Letters to the Editor
PO Box 6600
Bridgewater NJ 08807
After 16 months of "auditing" the Plainfield Council's meetings, I have come to a conclusion which the membership might disagree.
The communities welfare has a secondary role in the constitutional relationship between the roles of Administration and Council. Instead that relationships continues to be affected by self serving inter-party power agendas. Petty council politics obscure administration 's deficiencies in planning, responsibility, and concern for the city's tax payers.
Often the Agenda and Business sessions suggest a dearth of respect for the tax payer or resident., with verbal interplay reaching the level of a pair of three year olds discussing the ownership of a toy. Additionally, neither Sturgis' or Robert's Parliamentary Rules of Order appear to be followed or even understood.
There appears to be ignorance or deliberate disregard of Council membership's fiduciary responsibility. as follows. .
Public accountability. has been stonewalled by the present majority.. Discretionary funds budgeted for council related business expense may have been used for personal items. Without disclosure, that alleged abhorrent practice can continue unabated and without restitution. The office appears to have been conducive to the practices of patronage and nepotism.
The proposed Plainfield sewer/waste authority is a boondoggle to created another authority which will increase operating costs and create compensable jobs Existing administrative offices should have the capability of handling its operations. The recent administrations and council representatives have demonstrated an incapability to understand or control such an authority. Moreover, the authority would falsely reduce taxes by transferring the cost from the city tax bill to a utility charge which is not income tax deductible except as a business expense..
The recent special meeting to appoint a representative to the regional sewer authority, confirmed a past and present disregard for the City Charter (7.3) in order to seek self appointment to a remunerative dual office. Shouldn't there be a public legal notification of the availability appointed posts including qualifications and reimbursement? Obviously, if any member of the council or administration received compensation for services on any existing public authority this was in violation of the City Charter and the minimal action should be restitution. For a public official with access to legal council to be ignorant of the law is inconceivable.
The proposed Hartridge/Wardlaw property purchase doesn't take into account that the newest building's corner stone is dated 1938. Do any of the buildings would meet state codes? The possible loss of tax revenue could not equal the potential cost for the city to use the property. Incidentally, has there been in years any administration reviewed the validity of tax exemptions and/or abatements?
The Council routinely condones the repetitive submission of retroactive contracts .Many involve servicing outdated equipment which could be replaced by more efficient and cost effective state of the art items. Rarely if ever does the Council majority question the purchase of items using existing state/vendor agreements, which may exceed current market pricing, instead of by competitive bidding.
Seldom is there questioning regarding vehicles purchased as to utilitarian configuration or unneeded expensive options. Late last fall requests were made on an "emergency need basis for snow plowing capable vehicles. The list of available vendors was one. This can not be cost effective. Are there logs kept for vehicular usage, maintenance, and services that are easily available to the council and public especially at budget setting time?
The passage of the firemen emergency appropriation at the last regular meeting :again is an example of the city's government lack of fiscal and fiduciary responsibility. Before the Budget was approved the Council was warned that insufficient funding or personnel was being provided for fire protection. Moneys were over-allocated to other services in order to have funds that could be re channeled at a later date for unspecified purposes. However, latest emergency appropriation borrows funds from the next tax year budget
Administration's continual promises not to raise taxes.is inconsistent with a constantly decreasing tax base and ongoing increasing mandated school costs. Perhaps there is an inappropriate anticipated use of the $8+ million received from the old sewer agency sale for operating expenses, rather than for the long neglected infrastructure. .
The blame for Plainfield's sad status falls directly upon the voters. Lack of voter involvement and turnout is conducive to the election of less then optimally qualified candidates. Unless a substantial majority vote in both B of Ed and city government elections, small self-interest power groups can have an inappropriate effect upon the municipalities operations and taxes. .
Substantial numbers of voters should attend Council and/or B of Ed meetings. Both elected bodies need be accountable to the tax payer and more receptive to community needs rather than personal interests. Prior to any action, the privilege of the floor should be afforded the citizenry.
Although the membership of the Common Council and the Board of Education may have the desire to do whatever is believed best for the community, there is still a need for improvement . Understanding fiduciary roles and relationships with the professional administrators is a critical criteria. No one elected to these offices should be subjected to unjustified viscous public vilification or harassment Only with proper public restraint will more citizens be willing to serve.
Harold S. Yood M.D.
How much change has there been in 17 years? Do we want any?