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Monday, June 1, 2015

Jerry Green screws Plainfield (Part 3)

Where are they now? Police officers campaign with
Sharon Robinson-Briggs in 2005.
Among the boozers, losers and hustlers that Plainfield Dem chair Jerry Green populated the city's administration with under his hand-picked marionette Sharon Robinson-Briggs (you didn't really think she knew all those people, did you?!), three circumstances come to mind as we wrap up this pre-election look at how Jerry Green has screwed Plainfield.

The first two have to do with things he didn't do, and the third with something he did do. Today, we look at Jerry Green's role in Plainfield's public health and safety.


Courier News reporter Sergio Bichao last summer found that hundreds of Plainfield restaurants and stores that handle food had not been inspected in a timely fashion under Mayor Robinson-Briggs (see story, with interactive map, here).

At the same time as the story broke, the Mapp administration was trying to get Council to approve the appointment of a health officer. Councilor Gloria Taylor was adamantly opposed, as was then-councilor Bill Reid.


Turns out that among the first things Jerry Green wanted Robinson-Briggs to do as his puppet-mayor was to fire then-health officer Jadwiga Warwas, who was deemed too independent-minded.

After Robinson-Briggs got rid of Warwas (not without losing a lawsuit demanding back pay and reinstatement), she simply left the position vacant except for a fix of a part-time temp for a short period of time.

When Mapp tried to rectify the situation by appointing a certified and competent health officer, he was stymied by Green's opposition (through mouthpieces Taylor and Reid) because Proctor's husband (and former mayor of Rahway) is someone Green is on the outs with.

Bichao found that one popular fried chicken joint had not been inspected since 2009, and uninspected locations including school cafeterias, soup kitchens and a nursing home.

In case you think this is small potatoes, note that some 3,000 people die annually in the US from preventable food-borne illnesses.

Health inspections not only attend to the presence of rats, roaches and other vermin in a food-service location, they see to it that food is kept and dishes washed at proper temperatures, as well as the proper venting of gas cooking ranges and ovens.

Imagine newly hired Recreation Superintendent Veronica Taylor's surprise when she went to open the pools for the 2014 season, the first following eight years of Robinson-Briggs administration, to find a mountain of issues that had to be resolved in quick order for the pools to open (see my post at that time here).

Turns out that under Robinson-Briggs' long-time rec superintendent David Wynn, no state-required inspections of the pools had been made. Nor were state-mandated logs of pool supervision, hours and use kept by Wynn or his staff.

Further, Taylor's initial inspection of the city's three public pools revealed that maintenance had been let slip. Resurfacing was going to be needed for at least one pool.

Another had had the deep end of the pool improperly filled in and covered.

The pools were lacking state-mandated intake filter screens to prevent swimmers with long hair from being drowned by having their hair sucked into the outlets.

But Jerry Green and Robinson-Briggs had defended Wynn to the last minute, until Council was presented with evidence of fraud and theft over the course of his tenure. The choice was to turn the matter over to the County Prosecutor.

What did Jerry Green do? Let Wynn simply resign and walk away with no charges.

Among the first things Jerry Green wanted Robinson-Briggs to do once she became mayor was get rid of Plainfield's popular -- and New Jersey's first Hispanic -- police chief, Ed Santiago.

Green even went so far at to lambaste the Council publicly when it dragged its feet on the matter. Once the Council finally adopted an ordinance abolishing the post (see here), Robinson-Briggs jumped the gun by naming Martin Hellwig as the new Police Director (in addition to Public Safety) the day after the ordinance was adopted -- weeks before it legally went into effect.

Not only that, those with longish memories will recall that under Hellwig, Sharon was able to make a case (phony, as it turns out) for 24-hour bodyguards because of a (fictional) death threat (see an overview here).

Reports were rife that the bodyguards were quickly turned into chauffeurs and errand-boys and could be spotted running chores for the mayor --including picking up dry cleaning -- around town. There were even whispers of more intimate assignments.

Besides this flagrant abuse of the police officers, Jerry and puppet Robinson-Briggs played politics with promotions and appointments (see here, and here).

Not only that, in 2009 Jerry Green used the police at a Democratic City Committee reorganization meeting to knock around committeewoman Mari Bonini, who was attempting to sign in to the meeting and drag her out (see here). Turns out Jerry was having a meeting of his rump caucus in violation of party rules.

Then we have the infamous gay hustler hookup scandal of Police Director Martin Hellwig. Not only did he use a city computer on city time to arrange the escapade, he used his city car -- which then broke down, necessitating a tow, which led to the discovery of the incriminating emails.

What happened? The officer who blew the whistle on his little gay caper was suspended and demoted, all with Green's blessing. After huge public outcry, Hellwig was punished also -- with two days suspension.

I could go on, but you get the drift. Jerry Green has a view of public safety that leaves the public on the outside, looking in.


As Jerry Green sits at the top of the greased pole of political power, his main goal is not to get shafted.

Elected two years ago as the chair of the Union County Democratic Committee after the ignominious demise of former chair Charlotte DeFilippo, Green has got to prove his mettle in this year's primary election to have a chance of getting the chairmanship for another two years.

Make no mistake, there are sharks in these waters.

Meanwhile, the Plainfield Democratic City Committee seats, on which Green's power as county chair rests, are also up for a vote in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, June 2.

Green, who after more than twenty years was unable to field a full slate of committee candidates this go-round is facing a strong challenge from Mayor Adrian Mapp's Plainfield Democratic Organization. Not only have Mapp's forces reached out to the Latino community (Jerry has no Latinos on his slate), they have enlisted younger people in the political process -- where most of Jerry's slate is old hands with 40 or more years in the trenches.

A defeat for Jerry Green in the City Committee contest could spell the end for him as Union County chair as well.

Police officers are sworn to "serve and protect" all the residents. Has Jerry Green shown that to be his view?

When you think of a kid swimming safely in the city's pools, remind yourself it's not thanks to Jerry Green.

The next time you dine -- safely -- in Plainfield, just remember you are safe because of Mayor Mapp, not Jerry Green.

Whether you are a registered Democrat or an unaffiliated voter, your participation on Tuesday can make the difference in Plainfield's future.

You can vote for the candidates in Column C -- re-electing Cory Storch if you live in the 2nd Ward, and electing Barry Goode if you live in Wards 1 or 4. In every ward, you will have an opportunity to elect a male and female friend or neighbor to serve on the Plainfield Democratic City Committee. Those names will also appear in Column C.

If you are an unaffiliated voter (not registered in any political party) you may still participate in the Democratic Primary by signing the voter book at your polling place, thereby indicating your intent to vote as a Democrat.

If you have already voted by absentee ballot Thank You! If not, lay out your schedule for Tuesday June 2 and do your duty. If you're tired of being screwed by Jerry Green, now is the time to return the favor.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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