Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Burney, Carter and Rivers fail to support transparency moves

Thanks to Councilors Burney, Carter and Rivers, Mayor Robinson-Briggs will continue to operate like a thief in the night. For now.

Though Burney and Carter threw their support behind one or the other of the two ordinances Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs had vetoed, the bottom line was that the veto overrides each failed by one vote after lengthy and at times acrimonious debate. There never was any doubt that Councilor Reid would continue to back Robinson-Briggs, as he has consistently done in the past.

(Overturning the veto would have required the affirmative votes of five of the seven Council members, a so-called 'super majority'. The law actually says 'two thirds of the members of the full governing body'.)

The two vetoed ordinances were part of Council President McWilliams' F.A.I.R. (Fiscal Accountability, Integrity and Responsibility) legislative program (see links to her discussions of the program at the end of this story).

R 334-10 - 'BILLS LIST' ORDINANCE (MC 2010-22)

After finally getting to resolution 334-10, passage of which would have overriden the Mayor's veto of ordinance MC 2010-22 (the bills list), at 9:55 PM and debating it until 10:20 PM, the resolution failed 4-3 (Carter, Mapp, McWilliam and Storch for; Burney, Reid and Rivers against).

By contrast, ordinance MC 2010-22 had originally passed 6-1, with only Councilor Reid voting against. Somehow, Councilors Burney and Rivers had changed their minds.

Burney said he had come to the conclusion over the intervening weeks that viewing the bills list just before checks were run (and after services were provided) was not sufficient, adding 'we want transparency with teeth'.

Rivers did not offer any reason for changing her vote.

Council President McWilliams valiantly asserted the issue was TRANSPARENCY of the Administration's spending practices and developing a partnership with the Council and not any attempt by the Council to attack the Mayor or Administration.

She pointed out that, except for Plainfield's special charter, Councils in hundreds of communities in the state review bills before payment. She also noted that as an ordinance, the change transcended the personalities and conflicts of the moment and would bind future mayors and councils to a pattern of open and transparent financial transactions.

Councilor Storch remarked that he thought it 'unseemly of the Administration to draw a line in the sand, telling the Council to neglect its fiduciary responsibilities'.

Before the vote was taken, Council President McWilliams assured Councilor Burney that there was no conflict between the resolution under consideration and his DE NOVO proposal, which she said could be put in the form of an ordinance and taken up next month. To no avail, as it turns out.
R 335-10 - 'BID THRESHOLD' ORDINANCE (MC 2010-23)
Mayor Robinson-Briggs' veto of the ordinance that LOWERED THE BID THRESHOLD for contracts stood in another 4-3 vote.

The Administration argued in favor of the higher thresholds that Republican Gov. Chris Christie had set earlier this summer (though he POINTEDLY left local governing bodies the room to set lower limits if it wanted).

Council President McWilliams argued that the higher limits would mean the relinquishing of the Council's financial oversight of much of the work performed for the City, saying 'this means there will be many contracts we [the Council] will not see'.

On this vote, Councilor Burney sided with Councilors Mapp, McWilliams and Storch. Councilor Carter, as she had in the original vote on the ordinance, sided with Councilor Reid and Councilor Rivers, who switched from previously supporting the ordinance to now opposing it.
Though Mayor Robinson-Briggs may have won the contest last night, it may well be a Pyrrhic victory, as it leaves her painting herself as militantly opposed to transparency in Plainfield's fiscal affairs, absolutely unwilling to step into the light, and devoted to furtive secrecy. This is not what 21st-century taxpayers are looking for in their elected officials.

Robinson-Briggs still faces a special investigation by the Council at a date yet to be determined. In that matter, Robinson-Briggs will be on the defensive over the secretive spending of more than $20,000 in payments to radio station WBLS.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Gov Christie.....where are u!!!!

Anonymous said...

These people need to be voted out, if Plainfielders keeps voting them in, I have to say, Plainfield is a lost case and people should just start to move out of this corrupted town.

Bob said...

I am now glad I didn't vote for Burney, since he is indeed a Green/Briggs man and didn't deserve to be on the Council. I also know who not to vote for in the election when they are up for renewal. It is sad that there are so many people on the Council who are for wasting the City's money.

Rob said...

Burney, Carter, Rivers and Reid have drawn the line firmly in the sand...they are only content with the heads firmly planted up Jerry & Sharons butts. They stated firmly last evening they side with smoke, mirrors and deception...not the people who voted them into office. I wonder if any of these individuals would mind handing over their checkbooks to me with the same lack of fiscal oversight or required explanations...DEMOCRATIC LINE PARTY HACKS all of you. YOU AND THE PEOPLE WHO VOTE FOR YOU ARE WHAT'S WRONG WITH NJ.
Kudos to Storch, Mapp and McWilliams for attempting to put the interest of the taxpaying citizens of Plainfield ahead of Jerry, Sharon and their own. Too bad about Burney, almost looked like he recovered his spine from Jerry...guess his master is still holding the leash even after that swat across the nose with the newspaper after the primary.

