The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Open Mic Spoken Word Poetry Event for Plainfield Youth!

Calling all our young Plainfield poets! 

On Saturday, September 26, from 3:00 - 7:00 pm in Cedar Brook Park, the Plainfield Division of Parks and Recreation will be sponsoring an amazing afternoon of Open Mic Spoken Work Poetry, Performance, and Art. The event will take place in the picnic area by the bathrooms and fountain in Cedar Brook Park.

The phenomenal Team Pyramid (part of Evolve NJ), featuring Sean Battle, Kween Moore, and Dr. Queen Assata, will be leading workshops on writing, performance, and art from 3:00-4:00 pm for Plainfield teens and young adults, with an emphasis on creativity and originality. All supplies (notebooks, markers, art paper, etc.) will be provided for attendees. 

The workshop will be followed by Open Mic Spoken Word performances from 4:00 – 7:00 pm. All are invited to participate. The event is free and open to the public. A DJ will provide a musical backdrop and free refreshments will be served. Come and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in Cedar Brook Park. 

Make your voices heard!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Homophobia On Full Display in Plainfield: The Toliver File

This deserves a longer post--that will be coming soon. Click to read the Courier-News story about what happened at last night's council meeting: Plainfield Ex-Official's Comments About Lesbian Councilwoman Denounced.

I am the only openly gay person on the city council. As a gay woman of color, I have had to put up with a lot of crap--all LGBT women of color do. Snide and bullying remarks, offensive mailers and fliers--even from classic "closet cases"--are meant to be hurtful, intimidating, and worse. Suffice it to say that Alex Toliver's hateful homophobic (and transphobic) comments about me speak to the kind of person he is. His comments saying I should be beheaded are on the record (click on the link for Inciting Violence for One's Political/Religious Views: A Plainfield Case), as are the homophobic comments he made last night. 

I am grown and able to handle myself, but when I think about his comments being heard by LGBT youth in Plainfield--many of whom are still struggling to come out, some of whom become suicidal because of the hurtful and hateful comments that illustrate a desire to destroy their sense of themselves and which make them feel as if they are not deserving of love--that's when I become angry beyond words. The suicide rates among LGBT youth--especially those of color--are very high--what are they to make of a so-called "elder" who speaks hate? As I noted last night, it's one thing to disagree on policy or on votes, but this was a hateful, personal attack--and all because I called him out on his comments about beheading me. What came before were just private comments to my Facebook page that I certainly characterized as flirtatious. The ignorance and hatred on display last night should not be tolerated.  

Homophobia and hate (should) have no place in American life, but Toliver and his ilk prove time and time again that their hatred, fear, and ignorance can still be willingly abetted when leadership fails to immediately and vociferously shut it down. Instead, what I saw was (in my view) a rather tepid tapping of the gavel from someone who surely ought to know better. This is from the Courier-News story:

“For someone to come here and talk about my manner of dress and allude to my sexual orientation is just unconscionable. I can’t believe that was being allowed here without being gaveled down.”
Later in the meeting, Rivers said she had hit her gavel when he made his remarks. “I don’t promote anyone disrespecting council members,” Rivers said. “I immediately hit the gavel so that he could stop. It was wrong and it shouldn’t have been said.” But a video recording of Toliver’s remarks shows that Rivers allowed Toliver to continue, ignoring a point of order by Williams, and letting Toliver continue for almost two minutes more.

The deflection to a broad comment about how elected officials should be able to absorb negative comments was, to say the least, displeasing. I have no expectations anymore--but the weak response to the devaluing of my basic humanity, as well as that of every LGBT person was stunning. Homophobia, racism, sexism, and classism are all a part of the same strain--allowing one is allowing all the others.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Language, Lies, and Histrionics: A Case Study

Just so that Plainfielders are aware of the histrionics and attempted dissembling on the part of Councilwoman Taylor regarding the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, this item was sent to Council President Rivers and the Clerk's Office on August 26 to be put on the agenda. A letter, written by me, was attached, along with the Rutgers Study. The Council President accepted it. When I double-checked the packet on Saturday (as well as online), I saw that it was not there. I contacted the clerk and the council president about it, and the clerk said it was inadvertently omitted--just a clerical error. It was then added to the electronic agenda, and copies were given to the council at last night's meeting. This was explained fully (the council president tried to pull up the original correspondence to show the time/date stamp)*--yet, Councilwoman Taylor was having none of it. 

When this agenda item came up, histrionic Councilwoman Taylor then turned on the councilwomen (Greaves and Brown) who co-sponsored the legislation, accusing them of "jumping to the other side!" and other foolishness. She then went into a long tirade against me, using such foul, nasty, and divisive language that many in the audience appeared stunned. She insulted Working Families for Plainfield (a group of long-time and home-grown Plainfield residents) as outsiders, and she even managed to insult the mayor because he expressed support for the ordinance. 

Taylor's vindictiveness nastiness is not going unnoticed--the venom which she constantly spews is basically getting all over her. Watch the video of the meeting when it comes on--sadly, this is just part of what makes her such an embarrassment to our city. Her so-called support for "the least of these" does not extend to our lowest wage workers earning a single earned sick hour. For shame.


*I have the original correspondence with the time/date stamp, the council president's acknowledgement to put it on the agenda, and the rest of the correspondence regarding this item.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Labor Walk With 32BJ SEIU: The Union Makes Us Strong!

"Labor can never be respected where the laborer is despised." 
--Frederick Douglass, from "Self-Made Men," 1872

Yesterday, I joined Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and the First Lady for the Labor Walk through Plainfield with 32BJ SEIU union members. In New Jersey, 32BJ represents over 10,000
service workers: school maintenance workers, food service workers, office cleaners, and security officers. As we walked, we chanted and spoke of the importance of collective bargaining, keeping unions strong, supporting Earned Sick Days (ESD), the "Fight for $15" living wage, and the right for workers to organize. We received encouraging signs of support form local Plainfielders as we marched along W. 7th Street, Park Avenue, along Front Street, and down Watchung Avenue (ending at the steps of City Hall). As a member of NJEA, I proudly support my comrades! La lucha continúa!