The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

PILOT and budget dominate Council




Councilor Williams' flyer, which seemed to annoy
Council President Rivers.
 
Plainfield's City Council was preoccupied with the Liberty Village PILOT and budget matters at Monday evening's meetings.

The courtroom overflowed with Liberty Village residents and others as the special Council meeting called by Mayor Adrian Mapp to (re)consider the amended PILOT agreement for the residential complex began at 7:00 PM.

Councilors Rivers, Taylor and Reid seemed quite agitated about a flyer circulated by Councilor Rebecca Williams to residents, citing the danger to them if the PILOT was not passed and urging them to come out to the meeting (see her blog post here).

'This is wrong!', declared Council President Bridget Rivers as she waved a copy of the flyer. I will leave you to decide for yourself (just click on the images of the flyer above to read and/or print the flyer out).

President Rivers objected to Williams' circulating the flyer as Liberty Village is in the 4th Ward. Rivers failed to note, however, that the portion of the complex that sits south of West 4th Street is actually in Ward 3, which Williams does represent. In any event, Williams was correct in asserting that every Councilor's actions affect all the city's residents. Councilor Reid chimed in with a prissy lecture to the residents about rents and tenant behavior.

Ultimately, every condition that the Mapp administration reported was to be addressed in the revised PILOT turned out to be just as stated from the beginning by Deputy City Administrator Carlos Sanchez. Even the possible loss of the Section 8 contract if the Council refused to amend the PILOT was verified by an email from HUD that was referenced by both Mayor Mapp and Council President Bridget Rivers.

So, what was the fuss all about?

There is plenty of speculation in the community -- especially after Assemblyman Jerry Green was reported to say 'no one does a $9 million deal in Plainfield without leaving something on the table' -- that contracts for the capital improvements were at issue. The buzz is that the Assemblyman was pushing for the contracts either to be given to the Housing Autority of Plainfield or directly to pals Malcolm Dunn and Cecil Sanders.

Whether that is the final resolution is not clear at this point, but the purchaser did agree -- in writing -- that the proposed capital improvements would be completed within twenty-four months of inking the deal.

After all this, with Councilor Storch voting by phone from Washington, DC, and Councilor Greaves assuming her seat after attending Congressman Holt's meeting, the vote went down. Unanimous in favor of the PILOT amendment. A bit anticlimactic really.

After a few minutes' break, the regular agenda-setting session was called to order. The most time was consumed in presentations and discussion of the proposed 2014 budget.

Citizens Budget Advisory Committee chairperson Richard Stewart led off with the CBAC's observations and comments. Though he distributed his presentation to the Council members, no copies were made available to either the press gallery or the public (why this is always an afterthought is beyond me).

As if following the lead of an invisible hand, Stewart reported that the CBAC recommended the elimination of the Mayor's Chief of Staff position and the reduction of the public relations staffer to part-time (he skated close to very thin ice in referring to the gender of the PR staffer -- discussions are to be about positions, not individuals).

Stewart also followed Councilor Reid's script in demanding that the Deputy City Administrator for Economic Development be put on a short leash, with quarterly 'measurables'. I am in awe of this sudden concern for accountability, especially since Reid never indicated he expected it of Former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' staff. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

The report of the Council's budget consultants was also handed out to the Council, but with no copies available for the public. The net net, which was hard to follow, was that they are recommending a cut of over $1 million in the budget and the rejiggering of various balances.

Council President Bridget Rivers cut the Mapp administration off curtly when it was suggested that Administration and Finance Director Ron West would offer some comments in response to the consultant report.

When Rivers segued into the 'public hearing' on the proposed budget, she did let West speak -- as a resident and taxpayer. I took to the mike to ask if all this material was going to be put online for the public to view before the Council takes action (which may be next week at its regular business session).

The answer was 'Yes'.

As of this morning, the material is not yet on the city website (see here
).

  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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7 comments:

Rebecca said...

Dan,

I didn't even want to mention that some of the residents are among my constituents, as that would have been perceived as me being "political"--that was not my purpose--you have seen how easy it is for some folks to try to negatively characterize me and "play to camera" with their crocodile tears about a situation they ignored for years.
But, the operatives are busily at work on the other blogs making up lies, such as saying that I bought food for the residents and that I chartered a bus--offensive, outrageous, and ridiculous. I would never insult any resident by suggesting that their vote could be bought with food--that's the past administration's style--not mine. My concern is only for the security of the Liberty Village community--which is part of our Plainfield community. It's too bad that those councilors had to be shamed into doing the right thing.

Rebecca

Bob said...

Its a shame you have to force these "carpetbaggers" on the City Council to do what is right. I'm glad other people are looking at what happens in other wards, as too often citizens are not being watchful and they need to be. Let's leave Dunn and his ilk out of the picture. This administration is trying to bring Plainfield out of the eight year + dark night we were in. Obstructive Council members need to be aware. The people are noticing and will vote in June.

Anonymous said...

I believe the CBAC was incorrect in its assertion that the PIO was a newly created position.

Am I correct, Dan?

gururch said...

Dear Mr. Damon:

Let me first say as CBAC Chair that I would have been happy to give a copy of CBAC's report last night. As I had to personally print copies for the various council members and city adminstrators I could not possible predict nor afford to provide personal copies to all members of the public. However I would have been happy to give you my personal copy or emailed you a clean copy when I got home. You simply had to ask as other members of the public did that night. Please let me know where I can email you a copy.

You seemed to have a strong opinion about CBAC's recommendations. I hope you took the opportunity to voice your concerns during the open public forum last night that way the public can see and hear your concerns and passion.

Now speaking for myself, let me say again it would have been nice to meet the person who had such strong opinions of me last night. You could have asked me questions and obtained actually facts to put in your blog. CBAC's recommendations were NOT my recommendations but represents the majority decisions on the topics that were presented during the public hearings. Were you present at those budget hearings to hear the facts, questions, and concerns that were the basis of our recommendations?

I resent your accusations that CBAC's recommendations were not of their own but derived from a political agenda. What facts do you have to support such a claim? When budget items are presented, it is not presented as a "Mapp" proposal or a "Green" proposal. It its presented and CBAC evaluates it on its merits.

To conclude, I would worry more about the "very thin ice" of libel you are skating on by accusing me of circumventing my duties as CBAC chair by blindly following a political agenda than the "very thin ice" you allege I skated on by referring to the public relations officer as "she". I take my position seriously and if you knew me or ever spoke to me you would understand that too.

Better yet, I would recommend using your voice to explain why Plainfield should support a certain position than making false allegations toward people who you don't agree with. #attacktheargumentnottheperson.

Richard Stewart

Anonymous said...

Why would any Council member NOT vote for the Liberty village project? The housing Authority had it's chance to run it and failed. Now that some brave company is willing to take a chance and try to improve the living conditions of our residents we should all ( all people from all 4 wards) be rolling out the red carpet for them instead of giving them a hard time. Plainfielder's this should be a wake up call to you that some council members are being controlled by Mr.Green and not thinking for themselves and what is best of all the citizens of Plainfield. I can only hope that this next election can free us from the Green Machine way of thinking and bring some change for the greater good for all of Plainfield.

Anonymous said...

You need thick skin to take on public job. Have not heard that libel term in a long time as most already know that it was overused and almost impossible to prove.

Dan said...

@ 10:24 AM -- Interesting question. The title currently being deliberated is new.

I was in fact the Public Info Officer, but held another Civil
Service title (also held by a few other people) and performed the duties of a PIO.

Though there were attempts by several Council members (especially Bob Ferraro) to have me laid off, it neer happened.