Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Council Asked to Resolve Baseball Dispute

Parents, coaches and about 60 young baseball players crowded City Hall Library Monday, seeking resolution to a six-month clash that intensified recently
Speakers said the Queen City Baseball League had lights turned off and were locked out of a field house on grounds shared with another league operated by the city's Recreation Division. The league's banner disappeared and players could not hold opening day ceremonies in other examples of what one speaker called "purposeful sabotage." In one instance, the lights went out just as a pitch was thrown, raising safety concerns.

Youngsters dropped their home-made protest signs to applaud their supporters, but as the comments became more acrimonous, adults began cautioning each other not to argue in front of the kids.
Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs apologized for a game being canceled Thursday and said, "I don't believe anybody did anything malicious to hurt the kids. The city of Plainfield would never
do anything to hurt the children."
Robinson-Briggs pledged that the banner would be replaced and said the city supports both leagues. She said she had met with league directors to "discuss ways the city could be supportive" of the volunteer Queen City league, but after proposing joint fundraisers, she "never heard another word."
"If the adults don't see eye to eye, I'll work with the kids," she said.

Responding to an issue about bases being locked up, Robinson-Briggs piled a table high with new bases and equipment bags, saying, "This is a sincere olive branch."
But someone yelled from the crowd that the bases were the wrong kind.
City Council President Annie McWilliams asked City Administrator Bibi Taylor to respond to the issues and Taylor said the new lights on timers and the changed locks were being reviewed by Public Works & Urban Development Director David Brown II. As Taylor mentioned scheduling and access concerns, the league's executive director, Karen Glencamp-Daniel, asked, "Why so much secrecy?"
McWilliams asked the council members to consider what role they could take, noting the governing body started "with one list" last fall.
"We now have a laundry list of other items," she said.
Although Taylor is trying to resolve the issues in a timely manner, McWilliams said, "She shouldn't be doing this."
As city administrator, Taylor is in charge of the day-to-day workings of municipal government. She is also the acting director of Administration, Finance, Health & Social Services and oversees the city's othe two departments, Public Affairs & Safety and Public Works & Urban Development.
With Glencamp-Daniel seated at the council table to respond to Taylor, an advocate of the Recreation Division's league, Roland Crawford Muhammad, attempted to sit at the table as well.
"You're not helping the situation," McWilliams said, advising him to step back or she would have him removed by police.
By now, the council was an hour ad a half into the meeting and had not yet begun its own agenda.
Robinson-Briggs said she wanted both leagues' representatives at the table, to which Councilman Adrian Mapp replied, "The games that are being played here are not the game of baseball."
Mapp said the administration had not taken responsibility for what had transpired so far with the league, but Robinson-Briggs retorted, "It sure does," and added "You should give me respect - I am your mayor."
"I don't think you should argue in front of the kids," Councilwoman Bridget Rivers said, but Mapp said he was not arguing.
"Let me be the one to moderate the meeting," McWilliams said, but Mapp insisted the mayor had to take responsibility for the situation.
"The buck stops with the mayor," he said, noting there have been good faith efforts to resolve the issues.
Mapp called for a "directive to the Recreation Division" for "unfettered access" to the ballfield.
"Queen City did not come here for handouts, they came here for a solution," Mapp said.
The mayor said she was not going to debate the subject with the council and added, "The election is over, councilman."
Robinson-Briggs defeated Mapp in the June 2009 primary and won re-election in November.
As the discussion continued, the council agreed that someone neutral should be named in the short term to be in charge of the lights and the locks, but the longterm solution would have to come about through amendments to an ordinance governing use of the ballfield. The mayor said the topic will be part of her Wednesday cabinet meeting and assured the council there would be a point person identified by Thursday.
Most of the crowd left after two hours of talk on the league issues, but after midnight Glencamp Daniel revived some issues during citizen comments, concluding by saying, "Some people seem to have a blanket of immunity."
The mayor responded by citing a conversation with Glencamp-Daniel in which she asked her to tone down her remarks.
"If we are to work together, there can't be any fingerpointing," she said.
Dwayne Wilkins of the newly-formed Recreation Advisory Committee said all members were "happy to serve," especially in light of Monday's discussion.
Wilkins said the committee was empowered to work with the Recreation Division "so issues don't bubble up."
--Bernice Paglia


Blogger Rob said...

As the head of the city, the Mayor claims she deserves respect. But she won't solve the situation with a simple open and public directive to her boy to, " KNOCK IT OFF . You end this now, or I will. If you won't bring this to a conclusion that will satisfy both parties I will bring it to a conclusion that will satisfy the other party." But, that is a simple and concise solution that works in the real world. I commend Mapp for calling out the Mayor on her oafish bumbling of this entire event. THANK YOU ADRIAN. If only more of the city council would publicly call this woman out more people would see her incompetence growing daily.

