Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pay-to-play ordinances: When does the 10-day window close?

Three possible dates suggest themselves.
Plainfield's City Council passed a package of four ordinances dealing with pay-to-play reform at the local level at its special meeting on Monday, November 14 (see more on the ordinances here).

If signed off on by Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, Plainfield would become 91st municipality in New Jersey to adopt the model ordinances as proposed by the state's good government group Citizens Action (see their website here).

Given the attempt by Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs to derail the actual pay-to-play ordinance (2011-11) the night of the Council's passage (see my post here), it is not at all clear that Mayor Robinson-Briggs will not veto one or more of the ordinances.

The charter speaks, characteristically imprecisely, to the question of a veto as follows --

2.9    Ordinances; veto.

    (a)     Ordinances shall be prepared, introduced, considered and acted upon as required by law. No ordinance may be enacted without the affirmative vote of a majority of all the councilmen.

    (b)     Ordinances adopted by the council shall be submitted to the mayor, and he shall within 10 days after receiving any ordinance, either approve the ordinance by affixing his signature thereto or return it to the council by delivering it to the city clerk together with a statement setting forth his objections thereto or to any item or part thereof. No ordinance or any item or part thereof shall take effect without the mayor's approval, unless the mayor fails to return an ordinance to the council within 10 days after it has been presented to him, or unless council upon reconsideration thereof on or after the third day but not later than its next regular meeting following its return by the mayor shall by a vote of 2/3 of the members resolve to override the mayor's veto.
How exactly are the 'ten days' to be counted?

Quizzing several Council members, I got different interpretations of when each thought the mayor's deadline to act was. Municipal Clerk 'AJ' Jalloh would only point me to the charter itself, saying the ordinances were delivered to the Mayor on Tuesday afternoon, the day after passage by the City Council.

So, looking at the calendar, we can see there are at least three possible options --
  • A: Strictly by CALENDAR DAYS;

  • B: CALENDAR DAYS, not counting public holidays; and

  • C: BUSINESS DAYS only, which would exempt weekends and holidays.
Which will it be? We shall have to see.

Should the Council exercise its legislative prerogative by passing an ordinance to clarify counting the days?

But what if THAT were vetoed?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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olddoc said...

Without any qualifications ie:"business". days must be taken literally and be calendar days. I would not count on Corp. Counsel opinion.

Bob said...

If anyone on the City Council attempts to block these ordinances they need to be removed from office. Our mayor is crooked and anyone who follows her lead on this, if she vetoes the ordinances, proves they are as devious and crooked as she is.

Anonymous said...

If it's business days it seems as though she has until the end of the 30th.

Is the word "days" defined elsewhere in the charter?

Anonymous said...

So who do we have to pay so we can get contracts with the city?

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that residents call the Mayor "crooked". It is also unfortunate that you publish these comments, as there is absolutely no proof of anything of that kind. If I was the Mayor I would sue for slander. If you don't like the Mayor that's fine Bob, but speak of the issues.

Additionally, it is naive to think her veto of the ordinance (and I am guessing he is speaking about the Campaign Contributions ordinance as there are four pending), suggests that she or any of her "followers" on the Council are "crooked".

Dan, why not blog about the shortcomings of that particular ordinance. I think you know some of them better then most of us, here are two to ponder:

1) gives advantages to candidates in more affluent areas who are more likely to receive individual contributions.

- this is exactly why the Mayor suggested that the ordinance cap individual contributions along with contributions from Vendors. There was outrage from the Council when the Mayor's representative suggested it. The outrage came from officials that benefit from this change. I guess I am naive too, because I don't see why the Council doesn't at least consider this if the law allows it.

2) would divert more campaign funds to the Party Leadership at the County and State level therefore wielding them MORE influence of our local politicians.

Bob, do you realize that when you cap contributions from Vendors locally all you may be doing is diverting those funds to the Committee Chairman, or to the County Party Chairman. I have heard you speak critically of these individuals. . . . are you sure this is what you want?

Personally even with the shortcomings of this ordinance I hope the Mayor signs it. But I wish there hadn't been this mad rush to get it done, just for the sake of , well, , , , getting it done. We do a lot of that here in Plainfield instead of getting it done right. Democracy sure is messy.

jim spear