This is campaign season in Plainfield, and the red herring (known as the North Avenue pipes) is beginning to dart across the trail so as to create a diversion from the real issues and financial challenges facing the City. These are issues such as:
- unauthorized expenditures;
- the squandering of $460,000 federal dollars on the partial sheet rocking of the Tepper's basement;
- the waste of city funds and grant dollars on the construction of a bathroom that is a little bigger than a 6’ x 12’ shed at a cost of over $220,000 in Bryant Park on East 6th Street;
- the complete breakdown of controls in the purchasing division;
- the refusal of the mayor to allow the CFO to meet with the Finance and Administration Committee;
- the refusal by the Mayor to allow any department head to attend the Council’s ward meetings; the doling out of city funds to non-profit organizations in violations of Article VIII, 3,2 of the new State Constitution;
- the refusal to put the budget documents online;
- the failure to cooperate and to collaborate with the council on an early start to the budget process;
- the failure to negotiate with the collective bargaining units, and the list goes on and on.
Meanwhile costs continue to escalate. These are some of the many issues the council has been wrestling with, and we have been making good faith efforts to meet with the Administration to address them. However, we have been stymied by a wall of frustration erected by the Mayor (now "acting" as the city administrator).
Now, back to the red herring known as the North Avenue pipes: sadly, one very important point being missed in the discussion about the North Avenue pipes is the tremendous benefits the residents on North Avenue as well as other residents in the surrounding neighborhoods have derived from that great project. The flooding that once plagued that neighborhood has all but disappeared as a result of that well thought-out and designed project. I am happy to have been one of the councilors who supported the McWilliams administration on that project. All elected officials who supported it have a great deal to be proud of, and I am sure that Mr. Muhammad who lives on North Avenue can attest to the benefits that he as a homeowner has derived.
If only the current Administration would get busy working with FEMA to redraw the flood maps, the residents of the First Ward would be able to get the financial relief they seek. They deserve to realize a drastic reduction in the flood insurance premiums they currently pay. As a matter of fact, many of the residents in the First Ward could make a very strong case for the elimination of flood insurance all together, all as a result of the North Avenue road reconstruction and flood remediation project, a project that was conceived in the minds of individuals who wanted nothing but the best for the residents of the First Ward. It is shameful that some would allow the trees to blind them, causing them to lose sight of the beauty that is the forest.
The North Avenue road reconstruction and flood remediation project should be seen for what it is: a success story that needs to be replicated, not one to be criticized for the purpose of scoring cheap political points.