The Gutenkauf family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support following the passing of our beloved Dottie in December.  Please join us in celebrating her life and legacy on Saturday, March 19th 2016.

DG Memorial invite

On March 19th, 2016, family, friends, cohorts and fans will come together in celebration of the life of Dorothy “Dottie” Miller Gutenkauf, who passed away in December. This event is open to anyone who was touched by Dottie’s remarkable spirit. There will be an abundance the things she loved most – amazing people, incredible music, insightful words and exceptional food.

Musical selections will include The Solidarity Singers, as well as segments of the Plainfield Symphony Orchestra, the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players and more.

For more information, please email


“It’s hard to believe that gay Americans achieved full constitutional personhood just five years after corporations did,” he said.

Pho 99 in South Plainfield, a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant (and the only one in our area) will be closed by the end of June, since the property owner has sold the building. Pho 99 has been there for 15 years and has gotten rave reviews from patrons and the media. It is the successor to La Viet, which was on Front Street in Plainfield for a number of years–the food is great and the iced coffee is fantastic.

Now’s your chance (if you haven’t visited them already) to explore the menu. I often tell people that once you’ve eaten a Vietnamese egg roll, you’re hooked–you will never really want a Chinese egg roll again. The spring rolls, too, are fabulous. The menu is full of good things–soups, entrees, salads, you name it–and the prices are very reasonable.

Go while you have a chance! Go south on Park Avenue, cross Oak Tree Road, and take the right turn into the parking lot–you’ll see the Pho 99 sign on the left. They’re closed on Mondays–and as of June 28 they will be closed forever.

We have been regular patrons and will miss them greatly. I hope you can visit and enjoy before they close.

I’m not a member of any organized political party—I’m a Democrat.
(Will Rogers)

I beg you, do not be unchangeable.
Do not believe that you alone can be right.
The man who thinks that,
The man who maintains that only he has the power
To reason correctly, the gift to speak, the soul—
A man like that, when you know him, turns out empty.

         The most recent mailer I’ve received from “Jerry Green for Assembly” has an interesting statement: “In Plainfield, we just don’t win…” and how right that was! They “just don’t win”they try to prevent the city from winning!
          During the year and a half since mayor Adrian Mapp took office, the City Council members Jerry supported have spent most of their time trying to block his efforts to improve Plainfield’s services and change the culture of patronage and incompetence in city hall. To a large extent, the mayor has succeeded—violent crime is down, economic development is up, recreation is providing a wider range of services, and for the first time in many years, Plainfield has a permanent Chief Finance Officer—a must for providing financial stability and consistency in the city’s operations.
           And that’s not all. The city’s bond rating is up, which means savings to taxpayers…grants that the previous administration ignored and allowed to lapse are being restored…one-seat train rides to New York City, and Plainfield’s designation as a transit village…all these and more are helping to increase development and raise property values.
           One recent campaign piece criticized Adrian for his response to a news item about a Library Board appointee’s “flagrant lewd behavior in public” and even went so far as to say the mayor’s failure to remove him, and the lack of public criticism from the mayor and his allies on the council when the incident happened is “far worse” than raising taxes. Hard to believe, of course—but if you haven’t thrown the mailer out, you can see for yourself; I’m not making this up! That’s right, they “just don’t win”—they just find things about the Mapp administration they can criticize.
           Many Plainfielders know that my late husband, Joe, and I worked closely with Assemblyman Green, and served on the Democratic Committee, for many years—but after Joe’s death in 2012, I decided not to run for a Committee seat in 2013. During last year’s primary, Jerry and I parted company. I have been very disappointed—Joe would have been too—by the tactics Jerry has been employing now that he has “consolidated” his power as Union County Democratic Chair.
           Just for example, in 2014 he called a Plainfield Democratic Committee meeting and told them who “their” Council candidates would be. This year, he didn’t even call a Committee meeting.
           What’s the point of having a local “Democratic Committee” if that group doesn’t have a voice in decision-making? This isn’t Stalinist Russia, and we don’t have to all swear allegiance to the “party line”—we’re grownups and can think for ourselves. The Democratic Party has room for many points of view—and what usually happens is that after differences are resolved, we all work together.
           That’s why I’m running for Democratic Committee. It’s time to restore democracy to the Plainfield Democratic party—and Plainfield voters can do that on Tuesday by voting for the Council and Committee candidates in Column C!

