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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Would it be like this if the PMUA ran the city?

As other Plainfielders and I were leaving Tuesday's PMUA board meeting, an incident happened that was both threatening and revealing of the PMUA's attitude toward the community.

While we were funneling out the door so the Commissioners could go into executive session, one of them called out loudly, 'Dan Damon! Dan Damon! Come here!'

When I approached the Commissioners dais, I bent over close thinking the Commissioner had something private to say only to have my eardrums blasted as they shouted 'Don't you ever put my name in your blog unless you know what you're talking about! Ever! Do you hear me?!'

Puzzled, since I have not mentioned this Commissioner's name, I asked what they were talking about. 'You know! You said I went on that trip [to Oakland --DD] and I didn't! Don't you ever do that again!'

Angry. Menacing. And just plain uninformed.

It's clear this Commissioner, who shall remain nameless, is more misinformed than they were accusing me of being. They could not have read their name in Plainfield Today because it never appeared there.

Not only had I NOT mentioned the Commissioner's name, they are
NOT mentioned in the DumpPMUA investigation of the trip by at least 13 people to a conference in Oakland, California the last week of April (see DumpPMUA here; for the PMUA's take, see their website here).

Leadership by being misinformed, defensive and threatening is never a good thing.

But that's not all.

I learned from Pat Turner, a retired Star-Ledger reporter and longtime Plainfield activist, that her simple request for information from the PMUA (who are the commissioners? who appoints them? what is their compensation?) was met with the response that she must file an OPRA request for the information.

I kid you not.

Further, she says that when she went to PMUA headquarters and asked for the OPRA form, she was told they weren't available there and she had to go elsewhere. (After quite a go-round, the forms were HAND-DELIVERED to her home by an employee!)

This is right in line with the treatment I reported on April 30 of a customer getting the runaround over opt-out forms (see here).

It is just these issues (
transparency, good customer service, sticking to the organization's mission) which are causing people to rally around DumpPMUA (see their website here).

Instead, Plainfielders are getting a defensive circle-the-wagons reaction.

Is this what it would be like if the PMUA ran the city?

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stevekilduff said...

If it was at a public meeting why are you not naming the aggressive commissioner who yelled at you? You are, in the networked and soon to be post-newspaper world, a member of the press, credentialed or not, and it sure sounds like a case of attempted intimidation to me. I would like to know who it was.

Sandro said...

As for the threats you received, if I were you, I would report it immediately to Mr. Hellwig.

FYI, below is copy of an email I sent to Mr. Perry this morning.

I also filled out an OPRA yesterday asking for their 2008 financials and an explanation of the formula used to determine their outrageous sewer rate (170% the drinkable water bill rate)

Dear Mr. Perry:

I accessed your website this morning in the hope of finding your
annual report - as normally posted by some other Municipal

I was instead welcomed by the announcement below prominently displayed
on your main webpage

"...PMUA Chairperson speaks at NFBPA Conference

PMUA Chairperson Mrs. Carol Brokaw served as a panelist at this weeks
NFBPA Forum during a workshop entitled “A Three-Way Affair –
Tightening the Bonds Between Local Government, Immigrants, and
Established Residents”.
This forum was moderated by PMUA Commissioner
Rev. Tracey L. Brown..."

If I am not mistaken, this workshop was a week affair in Oakland, CA

I would like to know:

1. Did/will the PMUA pay/reimburse for Mrs. Carol Brokaw expenses?
2. If so, how much?
3. Where there other PMUA employees/commissioners attending such
workshop, and if so, did/will the PMUA pay/reimburse for Mrs. Carol
Brokaw expenses? I gathered from the news published in your website
that at least one more person, Rev. Tracey L. Brown, attended it.
4. If so, how much?
5. If the PMUA did/will bear cost associated the the expenses 2. and
4. above, could you please explain how would your major constituents,
the City of Plainfield residents/ratepayers, benefit from bearing such
expenses? since - as I understood from your previous correspondence -
you determine the rates charged to your ratepayers on a cost+ basis.

Rob said...

Ok..I will stand corrected. I think it might be better if the city handled the duties of the PMUA..that little exchange cleared it up for me. Guess I am joining Dump PMUA!!!!

Anonymous said...

That behavior that you experienced at the end of the meeting is the pervasive attitude of the PMUA Elite which is the problem. Don't you know they rule the Kingdom of Trash and Sewage and don't have to answer to any of us who pay for their vacations to California and other "benefits". If the PMUA would focus on beautifying the city and providing competitve rates noone would complain. But it is the fact that they take an us against them stance that makes them difficult to tolerate.