Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dealing with Mayor, Council's best tool is extreme pressure

A judicious use of pressure, publicly applied, seems to motivate the Mayor

Memo to Plainfield City Council: Looks like your best tool to get some action out of the administration of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs is pressure -- constant, extreme and public. Very public.

Last night's Council meeting offers several good examples --


At almost the last minute of the last hour of the last day of her third deadline extension, Mayor Robinson-Briggs finally came up with a nominee for the Certified Municipal Finance Officer position, though without informing the Council before the meeting or bringing ANY documentation to show that the 'deal' is real.

Likewise for the bunny-out-of-the-hat announcement that an offer will be made -- to a 'qualified' Plainfield resident -- of the Director of Finance and Administration's job. No details yet.

Nevertheless, Council kept the pressure on (the right thing!), scheduling a special meeting for Wednesday, July 28 to interview the two candidates, holding in reserve two resolutions to put into effect should the meeting fail to result in confirmations.


Though some Councilors were not happy that nonprofits with expertise in job training did not bid on the contract ('The Incubator' is a small business development outfit, with no track record in job training), the resolution passed -- but not without acknowledgment by the Robinson-Briggs administration of concerns including the notorious proposal of $70,000 to buy a van for the program.

DPWUD Director Brown suggested the administration was thinking of outsourcing the transportation aspect of the program to a transport service -- another example of how public pressure can clear the minds of administrators.

(Unmentioned by the Robinson-Briggs administration in the whole discussion was that the CDBG grant, originally intended to be executed by Plainfield Action Services and submitted, but withdrawn, last October needs to get crackin'. The program must be up and running by September and the funds spent by the end of the year.)


Mindful that the future of the Urban Enterprise Zone program is uncertain under the Christie administration, the Council was supportive of the proposed Revolving Loan Fund application but expressed concerns lest the program be poorly managed. Among the issues: Who will run the program; How will the governance structure be set up; Using industry best practices in underwriting and loan monitoring.

The Robinson-Briggs administration promised these matters will come up for discussion if and when the application is approved (no sure thing).

Advice to Council: Learn from past experience and don't take the Administration's word for it without proof of follow-through.


With such potentially heartening news for the Council and the public, you would think the Robinson-Briggs administration would have alerted them before the Council meeting about the proposed appointments.

But no, it was not to be so.

Robinson-Briggs' communications style betrays an overly high view of the prerogatives of the office of mayor while at the same time completely underestimating the image this insolence projects.

Case in point: When the Council learned that Robinson-Briggs had a resumé and an offer-of-employment letter for the CMFO, Council President Annie McWilliams recessed the Council meeting to allow time for the Administration to retrieve same from City Hall and share with the Council.

Upon resuming the meeting, when McWilliams inquired whether the documents were available, City Administrator Bibi Taylor said that no one had gone to fetch the documents because 'the Administration holds that this is not the proper forum'.

Not long after, Mayor Robinson-Briggs concluded her cameo appearance by leaving the meeting.

The audience took all this in, intently.

Were Robinson-Briggs paying attention, she would have noticed the frisson and murmurs of support that McWilliams' maneuver elicited from the audience.

Alas, it appears she was not.

Like the Bourbons, of whom Talleyrand is said to have remarked 'they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing'.

The Council, on the other hand, can show that it has learned how to motivate this Mayor and that it will not forget.

And that would be good for Plainfield.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Bob said...

I am delighted to see the Council forcing this mayor to do her job. It is obvious from last night's meeting that the mayor is not totally honest and when "push come to shove" the point is proven. I can see that unless this mayor makes a 360 degree turn around, she is out of here at the next election.

I was also proud to see the Council push the administration for results and to Annie McWilliams for being forthright. I hope to see more or this in the future. I still think we need a thorough audit of the City by the state.

Anonymous said...

and "The Queen Mayor" stated (as instructed by King Jerry) "let them eat cake" and the Plainfield electorate ate cake... again! "As long as they have cake to eat, my head is safe!"
"So it is decreed, so it shall be!" Said the King.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't the mayor just make sure that the city is running and shouldn't she stay out of running the city.

I think part of the reason we are in such a mess is that most people read the charter which states basically that the mayor should stay out of day to day activities. We have Bibi Taylor to do that, thank God.

So, she was voted in because she didn't need skills to run the city, and she does not possess them. The mayor thinks she should run the city, and she still has no skills to do it. Can't some one set her straight that her job is kissing babies and going to dinners? Leave the rest to a compentent person and let Plainfield move on. Please!

Anonymous said...

The council needs to hold the Administration's feet to the fire, non-stop! If there is any hope of making progress, it will come in the form of change by the Mayor or change in the Mayor. This will only happen when the public sees for themselves that she is a fraud. If the council is unwilling to do this, Plainfield might as well concede the city to Jerry and his strip miners.

Anonymous said...

Dig them Crazy shoes.
Lets stop the madness there is more pressing news to worry about.
Lindsey Lohans in jail. hat can we do to save her

Anonymous said...