One was from that notorious non-organization, “Union County’s Committee,” attacking our mayor because a candidate for freeholder didn’t make it onto the ballot—he wasn’t a registered Democrat when he circulated the nominating petitions. There’s an error of fact here (surprise!) because the mailer says Adrian Mapp “couldn’t find any Democrat willing to run…so he decided to run two imposters….” Not true—there was a Plainfield Democrat (I met him) willing to run and circulating petitions; but all the petitions got tossed because the other candidate wasn’t a registered Democrat. The mailer goes on to say “we don’t need fake Democrats on the County Committee,” but the fact is that there aren’t any non-Democrats running in Column C for Committee positions. It has spelling errors, too. Well, what do you expect from a non-organization?

The second mailer is actually from “Jerry Green for Assembly,” a legitimate and registered political organization. It attacks the mayor (who isn’t on the ballot this year), Councilor Rebecca Williams (who won re-election last year) and Councilor Cory Storch, who is in fact running for re-election. Astonishingly, the folks who put this mailer together seem to think that they should have raised hell publicly about the arrest of a local blogger for “flagrant lewdness” as Jerry and Bridget Rivers (the City Council president) did. The piece goes on to say that “the community asked him to be removed” from the library Board of Trustees.” Personally, I doubt that “the community” really cares that much—but of course making mountains out of molehills is standard political practice in some circles. I suppose they think that airing other people’s dirty laundry in public is fun as well as productive. (Remember Monica Lewinsky?)

I’m sure that the three people Jerry attacks spoke to the individual privately—as I did—and I’m sure others did too. Suffice it to say that the individual involved has since resigned from the library board and been replaced with a well-known retired local educator.

Earlier this year, when the original story broke, I cross-posted a piece by someone I don’t know from BlueJersey, a progressive New Jersey blog—because I was as astonished by Jerry’s public comments as the author was: Jerry has been supportive of gay rights and marriage equality for some time (I know, I helped). And I caught hell for it, too—apparently someone thought I wrote the piece myself.

In any case, it’s a relief to get a mailing from “Jerry Green for Assembly” for a change. On the other hand, the mailer says the fact that Mapp, Williams, and Storch didn’t come out publicly (as he and Rivers did) when the incident happened is “far worse” than raising taxes. Different priorities, I guess. Oh well.

The Union County Board of Elections Administrator has gone to great lengths to disassociate himself from the mailings from the non-existent “Union County’s Committee,” claiming that the return address is not his.  But if you google the address (327 Trinity Place in Hillside) you’ll find he is listed as co-owner. Nice try, but I’m not buying it.

Let’s see if he can extricate himself from this one!

I have voted by absentee ballot for many years.  This year, when my primary ballot came in the mail, I was astonished to see the following printed on the actual Democratic Committee ballot:

“The Slogan for all County Committee Candidates below is Regular Democratic Organization of Union County”

Now, that is an absolute lie!  Furthermore, it’s using the ballot itself to electioneer for certain candidates.  The “Regular Democratic Organization” has County Committee candidates–but candidates for the Union County Progressive Democratic Organization (which supports Mayor Adrian Mapp) are also on the ballot.  In fact, I’m one of those candidates, along with John Stewart for the Ward 3 District 1 committee seats.

I have never seen a ballot like that before!

Now, it’s the Union County “Administrator” of the Board of Elections–same guy–who oversees the preparation of the ballots.  Who could possibly have put that in without his noticing it?  And what excuse will he come up with this time?

