Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Plainfield Democratic Primary Election is About the Residents Interests

The City Council just approved a Go-Go Bar on Richmond Street.  For the record, I am opposed and I thank my Council colleagues Rebecca Williams and Tracey Brown for voting no.  But why did the Council majority vote for approval?  This is surprising for a number of reasons and makes me question exactly who the City Council represents.

To understand the regulation of liquor licenses, you need to know that the City Council is also the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABC board for short).  The ABC can only enforce the regulations with the collaboration of the police department. This partnership has not always worked well for reasons that were not clear to me for some time.

For many years the City Council echoed the complaints of residents about bar fights and underage drinking at some of our establishments.  But always fell short of voting to crack down on bad behavior.  Only since Mayor Mapp appointed Carl Riley as Police Director has there been the collaboration needed to do the right thing. 

So I was surprised when we took a step backwards with the Go-Go Bar on Richmond.  Why would the Council majority vote for this when they are indignant about "immoral" behavior and like to say as much at Council meetings.  The previous go-go bar at this location was known for bad behavior.  There was even a fatal shooting outside the bar in the past.  And there is the concern about exploitation of women at these establishments.

It appears to me that the answer is connected to Jerry Green. He receives generous campaign contributions from liquor license holders (look at his ELEC reports).  Could this have anything to do with the Council majority about face on the go-go bar?

In addition to campaign donations, there is an opportunity to influence ABC decisions through the police department.  And there is much evidence of Jerry Green's hand within the police department.   Think back to Green's choice of the previous Mayor and her first election campaign with her police security detail. I know from experience that Green tried hard to force Mayor Mapp to appoint his own choice for Police Director. Right after Mapp stood strong to appoint Carl Riley, Green publicly attacked Mapp for being a bad Mayor (this was 4 months after Mapp took office!).  Why would he do that?

This is partly circumstantial evidence but it points to a pattern of behavior on the part of elected officials that results in a lack of enforcement of liquor regulations at some bars.  This is to Plainfield's detriment. We have been deploying our valuable police resources to break up bar fights all too often. The police should be responding to resident calls.  We need to hold the license holders accountable and make them hire security and install surveillance cameras.  On their dime, not the taxpayers. 

Campaign contributions are flowing into Jerry Green's campaign account. He appears to want to use the police for his own agenda.  And he has already been on video saying "I run this m".  But should the City Council be representing his interests or the residents of the area surrounding the Richmond Go-Go bar?

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