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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sign the online petition to overturn the PMUA settlement

Heading of PMUA ratepayers' online petition.

Ratepayers of the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA) have begun an online petition to Gov. Chris Christie to have the State overturn the decision last week by three members of the Board of Commissioners (Dunn, Toliver and Sanders) to settle with former executives Eric Watson and David Ervin for an additional $725,000. Commissioners Mitchell and Brokaw opposed the settlement.

Both Watson and Ervin
announced in March of 2011 they were voluntarily stepping down, and their final day of work was set as June 30 in a resolution adopted by the Commissioners on June 14th. (They subsequently received standard payouts of their accrued vacation and sick days over the next several months, in addition to the initial payment agreed to by the Commissioners.)

Plainfield Today broke the rumored details of the proposed settlement (see story here) and raised the issue of whether the 'emotional distress' argument was an elaborate scam (see story here).

At last week's public portion of the PMUA Commissioners' board meeting, Commissioners Mitchell, Brokaw and Toliver publicly stated they were opposed to settling with Watson and Ervin and preferred to see the matter continue through arbitration.

Somehow, Commissioner Toliver changed his position in the course of the executive session that followed the public meeting.

DumpPMUA founder Philip Charles, in a response to the Board's decision posted on Bernice's blog Monday (see here) added further circumstantial evidence for the suspicion of a scam in the severance arrangements in his discussion of the changes in the LENGTH OF TERM of Watson's and Ervin's most recent contracts. You will want to read what he has to say on the subject.

Earlier this month, Assemblyman Jerry Green posted to his blog in opposition to just such a 'golden parachute' for a Port Authority executive (see here) -- which, by the way, was far less generous than the PMUA settlement.

Though Gov. Christie does not appear to have veto power over decisions by the PMUA's Board of Commissioners, he does have a bully pulpit and is not shy about using it. The spectacle of Watson's friend and newly appointed Commissioner Dunn orchestrating the cushy settlement is just the sort of example Christie likes to take on.

This settlement is exactly the kind of abuse that led Christie to propose his bill to reform 'shadow government' by such independent authorities (see press release from his office here; the proposed legislation is here).

While public opinion in Plainfield is inflamed by the Commissioners' capitulation in the settlement, the Governor could make the PMUA the butt of ridicule statewide, and add further impetus to his drive to bring transparency and accountability to the 'shadow government' of agencies such as the PMUA.

Though I have quibbles with some of the overwrought language of the petition, I am in accord with the basic sentiment that the settlement should be rescinded and have signed the online petition.

I hope you will consider doing the same. You can sign the petition by clicking on the blue ONLINE PMUA PETITION box in the column to the right.

CAVEAT: Once you sign the petition you are whisked without so much as a by-your-leave to a payment page where you are encouraged to make a payment to the folks who operate the online petition site (the default setting is $25!). I was taken aback and, not seeing any way NOT to pay, made a small payment through PayPal. It occurred to me afterward that I could simply have closed that page and that my signature was probably already added to the petition. Be forewarned!

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Bob said...

Can we recall Malcolm Dunn. He is a loser and crook if he does this. Is this the kind of oversight he's going to give to the PMUA. I have no respect for this man at all. Dump him and any others who voted for this rip-off of rate payers.

Anonymous said...

NJ 101.5 at 7pm will be having its monthly show 'Ask the Governor". Below is the link to where you can submit a question, or call into the show. I hope people do this in addition to the petition.

You can SUBMIT your question for Governor Christie in advance, or during the show you can call the studio at 1-800-283-1015 or text your question to 89000.

Below is the link to submit your question.

Bill Kruse said...

The comment that the Governor might not have the power to veto the decision of the Commissioners may or may not be correct. The Governor has, however, extensive powers to intervene on a variety of theories and through a variety of methods. Therefore the suggestion that this effort may not yield some meaningful result is invalid and everyone is encouraged to sign on either electronically or manually. Petitions are being circulated through the neighborhoods. So far the affirmative response has been overwhelming. The Commissioners have done the entire population a disservice in awarding the settlement, but the greatest disservice is to the hard working employees of the PMUA who have been betrayed by their leadership.

Anonymous said...

Who voted Dunn on the PMUA board?

Who voted for him - that is what I want to know.

THOSE are the the bums who should be thrown out!

Anonymous said...

Mapp and williams

Anonymous said...

People are so cruel. If Mr. Watson was a white man the settlement would have been approved along time ago. He deserves the money regardless of how the public feels. Mr. Watson dedicated 15 years or more to that company. He employed thousand of Plainfield citizens. If it wasn’t for Mr. Watson, trust me the mortgage rate would be a lot higher in Plainfield NJ. He provided lots of jobs that HELPED lots of young BLACK men. We are all human at the end of the day. How do you expect this man to survive daily needs without some sort of settlement? Mr. Watson was forced to step down. I don’t just listen to these blogs and believe everything I hear. DO your own research people. Some people need to learn to love a little more. It’s only right this man receives this settlement AND I’m glad he did!!!! I hate the Cruel politics of North Jersey!!

Anonymous said...

To anon At 1:26

You have the same mentality that the commissioners at the Pmua have. You all are only looking at this as a social service. The pmua was not created for that purpose. There are 12000 families that are subject to the excessive rates due to cronyism, wasteful spending, and golden parachutes. Whether they were white or black is irrelevant. In fact it's because of the race card that you and others pull that they may get away with it.