Tuesday, November 24, 2015

He Said, She Said ...

The mayor said the schools superintendent shut down a long-planned Youth Summit. The schools superintendent says the mayor was wrong to use a citywide robocall to say so.

Schools Superintendent Anna Belin-Pyles made the charge on camera at Monday's City Council meeting and called it libelous. She said the summit needed to be held a day later because the district was making a change in class scheduling. Pressed by Councilwoman Gloria Taylor to respond, Mayor Adrian O. Mapp said Belin-Pyles made an "executive decision" to cancel the Youth Summit.

Belin-Pyles spoke in public comment, saying she was "here to discuss a personal attack on my character and reputation" and "misuse of city equipment and resources." She said she had told City Administrator Rick Smiley that due to circumstances the Youth Summit could not take place on Nov. 12, and "respectfully asked" to have it take place on the 13th.

According to an event announcement, the scheduled date was Nov. 13:

On November 13th, Plainfield youth will unite for facilitated conversations among their peers about education and employment.
This youth summit is a collaborative effort of Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and The School District of Plainfield.
  • Keynote: Dr. Marc Lamont Hill
  • Boys Convocation: Felipe Luciano
  • Performances by New Jersey's own DJ Lil Man
  • To better understand youth's educational and employment needs and hopes
  • To develop strategies for meeting youth's educational and employment needs
  • To connect each youth to a youth-serving resource and organization
Special thank you to Comcast, Municipal Alliance/GCADA, and Union County Board of Chosen Freeholder for their support of this event.

As for a special Board of Education meeting Belin-Pyles mentioned, that was held on Saturday, Oct. 31 - the weekend before the general election and the same day as a picnic for independent City Council candidate John Campbell, son of school board President Wilma Campbell and board member John C. Campbell. The board had given permission to use a park on Cook School grounds, but Mapp had allegedly ordered city staff not to issue an event permit for the picnic. As chairman of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee, Mapp was backing incumbent Democratic candidate Cory Storch for re-election.

While Belin-Pyles did not mention the politics, the now-disputed canceling of the summit was regarded by some as political retaliation.

Belin-Pyles insisted Monday the summit was not canceled and that she had only requested postponement for one day.

Mapp made no response Monday until Taylor, a retired school administrator herself, said she was very concerned about the superintendent's remarks. She called the dispute a "riff" and deplored the use of robo-calls "in a somewhat demeaning and political way."

"I really would like an explanation," she said, adding the city attorney could be consulted "about legalities."

"I'm not going to accuse the honorable, since he's here tonight," she said referring to Mapp.

 Taylor said the robo-call "turned into .. I don't want to say." Looking at Mapp, she queried him by just saying, "Honorable?"

Mapp said the Youth Summit was canceled by the superintendent of schools by "her executive decision."

"Even if that was the case, why did you use the robo-calls as if you were angry?" Taylor said.

At that point, BOE President Wilma Campbell stepped up to the microphone, even though public comment had been closed.

"Why use an instrument of communication to get your feelings out?" Taylor said.

Storch interceded.

"We could spend a lot of time about what happened or what should have happened," he said, asking all parties to commit to positivity.

After a bit more rehashing from the board president, the meeting was adjourned, but on her way out Taylor stopped to keep talking to the mayor.

See the original Youth Summit flyer here. Mapp has announced it will now be held in early 2016.

Click to view David Rutherford's video on this topic.


  1. Events such as these take planning. When you have guest speakers, especially those who are busy on the speaking engagement trail, you cannot just change a date at the last minute and expect everyone to be prepared. In the video, the superintendent stated the event was originally scheduled for the 12th. That is not true. The event was advertised for the 13th.

    The timing of this special board of ed meeting was suspicious not only to community members without children, but also to the parents of high school students as they stated at the last board of ed meeting. I am not sure of the true intent behind the timing of the meeting, but wow! How convenient!

    I did not personally hear the robocall and hate that the superintendent felt she was being attacked. I think the back and forth in this city is beyond counterproductive. We are all pawns on a chess board with the few playing us back and forth.

