The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Council, Mayor Mapp settling into trench warfare?


Trench warfare in WWI led to devastating casualties and a situation
where there were no winners, only losers.

Are Plainfield's City Council and the administration of Mayor Adrian Mapp settling into trench warfare?

Despite the fact that most of the business presented to the Council by the administration is passed without contention, there are a few flash points that suggest there is a need for more communication between the two sides to prevent a Council majority from falling into becoming a merely obstructionist force.

At Monday's agenda-setting session, three issues revealed the rigid positions indicative of a trench warfare mindset: the LegalShield matter, PMUA appointments and the budget process.

LegalShield

Though the result of previous conversations on the LegalShield matter left the ball with the Mapp administration, Council President Bridget Rivers put it on the agenda again as a discussion item.

LegalShield offers prepaid legal services and its representatives Jilletta Riley and Jeffrey Dunn are seeking a payroll deduction plan they say was promised by former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs.

The plan has a checkered past and is the subject of complaints that it fails to deliver expected services (see complaints on the Ripoff Report website here).

The unasked question in all the back-and-forth over the automatic payroll deduction is how LegalShield has fared in all the months since it started offering the plan to municipal employees (which I understand goes back at least to last summer). I may take this up in a separate post.

For now, it's a war of nerves: Council President Rivers can bring it back for discussion any time she wishes and the Mapp administration can withhold any action.

Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA)

Councilor Gloria Taylor alleged that the Mapp administration had offered a quid pro quo by phone: If she would support a Mapp nominee to the PMUA board, the administration would relent on the LegalShield matter.

Taylor previously declined to support a Mapp nominee who would have replaced commissioner Malcolm R. Dunn, who engineered the $1.2 million parting gift for former executives Eric Watson and David Ervin.

Taylor said at a previous meeting where Mapp proposed replacement commissioners that while there may be issues at the PMUA, she wanted to wait until she had more information on which to make a decision. Her wish was expressed in the context of the report of an ongoing forensic audit of the PMUA being performed by the state, but which report may not come until later this year.

One could be forgiven for suspecting Taylor's motive may also be influenced by a relationship with Dunn, since Taylor introduced a resolution honoring Dunn for an award he recently received.

If the Newark watershed investigation report is any indication, the state's report on the PMUA, when it is finally issued, may prove an embarrassment to Taylor and the council majority.

Budget

Councilor Reid immediately objected on several points to the Mapp administration's proposals for fund transfers and for a temporary budget for April alone.

While much of Reid's thrust was nitpicking over minor details -- that the funds being proposed for transfer were unspent from the CY2013 budget and not the CY2014 budget (which has yet to be introduced), and that the proposal was for a one-month only temporary budget instead of three months (which is perfectly acceptable according to state law, and has been done many times by Plainfield in the past) -- he soon zeroed in on his real target.

Reid's main objection was to the administration's proposal to fund the Mayor's office for the entire year and not just a portion of it. This was the item that created such ruckus at the reorganization meeting in January. The unspoken bone of contention is resistance by a Council majority to Mapp's wish to have a Chief of Staff position funded.

Reid has made himself point person on this matter, about which we are sure to hear more.
With three seats up for the June primary race, one has to wonder if the posturing is a precursor to the campaign period and is setting up themes for the races only, or whether we are witnessing the beginnings of a trench warfare mentality that will characterize Mapp's entire term.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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2 comments:

Bob said...

Reid and others on the council need to go. I will be willing to walk and campaign against the poor job he has done for the people of Plainfield. I am so disappointed by Taylor and the strings she allows to move her and the way she seems to be pandering to others and not taking her responsibility seriously. Greaves need to go and I won't insult her with how people refer to her, but she keeps getting re-elected. Maybe we can show the kind of job she's done and get someone responsible elected.

Anonymous said...

While I disagree with Gloria Taylor's stance on Legal Shield, I have to say it was refreshing to hear her and Mayor Mapp bring the political wrangling in the open. No one who goes to the council meetings are stupid, and to be treated like we don't know what is going on has always insulted me.

I rather enjoyed the transparency, and felt that people were truly showing their political leanings and biases. Maybe I don't like it, but I prefer it to being treated like a dolt.