Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A CITY IN CRISIS

In the midst of an important Council primary election, where the results will be tantamount to the election of the 2nd/3rd Wards Councilor for the next four years, it is time to pause and try to interpose the potential effect of this election upon the city.

This 2nd day of June 2010 Plainfield is a city in dire state. It needs all the aid it can receive from any source that will be affirmative.

Why am I an alarmist? Consider that the Municipal government has for years been in disarrangement. Vital positions have not been filled. There has been no acceptable fiscal controls, even those required by state law. Budgets are never presented until so much of the fiscal year has passed that they become meaningless. There has been no visible effort to arrange savings with the large city unions. Effective employees have been discharged and their jobs outsourced to "approved" vendors without competitive bidding.

Crime and "gangs" despite claims to have been placed under control are still a threat to citizen's security. The brazen episode in Greenbrook Park this past weekend can not be overlooked. The reported 10 minute response time in a city of only 6 square miles needs explanation. Will one be forthcoming.

The Council faces the city's problems with one discussion and one business a month. The time interval can be as much as 6 weeks between meetings. There are specific committees that supposedly meet (in private) and submit reports and recommendations which as to this date not only vary in content, but none have led to Council sponsored legislation. The Council continues to follow a subservient role to an Administration that has a record of making financial commitments without the required Council approval.

HOWEVER, the great morass lies in the BOE/PSS. There has been for years evidence of BOE secrecy, lack of understanding its role, and even a suggestion of gross corruption in the system.

The recent election was a revolt over years of either a CEO (Superintendent) or political dominated BOE. A new block of 4 new elected members and one holdover against 4 entrenched members has created a potential 5:4 split vote on all important matters.

Moreover, I am not sure that any of the Board knows what specific rules it has as votes on certain circumstances or even if they exists. Are all votes including those related to personnel and specific financial questions subject to just a simple majority of a quorum, or to a majority of the total? Are any specific votes such as Tuesday night's selection of an Human Resources Official subject to a super-majority of the total Board. If so and what is the number.

This apparently became the issue Tuesday night. Three (3) of the returning members apparently boycotted the meeting or were absent for the vote. One abstained, a procedure usually invokes where there is an ethical issue, but has the effect of a nay vote when counted to a majority. Her reason was not recorded. With one No vote and 4 Yes votes the attorney ruled that the vote and failed. No reason is quoted but I would suspect that at the minimum a "Majority of the Total" was required, and more likely even a "Super-majority".

This raised a question by the BOE's President if previous similar votes had been subject to the same ruling. If not were those actions illegal? Ignorance is not an excuse.

If a "Super-majority" is required a small number of the Board can block any action without going on record by simply not attending the meeting, since 5 yes will not carry.

There remains a problem with the BOEs legal Counsel as noted in the Courier on line 6/2/10 article: "The confusion persists as the board is preparing to decide whether to renew its contract with Hunt, Hamlin and Ridley, the Newark-based law firm that has served as its legal counsel during the past three school years. A board motion to replace the firm with the Parsippany-based Weiner Lesniak failed in April, but the board at the time did agree to consider alternatives for its legal representation (a vote is expected later this month)." CN on line 6/2/10.

It was Hunt or members of his firm who despite an ethical problem advised the Board members to not attend that ill fated Friday Special Meeting.

Apparently, the newer members are opting to replace them with the Weiner Lesniak firm. This brings into question, although vigorously denied, the influence of the local and county Democrat Party on the BOE.

Once again, I can see that the only solution for the local school system mess is for the State to assume a limited time control over the system. If the BOE needs to be replaced that should be mandated by the State. In the meantime Plainfield's kids must be educated and we the taxpayers will have to bear our burden.

Back to "government"; the citizens can show their concerns with their vote. But that will not by itself solve the present

4 comments:

  1. Wow -- you aren't paying attention. guess you are just a sensationalist at heart. How many of the Board's votes have been 5 to 4 Doc? Huh? Not many at all so your posit of such is just ridiculous! Further -- If in fact the new members supported the 'new' law firm then the resolution would have passed when it was brought forth. Once again your judgment is WAY off. And Mr. Perfect it's spelled CRISIS

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  2. 10:06:Thank you for catching a glaring spelling error (or typo-give me some credit). I will give you credit for noting that v ery few of the votes in the new Board have been 5:4 other than the election of its officers. What has been voted on at the open public meeting has been routine approval of administrative matters including resignations or appointments of teachers and other staff. Routine daily administrative stuff that is not a function of the Board except it must have knowledge.

    But the only big issues dealing with upper level administrators, union contracts, and legal fees we have no knowledge if the vote has been in executive session.

    The 4Yes, 1 No, 1 abstain and 3 no shows last Tuesday is the only significant policy vote we know about. Since I was not at the meeting, the impression that I got form the paper that the vote took place in "closed session" not at the public meeting because it never reached "public agenda status." Thge only resolution to change Legal Counsel was on the agenda for the Friday Special Meeting, and the story of that meeting has been told enough.
    Now that you may have learned what facts that have been available to me
    I ham not a sensationalist althyour letter suggest you oul lik a hidden day in the sun.

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  3. Plainfield is a city in crisis with a BOE struggling and a city administration that sadly needs to get on the ball or be replaced. The corruption, crime, and poor educationaly opportunities in Plainfield are harmful in many ways. Anyone who reads will think twice about moving to Plainfield or buy a house here. Businesses will think twice about opening in Plainfield, unless of course they are this administration's strong points, bars and dollar stores. We are going to you know where in a hand basket and we better wake up and start to work before there is nothing worth working for.

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  4. All yall screaming about state take over don't have a single child in the district and are not doing anything to make things better. Yall just sitting on your bums writing blogs and comments.

    Of course you want the state to take over that would leave you with no ownership of what's gone wrong or how to make it better.

    Be a part of the solution --try that for once.

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