The needler in the haystack.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Council tonight: PMUA, Administrator appointments; Anti-corruption ordinances, more...

Questions about asbestos and UST remediation by the City have been raised in the past;
now the City is involved with a private owner's UST removal?
Plainfield's City Council finds itself in a doubleheader tonight, rain or shine.


A Special Meeting is set for 7:00 PM in City Hall Library to take up the second reading (and passage) of a package of four 'good government' (I prefer to think of them as 'anti-corruption') ordinances that will, if enacted, reform four areas traditionally subject to abuse and corruption --
1) Ordinance MC 2011-10: Competitive Negotiations for Professional Services -- Currently towns have two options for hiring professionals, the "fair and open" process or the "non fair and open" process, under both systems the city has broad discretion in selecting its professionals. The ordinance would require the municipality to obtain detailed proposal from professionals competitively, giving the city the ability to compare firm's services and rates and to expand the pool of potential firms. For more information about why the fair and open process is ineffective, read the State Comptroller's report:

2) Ordinance MC 2011-11: Pay to Play Reform - Currently cities only have to use the fair and open or non-fair and open process for awarding government contracts, neither one effectively severs the link between campaign contributions and government contracts. The model ordinance will limit campaign contributions to candidates, parties, and PACs by business entities seeking government contracts.

3) Ordinance MC 2011-12: Developer Disclosure Ordinance - Requires developers  to disclose their political contributions when applying for a major variance.

4)  Ordinance MC 2011-13: 'Best Price' Insurance Purchasing -- Requires municipalities to seek competitive proposals for insurance coverage and hiring brokers. And it requires the municipality to hire the broker on a flat fee. Currently towns are not required to use a competitive process for obtaining insurance, and brokers are paid a commission by the insurance company. By hiring the broker directly, the municipality will eliminate any conflict of interest the broker may have and guarantee the broker is seeking the best coverage for the town.
While there probably will not be anyone arguing FOR CORRUPTION (let's hope anyway), there likely will be a Chinese water torture of sorts by those who don't want to put any curbs on the influence of money on politics.

It is clear there is enough support to PASS the ordinance (a minimum of four votes). What is not clear is whether there is enough (meaning FIVE votes) to overturn a veto by Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, should she choose to thumb her nose at these reforms.

And that brings us to the reason for the special meeting: If Mayor Robinson-Briggs decides to veto any or all of the ordinances, she must do so within ten days, leaving the Council time to override any veto in the current year -- providing a fifth vote can be rounded up.

Cynical observers might hold that money will find its way around any obstacles placed in its path.

We shall have to cross that bridge if we get to it.

The Council's regular agenda-setting meeting convenes at 7:30 PM, also in City Hall Library.

The agenda includes --

  • Nominations by the Mayor to the PMUA Commissioners (Malcolm Dunn, Cecil Sanders), to the vacant City Administrator spot (former Trenton Administrator Eric Berry);

  • Reports on the WBLS inquiry, the PMUA Task Force, South Avenue road reconstruction, and the SID budget;
There are 35 resolutions and 4 new ordinances, several which raise questions --

  • E. Compensation to the Board of Ward Commissioners: Is this compensation shared out to individual Ward Commissioners? That would be hefty compensation for a day's work for a number of towns;

  • N. Amend the 'Section 125' Cafeteria Plan for eligible employees? A cafeteria plan with no cafeteria?;

  • Z. Award a contract to The Anglin Group for development of a comprehensive economic development plan? No amount specified in the agenda;

  • Z1. Rescind the resolutions asking UEZ funding for an Economic Development Trust Fund;

  • Z4. Authorize the creation (by the City) of an Economic Development and Enterprise Trust Fund;

  • Z2 and 3. Additional 'site investigation services' needed? There were questions a few years back about whether UST and asbestos abatement were properly undertaken. Why is the City involved in removal of a private owner's UST?;

  • Z5. Does constructing a closed circuit TV command center at Police HQ mean that the plan to use Teppers basement has been abandoned?
There is sure to be lots of interesting deliberation tonight.


SPECIAL MEETING: Four Ordinances
Monday, November 14
7:00 PM
City Hall Library

Monday, November 14
7:30 PM
City Hall Library

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

This is a 3 ring circus. Cecil Sanders already came before the council and was shot down. This is nothing more than politicking at its finest. Time to shut down the PMUA.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the private property clean up on Scott and South Avenue. The City is now involved with the EPA to study the clean up of what is known as the Disco Aluminun site. The property on the corner though privately owed is a known contaninated site. This is a precausionary proceedure it insure that the private site does not continue to leach petroleum based contaninates into a redevelopment site that is being cleaned up by the Feds.

Anonymous said...

Is there no way we can ever rid ourselves of Malcolm Dunn?