Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mayor drops lawsuit against Council

'nuf said?

[This story has been amended to reflect a correction.] Monday's Plainfield City Council meeting held only one real surprise, and that came almost as an afterthought.

As Olddoc had noted on his blog previously (see here), there were thirteen resolutions (R322-12 through R334-12) on the agenda which had not been discussed openly at the last week's agenda session. At the public comment section, [correction] he Bernice Paglia of Plaintalker inquired of Council President Adrian Mapp why these proposed contracts had June 30, 2012 end dates since we were now on a calendar year. Councilor Mapp advised they would all be corrected to read 'December 31, 2012', which indeed Chairman Reid undertook when they got to that point in the meeting.

As they finished the items under the heading 'Corporation Counsel', Councilor Williams quietly asked if there was an update on Mayor Robinson-Briggs' lawsuit against the Council.

After a moment's pause, Mr. Minchello said simply 'the mayor has withdrawn her lawsuit'.


Just like that, it was over.

The Courier's Mark Spivey published a long piece on the mayor's lawsuit in the Courier's online edition back in March, outlining her charges that the Council's investigation denied her the opportunity to confront her accusers or cross examine witnesses and that the $200 fine levied by the Council exceeded its authority (notwithstanding a provision for just such a fine in the city's special charter). I posted the text of Mayor Robinson-Briggs' lawsuit online here.

Over the intervening months, Democratic activist Dottie Gutenkauf tried to broker a peace between the Council and the Mayor. While Council President Adrian Mapp agreed the fine should be eliminated after a ruling by Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy, the reprimand was left standing (my posts on the matter are gathered together here).

Robinson-Briggs took the opportunity of Cassidy's ruling on the narrow matter of whether the Council could levy the fine to trumpet the ruling in a press release posted to the city's website (see here). Embarrassingly for her, she used the city's public information officer, Terry West, to write up the release and post it to the website. The press release was summarily taken down when attention was called to it by Councilor Williams (see here) and Olddoc (see here) and the point made that the lawsuit was not city business but a private complaint filed by the Mayor.

That was the end of June and nothing had been heard since, until Minchello's comment last evening.

Those who had been waiting for an opportunity to hear the Mayor plead her full case in the courts will not get that chance now.

What had the potential of ending with a bang now ends with a ... whimper?

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Anonymous said...

. . . who pays for the Mayor's legal bill? Or does she have to suck that up like she sucked up the air in that balloon?

Bob said...

It was worth the long, boring meeting to hear about the mayor finally showing a small amount of common sense by dropping the law suit. I'm sure when she realized that she would have to pay for the lawyers, that helped make up her mind. Sharon is often a silly, disorganized person who belongs any place but in a city hall.

Anonymous said...

The lawsuit was silly in the first place, and even more so after the council rescinded the fine. What a waste of everybody's time and tax money! And it was unconscionable for the mayor to use the city's public information officer for this personal aggrandizement. On the other hand, there is precedent for that--the previous mayor did the exact same thing.