The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mayor Misuses City Resources Once Again


The mayor has put a press release about a PERSONAL lawsuit on the city's website, attempting to cast herself as an innocent victim of a baleful city council. This strikes me as highly inappropriate. I have written to the city to demand that it be removed as soon as possible, as it has nothing to do with the business of the city, is incomplete and error-ridden, and delves into her political vendetta against the city council. It simply should not be there. 

For the mayor to direct the Media Division to place her personal press releases on a city website and, further, to direct the city's Public Information Officer Terry West to write these cheap political press releases on her behalf (while on city time!) is an equally inappropriate use of taxpayer funds. What part of the job as PIO allows him to spend staff time writing politically-charged press releases about a PERSONAL lawsuit?? 

It is unethical and inappropriate. This misuse of staff is part of what instituted the WBLS investigation in the first place. I am hopeful that the city administrator and the acting corporation counsel will see this press release for what it is--a ridiculous obfuscation of the truth and inappropriate use of city resources--and compel the Media Division to immediately remove this political nonsense from the City of Plainfield website.


Below is a response I prepared regarding the mayor's personal press release:

As usual, the mayor’s repeated public comments regarding her violations of the law regarding the “WBLS event” are wrong on the facts and her erroneous “press release” is most notable for what it left out. What the mayor is crowing about is the judge not granting the council’s motion to dismiss and allowing her case to go forward.

The mayor has consistently referred to the lawsuit she instituted against the city council as an “appeal,” which demonstrates a basic lack of legal understanding—especially since she states that she has been previously employed as a paralegal. 

The fact of the matter is that the mayor broke state laws and misused taxpayer funds. Although she states that her intentions were “good,” she broke the law, period. The cost of this entire episode was instigated by the mayor's refusal to be forthcoming about the misuse of public money, which is indeed a violation of state law, per the county prosecutor. 

When someone uses as a defense the statement that his or her illegal actions were not found to be "criminal or indictable" (as the mayor stated at the June 18 council meeting), one has to assume that he or she has willfully decided to place him or herself above the law that the rest of us have to adhere to. In addition, the mayor notes “The Union County Prosecutors [sic] Office found nothing criminal in my effort to establish a gang truce that ultimately saved lives.”

Here is a classic “straw man” argument. At no time did anyone (neither the council nor the prosecutor’s office) suggest criminal behavior with regard to the so-called “gang truce” that the mayor refers to in her press release, which occurred months after the WBLS event. It is unconscionable that the mayor would imply such a thing, and serves as another example of her refusal to admit wrongdoing.

What the prosecutor actually wrote (in his March 29, 2012 response) was: “The allegations appear to be of an administrative or contract law violation…” (italics mine). The prosecutor also notes that he would “…be happy to revisit this investigation should new facts come to light.” 

In another “straw man” move, the mayor writes, “I hope in the future, [sic] the City Council will afford me the opportunity to be heard on matters of public importance….” The mayor has always had the opportunity to speak on matters of public importance—she holds press conferences, send out press releases, and can call a meeting whenever she wants. To suggest that the council has anything to do with the mayor’s refusal to speak publicly on what she terms “matters of public importance” is untrue, and to state this untruth in a public forum is irresponsible.

As the case will now move ahead, the council looks forward to having this matter successfully resolved in its favor.

All best,

Rebecca

P.S. All things being equal, if press releases regarding personal lawsuits on municipal websites are appropriate, it stands to reason that the governing body may submit a press release of its own to be placed on the city website as well! Of course, I am being facetious here, as I would find this equally unethical and inappropriate.