The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Council features Library, CFO discussions

A common thread tied together the main discussions at Monday's Plainfield City Council meeting: Finances.

Responding to a request from Plainfield Public Library Director Joe Da Rold, Council president Annie McWilliams set aside time at the meeting's beginning for a presentation by Da Rold on the library's financial needs as the Council looks down the road to the FY2011 budget.

He was followed by ten speakers representing community-wide support for the Library (including some who were moved to speak by those whose testimony they heard last evening), and the dramatic impact that budget cuts have had on programming, staffing and availability of the building as the community's premier meeting space.

From appearances, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs is preparing to mount an all-out assault on library funding as she prepares for the next budget, though no one can quite figure out her antipathy to the 118-year-old institution acknowledged as THE hub of the community and one of the Queen City's gems.

The Council seemed attentive in a positive way -- with an occasional light touch (sounding a little chagrined, McWilliams said she would be returning some overdue books today).

Councilor Mapp led off a discussion of options the Council has to parry any cuts contemplated by the Robinson-Briggs administration. As it started to get somewhat involved, Council President McWilliams suggested that the discussion should be reserved for another time.

Whatever, it was perfectly clear that the Administration will get pushback if it decides to press its attack on library funding.

The much-anticipated Council discussion of its resolution requesting the state appoint a certified financial officer was the other high point of the evening.

Council President's statement that she had heard nothing from the Robinson-Briggs administration by Monday afternoon concerning suggested changes to the resolution elicited a statement by City Administrator Bibi Taylor that 'the Administration proposes no changes as it opposes the resolution in its entirety'.

The room fairly crackled with tension between the Council bench and the Administration's table, with Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson having to admit that the mayor is still no closer to having a viable candidate.

(As an aside, there was a discussion of a memo from Williamson to the council in which it was averred that Mayor Robinson-Briggs had made an offer of the position to Councilor Adrian Mapp, who holds the required municipal financial officer certification. Mapp firmly stated -- TWICE -- that he wanted the record to reflect that no such offer had been made to him, though there had been preliminary discussions.)

Though Robinson-Briggs is on her THIRD THREE-MONTH EXTENSION OF THE DEADLINE (set to expire on July 19), a matter which has been commented on repeatedly in the media and the blogs, Councilor Burney stated that he would prefer a 'conference call with the state' rather than an action by the Council in advance of the expiry of this third deadline. Councilor Storch allowed as how Burney's reservation had merit.

On the eventual vote, the measure failed. Absent Councilors Carter and Rivers, four of the five members present would have to support the measure, and it was clear that without Burney's support or that of Councilor Bill Reid (who no one expected to cross Robinson-Briggs on the matter), the measure would fail. The final vote was 3-2, with only McWilliams, Mapp and Storch in favor.

Regardless of the failure of the measure or the fact that the Council's next business meeting will not be until AFTER the mayor's deadline, the Council has applied a great deal of heat to the feet of the Robinson-Briggs administration.

Surely, not even Councilor Burney can suggest after July 19 that the Council is being hasty.

One thing at least would be certain were the state to send in its own CFO, the sloppiness with which the city's financial affairs have been managed (alluded to by Council President McWiliams) would come under sharp scrutiny, and we might expect more 'i's' to be dotted and more 't's' to be crossed.

That in itself would be progress.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Rob said...

I am willing to bet Burney will say it's hasty after the's obvious who is holding his chain. The same man who is pulling the strings on the puppet in the Mayor's office..........His refusal to call out Sharon on her antics or Jerry his tell all that needs to be told. PARTY HACK.
- Per Davis..not even worth commenting on, he doesn't even pretend to appear to represent his constituents.

Anonymous said...

The problem with blaming the administration for the library cuts is that it is 100% false.

While the administration introduced a budget full of cuts, the Council is the one that actually approved the budget that cut the library's funding.

Now the Council itself is complaining that the library funding was cut?

But I guess to that is what makes politicans.

Anonymous said...

I believe Councilman Burney stated that after the July 19th deadline, he would support the resolution.

Bob said...

I'm glad to see that the Council is willing to push back on our mayor who seems to have a vendetta against the library. The library will be there and useful to the city's residents long after this mayor is gone and forgotten.

I was sad to see that the proposal concerning a CFO did not pass. This mayor does not deserve any more time. I don't trust her with the City's money and most I've talked to don't either. People need to write their Councilmembers and tell them to vote for fiscal responsibility.