Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Time to get serious if you think City's charter should be changed

A Charter Study Commission could recommend changes.

Plainfield's City Council agreed to move ahead at next week's business meeting with an ordinance that will put a public question on this November's ballot concerning establishing a charter study commission.

As I and other have noted before (see my previous post here), Plainfield's special charter is showing signs of age that puts us at odds with the way most New Jersey communities address common governance issues.

If you are interested in helping Plainfielders examine the question of changing our charter and proposing possible changes, now is the time to start getting organized. (For more about the process, see the Rutgers Center for Government Services online resource center here.

Not only will the public question of establishing a charter study commission be voted upon, at the same time voters will cast ballots for five candidates for the commission.

Setting up a charter study commission is run as a NONPARTISAN election, and as many interested residents as wish may submit petitions to be on the ballot. (I am still trying to track down the citation, but I seem to recall the number of signatures needed on a petition is one hundred, no big deal in the scheme of things.) When ready for circulation, these petitions will be available through the office of Municipal Clerk 'AJ' Jalloh.

All qualified petitioners will appear on the ballot and the top five vote getters will constitute the Charter Study Commission.

A charter study commission's work is divided into several phases: getting organized, studying the options, taking input from the community, and finally preparing a report with a recommendation for action.

The three options available would be to recommend --

  • ADOPTION of one of the Optional Municipal Charter Law (Faulkner Act) options;
  • CHANGES to our Special Charter (which would then require approval of the Legislature); or
  • NO CHANGE to our Special Charter.
Though there will certainly be a good amount of work involved, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for those who care about improving Plainfield's governance and the community's future prospects.

On your mark, get set ...

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Bob said...

Thanks for the information, Dan. This is such a needed thing and I hope we can get good people to serve and help bring us out of the "Old Boy" politics of long ago and into a world where our Charter will work for us, not against us.