Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Budget Passes, Video Arouses Disapproval

At right, Chief of Staff John Stewart and Mayor Adrian O. Mapp
Despite some residents' pleas to restore key members of Mayor Adrian O. Mapp's team, the City Council passed the 2014 budget Tuesday with reductions that other residents said were needed to keep taxes down.

The governing body also called a special meeting for Thursday to voice disapproval of a video Mapp made stating his need for staff to re-brand the city and seek state and federal support for its revitalization. The meeting is 8 p.m. in City Hall Library.

Among the speakers in support of Mapp's initiatives, Alan Goldstein told the council, "You're cutting the muscle and leaving in all the fat."

The staff eliminations "will put us in jeopardy," he said.

Tom Kaercher asked the council "to keep the promises you made in January," when many members voiced support for Mapp. He also noted Mapp's mayoral win last year with 70 percent of the vote.

"To really make a dent in changing direction, we really need ratables," he said.

The council did approve the salary for Carlos Sanchez as economic director, but Kaercher said, "We also need to market the city in a very pro-active way," for which Mapp said he needed a media director and the chief of staff.

"I'm asking you to restore the two positions you cut last week, to give the mayor the tools he needs," Kaercher said.
Dottie Gutenkauf
 Though ailing, activist Dottie Gutenkauf came out to castigate the council for cutting the two positions.

"Shame!" she said. "I don't think you can look yourself in the eye."
Former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs
But former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who beat Mapp to win a second term in 2009, told council members they should "look in the mirror and be proud." Robinson-Briggs has attended recent meetings to denounce Mapp for his actions as councilman before he won the mayoralty in 2013 elections.

"Stop with the political," she said, taking offense at recent praise for Sanchez instead of "Mr. Jacques Howard" of her administration.

"It's wrong to cast aside the work he did," she said.

Candidate Charles Eke, who is running against incumbent Rebecca Williams, also praised the elimination of the two positions. Williams, who holds the Second & Third Ward at-large seat, succeeded Mapp as president of the New Democrats political club, while Eke is running on the Regular Democrats line.

Ozella Brundidge contrasted the addition of two new positions with the former mayor's lack of staff in her office, which Robinson-Briggs also complained about.

The last word before the vote was from Dr. Harold Yood, who said the council was "being short-sighted by not trying to get new ratables" and said they were "cutting off the city's nose to spite its face."

Williams was absent for the vote. Councilman Cory Storch, also a Mapp supporter, said he would vote "yes" on the budget even though he felt the cuts were ill-advised.

"They make no sense for the future, they only relate to the past. The past is something we need to go way beyond," he said.

Storch said although he is on the Finance Committee, he felt he had no say and "everything seemed to be predetermined."

He urged his colleagues to "get past dysfunction and move to the future."

Councilwoman Gloria Taylor, who is running on the regular Democrat line for Mapp's unexpired Third Ward term, countered by saying,"If we don't know the past, we can't know the future. Collaboration has to go both ways."

She charged that Storch had an "open door" to the mayor that she does not have.

The vote to pass the $74.6 million budget was unanimous, with Storch, Taylor, William Reid, Vera Greaves, Tracey Brown and Council President Bridget Rivers voting "yes." Williams arrived after the vote.

Regarding the controversial video, Rivers expressed disapproval of it and asked Corporation Counsel David Minchello "what can be done." Minchello said he reviewed the Municipal Code regarding political acts during city work time and city property for personal use as well as the bylaws of the television board.

"It is not illegal," he said, but the council could express disapproval by way of a resolution.

"I look at it as unethical," Rivers said, noting she also looked the the bylaws.

Rivers said she felt the video should not have been done on city time and asked how others felt.

Greaves said, "If you have an issue, face your opponent" and not use "public radio (sic)."

"If you're man enough or woman enough," she added.

Reid began a lengthy speech by saying, "We are with the mayor. We have not said anything disparaging about the mayor."