5:57 AM  
Anonymous Alan Goldstein said...

Canard #1- "It's all about the kids".

Wrong! Last night was about the adults. If it were about the kids it never would have gotten this far- to the 'demolition point'- the spot common to all Plainfielders when neglect and mismanagement turns to crisis.

Canard #2- "If we are to work together, there can't be any fingerpointing".

These may be the words of someone who won't work together if there is any fingerpointing. Well, there has been fingerpointing ( directly at the Rec division) all along now for months, while an egotistical division head was given apparent free-reign by the mayor, against the advice of the City Council, to set up a city-sponsored league in competition with the already-existing Queen City league. Multiple leagues are no problem as far as I can see, but all this business about lights and locks, bases and banners, lends credence to unfair and underhanded competition.

So maybe it is about the kids- the juvenile lack of foresight and responsibility demonstrated time and again by our City administration. But let's not point any fingers.

No! Let's! Because if we don't point the finger at the problem, a cowboy in Rec and a mayor who is pushing a peanut with her nose up Pikes Peak, and calls it progress, we will never ever climb out of our rut.

I fully understand the separation of powers between the City Council and the Administration. Yet when advice is ignored, feet drag, and crisis ensues (our standard fare), the Council needs more than a stray voice or two and must, in as clear a voice as possible, point its finger and censure those individuals who bring us to grief by their actions or lack thereof.

Baseball is just one game being played here. There's also the senior center, the gutting of the planning division, the lack of a CFO, the laissez-faire disintegration of historic properties, two-family homes being used as boarding houses, and a late budget with an out-of-control tax bite. Just so so many games, but alas, no pin the tail on the donkey.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alan, you are so right. The best part of all of this is that those who voted for the mayor, may now realize that what is really important is citizen's participation. They mayor, as well intentioned as she is, is ill equipped to run anything.

I hope the QCL maintains its pressure on the city. And, I hope the mayor will do the right thing and fire Wynn and put someone in that position who will run it successfully, for all of Plainfield, not just the kids.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well the truth was revealed last night. As soon as Councilman Mapp tried to spell out the point of why all those children, parents and coaches were at the meeting having to show solidarity for the basic need and desire to play baseball without impediment, the Mayor jumped all over him trying to silence him. While the coaches are trying to instill good sportsmanship in the kids, she was a perfect example of unsportsmanlike conduct. For her to go out of her way and pocket to buy a few pieces of equipment shows she would rather spend her money than tell dave wynn to stop hampering the league. That so called "olive branch" was nothing more than a slap in the face of all the participants in QCBL because obviously she is not interested in getting to the root (dave wynn) of the problem. Why would dave wynn put the field lights on a timer after all these years. The first time he tried to take away the free access to the facilities was when he paid (with taxpayer dollars) a playground monitor to turn the lights on and off in 2007, I believe. So now he has his own duplicated league except for the team names and he has to totally lock out QCBL. The mayor knows he's wrong and he sure is hard to defend but she manages to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to allow him to continue his dictatorship ways. The keys and lights were not the only problems, just the last straw. Enough is enough!
By the way, she passed a big basket of candy around for all the children. You know she must feed you. I'm sure the parents appreciated that when they were bouncing off the walls at bedtime

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree ENOUGH ALREADY!!! I say if we start at the top and do what we have to rid ourselves of this mayor and her administration. I also feel that if the only one from the council that can check the mayor and demand that she gives answers is Mr. Mapp perhaps we should get a new council as well, and we know 2 of their seats are up this year, I say put new blood on the council and pray they are like Adrian Mapp. I feel nice new blood like Rebecca Williams would be a change. Once we let the mayor know we won't take it we may begin to see change. There are so many games like one of her staff members that was suppose to be laid off is still on payroll, they just got slick and sent her to the senior center, the health dept. paying for new office furniture with grant money, I could go on and on but I think maybe I should meet with Christie and see what he thinks of such a corrupt City. The mayor is like Judas he betrayed Jesus and she betrayed the City.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a Council Meeting. The Coucil President should have put the Mayor in her place. She might think she can control the meeting butit's a COUNCIL MEETING and not a MAYOR'S kiss the Senior's butt meeting.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's the outrage over no corresponding girls' softball league, public or private? Or am I imagining I'm living in Maplewood?

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to a separation of powers? Why was the Mayor allowed to set up shop during the Council meeting? Why was the Mayor allowed to disrupt the business of the Council by passing out goodies? Why isn't the Council holding the Mayor accountable? Why doesn't the Council remove Dave Wynn when its been proven the Mayor refuses to discipline him?

11:26 PM  

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