Wednesday, December 31, 2008
First, let me begin by thanking the Almighty Creator, through whom all things are possible and to whom I owe everything; second, let me thank the people of Plainfield for the trust, confidence and faith they have in me by returning me to this august body to do their will. Also, so that I may return safely into the household of the most important ladies in my life, I must thank my lovely wife, Amelia, and our beautiful daughters, Shermona and Ayisha, for standing by my side each and every step of this journey.
Also, I would be remiss if I did not express the joy I felt at being on the same ballot as new At-Large Councilwoman Annie McWilliams, the daughter of my late friend and former mayor, Albert T. McWilliams, and our President, Barack Obama.
When I decided in the spring of 2008 to run for the office of councilman of the 3rd Ward, it was at the urging of people who felt that I had a contribution to make to this city that we all love so much. Having served on the council previously and believing in the call to service, I felt compelled to answer the call.
For the next two months, along with my campaign team and a dedicated group of volunteers, I knocked on most of the doors of 3rd Ward residents and spoke with many of our citizens, most of whom voiced concerns about our city. Those concerns focused on quality of life issues, the terrible condition of our roads, ever increasing property taxes, and the apparent lack of transparency and accountability in government.
It is clear to me that we, as elected officials, cannot continue the same patterns of behavior and expect different results. We must be creative in our approaches and we must seek out innovative solutions to the challenges we face. All elected officials must be willing to make sacrifices and must be comfortable making the hard but necessary choices so that our government can be more efficient and cost effective. We as leaders must lead, and we must do so by example; we must be agents of transformational change.
I therefore propose the following:
1) I will decline all health benefits coverage from the city, for an annual savings to the city of $14,500; furthermore, I will not be accepting the opt-out cash payment. I encourage my colleagues to give this some consideration.
2) We must be professional and fair-minded in all that we do, and must work to restore confidence in local government through strong fiscal management that will lead to the elimination of waste and the creation of opportunities. To that end, let us incentivize existing businesses through the creation of legislation that will encourage them to expand their operations in the city, thereby creating additional jobs and expanding our commercial tax base.
These are but a few of the ideas that I would like this governing body to consider over the course of our next 100 days.
The time for us to act is now, the cause for which we must act is fair and just, and the reason for us to act is dollars and sense. We have a great opportunity to bring transformational change to the city of Plainfield, and we must embrace it. We must all tighten our belts and share in the fiscal sacrifices necessitated by today's harsh economic realities with prudent austerity measures.
In closing, let me leave you with this final thought. Just about five miles down the road south of us, the great Thomas Edison once remarked, “opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Well, my fellow residents, it's time to tighten the straps of our collective overalls--opportunity awaits!
Thank you and may God bless you in this new year and always.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Oftentimes, governmental entities and non-profit organizations, e.g., hospitals and churches, seem to take the view that any property they own is exempt from taxes. Municipalities have for years given into this unlawful ownership theory, thus foregoing tax revenues to which the municipalities may be entitled. But one of the things made very clear in the seminar titled “Property tax exemption in New Jersey, issues and answers,” is the fact that tax exemption is not based on ownership but is based on use. So, properties owned by non-profits, school districts, and other governmental entities can be taxed depending on the uses to which they are put. There are four basic theories that determine whether or not a property is exempt from taxation, regardless of ownership: 1) Tax Base Theory, 2) Benefit Theory, 3) Sovereign Theory and 4) Community Theory.*
This seminar also touched on the different types of programs and incentives municipalities can use in an effort to spur economic development, i.e., Redevelopment Area Bonds or "RABs" (also known as Tax Increment Financing or "TIF"), Redevelopment Allocation Districts, and five-year tax abatements, an incentive program I discussed during my recent campaign for the city council.
Another seminar of note was the one sponsored by the State Comptroller that dealt with the need for Accountability, Transparency and Efficiency in government. This topic was one of the themes of my recent campaign. Matthew Boxer, the State Comptroller, is proposing that municipalities rotate auditing firms every 10 years. His office is currently working on developing a template that municipalities would be required to use in soliciting quotes for auditing firms. I asked the Comptroller if his office had any plans to try and identify those responsible for the disappearance of billions of dollars in school construction funds. He responding by saying that his office was looking forward, not backward, and that it would be up to the State Attorney General’s office to pursue the matter of the disappearance of school construction dollars. Given the recent court ruling regarding the Abbott funding formula, I believe it is imperative that the AG follow up on this.
