The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"A Proper Sense of Priorities" in Plainfield

On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular

But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right. --Martin Luther King, Jr.

As we commemorate the forty-third anniversary of the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Jan. 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968), I thought that it might be a good idea to have a thoughtful examination of how we might want to respond to the future of our wonderful city amidst the tumult of the past several weeks. 

I have been reflecting on what Plainfield residents have expressed to me, via email and in conversation, about how we, as a city, can come together to do what is in the best interest of us all. I have sat on the council alongside my colleagues for three months now, listening to your concerns and suggestions, offering my input, and voting as my conscience tells me. 

It is not easy to sit and hear epithets, accusations, suspicions, and personal attacks being tossed about--especially, at the last council meeting, in the presence of our young people--what must they think of those who claim to have their best interests at heart and yet cannot seem to carry out a civil discourse with those with whom they disagree? The degree of acrimony has been quite troubling, and that it seems to continually be encouraged by those with a self-interested agenda makes it even more unconscionable. 

The role of the legislative body, as I view it, is to serve as part of the checks and balances of our local government--not to defend entities, enable favoritism, protect nepotistic hires, or turn a blind eye to mediocrity, incompetence, and ineffectiveness. We have a very difficult year ahead of us, and we cannot allow our residents to suffer with ever-higher taxes, wasteful spending, willful mismanagement, and declining municipal services. We must think about how our actions, votes, and public statements either maintain the status quo (which clearly isn't working), or how they may be able to help us take a giant leap forward as a city. 

A little over a year ago, I reprinted a portion of a speech delivered by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., two months before he was assassinated--the original context was his opposition to the undeclared war in Vietnam. Given the tenor and tone of the current public discourse in our city, I thought it would be good to consider Dr. King's words once again.

All best,

Click below for the link to the whole speech:


  1. Their ( 1 Executive Branch and 3 Legislative Branch ) behavior in front of the children of Plainfield is troubling. It won't change though. Because they see nothing wrong it.
    They see you, in your attempt to show accountability, responsibility and good governance as the problem, not the solution. Sad, but true. People speak of compromise. The only compromise those people are interested in are you, and your principles. God Bless you for keeping your tongue regarding the immature childish behavior of those people, but that's exactly how they want it.
    Dr. King is def. a good thought to brighten a gray day.

  2. Thanks, Rob--I know that there is a thin line between being righteously principled and merely self-righteous, but I don't always succeed. Like the rest of us, I have my moments--my friends can tell you--lol--but I think that it does not serve the public interest to engage in theatrics and/or histrionics to prove a point. It's not who screams the loudest, in my view. I think that the city council and the mayor as well as the adults who come before the mic at the meetings ought to be role models. I have fellow professors as well as students from my school who live in Plainfield and who watch the proceedings on our public access channels. I think we should all be called out when we forget that we are public servants and should behave as such. Hold me accountable.


  3. To "True American Patriot,"

    I will NOT be publicizing your blog with its anonymous accusations. This incident has not been brought to my attention in any official way. I don't know what you expect me to do about this. You do not even identify yourself and yet expect me to promote this perceived injustice.

    Given how long you have been railing against this individual, who is NOT, as you seem to think, a friend of mine, it seems to me that there is some sort of personal vendetta.

    Further, that you are actually trolling Facebook to try to suggest some untoward or unholy alliance between us is downright invasive and "stalkerish," in my opinion.

    I will not be addressing this again, so please save yourself the trouble of posting comments on this topic on my blog. I will simply delete them.

    I will, of course, publish any commentary you may want to make in response to my blog posts on issues affecting our city.


  4. are hardly the problem. You in fact are a role model as are Annie, Adrian and Cory. The theatrics were hardly brought into the public view by some "unknown" pot stirrer or wayward drifter making his way through town.
    The problem starts with what a professional will or won't allow from their staff. The Mayor has shown us what she allows and will defend from one of her boys.