Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Reid tantrum caps bizarre Council meeting

Plainfield City Council behavior gives circuses a bad name.

Any comparison of Plainfield City Council meetings to a three-ring circus would be unfair to three-ring circuses, which are tightly organized and methodically executed public entertainments.

Last Monday's Council business meeting is a case in point: though entertaining at points, organization and execution fell well short of the best of circus routines.

An agenda that was chock full of REAL business (liquor license renewals, four ordinances on second reading and a host of public events) also had to accommodate a wrangle over the HAP ordinance 'conveying' Lot 9, confusion over adding new items to the agenda and a spectacular tantrum by Councilor Reid over giving the voters a say over an Open Space Trust Fund.

The HAP Ordinance

Despite a letter to the Council from Housing Authority executive director Randy Wood asking that the proposed ordinance conveying Public Parking Lot 9 from the city to HAP be withdrawn (see my post and the letter here).

Though the letter certainly could have been more coherent, there is no doubt that Wood was asking the ordinance be withdrawn so HAP and the Mapp administration could continue to consult on the matter.

Council President Bridget Rivers was adamant, saying 'this has become a Council ordinance, [Wood] has no authority to tell Council to take it off the agenda'.

(On this point, Rivers is technically correct, and my story stands corrected in this regard.)

In my post on the withdrawal request, I noted that Rivers had steamrolled adding the ordinance to the agenda for July 14, firmly shutting down discussion of issues with the proposed property conveyance.

Councilor Storch seemed hesitant about how to proceed. Giving the perception that he thought Wood's request should be honored, he moved to table the ordinance; the motion failed 3-2-1.

Though Mayor Mapp and the Administration weighed in about issues with the proposed ordinance, it was to no avail. Councilor Reid reported he had spoken with Wood that very day and flatly contradicted the contents of Wood's letter.

When Councilor Williams tried to read from a copy of Wood's letter that she had received, Councilor Taylor interjected 'I never received it ... I have no problem with it [the ordinance]'. Reid and Greaves also claimed not to have received the email with Wood's letter.

Storch made an impassioned appeal that Council decisions should be 'in the public interest' and that this ordinance contravened the Master Plan and the spirit of transit-oriented development. He closed his remarks by saying 'the only thing transit-oriented about this proposal is the way it is being railroaded', which brought a roar of laughter from the audience.

All was to no avail. The fix, as Olddoc suggests (see here) was in. David Rutherford has posted a video of the complete discussion (see here).

The vote went down 4-2: Greaves, Taylor, Reid and Rivers for; Storch and Williams against. Councilor Tracey Brown was not present.

The ordinance will be up for second reading and final adoption at the August business meeting.
Agenda Confusion

The addition of eight resolutions and an ordinance as new items led to some agenda confusion.

After some clarification, Council decided to add the resolution in one fell swoop (congrats!) and then the proposed ordinance (after some confusing back-and-forth about numbering inconsistencies).

The resolutions included two liquor license renewals with conditions (La Bamba, Ben Franklin Liquors), the SID budget, commemoration of Muhlenberg Hospital's closure, rejecting a bid for animal control services and closing Gavett Placce for a groundbreaking ceremony.

Because David Minchello has been appointed Director of the Law Department for Trenton under newly elected mayor Eric Jackson, two further resolutions made Minchello city solicitor (he has resigned as Corporation Counsel) and appointed Vernita Sias-Hill as his replacement as Corporation Counsel.

All the resolutions passed unanimously.
Reid's Tantrum

Councilor Bill Reid actually threw two tantrums during the meeting.

The first came during the discussion of the HAP ordinance and he became so unruly that Council President Bridget Rivers forced a recess when she was unable to gavel him down. Watch David Rutherford's video of that exchange here.

To my mind, Reid's more embarrassing performance was in relation to the new item, MC 2014-17, an ordinance to put the question of establishing an Open Space Trust Fund to the voters on the November ballot.

Such a referendum can be authorized by an ordinance adopted by the governing body.

If he had got on his high horse over the Mapp administration's failure to bring the matter to the Council in a timely fashion, he would have been on much better ground. (Why was it brought up under-the-gun, so to speak?)

Instead, Reid veered off into one of his rants about how high taxes are (true) and how he was agin' it (true). He didn't want to hear about how the funds generated would be used to advance recreational purposes for all the residents (conveniently forgetting he had a few minutes before given an impassioned plea for the Mapp administration to do something about youth hanging out around San Houma Liquors on East 2nd Street).

Despite efforts by fellow Councilors to point out the vote was not about a tax but about giving the general electorate the say in the matter, he could not be convinced.

When the vote went down -- 5-1 -- his NO reverberated through the room.
So here we are, still searching for the meaning of 'just and capable government' for Plainfield.

And City Council gives three-ring circuses a bad name.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.


Bob said...

This Council with its "clowns" who seem to be removed from reality and what the people in this city need, is a joke. Perhaps those who didn't vote in the Primary are sorry they stayed home. Unfortunately, those of us who were responsible enough to vote have to suffer these insufferable "clowns" on the Council and the damage they are doing to the city.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes legislation is proposed, not to get it passed, but to get donations from those who want to stop it. Private developers and business owners downtown can't be pleased with the loss of off-street parking or low-income housing that violates the master plan as well as the zoning principle of "highest and best use." They say money talks. In this election season, proposing such a long-term disaster of a plan is one way to get them to "speak up."

Anonymous said...

Remember, you get what you pay for and when you vote in the Discount store you do not always get the best quality product. WE NEED TO VOTE FOR A CHENGE IN THE NOVEMBER!

Anonymous said...

At least a circus is fun, and has a point. Plainfield suffers from an uninformed electorate plain and simple. You elect stupid officials and what do you get? - well stupid government. It won't change until the people wake up and see the corruption, or rather, stop being morally bankrupt and corrupt, allowing themselves to be bought and payed for by the Plainfield green machine. The "have a hotdog and vote this way" days of Plainfield politics are not over.
We know who own's this town- he has f7689$@ told us hasen't he? He is a butcher, working at that task when Dr.King was killed, he knows hotdogs and what they will buy for next to nothing.
As for higher taxes to help get kids off the street-why would Ried care, he dosen't pay taxes anyway, or am I misinformed?
Perhaps if all the slackers in our government, including, and especially, those in past administrations payed their fair share, there would be no need for an increase on those of us who do pay-and recieve no services because of our incompetent government pays millions to it's cronies rather than inproving the infrastructure.
It's a spinning circle of never-ending drama. To many of these elected officials are there for themselves- they want the "I'm special" buttons they get to sit on high and lord it over the little people, not help or support the community. They don't realize they are little people, tiny minded, who just want attention, and whatever else they can trade their honor and titles for.
Sorry guys, but your "I'm Special" button is not valued outside the city limits. Out there you are simply looked at as the administrators of a low class, corrupt, armpit city, no one with any sense would move to on a bet any longer. I won't use the pejorative people from surrounding towns use to describe the ###### City,
but it isen't Queen. You of the council, especially you Mr.Ried, with your loud voice and empty head, do nothing, through your inappropriate behaviors, to change the perception.
This stupidity is seen and read by people outside of your illiterate constituents; I know people who put out city meeting on cable for fun and to laugh at. They enjoy the eubonic repartee. That's right, a lot of people out there know what a joke you are, why don't you?
Sorry, rhetorical question, I know you are not smart enough to figure it out by yourself, so ask someone smart, if you know anyone like that, they will "spline" it to you, if you ain't comfortable with the big, big words.