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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Robinson-Briggs abruptly fires Plainfield Finance Director

Douglas Peck (from his website, now defunct).

Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' judgment took another hit Monday as word seeped out that her hand-picked Director of Finance and Administration, Douglas Peck, had cleaned out his desk and was gone. Along with the car he is said to have used without authorization.

The ground had become increasingly shaky under Mr. Peck's feet after he flubbed the management of Mayor Robinson-Briggs' FY2009 budget introduction (read about his infamous 'Crayola document' budget presentation here).

But the proverbial icing on the cake may have been Peck's failure to produce the materials necessary for the Planning Board to move the City's five-year capital improvements plan forward, causing a Planning Board meeting to be canceled on short notice and leaving others in the Robinson-Briggs administration to try and salvage the mess.

Peck's tenure as a City employee has been exceptional, to put it mildly.

(Prior to his appointment by Robinson-Briggs, his only previous connection with Plainfield seems to have been a consulting contract with the PMUA, for whose Commissioners he conducted a 'strategic planning retreat', where -- among other things -- he plumped for the PMUA to start and operate a Charter School in Plainfield.)

Peck began with the Council approving an unheard-of $12,000 stipend in addition to his salary, interpreted at the time as covering his moving costs (though he later disputed that) -- and taking his first week on the City payroll off (see here) as a 'freebie'.

Then there was the matter of bonding; it turned out that, unlike every previous Director of Finance and Administration, Peck was unable to be bonded. The defect was such that the Robinson-Briggs administration pondered giving him another title, though nothing ever came of that idea.

Throughout the summer, I got word that the Mayor's other appointees were seething at the lax work weeks Peck was putting in; some say he never put in a five-day week the entire period he was with the City.

The budget, which was one of Peck's main responsibilities, turned out to be a donnybrook, for which Mayor Robinson-Briggs took it on the chin (see posts here).

But there were other, and more disturbing, rumors -- that Peck had commandeered a City vehicle and was driving it 24/7 without a Council resolution accepting liability on the City's behalf (see my posts here and here); and that he had physically attacked another City employee in a public scene at Hugo's, the bar which occupies the premises of the former Lily Greenleaves. You'll find no police report on that.

The Council, which has a fiduciary responsibility to the community as its corporate body, had not yet looked into the vehicle issue as of Mr. Peck's departure.

In her report on Peck's departure, Bernice quotes Mayor Robinson-Briggs as saying that though Peck's firing was for 'personnel issues', there was "nothing 'criminal or illegal' involved in the decision" (see full post here).

That may be, but I am told the search is on for the missing city vehicle.

Seems the most likely place to start is the parking lots at Newark Liberty airport.

Would that be long-term or short-term?

The Green/Robinson-Briggs administration is now in the position of having to search for a sixth person to fill the Finance and Administration position, with only her lame-duck year left.

If this were a major league baseball coaching position, the front office would have fired the coach by this time.

Plainfield's 'front office' is the voters.

Next year they get to voice their opinion on the coach.

-- Dan Damon

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Anonymous said...

All I can say is, we knew this was coming. That this "mayor" had the nerve to hire an unqualified person for this important job is...well...par for the course. The council needs to take her to task, and also should be chided themselves for allowing this to happen. They can say NO to her, and yet, they don't! What gives???

Rob said...

If this city were outside the continental US we would call it a "BANANA REPUBLIC" -- Pathetic. One more example of the one party system in NJ excelling at what it does best which is incompetence. Hey Jerry - why don't you appoint a real licensed clown instead of this half-baked amateur you put into office..oops, I mean helped nominate. Glad this circus is only costing us our property taxes. Jerry if you were serious about having the city of Plainfield as your little empire you might consider actually appointing competent people to run it for you so you don't look like such a fool. But then again...that would be smart wouldn't it ??? Hey..I'll run your little city for 1/2 the pay and if you keep you nose out of it I bet I can do it a hell of a lot better. Whew.. I needed that. Sorry Dan for the rant!

Anonymous said...

I was surprised to read over the past few days within the Courier News the misinformation dealing with the committee put together to oversee the budget. What it actually did however, was show to the public that Councilman Rashid Burney is not a part of the negative group of people who constantly embarrass the city with their negative approach to government.

In the report issued by this oversight committee, there was not one solution offered to the problems mentioned. The council does not run the Board of Education. I am happy to see that Councilman Burney, who is a straight arrow, has chose not to get involved with belligerent politics. I watched how he and Assemblyman Jerry Green worked diligently on behalf of Presidential Elect Barack Obama’s campaign. This relationship looks and acts in genuine sincerity in its approach to move this city into the right direction.

Unfortunately, positive and production relationship building spurns negativity in those involved in the debilitating politico that takes advantage of the city of Plainfield repeatedly. I’ve been waiting for another productive relationship between our elected officials to come about, and at the first of the year, I hope and pray that the Green/Burney team will be perceived in a positive light, with their above-mentioned fruits as evidence of their commitment to positive change. This truthful and honest deduction of community efforts should not be slanted, as Dan Damon and others have tirelessly tried to degrade and put a negative spin on the Green/Robinson team. How can one protest the productive working relationships between a State Legislator and the municipal officials wherein he lives?

In closing, I would just like to again, say thank you to Councilman Rashid Burney, and congratulations in doing such a great job in persevering in a city where negativity from an out-of-touch faction still haunts us every now and then. Don’t let this handful of disconnected people thwart your efforts, passions, or integrity as President of City Council.

You have done more than your job description outlines, which is why the respect from the people in the city you have earned, is etched in marble. I am proud to be a support of yours!


Dan said...

Learned Thinker -- You certainly are entitled to your opinion, but don't you think this is rather an odd place to post it?

I hope you bothered to send your thoughts to Councilor Burney.

As far as embarrassing the City, don't you think the people who have chosen five -- make that FIVE -- Directors of Finance and Administration in a mere three years have embarrassed themselves and the City?

Anonymous said...

Learned Thinker obviously hasn't been reaading the blogs that outlined several solutions to the problems mentioned. As a matter of fact, that was the point of the council; to look at the budget and offer suggestions to solutions.

Learned Thinker, look again.

Anonymous said...

I am aware of the purpose of the budget committee.. and they have yet to fulfill that purpose.

And to point out that solutions are being written on the blogs is comedic at best. If there are plausible solutions on the blogs, then why are that not being relayed to the newspapers, you know, the media attraction to informs the masses.

I'm sorry to break from my usual demeanor, but I did have to respond to that remark by anonymous. The author of it should feel embarrassed. I see why he penned under anonymous.


Dan said...

Learned Thinker, how do you know Anonymous isn't a woman?

Assuming everyone is a male is so...unlearned.