Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Council: Something for everyone but Dunn, Sanders and HAP

Just and capable... Are we getting closer?

As befits calling a special meeting of Plainfield's City Council on the cusp of a confluent celebration of both Hanukkah and Thanksgiving (see Olddoc here), there were gifts for all. Well, almost all.

Three of Mayor-Elect Mapp's personnel items were given the go-ahead, as was the budget transfer (including funding the irregular police promotions). The only item that failed was the scheme to convey Public Parking Lot 9 and another parcel to the Housing Authority -- and thereby hangs a tale.

With Councilors Brown, Reid and Williams phoning in, there were seven votes on hand for the early portion of the meeting.

The first item was the budget transfer. The proposal was to move a little over one million dollars into several accounts that are facing shortfalls -- including the Police Division, which would be short $111,000 to cover the promoted lieutenants' salaries without the transfer.

Councilor Mapp explained that he was reluctantly voting for the transfers even though he had concerns because a failure to make the transfers before December 31 would mean the $1 million shortfall would have to be added to next year's budget, his first as Mayor, and would negatively impact other funding.

With Councilors Storch and Williams standing by their previous votes against the transfer, the resolution passed 5-7 (a super-majority of 5 was needed).

After a little dueling over the bumped-up salary band for a Chief Financial Officer (resident Alan Goldstein's numbers were countered by Personnel Director Karen Dabney's researched report), the ordinance (2013-18) passed with 6 affirmative votes. (Councilor Reid's connection had been dropped and was never re-established.)

Next came ordinances 2013-19 and 2013-20, which established the position of Chief of Staff, sought by Mayor-elect Mapp, and a salary band for the position ($60,000 - $95,000).

After Mayor-elect Mapp explained that he would be a part-time mayor with a full-time day job in another municipality and needed a personal representative in addition to the City Administrator (who would be responsible for the day-to-day operation of municipal government), Council concurred in the job description and the salary band by a vote of 6-0.

The final piece of business was ordinance 2013-21, to convey Public Parking Lot 9 and an additional small parcel to the Housing Authority of Plainfield to develop through its nonprofit Plainfield CDC along with a private partnership into 86-units of subsidized housing in three buildings scattered throughout the parcels.

Corporation Counsel David Minchello advised the Council he could not recommend proceeding as he could not 'attest to the legality of the ordinance'.

In particular, he cited language in the ordinance which references 'redevelopment' and there is no redevelopment plan in place for this property assemblage. Secondly, Minchello noted the Council was being asked to enter into a contract lacking key elements: no time by which it must be executed and no consideration (price) was specified.

Corporation Counsel recommended tabling. Council President Bridget Rivers seemed quite taken aback by the legal opinion and asked that developer Cecil Sanders and his attorney be called to the table to speak on behalf of the proposal. After some discussion and with Corporation Counsel Minchello not backing down a vote to table was finally taken. (Sanders' business partner, Malcolm R. Dunn, was never seen in the Council chambers, though he was seated at the sign-in desk in the lobby as the meeting broke up.)

The motion to table the ordinance was carried 4-2. Councilors Brown, Mapp, Storch and Williams voted in the affirmative; Council President Rivers and Councilor Greaves voted in the negative. Councilor Reid took no part. NOTE: A Councilor corrects me, saying the vote was 6-0. My notes specifically reflect a 4-2 split; I may have misheard some of the votes.

During the public comment period which followed the conclusion of business, HAP Executive Director Randall Wood chastised the Council for not passing the ordinance on first reading, saying that the law specifically provided for a transfer of property to an authority without a public auction or bid, and that HAP's having a nonprofit development entity meant that the City could avoid going through an RFP (Request for Proposals) process. Though he did not say it, the clear effect of Wood's suggestion would be to eliminate any possibility of competition or public scrutiny of the proposal.

The ordinances will now face a second reading and public hearing on December 9, after which they still must face the possibility of a veto by outgoing Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Dunn was there all through the proceedings, seated in the northwest corner of the room.

Anonymous said...

Dunn and Sanders want to keep the power and money they extract from their dealing with Plainfield, I believe.

If the council votes to add low income housing to the middle of downtown, which will essentially mean no developer will come in to develop, I guess they will also vote on the 600 unit housing in Muhlenburg.

How can Plainfield be so stupid as to let these people rule to roost?

Anonymous said...

Hey Dan,
you forgot to mention that they Mayor was at City Hall yesterday giving out FREE TURKEYS to those in need!!!!!!!!! Herself.

Still helping plainfield and doing whats right.....

Anonymous said...

GEE here we are again being held hostage by the cops... Protect and Serve is the motto. Yes, they certainly protect one another and serve the tax payer will the bill.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, possibly encouraging, that Brown acts as swing vote a la Justice Kennedy.

Anonymous said...

GREED....Why would Plainfield want section 8 UNITS Downtown Plainfield? We should be building up the Downtown area not pushing it down the sewer. What about parking? Where would everyone park??? I can not find a place to park when I go Downtown now!

Anonymous said...

So I guess Mapp was right and Bridgette Rivers a true and dedicated puppet of Slimey Green along with Vera Greaves, Bill Reid and swinger Rev Tracey Brown. Rivers, Greaves, Reid and Rev. Brown would only vote for Mapp's staff if the vote for promotions and money transfers go through. Who needs transparency when you can see right through these Keystone bunglers?