Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Friends of Sleepy Hollow Proposal Heard at HPC

Friends of Sleepy Hollow (FOSH) brought a proposal to the Historic Preservation Commission last night to place 8 neighborhood signs around the eastside of town.  Every discussion participant, including members of the public, had strong feelings on either side of the proposal.  It is safe to say that everyone was passionate about historic preservation but did not agree on methods.  It is also safe to say the historic preservation is a lot more complicated than regulating the restoration of old homes.

By meetings end, the yes or no question about FOSH's signs was not resolved.  But lots of questions were raised and good points made.  The highlights for me:

1. There is a group of people in the process of revitalizing FOSH.  They have raised money towards a neighborhood sign project and look towards more civic improvement initiatives.  They have gone door to door in neighborhoods for support in neighborhoods not considered to be part of Sleepy Hollow.  They want to market the positive attributes of historic neighborhoods.

2. The HPC is not ready to agree to signs in a historic district that do not reflect the name of the district (two of the eight sign locations would be in historic districts).  But HPC members urged FOSH to get behind the goal of expanding and adding historic districts within Plainfield. 

3.  Members of the public pointed out that Plainfield is a historic town and that goes well beyond one ward or one section of town.  In fact, a house does not need to be at the high end of the price range to have historic value.  Nor does a neighborhood need to be upscale.  With emotions running high, I think many people at the meeting lost sight of the fact that everyone agreed on this.

4.  I find it heartening that we have new blood coming onto the local scene who want to take positive action in Plainfield.  I trust that all concerned with neighborhood improvement and historic preservation, whether they are operating in official capacities or at the grassroots level, will sort out their differences and do good works in Plainfield.

One thing was clear last night.  FOSH is committed to building support for their initiatives.  They will need the people support even more than the financial support.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Is the City Council Now Cooperating with the Mapp Administration?

The short answer is yes and no.  In substance, yes.  In style, no.

One of the Councils most important votes of the year took place last night: annual budget amendments. To my surprise, the Council did cooperate with the Mayor, turning away from the cliff and backtracking to support the staffing he proposed in his introduced budget.  The budget is in the Councils hands and goes for final approval at the next business meeting.

Unfortunately, we saw more of the oppositional behavior from some Council members when it came to use of city vehicles for the Mayor and City Administrator.  Same problem for National Night Out plans.  This is especially unfortunate because some relevant points could have been made by Mapps' opponents.  They actually were but the tone and verbiage is so negative and out of context that the points are lost in the emotional displays.

Instead of going back and forth about conflicting plans for National Night Out, I suggested we combine forces.  I got no traction on this from either side.  Even Bernice Paglia, in her blog today, missed that I said this and she usually reports both sides of the debate - in this case the emotional and the rationale sides.

Regarding the process for assigning vehicles to our top city officials, Plainfield's long standing method of doing so was called into question by the CFO and City Attorney.  But their points were a sideline to the accusations against the Mayor and City Administrator.  There very well may be a better way of handling this issue but lets not pretend this is something new and sinister.  I am sure every Mayor going back 20 years has handled this in a way that could be questioned.  What is new is the level of bad will generated by some Council members on this vehicle question.

We did better last night and we still have a lot of work to do before we can say that the Plainfield City Council is performing at a satisfactory level.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Victory for Plainfield

Plainfield came out on top last night with a landslide result in favor of the Progressive Democratic Organization.  This is a mandate for Adrian Mapp and his city administration to continue the work they started one and a half years ago.  This is also a vote of confidence for Rebecca Williams and me.  And I am very confident that Barry Goode will join the City Council after he wins the general election in November.  He will be a welcome addition to the governing body.

There are many unsung heroes from this election campaign.  We did our usual door to door campaigning and Barry and I were joined by many enthusiastic walkers.  In the 2nd Ward I offer many thanks to the following people who walked with me:

Bob Bolmer
Mike Pyne
Shep Brown
Joanne Macaluso
Flor Gonzalez
Roni Taylor
Carletta Jeffers
Jeannette Criscione
David Rutherford
Terrence Bellamy
Jim Spear
Belinda Smiley
Greg Haworth
and of course Adrian and Rebecca

There were too many telephone bank callers and other volunteers to list but thanks to every one of them.

There were many donors and I am proud to say that Barry and I received significant financial support from Plainfielders.  Peter and Libby Price generously opened their home for our fundraiser.  Lois and Matt (my son) provided the excellent food.  Funds were contributed to Storch Goode for Council by the campaign accounts of  Rebecca Williams and most of all, Adrian Mapp.

Mary Burgwinkle was the Treasurer for Storch Goode for Council and nobody does this better than Mary.

Thank you Derel Stroud for keeping us coordinated.  Bet you didn't know how difficult that is when you signed on with the Progressive Democrats of Plainfield!  Like herding cats!

Thank you Dan Damon and Rebecca Williams for your hard work on the media front.

Thank you Barry Goode for working so hard for our victory.  Thank you for having a sense of humor.  And for always letting me speak before you.

Thank you to my family for supporting my years of public service and political campaigns.  Lois was in Plainfield politics before me as Al McWilliams first campaign manager.  Her sage advice was and is always freely offered (if you know what I mean) and valuable.  Jean Mattson taught me door to door campaigning and introduced me to her vast network of friends across Plainfield.  Alexa and Matt - emotional support and literature drops.

And a final thought:  with political victory comes much responsibility to the residents of Plainfield, whether they supported us or not.