veteran, 71-year old Green said he stood his ground.

"You have to work at this business," Green said. "You can't just expect things are going to be handed to you on a platter. Look, I was 40 years old when I was kicked off the line because I didn't take my freeholder job seriously. I came back and I've never lost an election since. Rayland's been given the opportunity to figure this out ten years earlier than I did. If he wants to blame me, fine - but I know better than anyone, it's a valuable lesson."

Armstead picks up petitions to run for mayor of Linden

By Max Pizarro | March 9th, 2010 - 1:43pm

Linden 4th Ward Councilman Derek Armstead on Friday obtained petitions to run for mayor but hasn't yet declared his intentions officially in what at this point amounts to a piece of anti-establishment kabuki aimed at riling the local Democratic Party organization.

Armstead said if he runs he wouldn't be a spoiler in a primary against establishment Democratic Council President Robert Bunk.

"I would beat Bunk if I ran against him," boasted Armstead, who won re-election off the line in 2008. "How do you sell yourself as a vehicle of change when you have been council president for ten years?"

Armstead, a county employee in the IT department, has been on the council for 17 years.

This would be his first run for mayor.

If Bunk had talked to him about succeeding him as council president, "We would be having a totally different discussion right now," admitted Armstead, the lone black on the governing body. "But the Democratic Party of Linden has not been very good at all to my community."

Armstead said Bunk has already fixed his sights on 8th Ward Councilwoman Michelle Yamakaitas as his successor, the council's only woman.

"Discussions with me would have had to happen a long time ago," the councilman said. "In the next couple of months they couldn't make any gestures that would reverse the trend. Right now, people are asking me to run because they really think I have a chance to win, and we're giving it a lot of consideration."

If Armstead gets in the race, he would be fighting Bunk in June for a general election shot in November at Mayor Richard Gerbounka, an independent.

"Gerbounka's an independent, I'm a Democrat and Gov. Christie's a Republican," said Armstead. "It doesn't matter what political party you belong to, people are losing their homes. My belief is people like Bob Bunk are obstructionist and have tried to sabotage Gerbounka in what amounts to a betrayal of the public.

"If Robert Bunk becomes the nominee, I am a Democrat, I've always been a Democrat... that's the way I'll leave it. Sometimes primaries get nasty, and I don't think he's a very strong candidate."

As an off-the-line Democratic candidate in 2008, Armstead won with 63.06% of the vote.

He remembers Freeholder Rayland Van Blake campaigning against him that year. Now the party is dumping the Plainfield-based Van Blake, in part, Armstead believes, because Democrats want to run a freeholder candidate in Linden.

"They used him to try to get rid of me and now they're saying it's my fault that they're getting rid of him," Armstead said. "You can't make this stuff up."

For the record, Union County Democratic Chair Charlotte DeFilippo said she would turn to Linden only if Plainfield couldn't unify behind a Van Blake replacement, and today Assemblyman Jerry Green, chairman of the local Democratic Party, said the city's Democrats have come together around the candidacy of At-Large Councilwoman Linda Carter, a New Democrat.


Friday, 3/5/2010:  "County Dems dumping Van Blake from Freeholder slot?"
Monday, 3/8/2010:  "Van Blake dumped. Will Green put up with loss of Black Freeholder seat?"
Monday, 3/8/2010:  "Freeholder seat:  Robinson-Briggs or Carter?"


Monday, 3/8/2010:  "Straightening out this Freeholder fiasco"

(Note: Online stories may be taken down by their publisher after a period of time. Links posted here are from the original online publication of these pieces.)

(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 CLIPS endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

MLK Events - 2010 (Printable Calendar)


TUESDAY · January 12 · 7:00 PM
Diabetes: Causes, Effects
and Treatment

At: Mohawk Lodge, 1357 West Third Street
Sponsor: Mohawk Lodge #307 & NAACP
Contact: George Gore (908) 822-9771

WEDNESDAY · January 13 · 6:30 PM
Family Movie Night

At: City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Avenue
Sponsor: City of Plainfield
Contact: Barbara James (908) 753-3310

FRIDAY · January 15 · 11:00 AM
Senior Center MLK Program

At: Plainfield Senior Center, 400 East Front Street
Sponsor: Plainfield Senior Center
Contact: Sharron Brown (908) 753-3506

SATURDAY · January 16 · 11:00 AM
P.O.P. Rally

At: Steps of City Hall, 515 Watchung Avenue
Sponsor: People's Organization for Progress
Contact: Steven Hatcher (908) 731-1518

SATURDAY · January 16 · 1:00 PM
Young Gifted & Talented
An afternoon of inspiration and fun for youth.

At: Hubbard Middle School, 661 West 8th Street
Sponsor: Omega Psi Phi Fraternity
Contact: Clinton Hall (201) 741-1415

SATURDAY · January 16 · 7:00 PM
New Dems Potluck & Food Drive
Celebrate Dr. King's commitment to end hunger.
Bring a dish to share and canned food items.

At: Councilor & Mrs. Adrian Mapp, 535 West 8th St.
Sponsor: New Democrats for Plainfield
Contact: Rebecca Williams (908) 447-6268

SUNDAY · January 17 · 5:00 PM
MLK Day of Celebration

At: Calvary Baptist Church, 324 Monroe Avenue
Sponsor: Concerned Urban Clergy
Contact: (908) 482-3532

MONDAY · January 18 · 8:00 AM
NAACP Memorial March

From: PNC Bank (2nd & Park) to PHS
Sponsor: Plainfield Branch, NAACP
Contact: George Gore (908) 822-9771

MONDAY · January 18 · 8:30 AM
Frontiers MLK Memorial Breakfast
Speaker: Michellene Davis, Esq., Chief Policy
Counsel to Gov. Corzine and State Treasurer.

At: PHS Cafeteria | $16 / $12 Seniors and students.
Reservations & Info: 756-4663 or 822-2202
Sponsor: Frontiers International

MONDAY · January 18 · 3:00 PM & 4:00 PM
3:00: Where Do We Go From Here?
Conversation Facilitator: Dr. Gerald Lamont Thomas
4:00: MLK Commemorative Service
Speaker: Rev. Dr. Vernon Walton

At: Shiloh Baptist Church, 515 West 4th Street
Sponsor: Shiloh Baptist Church
Contact: Geri Agurs (908) 754-3353 x120

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.