Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Monday, September 9, 2013

Council should look hard at African Caribbean Commission proposal

Lately, Council meetings have had the feel of Dorothy's house
being swept up in the tornado in 'The Wizard of Oz'.

Things certainly seem to be in a whirl with the Plainfield City Council of late, and tonight is no exception. To borrow a metaphor from Olddoc, it's like Dorothy and Toto surviving the tornado in 'The Wizard of Oz' to find that they are not in Kansas anymore.

Besides taking up a hasty proposal for a RODEO, the Council will have its second reading of an ordinance proposing an African Caribbean Commission.

This would be the third new commission that Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs has proposed in her two terms. The other two, the Hispanic Affairs Commission and the Youth Commission, have fallen into disuse owing to a lack of appointments by Her Honor. It would be a shame to set up yet another commission to come to naught.

Reading through the proposed ordinance (MC 2013-07), some questions came to mind that I hope the Council will take into account before making a decision to adopt --

First, why shouldn't the ordinance be set to become effective January 1, 2014, thus keeping the appointments in line with the vast majority of Plainfield's boards and commissions, seats on which expire December 31st of a given year.

Secondly, the membership criteria is vague, to say the least. Speaking at the August 19 Council meeting, spokesperson Fatou Njie said the currently existing committee does not confine its membership to those areas, which seems a bit odd. Shouldn't the Council want clarification on the basis for eligibility for the proposed commission? And if it's limited to persons from Africa and the Caribbean, shouldn't that be spelled out with more precision?

Thirdly, the phrase 'citizens of the city' in the ordinance is unnecessarily murky. Does it mean to propose any resident of the City is eligible, or that those eligible must be US citizens. The word 'citizen' is not normally used in connection with one's residence in a given community. Would some clarity help?

Lastly, there is no mention of funding. While Ms. Njie said the group would look to grants to support its activities, she also left open the possibility such a commission would seek funding from the City. Shouldn't this be tightened up? We have a lot of experience in this community with folks coming hat in hand after the camel has got its nose under the tent (to mix a metaphor). Shouldn't everything be perfectly clear before the ordinance is enacted?
My suggestion is that the Council have a full discussion of these and any other issues this evening before any kind of a vote. And if the Council determines the ordinance needs amending for clarification's sake that they will table it and send it back to the Administration for fine-tuning.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

why do you have a problem with this is it because they are black

Anonymous said...

What the hell is it for????

Anonymous said...

I think we should have a Hugs for Thugs Commission next.