Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Doubleheader tonight: Candidate forum AND Council inquiry into WBLS

The choice is yours.
Tonight features a Plainfield politics doubleheader: the League of Women Voters candidate forum and a special Council meeting continuing the inquiry into the WBLS expenditure from summer 2010.


Candidates for the Ward Two seat, incumbent Cory Storch (D) and challenger Bill Michelson (R) will square off at the League forum at 6:30 PM in the Anne Louise Davis Meeting Room of the Plainfield Public Library. Wards 1/4 Councilor Vera Greaves, who is unopposed, will not be part of the forum.

Freeholder candidates have also been invited to participate. These are Democrats Angel Estrada, Chris Hudak and Vernell Wright (Estrada and Hudak are incumbents), and Republicans Edwin O. Ortiz and Andrew B. Smith.

The League forum is not taking up the other race in which Plainfielders will vote: the  22nd Legislative District, where Democratic incumbents Sen. Nick Scutari, Asm Jerry Green and Asw Linda Stender face GOP challengers Joan Van Pelt (a Plainfield resident) and Jeff First of Middlesex.
Special Council Meeting

Plainfield City Council will meet in a special session at 8:00 PM in City Hall Library to continue the ongoing inquiry into the circumstances around the WBLS expenditure in summer 2010. Subpoenaed witnesses -- including Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs -- who did not appear at the previous hearing are expected to appear this evening, though they may exercise their right to answer questions in Executive Session, in which case the public will be excluded. I have been given to understand that former City Administrator Bibi Taylor has consented to appear in order to rebut statements of others, if necessary.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Rob said...

it would be so nice if SRB had the guts to sit in front of the public to answer the questions..but of course, I answered my own comment..IF she had the guts. Hot Mess be gone...I only hope they find something criminal so they can take her to jail and we can deal with Jerry's next anointed one...

Alan Goldstein said...

Right you are Dan. This is an inquiry (investigation) into the circumstances surrounding the issuance of a check to WBLS and the receipt by the city of money from the bank that was supposed to go for the Independence Day parade.

If the City Council hearing is closed to the public it would be a violation of the Open Public Meetings Act.

There are two exceptions to the law that apply to personnel that would require discussions in closed executive session, but neither applies in this instance.

The first is the unwarranted disclosure of personal information "such as any records, data, reports, recommendations, or other personal material of any educational, training, social service, medical, health, custodial, child protection, rehabilitation, legal defense, welfare, housing, relocation, insurance and similar program or institution operated by a public body pertaining to any specific individual admitted to or served by such institution or program, including but not limited to information relative to the individual's personal and family circumstances, and any material pertaining to admission, discharge, treatment, progress or condition of any individual, unless the individual concerned (or, in the case of a minor or incompetent, his guardian) shall request in writing that the same be disclosed publicly."

But this doesn't apply because we're not talking about personal information.

The second is "Any matter involving the employment, appointment, termination of employment, terms and conditions of employment, evaluation of the performance of, promotion or disciplining of any specific prospective public officer or employee or current public officer or employee employed or appointed by the public body, unless all the individual employees or appointees whose rights could be adversely affected request in writing that such matter or matters be discussed at a public meeting."

And this doesn't apply either because the hearing is to get information. If and when the Council wants to discuss terminating employment, disciplining an employee, or evaluating them, they can hold their session behind closed doors to their heart's content.

But information as to what actually occured is not privileged. That is all this hearing is about, and there is no exemption for it in the OPMA. Let us hope the City Council does not compound the Administration's apparent abuse of authority with its own.