The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Embarrassing tussle over Council presidency

4th Ward Councilor Bridget Rivers.
There is always maneuvering in December over who will be Plainfield City Council president for the upcoming year.

The role is important because the Council president controls what gets put on the agenda, as well as the conduct of the public meetings.

In all my years of Council watching, while rumors (often accurate) have been rife in the leadup to the annual reorganization, the process has been hammered out by Council members among themselves and not in open discussion. The winner and the loser(s), however bruised, have almost always united in a unanimous vote at the reorganization meeting, with a pledge to work together during the ensuing year.

All that usual decorum was unceremoniously brushed aside at last night's Council meeting.

Word in the street for week's has been that Councilor Bridget Rivers will be next year's Council president. This would come as no surprise considering the seating of Mayor Robinson-Briggs' pastor, the Rev. Tracey Brown, as at-large councilor (replacing Annie McWilliams), will give the mayor a friendly majority on the Council.

With the exception of the brouhaha over the October carnival at Hannah Atkins Park, Rivers has been a solid ally of the mayor.

With both up for election in 2013, there are even rumors that the two will campaign jointly for re-election.

So it came as a dismaying surprise when three residents came to the table to plump for Rivers -- including disparaging remarks aimed at Councilor Williams by the Rev. Jason Greer.

Williams said that she was unaware Rivers was seeking the office as she received nothing in writing from Rivers on the subject, hence Williams submitted her own letter to fellow Council members outlining her reasons for being considered for the presidency.

Councilor Reid noted that he intended to support Rivers at the formal vote which will be taken at the reorg meeting in January.

This would leave one to surmise that what actually happened was that Rivers assured herself of four positive votes (herself, Reid, Greaves and councilor-elect Brown), which would give her a majority and never solicited the support of Councilors Mapp, Williams or Storch.

Having a claque promote one's candidacy in such a fashion as was witnessed last night betrays an amateurishness and lack of gravitas that will be troubling indeed if it becomes the norm of conduct in the upcoming year.

But at least it would guarantee interesting meetings -- even if they resemble 'Housewives of New Jersey' more than a legislative body.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Do you think Bridget knows that as Council President she has to attend meetings regularly, besides you can't run the City in the ground by just showing up when you feel like it, that's a full time job, she can ask her friend the Mayor. I am truly begging, praying and hoping that Plainfield will wake up and vote these worthless politicos out of office.

Rebecca Williams said...

Dan, I thought I would post this comment on your blog as well.

I did not receive any response to my email asking for support for the council presidency, so I actually printed out my letter, which I planned to hand out after the meeting was over. However, when Rev. Greer chose to make his ad hominem attacks on me (as opposed to saying anything substantive--for example, discussing my voting record), I felt that I ought to stand up for myself and read it into the record. I actually don't mind the public comments, as folks are entitled to their opinions, but I did feel that Charles Eke's comments were totally inappropriate and insulting to the governing body, as he will be sitting at the council table for two more days as a fill-in. It is possible that he has not read the council's rules of order and so does not realize how unseemly his behavior was. His commentary on "leadership" was laughable as well.

Now that Councilor Rivers has made her intentions known, and has the votes, I am withdrawing. Perhaps my colleagues will look favorably upon me for the council presidency if I decide to ask for support in 2014. As Councilor Storch said, it is a tough job. I wish my colleague Bridget the best as she takes on this role.


Anonymous said...

First of all it was classless, which explains much of Plainfield's issues.

Next, it appears to be clear that the lines have been drawn, and the people of Plainfield be damned. There is no want to do what is right for the city, and the very people who are in leadership roles have not a clue how to lead.

Leadership requires bringing people together to fulfill a common goal and purpose.

Boy, are we in deep do - do.

Anonymous said...

The show will be called The battle of the Jersey Councilors.

Anonymous said...

Will Ms Rivers do the same as her sister did when she was on the council and spend money on things like $800/month cell phone bills? What makes her think she is qualified to the job as council president? The democrats keep putting in people not qualified for the job,and then they complain when things go south and their taxes go north. No wonder people are leaving Plainfield.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the council members should flip a coin!

Bob said...

It is sad to see the low level we've come to in the City Council and city administration since this mayor has been in office. Mr. Eke was not a good choice for even one month on the City Council and did not get an overwhelming majority of the vote at the Dem. Committee meeting. Many of us on that committee did not feel he was qualified, but Jerry did, and so it goes.

It is sad to see Councilor Rivers use the same tactics I saw Tracy Brown use at the public forums and Shady Sharonda use over the years. Get your stooges to bad mouth people for you and try to sway things your way, and the people of Plainfield and the good of Plainfield be damned. Since we're all Democrats I wonder how people in the community see the Plainfield Democratic Party. Not good I think.

Dottie Gutenkauf said...

Bob, the December 4th Democratic Committee meeting which chose Charles Eke was held when my husband was hospitalized and in critical condition--that's why, as I said at the time, I withdrew my name from consideration. (As you know, Joe passed away a few days later.) When Hattie Williams also withdrew, that left Mr. Eke. Carol Bicket offered her services and when the vote was held neither she nor Mr. Eke got overwhelming support, but Mr. Eke got more votes than she did. I abstained on both, by the way, and Jerry Green didn't vote.

Just setting the record straight, Bob. And thank you ever so much for your kind note after Joe's passing!

Anonymous said...

Since we're all Democrats I wonder how people in the community see the Plainfield Democratic Party. Not good I think.
: MINDLESS STOOGES BOB, Mindless stooges to blind to get out of their own way and only concerned about their slice of corruption being had by the other faction. You're all quite pathetic really.