Taylor said the mayor should be the "cheerleader" and she felt some of what he said was excellent, but parts were "below the belt."

After challenging Minchello's view, she said the council had a right to investigate the video.

"Did he do it in the mayor's seat?" she asked. "When a city leader does this, it should not be tolerated."

The resolution up for a vote at the special meeting is to voice disapproval of the mayor's comments and to refer the matter to the state Local Government Ethics Board.

In the 17-minute video, Mapp alleges Assemblyman Jerry Green, the chairman of the Plainfield Democratic Party, has attempted to obstruct his administration. Green sent out a mailer in early May that denounced Mapp, even though he had given Mapp the party line in 2013 instead of Robinson-Briggs, who was seeking a third term. Green and the former mayor have since joined in opposing Mapp.

After the meeting, Mapp said the council has a right to call a special meeting, but he said he hoped it would be "focused on doing the work of the people." He called the notion of an investigation "laughable" and said he will continue to use the resources of the city "to communicate with the people who elected me, and to make sure the public knows what challenges are facing me."

"If the council has a problem with me giving the truth to the public," he said, "there's nothing I can do about how the council feels. I will continue to provide the public with the information it needs and deserves."

--Bernice

30 comments:

  1. Gloria Taylor said "If we don't know the past,, we can't know the future." What crystal ball is she looking into in order to "know the future" and what on earth did she mean?

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  2. Cory Storch and Adrian Mapp.... care to change the usual post primary position of vote the party line yet ?? These people are in office because YOU supported them, openly, loudly, repeatedly.. Are you happy with your choices?
    Let's try something new this year, or simply admit you're part of the problem and unable to get past useless national party ideology.

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  3. Mayor Mapp used the video to defend his budget and explain the importance of maintaining several positions that are key to his administration's goal of a more effective municipal government. He called out party boss, Assemblyman Green, for his obstructive and destructive behavior, which I personally think is fair game, because it is truthful, not just in this year, but every year that Green has pulled the strings and plotted the city's doom and gloom. Mr. "I Ain't Got All Night" was on full display during the recent Liberty Village uproar, and he has been trying to undermine the Mapp Administration at every turn.

    The truth hurts, and Green's Council acolytes and wannabes are trying again to deflect attention from his manipulative and deplorable attempts at managing Plainfield's political and governmental affairs. They will say they think for themselves and are not marching to his orders, but like Green himself, it's the show and the power, not the results, that count. Maybe they don't take a direct order, but they all seem to march in lockstep, mostly to the tune of his bagman on the Council, Bill Reid

    I've always thought the 2010 WBLS snafu that led to a City Council investigation was overreach, not because the financial irregularities shouldn't have been addressed, but because it was small potatoes compared to the contemporaneous looting of $268,000 of Stimulus-tied Community Services Block Grant money by way of an illegal job training scam. That should have been investigated, and Mayor Robinson-Briggs, along with a handful of other participants in City employ should have lost their jobs as a result. WBLS, as it turned out, was all bark and no bite.

    So now our illustrious Councilors who generally toe the Green line come back at us with a bit of electoral grandstanding. They want to file an ethics complaint without any real legal basis, though the issue in question is not very different from President Obama's weekly radio addresses, or those of presidents before him.

    These Council poseurs want an investigation of a non-existent ethical lapse, but they've no stomach to take on the their own lapses, i.e. voting on PMUA nominees despite evident conflicts of interest, giving PMUA commissioners and their spouses a free ride on many $100,000s in illegal compensation, permitting public officials and entities to panhandle for public property, allowing for false statements in RFPs and legal documents, accepting less than full disclosure on personal financial interests, and using their official positions to secure unwarranted privileges and advantages for select others.

    The Robinson-Briggs Administration operated for years under the radar, ineptly, and with no accountability. What has become perfectly clear this year are the desperate measures the 'know-nothings' on the Council have taken to commemorate such mediocrity. To this crew, if the city was a loser then, why should it be any different now, or tomorrow? For this they struggle mightily.

