Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Council gets an early start on Mischief Night

Toilet paper is an essential ingredient for Mischief Night.
(See WikiHow here, for how to plan your own.)

With Halloween approaching, Plainfield City Council's
got an early start on Mischief Night at Monday's business meeting.

Where I grew up, we called the night before Halloween "Cabbage Night", and kids did their pranks and tricks on that evening, which were mostly limited to throwing toilet papers rolls into trees, soaping (or waxing) the two stores with store windows in the hamlet, and smearing dog poop on doorknobs and ringing the doorbell, then running like hell.

For City Council last night, it was liquor licenses, the Senior program and the sick leave ordinance.

Police Division recommendations have always carried a tremendous import in liquor license renewals, sometimes triggering hearings that can result in penalties or non-renewal of a license. The procedure was ignored in the case of the Express Night Club.

Council President Bridget Rivers stated that she had personally gone door-to-door in the neighborhood and found residents had no complaints about the business.

Public Safety Director Riley was summoned before the august body and queried about the police report of neighbors' complaints. He stood by the Division's ABC squad, though he did not have the details before him, and they were not present (perhaps thinking their grilling the previous week had discharged them?).

Councilor Taylor even suggested the police reports were themselves suspicious.

So, instead of doing some fact-finding by holding a hearing before making a decision to renew the license, a Council majority (Greaves, Taylor, Toliver, Rivers) pushed the renewal through without getting to the bottom of the disputed police complaints.

Score one for Mischief Night.

On the matter of the sick leave pay ordinance, after protracted public comment on both sides of the issue, Councilor Greaves moved to "table the ordinance indefinitely". A roll call vote showed the same four-member majority in favor (Greaves, Taylor, Toliver, Rivers), while Councilors Brown, Storch and Williams (all co-sponsors of the ordinance) voted against the tabling.

(Note to Council President: Robert's Rules of Order does not recognize a motion to "table indefinitely". A motion may be "tabled" (see here) or "postponed indefinitely" (see here). They differ from one another and have different purposes. The citations are from The Dummies Guide to Robert's Rules, no disrespect meant.)

Score two for Mischief Night.

The evening kicked off with an elaborately choreographed ballet presented as a "discussion" on the Senior program. Council President Rivers put the item on the agenda and led off by saying there were rumors the program, housed in the Plainfield Senior Center, would be "phased out" or "merged into Recreation".

The Mapp administration explained that over the years the Senior program had reported to various different people -- from the Health Officer, to the Director of PAS, to the Department of Administration and Finance.

City Administrator Smiley stressed that the programs were not being abandoned and the staff was not targeted for removal. It was, he said, a matter of streamlining reporting and expanding services for active older adults.

A stream of members of the Senior program came to the mike to say how upset they were at the rumors and to praise program supervisor Sharron Brown.

Councilor Storch suggested the Administration might want to meet with the Seniors and pay heed to their concerns. He evidently was unaware that Mayor Mapp had introduced Ms. Taylor at his monthly meeting with the Seniors on September 3 and had conducted a Q&A session about what the realignment meant, that staff and program would continue as is, and other matters.

The "discussion" gave Councilor Taylor an opportunity to challenge Superintendent Taylor's experience and capabilities, as well as to state "we don't spend enough money on our young people in this town" (remember this remark when budget time rolls around).

When Councilor Williams criticized Taylor for her disparaging and demeaning remarks about Superintendent Taylor, Councilor Taylor shot back, "Who are you to tell me what to do?"

After several points in the "discussion", Council President Rivers interjected "this is wrong...this is wrong".

So, who stirred up this tasty little gumbo? You can bet your bottom dollar the "discussion" didn't just happen by chance.

Score three for Mischief Night.

NOTE: A public meeting tonight of the Working Families Group to which business leaders have been invited was mentioned by more than one speaker. Best I could find out is that it will be at 105 East 7th Street, at 6:30 PM. This was after quizzing three persons involved with the group, none of which could tell me exactly where the meeting is to be held.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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