All in all, the convention was very informative and packed with several interesting seminars. It was a worthwhile learning experience.
*NOTE: I will discuss these theories and how they impact the municipalities I serve in more detail in a future post.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I, too, would like to thank everyone who participated in the marathon effort to keep Muhlenberg operating as a full service hospital. Although the outcome wasn’t what had been hoped for, the efforts of the thousands of people who dedicated themselves to the cause must never be forgotten.
So, on this Thanksgiving day, let’s all pause and give thanks to Muhlenberg for its 130 years of dedicated service to Plainfield and its neighboring communities; let us give a special thanks to all of the ministers who led the battle cry for social justice, and let us thank everyone who participated in the struggle to keep Muhlenberg alive.
Finally, let us say a special prayer for President-elect Barack Obama, who has made universal healthcare one of his top priorities.
And, may we all have a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving Day!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I will always treasure the fact that I was on the ballot with the man who will become the 44th President of the greatest nation on the face of the earth. I want to thank each and every one of you for your vote of confidence and for the opportunity to serve our great city yet again.
I ask you to join me as we embark on this journey to bring transformational change to every level of government in the city of Plainfield. Together we will work to provide leadership, services, hope and opportunity to all of our residents and to restore respect and confidence to the halls of city government. I am exited about the opportunity for us to come together to turn our city around.
I thank you for your support this past Tuesday and for the support you will provide in the future. Transformational change is what we need and transformational change is my vision for Plainfield. Let’s move forward together.
Monday, November 3, 2008
This is reminiscent of a similar occurrence in the recent June primary. During the primary, we received calls at our headquarters from 3rd Ward voters asking whether there was a deliberate attempt by the Union County Clerk to confuse voters in the 3rd Ward by placing my name in the same column as one of my opponents, something that, until then, was unheard of in primary elections. My name, along with Olive Lynch's, was placed in Column E, making it appear as if she and I were running on the same slate.
Many of you called our campaign office last spring with questions as to why this unprecedented and confusing ballot was prepared. The answer from Ms. Rajoppi was that there was not enough room on the ballot. Please note that the current ballot has many more columns than the primary. Let us be vigilant to make sure that this strange and unprecedented inconsistency does not emerge on future Plainfield ballots.
Fortunately, however, voters in Plainfield were (and are) far too smart and sophisticated about the ballot process. The Secretary of State, Nina Mitchell Wells, the official in charge of elections in the state of New Jersey, has herself stated, “Go to the polls with the utmost confidence that your vote will be counted.”
Plainfielders as well as all other Union County residents should rest assured with the knowledge that the Secretary of State will be called in to monitor any future ballot inconsistencies.
So, please note, 3rd Ward voters: my name is the last name on the ballot in column A, so please cast your vote for me as your 3rd ward councilman. Let local leaders know that you cannot be fooled or misled.
In the 3rd Ward, the local Democratic candidates running with Barack Obama and Joseph Biden (1A) are:
Annie C. McWilliams 8A
Adrian Mapp 9A
Polls are open from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm!
Friday, October 31, 2008
Today we stand on the precipice of history, looking at a brand new day that will dawn at the advent of 2009. That new day will begin to dawn at the rising of the sun on the morning of November 5th – we hold it in our hands. That means that we have an obligation to ourselves, to our children, and to the generations unborn to vote for transformational change; change that will bring healthcare to the 47 million who are currently without it, create jobs for those who don’t have them, revive our faltering economy, and restore our standing in the world. If this is to be, we must turn out in droves on this coming Tuesday, November 4th to vote for the next president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.
Take nothing for granted, don’t be swayed by the polls, and don’t be lulled into a state of complacency that might lead you to believe that your one vote doesn’t matter. Your vote does matter, and it will make the difference between the setting of the sun on the broken promises of yesterday and the rising of the sun of tomorrow in the person of Barack Obama to shepherd us through the perilous waters to get us back on solid ground.
We are now down to the wire; let’s volunteer during these last few days to get the vote out in those key states that are critical to Obama’s success.
Together let’s change America; let’s vote early on Tuesday and avoid the late afternoon/evening rush. Vote for change--vote for Barack Obama!
Friday, October 24, 2008
City Administrator Marc Dashield knows that the auditor is not responsible for preparing the budget; he knows that that responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the Chief Financial Officer. After the CFO prepares the budget, it supposed to be reviewed by the Director of Finance and then the City Administrator in consultation with the Mayor.
