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Monday, November 12, 2007

Assemblyman Green's Lesson for the Board and Super: Jerry Rules

Assemblyman Jerry Green wants to teach a lesson to the Plainfield Board of Ed and interim superintendent Peter Carter: Jerry rules.

Not 'Jerry rules' in the sense that he runs things (though the Assemblyman makes it abundantly clear he wants to).

'Jerry rules' in the sense that if you're dealing with this wily pol, the rules of common sense, common decency and the Marquess of Queensberry go out the window.

First, let's get out the facts of the latest dustup.
  • Interim Superintendent Peter Carter and his team have a compensation matter they wish to negotiate with the Board of Ed;
  • They wrote a letter to the Board of Ed tendering their resignations as of a date certain (December 31st) -- an old negotiating tactic;
  • A treacherous Board of Ed member leaked the letter to the Courier News;
  • Assemblyman Green and Interim Superintendent Carter were in a room together.
That's it.

The rest becomes spin.
  • For instance, that Assemblyman Green 'met with Carter and agreed to work with him'. Rumor in the street is that the Assemblyman wangled a meeting with Carter by a ruse -- the meeting was supposed to be between Carter and another person, and Green invited himself (or was invited by that person) along. And that he had the chutzpah to drag along Mayor Robinson-Briggs. Whatever was discussed, you can bet the Assemblyman's spin is designed to put himself in the best possible light.

  • Or that the meeting 'triggered discord with the board' as Green asserts. That is more a statement of the Assemblyman's hoped-for outcome than the reality of Carter-Board relations.

  • Lastly, that the whole thing is part of the battle between the 'forces of light' (read: Assemblyman Green) and the 'forces of darkness' (read: anyone with the temerity not to see it Jerry's way). In this case, Jerry tries to lay the 'New Dem' curse on the Board of Ed. This is risible, since Al McWilliams never appreciated the importance of fielding a New Democrat team for the Board of Ed and in fact refused to run a slate (unlike the Assemblyman, who ran a winning slate in 2003).
Then there is the matter of treachery on the Board of Ed. Someone, to put it melllifluously, leaked the Carter letter to the Courier. This is a violation of Board confidentiality, and I, for one, certainly hope the Board of Ed and the Interim Superintendent press to get to the bottom of it. Such behavior corrodes the very relationship between the Board and the staff and the Board and the public. You have to ask yourself who would benefit from that.

Assemblyman Green has had the Board of Ed in his sights for months -- in July he wrote to the state complaining of 'fiscal abuses' and 'ethical breaches', as reported in the Ledger (see more here).

That attack struck this disinterested observer as laughable, but for the fact that Green is a Trenton player and can throw his weight around.

What was laughable is that Green's own pick for Board of Ed president, current Mayor Robinson-Briggs, was herself publicly cited for an ethics breach with regard to Board records and -- something the public may not be aware of -- got in serious hot water with the state for browbeating an employee to cut a check for a vendor which the Business Administrator at the time had expressly forbidden. The employee suffered suspension. Robinson-Briggs was chewed out, but charges were never pressed.

I sat in the room at Washington School when Mr. Carter told the public that "I don't do politics, I do kids."

That is laudable, but it doesn't seem to work the other way around: While you are not doing politics, politics may do you -- which is what seems to be at work here.

Everyone who has tried to follow the machinations of Plainfield's very own Mayberry Machiavelli has ached for some sort of magic decoder ring.

Some have suggested comparing life under Jerry to fun-house mirrors. But that implies a certain carefree attitude we cannot allow ourselves.

Others have said it's like using a Magic 8-Ball. But Plainfield happenings are just not random.

My thought is to recall the 'Moscow Rules' from John le Carré's 'Smiley's People', the old PBS spy series.

'Moscow rules' were those in effect for 'good guys' operating in contact with the KGB in whatever physical setting. Here are some --
  • Assume nothing.
  • Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
  • Pick the time and place for action.
  • Keep your options open.
They would certainly help when facing sneak attacks.

-- Dan Damon
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Anonymous said...

Neither Green nor Carter care anything about children. Just because you're goal here, as usual, is to blast Robinson-Briggs and Green, don't paint Carter as a victim or a savior. He has done absolutely nothing to suggest he cares about children. Yes, Green's behavior is abhorrent, but so is Carter's. Carter needs to leave now before he does any more damage. It was probably Carter who sent the letter to the newspapers! He loves to hear himself talk and he thinks eveybody else wants to hear him also. In his most recent insult to the Plainfield community (11/12/07) he claims to "love" the children, "love" the community. What a ridiculous letter. He has no respect and thinks we are all stupid. I am surprised that you have fallen for the BS. He is a very deviant man! The best thing that this board can do now is send him on his way. He will cause serious damage by the end of December. Carter and Green are cut from the same cloth.

Anonymous said...

You are not a disinterested observer. You are a New Democrat partisan as always. Your post is full of misinformation as usual. You assume that Green only met Carter once. You "hear on the street" that he invited himself and Robinson-Briggs to that "only meeting". The point is that the School Board picked the wrong man to lead the district. Then they couldn't get along with him just like they couldn't get along with the last leader they picked. They gave her a new contract and then suddenly she isn't good enough for them. Their actions over the last few years have led the district to the bottom in almost every category. And the children have suffered for it. Everything is not always about Green, or about you, Dan. When are you going to start holding the school board accountable for their actions? Or are there too many New Democrats on the Board for you to do that? Or is everyone ok no matter what they do so long as they're not Green or Robinson-Briggs? You are losing whatever limited credibility you have left with these rediculous partisan postings.