The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Friday, March 30, 2012

Deflection and Ignorance

Below is an editorial which appeared in the Friday, March 30, 2012 edition of the Star-Ledger. I am glad that the paper correctly points out that I have a constitutional right to not pledge to symbols, such as flags, if they violate my beliefs. Many residents who come to meetings (even some who support the mayor) do not pledge the flag or pray. Again, this entire issue is a deflection from the true issues facing our city, such as the out-of-control PMUA rates, the Muhlenberg RMC development proposal, the foreclosure problems, and issues of crime. For the mayor to publicly ridicule my rights as a citizen--as well as the rights of other Plainfielders who do not salute or publicly pray--clearly demonstrates her willful ignorance of the Constitution that she is supposed to uphold. As I mentioned in a previous post, Mr. Toliver, a veteran, has said that he will publicly apologize for his intemperate remarks about me at our next meeting, scheduled for April 9. I look forward to hearing from him.

Plainfield mayor's meaningless fight over flag, prayer ignores city's real problems

Published: Friday, March 30, 2012, 7:04 AM 
Plainfield has problems. Over the past year, the news out of the Union County town has not been good: gang activity, armed robbery, people shot at randomly in the streets and domestic violence involving a machete. A uniformed police officer recently was viciously beaten in the middle of the day by a man wanted on outstanding warrants. Look up from the police blotter and you’ll find another area of hand-wringing concern: About 12 percent of Plainfield’s population is living below the poverty level. At least five soup kitchens operate in the city.

So where is Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs focusing her energy? The flag. And prayer. The mayor is upset that council president Rebecca Williams doesn’t salute the flag or pray at government meetings.
For Robinson-Briggs to be focusing her concerns on this non-issue defies belief. Williams stands for the Pledge of Allegiance and the prayer, but says her religious beliefs forbid her to salute any flag. And praying at public meetings offends her belief in the separation of church and state. Williams isn’t breaking any laws and isn’t hogging council time trying to win people over to her point of view on these sensitive issues. She’s simply obeying her conscience and respecting her colleagues’ differing viewpoints by standing with them. That’s commendable.

Robinson-Briggs’ actions are considerably less so. Her constituents shouldn’t be fooled. Plainfield’s problems have nothing to do with whether one council member salutes the flag or prays with others. And the city’s solutions require leadership, not meaningless distractions.


  1. As a purple heart veteran of WWII I agree with you that saluting the flag could be considered paying reverence to an Idol. It is truly a frivolous exercise that has little meaning at a meeting at the level of a municipal council. It does not assure allegiance to this nation.

    Likewise I agree with your objection to the prayer as being contrary to the separation of church and state. As long as it is nonsectarian that objection could be considered mute however I will contend that it has no place at a civic event.

  2. You're right, Rebecca. Shady Sharonda is trying to cover her of poor performance when we know that she doesn't care about the issues she brings up, and she is taking away from the serious problems you highlight in your response. Keep up the good work and you will always have our support.