Was the $1.6 million error a deliberate attempt to understate the true amount of the mayor’s tax increase, given that she is already campaigning for re-election? Or was this just another in a series of financial blunders that have been evident since this administration took office? Or was this yet another attempt at deception? What ever the real motive might have been, what is crystal clear is that Mayor Robinson-Briggs and members of her administration do not know how to take responsibility for their actions. We all make mistakes on a daily basis; therefore, it is crucial for there to be checks and balances which allow us to catch our mistakes and correct them.
Thus far, we have yet to hear from the mayor, which leaves us to wonder whether she understands the potential impact of this blunder on tax payers or even if she really cares. I subscribe to the “buck stops here” philosophy of management. One should always refrain from blaming others—one should instead take responsibility for ones actions or inaction.
So, to the mayor, I say, come forward and set the record straight, speak the truth to the tax payers and take full responsibility for the failings of your administration! After all, the buck stops with you.
Friday, October 3, 2008
I feel that it is my duty as a man to speak to those among my brothers who would abuse women. I want to take this opportunity to appeal to all men who have been abusive to women:
Think about what you are doing. Think about the example you are setting for the generation of young men who would emulate you. By your actions, you are telling these young men that it is all right to abuse the women and girls in their lives. The vicious cyle must end, and it must end with you.
Women are our mothers, our daughters, aunts, and nieces; they carry us and nurture us. They are at the core and center of our being, the givers and sustainers of our lives. They deserve to be loved, honored, and respected.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Barack Obama sees an America with universal healthcare—where all citizens are treated with dignity and worth; John McCain sees a healthcare system that is based on an individual’s ability to pay—if you can’t pay, you can’t have equal access to healthcare.
Joseph Biden sees the disingenuousness of Sarah Palin’s moral compass; Sarah Palin sees eye to eye with the hypocrisy of the right-wing conservatives on the issue of moral values.
Obama sees a timetable for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and a war that has diverted billions of tax dollars from states and local municipalities; McCain sees the surge expanding from Iraq to Afghanistan.
Joe Biden sees women having dominion over their bodies and the right to choose; Palin sees a need to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Obama sees an economy in crisis as a result of subprime “Russian roulette” under Republican leadership; McCain sees the fundamentals of the economy as “strong” in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Joe Biden sees problems with the righteous indignation of Vice Presidential candidates when put to the test of leadership. Sarah Palin sees righteousness in her holier-than-thou attitude on social issues in the face of her own moral and ethical lapses.
Barack Obama sees a debate on the issues as an opportunity to demonstrate to the American people his readiness to become commander-in-chief at a time of grave economic crisis; John McCain sees multitasking as a painful inconvenience to the presidency, and views fleeing from a presidential debate as the single most effective way to respond to America’s economic woes.
Joe Biden sees Dr. King’s dream and John F. Kennedy’s vision being realized in the person of Barack Obama, who has the White House within his reach; Sarah Palin sees Russia from her house.
Barack Obama sees choosing McCain as a return to the failed policies of George W. Bush and asks why; Obama sees himself as the change that America needs and says “Yes, We Can!” John McCain sees business as usual and four more years of the George Bush presidency under his leadership as “change.”
I see an America taking its place as the respected leader of the free world under the leadership of a qualified visionary who will deliver the change that America needs;
I see Barack Obama as the next president of the United States of America.
What do you see?
Monday, September 22, 2008
As over 47 million Americans are currently without any form of health insurance, the issue of healthcare has become a very major one for both presidential candidates.
The Obama Plan for universal healthcare would guarantee that all Americans would be covered by the end of his first term in office. It would provide all Americans with access to the same type of healthcare benefits currently enjoyed by members of Congress. It would allow for the treatment of all essential services such as preventative medicine, maternity care and disease management. Individuals who can’t afford the premiums would be given federal subsidies to make the premiums affordable.
On the other hand, the McCain Health Plan doesn't stand up to the light of reason, given the rising costs of health care in the United States. Under the McCain Plan, Americans have to shop for health insurance with their own money and would receive a tax rebate of $2,500 per individual and $5,000 per family. Under the McCain Plan, employers would no longer get a tax deduction for providing health insurance to their employees. Simply put, the McCain Plan would give employers an excuse not to provide health benefits to their employees because the tax incentive to do so would be taken away.