The problem–actually electioneering on the ballot–was brought to the attention of the County Clerk, who instructed the Board of Elections to send new and revised ballots to voters who had already received their absentee ballots.  I got mine–without that “slogan”– and voted it.

The moral of the story is that we should all be careful!  I don’t know who was responsible for that–and frankly, I don’t really care–but shenanigans like that have no place in elections, and no place in our Democratic Party.  And I say to that Board of Elections administrator, “Shame on you!”  I must also say that I hope action will be taken because of this clear violation of election law.

We have all gotten two mailings (so far) from a totally fictitious organization, “Union County’s Committee,” attacking Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp and urging voters to reject the Column C candidates for the Plainfield (and Union County) Democratic Committees.

There is no such group. It isn’t registered with the Election Law Enforcement Commission, and you can Google it to your heart’s content, but you won’t find it. One of the most interesting things about these mailings is that the return address (327 Trinity Place in Hillside) is a property belonging to two brothers who work for Union County. One of them is the “Administrator” of the County Board of Elections. That certainly raises the interesting question of conflict of interest, to say the least—he’s in charge of counting the absentee ballots (among other things) and tallying the returns from the polling places. Remember Bush v. Gore and the recounts in Florida during that presidential election?

As if that weren’t enough to raise our collective eyebrows, the mailings these guys have sent out accuse Plainfield’s mayor and the Democratic Committee candidates in Column C of urging people “to vote against the Democratic Party.” Now, I’m a lifelong Democrat, and my late husband, Joe, and I served on Plainfield’s Democratic Committee for many years—Joe passed away in 2012 and I didn’t run for re-election in 2013. But this year, I’m a candidate in Column C for a Democratic Committee seat; my running mate is John Stewart, and if you live in Ward 3, District 1 I hope you’ll vote for us on June 2.

I find these mailings from a non-existent group very disturbing—it’s a way of getting around New Jersey’s election laws, and there’s no information on who is paying for them. (If you’re interesting in doing some detective work you may be able to find out where the money is coming from—I certainly have my suspicions.) Last year during the primary campaign, our Democratic chair, Assemblyman Jerry Green, put out mailings accusing those running against the Council candidates he supported of being “Tea Party Democrats,” and I won’t be surprised if the same rhetoric is repeated this year. Assemblyman Green, by the way, also chairs the Union County Democratic Committee—which I suppose this year could be the source of support for the non-existent “Union County’s Committee.”

Draw your own conclusions—and be sure to vote in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, June 2!

May 31, 2014


If you got the same mailing I did today from Jerry Green, accusing the “New Democrats” of being “completely out of control,” you may have thought seriously, as I did, as to just who is really “COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL” here–and it’s not the “New Democrats,” it’s Jerry Green himself.

My late husband Joe and I worked with (not for) Jerry Green for about 30 years, and he often told us how much he had learned from us.  Now it appears that he has forgotten it all.  His current actions indicate to me that he is afraid of losing what control he has, and is lashing out at those he sees as a threat to his continuing to be “in charge” of Plainfield.

This saddens me immensely.  Joe and I were never members of the “New Democrats,” but Joe would have been as outraged as I am about the increasing nastiness of the trash Jerry has been inflicting on Plainfield’s citizens through these mailings.  The “letter” from Senate President Sweeney (which Sweeney didn’t write and has probably never seen) was bad enough–but the mailer we received today was so much worse that it’s hard to describe.   Clearly, Jerry has completely lost control of his ego and his former good sense.  And I believe the cause is fear.

And what is he so afraid of?  Losing what control he thinks he has over Plainfield and over the Union County Democratic Party…and his reputation in Trenton.  Because if his City Council candidates lose, which I sincerely hope they will, it will demonstrate that Jerry’s once-vaunted power is gone, and with it any credibility he has in New Jersey politics.  After all, if you can’t carry your own town, why should others give you control over theirs?

