Category Archives: Local Government

Nouveau Trial Of Tears


Water, water, everywhere…

not a drop to drink

Tears running down parents’ faces

Brown water in the sink

 

From Flint, they will sprint

Politicians tried to save a buck

Colored water! Coloured faces

Did they give a fuck?

 

Switched the source, much remorse

Some think it is too late

School-aged children sure to die

Golden water, heaven’s gate

 

Urban crisis…Flint, Detroit

In our own backyard?

Children asking, “Our water too??”

Poker facing, will they see our card?

 

Clean water put out fires

Dirty politicians who we hire

How much till we tire?

Patience surely to expire!

 

That wasted water, we can’t drink

Sending fresh water, so we speak

“Mom, why are we moving?”

Tears falling, mom can’t speak

 

Mom’s packing our clothes

Dad is making calls

Those who CAN move, WILL

Those who CAN’T    F  a l  l

 

Like Katrina, government arrived late

Like Ferguson, government said WAIT

Like New Orleans, government: ” RElocate!”

Texas, here we come!!

 

Build a wall??

WE are coming from the North

Southern Belles, prepare your homes

You’ve been “Trumped” citizens coming forth!

 

 

Don’t you get it?

Don’t you care?!?

It’s not just in Flint!

It’s the American nightmare!

 

This nouveau trail of tears

Renewed death and fears

Politicians campaign smears

Victory brings no cheers…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You Could Be the Mayor… (999 words)

true political power

It’s always easier to sit back and be an “armchair jockey”  Or is it?  The responsibilities of others in the public eye seem to differ drastically when we change our perspective.  Let’s suppose for a moment that the perspective never changes.  What if the person sitting back and doing nothing was actually in charge?  Or better yet, what if that person actually gets tired of the way things are going and gets up and does something about?  It takes a great deal of dissatisfaction to get motivated to create change!  I present you with these two perspectives.  If you accept either perspective, you could be The Mayor.

dodge mayor    Over ten years ago, the Dodge Truck branded the new Ram as the Mayor.  The marketing point was that something new was available–something that had evolved from a tradition of strength and durability.  The industry soon learned that simply labeling something tough was meaningless in the eyes of the consumers. The Mayor was no different than any of the others.  Depending how you dressed it up or presented it, perception would be sculpted by the beholders.

When we take a look at government, especially township government, there is a hierarchy of power.  In larger cities an alderman is elected to represent the needs of the smaller communities in the municipality.  An aldermen, in turn, is a liaison between the neighborhoods and the city council.  Each city councilman is elected by the residents of the city.  A separate election is held for the Mayor.  In townships like Fairfield (in in Cumberland County, New Jersey), committeemen are elected.  So few people want the responsibility that the party leaders must search for candidates who will best serve the interest of the party.  It may go without saying that the individuals who control the political party, are uniquely positioned to serve the township in a way they see fit.

Legacies can be shaped if the power players can strategize and defeat any opposing candidates.  Everyone knows each other in small towns anyway; so party leaders don’t need to dig too deep.  Finding harmful information that can be shaped into character flaws is one of the easiest ways to run a campaign.  Simply put, instead of making a candidate sparkle, just sling some mud.  This tactic requires no tact.  Student council are more dignified.  To build a legacy, campaign managers need to work with their candidate.  A relationship is built on trust and a common goal to establish a leadership position that will last several terms.  Otherwise, yesterday’s aspirations coupled with today’s accomplishments will never lead to the successful completion of tomorrow’s projects.  A legacy is lasting and in some cases passed down from generation to generation.  We see this nationally with the Bush’s and locally with the Pierces.  Again, building a legacy based on name-recognition requires far less effort.  The public already knows that name and the track record.

Once elected to office, a separate selection must be made.  Who will be The Mayor?  The role of the mayor in township government is to facilitate.  He or She sets the agenda.  Meetings are conducted to ensure that the public interest is met. Follow-up with the administrator confirms that the decisions made be the township committee are completed in a timely manner.  A level of decorum is maintained.  Only then can the needs of the community be met.  There will be times that these objectives can not be met without opposition.  This is the reason for a democratic government.  Each committeeman (or committeewoman) has a voice.  They were elected by the people to represent the people who elected them.  In many cases, the voters elected individuals who are competent enough to make important decisions without constant input from the constituency.  Sometimes, however, there are entire groups of people who are consistently underrepresented because of where they live, their inability to get their neighbors to vote, or because of their political views.

The Mayor is not always directly elected by the people.  This person who is supposed to facilitate and direct the committee is selected by the other members of the committee.  This often overlooked fact makes voting for the committee even more important.  Voting for the wrong committeeman lends itself to having a Mayor who will not serve the community.

So who is your Mayor?  It’s important to identify who is making the decisions and why.  When a mayor is not leading nor facilitating in a manor that demonstrates progress, we must ask why not.  What drives our mayor and the township committee is as important as the results that we expect to see.

