May 2015

         The most recent mailer I’ve received from “Jerry Green for Assembly” has an interesting statement: “In Plainfield, we just don’t win…” and how right that was! They “just don’t win”they try to prevent the city from winning!
          During the year and a half since mayor Adrian Mapp took office, the City Council members Jerry supported have spent most of their time trying to block his efforts to improve Plainfield’s services and change the culture of patronage and incompetence in city hall. To a large extent, the mayor has succeeded—violent crime is down, economic development is up, recreation is providing a wider range of services, and for the first time in many years, Plainfield has a permanent Chief Finance Officer—a must for providing financial stability and consistency in the city’s operations.
           And that’s not all. The city’s bond rating is up, which means savings to taxpayers…grants that the previous administration ignored and allowed to lapse are being restored…one-seat train rides to New York City, and Plainfield’s designation as a transit village…all these and more are helping to increase development and raise property values.
           One recent campaign piece criticized Adrian for his response to a news item about a Library Board appointee’s “flagrant lewd behavior in public” and even went so far as to say the mayor’s failure to remove him, and the lack of public criticism from the mayor and his allies on the council when the incident happened is “far worse” than raising taxes. Hard to believe, of course—but if you haven’t thrown the mailer out, you can see for yourself; I’m not making this up! That’s right, they “just don’t win”—they just find things about the Mapp administration they can criticize.
           Many Plainfielders know that my late husband, Joe, and I worked closely with Assemblyman Green, and served on the Democratic Committee, for many years—but after Joe’s death in 2012, I decided not to run for a Committee seat in 2013. During last year’s primary, Jerry and I parted company. I have been very disappointed—Joe would have been too—by the tactics Jerry has been employing now that he has “consolidated” his power as Union County Democratic Chair.
           Just for example, in 2014 he called a Plainfield Democratic Committee meeting and told them who “their” Council candidates would be. This year, he didn’t even call a Committee meeting.
           What’s the point of having a local “Democratic Committee” if that group doesn’t have a voice in decision-making? This isn’t Stalinist Russia, and we don’t have to all swear allegiance to the “party line”—we’re grownups and can think for ourselves. The Democratic Party has room for many points of view—and what usually happens is that after differences are resolved, we all work together.
           That’s why I’m running for Democratic Committee. It’s time to restore democracy to the Plainfield Democratic party—and Plainfield voters can do that on Tuesday by voting for the Council and Committee candidates in Column C!

One was from that notorious non-organization, “Union County’s Committee,” attacking our mayor because a candidate for freeholder didn’t make it onto the ballot—he wasn’t a registered Democrat when he circulated the nominating petitions. There’s an error of fact here (surprise!) because the mailer says Adrian Mapp “couldn’t find any Democrat willing to run…so he decided to run two imposters….” Not true—there was a Plainfield Democrat (I met him) willing to run and circulating petitions; but all the petitions got tossed because the other candidate wasn’t a registered Democrat. The mailer goes on to say “we don’t need fake Democrats on the County Committee,” but the fact is that there aren’t any non-Democrats running in Column C for Committee positions. It has spelling errors, too. Well, what do you expect from a non-organization?

The second mailer is actually from “Jerry Green for Assembly,” a legitimate and registered political organization. It attacks the mayor (who isn’t on the ballot this year), Councilor Rebecca Williams (who won re-election last year) and Councilor Cory Storch, who is in fact running for re-election. Astonishingly, the folks who put this mailer together seem to think that they should have raised hell publicly about the arrest of a local blogger for “flagrant lewdness” as Jerry and Bridget Rivers (the City Council president) did. The piece goes on to say that “the community asked him to be removed” from the library Board of Trustees.” Personally, I doubt that “the community” really cares that much—but of course making mountains out of molehills is standard political practice in some circles. I suppose they think that airing other people’s dirty laundry in public is fun as well as productive. (Remember Monica Lewinsky?)

I’m sure that the three people Jerry attacks spoke to the individual privately—as I did—and I’m sure others did too. Suffice it to say that the individual involved has since resigned from the library board and been replaced with a well-known retired local educator.

