Friday, March 28, 2008

City Council President Responds

City Council President Harold Gibson has sent Plaintalker a letter regarding his action in removing an item from the agenda at the March 19 council meeting:

Ms. Paglia:
I do not normally respond to criticism of any action I take. It is however important to me to make sure the record is clear relative to my action regarding the late Mayor McWilliams memorial.
First and foremost there was never any formal action taken by the Council to place the memorial on the agenda. Although I was absent from the prior meeting due to my being hospitalized, I took the time to inquire of each member of the City Council as to whether the normal processes had been followed to place the issue on the agenda for a vote. What actually took place was the City Clerk placed on the proposed agenda a "Proposed Resolution" dealing with the memorial. There is no such thing as a "Proposed Resolution". I therefore took the appropriate action as President of the Municipal Council, and removed the item from consideration.
I am not under any pressure to support nor deny support for any action relative to memorializing the late mayor. History will show that my wife served as a campaign manager during Mayor McWilliams first campaign. It is rather easy for those persons who wish to remain anonymous to throw darts at me as an elected official. I stand behind my decision(s) without any reservations whatsoever.
Any person who has negative feelings about this issue should take the time to go through the history of not only Plainfield, but also this country. There is no celebration or memorialization of the death of any public figure. To compare the late mayor to Sheriff Ralph Froehlich, who has been elected and re-elected for 30 years or the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life and accomplishments have been memorialized with a national holiday celebrating his birthday, not the date of his assassination, is more than absurd.
One individual raised the issue of the naming of a street for former Mayor Richard L. Taylor. If that was what the McWilliams family and friends were seeking there would be less reluctance to consider such an action. But what we as the governing body have been requested to do goes far beyond an honorarium of a street name, and we must consider the impact of any action we take.
Finally, for the record, I would vehemently oppose the naming of the area selected by the McWilliams Memorial Committee as the Gerald Green Memorial Square, or the Sharon Robinson-Briggs Memorial Square. My commitment is to the more than 48,000 citizens of Plainfield, not to any individual or group of individuals.
Harold Gibson

Click here to read the article that appeared on the blog.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the "impact" of the council taking action to name the plaza after Mayor McWilliams? It is the right thing to do to honor this two-term mayor who did so much for the city. Mr. Gibson is being quite disingenuous in his remarks. No one was comparing McWilliams to Dr. King. However, for him to defend the machine candidate Sheriff Ralph Froehlich who has been "elected and re-elected for 30 years" in spite of the scandals surrounding the sheriff and the Union County public safety crew of which Gibson was part (before he was removed due to the latest scandal surrounding the UC jail and the indictments) is absurd. For Gibson to try to tout himself as being principled about anything having to do with Plainfield or county politics is laughable. He is doing the bidding of Jerry Green and the rest of the city council has the right to call him out on it.

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo Mr. Gibson! Why is it that if you do not agree with certain members of the community then you must be doing the "bidding of Jerry Green" or part of some political machine. I am not a fan of Jerry Green , but I do feel that Mr. Gibson just had the common sense and guts to recognize that although Al McWilliams was a two term Mayor(BECAUSE of the full support of the same Political Machine that is spoken about), most in Plainfield would not support what was being proposed by his family and friends. Maybe the family and friends could recognize the former Mayor by establishing a scholorship fund or youth program in his honor which could benefit the young people of Plainfield and could improve the lives of others.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Darlene McWilliams said...

March 29, 2008
Mr. Gibson,
Over the past 10 years, my family and I have been the subject of many articles, letters and comments concerning my late husband’s elected leadership position. During those years Al encouraged the children and me to not be offended by any negative responses, but rather to consider the source of all comments. That is exactly what I chose to do after reading your recent letter to Ms. Paglia’s blog dated, March 28, 2008.
Mr. Gibson, I didn’t feel personally offended as some may have thought I should, or nearly as offended as may have been your goal, but instead, I felt sad for the people of Plainfield. I thought of how unfortunate it is that an elected leader would publicly verbalize such self-appointed autocratic abuse on the very people he has been elected to serve. I had hoped that during the evening of the city council meeting when you made your unrefined statements to Dr. Inez Durham that perhaps you were just having a bad day. But, it is quite clear that you simply take your elected position for granted and as a practice, you choose to disrespect anyone who questions you.
As a leader you should find it your duty to respond with respect to any and all of your constituents, whether you agree with them or disagree with them. Because of your privilege to the rules of the “charter” you should use such moments to educate. You missed a great opportunity. What is your fear? It sounds like, either, you have a limited ability to communicate effectively, or you are an angry man who really does feel entitled.
Al McWilliams was a great leader who had the ability to energize people with his refreshing ideas of change and his sincere respect for them. He engaged them into the process. He caused people outside this city to take a hopeful second look at Plainfield when for years it had been labeled “the laughing stock” of Union County. He made every effort to assure Plainfielders that the representation of the council reflected the true make-up of the community. And it is because of his kind of leadership that the vast number of citizens came together with the desire to honor his life and leadership of this community with a suitable memorial. Their efforts realized, or not, is the sweetest expression of honor.
Finally, Mr. Gibson, my children and I don’t really care about what you vehemently oppose, or think is an appropriate memorial for our loved one. We know who he was and what an outstanding legacy he has left us. Al McWilliams’ children are walking memorials for the great work that he has done. Each day they wake up with the memories of a father who not only adored them, but cared deeply about and highly respected even the most common of men, women and children. Through them his dreams and visions of good works will be continued. No monument will ever outweigh that kind of legacy.


11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I, for one, cannot think of anything more powerful than Mrs. McWilliams' eloquent statement. Readers should know that Mrs. McWilliams and the family weren't the ones who initiated this memorial project. It was done by the city council and proposed by a cross section of members of the community and had the family's support. Please don't make it seem like the family is trying to push this through. It is a community effort. It must be painful for the family to have to deal with such pettiness on the part of Councilman Gibson while he harrumphs with his bloated sense of empowerment and entitlement. What a blowhard. At 74 years old, isn't it time for him to retire on his HUGE and BLOATED pension? I agree that he should treat Plainfield residents with respect. He really is quite rude.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The project was not "initiated" by the City Council. A group made a presentation to the Council at an agenda-fixing session. (There's a photo on this blog's March 20 entry.) The Council did not take any action to put it on the agenda for a business meeting. But two days later, a "proposed resolution" appeared on the Council business meeting agenda anyway, without the Council having decided to put it there. That's not the way things are done, and some of the people behind this should know that. In fact, they probably do. And there's nothing "petty" about playing by the rules.

I'd support Council action to name a street after Al, or plant a tree with a memorial plaque. A scholarship fund is an even better idea and would keep his name and his memory fresh.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The committee was set up by the city council last year with community representation. Ask the council.

4:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home