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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

PMUA hires temporary director

It was a scene that meant different things to different people,
depending on the point of view
When I arrived a few minutes late for the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA) board's special meeting Monday evening, there were just two employees in the room, not sitting together, and two members of the public.

Eventually former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs bustled in and sat next to one of the employees.

Nowhere in sight were the banks of managers of this-and-that customarily de rigeur at all PMUA board meetings. The board had already retreated into its executive session.

Former executive director Dan Williamson and CFO Duane Young are gone, but the PMUA rolls on. Someone must be in charge and that is what the meeting was about.

The mood of the employees was quiet, perhaps even grim. I was put in mind of what it must have been like for the French aristocrats awaiting the inevitable tumbrels that would cart them off to the guillotine.

At long last, the Commissioners returned.

Then I noticed something else different. Gone was the elegant, poised and meticulously prepared board attorney Leslie London, of McManimon & Scotland; in her place, Frank Borin, a white dude from the firm of DeCotiis Fitzpatrick & Cole, political allies of Jersey City mayor (and presumptive gubernatorial candidate) Steve Fulop.

I was surprised to see PMUA purchasing agent Dolly Hamlin act as secretary -- in place of Roz Mathis, a retired BOE employee and former court stenographer has recorded the minutes all these years.

There were just two items of business.

Borin read the resolution -- which was adjusted with a starting date of May 6 -- to hire Bryan Christiansen of The Moorings Group for a period not to exceed six weeks in an amount not to exceed $15,000 to provide "executive director services".

The vote was 3-2 in favor. Commissioners Mitchell and Brokaw voted "no", with Brokaw wondering aloud why for such a sort time someone from the inside was not used. Tyndale, Graham-Lyons and Robinson voted "aye".

The second resolution was to name signatories so that payments and purchases could be processed. Commissioners Brokaw and Robinson were designated unanimously.

Resident Alan Goldstein echoed Brokaw's remark during the public comment, suggesting that after twenty years, there must be someone in house who could manage for such a brief interval. Chairman Tyndale said there was no one knowledgeable enough.

There being no further comments, the meeting was adjourned.

When it comes to organizational change, there are three possible outcomes: Better, worse and different. For now, things at the PMUA can be judged to be different.

However, as I put away my knitting needles, I thought I could hear the tumbrels rolling in the distance.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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