The needler in the haystack.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What the Mayor could learn from the Navy SEALs

Insignia of the U.S. Navy SEALs.
Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs could definitely learn a lesson or two from the SEALs, the Navy's crack force that succeeded in bringing the career of Osama bin Laden to an end.

In the call for her 'emergency community meeting' on Tuesday evening, Mayor Robinson-Briggs was quoted in the Courier (see here) as inviting attendees --

...Robinson-Briggs on Monday afternoon announced a "call to action strategy meeting'' for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the city hall library on Watchung Avenue. The mayor said she is inviting city officials, residents and merchants to attend the meeting and brainstorm about ways to curtail the violence, much of which has been attributed to gang activity [emphasis added -- DD].
I was stunned that a year and a half into her second term and after a string of homicides that stretches back to last summer, Mayor Robinson-Briggs is asking us to BRAINSTORM.

Brainstorming is a useful process, but it is associated with the BEGINNING of a of strategizing or problem solution. After all the blood that has been spilled, how can we be just at the beginning of solving the problem?

Nevertheless, I went to the meeting.

About seventy people crowded into the Library at City Hall, spilling into the ante-room. There were clergy, residents and activists. There were those who are running programs reaching out to youth. There were figures, like J.M. Benjamin, who command great respect in the community and offer themselves as object lessons to young people on overcoming difficulties and poor choices.

There were Council members (Adrian Mapp and Rebecca Williams; Cory Storch was prevented from attending because of being out of town on business; the others were not present). There were also residents like the grandmother from Manson Place who were looking for answers and people with whom to join in working on solutions.

Two things, alas, were missing --

  • The Hispanic community was absent, as was
  • The kind of leadership the community has a right to expect of the Mayor, its highest elected official. BRAINSTORMING, indeed!
That is where the lessons of the Navy SEALs are so appropriate, and timely.

What are those lessons?

To really attack the problem of youth violence and youth opportunity, here is a brief list --

  1. Recruit the best that can be found -- INCLUDING YOUNG PEOPLE -- to a task force chartered with developing a plan of action;

  2. Empower the task force to do just that by giving them access to the resources needed -- including the facts as they are known;

  3. Inventory the assets and liabilities affecting the question of young people and their safety and opportunities;

  4. Develop a plan of action based on this assessment and not on anecdotes;

  5. Lastly, execute with precision.
    That would be leadership, the kind of leadership to which Plainfield residents are entitled.

    And it would be about time.




    -- Dan Damon [follow]


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    12 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    A plan to help children walk through dangerous areas???? Come on what are the 'regular' people to do ? How about if you know they are dangerous arrest the dangerous people instead ?

    Anonymous said...

    Am I reading this correctly ... the Mayor was not there?

    Anonymous said...

    The mayor is incapable of leading, managing or executing.

    Not to be mean, but if the area being affected contains the people who voted for her, well, then they got what they wanted.

    Anonymous said...

    Dan- I agree with you that we need better leadership in Plainfield, but unfortunately in Plainfield you get into positions because of who you know and not what you know. I heard the mayor speak with lots of enthusiam (and her red blazer) to a group of kids the other day. I know her heart was in the right place but she really doesn't have the skills necessary to lead. Here is a quote of part of her talk with them. "Drugs? Nah, you don't need that! Gangs? Nah, you don't need that! Violence? Nah, you don't need that!" Does she really think that just saying that will make it happen? When she thought there was a death threat against her, she had body guards, but she can't figure out that we need our streets to be guarded? Give me a break! She just is not smart enough to lead a city with these problems! She may have good intentions, but that is not enough!!!

    Anonymous said...

    Why are you making excuses for Cory Storch? So he wasn't there--so what. He's a big boy, doesn't need a note from mommy.

    Anonymous said...

    Although, I am no fan of the Mayor and youth policies have never been a priority in this town.
    Was this plan proposed under past administrations? Or are you just proposing this now.

    Anonymous said...

    Was the Public Safety \ Police Director there?

    Anonymous said...

    I can tell you one thing, as a young Hispanic male (28), information about this meeting was not announced to our community. Now, let me tell you something none of the "adults" in this city can think of, and that is, we need recreational places, recreational events and other activities that encourage teens and young adults to be more productive with their time. These include sports events sponsored by our local government. Other measures are to tackle head on those who only intend is to cause chaos.

    It is unbelievable that I cannot walk my dog or ride my bike for fear that I might get shot. Do I want to live in a city where its citizens live in terror due to the cause of those who only motive is to "show the world who is the toughest mother @#$er?". Come on, we can do better as a community. I was born and raised in this city, and I don't want to give up on it. I want to see this city to be a prosperous and safe place in order for my kids to grow up in a city they and I can be proud of...

    But at this moment, I cannot say that I am proud of the direction our city is heading into. It is time for us, the citizen of this great city to face reality and that we must take serious steps to solve our problems.

    We must face reality that a lot of these young people might not rehabilitate into society, and therefore must be deal with. There are others young adults who are only in need of guidance and must see that the path gangs, drugs and a life of crime is only a path of destruction, a path that only brings oppressions and impoverishment. We must rise and face these problems head on and make sure it is eradicated from our community once and for all.

    JJ

    YEP I SAID IT!!! said...

    Come on guys!!!

    How soon we forget. Remember the Mayor won the last Mayoral election based on her ability to cut crime by 300 PERCENT!!! Obviously she has the formula to end CRIME. Duh!

    So Sharon . . . what's up???!!! Are you holding back for the next election???!!!

    Sheeesh!!!

    Anonymous said...

    Vera Greaves was also there but she didn't speak. As the councilwoman she should have.

    Rob said...

    I'm betting someone's warming up the copy machine again !!!
    Anyone got another $25,000 for Al Sharpton ??
    Wasn't that plan effective before?
    Broken windows theory...worked in NYC, so we know it can't possibly work here.
    Aggressively enforcing and pursuing quality of life issues creates an unfriendly environment for crime to grow. Again, worked in NYC, so it can't possibly work in Plainfield.
    When you can drink in public, piss on the bushes in front of city hall, lay passed out drunk on a bustop bench, generally pan handle where ever you feel like it everyone knows what your community will and won't tolerate.
    Plainfield's image is one that accepts and lives with crime.
    The only thing missing from Plainfield that NYC had in it's heyday of rampant crime is Squeegee Guys...shall we add a few of them at the major intersections?? Then maybe we can market ourselves as a "Retro NYC" without the prices...

    Anonymous said...

    The Broken Windows Theory that the other poster brought up is a terrific idea.
    The police in NYC learned that people that were committing petty crimes when arrested were found to have outstanding warrants, weapons, etc.
    It took time but it paid off....

    M&W