Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mrs. Toliver explains Mrs.Toliver

Councilor Toliver sat about five feet away
during the special meeting. Councilor Storch
is to her right; Councilor Williams facing the camera.

Before Plainfield City Council got down to business on Tuesday evening, Council President Rivers gave First Ward Councilor Diane Toliver the floor to read a statement concerning the kerfuffle at the end of the Council's special meeting the previous Monday.

Councilor Toliver presented a carefully worded portrayal of the disturbance as she recalled it, saying she felt "attacked, violated, disrespected, and -- most important -- unsafe".

After that special meeting, called by Mayor Adrian Mapp to address the PILOT proposed for the South Avenue residential development at Plainwood Square, was adjourned a small disturbance broke out.

City Hall Library was filled and the meeting, though the issue drew passionate comment, was civil, with Council President Rivers maintaining firm control (there certainly have been many more boisterous meetings than this one in that room!).

As folks were leaving, a brief disturbance -- evidently some shoving -- took place, involving Councilor Toliver and another person.

I was sitting about five feet away from her and had just gotten up from my chair. I did not see the interaction that started things because there were some people standing in between us, but Councilor Toliver began to shout that "he jumped in my face".

What I saw was someone who appeared totally out of control. Not only did Councilor Toliver shout about the man and scuffle with him, she shoved several others who were standing near her and who had nothing to do with the incident -- including Dottie Gutekauf, whom she nearly pushed over, and a woman active in the Senior Center who was pushed so hard she fell back into one of the chairs along the wall.

When Councilor Toliver's husband Alex attempted to put his arm around her and lead her away, she walloped him with a straight arm, nearly knocking him off his feet and shouting at him "keep your hands off me!"

There had been an officer on duty throughout the evening, and he had checked in on the room frequently throughout the meeting. However, at this point he was not in the room.

Public Safety Director Riley opined that the Council should not have meetings in City Hall Library since there are no metal detectors and only one means of egress.

I respectfully think that is an overreaction. For more than 90 years, the Council conducted its agenda sessions in that room without a thought of moving out until the Robinson-Briggs administration.

Perhaps before we take that drastic move, thought should be given to better supervision of the room -- not only during a meeting, but until the room is cleared -- and having more than one officer on hand (there are often three or four officers at the Council Chambers' meetings).

And I do think it is fair to warn residents that physical contact or threatening Councilors will not be allowed.

And it wouldn't hurt for Councilor Toliver to apologize to those she shoved during the incident.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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