The replacement of Michael Zushma as Emergency Management Coordinator is an example of politics at its worst. At the June 22nd council meeting I, along with other members of the public, asked the Mayor and Republican members of the council to explain the rationale behind the move. The response of the Mayor and the Republican Councilmember’s basically dismissed our concerns. For those who may not know, Mr. Zushma has served as the Emergency Management Coordinator since 1984. He is recognized throughout our state for his knowledge and leadership. During his tenure he has literally guided our borough through hundreds of potential disasters. Hurricane Sandy is just one of dozens of weather events which have required his expertise. In a town like South Plainfield, with our large industrial base, he has unique knowledge of all of the chemicals which could lead to explosion and other related industrial accidents. He has developed a safety plan for our schools and designed the enclosed vestibules to contain possible intruders before they can get access to students and staff. Additionally, Mr. Zushma has obtained almost $2 million in grants from FEMA and other state and federal agencies. He most recently received a half million dollar grant to install generators in the schools. His salary for the position is $15,000 per year and the borough does not have to pay pension or benefits. To me it is obvious why the Mayor and Republican members of the council decided to remove him. The only logical conclusion is politics. There is an old expression that says “Power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It’s time to reign in the arrogance that has now taken over the governing body and make decisions based on what is best for the residents of the Borough and leave the political affiliations aside.
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