The needler in the haystack.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Profiles in courage? Council faces tough decisions tonight.


Cover of the paperback edition of the book that made JFK a national figure.
Plainfield's City Council must somehow take up, and resolve, the matter of City Administrator Bibi Taylor's firing tonight.

I am put in mind of John F. Kennedy's famous book Profiles in Courage (more here), published in 1955 and instrumental in giving him the national recognition that undergirded his successful run for the Presidency a few short years later.

Those profiled were eight U.S. Senators, drawn from across the country's history, who faced up to politically challenging issues and made a decision, as the paperback edition's cover copy said, '[to risk] their personal and public lives to do the one thing that seemed in itself right'.

Tonight, Plainfield's seven councilors must face their own difficult decision, thrown into this quandary by the precipitous action of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs in firing Bibi Taylor unexpectedly and just days before her third child is due.

Not only this, but we have no evidence that Ms. Taylor received due process, including a Rice notice (giving Taylor the opportunity to have her case heard in either executive session with the Council, or at a public hearing).

Has Mayor Robinson-Briggs boxed both herself and the Council in?

It seems highly unlikely that the Council can legally discuss the Taylor firing in the executive session which has been called for the beginning of tonight's meeting, if Taylor has not been given a Rice notice.

On the other hand, Robinson-Briggs indicated in Mark Spivey's Courier story (see here) that she was not at liberty to discuss the circumstances of the firing on the advice of legal counsel. Whether that is Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson or private counsel for the Mayor was not made clear.

At any rate, if the Mayor cannot discuss the matter in executive session or in a public meeting, she has really boxed herself in. If she cannot explain the 'public interest' requirement of the City's charter [section 3.5(b)], what is there left for her to do?

As for the question of day-to-day operations of the City, Mayor Robinson-Briggs snubbed an opportunity to explain her plans to the Council and the public last Monday, before Taylor was fired.

Notwithstanding the mayor's act of termination, it would be unseemly of the Council to discuss with the Mayor in camera a matter (day-to-day operations) which they previously had determined to air in public session.

Distasteful as it decidedly is for the Council to act in the sphere of appointments normally reserved for the Mayor, her willfulness appears to leave them no other option.

With Assemblyman Jerry Green, who is also chairperson of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee, also weighing in on the question in favor of Robinson-Briggs' rescission of the firing, the Council is both within its rights and duties under the City charter, and in line with the views of the Democratic chairperson, if they disapprove the Taylor termination.

In a sense, Chairman Green has made it easier for the Council to muster the courage necessary to do the right thing if the mayor fails to take back Taylor's dismissal.

In this regard, Chairman Green and the Council -- New Dem and Regular Dem -- are on the same page: Plainfield needs seasoned, competent management at the helm as we move forward into yet another difficult year for the city fiscally and Taylor has certainly shown she can provide that management.



CITY COUNCIL BUSINESS MEETING
Monday | December 20
8:00 PM
Courtroom/Council Chambers
Watchung Avenue & East 4th Street

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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4 comments:

Rob said...

Courage...?
At least half that council has never even contemplated the word much less acted on it.
If the usual circus of "nose up ass" doesn't occur it will be a shock to all. Burney, Reid, Rivers and Carter will have a chance to show if they work for the people or work for the Mayor.
I mean, it's not like Bibi played around with city money to pay some radio station to give us bad press ...oh sorry..that was Sharon.

DJ Dowe said...

Prayer is a powerful tool, too often relegated to desperation or desiring; but , in this Holy Season, people of all faiths can pray for a rebirth of the Spirit.

Our community is building towards change on a raw human level that often seems divorced from politics. Human suffering is local and very real. Many people feel helpless.

As a community with hundreds of churches, our current circumstances could be a broader call for personal faith and prayer as a foundation for taking action.

Season’s Greetings

Blackdog said...

Interesting that you should use JFK and the book written for him by Theodore Soresnson detailing the heroics of eight senators,at least 3 of whom prolonged the agony of African Americans in this country by their actions!
JFK himself campaigned against and voted against the 1957 Civil Rights Act.
His family's fortune was made from rum running and consorting with known criminals in criminal acts against the USA.
And if it wasn't for the Kennedy money and influence, JFK would have been court martialed for his actions that lost the PT 109.
Brother Ted was responsible for the death of a young woman and never served a day . . . oh, wait he did derve 47 years in the Senate!
JFK was a role model for the likes of Clinton, although Clinton could never live up to the womanizing legacy he had set forth!
HOW IN GOOD CONSCIENCE CAN YOU SEE THEM IN A GOOD LIGHT?

Anonymous said...

I find it strange that now its Chairman Green and Assemblyman Green when you believe it serves your purpose Dan. You fail to acknowledge that Ms. Taylor serves at the pleasure of the Mayor who appointed her. The only question our Mayor has to answer is who will fill the void, which she has already stated will be Mr. Ron West who served under Mayor McWilliams. You also failed to mention that point as well Dan.