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Friday, July 12, 2019

Is 'Where's Carlos' Plainfield's new parlor game?

'Where's Waldo' is a popular game and activity.

P​​lainfield's newest parlor game may be: Where's Carlos?

Plainfield Today readers may be familiar with the game 'Where's Waldo', where players try to pick out a character in red and white somewhere in a crowded drawing of people and activities.

Well, now we have our own variation on the theme -- Where's Carlos?

Carlos Sanchez, Mayor Adrian O. Mapp's second Business Administrator (the new term for the old City Administrator position) is no more.

Though unlike Mapp's previous BA Rick Smiley, Sanchez had no Master's degree in public administration, he was Mapp's personal choice for the job based on his 'experience' as the story went at the time of his appointment.

And everything seemed ducky, right up to the end.

Sanchez was always on hand at Council meetings (save for his hospitalization for a heart issue) as well as mayoral publicity opportunities and campaign rallies.

He even got to go on the recent Hawaii trip with Mayor Mapp's 8-person entourage.

Everything seemed fine when they got back last Tuesday. And he was reportedly in a jovial mood, bantering with staff and officials at Thursday's July 4th events.

Since many people took Friday as a holiday, Monday was really the first full day back at work for most people, including Sanchez. There was no hint of anything wrong.

And then,it seems, Council was alerted late in the afternoon that Sanchez was out as of that day and that Municipal Clerk 'Ajay' Jalloh was acting Business Administrator -- as he had been during the recent storm when most senior officials were in Hawaii.

Residents attending Monday's Council meeting noted that department heads were summoned to a brief meeting with Mayor Mapp outside of the Council chambers before the Council meeting began, where he evidently gave them the news.

It did not take long for Plainfield watchers to start wondering: Did he jump or was he pushed?

It was always assumed that Sanchez -- whose experience at managing a workforce of more than 500 and policy and programmatic issues covering dozens of areas of specialization and expertise was thin at best -- was put in the slot exactly because he would do exactly as he was told.

He did not seem to disappoint.

Without giving any details, Mayor Mapp on Tuesday advised employees that Sanchez was leaving in two weeks, though his final work day had been Monday (July 8).

So, if it's unlikely the reason is that Sanchez had any sharp disagreement with Mayor Mapp, there are two other possibilities.

1) Did he fail to do something important?

And 2) could he have done something he shouldn't have (perhaps in regard to his personal behavior)?

I am recalling here that when former Recreation Superintendent Dave Wynn had been discovered to have been raking off cash in an illegal scheme, he was given the option of resigning forthwith or having the matter referred to the County Prosecutor. This is not to imply anything about Sanchez, except to say impromptu resignation has been used as a tool before by the Mapp administration.

Or perhaps it was some unacceptable personal activity which,  though not illegal, could have proven embarrassing to the Mapp administration's public image.

While it has always been the policy of city administrations -- no matter who is mayor -- not to comment on personnel matters, nevertheless the rumor mills will grind until a satisfying narrative is honed.

So far, I haven't heard a word. Does that suggest he is not missed?

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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