Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs has had an embarrassing year, with the budget fiasco -- and the resultant abrupt firing of her hand-picked finance director -- surely topping the list.
With budget adoption nowhere in sight, and no amendments formally submitted to the City Council, which alone has the power of the purse, the Mayor continues her secretive and vindictive style right up to the wire as we pass into the New Year.
Two cases in point.
First, self-defeating vindictiveness.
As of Noon tomorrow, Annie McWilliams and Adrian Mapp will be members of the City Council. Owing to the absence of Councilor William Reid for health reasons, the new members will need to take part in the vote on the budget for FY2009, which is now half over.
Understandably, they want to make fully informed decisions in this matter. Yet requests to supply them with the same budget documents the Council has received and to brief them as the Council has been previously briefed by the Administration have been stonewalled by Robinson-Briggs.
It boggles the mind that the Mayor would not seem to see the reasonableness of extending a hand of cooperation to the two newcomers whose votes she is going to need in the coming year. But it is symptomatic of her style.
Second, unnecessary secretiveness.
With the Robinson-Briggs administration floundering through the passage of the FY2009 budget, and no finance director at the helm, it is perfectly understandable that good outside help would be sought.
But why secretively? Especially at Plainfield's City Hall, where news leaks as if from a sieve?
Robinson-Briggs turned to a consultant to get her through her budget mess.
And not just any consultant, but one of the most highly-regarded local finance people in the state.
Her pick, Bob Casey, is no stranger to Plainfield, having served as both finance director and city administrator on an interim basis under Mayor Al McWilliams.
Casey is the straightest of straight arrows, and if anyone can pull Robinson-Briggs' budget chestnuts out of the fire, he's the man.
But why do it so secretively? He's been at work for weeks now, and it was only after word got into the street, that Councilors learned he had been hired. As far as City Hall staffers go, Robinson-Briggs appears to be keeping him out of sight. Aside from the secretiveness, two further questions emerge --
- How was a consultant hired without an RFP or an authorizing resolution by the Council?
- From what account is Casey being paid?
With McWilliams and Mapp joining the Council, Robinson-Briggs' secretive habits are likely to see scrutiny unlike any since the days of Council President Ray Blanco.
Now, that was a time when it was EXCITING to go to a Council meeting.
Hopefully, those days are back.