The needler in the haystack.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tonight's Council: Should the Administration bring its Pepto-Bismol?

Tonight's Plainfield City Council's agenda-setting session could leave Mayor Robinson-Briggs and her top administrators reaching for their Pepto-Bismol®.

The tummy-settling tablets may be needed when the Council takes up tonight's discussion items: the still-unborn FY2009 budget, the East 6th Street (Bryant Park) playground proposal, and take-home City vehicles.

(That last point I will not take up again, as it has been thoroughly discussed on Plainfield Today, with a poll on the matter in which 182 readers took part -- see here.)

But there are plenty of unanswered questions on the other two matters --

  • What is the status of the State aid figure? When is it coming? How much will it be?

  • Is the Division of Local Government Services writing the City and demanding to know when the budget will be passed?

  • Why hasn't the Robinson-Briggs Administration submitted a complete revision of the budget to the Council yet? What is taking so long?

  • With taxpayers facing hard times -- including job losses and foreclosure -- how can the Administration bring forth a layoff plan for A SINGLE POSITION? And is that layoff plan punitive, since it seems to target an employee who will be eligible to retire with 25 years of service next year? And what are the facts in relation to the rumor that the job title being laid off will be replaced with another title, with a hiree waiting in the wings?

  • Does the proposal for an emergency appropriation through the end of April, as allowed by law, mean that the Administration is planning to 'let the clock run out' on the whole budget process, since there would be only two months left in the fiscal year at that point?
  • What is the truth of the matter about the grants for this project? Are there THREE grants, as the Remington & Vernick personnel explained at the January 12 agenda session ($100,000 and TWO for $85,000) or are there only TWO grants ($100,000 and ONE for $85,000) with an $85,000 MATCH required of the City, which is what Parks & Recreation Director Dave Wynn said in a voice mail left on my cellphone after that meeting?

  • City Administrator Dashield ticked off the steps in the planning process at the January 12 agenda session, making NO MENTION AT ALL of consulting with the neighborhood in the design or siting of the proposed structures. Why were they not consulted originally? And why would DPW Director Wenson Maier tell the Block Association at its January 16th meeting that 'if the grant is lost, it would be their fault'? (Let's not even go into why the Mayor would send her along to the meeting with a letter asking to give Wenson Maier a hearing.)

  • At the January 12 agenda session, it was stated that the grant in danger of expiring was ON ITS SECOND EXTENSION. Why not get to the bottom of this? When was the original grant made, what was it for, and what was its expiration date? And why wasn't that date met? What were the terms of the FIRST EXTENSION, including its expiration date -- and why wasn't that met? Ditto the SECOND EXTENSION.

  • Why can't the Administration consolidate the two proposed structures into one as the Block Association has requested? And why is the proposed construction of the second structure 'several years off' if the pressure is because of some threatened grant cancellation? Something doesn't add up here.
Taxpayers should be alarmed as well as annoyed that the Robinson-Briggs administration seems to be terminally uninformed as well as uninformative, and this in its fourth and final year as Mayor Robinson-Briggs, with the full support of Assemblyman Jerry Green, prepares to face the electorate for another chance at the brass ring.

Time for some straight talk and straight answers, don't you think?

City Council Agenda Session
Tonight, January 26
7:30 PM
City Hall Library

-- Dan Damon