Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Baseball supporter stabbed in the back at Council


Evidently believing she was making a consensus report on the continuing baseball saga, Plainfield recreation activist Nancy Jordan took the floor at Tuesday's Council meeting to report that there would be a combined league for the 2015 season, with an executive committee with co-chairs and co-treasurers.

Jordan reported that while they had not been able to resolve the funding issue, she wondered if there was still money in a "Kid's Trust Fund" that might be used, and whether qualifying for the free school lunch program might be the measure of which children should get aid.

While she spoke, the Rev. Jason Greer rose to stand beside her -- I think the audience thought in a sign of support.

When Jordan finished, Greer stepped to the mike and said his group, the Negro League, would not go forward as Jordan had outlined, but would sit out this season and use the time to plan for a re-launch with November registrations for the 2016 season, effectively stabbing Jordan in the back.

Council President Bridget Rivers asked if the Mapp administration would find the funding to go forward, and City Administrator Rick Smiley reiterated the administration's position that there was no funding available, but that the city would provide and maintain the fields as well as offer free meeting space to the league(s).

A wrangle ensued between Council President Rivers, Rev. Greer and his supporters on one side and the administration on the other. The rest of the Council members sat mute throughout most of the discussion.

"We need to find some funding," Rivers declared several times.

Greer and his supporters said that "subsidizing" the Negro League was "the main issue" but that volunteers were also a problem. (Hint: Does that mean someone is looking to get paid?)

Roland Muhammad made rambling remarks about how the children in his league were unable to pay to participate and stated outright, "When I was in the League, I paid for half of my team". No such offer was made for the current circumstances, though.

Which brings us to another question: Why are we having this discussion at all?

It was clear from the get-go last April -- before Recreation Superintendent Veronica Taylor was hired -- that Greer & Co. could not (or would not) get along with the other league.

So, why didn't the Council fix the money issue then, when it could through amending the budget?

In the nearly one year that has lapsed since the last baseball season, the Negro League supporters have not organized as a nonprofit (which funders will want to see), have made no plans on how to move forward, and have not raised one red cent on their own behalf toward their expenses. Not a penny!

Council President Rivers, who seems to be in cahoots with Greer & Co., appears ready to put money into the 2015 budget for the Negro League, even though the season may be well under way before a budget is adopted.

Even if the Council follows her lead, there should be a real -- and transparent -- budget for the Negro League, and not just a vague "$30,000" figure waved around by Greer with no detailed backup information.

Secondly, there is the question of which children should be eligible for aid. In response to Jordan's suggestion that qualifying for the free school lunch program could be a mechanism, Greer stated that that wouldn't be acceptable because he knew of families that didn't qualify for the free lunch to whom he would want to give aid.

Lastly, the Council could find itself on treacherous ground if it decides to give money to the Negro League without any conditions and not to give an equal amount of money to the other league.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid we haven't heard the end of the matter.

P.S.: The Council actually took a few minutes to conduct its official business. All votes were unanimous and in the affirmative.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Bob said...

Hi Dan,

If the city funds the Negro League, doesn't that open the door for other sports groups demanding money from the city. If they don't get it then I would think the city could be sued for sponsoring a "Nergo League" and not, let's say, a "Latino League" or a "White White League". Rivers must be getting well paid to try so hard to discredit the Mapp Administration at every turn. Have a good day.

Bob Bolmer