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Thursday, October 22, 2009

DCA letter now online here, question of criminality remains

Detail of letter, showing it was addressed to both
the Mayor and the City Council.

Exactly two weeks after the state wrote
Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs and the City Council concerning its concerns over Plainfield's CFO (Chief Financial Officer) situation, I am pleased to post a copy of the now-infamously missing letter online for the world to read (see end of post).

You will recall that the public only became aware that there REALLY was a letter after Councilor Mapp dragged the admission from City Administrator Marc Dashield and Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson at Monday's special council meeting (on that meeting, see Dan here, Bernice here, and Olddoc here).

Though both acknowledged they were aware of the letter, neither was able to explain why the Council had not received a copy of the letter, nor why the Mayor had not forwarded same to the City Clerk.

Though the letter has since surfaced (amid suspicions the Robinson-Briggs administration wanted to keep it under wraps until after the election), the issues is raises are still with us.

The three questions that bother me most are --
  1. If having a certified Chief Financial Officer is one of a municipality's CONSTITUTIONALLY MANDATED OFFICERS (as with tax assessor, tax collector, municipal clerk, etc.), why has the Robinson-Briggs administration not filled the office with a permanent, certified appointment after a nearly two-year vacancy?

  2. What is the quality of the legal advice that the Robinson-Briggs administration is getting for $159,500 per year -- if it was getting ANY on this matter -- that Her Honor could offer the Council resolutions for 'ACTING' or 'INTERIM' appointments which contravene state regulations and cannot legally be made. (Sadly, the Council has to rely on the Administration's statements that what it is doing is legal and by-the-book, since the Corporation Counsel evidently feels no compulsion to protect the public's interest in this matter.)

  3. Lastly, there is the question of whether the MISUSE OF A PERSON'S SIGNATURE STAMP rises to the level of criminality. In the next to last paragraph on the first page, it comes to light that the Robinson-Briggs administration has been using an employee's signature stamp as co-signer on municipal checks even though the employee is NOT the CFO. The employee expressed her concern to the State, and rightly so -- her certification is put at risk by the reckless behavior of the Robinson-Briggs administration in using her signature stamp improperly. But more than that, the question arises in my mind whether the Robinson-Briggs administration's actions in this matter rise to the level of 'uttering a false instrument', knowing that the use of the signature stamp on municipal checks was in violation of DCA regulations. Should the Council call for an independent investigation of the matter, or turn over the entire affair to the Attorney General's office?
In any event, the Division of Local Government Services has put the Robinson-Briggs administration on notice that it must bring the City into compliance with its regulations.

Members of the public having questions about Robinson-Briggs' conduct in the matter may prefer to ask their questions at the League of Women Voters candidates' forum next Wednesday, rather than wait for the next City Council meeting, which will occur AFTER the November election.


Wednesday - October 28
. 6:30 PM and 7:30 PM. LWV Candidates' Forum. The Plainfield chapter of the League of Women Voters will present its candidates' forum in two segments: at 6:30 PM, candidates for the 22nd District Assembly seats; at 7:30 PM, candidates for Mayor and the Ward 4 Council seat. At Emerson Community School, East Third Street at Emerson Avenue.

-- Dan Damon

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Anonymous said...

Dan, Will you be following up in three weeks to see what has happened? More importantly, will the city Council?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the due diligence Dan on this matter. Again, how any voter can rationalize the re-election of the Mayor baffles me. This incident is a glaring example of the ineptitude on display for all to see of the current team running things at City Hall. Plainfield and the taxpayers deserve better. If this was a private corporation, the whole bunch would have been terminated on the questions asked.

Keep It Real said...

The events related to the CFO is very very troubling. How will it affect the budgets that were already passed? I am not sure if the Counsel is at fault or the mayor. The counsel only offer advice, it is up to the mayor to agree with it or not. That is a question that has to be answered. D

Anonymous said...


The Mayor Sharon Robinson Briggs FORGES checks and NO COMMENTS!!!

Where is EVERYONE???!!!

Rob . . . Yep I Said It . . . Keep It Real . . . Rebecca . . . ANYBODY!!!

JMG said...

I don't know how one could use the word "honorable" when addressing the Mayor.

Anonymous said...

I really have to believe that there was no criminal intent here. I just think that Mayor Briggs is absolutely clueless as to what the duties and reponsibilities of a Mayor are. She tends to look at herself more as an ambassador and take advantage of every photo op there is. Didn't she win some kind of award for Mayor of the Year or something? Just shows how bad goverment is all over if that is corrrect and if the winner of America's Got Talent was a puppet act last year, Plainfield gets the same award with Jerry's puppet Sharon.

I think we all see it coming -Mayor Sharon for 4 more years. I have never seen the people of Plainfield rally for anything so I doubt very much any group can do to wake up the people of Plainfield.

Keep It Real said...

@6:20pm, I am too dumbfounded to comment *frown*

Rob said...

Anonymous at 6:20PM : I had to work all day in the city yesterday for over 12hrs...Just saw this today.
- Dear Assistant Mayor Sharon, much like a good game of "barbies" when we were all younger, sometimes you have to just stop playing. Please stop "Playing Mayor" and go home. We are all tired of you. And I would be willing to roll the dice that even Mayor Jerry is not liking the weight around his neck you have become. Jerry back the wrong horse didn't he !!!! Come On Jerry..Admit it... you wish you handpicked someone else...!!

Anonymous said...

To Keep It Real regarding the council offering advice to the mayor for the budget - the council is the governing body that votes the budget in or out. They do not only advise the mayor, they authorize the budget.

Yep I Said It! said...

This is absolutely CRAZY!!!

If I . . . or anyone else commenting -including Dan -had forged a check or even responsible for forging checks -there would NOT be a letter in the mail stating we did something criminal. Instead -THE POLICE WOULD BE AT OUR DOOR READY TO ARREST US!!!

It is time for ALL of Plainfield to call the number on this letter and ask them why is it that Sharon only gets a SLAP ON THE HANDS instead of CONNECTING BRACELETS SLAPPED AROUND HER WRISTS!!!


Anonymous said...

I hope that Ms. Cummings makes it through to the rest of the year since she moved to the top of the Mayor's S***T LIST.

Keep It Real said...

I meant the advice from Counsel.

Anonymous said...

to the commenter at 6:20 pm:

I actually did make a comment on this situation (since you asked). My recommendation is that the mayor immediately fire Dashield and Williamson. I think the city council ought to launch their own investigation, and they also should contact Attorney General Milgram. If criminal malfeasance is found, arrests should be made. I think that the city council, or an individual councilor, such as Adrian Mapp, should hold another town meeting immediately to listen to residents' concerns over this. I think that the city council should not act as if this is not happening. I think that when Council President Burney is throwing political stones around, he should also be throwing them in the direction of the local candidate, the mayor.

Rebecca - I may post my more complete thoughts on my own blog.

Anonymous said...

So, Thursday, October 29 is "D-DAY," the day that the mayor has to have a certified CFO appointed. Let's see what happens. They've only had a few years, since it was known that Sepelya would be retiring for at least 2 years. It must take a long time to find someone to make a patronage appointment, which is probably why it has taken this long. Why doesn't the mayor appoint Cummings, who is certified? Oh, I guess because Cummings is now being seen as a "whistleblower," since she alerted the state to the illegality. I hope she is aware that she has protections as a whistleblower.