Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Monday, July 18, 2011

Should the limit for 'acting' appointments be extended?

'Just and capable'..., the search continues.
Plainfield's City Council takes up a proposed ordinance tonight (MC 2011-07), under 'New Business', to extend the current 90-day limit for 'acting' appointments to a total of 180 days.

Municipal governments provide for 'acting' appointments because in the normal course of events a position may need to be filled on an emergent basis because an incumbent resigns, is removed, or dies.

However, where a Council refuses to confirm a Mayor's nominees, as has happened in Plainfield under previous administrations, an 'acting' appointment may be a Mayor's only means of putting to work the administrators that they wish to have.

Having an Administration -- as in the current one -- that either cannot find willing and able candidates for permanent appointment or chooses to forego searching for them presents a different sort of problem. In such a case, using 'acting' appointments becomes a crutch for avoiding difficult decisions.

Things in Plainfield had come to such a low point recently that Mayor Robinson-Briggs herself assumed the title of 'acting City Administrator'.

Does the proposed ordinance mean that Mayor Robinson-Briggs, whose term expires at the end of 2013, is planning on NOT having or making permanent appointments to her leadership team?

David Kochel, who is serving a 90-day appointment as the Acting City Administrator, has brought a sense of a seasoned hand at the wheel -- to everyone's relief, I am sure.

However, even the ordinance change might not make it possible for him to stay on (it would take effect too late). Besides, a curious incident at last Monday's Council agenda session may be revealing.

As the Council wended its way through the reports and presentation preliminary to taking up the agenda for this week's business meeting, the Mayor sat a few chairs away from me around the corner behind Council President McWilliams.

While a lengthy discussion on road improvements and the South Avenue project was coming to a close, I saw the Mayor write a note and fold it in half. After handing it to Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson, Mayor Robinson-Briggs left the Council chambers just as Council President McWilliams turned to the next item, the Armory proposal.

At which point Corporation Counsel told the Council that the note from the Mayor was for the Administration to withdraw the Armory proposal from the evening's business.

What was curious was that the Mayor had not handed to note to her CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, Mr. Kochel, but instead to Corporation Counsel. Mr. Willilamson then handed the note to Acting City Administrator Kochel.

Was there any significance to this other than that perhaps the Mayor doesn't feel as comfortable with Mr. Kochel as with Mr. Williamson?

One also has to ask why the proposed changes to the length of time someone can serve in an 'acting' position was not brought to the Council in the normal round of its business, rather than as a 'walk on' item as it is being presented tonight?

Should the limits be extended, or not?

What do you think?

Be sure to vote in the poll in the right-hand column and weigh in with your comments.

-- Dan Damon

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.


Bob said...

How can Shady Sharonda feel comfortable with someone who has morals and does a good job. I think that's why she won't appoint anyone as a full time administrator. If someone has the gall to question her poor decision making or shady dealings with the tax payers' money, her nibs will just dismiss them so her dirt won't come to the light. Let's recall this mess of a mayor.