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Friday, January 25, 2013

Council gives $1M giveaway promoter a PMUA seat

After six attempts and only with the realignment of Plainfield's City Council, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs was finally able to get Cecil Sanders appointed to a full commissioner's seat on the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA) Tuesday evening.

Sanders came on board first as an alternate in December 2011 and was responsible, along with commissioner Malcolm Dunn, in engineering a $1 million settlement to former employees Eric Watson and David Ervin, which involved trashing an arbitration proceeding that insiders say was well on the way to being resolved in the agency's favor and against Watson and Ervin.

Councilor Williams asked the sharpest questions of nominee Sanders concerning his role in the $1 million settlement with former executives. Sanders, perhaps speaking out of school, said that there had been pressures on Watson and Ervin and there was some dispute about whether they had actually resigned, but that in the event the separation was 'by mutual agreement'.

The appointment, along with that of Charles Eke as Alternate #1, came as a result of a 4-3 vote in which Councilors Brown, Greaves, Reid and Rivers voted for the duo and Councilors Mapp, Storch and Williams against.

There was a moment of fluster as Councilor Storch reminded the Robinson-Briggs administration that the Council had been promised the week before that they would be supplied with the information about who was succeeding whom in the appointments -- information which was not yet supplied even as the vote approached.

After a few moments' fumbling between City Solicitor Minchello, City Administrator Berry and Mayor Robinson-Briggs, Robinson-Briggs finally read out the answers: Sanders was being proposed for the unexpired term of newly-seated Councilor Tracey Brown, and Eke for a vacant alternate's seat.

Councilor Reid, who himself sat for several years as a PMUA Commissioner, muddied the waters by confusing the matter of how many Commissioners participate in voting. (State law on public authorities provides for five full members -- with one to be elected every year for a five-year term -- and two alternates; alternates only vote in the event of the absence of a full commissioner.)

The new lineup leaves in place Commissioners Mitchell (a holdover serving as Chairperson), Brokaw, Toliver and Dunn. The addition of Sanders as a full member and Eke as an alternate leaves one unfilled alternate seat by my reckoning.

Yet to be seen is what action, if any, Mayor Robinson-Briggs will take to replace holdovers currently sitting on the board.

If you're into D-R-A-M-A, the PMUA is the gift that just keeps on giving.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Bob said...

The city's solicitor is an odd dog. I know I would not buy a used car from him. He comes across as disengenuous and totally on the side of the mayor. The city council and administration need seperate attorneys, but that won't happen with this stacked council. Sharon's stooges, Rivers, Reid, Greaves, and Brown may find that backing this very unpopular mayor will not be in their best interest. I hope the voters are paying attention and vote these self-serving fools out of office when the time comes. Sharon's turn is this June folks. Please vote as if your town and your future depended on it.