The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Council on Administration shenanigans


Why is the quest for 'just and capable government' fraught with such difficulty?
Vexed seems to be the only way to describe the Plainfield City Council's relations with the Robinson-Briggs administration.

Though pains were taken not to put the onus on Acting City Administrator Dave Kochel, whose job closely resembles Heracles' Augean assignment, and who after all has to carry out Mayor Robinson-Briggs' initiatives, Council was clear: they are not happy.

Three issues were the main focus last night: the WBLS investigation, timely receipt of agenda items from the Administration, and two proposed ordinances. Another came to light only during the public comment portion of the meeting.

WBLS INVESTIGATION

Council President Annie McWilliams announced that a special meeting of the City Council has tentatively been set for Wednesday, September 21 at 8 PM to probe the WBLS matter further. McWilliams said she was reluctantly scheduling the meeting as the Robinson-Briggs administration has still not been forthcoming with the needed information regarding the $20,000 spent on having WBLS cover a community forum in August of 2010. She said that the Council's special attorney has drawn 'tentative conclusions' of misconduct and irregularities, but that they Council could not get cooperation to get to the bottom of issues.

(As an aside, several employees have told me in recent days that they have been told a confidential letter concerning another investigatory matter that was sent to a Councilor at the City Hall address was opened and read by an employee, who then allegedly alerted other persons involved in the matter. The opening of mail by a person to whom it is not addressed is covered by Federal statutes -- perhaps the gods are offering an end run around Union County's notoriously politicized prosecutorial proclivities?)
AGENDA ITEMS

Once again, Council President McWilliams had to protest the tardiness in which the Robinson-Briggs administration habitually engages with reference to getting the backup material for agenda items to the Clerk's office in time for inclusion in the Council's Friday agenda packets.

She politely, but tartly, suggested that if the Mayor's cabinet meetings (which take up the entire work day on Wednesdays) were the impediment to timely passing along of information, perhaps they should be rescheduled.

Mayor Robinson-Briggs, alas, was not present at last night's meeting to comment.
PROPOSED ORDINANCES

Lastly, the Robinson-Briggs administration proposed two ordinances --
  • 2011-08 would strip the Deputy City Administrator of economic development responsibilities, which have been assigned to that job title since the administration of the late Mayor Al McWilliams; and
  • 2011-09 which would locate the economic development responsibilities in a new Office of Economic Development within the Department of Public Works and Urban Development (DPWUD)
Responding to Council questions, Acting City Administrator Kochel explained that the Robinson-Briggs administration wanted to leave the Deputy City Administrator position unfilled and unfunded, but put the economic development activities under a department head's supervision rather than directly under the City Administrator's. 

Council could not muster enough enthusiasm for the proposals for a consensus to put them on the business meeting's agenda and the items accordingly will not be taken up further by the Council.
DPWUD APPOINTMENT

One of the reasons the 7:30 PM public meeting never got under way until 8:40 PM was that Council was conducting interviews of candidates for the vacant position of Director of the Department of Public Works and Urban Development.

In almost an aside, Council noted that the nomination of Eric Jackson for the position would be taken up at next week's business meeting.
FALSE PROMISES TO 'TRUCE' PARTICIPANTS?

Yet one more example of shenanigans on the part of the Robinson-Briggs administration cropped up in the public comment portion of the meeting when two young men who had been given jobs with the City spoke eloquently about their gratitude for the opportunity, lessons they had learned and their willingness to continue to perform their duties, but decrying being told their employment would come to an end at the end of September.

The young men believed the Council was behind the termination and had the power to do something about it. Council President McWilliams tried to set the record straight, pointing out that hirings were the Administration's responsibility and not the Council's.

However, a discussion was sparked during which it was said (I believe by Mr. Kochel) that if promises were made to the young men, those who made them had no authority to do so.

This led Council President McWilliams to ask the young men who had made the promises. They declined to identify the person or persons responsible, but said repeatedly that the promise 'came from City Hall'.

I suspect Mayor Robinson-Briggs may consider herself lucky she wasn't there at this point.

Regardless of how one feels about the Mayor's 'truce' deal, no one can deny that public officials should be as good as their word. If the Mayor promised these men permanent jobs without knowing funding was available, she betrayed the trust they placed in her.

Which wouldn't be the first time that has happened.



-- Dan Damon [follow]

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7 comments:

Bob said...

Where's that recall petition. I want to be the first to sign in big letters. I hope the Council gets very tough. This woman needs to be locked up for the games she's played. She makes promises she has no right to make and spends tax payer money like it's her own. When will it end?

Anonymous said...

First, to the two young men - welcome to the real world. Jobs end earlier than promised. Maybe by their bringing this up, people will be true to their word.

Second, while I am glad these young men have jobs, were there any Plainfield citizen, who have done all the right things in life, who could have been offered these jobs? I feel like we were held hostage - jobs or violence. Not the way to build character.

Lastly, the council should have voting records available to refresh the councils' minds on what they did and did not vote for.

Some did not remember - we all forget. Some, I believe, have no clue as to what they ever vote for.

Councilwoman Rivers was miffed because the council holds meetings without her, and she has no idea what went on. She feels it is the council's obligation to keep her informed. I disagree - watch the meeting on Public Access TV (which we pay for), read the minutes. You chose to accept being a member on the council, accept your responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Dan A youn man I know went to City hall looking for summer work. He is a bright young college student with no criminal history. He was told that they have no openings. How is it that Gang members that cost the taxpayers of this over taxed city,thousands of dollars in court time and free to them and $$$ to us legal services, get a job with no money in the budget to hire them ? Has is become a requirement to rob a bank or shoot someone before you can get a job at City hall or thed P M U A ?

Anonymous said...

Hello Dan, Glad you are back and feeling better. Please tell me how this administration can layoff Policemen that protect our city becouse the mayor said that we have " NO MONEY IN OUR BUDGET " and we have to cut back,but yet she finds money from ( whos budget line item ?) to hire criminal gang members! Why doesn't she just fire the wohle police dept and let the gang members run the Dept of Public Safety? No more police unions to deal with, no more pension benefits to pay out. We could really start a new trend called the PLAINFIELD POSSY/ GANG PATROL.King Gerry Green could then be the man large and in charge just like he has always wanted to be, and the Queen briggs could be the 911 dispatcher.

Anonymous said...

Do you think if we call channel 7 news Shame on you they would come to our city?? Who would believe that a Mayor would layoff and demote Plainfield Police Officers to save money to hire gang members? Is she going crazy?

Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone will read this comment since it is 3 days past the posting -however,

@Bob: Even though RECALL sounds like the way to go it will not work at this time. In the last election, if Plainfield citizens had elected more of the New Dem Committee candidates and less of Jerry Green's butt kissing and licking puppet candidates then there would have been a chance to oust the slimey crooked Jerry Green.

Now -if Plainfield is successful in recalling this sad for an excuse mayor -
Sharon Robinson Briggs- Jerry Green will only put another idiot Puppetlican in City Hall.


Plainfield Citizens need to learn how to VOTE SMART!

Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone will read this comment since it is 3 days past the posting -however,

@Bob: Even though RECALL sounds like the way to go it will not work at this time. In the last election, if Plainfield citizens had elected more of the New Dem Committee candidates and less of Jerry Green's butt kissing and licking puppet candidates then there would have been a chance to oust the slimey crooked Jerry Green.

Now -if Plainfield is successful in recalling this sad for an excuse mayor -
Sharon Robinson Briggs- Jerry Green will only put another idiot Puppetlican in City Hall.


Plainfield Citizens need to learn how to VOTE SMART!