Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The PMUA: Suddenly, everyone wants to talk

Now that the Council's volunteer task force has made its report, now that the public is riled up and now that a City Council majority is willing to discuss dissolution of the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority, suddenly everyone wants to talk.

Leslie London, the PMUA's corporate counsel, took the floor to read a three page letter on behalf of the Commissioners that was both a closely-reasoned examination of the task force report and a defense of the agency. Councilor Storch later noted that these are the same commissioners who, less than a year ago, informed the Council in writing that they were not willing to meet with the Council to discuss anything.

Veronica 'Roni' Taylor, a Democratic candidate for the citywide at-large seat hoped the Council would have the courage to support the resolution being debated -- especially one calling for the PMUA commissioners to rescind the $1 million settlement with former executives. (Her opponent in the Democratic primary, Mayor Robinson-Briggs' best friend and pastor, Rev. Tracey Brown, is a PMUA commissioner who has yet to make a public statement on the issues.)

Malcolm Dunn, PMUA commissioner who is responsible for wrecking the arbitration proceedings in which former executives Watson and Ervin were faring poorly, did not mention that he crafted the $1 million settlement, though he warned the Council of uncontrolled expenses in pursuing the agency's dissolution. (The irony was not lost on resident Frank D'Aversa, who gleefully pointed it out to the audience.)

There were Councilors Bill Reid and Bridget Rivers (by phone, once again), busy as beavers felling a forest of objections to dissolution talk by countering that all the parties needed to sit down and ... talk.

One must recall that Mr. Reid was for years, during some of the worst abuses of the PMUA, a commissioner. During all that time he never once called for discussions to resolve any of the growing issues with the solid waste agency's runaway spending. And Councilor Rivers has close personal ties with the former executives who stand to benefit so handsomely from Commissioner Dunn's largesse.

Lastly, the parliamentary idiocy of Mayor Robinson-Briggs, who requested the floor on a 'point of personal privilege'. As the Mayor is not a member of the governing body, she has no standing to use this parliamentary maneuver.

But use it she did, to complain of the Council that by pursuing the question of dissolution of the PMUA, it was 'putting the horse before the cart' (my actual transcription) -- and that her administration was opposed to dissolution talk on those grounds.

Imagine! Putting the horse before the cart!

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Bob said...

Once again our mayor and the "stooges" on the city council make us laugh at their obvious games. Our mayor is not the sharpest pencil in the box and is so out of it she if often not even in the box. I hope the city council can get past the games of the PUMA, mayor, and people like Reid and Rivers, who don't care about the citizens of Plainfield. We need to remove these people from our lives and vote in people who will do their job for us, not themselves.

Bob Bolmer

Brian K. said...

Putting the "horse BEFORE the cart"? Say it ain't so!!!

Anonymous said...

Nice post - you must be feeling pretty good.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE Call the Christies office this is like the fox watching the hen house!

Anonymous said...

Dan, you left the best part out. Dunn, who gave his buddies at the PMUA a cool one mil, complained that the council was going to spend $175,000 on an independent report.

Dunn also talked about how the council needed to look after the "family" of Plainfield.

Also, Alex Toliver seemed to think that all of this is coming about because of what the people in Sleepy Hollow want. Well, I can assure Mr. Toliver that Sleepy Hollow did not want 1 mil to go to Watson and Ervin - and I bet non-Sleepy Hollow residents are with them.

By the way, is the "family" of Watson and Ervin even in the state of NJ, or did they take their family money and run.

REALLY!? said...

Come on Dan- She forgot the word "dead". She meant to say, "... putting the DEAD horse before the cart". Dagg Dan! Stop being so hard on your Horror. Anyone can make that mistake. Sheeesh!

Anonymous said...

Whats going on in Plainfield Raids at clubs and warehouses Is it safe to go downrown

Rebecca Williams said...

The Mayor actually called Councilman Storch a "jerk" twice, and it was clearly audible to many sitting in the first two rows of the courthouse--including the city administrator, who sits right next to "her honor." The ridiculous and immature running commentary by the mayor goes unremarked by her supporters. She forgets that she is a guest at a council meeting--I have had to bear her despicable conduct for a long time--I hope her staff has the decency to tell her to stop. I informed Mr. Berry that the next time it happens I would ask him to please repeat what the mayor said so that the rest of those in attendance would know what she said. Councilman Storch said absolutely nothing to "provoke" her--she does not know how to behave.


Bill Kruse said...

The handful of interested people who have delved into PMUA affairs over the last 3 years have accumulated a great deal of data from which certain conspicuous cost reducing remedies emerge.

1. The lease for the Park avenue office is expires at the end of June. Two years ago we located a 5,000 sq ft building which could have been purchased for 2 1/2 times the then current office rent. We also located 5,000 square feet of available office space a block away from the present location which was available for 1/3 the amount being paid. These suggestions were not only ignored, but the lease renewal negotiations conceded the landlord annual rent increases of 3%. INSANITY!

2.The Statutes governing Commissioner compensation are unambiguous. The total compensation Commissioners can receive from all sources is $4500/year. 3 Commissioners still receive a benefit package which aggregate to about #50K/yr. These payments are illegal and should be terminated immediately.

3.Payroll, with associated employer side benefit payments, is the largest correctable budget item. One of the most revealing, and least noted, in the independent committee's report items was the number of employees on the staff of the 2 communities with which Plainfield was compared. The number in both cases was approximately half of the number employed by the PMUA. There is always attrition, and as it occurs the swollen ranks of supervision and management can be honed down.

4. The recovery of the amounts paid to the 'Retirees" would be helpful, however, if nothing else the cancellation of the remaining scheduled 2 annual payments would be satisfying.

The limitation of the blog prevents listing 10 more suggestions.

If the City takes over the PMUA, the assumption being that the City can operate more efficiently, these issues do not disappear.

Rather than "talking" what is wrong with initiating some tangible cost saving reforms. That would provide something meaningful to talk about. To provide some stability, and continuity, it would be advisable to a give Mr. Young a 1 year contract. The last thing the PMUA needs is another lawyer. They have Ms. London on virtually afull time basis, , an in-house attorney, Ms. Tracey Joseph, and I believe 3 outside firms whom they use for "special" topics. The PMUA spends more annually on legal advice than a private firm spends in 50 years.

Anonymous said...

PMUA "family"?

Yes -- I see it -- the PMUA "family" shakes down Plainfield in support of a select circle or "family". Maybe Dunn should change his last name to something more appropriate to a "Don"

Anonymous said...

Happened to be riding past 1000 block of Central Ave. recently and saw Mr. Watsons pickup truck parked in front. Must be some ongoing negotiations taking place. Those who know, know whose address it is. Belongs to one of the PMUA's new commissioners.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they are offering Eric another position at the PMUA. Hey you never know! :(((