Anonymous said...

I am sure many will lap up all this. It is unfortunate, that the Ccouncil and Mayor are squabbling about such mall things, while our children are dying on the streets, failing at schools, and taxes keep going up.

And all you and the Council talk about are puny ordinances?

Anonymous said...

I was sad when Burney lost, now I'm glad.... what is going on between Burney and linda "let me explain my vote" Carter, what political scheme is smoldering? What could Burney be staging for (a state contract)?

Anonymous said...

Last night and for many nights to come, once again evidenced the lack of character of most of the council. It truly is a shame what so clearly signifies the deception and dishonesty of these individuals. I feel truly sorry for Plainfield, because the City like the Administration and representatives are lost causes. Even a snake under a rock comes out into the light sometimes. Not in this town, we don't need light just the awful darkness of corruption and dereliction or elected officials to due diligence.

Dan said...

@ 7:35 AM -- Obviously you are so concerned about the children dying in the streets that you could not come out last night to hear about the gunshot-spotting technology that was discussed (that will be another post, among several).

As for our children failing in the schools, I hope you are at every BOE meeting making sure things are improving.

And as for our taxes going up, it may just turn out that the Mayor's secret spending has something to do with that. And you call oversight puny?

Get involved!

Anonymous said...

Remember Linda Carter is running for freeholder in NOV. If she supports corruption in Plainfield just think what will happen if/when she gets into the County supporting Charlotte and Jerry there will be even more doom and gloom for Plainfield.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dan-
Lighten up on the commentators. Not everybody has your thick shell to protect against bullies who abuse their pulpits. Rants like yours against plain citizens, who are essentially powerless except for their vote, are exactly why a lot of people prefer to stay in the anonymous shadows. Name one instance where having another person or two showing up at a council meeting had any changing effect on a substantial voting issue. People elect public officials because they promise to stand in for them no matter what and make the hard choices. When the council, and the mayor, choose to waste their time and energy on peripheral issues rather than on crime, schools and limiting how the bulk of the money is spent, on public safety salaries, then they have a right to complain in any venue they can find.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you will not post my comment but I will write it anyway. I can not believe how disgusting the council acted when it came to the safety of out residence. I have lost a dear friend to the violence in the city of plainfield and anything we can do differently we must. I am so disgusted how the member's of the council white, black, and arabic performed when it came to the safety of the children, young adults, and adults who are impacted by the violence in the streets. I will make sure that everytime there is an election that I walk the streets from house to house to make sure we do not have the same member's on the council. They could care less because it's not impacting their households, I know for a fact if the children, young adults, adults that have been victims to the street crimes were white you would see a different reaction from the council member's sitting there. If I had come to the mic last night the police would have escorted me out. That's why I left. Plainfield Please wake-up It's time we Vote out the old and bring in the new council people that care about the entire city of plainfield not just the 2nd and 3rd ward.

Anonymous said...

Dan maybe you should get involved I have never seen you out there trying to promote peace in the street. I know you could care less

Anonymous said...

I used to love this town, but it's getting harder and harder. If the housing market were in better shape, I'd put my house on the market and get out of here. I've been involved in the fight before, but they are wearing me down. I'm not sure how much more I can take.

Anonymous said...

If getting involved means trashing this city and its administration at every turn, I'll pass. This blog and its contributors are just as much to blame for the negative image of this community as anyone or anything.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan just like i thought you would not post my comments

Anonymous said...

As was posted on another read, this is not just about SBR and Jerry, its protecting we the taxpayer from having this in the future; tomorrow and when SBR is voted out.

Dan, you could not have said it better to 735. Its poor parenting that allows the children to die in the streets. Its the life you live and choose. Place the blame on the one in the mirror, not everyone else. Notice that there are no "innocent victims" here? They all have had gang ties.

As to the failing schools, again, look in the mirror. You can live in the worst district and still get a good education. Its what the home allows and believes in that determines your childs future. Do you encourage them to study and read, or sell drugs on the corner? Do you see that the homework is done or do you boost him into a window to unlock the door for you?

As to the taxes, thats a whole nother can o worms

Anonymous said...


Dan yells, 'Get involved!'

The response from the crowd, 'Dan Get A LIFE!!'

Anonymous said...

Dan, why don't you go join the Tea Party! You appear to be very angry and a expert at attacking people that disagree with you or the people you support. Explain how your rants against Council members are productive as far as creating solutions for the City.

You are the FOX News of Plainfields blogosphere. Instead spewing hate why don't you do something constructive and help somebody. SO WHAT you live on the West End! What are you doing to make it a better place to live? One word, nothing! Instead of hate....constructively participate.

Rob, why don't you just move somewhere else. Like you and Dan are the only ones frustrated by this Mayors performance. Join the Tea Party, run for office or learn the art of civil discourse. Grow-up why don't ya!