The needler in the haystack.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What city administrator Berry fails to tell the state in his letters


A series of three letters were sent to the state over Plainfield City Administrator Eric Berry's signature on June 12 that have caused considerable eyebrow-raising. While they purport to be written by the Administrator himself, that is open to question: some matters mentioned took place while Mr. Berry was vacationing (in Europe, I've been told) and some involve knowledge of the statutes that sound more like an attorney's bailiwick than an administrator's.

You can read the actual letters themselves online and make your own judgments --

  • Concerning budget errors by the Robinson-Briggs administration and Library funding (see here);
  • Concerning appropriation of $50,000 for study of re-absorbing the PMUA into the city (see here); and
  • Concerning funding of the Corporation Counsel's office (see here).
Additionally, several observers have already commented on the letters --

  • Councilor Rebecca Williams (see here);
  • Bernice Paglia (see here); and
  • Dr. Yood (see here).
and you can read their thoughts on the matter at the links above.

The bottom line is that the author -- whoever it may be -- mischaracterizes the facts, leaves out important details embarrassing to the Administration's case and engages in special pleading.

With regard to the Robinson-Briggs administration's miscalculations and omissions from the budget, Berry fails to acknowledge that he is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the budget proposal and that he did nothing prior to its introduction by the administration to guarantee that it was complete and accurate.

Secondly, Berry fails to mention that the state's review found significant issues with accuracy and flagged the budget April 5th. Not only that, neither Mayor Robinson-Briggs nor City Administrator Berry informed the City Council, the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee or -- apparently -- the Administration's own budget consultant David Kochel (see my previous post on whether heads should roll for this lapse here), until the matter came to light at the May 24 budget hearing.

Perhaps most damagingly for Mayor Robinson-Briggs and Mr. Berry is the fact that the mayor gave Berry permission to take vacation time while this mess was dumped on the Council. Think of the captain of the Titanic going on vacation after the iceberg has been struck, and without telling the crew or passengers. You get my point.

And then the state is asked to intervene in the funding of the Plainfield Public Library and take Mayor Robinson-Briggs' point of view that library funding should be cut to the statutory minimum, again with misrepresentation of some facts and omission of others. Berry also fails to point out that this is the second year in a row in which Mayor Robinson-Briggs has warred on the library and its patrons or that last year's proposed cut was checked by the City Council.

One of the remaining letters treats the appropriation of $50,000 by the Council to its 'other expenses' line to cover the projected costs of legal and engineering studies on the feasibility of re-absorbing the PMUA into the city's Division of Public Works. Though there is indeed contention here, even Councilor Reid has admitted that his was the fifth vote on the appropriation and the state has already noted the appropriation stands.

Lastly, the third letter is a case of special pleading for the lawyers, that they should be fully employed, at the taxpayer's expense.

Hopefully, the Divison of Local Government Services has more serious things to do than accommodate Mayor Robinson-Briggs' and Administrator Berry's opera bouffe.


(Sorry for delay in posting, had an appointment with the prosthetist at the crack of dawn this AM -- Dan)

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ok this is the worst i have ever seen before. i never thought i would say this but now it's time for a RECALL of the MAYOR.

Anonymous said...

So what? By this I mean, what happens now? Does anyone contact the state to let them know about the misinforation?


This administration consistently breaks the law and nothing happens.

So, as I said before - so what? Please tell me you have an answer, Dan.

Anonymous said...

If Corporation Counsel is doing such a great job af giving legal advise to the City, why are they fighting "hundreds of lawsuits"?

Anonymous said...

Yes, its time for the State to get involved. Tell your Councilperson that you want them to call for a forensic audit. We cannot sit idly by and allow the mayor and her administration to play us. The only way to get things resolved is to become a united front against this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait for the housing market to rebound so I can sell my place and say good-bye to this town in my rearview mirror.

Keeping It Rreal said...

Robinson-Briggs produces more "fertilizer" in a day than most cows produce in their lifetime.

How can we get rid of this cancer that has been slowly killing Plainfield?

Anonymous said...

Berry has been pointing to others to answer questions directed at since he's been here. So if he wrote these letters,(that he takes credit for) he uses the same tactic of pointing to someone else. But I bet someone else really wrote the letter and he's allowing himself to be the pawn. The mayor forces employees to do her bidding such as what she did to Purchasing Agent David Spaulding.

Keeping It Real said...

@12:41 PM I understand your frustration, but running away is not the answer, Plainfield can truly be a great place.

Plainfield, like other cities, saw so much negative change in the 60s and 70s because people ran from the problem instead of confronting it. We need to haul the trash out of here, help us do it.

Everyone, help us do it. Go to the council meetings and put the pressure on Robinson-Briggs and the council, especially Rivers, Reid and Greaves; bombard Sharon's office with calls (albeit she'll never return them). Let them know you won't take it anymore.

Anonymous said...

I was at the meeting when Mr. Berry was asked about the letters and I can tell you by the look on his face and his body language he seemed surprise that he was asked and hesitant to say yes with conviction.

Bob said...

I am honored that so many now see my point of view. I've been saying we need a forensic audit of this administration and we need to get rid of this cancer called Sharon Robinson-Briggs.

Bob Bolmer

GB said...

Cira 1970's --- Larry Bashe had all staff use the same City Letterhead with only your title position on the bottom to save money. Thank Goodness those stupid Republican ideas are gone!! Look how much better the City is since we have just had Democrats in the Mayor's Office