Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jerry and Burney mischaracterize the budget

Can't we just all go digital?
Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs is slated to introduce the FY2011 budget at this evening's City Council business meeting (including a proposed layoff plan).

Assemblyman Jerry Green and Councilor Rashid Burney have, I think, mischaracterized the budget process.

In a recent post (see here), Jerry said --

Once the Mayor submits the budget to the Council, it is then the Council’s budget.
Councilor Burney, in his weekend post on the budget (see here), which included posting a scan of the document (see here), said --

...once accepted by the Council, it will become the Council's budget and the Council will then be responsible for the entire budget.
While it is true that the Council is responsible for STRIKING THE FINAL BUDGET, in a best-case scenario the Council engages in A CONSULTATIVE AND COLLABORATIVE process with both the Robinson-Briggs administration and with the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee, a group which Councilor Burney championed and which will have another go-round this year.

While it does not surprise me that the Assemblyman overlooks the collaborative and consultative nature of the budget process (these are, after all, NOT his strong suits), I AM caught off guard by Councilor Burney's apparent oversight regarding the budget process.

Council President Annie McWilliams has consistently and frequently throughout the entire year stated a desire to work collaboratively with the Robinson-Briggs administration on the City's business. I am sure she continues to hold this positive and beneficial attitude.

The only way the budget would become the Council's EXCLUSIVELY would be if the collaborative and consultative process breaks down.

I, for one, hope that it does not.

NOTE: While Bernice, Olddoc and Maria thank Councilor Burney for putting the budget doc online (as do I), the FIRST THANKS of course go to City Administrator Bibi Taylor who had to get things in shape in the first place. Thanks to her we have a budget introduction
MONTHS ahead of last year's. As for any Councilor scanning documents that OUGHT BY RIGHT TO FREELY AND EASILY AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC, I advocate that the proper thing to do is ask WHY the Robinson-Briggs administration can't just get the stuff online itself. After all, it is created on computers and can easily be converted into PDF files. So why should the public have to rely on a well-meaning elected official (whose task IS NOT providing documents) to go to all the trouble of scanning a paper document that should be available digitally to put the stuff online?


Tonight | 8 PM

City Council Chambers/Courthouse

The Public  is welcome and may speak at the beginning and end of the meeting.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Bob said...

I am glad we have a budget much earlier than last year, but it's still late in my book, considering what we're paying the mayor and the administration. We also need to remember that last year was an election for the mayor and she purposly kept the budget hidden until after she squeeked by to win another term as our worst mayor in history.

Blackdog said...

Because the politicians do not want you to have access to these documents in a timely manner. It is in their best interest that there is some difficulty in obtaining them, and by the time you do read them, hopefully it is too late to do anything about them!

Anonymous said...

The budget is hardly months ahead of last year. In fact, the budget that was introduced last year was dated October 27 and presented to the Council in November. We may be weeks ahead, but more importantly we are already 1/3 of the way through the fiscal year, so our ability to reap the results of any cost containment is once again reduced.

And all these Thank Yous for doing one's job are just ridiculous, particularly because the budget is only one aspect of city government. The rest, meanwhile, is a glaring fiasco, marked by incompetence, delay, obfuscation, and an overall lack of concern for the city's residents. Neither branch of government should get a pass: The Administration for the general shabbiness of its management of city operations. The Council for its unwillingness to make the necessary changes to the departmental structure of the city, the destructive influence of pay-to-play, the choke hold of pension and benefits on services, and its plain acceptance of ineptitude under cover of periodic political point scoring.

All in all, it's business as usual, for which Thank You is way too generous for those who keep Plainfield from having a fighting chance. Maria Pellum is correct referring to our city government as an oligarchy. The few have even fewer solutions to our many problems, have their own ambitions that are separate from the needs of the many, who in most cases must wait until midnight to have a say, and what they say is quickly forgotten or ignored.

Anonymous said...

The reason we cannot get this online is because we have an inefficient process with bloat. One reason why the lay-off plan, while not desireable, should not cripple City Hall if we ran it efficiently.

I also applaud Ms. Taylor for getting this to us in a timely manner. God help Plainfield when she goes on maternity leave, and if she leaves us all together (why would you put up with this mercurial mayor if you did not have to) we better pray for a miracle.

Anonymous said...

You are mistaken, Dan--at least, according to Councilman Mapp, who has pointed out on numerous occasions that once the administration introduces the budget it is "the Council's budget." Of course we would hope for collaboration but it is the Council's responsibility to finalize it.

Rob said... anonymous @ 8:53AM..high five for that post ! ( chill out Jerry and Sharon fan club, I seriously did not write that anonymous post )

Anonymous said...

The REAL information is not what was budgeted last year, but what was SPENT to compare it to what is requested for this year. I though Taylor had closed out the budget already, so where be the numbers ??

Anonymous said...

After 56 plus years in Plainfield, I have learned to never take anything at face value!
C.Benton Wigton, where are you now that you are needed?

Anonymous said...

As a former official, myself I must say that those who sit in the Ccouncil seat must bear the responsibility of all votes thay cast. You should not hide from that.

Collaboration has been going on since 1776 - and responsibility must be accepted by those who ultimately vote for it.

That too is a traditon in America that goes back to 1776.

Anonymous said...

The Mayors husband spent months in city hall helping with the networking of the computers. I am sure if the mayor wanted, her husband could put the budget on line in an New York minute if she wanted to be up front about her spending our tax money.

Anonymous said...

Does Jerry Green take such a controlling hands on management of all the towns in his district? Do the Mayors of other towns check with him first to see if he approves their budgets? Is Plainfield the only town he is ruling into the ground?