In my American Literature I course last week, we talked about the meaning of corruption in one of the texts we discussed--Puritan minister Cotton Mather's "Trial of Martha Carrier." The use of the word in that text was in its literal sense of pus breaking forth: "...he was taken with a swelling in his Foot, and then with a pain in his side, and exceedingly Tormented. It bred into a sore, which was Lanced by Doctor Prescot, and several Gallons of Corruption ran out of it."
That literal meaning is obsolete now, but I always think of it when I read of political scandals--such as that of Trenton Mayor Tony Mack (here) along with his recreation division, see here--it is quite a visceral image.
To ignore corruption in Plainfield city government and to have it fester and run, seemingly egged on by mediocrity and incompetence, is to abandon the people of this city. I will be following up on outstanding items for which we, as the governing body representing the people of Plainfield, deserve answers--here are just a couple:
1) As of this writing, many residents have asked me about the administration's investigation of the corruption scandal that has engulfed the Recreation Division, wherein a fraudulent application and illegal permit fees were being charged for vendor participation in the Independence Day events this year--the Recreation Division was handing out these fraudulent documents and telling vendors they had to pay excessive fees to be a part of the events. Click here and here for my previous blog posts on this particular scandal. A call to the Union County Prosecutor's Office and to the state is certainly in order if the city doesn't provide answers regarding this issue. Theft and corruption are prosecutable actions.
2) I have received several emails about the state of tax collection in Plainfield, in terms of its accountability and the basic competence of its administration. Tax bills were once again sent out late, and the excuses have been flying. In addition, several residents are still wondering about the outcome of the situation wherein thousands of dollars in cash went missing from the tax collector's office. Dan Williamson, former Corporation Counsel, never provided a comprehensive answer for this particular instance of corruption, but I know there are financial records and details of what initially happened, who was involved in the theft, and what was done (or is currently being done). A call to the Union County Prosecutor or to the state seems to be in order here as well. Again, theft and corruption are prosecutable actions.
It behooves the administration to ROOT OUT CORRUPTION wherever it exists--not to sweep it under the rug, not to ignore it in hopes that the people will forget, and not to minimize the fraudulent and criminal activities that occur in city government. I am deeply disappointed in the mayor's silence about her part, if any, in all this, but certainly not at all surprised--her obliviousness and incompetence have been well-noted by all for several years now. I will follow up as best I can.