The needler in the haystack.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Did the Campbells really think BOE election switch through?

Julius Caesar has a message for Wilma Campbell.

You have to ask yourself if Plainfield Board of Ed president Wilma Campbell and her husband John (also a BOE member) thought through the switch from November to April elections before making it.

By leading the Board of Ed to make the decision at a Work-Study session, public notice and discussion of the switch were effectively sidestepped.

This secretiveness -- was it an outright attempt to make the decision out of the public eye? -- explains why folks have not been able to find a notice of the proposed change or any record of the resolution to do so.

Not only that, it leads to suspicions that the Board's motives are not as "progressive" as Davud Rutherford asserts in his defense of the switch on his blog (see here).

According to Assemblyman Lou Greenwald's office (he sponsored the bill to allow the move from April to November in the first place), Plainfield is the ONLY school district in New Jersey to move its election back to April.

As Councilor Williams pointed out on her blog (see here), the cost to Plainfield taxpayers will be on the order of $115,000, based on estimates provided by Municipal Clerk "AJ" Jalloh. That is for ONE YEAR.

Since Plainfield is the only district in Union County to hold an April election, all of the cost must be borne by Plainfield taxpayers. That means over the next ten years, we will have spent well over $1 million for the "privilege." Rinse and repeat ad infinitum.

If this is "progressive", we need to hear the Board of Ed's explanation.

Then there is the impact on turnout, which will be to significantly narrow voter participation. April school board elections in Plainfield hardly ever exceeded 1,000 total.

In 2016, it would be reasonable to expect a minimum turnout of 30% of registered voters for the November election -- in the range of 6,500 to 7,500 votes. So, in the face of such numbers, how would a reduced voter turnout of 1,000 or fewer be more "progressive"?

My suspicion in this whole matter is that this "progressive" talk is a smokescreen for the real motive, which I would describe as "numerophobia" -- a fear of numbers.

As I see it, what scares the bejeezus out of Wilma Campbell (who must run in 2016) and her slate is the prospect of seeking votes in a presidential election year when it seems likely Hillary Clinton will be on the ballot in Plainfield.

In such a heavily Democratic town, that is likely to sweep all across the board -- notwithstanding that the Board of Ed seats are "nonpartisan" and cordoned off on the actual ballot. If Wilma has saved her neck from the possibility of being obliterated by a Clinton landslide, she has stuck it in another noose.

Wilma's problem is that the downside of the April school board election for her is that if there is a slate to oppose her, there will be no competition for attention or resources by a competing partisan electoral campaign.

This means those who want to reform the school board will be undistracted and can rally the public much more effectively to clean house at the Board of Ed.

As Caesar said, "alea iacta est" -- the dice have been rolled; the Rubicon has been crossed.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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