I have heard reports of the last Democratic City Committee meeting which I find extremely disturbing.  Never, as long as Joe and I were committee members, did Jerry simply announce who the council candidates would be–there was  always an opportunity for nominations and a vote by the committee; that was how decisions were made.  Now, the Plainfield Democratic City Committee has become a victim of one-man rule, and in that case, what’s the point of even meeting?  Why have a “committee” if the chair is going to make all the decisions by himself?  Why waste your time?  (Unless, of course, you have been promised a job somewhere.)

I confess that I am more than distressed and .more that just dismayed–I am absolutely disgusted.  And even though I’m not a member of the “New Democrats,” I will be working as hard as I can to help elect their candidates in Column E on Tuesday.  Jerry needs to get the message that one-man rule doesn’t work in a democracy and that elected officials are and must remain accountable to the people.  Holding office is not just a mark of status–it’s a lot of obligations to all our citizens.  And to get respect, you must give it!

PLAINFIELD DESERVES BETTER–and in this primary, and in elections to come, I hope we’ll get it.   I for one will keep trying, and I hope you’ll all do the same.





May 31, 2014


Some time back, our own Jerry Green–now the Union County Democratic chair–got an endorsement of Bonnie Watson Coleman for Congress  from the Union County Democratic Committee, and complained that Plainfield mayor Adrian Mapp had “jumped the gun” by endorsing her before he (Jerry) had gotten the Union County Democratic Committee to do so.

Now, Jerry has sent out two mailings from the Union County Democrats–both, by the way, paid for by Cory Booker–neither of which mentions Bonnie Watson Coleman.  Instead, they say “YOUR CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRAT.”  The mailings do list Jerry’s Plainfield City Council candidates,  so I assume this mailing went to Plainfield Democrats.  But why didn’t he mention the congressional candidate he got the Union County Democratic Committee to endorse?

Could it be because he’s more concerned about our City Council than about our representative in Congress?  And did the Union County Democratic Committee really endorse Jerry’s Plainfield City Council candidates?  THIS IS VERY STRANGE!








Another surprise for you!

On   June 3 I will be voting for the “New Democrats” candidates in Column E on the ballot.  I am not a member  of the “New Democrats,” but I am voting for their council candidates anyway.

I’m doing this because I believe they will do a good job on the council and will support the mayor in his efforts to move Plainfield forward.  Last November, Adrian Mapp got an overwhelming 70 per cent of the vote, and that should have sent a clear message to Plainfield’s politicians and political activists.  Alas, they didn’t get it–and now most of those same folks are now attacking Adrian (and the “New Democrats” running for the council)–indeed, the anti-Mapp faction on the city council is trying to block his ability to bring positive change to move Plainfield forward and away from the morass in City Hall that has increasingly characterized the past eight years.

Here’s one example:  Mayor Mapp wants to hire a Public Information Officer–a job that has gone unfilled for many years–and the council took it out of the budget.  Another example that borders on the weird is the fact that earlier this year, the mayor requested the council to add another position, Chief of Staff, and the council did it, complete with salary band.  Now, the council has taken that position out of the budget completely!

Prior to this special council meeting, the mayor went on the Plainfield Community Access TV channel to urge the council to put these two positions back in the budget–but they didn’t.

AND THERE’S MORE: now some council members are so upset about the mayor’s television speech that they plan to devote an entire meeting on May 29 to attempting to bring legal charges against the mayor for having done that.

THIS IS SHAMEFUL, and those Council members, as one member of the public stated, were essentially “cutting off the mayor’s nose” to spite his efforts to improve the city.

If I hadn’t intended to vote for Rebecca Williams and Charles McRae before, the monkey business on the council May 20 and 27 would surely have convinced me.  Several months ago, when I told Assemblyman ,Jerry Green (who also chairs the Union County Democratic Committee) of my intention to vote for them he was, of course, not pleased–he and I have been friends and colleagues for 30 years.  Now, I am very disappointed with the literature he has been mailing out–and when the primary is over, and hopefully the candidates I’m voting for win the primary, I hope Jerry and I will be on speaking terms again–after all, he spoke at my late husband’s memorial about a year ago,  and at my retirement dinner several years ago, and had good things to say about us.

