Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Monday, November 19, 2012

Green moves to fill McWilliams' council seat

Council is being asked to take up the matter of the now-vacant at-large seat.

Plainfield Democratic City Committee (PDCC) chair Assemblyman Jerry Green has moved to fill the Council seat made vacant by the resignation of Councilor-at-large Annie McWilliams.

McWilliams stood aside during the June Democratic primary on account of plans to take up graduate studies at NYU. Once the Rev. Tracey Brown was elected to the at-large seat in November, McWilliams submitted her resignation.

Anxious to fill the seat, Green stumbled in submitting three names to the Council after a hurriedly called city committee meeting which appears to have been improperly noticed. (The organization's bylaws call for committee members to receive written notice of meetings five days in advance; many members didn't get their notice of this meeting until their mail arrived THE DAY AFTER THE MEETING.)

Green chose to forward the names of two long-time Democratic activists: Hattie Williams, whom many will remember staffing the sign-in desk at City Hall during Mayor Robinson-Briggs' first term, and Dottie Gutenkauf, retired AFT leader and a PDCC committee member of long standing.

The third name may be less familiar: Charles Eke, a Woodland Avenue resident, first came to notice in the local effort for President Obama's 2008 campaign -- which was spearheaded by then Councilor Rashid Burney. (Green, Union County Dem chairperson Charlotte DeFilippo and others were staunch Hillary Clinton backers.)

Some may also remember Eke for going into a public meltdown when the Council declined to confirm him as a commissioner for the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA).

Notwithstanding the stumble by rushing, this time differs significantly from Green's last effort (in 2011, to fill the vacancy created by Linda Carter's move to the Freeholder Board -- see my post on that matter here), where one of the names he submitted was of an unaffiliated voter and another was someone who was not registered to vote -- while state law and the City charter both require the nominees to be of the same party as the person whose seat is falling vacant. (A video of Chairperson Green explaining how he runs the Plainfield Democratic organization is online

What puzzles many is why the full-court press by Green at this late moment.

The Council will take up the matter of putting the names on the agenda for next week's business meeting. If it agrees to do so, whomever is selected will serve for (at most) three Council meetings before Brown assumes her seat on January 1.

Another interesting wrinkle is the peculiar replacement process outlined in Plainfield's special charter (see online version
here) --

2.4    Vacancies.
    A vacancy in the office of councilman occurring during a term shall be filled by election at the next general election to be held not less than 60 days after the occurrence of the vacancy. The council shall forthwith fill the vacancy temporarily by appointment of a qualified person to serve until the qualification of the person so elected. A person appointed to fill a vacancy shall have the qualifications required of the previous incumbent and shall be a member of the same political party as such prior incumbent. In the event the council fails to fill the vacancy within 60 days following its occurrence the mayor shall forthwith appoint a qualified person to serve as above.
This is remarkable because it could be interpreted as giving the Council the opportunity to pick a successor on its own, without reference to the Democratic city Committee.

This differs markedly from the process set forth in state law, and is just one more reason why I think it is a good thing to have a Charter Study Commission in place to examine just such murkiness and imprecision in the current city charter.

To watch the show, come on out tonight to the Council's agenda-setting session at 7:30 PM in City Hall Library.

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Alan Goldstein said...

Sorry Dottie, but Plainfield needs someone like Hattie Williams. Someone who got the Plainfield Housing Authority to make a contribution to Tracey Brown's primary campaign. Someone like Tracey who laps at the trough of public money for personal benefit, even illegal benefit. That's what we need around here, more scofflaws in public office.

Anonymous said...

An earlier PDCC meeting was planned for this, but Sandy prevented that. Thought you might like to know.

Yep I Said It!!! said...

I don't see what's the problem. All ASSemblyman Green did was to reach far up his ASS and grab three turds. The biggest turd wins -Icky Eke.

Anonymous said...