The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Greaves test-drives Council; will UCIA agreement stick?

Public use of the parking deck is among issues covered in a
proposed UCIA-City settlement agreement.
With Plainfield
City Council President Bridget Rivers and Councilor Cory Storch absent at Monday's meeting, Councilor Vera Greaves was elected president pro-tem to conduct the Council's August business meeting. (Storch is on a family trip; Rivers' absence was unexplained.)

Though Greaves has participated in many Council meetings, it is always different to be in the driver's seat. At the first public comment portion, she let some speakers get away with not speaking to a specific item on the agenda (which is supposed to be the point of the first comment period) and let former Councilor Malcolm Dunn turn his back to the Council at one point to address the audience and then engage in a back-and-forth with members of the Council.

As the meeting finally got into gear (after an hour for the initial comments period), Greaves conducted votes on several items without bothering to ask for 'no' votes and abstentions; when she finally began to do that, she resorted to a 'yea-abstention-nay' order for the remainder of the items.

At one point, Councilor Reid, who is chair of the committe of the whole, took over and read the Council President's part aloud, following it by saying, '...and then I say...' and finishing with his own script.

I was put in mind of watching a beginning driver learning to use a manual shift in the high school parking lot -- a lot of bucking and stalling before getting the hang of it. Word in the street is that Greaves would like to be council president in the new year. Was Monday's performance a test drive?

Though there were a number of encroachment and street closure requests for various events that generated considerable discussion among Council members, including proposals by Councilors Williams and Mapp that the matter be studied, all were approved except, apparently, Edison Garcia's request for a second Latino festival in lots 8 and 8A in September. Williams' suggestion the police, fire and public works vett the requests before they come to the Council bears following up on.

One of the outstanding issues is the historic
'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' clock.

Though the denial of the renewal of the Naicken liquor license drew the most public comment, the biggest deal of the evening, which got the least notice from the audience, was the proposed settlement of outstanding issues between the UCIA and the city. (Bernice scooped everyone on the details, you can read her report here.)

The proposed agreement addresses the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) on the County Office Building, use of the parking deck, and the matter of 'a clock' for the plaza (see my 2006 post on the outstanding issues here). (No mention is made of the two retail buildings facing West Front Street; these are contributing under a separate PILOT.)
While Corporation Counsel Minchello is to be commended for the hard work he put in on the deal, everyone may yet hear more on the 'clock' matter, since the sticking point was not whether the UCIA would put a clock in the plaza, but whether it would put the historic clock located across Park Avenue into the Plaza. The advocate for that clock, referred to by Councilor Mapp on Monday as 'Carol's clock' is Carol Bicket, who is in the Maine woods at the moment. But she will be back soon, and Mr. Minchello may expect a phone call.

More pertinent to my mind is whether (or when) the agreement will stick.

As chief executive, the Mayor's signature is required on all deals. The word is that Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs did not want to see the settlement agreement made and is in no mood to sign off on it.

If true, we may have an agreement, but it may not be ratified until there is a new Mayor in office come January.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Pat Turner Kavanaugh said...

Dan: I thought that any permit applications for a special event automatically went to police, fire, health dept (if food is served), etc. before going to the council. That's what I was told when I bought permits for FOSH or LWV events.

Anonymous said...

Dan as always you did not listen to the meeting carefully. It was explained by that Rivers was out of the country. You are so bias it is disgusting. You did a great injustice to Mayor Robinson-Briggs and the same will be done to Councilmen Mapp if he is elected in november which i hope he is not.

Michael Townley said...

The city has a public assembly permit that should be used for these gatherings like the festivals in the parking lots. The permits are forwarded to Police, Fire, and Public Works for approval before the permits are issued. Any objections should be raised during that review. Of course, that assumes the festival promoter files an application for a permit and that the application is circulated to these (and other) city departments before the permit is issued.

Anonymous said...

Dan The Clock was on the list of the Beautification Committee back when Mc Williams was the Mayor to be moved across the street. Cheryl Bullock and Sue Brown went several times to the Freeholders and the developer to work on this "CLOCK PROJECT". So much of Plainfield's history has been destroyed downtown and they just wanted to make sure that the clock was saved, and was promised that the clock would be moved across the street and be part of the landscaping of the Park Madison Building. So far I see that the developer has lied and the Democrats in charge have not kept their word about moving this clock.

Anonymous said...

Dan, Didn't the developers promise the Mayor Al Mc Williams to move the clock after the building was completed? The developer did not pay building construction or CO fees to the City of Plainfield, and for not paying the fees, one of the several thing on the list was FREE parking night and weekends and moving the clock. It is so sad when developers and politicians make a promise to do a job or project and once they get the $$$ they take it and run. Maybe we should make politicians and developers put up bonds for promises they make and not give them back their money till the deal or project is completed.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan
Why no comments being posted

Anonymous said...

I would be highly offended if Greaves got the Council President position.

It is evident at the meetings that she has not read the information, and many times it seems as though she does not understand the information. She makes no attempt to try to understand the issues ahead of time.

In my opinion, she has no business being on the council, let alone being the council president.