Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Recreation Committee frustrated by administration's lack of cooperation

Frustration experienced by Plainfield's recently appointed Recreation Committee came to the surface at Monday's City Council meeting.

Reporting to the Council, chairperson Dwayne Wilkins stated again and again that the Committee was eager to fulfill its charge to advise on recreation matters but was stymied by a failure of the Administration to keep promised meetings or to supply information necessary to assess current program efforts and determine whether changes should be considered.

Committee member Kevin Turner was even more direct, telling the Council that the committee had reached 'a frustration point'.

Under questioning by Council President Annie McWilliams, it came to light that there had been only three communications by the Recreation Division with the committee (two from Director Dave Wynn) in over three months, and that the Mayor had not gotten back to the committee in over a month.

Anyone who knows how precious volunteers are and how important it is to value, support and cultivate them can only shudder at such apparently callous disregard of busy parents and professionals who give of their limited time out of concern for the community's recreational needs and programs.

The more the conversation went on, the more embarrassing to the Robinson-Briggs administration things looked.

Consider this: according to Wilkins, the Committee, appointed by the Mayor, was instructed to work directly with Director Dave Wynn and not with DPWUD Director Dave Brown; then we hear from Brown that 'the whole thing was dumped in my lap' last week -- so is the Committee supposed to deal with Brown or not?

We also discover that when the
Committee's minutes were distributed to the Mayor, the Council, Brown and Wynn, the chairperson was admonished by Wynn, 'don't send the minutes to anyone but me'.

This latter point led Council President McWilliams to interject, 'this is not the first time that I have heard this', and express her displeasure to Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson that such behavior was not in the interests of transparency and was unacceptable.

When asked by Councilor Mapp what the committee considered its number one hurdle, Wilkins answered with one word, cooperation.

There ensued a considerable discussion on whether to transform the committee into a commission.

McWilliams pointed out that the Council could adopt an ordinance creating a Recreation Commission to have oversight of the city's recreation, with the Division charged with executing the plans and policies determined by the Commission.

This would be much stronger than a mere committee, a point that was seconded by Councilor Rashid Burney, who used Fanwood as an illustration.

Councilor Storch interjected that the discussion should be conducted in executive session, though he did not make clear what part of it would qualify for such treatment (though Director Wynn's name came up repeatedly, everyone was clear that they were talking about the communications process, not about personnel).

When Council President McWilliams signaled that she wanted Corporation Counsel to prepare an ordinance establishing a Recreation Commission (by adapting the language of some other community's ordinance to fit Plainfield circumstances) for introduction and first reading at next Monday's business meeting, heads snapped.

Having polled the Council and found four in support, McWilliams instructed Corporation Counsel to move forward.

DPWUD Director Brown then threw what has become the Robinson-Briggs administration's standard 'Hail Mary' pass and asked for more time -- thirty days to be exact -- to resolve the issues before the Council would take action on an ordinance.

Council President McWilliams, showing she has caught on to that gambit, allowed as how there was no problem with giving him some time AND proceeding with the ordinance, in tandem.

Pressure, as we have learned, is the ONLY THING that gets this administration moving off the dime.

Hats off to McWilliams, Mapp, Burney and Storch on this one!

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Bob said...

Wow, I'm so glad to see our City Council not playing the mayor's game and making her do her job. How much longer will we have to put up with the obstructive and incompetent mayor. I'm so happy to see the City Council working for Plainfield, because this mayor seldom does; unless there a camera or microphone nearby. Keep up the good work.

To the City Council members who are obstructive, we remember and we will vote accordingly.

Anonymous said...

How come hats off to Storch, who wanted to conduct this very public business in executive session?

Definitely hats off to McWilliams, Burney, and Mapp for pursuing this problem.

Anonymous said...

the city needs someone who is going to do there job look at the food stands no helth paper work no fire safety and built with no permets because mr wynn dose what he wants not what he told to do let him go

Anonymous said...

Dave Wynn does what he is told to do. I think that it is a great idea to create a commission. While they are at can they create a commission to get rid og the Mayor?

CoolBusinessFun said...

Well I am glad that everyone is now seeing more clearly the smoke is almost gone. Maybe after the commission is granted to the committee may we will see some justice(handcuffs)! And let's it this straight I don't know we can't Dave is not a Director that takes a Degree look all D's for the Dummy, which he does not hold. I do not believe on give titles if they have not been deserved. He is the superintendent that is why he reports to Mr. Brown, DIRECTOR. Keep up the good work council keep searching you are about to see some more things.