Over the past couple of years since the incident, I haven’t spoken publicly about Barry Goode’s driving under intoxication charge (link here). Not on social media, not on this blog, and not outside of conversations with a handful of people. I think I was embarrassed for him. It’s a mistake anyone can make, and I never heard gossip about Barry Goode being a closet drunk. To my knowledge it was his first DUI. Should public officials be held to a higher standard? Sure. But despite his deplorable voting record on the City Council, I didn’t feel comfortable teasing Barry Goode about his now infamous trip home from a holiday party.
It did bother me that Mr Goode never apologized for his mistake. Never uttered a word. I thought this may have been to his political detriment, too. If he put out a press release apologizing for the incident and gave one year of his City Council stipend to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, even his detractors would have been forced to move on. Some voters would have seen it as a positive. A man owning his mistakes and trying to right his wrongs.
But that’s not what happened. Goode, his City Council colleagues, and Mayor Mapp – some of whom let him leave the party drunk – spoke not a word about the incident. Even as angry residents brought up the subject during public comments at City Council meetings, Barry Goode had nothing to say. He had no apology for his constituents.
Meanwhile, his court date was pushed over and over again (link here). It was more than two years before he’d see a judge. During that time, Goode won re-election with just under 50% of the Democratic Primary vote in his territory – the first and fourth wards.
In late January of this year, Goode finally had his day in court, and his case was dismissed (link here). According to Goode’s lawyers, the charges were dismissed because the police had no authority to enter his home – even after they found his damaged car parked on his snow-covered lawn with his front door wide open, keys still in the door.
The judge apparently deemed the search unfair – which negated how a belligerent Goode refused a breathalyzer test. It does not seem that Mr Goode’s intoxication is in question, and Goode himself has never once implied that he was not drunk.
This is where the story should end. Connected New Jersey machine politician with good lawyers defeats drunk driving on a technicality. Goode should be thanking his lucky stars that he doesn’t have a DUI on his record, a license suspended for up to a year, or even 30 days in jail. He should feel fortunate that he didn’t injure or kill anyone on the night of December 9, 2017. But instead, self-proclaimed spiritual leader Elder Barry Goode has the audacity to sue the city on that same technicality that saved him.
On April 2, Goode filed a claim against the cash-strapped City of Plainfield for $5 million. In a tort claim obtained by Tap Into Plainfield (link here), Goode seeks payment for damage to his reputation, severe emotional distress, attorney fees, and potential economic losses.
Barry Goode knows he was driving drunk, was lucky enough to both not hurt anyone and beat the charges, yet he is suing the city for which he took an oath to serve for $5 million in the middle of a pandemic and a yet another property tax hike.
Goode is suing the same city government who sent him and my Democratic Primary opponent Steve Hockaday on a taxpayer funded trip to Hawaii just last year.
As the City Council moves towards raising all of our taxes, why should a man who wants a seven figure payment from that city be allowed to vote to increase tax revenue? Why should we allow Barry Goode to vote to cut programs, potentially leaving more cash for his own settlement?
Goode’s presence on the Plainfield City Council is a clear conflict of interest. And true to form, he is still quiet – even on his own ability to serve through litigation. All signs point towards Barry Goode’s intention to remain on the council, and continue to receive the City Council salary that he voted to raise only days after the drunk driving incident (link here). He voted to increase Mayor Mapp’s part-time salary by $40,000 that night as well.
Barry Goode, it is time for you to step down from the Plainfield City Council.
Residents who agree that Barry Goode should be removed form office can sign a petition started on Sunday by resident Azim Gray (link here). If Goode does not step down, an electronic petition can be circulated to recall him with the requisite amount of signatures from the first and fourth wards.
As far as Plainfield’s tax increase and budget woes, I’ll have more on that this week.