Monday, June 11, 2012

ABOUT THE CHARTER RESOLUTION

Tuesday night there is a potential resolution introduce by Council President Mapp recommending the immediate request for a study of the PLAINFIELD MUNICIPAL CHARTER.

What is the basis for this Resolution, the text of which has not yet been made available? Undoubtedly it is the untenable requirement for a "Corporation Counsel' to represent both Administration and Council. This is absolutely impossible when there is any difference of opinion between the two branches of city government.

Plainfield's Charter is unique and I know of no other city that has a similar Charter. It was originally enacted when municipal business became to complicated for a part time Mayor and Council members who had full time occupations.

The Mayor was to be a part time Chairman of the Board without any operational responsibilities but responsible for setting policy and direction. Day by Day management of city was functions was to be the responsibility as a full time City Administrator assisted by three Department Directors.

The check and balance provision afforded the Council the responsibility of approving expenditures and the budget as well as approving the nomination and appointment of the City Administrator and Department Directors.

The legal affairs were to be handled by a part time "Corporation Counsel" who represented all elements of the city governance.

In part under the previous administration the Mayor assumed more responsibility for municipal affairs but still as a part time official. The present administration considers contrary to the Charter's intent that the Mayor's position is full time and the City Administrator when we have one is overseeing activities. This usurping of roles was abetted by the do nothing rubber stamp Councils of the Gibson era and has led to the present conflicts between Mayor and Council.

At the same time the Corporation Counsel has become full time plus various part time other legal positions and outside attorneys for specialized purposes. These positions may also need to be redefined including the need of a full time Corporation Counsel who by the nature of his appointment can never impartially represent the Council in a Mayor/Council disagreement.

It is for this reason that our antiquated Charter needs revisiting and revision.

However from recent experience Administration has been reluctant to act on any Council recommendations. It may be necessary to force such a process through public will via a binding Referendum on the November ballot.

The State laws states: 19:37-1. When the governing body of any municipality or of any county desires to ascertain the sentiment of the legal voters of the municipality or county upon any question or policy pertaining to the government or internal affairs thereof, and there is no other statute by which the sentiment can be ascertained by the submission of such question to a vote of the electors in the municipality or county at any election to be held therein, the governing body may adopt at any regular meeting an ordinance or a resolution requesting the clerk of the county to print upon the official ballots to be used at the next ensuing general election a certain proposition to be formulated and expressed in the ordinance or resolution in concise form. Such request shall be filed with the clerk of the county not later than 81 days previous to the election.

5PM addendum: The question of the unfilled or "holdover" Board and Authority appointments must also be addressed A mandatory filling date could be one answer. Transferring authority to the Council in event the Mayor can not present a candidate that meets Council approval can be another. But the reappointment via the holdover provision is not workable since it viol;ates the intent of the Charter which reads "with the advice and consent of the Council".

2 comments:

  1. It's about time we get the Charter changed to fully represent the people of Plainfield and not the money grubbing dolts who occupy City Hall and some seats on the Council. Thank you, Adrian. Let's hope some things get done before Brown and the rubber stamp crew get to work together. I know one office I'll be voting Republican on.

    ReplyDelete
  2. But if the council is in the mayor's pocket, which they will be next year, doesn't that mean that whatever is changed needs a majority vote.

    If so, the language will change from "Mayor" to God, and the Council will be referenced as "those sitting at the right hand of God".

    ReplyDelete