Saturday, May 30, 2009

On our Responsibility to Plainfield

There is a maxim in the journalistic profession that teaches “it’s better to sin by omission than by commission.” As a public servant, it is probably safe for me to say that it’s better to sin by commission than by omission. As residents and as stakeholders, we must all commit to making Plainfield a better place; we must commit to eternal vigilance, greater participation, and to be keepers of our brothers and sisters; they are our neighbors and friends.

As residents and community-minded individuals, we have an obligation not only to ourselves and our families but to our community as well. We have a fiduciary duty to protect our city for the benefit of the next generation, who will be the heirs to an inheritance that can only flourish and grow if protected by leaders who are willing to be strong in the face of mounting pressures from forces of the City’s harsh economic realities.

Our leaders must be willing to put themselves on the line for the greater good and must never allow their personal self-interest to be elevated above the interest of the people. They must not allow forces of the prevailing winds to divide and conquer so that they appear compromised and neutralized. We must all work together.

As guardians of our fate, our duty is to hold all elected officials accountable and to the very highest standard of ethics, professionalism, and job performance. We must see to it that partnerships exist amongst all stakeholders within our community--the faith community, the Board of Education, and the block and neighborhood associations--in order to create a better Plainfield.

We must stand as one unified community without a need for uniformity, and we must be willing to disagree without being disagreeable. And, although this requires us to be defenders if and when necessary, and ebullient with praise when deserving, it also places on us a duty to be constructively critical of our leaders when warranted.

The failures of the current administration over the past three and a half years cannot be ignored; such failures should energize voters to go to the polls in droves on Tuesday June 2nd to vote for the change that is needed to move the city forward.

Many are they who would have you believe that cooperation has in its recipe the ingredients of uniformity, blind faith and allegiance to a political boss, a feeble desire to disagree, a weakened state of being, and no back bone.

I believe that a spirit of cooperation can be achieved without trading our morals and our values. Unity can exist without uniformity and for us to cooperate doesn’t mean that we must capitulate.

I have every confidence that we will work together for a better Plainfield, and that though a forward thrust might have been temporarily slowed by the failures of the current administration, our vision for our city will not be derailed and we will remain focused and on track.

I will always be “for the cause that needs assistance; against the wrongs that need resistance; for the future in the distance, and the good that I [we] can do.”

I urge you to come out next Tuesday and vote for me, Adrian Mapp, Rick Smiley, and the entire New Democratic team in column F, vote for change; vote for Plainfield’s future.

Regards,

Adrian O. Mapp
3rd Ward Councilman
President, New Democrats for Plainfield

Thursday, May 28, 2009

On Public Safety and Residents' Concerns

On Tuesday, May 26th, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs felt the need to call a press conference in a feeble attempt to refute the crime data reported in the Uniform Crime statistics by the Plainfield Police Department, data that clearly demonstrates an increase in crime of 12.4%. As I walk the streets of our city speaking with homeowners, many have expressed grave concerns about their personal safety as a result of the reported burglaries, home invasions, assaults, car break-ins, and car thefts as well as other crimes that affect their quality of life.

Yet, whenever the issue of crime comes up, the Mayor prides herself in disseminating misleading information that she ought to know is factually incorrect and statistically impossible. For example, she likes to claim that murders are down by 300%. The mayor should know that if she has 15 marbles and she loses all fifteen, she has lost 100 % and would not have any more marbles to lose. In other words, she would have lost all of her marbles.

Another piece of misleading information the mayor has disseminated is her claim that she hired more police officers since taking office on January 01, 2006. Not true!

Here are the FACTS, provided by her own cabinet members, City Administrator Marc Dashield and Police Director Martin Hellwig: when the mayor took office in 2006, there were 151 police officers in the Plainfield Police Department; 95 lived outside of Plainfield, and 56 lived in Plainfield. Today, in 2009, there are only 146 police officers on the force, a decrease of 5 officers since the mayor took office.

In 2004, the city council, of which I was a member, made cuts in the budgets of several departments in an effort to control costs and rising taxes so as to ease the burden on Plainfield’s taxpayers. At the time, the Plainfield Police Department had a duplicate medical prescription plan that was costing Plainfield tax payers $350,000 a year—this plan was not being used by its members. The previous administration and the council had tried, unsuccessfully, to convince the PBA to give up the duplicate prescription plan in an effort to save the jobs of some of its members. The refusal of the PBA leadership at the time to compromise and save the jobs of its own members resulted in the administration having to layoff 8 officers, bringing the number down to 151.

