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.