A special meeting Thursday to pass a single resolution disapproving Mayor Adrian O. Mapp's May 19 video stretched to two hours as speakers endorsed it, condemned it or called for the war among Democrats to end.
In the video aired on cable television and YouTube, Mapp blames Assemblyman Jerry Green for interfering with his new administration and thwarting his plans for Plainfield's future. At a special meeting Tuesday, the City Council passed a budget that eliminated Mapp's chief of staff and his communications specialist. Council President Bridget Rivers then asked Corporation Counsel David Minchello what could be done regarding the video. Minchello said it was not illegal, but the council could express disapproval of it by resolution, leading to the second special meeting Thursday.
Green is chairman of the Regular Democratic Organization of Union County and also Plainfield's Democratic party chairman, while Mapp headed the New Democrats club for several years until taking office as mayor on Jan. 1. He is endorsing a slate of New Democrats headed by incumbent Councilwoman Rebecca Williams, who succeeded him as president of the club. Green as chairman selected a slate of Regular Democrats. The factions will square off in the June 3 primary, with control of the City Council at stake.
Among the fourteen people who spoke before the vote Thursday, Rasheed Abdul-Haqq said of the mayor, "It seems to me you should want to have a mayor's corner to speak to the people."
But Charles Eke, who is running against Williams in the primary, said he did not find anything in the video "that would bring people to Plainfield." He said Mapp should have spoken as a private citizen.
Alan Goldstein and others equated the video with President Barack Obama's talks where he calls out Republicans for blocking his initiatives.
"It's good to have a mayor who speaks his mind, a mayor who tells the truth," Goldstein said.
Roland Muhammad called Mapp "a ringside fighter" and said he was tired of people talking against Green, while Jeff Dunn said Mapp was wrong to air "dirty laundry in public."
Former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who lost her bid for a third term to Mapp in 2013, passed out information from the state Ethics Commission, where the resolution of disapproval will be sent by the council.
Sharon Smith said she would sell her home if she could and get out of Plainfield because of the bickering over the past nine years.
"We as a community have got to have more respect for each other," Carrell Martin said.
Dottie Gutenkauf, who worked with Green for 30 years before backing Mapp's team now, said, "This excuse for a meeting is the silliest thing I have seen from this council."
Council President Bridget Rivers said the council was paying for Thursday's meeting to be taped because Mapp had put the media staff on "flex-time" instead of paying overtime. She proposed an ordinance requiring all meetings to be taped.
The vote on the resolution voicing disapproval was 4-1, with Vera Greaves, Gloria Taylor, William Reid and Rivers voting "yes" and Williams voting "no." Cory Storch and Tracey Brown were absent.
Eight people spoke after the vote. Eke alleged the video had been edited and said he put in an Open Public Records Act request for an unedited copy.
Thomas Crownover gave thanks to police and fire personnel who recently saved his life when a stucco ceiling collapsed on him. He called on people to appreciate Plainfield's public safety staff "and don't dwell entirely on the political things."
At least until the primary is over, Crownover's advice may be disregarded. Plainfield's politics are drawing statewide attention and punditizing, with even Senate President Stephen Sweeney getting into the act on Green's behalf and Politicker NJ describing the situation as a "bloodbath."