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  4. I watched the Video over and over and over again and while yes the Mayor did talk about the business of the City he also got a little to personal. Maybe the council should stand their ground. I will be watching the video again this morning to make a formal decision on the legality of the video.

    Renee

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    1. Renee, when you come to making that formal decision on legality, consider some examples-
      http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/08/17/weekly-address-working-implement-affordable-care-act

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    2. Renee - how are you going to run for school board if you can't even understand the concept of the bully pulpit and elected leaders right to communicate with their constituents? You realize that the city council members are free to post a video using PCTV right? I look forward to NOT voting for you when you run for BOE - your approach to issues is really not going to be helpful to that already disastrous board.

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    3. Renee, are you an attorney? Exactly what is a "little to personal" and who is it too personal for?

      KS

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    4. I believe Renee is a fake. He/she is just here to kick up dust.

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  5. I think the video was a great concept, he spoke honestly about whats going on and actually informed the residents. Sometimes the truth hurts and that's why all the green supporters are upset. I look forward to his future videos, finally having a Mayor who communicates with the public is a breathe of fresh air. The people elected him to be our Mayor based on his vision, now that people are trying to kill any chance of Plainfield improving such as Green, he has every right and duty to inform the public of any obstacles that stand before the vision he spoke of and we the residents voted for.

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  6. I watched the Video and I am a supporter of Mayor Mapp. I think he is a great business man and I truly believe in my heart that he will be good for the City. He have only been in office for less then 6 months and I say let's give him a chance. The video was a bit much. I don't believe he should have belittled himself with such a video. I will say that he did cross the lines and if he wanted to address the Green machine then he should have bought some air time with CBS, NBC, ESPN ect to do so. It's not going to change my position as again I believe he will turn this city around but on the other hand if he keeps doing things like this it will dilute his good will for this city.

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    1. Anon 9:28? CBS, NBC, ESPN? Seriously? And what funds is he supposed to use to purchase that air time for a city speech? Campaign or City funds? And why would he want to broadcast a local issue to the entire tri-state audience of CBS, NBC and ESPN? That idea makes no sense. PCTV is our local community station - thats what it is there for - airing local issues and topics specific to our city thats why they call it Plainfield Community Television.

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  7. So people, are you hearing what is being said? Mapp didn't vote for this so I am not voting for what he wants. VERY MATURE.

    First - the ex-mayor stated that Mapp did not want a recreation person and now he does. True - When Sharon presented her budget, recreation was a $775,000 budget. There was no accountability for it. Recreation could not provide names of the participants in any of the programs, the pools were not open on time, and some were not open at all during some of the seasons. So, I don't know about you, but having a three quarters of a million dollar budget unaccounted for does seem like we don't need the service.

    Second - the ex-mayor thought Mr. Howard did a wonderful job. I believe he was in economic development for over ten years. And his legacy is this downtown? Explains why the past administration was such a mess - no clue as to what economic development entails.

    Lastly, I love these people who come out sporadically to voice their opinion on a specific issue and being selective about their support. To those who support the ex-mayor's ideas about the budget where were you when the ex-mayor introduced a budget that increased taxes by 9% (I will add it was the council led by Mapp that reduced it to 7%). Where were you then? Where were you when the mayor introduced a budget and FORGOT to put in 1.5 million dollars, and so the taxes increased yet again? Where were you?

    So for those who think this budget is unfair, and we cannot increase taxes, you got what you want. So next year, when your taxes go up because of lack of rateables, due to budget constraints (I REITERATE - THE ADMINISTRATION REQUESTED LESS THAN EIGHTY CENTS A MONTH MORE) don't complain. You got exactly what you wanted.

