Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Since returning home to my family on Jan. 2 1946 I have been a subscriber to the Courier News. I have remained so though its many incarnations because it has retained a degree of interest in Plainfield despite decreased circulation.

I am sharing today’s editorial albeit without permission because it has a message that too many Plainfielders will never see. The Editorial”

Mayor hurting Plainfield yet again

Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs is at it again, damaging her city through her own arrogance. It has been a common theme during more than six years in office; after all, she doesn’t like playing by the rules when they get in her way.

The latest case in point comes in a lawsuit the mayor has filed against the City Council over a $200 fine and reprimand she received after orchestrating an anti-violence radio broadcast featuring the Rev. Al Sharpton in 2010.

Sharpton’s appearance cost a grand total of $20,000, and much of that was covered by a local donor. But council members were so enraged by the mayor’s unilateral spending decision that they launched an independent investigation into the entire affair. They decided that Robinson-Briggs willfully broke laws, directed staffers to do the same, and lied about it, while falsely claiming a “state of emergency” had existed after the outbreak of violence that prompted the broadcast idea.

The resolution reprimanding the mayor was unanimously approved, even by the mayor’s council allies. But Robinson-Briggs, who wouldn’t acknowledge any missteps in the beginning of all of this, is still resisting this challenge to her authority. Her lawsuit claims, among other things, that the Sharpton broadcast helped reduce gun and gang violence in the city “almost immediately.” In fact, there were at least six shootings in the three weeks following the broadcast — and none in the 10 days preceding it.

This is all, of course, only the latest salvo in the constant City Hall bickering that is hurting the community at every turn — financially and emotionally. And the mayor deserves the lion’s share of the blame.

From her first day in office, Robinson-Briggs has run the city with an imperious air suggesting that she envisions herself — and would like to be viewed by the masses — not so much as mayor but “queen” of the Queen City. Her public expressions of warmth and civility stand in marked contrast to a much harder edge behind closed doors, according to many people who have experienced the mayor’s private wrath.

Big egos and personality conflicts are hardly uncommon among politicians. But in Robinson-Briggs’ case they’ve proven to be an enormous detriment. The list of her transgressions is a long and varied one, as the mayor time after time seems to do what she feels like doing and damn the consequences.

She dragged her feet interminably over the hiring of permanent financial officers for the city — in defiance of state regulations — seemingly determined to put in place someone who wouldn’t look too closely at her financial bungling. She did nothing to spur reforms of the wildly mismanaged Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority, her objectivity perhaps compromised by too-cozy relationships with agency commissioners. She spent untold taxpayer dollars for several years surrounding herself with bodyguards/chauffeurs accompanying her wherever she went – even to such non-threatening locales as editorial board meetings with this newspaper.

We would urge the mayor to drop the lawsuit and accept the slap on her wrist with grace and a sense of responsibility. But nothing in her mayoral tenure suggests she’d consider such a thing. So instead we’ll simply root for her to lose, which would save taxpayers a few dollars, at least. It is the residents, after all, being hurt most of all by this.


  1. To expect the foul mouthed Sharon to be gracious goes beyoud reason. She berates everyone who does not bow to her desires and treats her co-workers in City Hall as underlings who deserve no consideration. She is not a Christian in the sense of being a caring or considerate person. I wish she was considerate of the people of Plainfield and caring about the job she does, but we have to stick with reality.

  2. The editorial is correct, but certainly lopsided, because there is very little in this city that is a one-way street.

    Let's not forget that at exactly the same time as this extravaganza was happening, the city was sitting on nearly $460,000 of federal stimulus grant money, which both the Administration AND the City Council were willing to lose in an effort to illegally funnel $187,000 to former Councilman Malcolm Dunn's business interests.

    Remember that these are the very resources to be utilized to fight the causes of poverty and crime. The meeting was extremely well-attended, and if it weren't for the fact that the city government opts for fireworks instead of substance, some actual sustainable progress might have be made.

    Dunn, of course, has now paid us back royally. As a newly appointed PMUA commissioner he was instrumental in voiding an ongoing arbitration process, so the powers-that-be could siphon more of our money to Watson & Ervin, to the tune of many $100,000s more.

    But even if you excuse this, from the time of that meeting to the recent findings by the Council-appointed attorney, the Administration and Council have looked the other way while PMUA commissioners, aided and abetted by Watson & Ervin, stole over $50,000 in illegal healthcare benefits.

    Summed up then, here are my findings:

    1) The WBLS/Sharpton meeting successfully brought out the crowd.

    2) Nothing more should be expected because the biggest crooks seem to be our elected and appointed public officials.

    3) The sum total of the event's expense (including the legal aspect) pales in comparison to all these other money and legal issues.

    4) The investigation was entirely political when you consider the context and the players involved.

    5) The City Council may actually lose this suit if the Mayor can show that she wasn't given the opportunity to question and cross-examine her accusers, or the venue and penalty ran counter to state laws and procedures.

    6) Two of the culprits in the foregoing synopsis (Council President Adrian Mapp and PMUA Commissioner Tracey Brown) have the gumption to be seeking Council seats in this year's elections.

    7) Most people don't really care, and thus leave the door wide open for further abuses, and fall prey to the political hustlers in our midst.

  3. I hope the Mayor isn't using city funds to pay for her lawsuit. I would think that would be unethical and a misuse of public funds. Maybe for once the prosecutor will step in and take over the City's affairs. From the City, to the PMUA this city is full of corruption!

  4. Let us not forget...
    The Courier News fully supported her being elected for a 2nd Term because her "experience" was NEEDED.

  5. Very well put Alan.