Between now and January (when the new council members are sworn in), we will have to watch the council very carefully to make sure they don’t do any more damage  And I hope Plainfielders will elect the candidates in Column E when they vote on June 3rd. 




I have voted for Sharon Robinson-Briggs every time she ran for office–school board, two mayoral primaries, and two mayoral elections.

But this year, I’m voting for Adrian Mapp for Mayor of Plainfield.

Not that Adrian walks on water–who does?  I’ve known a lot of politicians in my life–and still do–and haven’t ever met one who is perfect.  But I think Adrian will be a better mayor.

Sharon has been personally good to Joe and to me.  She named me as one of Plainfield’s “Phenomenal Women” early in her first term.  She was instrumental in giving Joe and me the NAACP’s Community Service Award  a few years ago.  For all of that, we have been grateful.  But this year, at a Democratic City Committee meeting, she presented three women, including me, “Phenomenal Woman” citations because our husbands had died.  Frankly, I thought that was silly–and Joe would have laughed.

Sharon can be a very nice and gracious person–giving hugs and kisses to all.  But she has not been a good Mayor!  She will no doubt give us a long list of her accomplishments, but many of them have been initiated and carried out by others–some by city employees, some by Plainfield citizens–yet Sharon will try to take credit for all of them.  And she is unwilling to share any blame for any of the city’s many problems.

As mayor, Sharon has been a dismal failure.  The turnover in department heads has been disastrous, and the city’s finances are in disarray.  The City Council hasn’t been given a budget on time for years.  She insisted on heading the Muhlenberg Community Advisory Group, which delayed its startup–and to this member, the results have been, to say the least, disappointing.  There  haven’t been regular meetings, and the scheduling of those meetings has been haphazard–often resulting in conflicts with other important city meetings such as the Planning Board and the Historical Preservation Commission.

I could go on and on, but it’s not necessary.  It’s time for a change in Plainfield’s City Hall!  I have no doubt that Adrian will conduct the business of the city in a professional manner–without the hugs and kisses–and that he will be able to get things done appropriately and in a legally proper way.  I believe he can put an end to the constant bickering that has prevented much of the City’s business from being done properly for so long.  I believe he understands that the mayor’s role is to work with the City Council, our legislative representatives, and the freeholders, and our citizens–and to bring together all of us to improve our city.


Joe Gutenkauf1

Josef C. Gutenkauf
(October 13, 1925 – December 8, 2012)

Josef Charles Gutenkauf, 87, a 30-year resident of Plainfield, NJ, died Saturday, December 8th, 2012 at JFK Medical Center, surrounded by his loving family.  Born October 13, 1925 in Chicago, he was the son of Joseph and Martha (Madison) Gutenkauf, and spent much of his childhood on the family farm in Clifton, IL.  A World War II Army veteran, he served during the liberation of the Philippines and in the occupation of Japan.  After the war, he attended the University of Chicago, where he received a B.A. in History.

Active in the Civil Rights movement, Joe joined the Socialist Party in 1944, and in 1948 served as executive secretary of the Chicago branch of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), working with Bayard Rustin, Michael Harrington, Norman Thomas, and many other noted political and intellectual luminaries.  He was a founding member of what is now Democratic Socialists of America.

At Southern Illinois University, he met fellow Sociology graduate student Dorothy Miller, and they were married in 1964. Joe enrolled in the graduate program at Syracuse University in 1966, joined the faculty at Ithaca College, and later taught at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University).  After moving to New Jersey, Joe worked at the NJ Treasury Department’s Affirmative Action Office until his retirement in 1992, and was a member of the American Federation of Teachers and the Communications Workers of America. He was an avid WWII historian, a voracious reader, and a terrific cook, and loved classic films and European history.

