Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Caught in House of Mirrors, Council chooses Greaves

House of Mirrors effect.
After yet another long executive session (hour and a half) held in the middle of a business meeting, the Plainfield City Council returned to the Council Chambers to finish the business of the evening, which included choosing someone to fill the seat vacated by Linda Carter's resignation to become a Union County Freeholder.

But not until after an overlong, peevish and splenetic debate over the relatively benign proposal (R 029-11) that the Robinson-Briggs administration investigate and report back to the Council on possible means to move delivery of certain services (WIC, Bilingual Day Care, Plainfield Action Services) to other government agencies or non-profits.

That being settled -- finally -- by a 4-2 vote in favor of the resolution (with Reid and Rivers opposed), the Council whizzed through adoption of the Transit-oriented Visioning Study by NJIT/Rutgers, with a unanimous vote in less than one minute.

Finally taking up the vacant seat, the Council was immediately plunged into the unreality of a carnival House of Mirrors, where reality is grossly distorted.

Councilor Rebecca Williams moved to reject the list of three names the Plainfield Democratic City Committee had forwarded upon nomination by its chairperson, Assemblyman Jerry Green, on the grounds that the PDCC did not submit THREE QUALIFIED CANDIDATES as required by the statutes, since two were not registered as Democrats at the time of their nomination.

There immediately ensued a tussle with Acting Corporation Counsel James Ventantonio and Acting City Administrator Dan Williamson, who offered the legal opinion that the PDCC was able to offer the names of anyone it chose, whether Democrat, Republican or of no affiliation whatsoever.

This latter was in direct response to Councilor Mapp's question to Ventantonio as to whether it was the intent of the framers of the legislation (40A: 16-11) for a committee to give ANY three names.

Councilor Williams pointed out an APPARENT INCONSISTENCY in the statute: a political party committee may submit three names (remaining silent on party affiliation), but if the process defaults to selection by the governing body members on their own of a replacement (in the event no list is submitted), the governing body MUST CHOOSE someone of the same political party as the person who held the now-vacant seat. Hence the 'House of Mirrors'.

Ventanio and Williamson held firm --
  • the Council had no authority to reject the list;
  • it must pick from among one of the three names submitted; or
  • the choice would be made by the PDCC
Whereupon the motion to reject the names submitted was put to a vote. It failed, 4-2.

Council President McWilliams then opened the floor to nominations from Councilors of names from the list of three.

Councilor Reid nominated the Rev. Jason Greer, which was seconded by Councilor Rivers.

Councilor Storch nominated Vera Greaves, which was seconded by Councilor Mapp.

The voting then proceeded by nomination, in the order offered.

The results were --
  • GREER: Reid, Rivers, McWilliams FOR; Mapp, Storch, Williams AGAINST; motion failed.
  • GREAVES: Mapp, McWilliams, Storch, Williams FOR; Reid, Rivers AGAINST; motion carried.
Vera Greaves was declared winner of the vote.

She came to the front and thanked the Council, vowing to work hard in the interests of both wards 1 and 4. It was agreed she will be sworn in at the Clerk's office on Wednesday.

While we now have a Councilor in place, the 'House of Mirrors' aspect of the statute which was highlighted remains unchallenged, which is too bad. Plainfield had, in my humble opinion, a good case to argue that the ambiguity in the statute should be clarified.

As to Councilor Storch's comments that he was 'discouraged' by the antics of the local Democratic city committee in the way the three names were selected, we can only hope that in future the Plainfield Democratic City Committee will act more small-d democratically.

That alone justifies having a group of progressive Democrats organized to challenge the old-time, passive status quo which characterizes a political machine whose arteries have hardened.

And to be rid of 'House of Mirrors' politics.

Even Marilyn Monroe was familiar with the effect.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Just received a flyer in the mail that listed 15 - count them 15 - day care services in Plainfield. Fourteen of them do not cost the citizens of Plainfield anything (they all list their services as free). Bil-Lingual Day Care costs the Plainfield citizens salary and benefits - $250K per year and going up.

So why do the citizens need to pay for day care?

Prof. Williams said...


The other part of this is the fact that the Acting Corporation Counsel and Acting City Administrator offered that "opinion" UNSOLICITED BY THE CITY COUNCIL, saying that it was the administration that asked for the opinion because the administration wanted to make sure that everything was done legally. This doesn't make sense, though--if something were done illegally, it would be challenged AFTER the fact. I also contend that the legal opinion we got was just ONE legal OPINION--emphasis on "one" and "opinion." To those who would suggest that getting another legal opinion costs money, I would simply offer that the residents of the city deserve an unbiased, clear-eyed look at the statutes. For those who have an interest, the entire public portion of this meeting will be aired on the public access channel. Let the citizens of Plainfield see "democracy" for themselves.


Anonymous said...

