Running a meeting shouldn't have to be like this...
Except for some sharp questioning of Administration & Finance Director Ron West, Monday's Plainfield City Council meeting was unusually quiet.
Well, except for a struggle that erupted between President pro-tem Willliams and Councilor Taylor over control of the meeting.
Williams was presiding over the Council meeting in the absence of Council President Cory Storch.
Rivers pointedly asked West why the Administration was seeking another $39,000 for the Mitchell Humphrey software project, which was initially ordered two and a half years ago and has taken much longer than expected to implement.
The software is designed to streamline the customer relations aspect of providing government services on a division-by-division basis. It was supposed to start with Inspections, and promised to bring transparency to the issues of permit and inspection timelines, which have been points of contention with residents and contractors for years.
West explained that the additional money was to cover more user licenses than originally projected, plus additional monies for training.
Rivers sought in vain to get an assurance the administration would not be coming back for more money in the future. Despite the exchange, the item was moved to next Monday's business meeting agenda.
The flareup between Williams and Taylor came at the end of the meeting.
During the citizen participation comments at the end of the business, several speakers brought up a number of issues. When comments closed, Williams announced that there were four questions that needed to be addressed with answers from the Administration.
These were --
- Questions about the "Clean Communities" grants and their administration;
- More on the Mitchell Humphrey matter;
- Problems with landlord/tenant issues; and
- Issues with general cleanliness and appearance of downtown properties, including the train station.
At this point, Williams told Taylor that she wanted to move through the questions, with the Administration giving its answers, before the Council members made their comments.
Taylor ignored Williams and kept on talking, at which point Williams resorted to the gavel.
Even though gavelled down, Taylor kept on talking.
The struggle went on for a couple of minutes, until Williams appealed to Corporation Counsel David Minchello on the question of her authority to control the Council's discussion.
Minchello said that "absolutely" the President as presiding officer of the meeting had control over the order in which items would be taken up.
With that, Taylor hrumphed and the meeting proceeded.
After the questions were addressed, Taylor attempted to be the first of the Councilors to make their comments.
She was again gavelled down by Williams, who declared that the comments would start with Councilor Toliver (at the far end of the dais) and proceed from there.
When Taylor got her turn (after Toliver and Rivers), she remarked on her being "rudely interrupted".
Taylor, of course, had it backwards -- she was the one who did the rude interrupting. You can see it all on the tape when it airs on PCTV.
in closing, Council President pro-tem Williams announced TWO meeting changes --
- the Tuesday October 11 (Monday is a holiday) business meeting will be at the Emerson Community School, East 3rd Street and Emerson Avenue, and NOT at the Courthouse; and
- the November combined meeting, originally scheduled for November 11, has been rescheduled to Tuesday, November 1, 7:00 PM, at the Clinton Elementary School, West 4th Street at Clinton Avenue.
-- Dan Damon [follow]