Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thomas Kaercher Comments



This is a commentary that Thomas Kaercher sent to my blog  but was too long to accept and [post as a comment. I am taking the liberty to use it as a "guest blog"  since it fixes on three areas that I too find disturbing.

It was a dark and snowy night, a backroom deal was struck, and by all appearances Plainfield taxpayers got screwed again! 

First let’s consider the PMUA.  Is it a good thing that Dunn and sanders were removed as Commissioners? After their actions subvert the arbitration process that the PMUA was winning against Watson and Ervin’s frivolous settlement claim and along with Toliver to give them $1 Million of taxpayer dollars when they weren’t owed any money except their normal retirement benefits, Absolutely! BUT, their removal alone doesn’t guarantee and changes to the waste, abuse, corruption and fraud the PMUA has been perpetrating on its customers since its inception. To make any real change of the PMUA requires three reform-minded commissioners. Clearly the Council has been unwilling to support any of the reform-minded commissioner nominees Mayor Mapp put forth last year. The reasons for his are multifold from their having personal ties to people who benefit from the PMUA being run as it is today to that fact that Jerry Green has many politically connected special interests that have been rewarded with PMUA contracts. I sincerely hope the new commissioners will be willing to step up and work to change the on-going PMUA abuse of rate payers. But. looking at the new PMUA Board change is doubtful. Here’s why. Commissioners Brokaw and Mitchell have been taking illegal medical benefits from the PMUA since at least 2008. Based on the PMUA charter Commissioners are limited to $4,500 compensation a year. In 2013 Ms. Brokaw received $16,878 in medical benefits for herself and her husband. For the same year Mr. Mitchell received $22,826 in medical benefits for himself and his family. These benefits were in addition to their $4,500 in compensation. There is no chance they want to change how the PMUA is being run. Commissioner Tyndale, who is coming up on his first anniversary on the board commented after a recent meeting that he didn’t see any big problems at the PMUA. Mr. Tyndale, THE BIG PROBLEM IS: THE PMUA CHARGES ITS CUSTOMERS TWICE THE MARKET RATE FOR TRASH SERVICES AND ALMOST THREE TIMES THE MARKET RATE FOR SEWER SERVICES AND IN ADDITION TO THOSE OUTRAGEOUS RATES IT ALSO HAS INCURRED $20 MILLION DOLLARS IN BOND DEBT WHICH PLAINFIELD TAXPAYERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR! Aside from that things at the PMUA are fine. Hopefully Commissioners Graham-Lyons and Robinson will be committed to making major reforms at the PMUA, but they don’t have a track record as change advocates and it is unlikely the Council would have approved them if they suspected they would bring about change. And since they appoints go until 2019 and 2020 respectively and Ms. Brokaw’s goes until 2019 as well, these appointments Mayor Mapp will have to change the direction of the PMUA before his term ends in 2018.

Now let’s consider Mr. Watson’s appointment at Public Works.  It’s not only that he was the primary beneficiary of $1 Million Dollar theft of tax payer money that Dunn, Sanders, and Toliver orchestrated. It is that as Executive Director of the PMUA Mr. Watson was the primary architect of the abusive, corrupt, and wasteful organization it became. (See “BIG PROBLEM” above) As such he did not demonstrate that he was a very competent executive. Between the money he wasted as PMUA Executve Director on such things as $300 business lunches, the outrageous contract he had when he retired ($160K salary, 70 paid days off a year, a car allowance, an education allowance, medical benefits, and pension benefits) and the lion’s share of the $1Million dollar parting gift, I for one think the City of Plainfield has already paid him enough money to last a lifetime.

And finally to Mr. Mapp, who despite stiff opposition from the Jerry Green dominated Council, needs to be congratulated for bringing improved levels of professionalism and responsiveness to City Government. However, considering the compromises he has made in his appointments on the PMUA and in Public Works, the givebacks he has received from Council in return seem too small. Seeing as how in all likelihood with its current board the PMUA will be able to continue its corrupt, abusive and wasteful practices for at least another five years and we’ll have Eric Watson running Public Works for the next three years, I would have expected that he would have at least gotten funding for the forensic audit in return. Sadly no. We get a Vehicle Fleet Manager, which will get to pay for too and the same old Plainfield corruption which favors the politically connected at the expense of the citizens.

5 comments:

  1. Well said, Tom. I would send this to every government official associated with Plainfield, MUA, and send it to the Star Ledger and Courier News. The biggest problem with Plainfield is we do not expose these things. I am trying to get the State to look in to a forensic audit for Plainfield. Hopefully, at some point, Jerry's greed and lack of caring for Plainfield will be exposed, along with those who follow him.

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  2. Requests for a State forensic audit have been made in the past, but for various reasons, including the Mayor or the Council must approve, never took place. The last one I am aware of was in the McWilliams' years. I was told just a few years ago by the State AG's office that such an audit was not their function and the Dept of Community Affairs in the Christie admin istration ws not interested. Iwish you had IDed yourself. .

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  3. The fact that newspapers are currently mostly unable to play a watchdog role means citizens have to pay attention to what their elected representatives are doing and, to use the late Bill Hetfield's favorite expression, "hold their feet to the fire."

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  4. Bernice...there are only a few matches with which to light the fire. There is strong wind which tends to extinguish them. There are only a few hands to gather the firewood. And the people whose feet should be roasted are wearing thick asbestos boots. The fireplace is wrapped in a damp, dank, lethargic, apathetic mist.
    I wish Bill were here to advise us how to roast feet given these adversities. The realty is that where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise. The PMUA us deeply entrenched. Sadly, It is part of the fabric of the City and barring some miracle will continue as a qausi- socio-service Agency. A handmaiden of the politicians who use it to dispense patronage, and reward a host of "consultants" of various stripes. There will be no audits, the cavalry will never be dispatched from Trenton, the commissioners will continue to enjoy their pre-meeting nourishment, Commissioners Mitchell and Brokaw will continue to receive a combined $40,000 in illicit compensation, Executive Director Williamson will not provide a lucid explanation of the questions posed by the Council, and the property owners will continue pay the tab. The only affirmative redress the average guy has is to OPT OUT of the household collection. Bill Kruse

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  5. Some "inconvenient truths: Mapp voted for Dunn and his co-hort who then voted for Watson and his cohort to get $1M from Plainfield tax payers. Mapp then further rewarded Watson for his years of service by hiring Watson.

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