Earlier this year, when the original story broke, I cross-posted a piece by someone I don’t know from BlueJersey, a progressive New Jersey blog—because I was as astonished by Jerry’s public comments as the author was: Jerry has been supportive of gay rights and marriage equality for some time (I know, I helped). And I caught hell for it, too—apparently someone thought I wrote the piece myself.

In any case, it’s a relief to get a mailing from “Jerry Green for Assembly” for a change. On the other hand, the mailer says the fact that Mapp, Williams, and Storch didn’t come out publicly (as he and Rivers did) when the incident happened is “far worse” than raising taxes. Different priorities, I guess. Oh well.

The Union County Board of Elections Administrator has gone to great lengths to disassociate himself from the mailings from the non-existent “Union County’s Committee,” claiming that the return address is not his.  But if you google the address (327 Trinity Place in Hillside) you’ll find he is listed as co-owner. Nice try, but I’m not buying it.

Let’s see if he can extricate himself from this one!

I have voted by absentee ballot for many years.  This year, when my primary ballot came in the mail, I was astonished to see the following printed on the actual Democratic Committee ballot:

“The Slogan for all County Committee Candidates below is Regular Democratic Organization of Union County”

Now, that is an absolute lie!  Furthermore, it’s using the ballot itself to electioneer for certain candidates.  The “Regular Democratic Organization” has County Committee candidates–but candidates for the Union County Progressive Democratic Organization (which supports Mayor Adrian Mapp) are also on the ballot.  In fact, I’m one of those candidates, along with John Stewart for the Ward 3 District 1 committee seats.

I have never seen a ballot like that before!

Now, it’s the Union County “Administrator” of the Board of Elections–same guy–who oversees the preparation of the ballots.  Who could possibly have put that in without his noticing it?  And what excuse will he come up with this time?

The problem–actually electioneering on the ballot–was brought to the attention of the County Clerk, who instructed the Board of Elections to send new and revised ballots to voters who had already received their absentee ballots.  I got mine–without that “slogan”– and voted it.

The moral of the story is that we should all be careful!  I don’t know who was responsible for that–and frankly, I don’t really care–but shenanigans like that have no place in elections, and no place in our Democratic Party.  And I say to that Board of Elections administrator, “Shame on you!”  I must also say that I hope action will be taken because of this clear violation of election law.

We have all gotten two mailings (so far) from a totally fictitious organization, “Union County’s Committee,” attacking Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp and urging voters to reject the Column C candidates for the Plainfield (and Union County) Democratic Committees.

There is no such group. It isn’t registered with the Election Law Enforcement Commission, and you can Google it to your heart’s content, but you won’t find it. One of the most interesting things about these mailings is that the return address (327 Trinity Place in Hillside) is a property belonging to two brothers who work for Union County. One of them is the “Administrator” of the County Board of Elections. That certainly raises the interesting question of conflict of interest, to say the least—he’s in charge of counting the absentee ballots (among other things) and tallying the returns from the polling places. Remember Bush v. Gore and the recounts in Florida during that presidential election?

As if that weren’t enough to raise our collective eyebrows, the mailings these guys have sent out accuse Plainfield’s mayor and the Democratic Committee candidates in Column C of urging people “to vote against the Democratic Party.” Now, I’m a lifelong Democrat, and my late husband, Joe, and I served on Plainfield’s Democratic Committee for many years—Joe passed away in 2012 and I didn’t run for re-election in 2013. But this year, I’m a candidate in Column C for a Democratic Committee seat; my running mate is John Stewart, and if you live in Ward 3, District 1 I hope you’ll vote for us on June 2.

I find these mailings from a non-existent group very disturbing—it’s a way of getting around New Jersey’s election laws, and there’s no information on who is paying for them. (If you’re interesting in doing some detective work you may be able to find out where the money is coming from—I certainly have my suspicions.) Last year during the primary campaign, our Democratic chair, Assemblyman Jerry Green, put out mailings accusing those running against the Council candidates he supported of being “Tea Party Democrats,” and I won’t be surprised if the same rhetoric is repeated this year. Assemblyman Green, by the way, also chairs the Union County Democratic Committee—which I suppose this year could be the source of support for the non-existent “Union County’s Committee.”

Draw your own conclusions—and be sure to vote in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, June 2!