Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Friday, April 20, 2012

Will FOSH forum fail for lack of a fourth candidate?

The League of Women Voters has set the 'gold standard'
for voter education through forums and outreach since its beginning.
Unless you've been living in an undiscovered Plainfield cave for the last eighteen years, you will have noticed that the outcome of the June Democratic primary has been pretty much determinative of the outcome of the November general election.

Which means that having an opportunity for candidates contesting for the party line in the June primary to be seen and heard by the electorate are few and far between.

The League of Women Voters, which has conducted candidate forums in Plainfield since 1920, has a policy of not conducting forums during the primary season, saving their efforts for the autumn general election.

The Plainfield chapter of the NAACP does have a forum during the primary season, but in the thirty years I've been in Plainfield, it has been a relatively small event.

So, Plainfielders concerned about the state of the city's elected leadership have FOSH (Friends of Sleepy Hollow) to thank for organizing a spring candidate forum. Taking up the task of offering a service to the entire community, FOSH once again has moved to organize a candidate forum for the 2012 primary election.

The group has set a date (Wednesday, May 23), arranged for a venue (Emerson Community School), engaged a LWV-trained moderator (guaranteeing the 'gold standard' of forum protocols), and secured the commitment of the candidates.

Well, most of the candidates. As of yesterday, three of the Democrats jockeying for selection in the June primary had committed to the forum: Council President Adrian Mapp, who is running for re-election to the Ward 3 seat; former Board of Ed member Rasheed Abdul-Haqq, who is challenging Mapp; and PHS teacher and community activist (as well as former three-term Board of Ed member) Veronica 'Roni' Taylor.

The agreement to participate of the fourth candidate, the Rev. Tracey Brown, ally of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, commissioner of the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA), and pastor of Ruth Fellowship Ministries is awaited.

As FOSH forum organizer Pat Turner Kavanaugh noted in an email Thursday, 'the FOSH event remains tentative until Rev. Brown agrees to take part'.

This is because the League of Women Voters will only allow one of its trained moderators to participate if candidates for all of the contested seats are present. (Because the Republican candidates are uncontested, they will not be seated at the table, but will be acknowledged if they are present at the forum.)

So, it is within the power of the fourth candidate to ensure that a forum goes forward or does not.

Will it?

Though the Rev. Brown could scuttle this community opportunity by not participating, there is ANOTHER option for the FOSH organizers: pick another moderator who would be fair and even-handed but for whom an empty chair would not be a deal-breaker.

Someone of great stature and experience and well-known in the community.

Dottie Gutenkauf comes to mind.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Now you know Brown isn't going to show up. She has nothing productive to offer Plainfield. Look at her track record at PMUA - well that is of course when she isn't absent for key votes.

Bob said...

It appears that the LWV rules allows a person who has a lot to hide and doesn't want public scrutiny to foil the who deal. That's rediculous. I hope FOSH can get another person to moderate fairly. This is too important for Plainfield.

Anonymous said...

Tracy Brown is a coward. She will not voice her opinion of PMUA and the 1 million dollar pay out, and she will not debate Roni Taylor. She is a coward and hides behind antics so she will not face nor give her stand on controversial issues.

This is the kind of person people want to represent them? Not me.

Really?! said...

Jerry Slimey Green put the Rev up to running because he thought no one would run against his candidate. And he probably told her it will be smooth sailing the way Bill Reid campaigned.

And Dottie -Jerry's right and left hand?


Anonymous said...

Gee Dan there you go again. . . . .

I am the FOSH volunteer that is responsible for contacting and inviting the candidates. Rev. Tracy Brown is out of the country and I have not been able to speak with her directly. I have left messages for her and I have spoken with her staff at her place of employment. I plan to speak with her after she returns this weekend.

Rev. Brown doesn't even know the debate is taking place so for you and those of your readers who left comments to assume that she won't attend is unfairly premature.

Jim Spear for FOSH

Dan said...

Jim -- If you read the post carefully, you will see I did not assume Rev. Brown won't attend. (I can't be responsible for readers' thoughts, tho.)

What I was concerned with was what happens to a forum IF she cannot or chooses not to participate. And I offered a constructive (I think) alternative that would allow a forum to go forward in any event.

Also note that this is the first I am aware that you are coordinating this effort. While everyone owes you a thank you for doing so, neither your previous communication to me nor that of Pat mentioned that you were in charge. So, how was I to know until you told me?

Anonymous said...

You know as well as I do that these forums are of little consequence. If you look over the typical audiences, you can see that all but maybe 4 or 5 people are already aligned with one of the candidates. Many years ago, it might have swayed some people who were on the fence, but that no longer happens.
Many years ago, on the occsion that I ran for City Council, the Democratic Candidate never even showed up for the debate. I lost by a slim margin. Voters in Plainfield (by the vast majority) vote the party line without even knowing the candidate. Heaven forbid you should vote for the person and what they stand for or what you believe they can do for our City govenment!


Pat Turner Kavanaugh said...

Dan: this is ptk responding from Thailand. I have not been in bed or vertical for 52 hours, although I did get four hours of fitful sleep across the Pacific, and another two, which seemed solid, from Hong Kong to Bangkok, so please forgive typos and unconnected thoughts. Jim Spear is one of the FOSH volunteers who agree with the last FOSH meeting - all invited - that this forum is crucial. but, Dan, please remember, FOSH is a federal 501c3, all-volunteer, civic, all-volunteer and steadfastly non-partisan organization. Our folks voted to sponsor a Democratic Party debate for the good of the City, not FOSH, not "Sleepy Hollow " (whaevers realtor's dream that was to sell homes), but ALL OF US. The Rev. Tracey Brown and Roni Taylor arr running for a citywide at-large seat. Both seem to have roots in the 4th Ward. I live in the 2nd Ward, you in the 3rd. I hope we can count on whoever is elected including the Republican Randy Bullock will represent you, me and all 50,000 or more, as Annie did.
gotta get some sleep. Pat

Dottie Gutenkauf said...

Dan, I'm flattered--both by your suggestion and by the anonymous April 20 4:47 PM comment.

In any event, I won't be available April 23--I'll be at Sloan in NYC.

Thanks for thinking of me--hope you are doing well!

Anonymous said...

To Jim Spear,

Are you really saying that being out of the country means you cannot commmunicate and do not know what is going on outside of where you are?

In what century and on what planet are you and Tracy Brown living?

Anonymous said...

Haha, Anon 1:53 pm - I think Pat Turner Kavanaugh commenting in this thread helps prove your point!

Have a great trip, Pat!

Anonymous said...

To Annon April 22, 1:53 pm JC -

Tracy Brown has NOT been contacted by FOSH on this planet or on any other planets you may be on.

Therefore she has NOT been offered the opportunity to
accept or decline the invitation.

Get it? Got it? Good!

jim spear for FOSH