The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Friday, January 3, 2014

One Plainfield: Supporting Mayor Mapp's Cabinet

I was very happy, heartened, inspired, and encouraged to hear the words of support for Mayor Mapp, his administration, and our city, offered by my colleague, Councilwoman Tracey Brown, at the inaugural festivities this past Wednesday, as quoted in the Courier-News yesterday:

Councilwoman Tracey Brown said this is “a wonderful time in the life of Plainfield.” She urged residents to support Mapp.“If we support him and if he does well, the city does well,” Brown said. “If he is blessed, the city is blessed.”

Councilwoman Brown asking us to show support for Mapp
 Positive response to Councilwoman Brown's plea for support
In the spirit of Councilwoman Brown's supportive remarks, I agree that it is the obligation, duty, and responsibility of the council to support Mapp and, of course, the people he has named to assist him as he leads this city for the next 4 years. If we are to get a good start with a new administration, it is incumbent upon the council to maintain its legislative role and to also support the mayor as he appoints the key individuals in his cabinet whom he needs to be a successful mayor. It is not the role of the council to obstruct or prevent those cabinet picks from receiving council advise and consent. 

You may ask why I am writing this post--here's why: Like many of you, I also read Doc's blog post the other day (click here for "A Disturbing Email") on rumors of interference and political machinations to prevent Mayor Mapp from appointing his team, and especially his highly-qualified public safety and police director choices in favor of unqualified individuals. Again, that is why I am so heartened by Councilwoman Brown's publicly stated support for Mayor Mapp, his team, and our city. 

In terms of my own thoughts, as the City Council Public Safety Committee Chair for the past two years, I have had close contact with the public safety division--meeting monthly with the director and, at times, other top-level police personnel and the rank-and-file if necessary, and sitting in on presentations (a significant one was ShotSpotter) with city and county public safety professionals, such as former Union County Prosecutor Theodore (Ted) Romankow.

In my role, I have come to know even more of the police officers and firefighters (both men and women) who keep us safe on a daily basis, and I have warm relations with them all. I support their charities and fundraisers, I have pledged to give them the support they need to function effectively.

So, as the council member with the closest working relationship with the police division in my role as the governing body's public safety committee chair, the mayor-elect asked that I sit in on the interviews for the public safety and police director choices, respectively. Ted Romankow was there, and also in on the interviews was Joylette Mills-Ransome, who organized the interview process for all the key cabinet members and who also recorded all the notes.

To ensure a fair, transparent process, each applicant had to fill out a questionnaire, and also submit a c.v. and references. Ted Romankow, as the expert, led a significant portion of the questioning--about their background in law enforcement, their own history (past and present), their experience and expertise in command roles, their knowledge and skills in leadership, their familiarity with the needs for effective and modern policing, and about what resources they can bring to our city. We also spoke about morale, providing more educational opportunities for our police (that was my focus), and implementing more training.

The applicants received scores from the interview team in a variety of categories afterward, and Carl Riley scored far above every other applicant for Police Director, and Siddeeq El-Amin scored above all the others for Public Safety Director. Ted Romankow himself said that these were two outstanding applicants. Many of the police I spoke to are very familiar with Carl Riley due to his work at the county (some have known him for upwards of 10 years), and thought the choice was exceptional. Siddeeq El-Amin, as a former captain who has given 30 years of his life to keeping us safe, and who also possesses outstanding credentials, has also received a great deal of support. The professionalism, experience, commitment, and exemplary service records of these two individuals are exactly what Plainfield needs to move ahead. Romankow also praised the transition process, the openness, and the high standards that the new mayor brought to the table. 

In terms of the Police Division, all the applicants were forthcoming and stated their dedication to seeing our city improve its public safety record and ensuring that all stakeholders feel safe and secure. All those who expressed interest and who wanted to apply did so, and all were accorded a fair chance and opportunity. Also, every single applicant, including the internal applicants from the Plainfield Police Division, thanked Mayor Mapp on the record for the opportunity to interview and be a part of the process. Further, each also stated on the record that even if he were not chosen, he would support whomever Mapp, as the new mayor, appointed in the role. Again, these statements are on the record.  

We have a new colleague on the governing body, Councilwoman Gloria Taylor, who has stated her commitment to working with the new administration. Councilman Bill Reid stated his support for Mayor Mapp at the inaugural festivities--he has said that we need to come together and give the mayor a chance to lead this city--Bill has said this on many occasions, even at the council meetings. 

The purpose of the council is not to obstruct, or to influence the mayor in any way in terms of choosing his cabinet--it is the mayor's cabinet, not the council's. Many of you know that I had strong disagreements with the previous mayor about a number of things. However, regarding her cabinet appointments, I voted in support of every one of them--this included Corporation Counsel, Director of Public Works, and City Administrator.I did this because I felt that the mayor deserved to have the cabinet of her choosing--I believe deeply in the separation of powers, and it is not my role to get in the way.

If any of the council members do not want to give consent to the mayor's cabinet choices, they need to provide the public with good reason  for not doing so--we must all be held strictly accountable. We owe it to you.  

There were 9 homicides this past year--with 2 coming just in the past 4 weeks. It is clear that we need leadership, direction, and effective deployment of our police and all our resources to combat crime and ensure your safety. Mayor Mapp chose two individuals with the experience and ability to to lead our police division--those individuals have the stated, on-the-record support of all those who applied--including the internal applicants. If we do not have a full team going forward in this new administration, it is an ill omen of things to come. 

Please come out to Monday's reorganization meeting at 6:00 pm at Plainfield High School in support of Mayor Mapp's cabinet choices. This is your city--you need to let your voice be heard--you need to let those who you elected to office know that they should consider themselves beholden to you, only.
 
Again, I must reiterate what I wrote above:

Every single applicant, including the internal applicants from the Plainfield Police Division, thanked Mayor Mapp on the record for the opportunity to interview and be a part of the process. Further, each stated on the record that even if he were not chosen, he would support whomever Mapp, as the new mayor, appointed in the role.  These statements are on the record.

So, if even the applicants who were not chosen by Mayor Mapp have publicly stated their support for whomever his choices are, who are we, as the council, to stand in the way?

With all best hopes for One Plainfield,

Rebecca



2 comments:

  1. Rebecca, I thought this was best practice in municipalities. I know it is up North - the council supports the new Mayor's cabinet. It was also a practice in Plainfield for Briggs's administration. Does the council not know this?

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  2. It is good to see everyone working togehter. Continue the cooperation for the good of Plainfield.

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