WILDES CALLS ON JOHNSON TO RESIGN FROM CITY COUNCIL
Statement by Mayor Michael J. Wildes of Englewood , NJ
SEE THE LETTER FROM THE ENGLEWOOD CLERGY REBUKING GORDON JOHNSON'S ACTIONS: http://www.michaelwildes.com/documents/EnglewoodClergyLetter11.06.pdf
I, along with many in the state, in District 37 and especially in Englewood , the city where I serve as Mayor, have been waiting for a coherent explanation from Assemblyman and Englewood City Councilman Gordon Johnson regarding his reported contributions to Lyndon LaRouche PAC.
As most of us who are remotely aware of politics in the United States know, Mr. LaRouche has espoused divisive and hate filled charges and conspiracies against homosexuals, Jews, the Royal family, leading Democrats, and more throughout his three decades on the national stage. I found it difficult to comprehend how Mr. Johnson would somehow have been unaware of any of that at age 57, especially as a politician.
Because it seemed incomprehensible, when Mr. Johnson was first accused of this by his Republican opponents, I waited for his response, assuming there was a good possibility it was mistake of some sort. On Friday, through news reports it was, by his admission, true.
I want to state for the record, that Mr. Johnson and I are not political allies, although we are both Democrats. I did not support him in his Primary in 2006 when he ran for the City Council, he already held office as an assemblyman , for a variety of reasons, including the fact that his election would result in the reduction of the number of positions held by African Americans in Bergen County, because he was challenging a competent incumbent African American. Furthermore, I went on to be a legislative candidate on a ticket opposed to his last spring. It was for those reasons that I did not react before this charge was both verified and Mr. Johnson had a fair opportunity to state his position.
In the end, what was most disturbing, beyond the nearly $2,000 Mr. Johnson gave over a two year period in seven different contributions, were his statements regarding the matter over this past weekend.
The Record on Friday, October 29 th , reported that:
Johnson said he was "impressed" with LaRouche's grass-roots effort and the way he had managed to inspire youths. He acknowledged LaRouche's controversial persona but said that did not necessarily mean his positions are without merit.
"I find LaRouche to be kind of an extremist, kind of an outsider, so to speak," Johnson said. "Just because he's different doesn't mean he doesn't have some good ideas."
By the next day, Mr. Johnson's position had changed:
"Had I been aware of the LaRouche record of anti-Semitism, I obviously would not have made my contributions," Johnson said in a statement.
What are the positions that Mr. LaRouche holds that Mr. Johnson considers to have merit?
I can't imagine a responsible politician who calls himself a good government official helping to underwrite an organization that calls Al Gore a “Nazi” and calls upon Speaker Nancy Pelosi to resign.
But then again, last year I could not imagine that Gordon Johnson would seek revenge for my not supporting him in his 2006 Primary for City Council by falsely accusing me of employing “thug tactics” against African Americans to help the Independent candidate he promoted and backed in that same year's General Election in an effort to incite racial bitterness.
Of the people Mr. Johnson alleged were supposedly threatened by my supporters, every one appeared at a hearing and testified under oath that he or she was not threatened or intimidated, everyone except one woman who refused to attend in person or by phone. That same woman did, however, manage to find the time several months later to attend a press conference with Mr. Johnson just two weeks before the election. This was done with Mr. Johnson's full awareness of the true facts, and completely disregarding them.
Following this blatant attempt on Mr. Johnson's part to racially and religiously divide Englewood for political benefit in the last days before an election, Mr. Johnson was severely rebuked by the leading clergy of the City for the “timing of the events complained of” and for the use of “incendiary words.” See: http://michaelwildes.org/documents/EnglewoodClergyLetter11.06.pdf
I was re-elected by a 2-to-1 margin despite Mr. Johnson's efforts, with large pluralities in African American districts, which means so much to me. With the election over, Mr. Johnson never again raised the subject.
I let it go last year, because I did not think it was in the best interests of Englewood to continue political debate involving race baiting that would only result in more suspicion and mistrust among our residents.
Therein lies the central point of my statement today.
I wish Mr. Johnson's repeated contributions to Lyndon LaRouche were his only lapse of judgment in his public career regarding insensitivity to divisiveness. Unfortunately they are not.
I have known two Gordon Johnsons in politics. One is avuncular and knows what the politically correct thing to say is. The other is divisive, mean-spirited and profoundly lacks common sense.
I believe the latter Gordon Johnson repeatedly donated to Lyndon LaRouche PAC. It was that Gordon Johnson who solicited contributions from city employees on government property for a “Clean Election.” And I believe it was that same Gordon Johnson who saw nothing wrong in what he had done. (The Record on October 26, 2007 .)
This is the Gordon Johnson that a diverse city like Englewood cannot afford. It is easy to tear people apart. Keeping people united in purpose and in understanding is not nearly as easy a task.
I have consistently fought to bring people together in Englewood , especially in efforts to win city referendum to reconstruct our schools, which have mostly a minority enrollment. That is why I personally found Mr. Johnson's and his small band of operatives' tactics to be repugnant.
Senator Weinberg described herself as “embarrassed” by Mr. Johnson's affiliation with Mr. LaRouche. The Senator can't imagine the embarrassment the people of City of Englewood feel.
I will not concern myself here with Mr. Johnson's legislative career. However, as Mayor, and with all differences aside, I believe the time has come for Mr. Johnson to resign from his position on the Englewood City Council. First, he must step down because within our city it is now clear he repeatedly stands as a symbol of destructive politics at its worst. Second, he must go because he should not hold two offices.
This is not a political maneuver on my part. If Mr. Johnson and his supporters are honest, they will admit that they control the Democratic County Committee and that they would select Mr. Johnson's replacement.
The real issues are Mr. Johnson's judgment (or lack thereof) as the ONLY citywide elected council member and his lack of intellectual integrity by, in one breath claiming to be against dual office-holding while in another refusing to cease doing it.
Englewood needs to end the divisions and political infighting Johnson has come to personify, and come together. His prompt resignation from this City Council will be a healthy step in letting the healing process begin.
Paid for by Friends of Michael J. Wildes For Mayor, Assemblyman Arnold Brown, Treasurer
250 Allison Court, Englewood, NJ 07631