The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Residency waiver, East 2nd Street are flash points at Council meeting

What's a Council meeting without some D-R-A-M-A?

A residency waiver for Plainfield Health Officer Denise Proctor and the question of funds for the East 2nd Street revitalization provided flash points at Monday's City Council business meeting.

When the Council moved the Proctor waiver to the agenda at last week's meeting, it seemed clear that the concerns of a majority of councilors had been satisfied and the waiver was going to be granted. Councilor Taylor had announced her intention to vote 'No' (see my post here) and Councilor Reid was -- well, he was Councilor Reid, using his loud 'No' vote for dramatic effect, if nothing else.

What was odd was why Mayor Adrian Mapp took the bait and responded to Councilor Taylor's rant -- before the vote was taken -- thus giving her a chance to demagogue a little more on the matter.

Audibly muttering and mumbling while Mayor Mapp was speaking, Taylor launched into a tirade when he was done that included a veiled threat of a recall. Taylor evidently keeps two sets of books: Everyone is supposed to be quiet and respectful when she speaks, but she is free to mutter into the mike and shake her head when she disagrees with what is being said. Bully behavior, reminiscent of Chris Christie, and totally unbecoming.

After a presentation by the Muslim-Christian group CURE (Creating Universal Righteous Establishments) asking for city support for a youth center, Councilor Reid invited Rev. Paul Dean, spokesperson for the East 2nd Street Revitalization, to say a few words again this week.

Responding to Dean's presentation gave an opportunity for Council President Bridget Rivers to press once again about the $1.2M allegedly set aside from UEZ funds for the revitalization project.

Director of Administration & Finance Ron West reiterated that the Mapp administration is still sorting out the financial records of the UEZ program and reminded the Council that it had rescinded UEZ commitments in 2013. To this latter point, Councilor Rivers responded, 'I wanted to hear you say that. If the Council rescinded it, the Council can restore it'.

Rivers also repeatedly mentioned that South Avenue had been repaved twice in ten years, and why shouldn't Second Street get its due?

Somehow, the fact that East 2nd Street WAS resurfaced within the last ten years failed to be mentioned by anyone. Odd, since if memory serves me correctly, Councilor Reid complained bitterly about the quality of that work.

As for South Avenue, the discussion overlooked the fact that the first road work there was done (more than ten years ago) in a rush to avoid losing a $600,000 DOT grant expressly for South Avenue that went back to the administration of Mayor Mark Fury. It wasn't UEZ money and it was a use-it-or-lose-it moment.

While Dean had only a few supporters with him this time, the neighborhood does have legitimate issues and the City should be doing something. It's a perfect opportunity for the Mapp administration to show it is listening and responding to stakeholders after years of neglect and foot-dragging by former mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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