It's interesting that the New Dems + McWilliams would have chosen Greaves, the Regular Dem choice in the last primary for the 4th ward, who lost by only a handful of votes. In making her the incumbent for the upcoming primary they have essentially chosen her as councilperson for the next 5 years, which has to make Jerry happy. I believe that Greer would have been easier to challenge in the primary had the NewDems been able to field a candidate of any strength. I assume the choice of Greaves indicates the weakness of the New Dems in the 1st and 4th, so they just gave in rather than fight.

Rob said...

The true house of mirrors...Watching the "New" Democrats every election cycle standing side by side with Jerry Green and screaming to the masses vote DEMOCRAT!!
Then days later Storch, Mapp, McWilliams and now Willims, act shocked, dismayed and appalled at any and all that Jerry pulls.
This election cycle lets do something different. How about the 4 of you stand up and denounce Jerry and Sharon PUBLICLY for the sake of the local democratic party.
You will capture the attention of the Union County Democrats, The State Democrats as well as the media.
And..the Union County Democratic Party ( yes, Hello Charlotte ) DO NOT want any added statewide attention to their gaffes they routinely pull.
But this won't happen. The "Hands Across Plainfield" New Democrats & Democratic Party love fest will kick into full gear right before the election.
Annie, Cory, Adrian and Rebecca..I will remind you all of these events leading up to that date that you personally take umbrage with when you are supporting "the party".
Jerry is who he surprises, no shock's JUST JERRY. Stop acting surprised and start doing something about it. If the 4 of you won't publicly denounce him and hot mess Sharon at the election cycles...please keep your mouths shut in the off times. You are simply wasting all of our time.

Anonymous said...

Coyotes and wolves don't usually get along, but there are times that they do mate!

Blackdog said...

What do you expect from Democrats? They haven't changed since Andrew Jackson's time . . . they have just gotten more devious about what they are doing!
Besides who wants to be known as a washed up has been with no life?
Only Dan has skin thick enough for that!

Anonymous said...

Interesting that if McWwilliams had voted with the New Dems, the Council would have choosen none of the above.

Is McWilliams the latest to leave the latest to veave the New Dems camp? Or was she thinking on her own?

Storch was a reliable rubberstamp as usual.

Anonymous said...

Are Ventantonio and Williamson on the City's payroll, or is Jerry Green on Ventantonio's and Williamson's payroll?

Answer: Both!

You think you're getting good advice? Hah!

Anonymous said...

My two cents is that the corporation counsel's opinion on the statute is correct. The party selecting candidates to be nominated to fill a vacant council seat can choose outside their party if they so choose. That respects democractic action. Only when the decision goes to the governing body does the statute add the qualification that the candidates be of the party of the prior holder of the vacant seat.

I think the real complaint is how shabbily Mr. Green treated the members of the Democratic City Committee in presenting his candidates. Either he was ill-informed, misinformed, or deceitful about their party affiliation at the time of the vote. For dissatisfaction stemming from that, I think the remedy is to vote for a different party chairman, change parties, or accept that Jerry is Jerry.

Pat Turner Kavanaugh said...

Hey, Cory, so much for any kind of principle or representation of your ward in the small "d" sense. And to Dan - so much for principle when it comes to Cory's obedience to Jerry's wishes. Cory gets a pass.
Where's Jim Pivichny when we need him? And what about getting behind Rebecca's cogent arguments? Nah...Cory's up for re-election and, even though Jerry swsill do everything in his power to scuttle Cory, Cory is doing a Rashid Burney. Cory, please remember, Jerry cost Rashid the election.
As my late husband said, "Fight ya buggers, I hate peace."

Anonymous said...

Rob -

Where have you been? How much more "denouncing" do you expect from the New Dems? Do you attend council meetings? Did you vote for Mapp or Pivnichny in the mayoral election? Did Williams not run against Jerry Green's two candidates (Burney and Davis) and beat the kakoodles (I made that word up) out of them?!!!

What more "denouncing" do you want? Would you like for them to stand on a soapbox with a large sign and megaphone on the corner of Park and Seventh?! DENOUNCE MAYOR SHARON ROBINSON BRIGGS!!! Do you want them to go PALINistic?!!!

During council meetings -Councilor Adrian Mapp is the one councilperson that has been and is very strong and fearless when it comes to speaking up against Sharon and her cronies consistent wrong doings.

Now there is Councilor Rebecca Williams . . . stay tuned!!!

Laurence R.

Anonymous said...

When Jerry Green convinces someone to kiss his butt they somehow get sucked up there. Talk about the movie BUTT SNATCHERs . . . oops! that was BODY SNATCHERS.

So -it is getting pretty crowded in there Jerry. Constipation slows you down. It causes you to sit down when you should be standing up.

Rob said...

People and groups who behave in this manner shun the light. Nuff said. Stop making nice at election time. Give Jerry, Sharon, Charlotte all the one finger wave...OFFICIALLY, Publicly and in every report, every newspaper, website, penny ante bit of news media that exists. Things will change or they'll be voted out.

Blackdog said...

You know what they say,"The crooked and dishonest politicians make the other ten percent look bad!"