Tuesday, June 19, 2012
COUNCIL JUNE MEETING #1
Among the routine business conducted at Monday’s Council meeting outstanding items were; the passing of the belated 2012 budget, replacing R032-12 which strongly reprimanded the Mayor for the WBLS affair with a milder R222-12,and passing on first reading an Ordinance requesting the placing on the ballot a public question regarding a study for Charter revision.
Remarkable, despite administrations known objections to the 50K included for a study for the advisability of abolishing the PMUA and returning its functions to the Dept of Public Works etc; there were no public comments prior to the adoption vote.
The amended budget was adopted by a 6:1 vote; the sole negative vote was by Councilor Reid after there were already 5 YES votes insuring adoption of the budget for2012. Councilors NO vote was undoubtedly a personal point making action, not a rejection of the budget.
Prior to the vote Reid had delivered his homily on how the $50,000.00 was a waste of needed public funds when the PMUA was providing a great service to the people and the City in keeping the down town clean although there might be a problem with high fee. He remarked that all was needed would be for the Council to sit down and talk to the dedicated public servants who compromised the PMUA Board of Commissioners.
Reid further said that the 50k was approved through “trickery” by placing it in the temporary June budget which he had changed his original NO vote to YES to give the 5 votes needed for adoption since without it the City would have to “shut down”.
R222-12 will be the subject of a separate blog.
The revision of the Charter is necessary. Some of its unique deficiencies have been known for years and a 1999 study had made recommendations but for some reason the study was dropped. Non-the- less the Council has taken the first step needed.
This year problems in the Charter became glaring especially in the role of the Council’s legal support. It reached a negative peak in the implementation of the resolves in of R32-12 which will be the topic of the next blog.
Monday night the council unanimous passed a first reading on an Ordinance requesting placing on the ballot a question asking the voters of the city “whether or not they wish to establish a Charter Commission to study the Special Charter of the City of Plainfield”
This process can take three years; the first year is to ask for the formation of a Commission by Referendum, the second year would require an Ordinance (by law) to recommend revisions of the Charter or a new one plus a ballot Referendum and the third year a Referendum on the “new” charter.
Despite the City Solicitor acting as Corporation Counsel’s opinion the in accordance to State law that proposed changes in the Charter had to be initiated by an Ordinance and then approved by Referendum this question had to be initiated by an Ordinance; It has been this observers opinion that this year’s Ordinance is unnecessary and that a Resolution would accomplish legally the same end.
What is my reasoning? In the first place there is a time limit of not later than 81 days before the general election when such a request has to be received by the “clerk of the county
Second in the unlikely occurrence of a Mayor’s veto there would not be in this Council by past experience the needed 5 votes to override the veto. Also there would be the danger at this late date of passing the deadline.
Thirdly although any possible change to the Charter must be initiated by Ordinance per State law, this request does not impact on the Charter; it only asks if the citizens wish to study the Charter for possible changes.
State Law 19:37-1 states that the governing body may request the placing of a question on the ballot by Ordinance or Referendum.By definition a Referendum is an expression of opinion or intent; whereas an Ordinance is a law. The request for the public’s wishes in no way qualifies as a law. Thus a simple Referendum would accomplish the desired action in one strep and would assure that time deadlines would be met.