    I have no interest in anything Gloria Taylor has to say until she starts to speak on her constituents behalf.

  2. If the superintendent had evidence of changing the date by one day, prove it. Even if it was by one day, maybe all parties involved was not available on her proposed date and time. it was exactly what it appeared to be – retaliation. Ms Belin-Pyles, a word to the wise, you work for the children, city and its residents, not the Campbell’s. As for Councilor Taylor, don’t count on the Campbell’s’ getting you re-elected, your poor representation of the 3rd ward is all we need to know about you.

  3. So it's no wonder our school kids are getting sub par education. It's not only the BOE, but look at who is leading them as shown below-

    She (Belin Pyles) said she had told City Administrator Rick Smiley that due to circumstances the Youth Summit could not take place on Nov. 12, and "respectfully asked" to have it take place on the 13th.

    According to an event announcement, the scheduled date was Nov. 13"

    So what's the problem?


  4. The superintendent seemed to cancel the event at the last minute and she seems to be getting her dates mixed up. I don't trust the Campbells or someone who must do what they say to keep her very highly paid job. Like someone else said. when you have speakers coming you can't do this last minute and "where's the proof". I don't believe a thing she says or what Wilma Campbell says. I wish I could.

  5. A message to Superintendent Anna BelinPyles-

    Grow a backbone! Stop listening to Wilma Campbell. She should not be able to CONTROL you so don't let her CONTROL you. You are so much better than that! I have worked with you and you are a wonderful person, but Wilma Campbell is ruining you.

    She can't fire you and if she and her minions (those who ran on her money) vote on eliminating you, like they did Gallon, you can sue the pants off the school board. We the parents care for you and we will back you!

    You keep changing your story and it shows. Just tell the truth and you won't have to remember your lies. WILMA CAMPBELL MADE YOU DO IT!

    I know a whole lot of parents that like you and will back you. Tell the CAMPBELLs you work for the Children of Plainfield New Jersey and their best interests are your concerns!

    Plainfield Parent on the PTO.

  6. Unfortunately the Superintendent’s reputation precedes her. I won’t get into how poorly she manages her school business but as the previous commenter pointed out, how in the world do you think you can just switch the date of a well planned event at the last minute no less. And to use the excuse of the sudden schedule change is in fact using the students to cover the true reason. Anna will have to sleep with that reason. Having the Youth Summit for one day would not have disrupted the students any more than changing the schedule in just about the middle of the school year. Maybe she feels she can manipulate the time of the professionals that were coming to share their knowledge with our students as she did with this schedule change. So as far as I can see, the Superintendent indeed cancelled the Summit. If she was involved with the planning of this Summit, I would say she disrespected those professionals who may have rearranged their time to be here and embarrassed the City of Plainfield. Her display of righteous indignation is not fooling many but may be used by a few.

  7. Bernice, I too am a PTO Member of the Plainfield Schools. I heard about the video of Superintendent Anna Belin-Pyles, which David Rutherford placed on his blog site. As a supporter of Superintendent Belin-Pyles, I watched the video and was embarrassed for her.

    I would've believed David Rutherford posted this video in support of the Superintendent, since he did run as a school board member on Wilma Campbell's slate and he did campaign for Republican candidate John Campbell Jr., who ran on the Independent line.

    However, David "assassinated her character", which is what the Superintendent says the Mayor did to her. The Superintendent, with her notes in her hand, stated she wanted to move the date to November 13. Huh?!

    And then Wilma Campbell comes forth in support of the Superintendent (I was told the Superintendent wasn't present) and says the Summit conflicted with the scheduling. That is incorrect. The Summit was planned. Flyers went out. It was posted on websites and other social media. Vendors registered. Speakers were scheduled. Entertainment was hired.

    The " suspicious emergency scheduling" conflicted with the Summit! The scheduling could have waited.

    I have to agree with the previous PTO member- Superintendent Anna Belin-Pyles, PLEASE grow a backbone!

    Concerned Parent who attends Parent Teacher Meetings.

    1. David let us all witness what was said. I would not assign any motives to him other than to record the actuality.