Sunday, June 20, 2010

Response to Assemblyman Green

Thank you Assemblyman Green for recognizing the power I have to influence the course of events in Plainfield. For the record, however, the Park Hotel was converted into a boarding home in 1970. I was a college sophomore in Buffalo, NY at the time.

As for group homes, I am guessing that you forgot the discussion we had a few years ago about the Park Hotel and group homes. I will refresh your memory. You came to me with a plan to close the Park Hotel. I told you that plans for the 170 residents would have to be included so they weren't just put out on the street. I explained that there are more humane solutions than warehousing people in large boarding homes. I mentioned supportive housing as a solution and that I work for a non profit organization that subscribes to the supportive housing model. You may recall that I am the co-founder of the New Jersey Supportive Housing Association and I invited you to speak at one of our meetings in Trenton. You did so.

Boarding homes and group homes are the traditional approach to housing for people in need. In fact, most special needs populations are capable of living independently if they are offered services and supports by human service professionals who visit them in their apartments. This is supportive housing - what I do for a living.

Supportive housing has the advantage of helping people with special needs integrate into the community. They are not in congregate housing which calls attention to them. They are living just as you or I do. Supportive housing as done by the non profit I work for does not take properties off the tax rolls. We do it as market rate rentals. Assemblyman Green - your claim about a bank being converted into a group home has nothing to do with the organization or work I am associated with. In fact I don't even know what property you are referring to. I hope this is not an example of throwing out misleading information and hoping some of it sticks.

It is sad that you are attacking me with false accusations. Recently you offered to give me the party endorsement in next Junes City Council primary election. Suddenly you have changed your mind? Would that have to do with my criticisms of your unethical campaign accusations of your political opponents?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Election Campaign Thoughts

Bernice Paglia and Old Doc have done an excellent job of telling it like it is and I thank them for their service to the public. We are lucky to have bloggers that are energetic and persistent in following the often confusing chain of political events in Plainfield. I do not wish to be repetitive so my comments are more on the personal side.

This campaign brought a very difficult choice for me. I have a lot of respect for Rashid Burney and Rebecca Williams. And they are both close friends of mine. It is safe to say that there are few people in Plainfield who have done more for our city than these two. Certainly none of those who criticized one of them during the campaign has their record of civic accomplishments.

Both candidates inspired passionate supporters, also friends of mine and on both sides, to work on their behalf. It's a huge compliment when serious, committed people line up as your supporter. And both Rebecca and Rashid deserve this kind of support. Neither one deserved the personal attacks that surfaced during the campaign.

My definition of an ethical, issues oriented election campaign does not include personal attacks. Here is my hope for the future in Plainfield elections:
1. Stick to the issues.
2. The incumbents record is fair game. The challengers past civic activities and related employment are fair game. Get their histories right. Use facts, not the assumptions of others (which can be self-serving). Do your own homework on your opponent. Attack the record, not the person.
3. If a candidate "misbehaves", attack the behavior, not the character of the person.
4. When an overzealous supporter engages in personal attacks, his/her candidate disavows the unethical attack.

In this primary, the rhetoric and accusations escalated as we got closer to election day. There is one source of contentiousness that was so "over the top" that it needs to be highlighted as harmful to Plainfield and not just to the candidates. Jerry Greens mailer and blog exemplified the textbook use of scapegoating, guilt by association and distortion of facts. I know Rashid Burney very well and there is no way he had anything to do with the Assemblyman's attacks on Rebecca Williams.

Hard feelings will linger from this primary campaign. It is important that Rebecca, Rashid and all their dedicated supporters resolve differences and unite behind the cause that led us into politics in the first place: the betterment of Plainfield.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rebecca Williams for Plainfield City Council

I am voting for Rebecca Williams for Plainfield City Council in the June 8 primary election. Plainfield needs a strong, intelligent, independent voice to join the City Council at this critical point in time and Rebecca fits this description completely.

She is not reluctant to take a principled stand in the face of pressure from "the powers that be". This will be a very useful trait as we approach the new budget year. Plainfield is not out of the fiscal woods by a long shot, and the temptation to the Administration to outsource its way out of difficulties is questionable at best. It will take a strong Council to put the interests of Plainfield taxpayers first and make prudent budget decisions in the face of special interest groups. Rebecca is a person who will weigh the needs of Plainfield and not cave in to business as usual.

The City Council provides checks and balances to the Mayor and her administration. When the Mayor shows no willingness to cooperate with the Council as is sometimes the case, a strong City Council is needed to set Plainfield in the right direction. In the past few years we have seen wasteful spending, insensitive managers and ineffective services. Two examples are the Mayor's wasteful use of police bodyguards for herself and her inability to direct the Recreation Department to cooperate with the Queen City Baseball League. Rebecca would have made a difference in both situations. Only a strong City Council can stand up and help the administration make corrections that our residents need and demand. Vote for Rebecca Williams on June 8. Plainfield needs her.