The Obama Healthcare Plan would do the following:
Reduce the cost for businesses
Reduce costs by improving the quality of care that patients will receive
Eligibility would be guaranteed
There will be comprehensive benefits similar to the benefits received by members of Congress
Co-pays, deductibles, and premiums would be more affordable
Enrollment would be made easy
Paper work would be simplified and health costs reined in
Healthcare plans would become portable, meaning that employees would be able to move a plan from one job to another without interruption of coverage
Large employers would be required to cover their employees or pay a fine
No one will be turned away for pre-existing conditions
All Americans would be covered
It is my view that the McCain plan would do nothing to solve America’s healthcare crisis; it would encourage more employers to drop healthcare coverage for their employees and would lead to a swelling of the ranks of the uninsured.
The Obama Plan offers hope for the uninsured; it would shift the charity care burden away from healthcare institutions like Muhlenberg to the federal government and would allow for better delivery of healthcare to urban communities.
The Obama plan has my vote.
Friday, September 19, 2008
During the next six weeks, I will again be walking the districts throughout the 3rd Ward in the hopes of catching up with those of you who were not at home when I visited back in the spring. I am also looking forward to revisiting some of the issues I discussed with many of you who welcomed me then; I look forward to continuing the dialogue we started. I want to hear from you first-hand, and I want to give you the opportunity to question me on the concerns you feel are of greatest importance to Plainfield right now.
I want to continue to partner with you as we work together to bring about change on the local and national levels. I want you to join me in working to get Barack Obama elected as the next president of the United States. This is an opportunity for us to stand together, united as one for change. I encourage you to visit this blog on a frequent basis to become more familiar with my position on the issues facing the city, Union County, the state of New Jersey, and the nation. I welcome your feedback.
Watch for me as I travel throughout the 3rd Ward in the coming weeks; I’ll be watching for you!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Recently, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs held a community forum during which she announced that her administration will be organizing bus tours for local realtors and interested outside investors to preview Plainfield’s foreclosed properties. Although this might seem like a good idea to some, it is not the answer to the crisis homeowners are facing. Families are interested in finding ways to protect their biggest investment; they want to stay in their homes and remain a part of our diverse community.
Instead of conducting bus tours for realtors to look at foreclosed properties, thus compunding misery with indignity, the mayor and council need to organize homeownership retention seminars to provide struggling homeowners with every available resource that could help them to survive the mortgage crisis.
These seminars must be run by thoroughly vetted organizations approved by the government so that desperate homeowners do not fall victim to predatory lending scams. I call upon Mayor Robinson-Briggs and the city council to reach out to local banks as well as our local real estate brokers for sponsorship of such seminars. These seminars can occur over the next six months, providing information and opportunities for struggling homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes to find solutions before it becomes too late.
So, to the mayor, I say: hold off on those bus tours of foreclosed properties! Let’s work together to bring homeownership retention seminars to struggling Plainfield homeowners. This is the kind of assistance homeowners need in these very harsh economic times.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Let me just say this to my Plainfield neighbors and to all Americans: no amount of palin’ can insulate John McCain from the failed policies of the Bush administration. No amount of palin’ can protect John McCain from the fact that he has embraced these misguided policies, and no amount of palin’ can keep Barack Obama out of the White House.
This election is about who is best suited to lead this nation at this time and who is most committed to bringing about the change that America needs; it is not an election about race and it certainly is not one about gender.
This election is about who is committed to investing in renewable sources of energy to help reduce our reliance on foreign oil while protecting our environment; it is not about who best advances the interests of big oil by allowing big oil to drill in the Arctic.
This election is about who can best fight for all Americans by pursuing a foreign policy agenda that can most adequately protect our nation while reducing the threat of another war in the Persian Gulf; it is not about who has fought in wars for this country.
Our next president must spend less on fighting wars abroad and must commit more federal dollars to local municipalities to more effectively fight the war against crime and the epidemic of illegal drugs in our neighborhoods.
Our next president must commit to a system of universal healthcare to provide adequate affordable healthcare to every American, a system that would ensure the continued viability of healthcare institutions like Muhlenberg Hospital.
I urge all Plainfielders to vote for change on November 4th.
- Vote to restore the health of the nation’s economy.
- Vote for healthcare for the 45 million Americans who are currently without any form of healthcare.
- Vote to put more teachers in the nation’s classrooms so that the notion of “no child left behind” can become a reality rather than just an empty phrase.
Vote for Barack Obama to become the next president of this, the greatest nation on earth.
