Wednesday, March 16, 2011

OUR COMMUN ITY #2 (a continuation)

To continue; The office of Corporation Counsel under the present charter is a bastard one. It was not conceived to be anything more than a part-time office to serve both the Mayor's administration and the Council. Under the present administration it has grown to a 24/7 position with a large staff of supportive part time attorneys. Legal cost are a major element of our budget and properly so in our litigious society.

However, by the very nature that the Corporation Counsel is appointed to serve for the term of the Mayor's office, that individual can not be able to properly represent the Council to which he gives advice in any conflict between the two branches. Indeed Corporation Counsel has frequently been the Mayor's spoke-person at Council meetings.

Since this is an impossible situation which no one person can be expected to cope with, it is imperative that there be a revision of the Charter to provide separate legal representation to the two branches of government.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the Council, I am forced to deal with personalities, a task that may be clouded by individual prejudices. I will try to avoid that as much as possible. But the City's biggest problem is that the Council is split in such a way between the two factions that too often the minority imposes its will on Council action. Too often purely politics takes precedence over the City's needs. Thus it is impossible to take the Council as a whole, but rather a collection of seven individuals meriting their own commentary.

The Council's youngest member and two term President, Annie McWilliams has brought a sense of maturity and leadership beyond her years. Her patience at the public commentary sessions is unbelievable. Her attempts to find solutions have often been thwarted by petty political positions.

The senior member in age is Councilor Reid. He often offers wise advice and is not beyond being critical of Administration as shown by his constant repetitive remarks that many of the city's problems were due to the lack of a CFO. He has also been critical of the lack of action to correct faults found in the annual audit. However, his position as treasurer of the City Democrat Committee, and his role in the Assemblyman's and Mayor's campaign often leads him to take a position on Council votes that is clouded by his political affiliation. Thus he can be counted upon to support the Administration on any vote involving the Council. Never the less he is a positive force.

Councilor Storch has been the longest serving "New Democrat" on the Council. He seems to take his fiduciary responsibilities seriously especially in the areas he has the greatest personal interest such as Plainfield's economic development. Since he has often been the focus of the Party Chairman's anger he is often the target of citizen's derogatory remarks. On balance he is a positive force for the Council.

Councilor Mapp, also an original " New Democrat", lends financial and regulatory strength to the Council. He undoubtedly serves as mentor to McWilliams. Often his analysis seems too pedantic which impacts on his effectiveness to the public. he too is a positive force.

Councilwoman Rivers unfortunately is too often abrasive and argumentative, She is too often very parochial in her relationships between the 4th Ward and the City as a whole expressing disregard for the East End especially the 2nd Ward. Until she understands that although elected from the 4th Ward she represents the whole city and is counterproductive by being devise. Rivers gives the impression that she will vote against any "New Democrat" supported proposal when there is a conflict with the Administration.

I consider her defense of the PMUA and its Commissioners refusal to appear before the Council as inexcusable. We can wonder if she has read the agreements between the City and PMUA as well as the enabling Ordinances. The Council does represent the people and should not be supplicant to an Authority that serves the people.

That leaves the two newest members; Williams is an avowed "New Democrat" yet she seems to have a mind of her own. Her recent vote that doomed the Purchasing Office was bewildering, but it did demonstrate that she will not be a rubber stamp.

Finally we come to Councilor Greaves. To date she seems to be often befuddled by the problems facing the Council. It is too early to determine what contribution she will make to the Council. However it has become evident that 99% of the time on controversial items she will side with the Mayor's position.

Until the Council as a whole requires the Mayor to enter collaborative discussions nothing positive will take place.

As noted this analysis will be found to be very controversial by many. I welcome their expressions within the ground rules of being provocative but not malicious.

8 comments:

  1. Hi, Doc,

    Regarding my vote on allocating monies to the Purchasing Dept., I think that the shared services concept being proposed by Councilor Mapp is one we should explore in these fiscally tight times. The CFO was given every opportunity to come before the city council to explain why he didn't feel his office could take on the purchasing duties "at this time"--he never responded to the invitation, as far as I know. Had he done so, it is possible that he could have made a case for maintaining a separate Purchasing Department. As it was, all I had to go on was the model of dozens of other municipalities whose purchasing duties are folded into the CFO's responsibilities. I think, however, that the shared services concept is one that we should be pursuing, in the end.

    Rebecca

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  2. The senior member in age is Councilor Reid. He often offers wise advice and is not beyond being critical of Administration as shown by his constant repetitive remarks that many of the city's problems were due to the lack of a CFO.
    ===== Doc, in that unique circumstance he may have been vocal regarding his criticism of his leash holder, but he demonstrated then and time and time again before and after who he works for. It's not the city of Plainfield. With no attempt at ageism with my commentary, old doesn't make you wise. If Albert Einstein were willing to stick his finger in a light socket because his political boss told him so it pretty much wipes out the concept of him being brilliant.
    Being wise means you can also do whats right, not just what you are told.
    He is without shame a political hanger-on who does the bidding of his masters. Wise indeed...
    Rivers and Greaves, same mentality, self serving political hacks.

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  3. Rebecca, your explanation is appreciated. It is important to understand Councilor's reasoning when their action seems "weird".

    Rob, I do not claim to be wise due to my years, nor do I judge Councilor's Reid's IQ. I do find that he brings a sense of political wisdom and reasonablenessto the Council's activities. If you read my comments there are pros and cons. Unlike the other two he is often a positive figure in Council debates.

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  4. I agree with you about Councilman Reid, and it makes me sad. I believe him to be a good and honest man, but he puts politics before Plainfield and that is wrong.

    Councilwoman Rivers votes through vengence and ignorance. She does not serve her ward well, nor does she represent the 4th ward. Sad.

    Councilwoman Greaves is just clueless.

    The rest of the council appear to have the best interest of Plainfield at heart, but who knows? Politics is politics.

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  5. According to insider info, Council knew very well that the CFO will never make any evening meetings. That was part of the agreement on why he came along.

    Now to say " The CFO was given every opportunity to come before the city council to explain why he didn't feel his office could take on the purchasing duties " is simply being dishonest.

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  6. Anon 3/17/11:
    CFO will never make an evening meeting? That doesn't make sense. Most of the council members have full-time jobs. Doesn't it make sense to inconvenience one person, the CFO, then 7 or the CFO could have presented the case in writing (I'm assuming the person is literate).

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  7. So let me understand...All New Dems are good. All regular Dems are bad & stupid.

    OK got it.

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  8. 11:07pm ano,You are entitled to your interpretation and antagonism, but that is not what I wrote. However facts are facts, team players who act to support special interests without considering the best interests of the city are not an asset.

    10:54 anon,The CFO is a retired official who was appointed after the Mayor's almost 2 years in action caused the State to threaten personal fines.He is not a fulltime employee who liv es I believe in the Trenton area.He is also well qualified.I agree that perhaps an acceptable time for Council members to meet with him could have been worked out even if it were a weekend. I am sure that no time could ev er been found that was acceptable to everyone but a Council majority could be present I don't know if both sides attempted in good fsith to meet.

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