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  8. I think the video was a disgrace. It is wrong for the leader of the city to insult, accuse, and out right lie on council members.This city will never go forward with these tactics.Mapp is arrogant, smug, and his actions are hypocritical, what goes around comes around.Now, he must live with it.Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.(something like that, not very religious)The speakers who spoke in favor of what the council did I agree with them, the one's who do not agree will call them names because they believe only their opinion is right or matters, NOT! all the Alan's and all the Bob's you can have your opinion but stop being childish by calling people names who do not agree with you.Suck it up and live with it, or run for council yourselves, after all, you all know everything and are never wrong.

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    1. Mapp didn't insult or "outright lie on council members", as you say. He did accuse, certainly, but the accusations were right on the mark. There's nothing hypocritical about pulling the plug on the waste and inefficiency the SRB Administration had years to perfect, and it's not comparable to pulling the plug on the only serious plan to dig us out of the hole that decades of Jerry Green and his henchman put the city in. Suck that one up.

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  9. This one is not good at all. not good at all

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  10. There is nothing wrong with the Mayors use of PCTV to make speeches about his agenda and educating residents on the issues - that is part of what it is there for. The council is welcome to use it as well - if they were smart enough to think of that.

    This is purely politics - the kind that the 4 stooges constantly say they dislike. Interesting that this is coming up so close to election isn't it? Also interesting that there are so many other moral and ethical issues from members on the city council that they don't seem to mind, late payment on property taxes and I believe in one case no payment for years. Delayed payments on PMUA charges that they support so much. Patronage jobs for themselves and their (often) unqualified friends and family. The list goes on and on.

    It is time to begin the process of tossing Ass. Green out, starting with his slate in this election and ending with him next year. Enough is enough of this nonsense. The city has to move on and the residents of this city deserve elected officials that are looking out for their best interests instead of those of their ineffectual Assemblyman. He has 20+ years of involvement in local politics under his belt and the city hasn't progressed at all during that time - he had more than enough time to show us what he can do and all he came up with is chaos for his own fragile ego. Time to toss out the dead weight on June 3rd.

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  11. Dottie GutenkaufMay 28, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    Sharon referred to the former public information officer as "Terry something-or-other" If she had asked me, I could have told her his name was Terry West. That's how well she knew "her staff." Thanks, Sharon, but no thanks.




    '

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  12. I watch the video and complimented the Mayor personally on taking such a hard stand for his administration and the people that elected him to govern. Like someone said, if the truth hurts, I say, oh well.
    People have been either too afraid of Green or just uninformed concerning his behavior and lack of respect for the city of Plainfield and it’s voters. I say the video was needed and although I am no attorney, I doubt there is any legal ramifications for using the equipment, his office or his CHAIR in his office.

    And to Anonymous 11:07, was it a disgrace for Green to send out that flyer a few weeks ago saying how terrible and disappointing the Mayor is and he never wanted him in office but was forced to do so?

    Robin B.

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  13. So who paid for the flier that green pit out. At least the video basically has no cost

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    1. It says "Paid for by Jerry Green for Assembly" with his home address.

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    2. I am not aware that there is an Assembly election this year. If that flyer was paid for out of designated campaign funds is that legal? I don't know.

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  14. Gone are the days when the Mayor could commnicate with the city through the local newspaper. Other than printing name, party and office, the paper seems unable to report any news about public affairs. I welcome PCTV as a new source of information in additino to the blogs.

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  15. The Jerry Green lid is off! Those of us who are not beholding to him have had it, and have nothing to lose. He forgets that he is there because of us. WE pay his salary - he owes us - not the other way around.

    So Jerry, what happened to extending the PILOT? Guess you aren't that powerful, eh? Never were. Maybe people will start to take note and vote him out next year. It is simple, painless and very gratifying to vote against him.

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  16. Alan, What is mapp promising you? You sure suck up to him.

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    1. It's too bad a person can't express a viewpoint without being perceived as doing so solely for a quid pro quo. The culture of paybacks has been fostered too long and some now perceive it as the norm.

