The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Council amends pay-to-play ordinance, aligning Plainfield with state law

Amending Plainfield's pay-to-play law would align it with the state.

Plainfield City Council took the first step Tuesday evening to amend the City's pay-to-play ordinance, bringing it in line with current state law. To view the state contribution limits, see here.

Councilor Cory Storch, in explaining why he voted for the measure in 2011 (as did Councilors Rebecca Williams and Adrian Mapp), noted the high expectations that the Council had at the time in unanimously adopting the tougher measure (that majority included Councilor Bridget Rivers).

Storch listed the following anticipated outcomes of the stiffer 2011 requirements --
  • More vendors would be drawn to seek City contracts because of the strict rules; and
  • Costs for vendor contracts could be expected to go down.
Further, he cited the experience of Mayor Al McWilliams, who saw willingness of vendors to bid for Plainfield work dry up after a Union County political boss threatened them with the loss of county contracts.

Storch concluded by noting that more vendors have not been beating down the doors because of the 2011 strictures, nor -- sadly -- have costs decreased as they were supposed to do.

Four residents commented from the floor, questioning the change to the ordinance.

When the vote went down, Storch joined Rivers and Toliver in opposing the change (even though he had eloquently laid out the reasons the existing ordinance has failed in its goal). The measure passed on first reading with Williams, Goode, McRae and Mills-Ransome in favor.

Blogger David Rutherford, abandoning all pretense at objectivity crafted a headline (very dramatique!) in which he casts Williams as "sinking" the pay-to-play restrictions.

Since it appears he is going to run for the seat she vacated, he has a dog in this fight. Judge his words accordingly. And watch to see how he goes about handling contributions to his campaign.

As for Rivers, who has evidently filed with ELEC for the 2017 Primary -- though it is hard to tell because her reports are such a mess -- it will be interesting to see as the season progresses if she benefits from the flow of money from county political sources that Storch pointed out as the pitfall of the pay-to-play reform illusion.

The second reading and public hearing on the ordinance (2017-02) will take place at the February business meeting of the Council.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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