Sunday, January 31, 2016
Sunday night 60 Minutes devoted half of its time ti how American Lawyers assisted in Money Laundering. One lawyer commented that lawyers ran the country because they made the Laws for the benefit of the lawyers.
This letter from Alan Goldstein to the Council members regarding the changes in the “Pay to Play Ordinance is a well perceived appraisal of the proposed changes.
Dear City Council Members,
re MC 2016-04 Pay-To-Play Amendments
The Mapp Administration is trying to gut the Pay-To-Play ordinances adopted by the City Council in November 2011. These have been ignored in practice by the Mayor’s campaign committee since they were adopted, most egregiously by two vendors that utilized an East Orange joint campaign committee to funnel $9500 to the Mayor’s 2013 campaign for office, and by multiple vendors who have made contributions in violation of the prohibition against making any contributions during the term of their contracts. A mechanism for enforcement is needed, as well as a true and full understanding of what these ordinances say, not amendments that roll back restrictions. Several changes actually may make the amended ordinance less restrictive than New Jersey’s Local Unit Pay-To-Pay Law, thereby invalidating it. Wording to the effect that these changes are a response to Citizens United and “would create a more fair application of the spirit and intent of the Ordinance” are falsehoods obfuscating what would open the door to significantly more vendor cash and abuse of Plainfield’s electoral process.
Among the notable changes are:
1)Tripling the local contribution limit to $1000 from $300.
2) Permitting contributions up to the limit in all instances during the term of a contract regardless of State law prohibiting them.
3) Redefining the threshold for ownership or control, and hence what is considered to be a contribution by the business entity itself to 51%, disregarding the State mandate of anything more than 10%. This would effectively void all restrictions, as most business entities such as partnerships do not have a single majority owner.
4) Removing “solicitation” as an action that would invoke a penalty.
5) Reducing the penalty phase from four years to one year. Not that this means anything. Without enforcement, there are no penalties.
Under these circumstances I urge the City Council to reject this ordinance. I view it with a great deal of suspicion, particularly coming as it has from the Administration’s Office of Economic Development, not from the Council itself. These changes will mean the City and its officials will be even more beholden to contractors, and fully subvert the spirit and intent of the original ordinance. Moreover, changes 2 and 3 above, being less restrictive than State law would, in my view, invalidate the entire ordinance. It should also be noted that once a local unit adopts its own Pay-To-Play ordinance, the Election Law Enforcement Commission washes its hands. The only amendment should be the creation of a mechanism for local enforcement and a legitimate interest in seeing it through.
Today is the first day of February, the birth month of great people including me.
This month starts off with the Iowa Caucus which is known for its evangelistic tendencies the winner here does not have a lock on his Party’s nomination. It is unlikely but there might be some sanity in how those damn Republicans caucus.
Also at 7:30 pm the Council Agenda Fixing Session is supposed to start, and having already briefly commented on the Ordinances I will now turn to the Resolutions.
Resolution O is too accept bids on City owned property that was sold at auction last October, Missing from the info available to us on the internet is the list of properties and the winning bidders.
Resolution P authorizes purchase of equipment installation and consultant services from Netconnect of NY to complete the “migration from Verizon to Comcast. No explanation
why the change in provider.
Other resolutions deal with the transfer of title proper of Old South Ave to the developer, authorizing the Planning Board to Conduct an investigation to see if certain properties north of the Netherwood RR Station need for redevelopment. There is an Resolution for the same purpose but relating to the City block bordered by W.Front St. Central Ave. West Second St. and Madison Ave There are viable Front St. Stores and some on Madison Ave ,Plus a large number of apartments in that area.
In my last blog I questioned the awarding of a contract to develop plans for a parking garage. In this one I shall focus on Ordinances and Resolutions that will be topics of discussion by the public if not the Councilors
There are two Ordinances for second reading and adoption; the first one is the Plainfield Identification card. It should be understood that ant such card has no “legal” standing that would force businesses and banks to accept it, rather it is for municipal purposes. That said the following seems well put yet accepting one item such as a Driver’s License or a Social Security both which can be easily be a forged item makes the cards value questionable. For both proof of identity and residency at least two items should be required,
Proof of Identity. In order to establish identity, an applicant shall be required to produce one or more of the following documents: a U.S. or foreign passport, a U.S. driver's license; a U.S. state identification card; a U.S. permanent resident card; a consular identification card; a photo identification card with name, address, date of birth, and expiration date issued by another country to it's citizens or nationals as an alternative to a passport for re- entry to the issuing country; a certified copy of U. S. or foreign birth certificate; a Social Security card; a national identification card with photo, name, address, date of birth, and expiration date; a foreign driver's license; a U.S. or foreign military identification card; a current visa issued by a government agency; a U.S. Individual Taxpayer
However the proof of residency is too loose but will have to do:
Proof of Residency. In order to establish residency, an applicant must present one or more of the following items showing both the applicant's name and residential address located within the City: a utility bill; a local property tax statement or mortgage payment receipt; a bank account statement; proof that the applicant has a minor child currently enrolled in a school located within the city; an employment pay stub; a jury summons or court order issued by a state or federal court; a federal or state income tax or refund statement; an insurance bill (homeowner's renter's, health, life, or automobile insurance); written verification issued by a homeless shelter that receives City funding confirming residency; written verification from a hospital, health clinic or social services agency that receives City funding, confirming residency; and any other document the Administering Department determines is acceptable which shall be set forth in its policies and procedures it promulgates.
The other Ordinance for second reading gives the Mayor the right to appoint the representative to PARSA. In the past the appointment has come from PMUA who has responsibility for our sewer system. Since except for a new Mayor the PMUA Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor this may be a patronage inspired change even if no dollars are involved.
Of the new Ordinances; the one that deals with “pay to play” limits on bids deletes mention of PACS which do not list donors., the two dealing with South Second Street redevelopment should be approved for the agenda. The final Ordinance deals withy sick leave pay. At the rate of 1 sick leave day for 30 days work with a limit of 40 days seems reasonable provided the rules for a sick day are workable and unused ones are not cashed out on termination.