I have had numerous conversations with residents over the last six months regarding their quality of life concerns, and one thing that was made very clear to me is that people don’t feel safe. I intend to address this concern as Plainfield’s next mayor. Plainfield needs a new beginning; we cannot allow ourselves to be stuck in the past—we must move forward. I intend to live up to my promise, with support from the council, to bring the number of police officers up to 160. I will pay for these additional officers with the savings from retirements and attrition and the dollars made available in America’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into office by President Obama.

My hand will be open and I will reach out to the leadership of the Police Department and to its union to initiate dialogue and to create a partnership based on mutual respect. As we approach the end of this campaign season, I ask the voters of Plainfield to reject desperate last-minute attempts by the mayor and her supporters to skirt the truth. She has had a whole mayoral term to make good on her promises, and she has come up empty. She has shown that she lacks the capacity to do the math:

12.4 % crime increase
+ 20 % PMUA increase
- 5 police officers
+ 1 closed hospital while the mayor was on the board and said nothing
= a failed administration.

As President of the New Democrats for Plainfield, I am committed to continuing the New Democrats' legacy of ethical, honest leadership for Plainfield’s future. I ask you to give me the opportunity to carry out my vision for the city so that I can deliver the change that is needed. I will govern with an open mind, an open heart, and with care and compassion.

On June 2nd, remember to vote for me, Adrian Mapp, and the entire New Democrat team in column F. Vote for change—vote for Plainfield’s Future.

Regards, Adrian

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mapp for Mayor: Leadership for Plainfield's Future

video

Today, I am premiering my campaign video. I want to thank everyone whose time, talent, and dedication made it possible. I encourage you to share it with all of our friends and supporters.

The New Democrats for Plainfield continue a LEGACY of ETHICAL, HONEST LEADERSHIP in Plainfield. With your help, we can bring POSITIVE CHANGE to the Queen City on June 2.

VOTE COLUMN F.

Regards, Adrian

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Plainfield Senior Citizens: Friends and Family









We are blessed with a wonderful, active senior population here in Plainfield. I am committed to making sure that we provide for their lifestyle and security. These elders have much to teach us. While attending some recent public Plainfield-area events, I chatted with several friends who are on the ballot with Rick Smiley and me, running for the Plainfield Democratic City Committee with the New Democrats for Plainfield.
Pictured with Rick and me, you may recognize the following New Democrat City Committee Candidates: Dorothy Henry (Ward 2-District 7), Donald Van Blake (Ward 2-District 5), Leroy Canady (Ward 3-District 5) and Barbara Wallace (Ward 3-District 5).































The Road to Home Ownership: Live Where You Work Program

The “Live Where You Work Homebuyer Program” offers low-interest loan incentives to Plainfield municipal employees who wish to purchase their own homes.

Many of our city employees are renters—this program would offer them the opportunity to realize the dream of home ownership by encouraging them to buy in Plainfield. Our city is eligible to participate in this program—Elizabeth has already taken advantage of it. Without increasing our tax base, we are destined for more tax increases. That will eventually drive people away from our city. And that’s unacceptable.

Below is more information about the program from the New Jersey Housing and Finance Mortage Finance Agency. For a comprehensive overview, go to the following websites:

Call: 1-800-NJ HOUSE

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The program offers home buyers who will live and work in a Live Where You Work participating municipality a low-interest 30 or 40 -year fixed-rate first mortgage from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency together with Live Where You Work down payment assistance and/or closing costs in an amount equal to 5% of the first mortgage loan. Municipalities must be approved by the Agency to participate in the program. In consideration of the anticipated commuting costs savings, the underwriting guidelines for borrowers’ housing and overall debt ratios (the portion of a borrower’s gross income permitted to be paid toward monthly mortgage payment and other debts) will be expanded by 3% over the usual Agency underwriting limits giving borrowers significantly more buying power. Property location requirements apply.

Properties must be located in a participating Live Where You Work municipality. Eligible properties include one-family units, including condominiums, (new and existing), and existing 2- to 4-family unit properties that are more than 5 years old. Some Live Where You Work municipalities include Urban Target Areas. In Urban Target Areas eligible properties can also include new two-unit residential dwellings. Properties must be located in State designated Smart Growth locations. To determine if your proposed house is located in a Smart Growth area, visit www.njlocator.gov and choose “HMFA Program Eligibility”. Only properties located in approved Live Where You Work municipalities are eligible for the LWYW program benefits.