Monday, September 8, 2008
As one walks around the city, one cannot help but notice the terrible shape of most of the streets and the hazardous conditions that pedestrians and drivers encounter on a daily basis as they try to maneuver around the many bumps and pot holes. This is a situation that cries out for attention and leadership on the part of the Robinson-Briggs administration. The section of roadway on West 8th Street by the Plainfield Public Library is a classic example of what happens when infrastructural needs are neglected.
As president of the council in 2004, I worked with the former administration and council to pass Bond Ordinance 1236, which funded the repaving of 22 city streets between 2004 and 2005. This was the beginning of what was to be an annual resurfacing program. Sadly, this repaving program has been largely ignored for the past three years.
It is crucially important for the administration and council to give priority to fixing the city’s broken streets. Additionally, the city must hold New Jersey American Water responsible for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage caused by the many utility cuts necessitated by the current enhancements to the water lines throughout the city. I encourage the mayor and council to have immediate discussions with New Jersey American Water to ensure that the damage caused to city streets by its ongoing project is corrected to the infra-red patching standards required by city ordinance. I hope that New Jersey American has made all of the appropriate escrow deposits for the many cuts it has made to city streets. This utility company must be held accountable and Plainfield tax payers must be spared the cost of restoration.
The mayor and council must get the road resurfacing program back on track immediately, and must commit to an annual program. Such a commitment should not be made conveniently once every four years event in preparation for an election. It must be a genuine ongoing commitment.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
What would Al say about the state of affairs in Plainfield today? What would he say about the closing of Muhlenberg hospital and the failure of political leaders who stood by and watched as the state pulled the life support and transplanted the organs of this 131-year old patient into another patient, who shared responsibility for its asphyxiation? What would Al say about the city’s stalled economic development? What would he say about the current state of stagnation and about the lost promise? Al, like so many other Plainfield residents, would be appalled, I think. He would be heartbroken to see his vision for a Plainfield that is thriving and respected by all become a city crying out for leadership.
Al was a leader who always got in front; he knew he could not stand aside in a fog pretending to be leading. He, like all good leaders, knew that leadership occurred from the front. A case in point was his vision for a Medical Enterprise Zone along the Park Avenue corridor and his support for the demonstration project that had promised an infusion of over $100 million in state funds to the Muhlenberg campus. The Medical Enterprise Zone was his brainchild, and he was an ardent champion for the Demonstration Project. To the astonishment of many, Al’s dream for a Medical Enterprise Zone was abandoned by his successor and, unfortunately, Plainfield lacked the political muscle at the state level required to deliver the demonstration project. This has resulted in what could now be described as a catastrophic failure, which has led the closing of Muhlenberg.
As mayor, Al McWilliams would have taken the bull by its horns; he would have mobilized the community from the very onset of trouble (not at the eleventh hour), to put pressure on the state and our legislative representatives. He would have met with other influential state legislators to get their buy-in and to seek their sponsorship of legislation in an attempt to save Muhlenberg. Al would have exhausted every avenue; he would have turned over every stone and his actions would have been transparent to the people of Plainfield. He would have apprised the community of his efforts and he never would have left them guessing as to where he stood on this issue. Al would never have buried his head in the sand for two years and pretended not to have known of Muhlenberg’s problems.
Plainfield was the city that Al McWilliams loved; during his two terms as mayor, he brought it back from the valley of despair to the pinnacle of hope. He jump-started its economic revival with the Park-Madison building, which was to serve as a downtown anchor, complemented by the redevelopment of the former Tepper’s department store building into a thriving mixed-use facility. He transformed the appearance of the central business district.
Al developed more than just our downtown, however. He developed people and gave them opportunities to use their talents in the service of Plainfield without demanding their souls in exchange for his support. This was the measure of the man whom we lost much too soon.
Happy 55th birthday to you, my dear friend, Albert T. McWilliams.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The fall campaign will be getting underway in just a couple of weeks. I will be working with the rest of the local Democratic ticket (AnnieMcWilliams--At-Large; William Reid--1st Ward) to get Senator Obama elected. As we get the campaign rolling, you will be able to check in with me for the latest news and events. I will provide information on how you can offer your time, talent, and treasure to help us restore transparency, honesty, and trust to the Queen City!
To paraphrase Obama, we believe in our ability to bring positive change to our great city--we also believe in yours!
Best regards, Adrian
Best regards, Adrian