Those words were spoken by a Frances Lane resident who complained of privately owned “halfway houses” for people with autism not paying any taxes, while, as she put it, people like her with monthly incomes of $1,300 are left to fit the bill. This came towards the end of an emotionally charged city council meeting on Monday night.
Before that point, the most time-consuming issue was the rodeo proposed by people from Marie Group, owners of Chez Marie and represented by “Jeff”. This rodeo is proposed for September 29th in a downtown parking lot on Watchung Avenue near front street. Several residents came out to speak against this rodeo, claiming, amongst other concerns, that all traffic to Plainfield isn’t good traffic and that it actually disrupts business. Meanwhile, Jeff contended that while this is a profitable venture, it is also cultural and brings families together to enjoy themselves. He also pointed out the $20,000 he pays to the city in permit fees to throw large festivals. He claims that these events are $50,000 investments. With him he had a book full of pictures of families enjoying themselves in Plainfield, and pointed to how surrounding communities, like Warren, have rodeos. The downfall for this request, however, was in fact the time frame of the demand as well as the lack of details. This ordinance was not yet on the agenda for this meeting, only 20 days before the September 29 event, far short of the 45 days Councilor Rebecca Williams said was required. The details that the council were provided with amounted to, according to one member, “rodeo, September 29th”, and, notably according to the council, nothing detailing safety measures . Councilor Williams noted that their proposal didn’t answer if there would be livestock and which companies would be used. It’s safe to assume that this rodeo won’t be coming to Plainfield this year. Even after a council approval, it would have to go through the Fire Department, the Health Department, and the Humane Department, according to Council President Rivers.
Councilor Mapp was the only member against renewing the lease agreement for the Lee Place Community Garden, citing environmental concerns. Other council members noted that the EPA has deemed that the site is indeed safe.
The first order of business in this meeting was Sundance award-winning home-grown filmmaker Alrick Brown’s publicizing his demand for funding for a film called “My Manz and ‘Em”. This film will cost $1,000,000 and will be shot 95% in Plainfield and is based on a book of the same title written by local author J.M. Benjamin. Brown hopes to shoot the opening scenes to the movie, which will be able to further the fundraising effort and really build excitement for the project. In this book, and film, the protagonist, described as “very hard”, ends up going to jail where he is forgotten by everyone he thought cared about him, and later experiences a rebirth behind bars. The movie will not only have a message, but will provide jobs and internships for a lot of young during its production, as well as taxes for the city and a piece of art for which the city can be proud. The kickstarter.com fundraising campaign, which will fund the first few scenes of the movie, will be called “Choose your Hustle” and will accepting donations in the very near future.
Public concerns over beatings of Hispanic men were brought to the council’s view by Flor Gonzales, head of Plainfield’s Latin American Coalition. She remarked that hispanic immigrants come here to participate, to give, to buy homes – “we didn’t come here to take.” She said to the council, “when I see a man beat up, like today, I wonder, where are you?” and stressed “we are all part of this family.” Rebecca Williams, Public Safety Chair, promised to speak to her on Wednesday about her concerns.
For more information about Pastor Thomas and Muhlenburg Hospital development, or the controversy surrounding the August 24th Gang Workshop discussed at this council meeting, please visit Plaintalker II post .