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    2. I haven't been promised anything and I haven't requested anything. I did submit my name for the PMUA Board of Commissioners in January, but only at the personal request of Council President Bridget Rivers. Mayor Mapp however made other choices. I did have the opportunity to meet with the Mayor-elect in December to discuss a variety of issues I believe are important to the city, PMUA and Muhlenberg among them. I worked off a list I had prepared with about a dozen items, and also met individually with the Council President, Assemblyman Green, and Councilwoman Williams for the same purpose.

      There is actually one thing the mayor did promise me, as he did to everyone else in the city too. That is, to give his best effort to bring accountability to city government and put in place an administration and appointees that were forward looking and dedicated to improving the quality of life for every Plainfield resident. I believe he is trying to accomplish what he promised, but it is pretty clear what forces and individuals are working overtime to make him fail. I don't know who you are Anonymous 10:42, but I expect you are one of them.

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  17. Video:
    Did anyone notice that at the very beginning there's a "floating" city logo that has Adrian Mapp's name incorporated into the actual logo, kind of like a Nike swoosh with "LeBron James" built in.? Has anyone ever seen a combination like that before in a political context? I have not. What does that say about Mapp's idée of himself?
    Seventeen minutes is way too long. The message could have been delivered more effectively in half the time. It rambles; it's repetitive. If you can't clearly express an agenda you don't have a clear agenda. If you're speaking officially off-the-cuff you shouldn't be doing it.
    Mapp calls Green, by name, "overreaching" and that Plainfield has "suffered" because of his control of city politics. Agreed, but does that rise to "political" activity using city resources? Don't know. I guess it's a political gamble which is probably worth it at least in the short term.
    As some commenter suggested, "If Mapp can post a video on official city media than so can a council member." Very scary thought. But maybe scarier if they can't, which would make the mayor a lone video voice without comparable rebuttal. What's good for the goose should be good for the ganders.


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  18. If Mr. Jaques Howard was so wonderful for srb why didn't she promote him instead of using him to hold down the fort. She also keeps asking why there was no need for a recreation superintendent during her time. Maybe this city didn't need someone like "sir self-destructo" running recreation into the ground. The problem with that is the process wasn't followed thru to it's logical and justified completion. They just allowed him to slither away. However it is truly telling to see her still trying her darndest to promote him and someone like mr. Crawford. One day she will have a chance to review her actions with blinding clarity.

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  19. In response to SRB's continuous question of why we need a Recreation Department when during her administration there was a discussion of outsourcing it.

    The reason why there was a question regarding having a Recreation department is because in previous budgets, Recreation had a budget of $775,000 and neither the previous administration nor the Recreation Director could present any information regarding where the money was going. The CBAC is the group that suggested it be outsourced. Councilman Mapp (at the time) was one member of a few who also questioned where three quarters of a million dollars was being spent. Sounds reasonable to me. Interestingly, there was no outcry from members of the council (some of whom are on this council) that the people could not afford shelling out $775,000 without knowing where it was being spent.

    The CBAC was also concerned that there were children enrolled in a city program, and no names were available. Which meant to us that if a child, God forbid, got hurt, there was no one to contact. BIG LAWSUIT for the city, don't you think?

    When we did get a number - 2-3 years after asking, it was around 260 kids. Census numbers put kids in Plainfield under the age of 11 at around 14 thousand.

    So, if you are upset about this administration asking for less than .70 per month to move Plainfield forward, why weren't you at the meetings asking where $775,000 was being spent?

    And, don't take my word for it. It is on record. Look at the minutes of the past budget meetings. It is all there and more.

    Jeanette

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  20. That's why it is so hypocritical of this majority council to puff up their feathers to criticize this administration. And mrs. Taylor better review the history of the past administration. She speaks blindly and this is why she is labeled as being lead. She would do better to just keep the future of Plainfield in mind instead of her colleagues.

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