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Monday, February 1, 2010

Plainfield's worst-kept secret: New IT staffer

Despite Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' denial when proposing an IT position last year that she had a pre-selected candidate in mind, and despite an allegedly inter-galactic search, the Starship Enterprise seems never to have left the parking lot at 515 Watchung Avenue.

The buzz is that Chris Payne, whose term as head of IT for the school district comes to an end tomorrow, is slated to take up the same responsibilities for the City of Plainfield on Feburary 5.

In what may be a case of 'out of the fire, into the frying pan', Payne will be entering a job situation where no feasibility study was ever done by the Administration (or compelled by the Council), hence the job may be as spongy as the Mayor's conception of it. Unless the Council approves Bibi Taylor's appointment as City Administrator, in which case we might expect to see some positive results.

Never discussed by Robinson-Briggs in her efforts to bring Payne on board was the $135,000-plus expended by her first City Administrator on IT upgrades and planning. That money was spent WITHOUT CITY COUNCIL AUTHORIZATION, on what may have been a fraudulent 'contract' with QuadTech, a vendor with whom the Administrator may have had a financial relationship (about which I wrote a series of posts at the time, see end of story), and never even resulted in a strategic plan for IT.

Despite the possibly criminal ramifications of that situation, Plainfield failed to rise to the level of Atlantic City's IT mess, where an audit by the State Comptroller (see here, PDF) found $2.5 million spent in IT outsourcing with basically no one in charge (see story here).

With far fewer buildings and computers to manage than at the School District and with a new state-of-the-art data center in the attic of City Hall Annex, Payne should find the City's IT situation a refreshing change of pace.

We wish Chris well, and hope that the citizens will soon be supplied with a IT road map indicating how things stand and where we are going.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Given the much smaller size, if Payne is the guy, he should be able to handle it alone. No other staffers from the school district should be "hired" to work with him. We are watching this one very carefully.

Anonymous said...

You complain when a hiree is not from Plainfield, and you complain when a hiree IS from Plainfield. What's wrong withh this picture?

Anonymous said...

looks like a fire hazard under there. We should have the bravest do an inspection oh thats right we know who runs that never mind PASSED INSPECTION

Dan said...

@ 7:53 -- you must have slept through the movie -- I said that despite a supposedly inter-galactic search, the Starship never left 515.

Do you need a decoder ring?

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with residents from Plainfield getting hired to do a job. In fact, we should be proud and support him as you noted in your blog.

Anonymous said...

Dan who said the investigation was over

Anonymous said...

Didn't the city just sign a memorandum with the state that would preclude the hiring of an IT person until the new budget year?

Dan said...

@ 3:57 -- Good question. I believe the Council passed the salary ordinance finally, after the title and the salary were scaled down. I suspect the state wouldn't/couldn't block a hire in this category since it can be argued it is essential -- with which I agree.

The question will be at what end of the salary scale the Mayor will choose to pay him, and whether she will try to bring another school district employee along also. I am opposed to creating a bureaucracy, and think the Council would find it hard to support creating another position without a feasibility studay. And on a second position, the MOU with the state might kick in.