Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gibson Pulls Memorial Resolution

The family and friends of the late Mayor Albert T. McWilliams Jr. attended Wednesday’s City Council meeting expecting approval for a plan to place a memorial to the two-term mayor downtown, but the resolution had been yanked by City Council President Harold Gibson.

The group had sought approval in time for an event marking one year since the former mayor died of renal cancer at the age of 53.

Resident Inez Durham questioned why the item was not on the agenda and Gibson said he had asked for it to be removed. Later, Jahaad Martin rose from his seat beside Annie McWilliams to say he felt the word “elected” was being forgotten.

“Too many people are feeling entitled,” he said.

Gibson bristled and said, “I am entitled as council president to make the decision that I made.”

Later, Gibson told Plaintalker he was in the hospital Monday and missed the presentation by Annie McWilliams on the memorial plan formulated by a special committee. He said upon his release Wednesday, he reviewed the agenda and had the item removed for reasons he had explained just before the meeting to Annie McWilliams.

The late mayor’s wife, Darlene, daughter Annie and others gathered outside the Municipal Court to express their dismay. Annie McWilliams said she had been assured that morning that the item was on the agenda.

The group was expecting the approval in time for an April 6 service at Shiloh Baptist Church, where the former mayor’s funeral had been held.

But Gibson said after the meeting he was concerned about “how far we go into it as a governmental agency” and said, “There is not the kind of precedent anywhere for what they’re looking for.”
--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When and with whom would it stop! Will the city allow family, friends and supporters of other Mayors and or even the Assemblyman erect statues and name parks in their honor? I think that Gibson is correct. We could have statues all over the city.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The person who posted the previous comment is disingenuous. Honoring a statesman-like mayor like McWilliams, who did so much for Plainfield, with statues or memorial plaques or by naming plazas or other areas after them (like naming Court Place after former Mayor Taylor or naming the county's public safety building after Sheriff Froehlich) is how residents and citizens honor their memory. All cities have statues honoring the great and the good so this is not out of the ordinary. Naming the plaza after McWilliams is a wonderful step in the right direction for a city like Plainfield. Does councilman Gibson think that the library plaque honoring MLK should be taken down? Does he think Sheriff Froelich's name should be taken off the county building in Westfield? Probably not. He's just doing Green's bidding. Shameful, shameful!

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

McWilliams was the only Democratic mayor elected to two terms - a strong affirmation of the leadership he brought to a city mired in nepotism for over 20 years. It is easy to understand that those who represent the forces in the city BEFORE he arrived, and which have RETURNED would now object to recognizing his leadership. Al McWilliams brought professionalism to our city, replacing "hacks" with their business as usual. The improvements we see today are built on the foundations McWilliams laid. He rightly deserves a monument.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems that every other day we are hearing about some politician falling from grace in disgrace.

Al Mc Williams was a man who represented our city with dignity and worked hard to remove the stigma that plagued Plainfield for years. He chose to bring his family to and to be an involved citizen of Plainfield to make it a better place to live.

For the politicians that might want to put their power on display as if it was real power, only God has that kind of power, remember power corrupts when it is seen as "I'm in charge here."

I believe in the long run the City Council will do the right thing and that is to approve the memorial
of this un-self serving person who passed our way and left a legacy for future generations. It will say so much more to the citizens and children of our state that one person can make a difference when they can be a leader and bring about change.

How about you Council President Gibson, will you wield your power as if you are in total control or will you do the right thing?

By the way, I'm a registered Republican who respects those, no matter what party they are affiliated with that can effect change in our society.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try putting up a memorial to Jerry Green or Sharon Robinson-Briggs and you will see how quickly that goes on to the agenda.


4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's ironic, maybe even funny, that the site they want to use is the place where those beautiful old trees shaded the chess park until the McWilliams administration had the trees cut down and the park destroyed in 2005.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A statue? Al made contributions to this city and so did many others before him. Plainfield most likely will honor his contribution in fashion with previous Mayors. But a statue on Front and Park is absurd. That goes for anyone.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I too have Kidney Cancer & also Bladder Cancer but have been more fortunate than Albert McWilliams - as I presented with the symptoms in November 1998, so for some it is survivable.

For more details of Kidney Cancer see

Perhaps someone would be so kind as to draw the attention of Darlene and their children to the IN MEMORIAM at:

I thank you and would ask that you take a moment to consider this silent killer and aim anyone you know who might be helped to the warm hands that will welcome them on our web site.

Greg L-W. Britain.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Dark Cloud said...

A statue is overzealous. Plainfield is in worse shape than it was when I left there a decade ago, still has the same problems it had then and has failed to find ways to make itself relevant in an area where it ought to be an anchor community.

McWilliams was a good person and it's sad he died, but let's not get into deifying anybody. Especially when there is so much work left to do.

6:55 PM  

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