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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Reaching for clarity, Assemblyman sows confusion on school matters

It started innocently enough. Fellow Plainfield blogger Olddoc found in a Courier story on the schools that Assemblyman Jerry Green had used the word 'reiterated' in reference to the situation (see here) --

Assemblyman Jerry Green, D-Plainfield, on Wednesday said he plans to reiterate to Christie and Schundler a need to step in and take action against what he called a blatant waste of taxpayer money.

"Enough is enough. This has gotten out of hand," Green said. "I'm asking the commissioner to step in now. The city can no longer continue to be dragged through the mud like it has been."
Now the story was about Gallon's pals and their termination payouts.

Olddoc was hoping Jerry would share his prior communications with Commissioner Schundler.

And Jerry took him up on it (see here) --
Doc has asked me to explain my communication with the Commissioner of Education's office as well as the County Superintendent's office. That communication has been over the phone and constant for the past six months. The conversation also included former Commissioner of Education Lucille Davie.


I have made sure to take the necessary steps to make sure that I neither did nor said anything to violate anyone's rights. The conversation I had with the Commissioner was one that led both of us to agree that until this issue is resolved, there is not room for personal comments to be shared in public; a stance that I will respect. The Commissioner's office is very aware of the concerns of the residents of Plainfield regarding the Plainfield Board of Education's issues.

So his communications with the state have been of long standing, and he has been very circumspect in not making public pronouncements, out of a concern not to 'impede' lawsuits. All of this is well and good.

Where the Assemblyman sows confusion is the section denoted by the
[...] above, which includes the following --
City Council President Annie McWilliams has asked me to set up a meeting with the State and County to discuss the legal ramifications as to the Council's ability to review the budget.
The Commissioner's office as well as the County Superintendent's office has agreed to participate in a conference along with myself, the Mayor, Council President and Council to discuss the budget issue.
Suddenly, in the middle of an apparent discussion of the PERSONNEL ISSUES about which the state has expressed concern and the Assemblyman has been so circumspect, we switch horses and the matter of the SCHOOL BUDGET is inserted.

The law on defeated school budgets is quite clear --
  1. A budget is defeated by the voters;
  2. It must be referred to the governing body by the Board of Education within a certain time frame;
  3. The governing body may amend it or let it stand, which also must be done by a date certain;
  4. The Board of Ed may either accept the governing body's changes or appeal to the state;
  5. If an appeal is made to the state, their decision is final.
What could be simpler or more straightforward?

What confuses me is this: what does it mean to use the words 'discuss the legal ramifications as to the Council's ability to review the budget'?

The law not only gives the Council the
ability, it forces the responsibility for the budget upon them.

Further, the law states that it is incumbent on the GOVERNING BODY to do the work. There is no mention of conferences with state and county officials, nor of including the Mayor or the Assemblyman.

Is it proper to have such a conference? Is it proper to have it without including the Board of Ed? If the Board of Ed is included, what BOE members should be at the meeting -- because, if a QUORUM of the Board of Ed is present, the 'Sunshine Law' would go into effect and the meeting would have to be public.

Are you confused yet?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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active citizen said...

Keep Assemblyman Green out of City politics as much as possible. I am not very confident that he will represent out best interests or that he should even be involved. He is not trusted by most people I speak to.

Thank you.

Good Riddance said...

Jerry might be well intentioned but he sure can't and doesn't do much for the people of Plainfield. His only interest (same as the Mayor and her cronies), is to line their own pockets. Talk about scandals with the schools, PMUA and city administration and you'll see that they are all connected to Green in some way. Sure he can denounce this but in no way, shape or form should a community such as Plainfield not have progressed. Unless of course Green hasn't had enough time in office - Nope not it either since he's been here since Plainfield was established. Give it up Green - time for you to go. Please take Gallon, Briggs, Watson, Burney and the rest of your cronies with you.