The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Council unanimously agrees to look into city charter change


Plainfield City Council unanimously agreed at Tuesday's agenda session to move toward establishment of a charter study commission to review and make proposals for a change of the city's governing document.

Plainfield's city charter was last updated in 1968 and is showing signs of being antiquated. Just one of eight cities with a special charter adopted by the Legislature
(out of a total of 566 municipalities in the state), Plainfield's charter is now considerably at variance with New Jersey state law in several regards, leading to confusion over how disputed matters are to be resolved.

While neither the Council nor the legal opinions offered last night were crystal clear on the process, Rutgers' Center for Government Services offers a complete overview of the types of municipal organization available to NJ communities and the process of establishing and carrying through a municipal charter study (see Rutgers website here).

For reference, the current Plainfield city charter is available online here.

If the Council moves expeditiously, it is possible that the question could be on this November's ballot. Voters would be given the opportunity to vote yes or no on establishing a charter study commission and would vote for five candidates among as many names as are put forward to serve. The top five vote-getters would become the charter study commission.

Plainfield last had a charter study about twenty years ago, under Mayor Mark Fury. The commission made no recommendation for change, partly owing to concerns that any new form would allow for dual office-holding (at both the local and the state levels), a possibility no one cared to see come to pass. Since that time, New Jersey has undergone a major shift on the question and future candidates are barred from serving both at the municipal and state levels of government.

A resolution is expected to appear on next Monday's business meeting agenda.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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3 comments:

Bob said...

I'm glad to see that everyone on our Council can agree on something that is in the best interest of all of Plainfield's citizens. Good for them.

Anonymous said...

My Optimist side: This proposal is a positive step to allow our city government to set clearly defined roles, rights and limits .

My Pessimist side: This will turn into HUGE power grab involving many different factions: power brokers, county elected officials and their supporters, NJ State Assembly and Senate Officials whose base includes Plainfield and to a lesser degree (Do not underestimate the web of connections within both parties) NJ U.S. Congressmen, women and Senators.

All of the above will influence which candidate is endorsed and ultimately elected to the proposed five member commission.

Dorien

Anonymous said...

Waste more money WTF