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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Administration runs off a cliff at Council meeting

Wile E. Coyote was constantly running over a cliff's edge.

Plainfield's City Council meeting on Tuesday reminded me of the old Looney Tunes cartoons, in which the hapless Wile E. Coyote often is found running off a cliff, hanging in the air for a suspenseful moment as the import of what has happened dawns on him, then crashing into the canyon below -- only to repeat the scene in yet another cartoon adventure.

You could have caught that suspenseful realization-while-hanging-in-air moment if you had had a camera with you last night (Alas! I did not, and I think Laurence Rice videocam was aimed in the wrong direction.)

Actually, there were TWO such moments.

The FIRST came with the second reading of Ordinance MC2009-23, intended to EXCEED the budget appropriations limitation for FY2010 and establish a 'CAP bank'.

Councilor Storch had twice warned, most recently at the agenda session last week at Hubbard School, that he thought the ordinance was fiscally irresponsible and that he would vote against it.

With only five Councilors on hand (Reid and Simmons were absent), the Administration should have sensed it was in trouble when the meeting began. The reason is that BUDGETARY VOTES require a two-thirds majority of the FULL GOVERNING BODY, not just those present. That means that FIVE YEA VOTES are needed on budgetary measures.

Predictably, the measure went down.

Ask yourself this -- Knowing of Storch's vote in advance, and knowing that FIVE YEAS were needed, why wouldn't the Administration move heaven and earth to get to the magic number? Did they even try? Did the missing Councilors skip on purpose, knowing what the result would be?

You would need a magic decoder ring to even guess.

Administrator Marc Dashield then opined that the Administration would have to go back to the drawing board, which would delay the offering of the budget proposal. Well, duh.

But who REALLY believed the administration would offer its budget on Tuesday anyway, despite a previous promise?

SECOND moment of fateful enlightenment came when Councilor Mapp questioned Resolutions 453-09 and 454-09, in which a 'certification of funds availability' was integral.

Saying this certification could ONLY be made by the Chief Financial Officer, a position which needed Council advice and consent, Mapp asked on what basis the certification was being made.

To the assertion of Administrator Dashield that Director of Finance and Administration Bibi Taylor was the 'acting CFO', Mapp asked by what authority, as the Council had not been asked for, nor given, its advice and consent.

Cue camera, catch Dashield and Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson with 'that' look crossing their faces, just before they crash to the canyon floor.

Further discussion uncovered that Mr. Dashield was not quite sure just when the City last had a bona fide CFO that the Council had approved (there had been a part-timer from Bridgewater that the Council had approved a contract for, but she had left at some point -- the exact time of which Dashield was 'not sure' but he thought it may have been February 2009).

This would be laughable except that it casts a pall over all of the financial transactions of the City since the date (whatever!) there last was a legitimate CFO.

Who was signing off in the meantime, Dashield? And by what authority?

Folks, you simply cannot make this stuff up.

Dashield and Williamson allowed as how there would need to be a special meeting of the Council to address the CFO issue, as the issue now stymies everything.

(Councilor Carter brought out that YET ANOTHER resolution, 458-09, regarding a grant for sports equipment funding would also need to be withdrawn.)

To my mind, there are TWO FURTHER QUESTIONS that this whole sorry episode raises --
  1. What kind of advice is Mayor Robinson-Briggs getting from Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson that such a glaring oversight could occur? and,

  2. Why, with the ability to conduct its financial affairs hanging in the balance, has the Robinson-Briggs administration not recruited a certified CFO (it's almost a year since the last CFO, Pete Sepelya, retired)?
So, is the Robinson-Briggs administration a Looney Tunes cartoon adventure or just the most inept bumblers in New Jersey?

Or is that the same thing?

-- Dan Damon

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JMG said...

And its sad to say the the Mayor will most likely be re-elected again. Ah yes ...your machine politics providng the best and the brightest for the residents of Plainfield. When will the residents wake up and see what idiots these people are and vote for a change. Unfortunately not in my lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Dan, according to what Doc and other bloggers have written, it seems that Dashiled sent in the extraordinary aid application request to the state BEFORE the ordinance was even brought to the council table. Isn't this sending FALSIFIED data to the state? The city council should bring charges against Dashield for willfully LYING on the application. If the council refused to approve this ordinance, HE falsified and sent illegal information to the state on an ordinance that doesn't exist. The state certainly will not look kindly upon illegal, falsified requests for aid! This is more evidence of this administration's corrupt activities. I think the administration ought to fire Mr. Dashield, or the city council needs to bring action against him for this possibly criminal breach. Council President Burney and the rest of the council need to hold him and the administration accountable for this incompetence and lying. Unfortunately, instead of Wiley Coyote going "boom" we the residents and taxpayers are the ones who will explode. Remember Mr. Dashield doesn't live here so he doesn't feel the impact of his actions.

Rob said...

Seriously, this Mayor, Mayor Green and his Assistant, Assistant Mayor Sharon could screw up falling down.
NOTE TO SELF: The next time I need help looking like a bumbling idiot, call the Mayor and his assistant for help.

Anonymous said...

What else do the people of Planfield need to get these people out? Talk about being second class citizens, these people of Plainfield are past second and on to twelfth!

What is the matter? Can't vote for a Republican because they might mess things up? Unbelievable!

And Marc Dashield is a glutton for punishment. I believe he is doing exactly what his job indicates. And I think he is doing it well. Too bad that he is not able to actually perform his duties. I think he would be pretty good at it.

Anonymous said...

There are always gaps in staff positions around the state, that is why the ultimate responsibilty always goes UP per state statue and laws; wheter Dashield or the Mayor like it or not. And if they had an unqualified person signing things, it is their problem also, not the ____ who under threat was told to sign this ... it is okay.

Anonymous said...

can we PLEASE not re-elect Jerry Green and Sharon Robinson-Briggs? Pretty please!?!??!!?

It's PATHETIC that the citizens of Plainfield continue to vote for these two.

We DESERVE better!