Azim Gray: Councilman Barry Goode should resign

We all have our own unique perspective when it comes to issues – even people who agree on a local matter. While I expressed my opinion about Goode – once after we learned of the suit and again after he withdrew it – I want to share the point of view of Plainfield resident Azim Gray. Here are his words.

Exactly five years ago, I was very fortunate to stumble across an ad for a 1 bedroom apt with a study den in Plainfield, NJ. I say fortunate now because what started as apartment hunting (Plainfield was the first and last apartment I saw, and I fell instantly fell in love with the  apartment and the town), resulted in 5-year stay as Plainfield resident, two years as homeowner, and by the grace of God, one year as a parent.

I am millennial: a part of a generation of young people who can’t stay off their phones and were born somewhere around the Fall of the Cold War. Our coming of age was around the height of social media and the election of Obama. We are also group with the unfortunate accolade to have experienced two financial collapses within the span of 12 years. The second of which we are currently in the early stages.

To understand what that means, my generation has struggled with the financial burden of exorbitant debt due to our education; we are the least likely to be homeowners because of this; gone are the days of pensions, and any financial gains we have seen recently, have been obliterated within a few short weeks. The economic impact of COVID-19 is a still a real existential threat; a threat which we have only seen the beginning.

These are challenging, unprecented and uncertain times. During this time, Councilman Barry Goode saw fit to place a $ 5 Million tort a claim against the city. He dropped the claim. To his credit, I believe he understood this was the right thing to do. However, Councilman Goode leadership and ethical abilities come into question. The details surrounding his arrest and detainment, I’d rather not going in to.. I have family members, friends, loved ones, who have struggled with alcohol and substance abuse. I do not wish to appeal to the” holier than thou sentiment” that has permeated public perception when addressing someone who may be dealing with a serious addiction. I believed then, as I do now, that this represented not a fall from grace but an opportunity to have a real conversation about this issue. However, this fall from grace turned into excessive hubris when he pursued a tort claim in the middle of a crisis that is  claiming countless lives, record jobless claims, and several deaths in Plainfield alone.

If he was not under the influence, then the tort claim for the violation of his procedural rights makes a lot of sense. However, in 2017, there was national press around championing the procedural rights of the accused. I can’t tell you how many rallies I went to, how many “Free Meek Mill” (the cause celebre of this attention) petitions I signed in 2017 alone – acknowledging the role of due process in the criminal justice system.  Likewise, there was also a massive criminal industrial system that was part of this nation’s failed immigration policies that was separating families and jailing undocumented immigrants.

When I look at Councilman Goode’s legislative record on city council, there is nothing close to the public activism that he attempted to acknowledge in his letter to the editor. In addition, Councilman Goode is not above using the police force to enforce minor parking regulations against his own neighbors. The tort claim was a money grab; plain and simple.

This was a during a time in which the city is claiming an $18 million shortfall. This is a time in which to deal with that budgetary short fall, the city is borrowing money.  A time in which the city has indicated yet again they will raise property taxes. This also a time where my neighbors must fear for their own health as well as their economic wellbeing. This is a time which we need local government to more responsive to our need more than ever. Councilman Goode’s response to these challenging times is that he feeds our seniors at Richmond Village. I think he should continually perform those same services; just not as our Councilman.

It is in consideration of these core ethical and leadership challenges, that I call on his colleagues from city council to compel Councilman Goode to resign. I believe he could serve his constituents better by resigning immediately. By continuing to be the at-large councilman for the 1st and 4th wards, he serves as a distraction for the Mapp administration and casts severe doubt on the ethical and leadership capabilities of City Council. The Plainfield City Council needs effective ethical and moral leaders, and Councilman Goode is capable of neither.

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