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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

(2017 Dem Primary) Tracey Brown: Bold? Honest? Leadership? Think again.

Bold? Honest? Leadership? Think again.

Tracey Brown's supporters have been distributing a piece in her campaign that features an image of her standing beside a callout that says "Tracey Brown / Mayor of Plainfield / Bold Honest Leadership".

Leaving aside the "Mayor of Plainfield" assertion, which she definitely is NOT, let's review her claims for herself.

Tracey Brown has had years in the public eye to show her boldness. What does she have to show for it?

She points to her participation in the Safe Haven after-school project which helped for five years to provide many of Plainfield's at-risk students an innovative after-school program at Washington Community School that included tutoring, recreation and nourishing snacks. Unfortunately, the program folded when its leadership failed to secure funding beyond the initial five-year period. Thanks, Tracey.

She served on the Board of Education. That service isn't even a footnote in the history of the Plainfield school district. She is not known for championing any initiative while on the school board.

She then went on to serve as a PMUA Commissioner. Bold leadership at the PMUA?

Brown never uttered a peep when the number of employees rose from 122 to 173 in three years (2007-2010). She did not protest the commissioners' abuse of travel, entertainment and conference allowances.

Brown supported four-year contracts for two top employees (whose previous contracts had been year-by-year, laying the ground for the situation described below.

She was absent at the meeting when the commissioners aborted a mediation process which two former employees were about to lose badly and instead settled with the former employees for an amount in excess of $1 million.

An amount, mind you, that was to be borne by the ratepaying public. And the PMUA employees, which Tracey was kind enough to suggest -- in executive session -- should be involuntarily furloughed so as to raise part of the money needed.

In 2012, when she ran for the City Council, Brown refused to answer any questions about her service as a PMUA Commissioner at the FOSH candidate forum (see here).

As a Councilwoman, Tracey has badgered Mayor Mapp for years about her perception of the need for a "teen center", which she has never fully defined.

When Mapp's new Superintendent of Parks & Recreation found the division rife with petty theft, extorted cash payments from youth sports teams to use city fields, low-show / no-show hirees, gross mismanagement of the physical facilities (the city's pools had not been inspected for years, an annual state requirement), and what's more, Tracey lashed out in a vituperative text message about the Superintendent to Mayor Mapp which caused Brown acute embarrassment when it become public (see here).

As a Councilwoman, Brown shared a unique opportunity with the other Council members: once the Administration's budget proposal is submitted to the Council, the Council members have the prerogative of changing it as they see fit.

Teen center needed? The Council can put it in. Modify the Rec budget? Go ahead and do it. More police. Make the changes to the budget.

But Brown made no move to amend any budget she ever reviewed. And last year, she barely participated in the budget process, choosing not to even show up for most of the Council's budget deliberations.

So much for BOLD.
I have previously catalogued Brown's pronounced habit of ignoring ELEC rules -- which have the force of law in keeping campaign fundraising and expenditures on the straight and narrow.

Tracey has yet to admit messing up in last year's campaign by not declaring what the billboard she had at Front and Watchung cost and how it was paid for. Though the billboard itself declared it was paid for by her campaign, there was no entry in her financial reports (see story here).

This year, Brown did declare a mailing in her 29-day pre-election report. But a close look at it raises red flags.

Brown declares that for the mailing, the campaign paid --
  • $1151.18 for postage
  • $1659,01 to the mailing house
Having used that mailing house before, I know that the "lettershop" services (mailing labels, sorting, bagging and delivery to the Post Office) run about $650.00. This means Brown is suggesting that the printing of the mailing piece (for a citywide mailing) came to about $1,000. Not even within the realm of possiblity!

Besides that, her mailing pieces are tagged "Paid for by Brown for Mayor". But there is no campaign committee of that name. According to ELEC, her campaign committee is "Rev.Tracey L. Brown for Mayor" -- which is the way it should be noted on her ads and printed materials. Is Tracey once again letting unknown donors pay for portions of her campaign in violation of the ELEC laws?

So much for HONEST.

The real BOLD HONEST LEADERSHIP on display is that of Mayor Adrian O. Mapp.

Only Adrian Mapp has been bold enough to envision a better Plainfield for all, built project by project, one step at a time, bringing more than $250 million in investment across the city (including new apartments across the street from Tracey's church).

Only Adrian Mapp has the vision to actually create a teen center at the Hannah Atkins Playground and to build a skatepark for our young people (the groundbreaking is this Friday).

It's a matter of deeds vs. words.

Vote the "A Team" all the way on June 6.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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