Someone once told me, “You could be the Mayor…”  But recognizing the responsibility, the rigor, and the reliability that is required of position, I declined.  It’s a full time job for one person, but could be a part-time job if the committee works together to accomplish their goals.  They must collectively determine what will benefit the township.

The current mayor once asked me if I thought it bizarre that I hadn’t been asked by the people that I supported.  He was suggesting that my support of them was not reciprocated.  I saw this as an opportunity to share with him that he wasn’t insightful enough to see for himself.  I had been asked, in fact!  I believe that the residents deserve far more than our committeemen or committeewoman can provide.  Without a general consensus, the committee can not move forward.  He asked me what kind of Mayor did I want.  I responded, “Can I get a Michael Nutter type of mayor, please?”  The Mayor warned me that I’d better be careful what I asked for, and that educated Mayors are too costly.  Our conversation didn’t last too much longer after that.  And now I can’t get the Mayor or his Deputy to return as much as a text.

You Could Be the Mayor…if you were willing to lead people who longed for change. This picture says one word more than this essay.

Voices

The New Sneetches

Fairfield Township Committee Meeting (June 16, 2015)

Sneetches

Mayor Byrd expeditiously terminated the meeting before there could be committee reports or comments, further discussion or questions. A commentary is offered here:    

It was announced by the solicitor, coming out of executive session, that there was some discussion about a potential technology/data system breach that is pending investigation.  This is an alarming discovery that must be rectified immediately due to the confidential nature of all sorts of public and privileged documents.

Also handled in public session was the Rice Hearing for the clerk.  Oddly enough the timely passage of Ordinance No. 8-2015 has provided provisions for ANY elected official or APPOINTED official to be covered under the ordinance which provides legal counsel.  Although the amendment to that Ordinance No. 9-2015 has only had its first reading this evening, the changes do not disqualify the clerk from being protected under the ordinance.  In other words, her legal fees are the responsibility of the Township.

This time the public questioned the urgency for another ordinance.  The first reading of Ordinance No. 9-2015 was explained by the solicitor to be necessary because Ordinance No. 8-2015 (which provided legal counsel for any elected or appointment official to be provided by the Township) was presented, voted on, passed by a 3-2 vote, and was written and presented incorrectly!  There was a typographical error that was in fact questioned (by Committeeman Morton) during debate and determined to be a non-issue by the solicitor and the three committeemen that favored the ordinance.  Now the public via the Township Committee is exposed to legal fees and the liability as a result of a committee that has already made a risky judgment.  The committee is now scrambling to correct this error.  The solicitor consented this evening that the erroneous ordinance is in fact in effect; although he affirmed that steps are being taken to correct the oversight.

no

Ordinance No. 8-2015 should not have been passed.  It should be rescinded.  Poor counsel and devious intent may be driving passage of similar misdoings.

Mining ordinance (Ordinance No. 6-2015):  There was a mining ordinance passed but there is some concern in the community that the ordinance has been challenged by another governing authority.  The challenge resulted from a declared conflict-of-interest by the committeemen who voted in favor of the ordinance (Committeeman Pitts, Committeeman Clark, and Mayor Byrd).  Although the conflict was declared, the committee passed the ordinance regardless.  What is the outcome of that error?  Will that ordinance be revisited?

Money in Mining?

Bill list:  It’s difficult to approve a bill list with no time to review it.  But it was approved nonetheless.  Legal fees were disclosed this month only after there was concern that the fees were greater than usual in the past month due to personnel issues (the release of volunteers and an Office of Emergency Management Coordinator) that were initiated without the committees consent.  As an aside, aren’t these appointed officials also entitled to township sponsored legal counsel and fees?

Approval of the minutes:  The committee was asked to approve the minutes from May, but receiving them this evening, there was very little time to verify the accuracy.   If not for the reliability of the clerk’s minutes, I would be concerned.  However, a brief review indicated that there was very lengthy and descriptive discussion about proposed ordinances.  The Mayor and the members of the committee engaged in appropriate discussion that clearly highlighted the dangers of taking certain actions.  But the motions were made to approve despite those discussions that clearly exposed the committee and the public to liability.  Debate is important.  But more important is the value that debate has to the outcome.

Former Mayor Viola Thomas-Hughes inquired this evening for a second time about the line items in the budget that defined and warranted the recent tax increase.  For a second time, the Mayor indicated that he had the information but he “forgot” to bring it with him.  His appropriate response could have been that one of the committeemen discussed three of those line items at the last meeting, but the Mayor may have forgotten that as well.

There were rumors circulating that there might be a pending resignation by a member of the committee.  There has been neither a confirmation nor denial of any such resignation.

As a result of the actions taken by the Mayor and his three-fifths, the meeting was adjourned.  This left no remedies for pressing issues and no direction for the new Administrator or current Clerk on how to resolve pending controversies.  In his finality, Mayor Byrd motioned to have these matters referred to the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in Trenton.  Surely, a governmental review of the impartiality, racial bias, and political corruption in Fairfield Township will shine a spotlight on the entire organization.