Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

'Doublecrossing' Mayor to act as own Administrator again?

Councilor Williams responded to possibility Mayor Robinson-Briggs
may once again take City Administrator reins with 'may God save us!'
With Plainfield's Acting City Administrator David Kochel's appointment set to expire on November 7, the question arose at Tuesday's special Council meeting what arrangements are being made for a replacement.

Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson fueled speculation that Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs has made no headway on finding a replacement (surprise!) and may in fact take on the responsibilities again herself when he reported to the Council that he had rendered a written opinion for Mayor Robinson-Briggs indicating that she still had about 45 days remaining in which she could serve (she took over for several weeks last spring), under the conditions of the City ordinance limiting terms of acting appointments.

While some may think the Mayor would prefer to serve in an acting capacity herself because no Council approval is needed, Plainfield taxpayers should be concerned that once again Robinson-Briggs is demonstrating either a lack of being able to plan ahead (it is no surprise that the clock is running out on Kochel) or that no good candidates are willing to risk tarnishing their reputations by taking an assignment under Robinson-Briggs, who is widely regarded as one of New Jersey's least capable mayors.

The possibility of Her Honor's taking over the top administration slot came to light almost as an aside in the main bone of contention of the evening: whether the Robinson-Briggs administration would consent to allowing Mr. Kochel, in his new role as consultant, to advise the Council on developing a 3- to 5-year budget plan, something which has been of concern to the Council's Finance Committee (Mapp, McWilliams and Storch) since the beginning of the year.

After much back-and-forth the Mayor said 'of course' the administration would cooperate with the Council. Councilor Storch wanted that backed up with language in the resolution and when he proposed amending the resolution, the Mayor arose, handed a note to Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson and left the meeting (at 9:33 PM).

Mr. Williamson then announced that the Administration wished to withdraw the resolution as the Mayor wanted to 'update' its language and that it would be re-introduced at the November 14 agenda-setting session.

After more back-and-forth, Councilor Williams claimed Mayor Robinson-Briggs had 'double crossed' the Council by reneging on an agreement to allow the Council access to Kochel in exchange for the Council agreeing to budget $3,000 for adding yet another person to the Mayor's staff.

The Mayor got her staffer after the Council passed the budget earlier in the evening; at the end of the evening -- after much wrangling over resolution 367-11 (the Kochel resolution) that was reminiscent of the famed Abbott and Costello 'Who's on First?' routine -- the four Councilors present passed an amended resolution.

Corporation Counsel Williamson advised that the Mayor was not obligated to implement the resolution. This is sure to make the November 14th meeting a lively alternative to Monday night football.

Only four Councilors participated in Tuesday's special meeting: Mapp, Storch and Williams were present in the meeting room; Councilor Annie McWilliams participated via speakerphone. Councilor Reid had notified Clerk Jalloh that he would be absent due to oral surgery that day. Councilors Greaves and Rivers notified him they would be absent, with no explanation given.

While the four anti-corruption ordinances were passed by unanimous vote of the four participating Councilors (for details on the ordinances, see my post here) and the same four will be sufficient to pass them on second reading November 14, it is an open question whether there would be sufficient votes to overturn a possible mayoral veto.

The ordinances were reviewed and amended by Corporation Counsel Williamson, so it will not be evident until they are finally compared with the original model ordinances whether the Robinson-Briggs administration has weakened them in any significant respect.

Two further special meeting were agreed to Tuesday night --

  • Wednesday, November 9, 7 PM, at City Hall Library to (hopefully) conclude the WBLS inquiry; and

  • Monday, November 14, in conjunction with the regular agenda-setting session, for the 2nd reading of the anti-corruption ordinances.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Rob said...

Let her be the Administrator again...maybe she'll put that final nail in her own coffin. She's proven repeatedly she isn't smart, give her another chance to do something illegal or morally questionable.

Michael Townley said...

If Kochel came from Dan Mason's Jersey Professional Management, why not go back to them for another temporary administrator?

Anonymous said...

Is the Mayor looking to be the City Administrator so she can give herself a raise, and hire more of her friends? She is going to bankrupt us if we dont get her and Gerry Green out of city hall,and goverment work all together!

Exterminators Santa Monica said...

She is going to bankrupt us if we dont get her.