Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sides Drawn on State of the City?

A discussion of "initiatives in support of at-risk youth" was postponed Monday until Mayor Adrian O. Mapp could be present, but the announcement set off a lively discussion anyway.

Councilwoman Bridget Rivers said the City Council must be in collaboration with the administration or it would be a waste of time. Councilwoman Gloria Taylor followed up by saying there were things the council wants to investigate, mentioning the Police Division and recent shootings. She then announced a "Youth Summit" at Ruth Fellowship Ministries, where Councilwoman Tracey Brown is pastor. (There is no notice of the Youth Summit on the church website as of Tuesday afternoon.)

Taylor said Police Director Carl Riley and police had been asked to take part in the event, Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m., but Riley said he had not received anything.

Taylor called violence "a health issue" and said "Plainfield lives do matter."

At Friday's vigil for the 49 Orlando shooting victims, she had mentioned three shootings here as well. In April, she had urged an investigation into police policies and procedures.

"I just want to be clear," Riley said Monday, citing a 2014 anti-crime initiative. "Violent crime decreased dramatically."

He said it was down 27 percent and shootings were down 40 percent. To keep it going, he said, "We need help from the community."

Riley said the city hired 16 new police officers in the past 16 months and noted the current "Summer Fun with Plainfield's First Responders" led by Police Officer Bernel Harrison with participation by police, fire and EMS personnel. A youth mentoring program that had 25 members last year has 50 now and another program at Hubbard Middle School has increased from two to three weeks, he said.

In addition, cookouts with police and first responders are planned in all four wards.

"On our end, we're trying to reach out, but we need community involvement," Riley said, to applause from the audience in Municipal Court..

Councilman Barry Goode called the effort "as proactive as you can get," but Councilwoman Diane Toliver said, "We have to remember where we came from - we all came from a village."

She asked "why have children forgotten to love themselves."

"We have to reassure them that we have not let them down," Toliver said, suggesting a hotline where young people can talk.

"We can't stop here," she said.

Riley said the city has both a hotline and a tip line, but Toliver insisted, "We have to remember that someone was there for us," adding that in a killing "two families are destroyed."

Riley objected to Toliver saying there was a "rash" of shootings, calling them "isolated incidents." But Toliver defended herself, saying she looks forward to "getting to the bottom of it" and not to point a finger at "who shot who."

Councilwoman Rebecca Williams thanked Riley and said she looks forward to reporting on Public Safety, to which she is the council liaison.

Council President Cory Storch said there will be an announcement about another city-sponsored Youth Summit.

(As I am writing, a 3:38 p.m. Facebook notice is posted about a "Unity Summit" on Thursday addressing "gun violence, police accountability and community unity.")

What to make of the dichotomy of viewpoints on the council? I leave it to readers to surmise.


  1. I think Diane Toliver is channeling Bill Reid.

    "She asked "why have children forgotten to love themselves." And she does this at a Council meeting? Why not go to where they live and ask them or their parents/guardians? Waste of precious time.

    1. Toliver is truly Sharon and Jerry's prodigy. I hope she can start working for the city and not her own agenda.

  2. Let's face it Plainfield needs a political, social and economic, and educational paradigm shift. Because the present model is not working to the benefit of the masses. Mr. X

  3. It sounds to me like the police are trying. It's hard when much of the community won't come forward. Somebody has to know who the shooters are in the recent homicides and other shootings. Yet, it's more important to "not snitch." Go figure.

  4. As usual Taylor and Toliver are simply playing politics... They can't show up and do they're job properly and somehow have the seat in the ivory tower to look down upon the Police Department's efforts ?? Amazing.
    The only thing Toliver and Taylor bring to the table is Monday Morning Quarterbacking...and that's about it for fresh ideas.
    And I know it's not PC and hip to say... but I grew up in a small town. Our town ran a 4hour summer "youth" ( program ( arts and crafts in reality ) for 4 weeks starting the last week of June ----- THAT'S IT. We didn't have someone brushing our hair and telling us we're pretty.
    I have no idea where this mentality comes from that the GOVERNMENT -- City, County, State or otherwise is somehow responsible for how people/children "FEEL ABOUT THEMSELVES".
    Sometimes the swift kick life gives you in the ass is the lesson that's needed.
    You DESERVE nothing from the city government but the basics.... the rest is fluff and icing on the cake.

  5. Too many of the Council people try to politicize something that should be addressed in a helpful way and not a way to put others down. Of course at Friday's vigil Taylor had to go there. I heard several people in attendance indicate that she had to go there, as she always politicizes things and that was not the place to do it. I hope our Council members can work with the police and administration to improve our city and truly work together and not play games as they often do.