Unfortunately, pizza was not served.
Plainfield City Council moved some stuff forward, some not at Monday evening's evening agenda-setting session.
Among the stuff going forward to next week's business meeting --
- Appointment of Siddeeq El-Amin as an alternate to the Planning Board;
- Ordinances regarding cab passengers, taxi stands, the Emergency Management Council, and tethering animals;
- 30 resolutions on the agenda, plus 10 add-on settlement resolutions by Corporation Counsel; and
- A new ordinance concerning the budget and a 'cap bank'.
- The sick leave ordinance
- The Mapp administration's 'Manager, Motors' proposal.
Once it got down to business under committee-of-the-whole chairperson Tracey Brown, the Council moved at a clip that almost left them breathless (and with the audience chuckling at one point), clearing the entire agenda document in less than 30 minutes.
Getting there was the hard part.
The bulk of the evening was spent discussing the proposed sick leave ordinance. Public comment, with more than 20 speakers, lasted about and hour and ten minutes, and Council comments carried that up to about 9:15, when Councilor Storch moved for a five-minute recess.
Supporters and questioners of the proposed sick leave ordinance took to the mike passionately, politely and in earnest -- and several were granted time extensions.
Resident Danny Dunn, originally denied the mike by Council President Bridget Rivers because he was off topic, even managed to find a topic in the sick leave discussion and make an extemporaneous comeback speech toward the end of public comment.
Merchants from downtown, Plainwood Square, the SID and the Chamber of Commerce were united in questioning the manner in which they felt the ordinance was being put forward, revealed their ignorance of its actual details, and worried about its impact on their businesses.
Supporters attempted to address each of those concerns. Businessman Lenin Aguirre even acknowledged that the sick leave ordinance had been discussed at February's standing-room only doubleheader Council meeting. Speakers representing the Working Families Party and NJ Citizens Action, a good-government group, cited reports that the cost impact to small businesses was nearly nil and post-adoption satisfaction rates among businesses was high.
Bernice Paglia of Plaintalker made a pitch for common sense when she suggested that the business organizations could put a member in charge of 'legislative affairs' -- just like large organizations do -- to keep an eye on upcoming ordinances and resolutions that may have a business impact.
And now that Municipal Clerk 'AJ' Jalloh's crew has gotten to putting the agendas and backup material online and offers signup for an email blast, there is simply no reason for these business organizations to feel left out of the political process.
If you're a Mae West fan, you'll understand when I say the City provides the grapes, you'll have to do your own peeling.
As the evening wore on, it became obvious that many of the Council people had no real grasp of the ordinance's details or even the process in which they were involved.
Councilor Taylor, who seems to be channeling former Councilor Bill Reid, offered a lengthy merde meringue (a confection of BS with a lot of hot air mixed in) attempting to put the blame for the evening's distress on the Mapp administration. She waved her hands by way of emphasis and repeated the words 'disturbing' and 'supportive' in various combinations. Whether she was 'disturbingly supportive' or 'supportively disturbed' I'll leave for viewers to figure out when PCTV posts its tape.
Taylor's performance was disturbing enough that Council President Rivers felt called upon to remind her that the ordinance was proposed not by the Mapp administration but by Councilor Williams. Taylor did not address the distinction.
After the break, Council President Rivers announced they had decided to bring the sick leave ordinance up in April, which would give everyone an opportunity to weigh in before further Council action.
I didn't stay for The Bitter End, but on the way out I noticed the boo-hoo brothers sitting at the back of the room and wondered if there was to be another baseball harangue.
-- Dan Damon [follow]