The needler in the haystack.

Friday, October 21, 2011

WBLS Inquiry: Mayor alights on flypaper


Not all that is enticing is without danger...
Far from rescuing herself from her predicament in the WBLS funding matter, Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs may have put herself in greater danger by introducing a new element in her testimony at Wednesday evening's special City Council meeting -- that she was acting because of an EMERGENCY situation.

Was Mayor Robinson-Briggs enticed by the prospect of an easy out from her difficulties, just as a housefly is enticed by the sweetly fragrant aroma from flypaper -- only to discover once alighting that it has been trapped by the paper's sticky coating?

THE DANGERS OF AN 'EMERGENCY' ARGUMENT TO THE MAYOR

For the first time publicly in the history of the investigation into how $20,000 came to be paid to WBLS to carry a live Town Hall event over its airwaves in August of 2010, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs invoked the notion that she was acting in an EMERGENCY situation when she caused the issuance of a $20,000 check in advance of the Town Hall radio broadcast.

Citing Section 3.7 of the City's special charter (the complete City Charter is available on line here) --

3.7    Emergencies.
In the event of an emergency which represents an immediate, clear and present danger to the public health, safety or welfare, the mayor may assume the personal direction of any department, agency or instrumentality of the city government as may, in his discretion, be necessary to alleviate the emergency; and he may take such action as he may deem necessary or desirable to that end.
-- Mayor Robinson-Briggs argued that the conditions of an emergency existed and she was only exercising the powers granted her office in such situations by the city charter.

The state has well-defined procedures and requirements for dealing with emergencies so as not to hamstring agencies and local governments in dealing with them in a timely fashion and at the same time protect the public good by requiring certain steps be followed.

These steps include the following --

  • The 'emergency' must affect the public health, safety or welfare;

  • The need for the goods or services could not have been reasonably foreseen, must be actual or imminent, and cannot be the result of bad planning;

  • There must be an Emergency Policy in place, including a 'chain of command' (presumably by an act of the governing body);

  • There must be an Emergency Declaration by the person authorized by the Emergency Policy;

  • The Purchasing Agent must issue an EMERGENCY PURCHASE ORDER;

  • Purchases in excess of the Purchasing Agent's authority should be ratified by a resolution of the Governing Body;

  • Within thirty days of the declaration of an emergency, a report must be filed with the Director of the Department of Community Affairs (the Emergency Procurement Report form, which may be found online here -- see under 'Political Contribution Disclosure Compliance Forms' section).
    No evidence was given by Mayor Robinson-Briggs that any of these conditions was met.

    Nowhere on the purchase order that was entered as an exhibit was there an indication the purchase order was of an emergency nature. Furthermore, when purchasing agent David Spaulding followed the mayor, he responded to a question from the Council's special attorney, Ramon Rivera, Esq., that 'NO ONE INFORMED ME THAT THIS WAS AN EMERGENCY...'

    From the beginning of her first term, Mayor Robinson-Briggs seems not to have quite grasped that acts of the Mayor need to be made in writing (I can still recall her surprise when she stood to name nominees to certain boards and commissions only to be rebuffed by Council President Blanco for not having submitted them IN WRITING and IN ADVANCE.)

    There was much else of interest in Wednesday's proceedings and there are many as-yet-unanswered questions which I will take up later.

    For now, the Mayor has alighted on the fragrant and enticing flypaper.



    ... as many a housefly has learned to its regret.
    (Image courtesy Sergei Frolov)
     

    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    3 comments:

    Bob said...

    Instead of this fly sucking the city coffers dry, perhaps her dried and dessicated hulk will free the city to finally get on with business.

    Anonymous said...

    Karma is unavoidable despite the excuses one makes.

    I am confident that this bumbling and possibly criminal mayor will be out of Plainfield in short order.

    Plainfield deserves better leadership. What we have had to deal with over the last decade is shameful and inexcusable.

    I drive past Muhlenberg hospital every day and feel for all of the Plainfield residents that lost their jobs. Isn't it true that Mayor Sharon was on the board of Muhlenberg as it was being decided to discontinue service? Isn't it true that Mayor Sharon never made it to one board meeting?

    How can this be? How can she still be the mayor of our Queen City?

    We deserve better. Much better.

    Rob said...

    Unless she is dragged out in cuffs the mindless lever pullers will vote her back in...why, because Jerry will put her on the ballot and you'll vote straight down the line. When you see the gullible fools that truly believe that she is the victim in all of this...and that waste of space Reid not even showing up for the meeting because all he wants is a "I was naughty...bad mad" from the Mayor..you can see why she'll stay in charge until she's ready to leave.
    Seen any of the New Dem's supporting candidates against Jerry or his stooges on City Council?? NOPE..why? Because they can't see past their own rhetoric to realize they are actually supporting the very people who are causing the problems ...because...it's for the Party after all.