Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Council 'gang of four' picks public's pocket

A Council majority picked the public's pocket Tuesday
to pay the Mayor's personal legal tab.
Plainfield City Council's new alignment revealed itself in full Tuesday evening, when the 'gang of four' Robinson-Briggs supporters (Councilors Brown, Greaves, Reid and Rivers) voted as a bloc to pay Mayor Robinson-Briggs' personal legal bills incurred from her suing the Council over its investigation into the misappropriation of $15,000 given by Investors Bank toward expenses for the July 4 Parade in 2010, and used by Robinson-Briggs to partially cover the cost of a WBLS broadcast from Plainfield at a later date.

Despite questions by Councilors Mapp, Storch and Williams about the propriety of using public funds to pay the mayor's personal legal tab of $22,126.34, the 'gang of four' did not bother to respond substantively before the resolution (R032-13) was passed on a 4-3 vote.

Council President Bridget Rivers did ask about-to-be-minted Corporation Counsel Minchello before the vote whether the law firm (Schwartz, Simon, Edelstein & Celso, LLC) was likely to sue the city if the resolution were not passed. Minchello replied 'yes', though he added a lawyerly demurral sotto voce that he was 'not commenting on the [claim's] merits'.

Councilor Storch's suggestion that the resolution not be passed and the City negotiate a settlement when/if the law firm sued wasn't even responded to by Council President Rivers or Mr. Minchello. One possibility is because a lawsuit would no doubt name both the City of Plainfield as well as the Mayor (as an individual), and that if the City were able to defend itself successfully, the Mayor would be left to face the bill on her own.

(How different this episode is from one that confronted Al McWilliams when he took office in 1998. At that time, Sen. Lesniak's law firm, Weiner Lesniak, was demanding $800,000 for legal work performed at the behest of previous mayor Mark Fury. McWilliams refused to pay and insisted on a negotiated settlement -- to which Weiner Lesniak agreed. The final amount paid was in the range of $300,000, quite a comedown from the initial demand.)

Here's a question for you: If the mayor's suit had been successfully concluded in her favor (instead of being dropped as she did), and damages were awarded in the matter, would those damages have gone to Mayor Robinson-Briggs personally, or would they have gone to the City?

As Councilor Storch warned, this payment sets a dangerous precedent.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Bob said...

I was at that meeting and went directly there from teaching my evening classes. This council is a joke and the smirk on the mayor's face when she gets her way with the four stooges makes me want to retch. The people are not being represented by the council president Rivers, or by Greaves, Reid, or Brown. I hope people pay attention and show it by voting Shady Sharonda and her stooges out of office. We need people on the city council who represent Plainfield and not this administration. I think we're beginning to see people noticing by the large number of citizens speaking at the end of the meeting.

Anonymous said...


Over the last few years when Annie McWilliams, Mapp,Storch & Councilwoman Williams voted in block votes, were they a gang of four?

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the city paying the mayor's legal bills. Where are they planning to get this money?

Anonymous said...

Why do the people of Plainfield keep voting for the pick pockets? How much tax payer money has this Mayor wasted since she has been in office? How many Directors/Managers has she had in the ever revolving city hall door since she has taken office? How much more did she waste that we don't even know about?

Anonymous said...

Where is the FBI investigation? Where is Christie and the Attny General? I am going to make a phone call. Enough is enough already. Using public funds to pay a personal debt is ILLEGAL Sharon! If you didnt go to jail for WBLS you are risking it now.