An active member of the Plainfield community, Joe worked on political campaigns for school board and for candidates for local, state and national office.  A member of the Democratic City Committee for many years, Joe worked to abolish the death penalty, achieve marriage equality, and keep – and later restore – Plainfield’s Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center.   He received awards for his commitment to social justice from the Plainfield Area NAACP and Garden State Equality.

Joe is survived by his devoted wife of 48 years, Dottie Gutenkauf; his daughter, Polly Armour and her husband, Jay of Gardiner, NY; and his son, Jon Martin and his partner, Craig Roseberry of New York City.  He was the beloved brother-in-law of Alice Gutenkauf of Morton Grove, IL; uncle of Diane Gutenkauf and her husband Michael Hassan of Elmhurst, IL, and Karen Gutenkauf of Broken Arrow, OK; grandfather of Sarah and Josh Armour; and cherished friend to Joan Hervey and Linda Geczi and to his loyal canine companion, Sheba.  Joe was predeceased by his dear brother Martin.

At his request, his remains have been donated to the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. A memorial gathering will be held at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Plainfield Rescue Squad at P.O. Box 707, Plainfield, NJ 07060, and to the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players at 302 West 91st St, New York, NY 10024.

The Gutenkauf family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support following the passing of our beloved Dottie in December.  Please join us in celebrating her life and legacy on Saturday, March 19th 2016.

DG Memorial invite

On March 19th, 2016, family, friends, cohorts and fans will come together in celebration of the life of Dorothy “Dottie” Miller Gutenkauf, who passed away in December. This event is open to anyone who was touched by Dottie’s remarkable spirit. There will be an abundance the things she loved most – amazing people, incredible music, insightful words and exceptional food.

Musical selections will include The Solidarity Singers, as well as segments of the Plainfield Symphony Orchestra, the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players and more.

For more information, please email

Monday, November 23, from 12 noon to 2 pm, is the grand opening of the new “JFK-Muhlenberg Satellite Emergency Department” at the corner of Park Avenue and Randolph Road.

I am so glad this is happening–JFK simply let the main building deteriorate, and a recent inspection found asbestos, mold, fallen tiles, as well as other problems. so I’m glad the ER will be out of there. The Planning Division and the Planning Board were very thorough, and insisted that the name “Muhlenberg” be included in the signage–and it has been.

We have a lot of people to thank, and I’m just going to mention three:  Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress, Steven Hatcher, chairman of POP’s Plainfield branch, and Bennet Zurofsky, the labor & civil rights attorney who represented POP (and us) during the extended proceedings.  Larry and Steve organized the marches and rallies held before the closing–hundreds of people from Plainfield and neighboring communities joined them–and kept the “savehospital” slogan as long as possible.  The State Health Planning Board held an unprecedented second hearing in Plainfield–they scheduled the first one for the high school auditorium, which holds about 1500, probably anticipating that there wouldn’t be a lot of people there–instead, it was standing room only and they had to schedule a second hearing in the same place, which was also standing room only.  They did have a brief third hearing during their meeting near Trenton, and about 200 Plainfielders showed up–so clearly, the public had an impact.  The SHPB in approving the closing mandated that JFK keep the ER open for a minimum of 5 years, and they kept it open longer than that.  The fact that the new SED is opening (with Muhlenberg in its name) shows the impact we all had.

That’s what happens when a community comes together.  We may win or we may ultimately lose, but we show that we all care enough to take action–and it makes a difference!  JFK wanted to close Muhlenberg earlier, but we delayed it.  JFK wanted to put 600 “luxury apartments” on the hospital site, but community outrage put an end to that nonsense.

As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  Words of wisdom indeed!

PS, I haven’t blogged in a long time–been ill with an obscure respiratory virus which is all cleared up now.  But my immune system is shot (because of all the cancer drugs) so please don’t be offended if I’m wearing a mask–it’s simple self-protection.