APPLICATIONS and PARTICIPATING MUNICIPALITIES: Applications for Live Where You Work loans can be made through any of the Agency’s participating Home Buyer Program lenders. The current list of lenders and Live Where You Work Participating Municipalities is available on www.livewhereyouwork.nj.gov or by calling 1 (800) NJ-HOUSE.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

On Real Economic Development for the 21st Century

I have published this post as well on my mayoral candidate blog. Working together with the city council, we can make my long-term vision for a stronger, healthier Plainfield community a reality. It can only be done through partnership with you, my fellow residents of Plainfield. Today, I will focus on economic development in the 21st Century.

I will create a plan for economic development that is not developer driven, and for the first time in this city’s history I will develop and implement an aggressive marketing plan using the mass media to enhance Plainfield’s image, making it more desirable to targeted investors who will want to make Plainfield a business destination.

But I will not focus solely on attracting new businesses; I want to retain the ones that are already here. I want to give them a reason to stay and to expand. So, I am proposing the creation of a Commercial Tax Abatement Program that will not alter the underlying assessment, yet will provide a very attractive incentive over a five-year period to encourage existing businesses to expand, thus creating jobs and expanding the city’s commercial tax base to enhance its tax revenues.

Transit Village Initiative
I strongly believe that the Transit Village initiative can be the lynchpin for downtown revitalization and consequently the revitalization of Plainfield. The Transit Village will allow us to increase the density of housing and businesses in areas already well-served by public transportation.

Couple this with a long-term initiative to encourage artists, crafts people, and small businesses to make use of the under-utilized loft-type structures already existing within the proximity of Plainfield’s downtown transit zone, and we have the makings of a critical mass of self-sustaining activities and development that will restore vitality to Plainfield’s downtown while at the same time providing the city with an ever-increasing tax base of new ratables.

Brownfields
I will initiate a new study of all Brownfield structures within the city, using grant funds, and establish a plan that rehabilitates and converts all of the Brownfield structures, mainly concentrated in the 4th Ward, into retail shopping outlets. I recognize that these are very challenging fiscal times for all municipalities, but I also believe that we as a community can and must take every step necessary to position Plainfield for success when the nation comes out of this difficult time.

The city should not, and I will not, place all of our eggs in one development basket. As a city, we must broaden our approach and our outreach. This I plan to do. I will focus as much of the city’s resources to rebuilding, improving and enhancing our infrastructure—our roads, IT network, and aging buildings, and I will aggressively seek and demand funding from the County, State and Federal governments to assist us in this effort.

Information Technology
Moving forward, I will work to modernize Information Technology (IT); it must be brought into the 21st century, it has to be made more efficient and citizen friendly. By automating the city records and putting them on-line, using wireless, the Web and GPS, we can make doing the city’s business, easier, faster, and less expensive for citizens, businesses and employees.

Renewables
By embracing renewables, Plainfield will be able to significantly reduce its carbon footprint. My colleague Cory Storch has long been an advocate for hybrid vehicles. Well, Cory, I’ve got a plan for you. My plan, where feasible, will be to migrate the city’s fleet of vehicles to hybrid gas and electric, all electric and biodiesel; install solar panels on city buildings; encourage citizens through the use of targeted initiatives to embrace renewables, thus reducing their carbon footprint. We can partner with the school system to make sure our kids learn the technology that will enable them to take advantage of the new jobs created in the renewable industry. This is a serious commitment, one that will ultimately drive down costs and result in more citizens embracing their environmental stewardship.

Regards,

Adrian

On Good Government and Ethical Leadership

Plainfield is blessed with having highly capable employees who are seriously interested and committed to moving the City forward through their daily efforts. However, due to the lack of leadership, they are not being heard. This has hurt the city tremendously, because it is the frontline employees who are often in the best position to identify cost savings and to suggest changes that can benefit the City.

As Mayor, my administration will utilize the employees of the City as partners in Government. My administration will empower the city employees to implement changes that are beneficial to the city and will create faster response times to addressing issues plaguing the city. My administration will not be the dictatorial form of government that is practiced by the current mayor in Plainfield today; my government will be inclusive of ALL people.

A strong and effective government is one that is built on CONSENSUS. Great leaders, from Abraham Lincoln to President Barack Obama, believed in the involvement of the ordinary citizen and worker towards the creation of a more sound and responsive government.

That is what Good leadership and good government looks like. That is what I will be as the Mayor. Real change can come to Plainfield, but it requires REAL leadership. I will provide that leadership with you as my partner, as my team member, and certainly as my check and balance.

