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Friday, October 9, 2009

Jerry comes out, and other surprises at candidate forum

One of the two surprises at last night's candidates' forum at the Plainfield Public Library involved Assemblyman Jerry Green's coming out, the other that he was there at all.

I wasn't the only one surprised to see ALL FOUR Assembly candidates there last night, at an event that had been promoted as a forum for LOCAL CANDIDATES (see Bernice's take here).

This was similar to the 'forum' the group, Women for Progress in Plainfield (WFPIP), put on during the primary campaign in which the Assemblyman appeared IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LINEUP and his opponent in the Democratic primary, Rick Smiley, said when he finally arrived that HE HAD NOT EVEN BEEN INVITED.

If WFPIP wants Plainfield voters to believe they are anything but shills for Sharon and Jerry they need to tighten up, put out all the facts when promoting their 'forums', and cut out the last-minute surprise crap.

There were some indications the group is taking things more seriously -- moderator Martha Royster showed she is willing to enforce the rules fairly, and the tide of Redshirts has subsided somewhat.

With regard to enforcing the rules, Royster took on Assemblyman Green at one point and told him to answer the question that was posed or she would move on to the next respondent. Anyone who has observed Jerry knows that he regards the rules as something that other people need to follow, but that he is above. If Jerry thought Royster was going to be a pushover, he got an eye-opener last night.

Green/Stender opponent Marty Marks also tangled with Royster. He shouldn't have. After he passed on answering a question on 'the gay marriage issue as a red herring', he wanted Royster to allow him to answer after everyone else had spoken (it's an old municipal council trick), but she firmly resisted, saying he had had his opportunity but passed on it. Marks persisted. Royster won. I think this was a bad tactical mistake on Marks' part, and that he should have respected the moderator's role, vowed silently to himself he would not make the same mistake again, and moved on. Unfortunately, he did not.

Royster, taking over from Liz Urquhart, who handled the candidates' opening statements, laid down rules for the evening which included that she would not present trick questions to the participants.

Moments later, she read a question addressed to the Republican candidates essentially asking them to defend the 8-year Bush presidency.

The audience reaction was sharp and immediate, so much so that Royster asked for a show of hands on whether the question should be disqualified. By my estimate, about two-thirds of the room signified they were against the question being put. This had to include some Green/Robinson-Briggs, in my opinion.

After that misstep Royster was much more careful, and at one point detailed questions she was NOT posing and WHY. Good for her!

I could tell the event was well-attended as I circled the rear parking lot to find the next-to-last space about 15 minutes before the start time. Taking a seat, I counted about 110 present when things got under way. By 7:10, that had swollen to about 170, with many lining the walls and standing at the back of the room.

The audience was quite respectful of each other and the candidates, except for a couple of Yahoos who felt compelled to chime in from time to time (perhaps they had forgotten to take their meds; who am I to judge?).

I will leave the summation of candidates' answers to Bernice (see here) and Olddoc (see here) and the candidates, if and when they get to posting.

I would be remiss though if I failed to mention that Mayor Robinson-Briggs took great care to throw the Council under the bus for the lack of any development in her first term other than the ill-starred Monarch condos.

I do have one observation for Mayor Robinson-Briggs, who overall appeared much less threatened and confrontational than when she had to face Councilor Adrian Mapp during the primary forum. That is that someone needs to help her with her lists. As any preacher can tell you, the best sermons have one point, an OK sermon may have 3 points, but lists do not make good sermons -- or forum responses. Folks' eyes were glazing over as the mayor read from long lists of crime stats, and her 'advertisements' as she put them in her opening remarks.

I almost forgot -- Jerry came out. In favor of gay marriage.

In what seemed an emotional response to the discussion around gay marriage, and pointed barbs from his opponent Bo Vastine (who says he aligns himself with President Obama on the issue), Jerry blurted out 'I am going on the record tonight...I will support gay marriage (when it comes to a vote)'. If you've been following Jerry's blog, you will note that this is the VERY FIRST DIRECT, FLAT OUT ENDORSEMENT OF GAY MARRIAGE BY THE ASSEMBLYMAN.

Don't know whether it was considered, or delivered in the heat of the moment, but there it is, in front of God and everyone.

While there may have been some who came to hear, learn and decide among the candidates, my belief is that these forums are far more akin to a sports event (think boxing or soccer), and that maybe 90% of those there are rooting for one 'team' or another.

If only we could have beer and hot dogs, too.

-- Dan Damon

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John said...

I went to the forum last night. What a joke. Royster may be the most unprofessional moderater ever. Marty Marks merely stated that in normal debate or forum settings, the order of responses is alternated so different candidates are able to rebut the others.

This thing quickly devolved into shouting from the audience, yelling from Royster, Jerry Green repeating "for the kids" over and over, and other nonsense. It was just a joke. If this group can't hold a professional forum, DON'T HOLD THEM in the future. And seriously, taking a "vote" of the crowd as to whether a question should or shouldn't be posed? Give me a break. Last night summed up all that is wrong with Plainfield politically.

Yep I Said It! said...

Jerry Green saying he is in favor of Gay Marriage is like the 450 pound Plainfield vendor saying at the council meeting in front of an audience - not once, not twice but three times that Jerry Green told him (the 450 pound vendor) that he (Jerry Green) didn't know about the Latin Festival.

Anonymous said...

To 8:17 am, perhaps you missed it but Mr. White corrected his misstatement publicly. See Olddoc's blog.

Yep I Said It! said...

EXACTLY 10:06AM!!!

Dan or somebody -Please explain to 10:06AM the correlation. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I've read 8.17 about 5 times and I don't get it either. If it walks like a failed analogy ...

Dan said...

Let's see... does anybody remember their grade school math classes?

Try this --

2:4 :: 4:X

Could it be 8:17 is saying --

Jerry's statement will be to Mr. White's statement
Mr. White's 'correction' of his statement (retraction) will be to Jerry's vote on gay marriage?

Implying that Jerry will NOT vote for it...?

But then, what about his public statement in support of it?

I'm getting a headache...

Yep I Said It! said...

Correct-o-Mundo Dan!

One day -not sure when- Jerry Green will turn around and say he did not say it OR I didn't mean it the way I said it OR

"What I really meant was . . ."