Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Charter Study Commission's choices outlined

Plainfield's Charter Study Commission got to work Tuesday evening with its organizing meeting.

Special guest and consultant to the commission Dr. Ernest Reock, retired director of Rutgers' Center for Government Services, outlined the possible recommendation outcomes of the five-member commission's work --

  1. Keep the existing special charter 'as is';

  2. Recommend one of the Faulkner Act options;

  3. Tweak the existing special charter -- or write a completely new one; and

  4. Make advisory recommendations to the governing body.
If the recommendation is one of the Faulkner Act 'off the shelf' options, the proposal would go directly to Plainfield voters as a binding referendum and the Commission would be discharged. Passage of the referendum question would seal the charter change.

If the decision is to tweak (or completely rewrite) the current special charter, the governing body would have to petition the Legislature for the change. Upon receiving a 2/3 vote in each house, the change would need the governor's signature to take effect. The Charter Study Commission would remain in place until a change was either made or rejected.

The final possibility is that the Commission could make advisory recommendations to the governing body, leaving the question of adopting changes up to it.

Reock pointed out that the Commission has nine months from the date of the election's certification to get its work done, which has been shortened by the delays caused as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

The Commission is subject to the Sunshine Law, and its meetings will be open to the public, as well as making provision for public comment at all meetings. The work will proceed in several phases (studying Plainfield's charter, comparing other forms of government, drafting a final report) and include both public MEETINGS, at which the Commission will explain its work to the public, and public HEARINGS, at which the Commission will gather input and feedback from residents.

It is not anticipated that issues allowing for executive (closed) sessions will crop up. Because of the Sunshine Law requirements, subcommittees will be composed of two members each, and in the case of visiting other communities for fact-gathering the rule of two will also apply.

The Commission chose the following officers by acclamation --

  • Chair: Rick Smiley
  • Vice Chair: John Stewart, Jr.
  • Secretary: Mary Burgwinkle
  • Ass't Secretary: Marie Davis
  • Treasurer: Jeanette Criscione
Councilors Adrian Mapp, Cory Storch and Rebecca Williams were in the audience. Mapp and Storch thanked those who stood for election and congratulated the Commission on getting started; Mapp added that the Robinson-Briggs administration intends to put a $20,000 budget line in the 2013 budget proposal for the Commission.

The Commission's next meeting is set for Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 7:30 PM at City Hall Library.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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