Regards, Adrian

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On Crime and Public Safety: A Clarification

Captain El-Amin's comment on my previous post regarding the mayor's inaction on crime and public safety deserves clarification. It turns out that the very competitive COPS grant I referred to in an earlier post was applied for by the administration by the deadline, but without council knowledge or approval. This means that the administration failed once again in its fiduciary and legal responsibility to keep the governing body informed about all significant grants that will be applied for.

This instance highlights the continued failure of this mayor to communicate with the council except in a rushed, haphazard, and last-minute way. The governing body is supposed to approve grant applications before they are sent out—failure to communicate with us about this grant is par for the course of this administration, which clearly feels it does not have to be transparent and accountable to the people or the governing body of Plainfield.

The resolution the captain is referring to is a blanket resolution that I proposed—one that would enable the police to apply for significant grants through President Obama’s Stimulus Plan in a timely fashion without the city having to suffer from waiting until the last minute. The reason I proposed this resolution was to ensure that the administration would not wait until the last minute (as is their standard operating procedure) to file for certain grants.

It is the ethical responsibility of the mayor to fully and openly communicate with the governing body about all grants. To say that “The application was submitted on-line electronically by the deadline” WITHOUT council approval just highlights the lack of accountability on the part of the administration.

That said, our police force deserves the full support of the governing body, the administration, and our community. A Mapp administration would ensure that all grants are applied for and that the city council and the public remain informed about all crime fighting efforts in a timely fashion.


Regards,


Adrian

Friday, May 15, 2009

On Crime and Public Safety

This post is also published on my mayoral candidate blog. I felt, however, that it deserved posting here as well. The issue of crime in the 3rd Ward has not been publicly discussed by the current mayor at all--yet, I am hearing about it from the 3rd Ward residents, whose concerns for their children are not being addressed. Many of you have expressed frustration about the lack of communication from the mayor as well as outrage about her attempt to govern with "hugs" and "kisses," but no meaningful action.

Statistics produced by the Union County Prosecutor's Office just last month show that crime is UP 12.4% in Plainfield.* This is shameful, and speaks to the current administration's empty talk on crime and safety.

I know first-hand how crime affects us all. As I walk through the streets of Plainfield, listening to you, the voters, it is clear that the current administration under Sharon is deaf to your serious concerns about your own safety.

There is a misconception being perpetrated by my opponent that my goal is to reduce the police department. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is, we have less police on the force than 3 ½ years ago, when this mayor came into office. In addition, more losses were caused by the fact that the mayor had officers personally assigned to her for her use for 3 years—meaning even less officers available for crime-fighting!

As your mayor, I will fight crime like never before! My goal is to add additional police officers to city streets by bringing the complement of officers up to 160. I will use the savings that will result from attrition and retirements and funds available under President Obama’s Federal Stimulus program to accomplish this goal.

For example, up to $1 billion in funding from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was made available through the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) to address the personnel needs of state, local, and tribal law enforcement. The funding, through COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) goes directly to law enforcement agencies to create and preserve jobs and to increase community policing capacity and crime-prevention efforts through the hiring and rehiring of law enforcement officers. The grant would have provided 100 percent funding for salaries and benefits for 3 years for newly-hired, full-time sworn officer positions (including filling existing unfunded vacancies) or for rehired officers who have been laid off, or are scheduled to be laid off on a future date, as a result of local budget cuts.

Unfortunately, the current administration dropped the ball and did not apply for this competitive grant; the deadline, April 14, 2009, has passed! This is truly unfortunate, because there was no local matching fund requirement, meaning no additional tax burden on you, the taxpayer. In addition, no cap was placed on the number of positions we could have requested for funding!

Under a Mapp administration, we will apply for ALL available funding to increase safety and improve crime prevention! We will make sure that every dollar allocated for crime fighting is spent on crime fighting. Working with our police, we must tackle drug dealing, assaults, home invasions, car break-ins, and all other criminal activity. We must be vigilant.

We’ve had enough empty talk from the current administration about crime. We will not drop the ball and ignore the needs of our residents as the current mayor has done. We will not place our heads in the sand. Under Sharon, crime has steadily increased.

It’s time for action! It’s time for change!


*Source: Star-Ledger, 4/21/09 “New statistics show crime surge in Union County last year”: In Plainfield, second in the county to Elizabeth in total number of crimes...crime rose 12.4% percent.” Statistics provided by the Uniform Police Report to the Union County Prosecutor's Office.