Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mayor's manage-by-surprise style highlighted

Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs offered a double-dose of her trademark dysfunctional management-by-surprise style at last night's Council meeting.

A ho-hum agenda (except for the PMUA Task Force, of which more later) was spiced up with three shoe-droppers when Council President McWilliams gave the Mayor/Acting City Administrator the floor at the beginning of the meeting to 'make a few remarks'.

While none of the factions in the baseball tussle appeared last night, Mayor Robinson-Briggs felt impelled to address the fresh embarrassments of the Recreation Division's hampering QCBL access at the Rock Avenue ballfields by announcing she will 'be meeting with Superintendent Wynn and Mr. (Roland) Muhammad on Wednesday...and will get back to you (the Council) with an update'.

Council President Annie McWilliams pointed out that the Council would be looking to the Mayor, as the City's chief executive officer, as the party responsible for resolving the issues and treating all the City's youngsters fairly.

Mayor Robinson-Briggs also announced that she expected to appoint David Kochel as Acting City Administrator Wednesday. Kochel has held administrative posts in Metuchen and in Ocean Township. The appointment will be for ninety days, at the end of which Robinson-Briggs will be expected to nominated someone for the permanent position.

The last shoe the Mayor dropped personally was to announce that ShotSpotter, the gunshot-detection firm the city has looked into, has developed a proposal to allow cash-strapped municipalities to lease the technology on an annual basis. Robinson-Briggs said the amount to cover three square miles in Plainfield (approximately half the city) would be $159,000 for a one-year lease, and that she wanted to put the matter on the Council's June agenda.

I was just making a note that this would provide the perfect pressure point for the Council to get the Mayor to BEGIN the budget process she promised back in January, when Councilor Storch made the very same point.

Good for him, and good for the Council if they drive a hard bargain to get the Mayor to begin the promised -- but so far adroitly avoided -- joint Council-Administration budget process.

The second dollop of dysfunctionality was of the Mayor's doing, but she left Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson to do the dirty work after she left the meeting.

At the conclusion of two new items added to the agenda after all other business was concluded (a sidewalk encroachment and a memorial resolution), Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson said he had two items to put forward on behalf of Mayor Robinson-Briggs.

The first was to ask the Council to authorize the transfer of $471,000 between various accounts (which is allowed in the final two months of the fiscal year).

Council President Annie McWilliams balked, challenging Williamson to explain why the matter was not presented to the Council earlier than Monday evening. She was joined by Councilors Mapp, Reid, Williams and Storch, all of whom expressed annoyance at the manner in which the matter was brought up, demanding that CFO Zilinski should appear before the Council to explain the requests.

Williamson then proceeded to the Mayor's last item: that she would like the Council to consider leasing the Armory from the state (for $1), while she continued the search for a permanent occupant. Council President Annie McWilliams interrupted Williamson to ask if he was aware that the Obama Green Charter High School was no longer interest in the property. Williamson said he was aware of that.

Again, the Council declined to take the matter up at this meeting.

Seems to me those who argue that an easy collaboration with a Mayor who manages everything by surprise will be an easy task are deluding themselves.

Thank God the majority of this Council will not be steamrolled.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Dan the Mayor will never be able to do anything right in your eyes. As I sat in the back of the council meeting last night I didnt see any unity from the mayor to the council president to the council as a whole. It's very heart breaking that they can not get along. The city will never move forward. I feel very sad. There are so many killings, gun shots and all the mayor and the council president do is fight. It is a very funny thing that i have been to every council meeting this year and every town hall meeting the council president make an announcement before the meeting and right before the meeting is about to end. The council President made no mention of the town hall meeting that will be taking place in the 4th ward. I know that she could care less about the 4th ward but wow she is really starting to show it more and more. You probably will not post this but I'm going to say it snyway.

Bob said...

Thank God indeed! What we need is a veto proof council or a recall of our mayor, Shady-Surprise Sharonda. Either one works for me and probably for most people in Plainfield.