The needler in the haystack.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Bad manners fail to ruffle Plainfield Council reorg


Rebecca Williams is Council President for 2017.


Joylette Mills-Ransome has been seated as Williams' replacement.


For years, while Mayor Mapp, Cory Storch and Rebecca Williams were councilors in a minority on the council, they often enough were faced with a nominee for council president put forward by the majority at a December meeting that was not their choice.

Nevertheless, it was a longstanding custom to elect the chair unanimously, and the three went along and voted with the majority to make the selection unanimous.

None of those good manners were on display at Monday's Plainfield City Council reorg.

When Storch nominated Rebecca Williams for Council President, Diane Toliver nominated Bridget Rivers, who had to second her own nomination. The vote went down 4-2, with Goode, McRae, Storch and Williams in favor, Toliver and Rivers opposed.

When it came time to elect the chair of the Committee of the Whole, Charles McRae nominated Barry Goode. Bridget Rivers nominated Diane Toliver, who, again had to second her own nomination. The vote went down 4-2, as with the Chair.

Filling the seat vacated by Williams, who is now the citywide at-large councilor, three names had been presented to the Council by the Plainfield Democratic City Committee: Dr. Inez Durham, Joylette Mills-Ransome and Michael Pyne. Barry Goode offered Mills-Ransome's name. The vote went down with the same 4-2 split. (Old-timers were surprised by Rivers' vote, given that Mills-Ransome had managed her campaigns for school board in the past.) Mills-Ransome was promptly sworn in and seated on the dais.

Despite the bad manners, Council proceeded with aplomb.

A surprise of the meeting was the introduction by Mayor Mapp of Clark's mayor, Sal Bonaccorso, who apologized for an incident involving a Black puppet in a classroom used by the Plainfield girls basketball team at a game last week. The image went round social media like wildfire.

Saying that he didn't know the motive, Bonaccorso said the incident was being investigated and if the perpetrators intent turned out to be harassment, once found they would face the appropriate punishment.

The only other item that caused a stir was the decision by Mayor Mapp not to renew the appointment of local attorney Joy Spriggs as public defender. She and her family (her sister is Wilma Campbell, former president of the Board of Ed) lobbied for her to keep the job when Mayor Mapp made the same proposal in 2014. He relented and she has held it ever since.

By my lights, his earlier intention should have been interpreted as giving notice that this was not a forever thing. Mapp can hardly be blamed if, after three years, he chose to move on.

A resolution adopted (5-2) sets the meeting venue for the Council's agenda-fixing sessions as the City Hall Library.

Council President Williams assured the Council that Public Safety Director Riley has a plan for the physical safety of all at these meetings.

The Council will next meet on Tuesday, January 17 (Monday is MLK Day), for a combined agenda/business meeting.

The Courthouse/Council Chambers are located at Watchung Avenue and East 4th Street. Parking available on the street or in the lot across from the Police Station.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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