The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Despite Council reprimand of Mayor, PMUA resolution is more important



Despite the Plainfield City Council's resolution reprimanding Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs
at Tuesday's meeting, a new resolution on the agenda authorizing the PMUA to provide solid waste services to customers outside the City of Plainfield will prove more important over the long haul.

The unanimous reprimand of Mayor Robinson-Briggs for her conduct in the now-notorious funding of a $20,000 radio broadcast of an August 2010 town hall meeting was read aloud into the public record by Municipal Clerk Jalloh on the instruction of Council President Adrian Mapp. All on tape for broadcast over the City's cable channels. (Olddoc has helpfully posted the entire resolution on his blog, see here.)

The report on the WBLS funding investigation will now be forwarded to the Attorney General, the Union County Prosecutor and the Department of Community Affairs.

PMUA AT A CROSSROADS: REFORM OR RUIN?


The PMUA resolution (R 043-12) has been awaited ever since the interlocal services agreement setting up the local solid waste agency in 1997.

Councilor Williams expressed surprise that it had not been attended to before, but that is another -- and long -- story. Let it only be noted that in a little more than six months Duane Young, the PMUA's interim executive director, has gotten more done than the previous administration had in nearly fifteen years.

At last week's PMUA Board of Commissioners meeting Young made a pitch to be made the agency's permanent executive director, citing an impressive list of knotty problems solved in his short tenure, including negotiating a deal whereby the PMUA Trasfer Station on Rock Avenue can begin to process solid waste from surrounding communities.

Commissioners Mitchell, Brokaw and Toliver came out publicly in favor of his candidacy. Alternate Commissioner Sanders threw a Hail Mary pass, saying that since the discussion wasn't on the Board's agenda he was unprepared to make any comment or commitment.

Commissioner Dunn, however, had no hesitation in saying that he could not support Young 'at this time', going on to lecture him for several minutes on the reasons why.

Dunn's sharpest words concerned the fact that PMUA workers were organizing a union 'under the current administration [Young's]', and against which Dunn is adamantly opposed.

Dunn went so far as to say he hoped that Young had not given raises or performance bonuses to any union sympathizers.

Such anti-union attitudes are unheard of among Democrats, and caused raised eyebrows at the meeting.

Not to mention the possibility that the National Labor Relations Board would come a-knocking should such blatantly discriminatory practices be put into play.

Young kept an even demeanor but did not back down on his claims, despite Dunn's bullying demeanor.

Yet Dunn's interaction with Young was only a highlight of his behavior at the meeting. Throughout, Dunn engaged in digressions. At one point, after a motion had been seconded and Chairman Mitchell was about to call the vote, Dunn reopened the discussion, leading to some confusion about exactly where they were when Chairman Mitchell finally wrested back control and asked PMUA counsel Leslie London to read the resolution. Taken a bit by surprise, London asked if she hadn't already read it, to which the room responded with hearty laughter.

One longtime observer who happened to be at that night's meeting called me afterward to offer his take: the Dunn was putting pressure on Young in front of everyone present, in essence saying, 'you cut a deal with me or you don't get the job'. This observer continued, 'and we all know what that means -- jobs for friends and contracts for insiders'.

With Dunn evidently able to turn Commissioner Toliver's vote away from arbitration and toward a settlement with Watson and Ervin, the handwriting is on the wall.

The Council, which did not take up the mayor's nominations to the PMUA last night, would be wise to consider whether jumping in the fire of the mayor's new list of appointments is better than staying with the frying pan of the current board.

At any rate, the signs of reform and progress that had so recently bloomed -- and are exemplified in the resolution to authorize customers from outside Plainfield's borders -- look to be in danger of being rubbed out.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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9 comments:

Alan Goldstein said...

Annie McWilliams and Adrian Mapp must have thought they were Santa Claus, voting not just once, but twice, to illegally funnel money to Malcolm Dunn and his business interests.

Then they voted to promote the point-man on this, Al Restaino, to be the Director of Administration & Finance, Health & Social Services.

Then, almost as a Christmas gift, they voted to elevate Dunn as a PMUA commissioner.

What more insults will they toss our way between today and the 2013 Mayoral primary?

Anonymous said...

So the new guy has done more in 6 months than the previous admistration in 16 years? WOW!!! Is Malcolm Dunn going to lobby for a MILLION for the new guy too?

16 years of bar hopping during business hours can hold you back when work needs to be done!!

Anonymous said...

Not a lawyer but just wondering if there could have been a separate resolution for each charge and then fined $200 for each offense>

Bill Kruse said...

Dan, how can you write a report and omit the issue of the proposed settlement with Watson and Erwin? How could you not mention that the PMUA attorney refused, for the second month, to identify the basis of the claim Watson and Erwin submitted. A 1.2 mllion dollar claim. To mention that Watson and Erwin had proposed a settlement of $725,000 plus $95,00 for their attorneys. How could you not mention the comments made by myself:

1. A recommendation not to settle, rather let the Arbitration proceed to a conclusion.
2. That I was of the opinion that the Commissioners were afraid not of winning the Arbitration, rather, of losing the Arbitration thereby depriving Watson of an undeserving windfall.

An examination of the events leading up to the award strongly suggest that the affair was premeditated and shrewdly executed. Its inception dating to before Watson and Erwin submitted their resignations.

You also notably omitted the revelation that the PMUA recently "settled" with the County for a cool $157,000 as a consequence of the PMUA having delivered debris to the wrong location for 6 consecutive years. Remarkable.A great deal more explanation is warranted than was offered. We will attempt to pursue this matter during our allocated 2 minutes at the monthly monthly meeting.

There is no new day dawning...if the income stream is increased, and it remains unclear as to whether this will occur, the effect will be to spend it internally rather than permitting it to redound to the benefit of the rate payers.

Bob said...

Dunn is crooked and not to be trusted. I didn't like him before and like him less now. He's out for himself and friends and there needs to be a way to rid ourselves of such vermin.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what Dunn and his lap dog Sanders have over the City Council to get on the PMUA Board of Commissioners. Just when it looked like progress is finally being made, Dunn and his ilk have corrupted not only Toliver but "Rev" Brown. She has been conspicuously absent on crucial votes - and she attended the Commissioners meeting before this last vote, so she can't use illness this time. I wonder if "Rev" Brown thinks this will help her City Council campaign?

Anonymous said...

Rev Brown was at city council meeting from beginning to end to support her friend the mayor, who she is also her pastor. she is running for city council? there are skeletons waiting to come out.

Anonymous said...

Too much scandal at the pmua. Time to shut them down!!!!

Gloria Taylor said...

Thank you for allowing dialogue on PMUA. To me this is one of the biggest issues in Plainfield. Their Fees are too high and no one can tell you why, except to blame it on the water company. Something from the PUBLIC needs to be done.I know some of the Commissioners & consider them to be decent but what about the needs of the Citizens?IT'S UP TO US TO BE INFORMED & HOLD WHOMEVER ACCOUNTABLE. Somehow the City Council appears to be "POWERLESS" when it comes to PMUA.
Gloria Taylor