Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Thursday, September 9, 2010

WBLS payments: The mayor's twisted logic

The flap over Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' questionable expenditures in getting WBLS to broadcast her showcase August 1 community forum promises to flare up more now that Her Honor -- using her own twisted logic -- has squirted some verbal charcoal lighter on the flames.

Courier reporter Mark Spivey quotes Her Honor in an article today
(see here) as saying --

...If council members had questions about the broadcast prior to its airing, Robinson-Briggs said "they would have got (gotten) answers...''
The mayor, of course, is completely ignoring the fact that no one had even dreamed Robinson-Briggs had PAID FOR the WBLS broadcast.

Folks had simply assumed that the gang violence in Plainfield had made the topic newsworthy and that WBLS was covering the mayor's showcase event purely out of its newsworthiness. Now we have to wonder if WBLS considered the matter newsworthy at all.

Who knew to even ask the Mayor a question?

The first inkling the public got that something fishy was afoot was at the Council's August 9 agenda session, where the Council -- for the very first time -- had received financial reports from the Administration detailing payments made in July. Councilor Mapp spotted a check to WBLS for $2,500 drawn on a CAPITAL EXPENSES ACCOUNT that on its face raised the question of propriety of the expenditure (see my report the next day here).

Even then, no one suspected Mayor Robinson-Briggs had personally caused a check for $20,000 to be drawn for WBLS until a tipster posted a comment on my story, which prompted a further post from me on the matter (see here).

By this time, there were questions of what the exact circumstances were around the issuance of the check --

  • was the acting CFO involved?
  • had the Mayor personally ordered the check drawn?
  • was there a 'sponsor' who had failed to come through?
  • if there was a 'sponsor', who was it?
  • why was the Council kept in the dark?
Then there is the matter of 'reimbursing' the City.

The Ledger quotes Councilor Burney
(see here) as saying --

...The layers keep peeling back, and there's some stuff going on here..."
Some stuff indeed, including the question of whether Mayor Robinson-Briggs thought she could simply 'reimburse' the $20,000 with a sponsor's check.

City finances are not the sugar bowl in your grandmother's cupboard.

If something is taken out, everybody can see it (as we now know).

And if it is to be replaced, it will be noticed, too. Because it will have to be entered as a miscellaneous receipt to the GENERAL FUND. If the administration wants to move it to a specific account, guess who they would have to come to.

The Council is not only within its rights to demand to get to the bottom of all this, the public expects it.

And there must be a suspicion that if all this was uncovered after just one month's worth of financial information to the Council what else is out there waiting to be
discovered (strengthening the argument for a forensic audit, in my humble opinion).

Robinson-Briggs' remarks also throw a new light on her veto of the Council's two financial oversight ordinances.

Why is she opposed to more transparency in Plainfield's financial affairs?

Has she got something else to hide?

Given the track record of Robinson-Briggs' hired gun Corporation Counsel Dan (I'm-partial-to-the-one-who-signs-my-paycheck)
Williamson, the Council would be well-advised to get their OWN ATTORNEY for the special investigative meeting Councilor Burney has proposed, one whose sole duty will be to the Council.

As for Mayor Robinson-Briggs' assertion that the Council's move is 'an attack on my character that has a lot of residents up in arms', I've found a T-shirt she can distribute to them (see illustration above).

Then we can OPRA the expense and see what account she paid for the t-shirts out of.

Speaking of OPRA, you can view the documents Bernice uncovered in this matter here and here.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Bob said...

Thia mayor is not to be trusted? Why? She has given us proof and her actions belie her talk. I hope the City Council will hire it's own attorney or accountant and get to the bottom of this affair. There is a lot of dirt hidden under this mayor's rug. A forensic audit is indeed called for. Why isn't the state involved in this sham.

Once again I have to ask, "Where do I sign a recall petition?"

Rob said...

Shouldn't we all be wearing a t-shirt that says I with "STUPID" and be standing to the side of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dummer?? AKA...Jerry and Sharon.
It's ok Jerry...we all know you can't be THAT daft to TRULY support your protege...sometimes the hardest thing is admitting you were wrong.

Plainfield is Corrupt at all levels said...

The same thing happens at all levels of Plainfield government. This supposed "Environmental Fair" is nothing but a $35,000 event in which the VIP's attempt to show off. They sit in their tent and eat lobster, calamari, shrimp while they throw a cold hotdog at the common folks. Not too mention they use their cronies to cook the hotdogs at a cost of $3 per dog. This city will remain the same until people voice their concerns and don't let up until the city is rid of the real crooks.