Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Democracy in Action

Monday nights Council meeting demonstrated why Plainfield is such an amazing place. I am not referring to the decisions that were made. It was the audience participation in the process of government that was so riveting and gratifying to see. After honoring local film-maker Alrick Brown whose movie Kinyarwanda was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival (quite an honor), I want to say "Alrick, make a movie about the civic spirit in Plainfield." We have the tension created by diversity and conflicting agendas that can drive many a story line.

There were two important story lines at last nights meeting. The one involving the Mayor and Bibi Taylor has been covered by Bernice Paglia, Mark Spivey and (soon I am sure) by Olddoc and Dan Damon. The other story will not get the attention it deserves. That is the 2011 municipal budget. A long list of budget amendments were read and approved, bringing the Council closer to final budget approval. Lost in the details were the many budget reductions that will result in reduced services and staff lay-offs. This arduous process included many hard decisions by the Mayor, senior managers and Council. Yes there was some finger pointing and blaming for staff lay-offs but the reality is that we have a state imposed cap on how much we can spend and tax. And budget reductions were made by every elected official- Mayor and all seven Council members. I hope that realization leads to better collaboration going forward.

Looking at the budget story line further, there are two sub-plots I must mention:

1. the Library amendment restores $150,000 to expand its hours back to what they were before the last reductions were made. If you are a Library supporter, you should thank each Council member as this amendment received unanimous support. Particular thanks should go to the members of the Council's Finance Committee - Adrian Mapp, Annie McWilliams and myself - who made this happen by finding the funds in other expense lines rather than increased property taxes.

2. Recreation! Alrick - what a sub-plot we have here. A rumor starts in the community that the City Council members have a personal vendetta against local hero and champion of youth, the Recreation Director. They are going to cut him off at the knees (reduce him to part-time). A groundswell of grass roots support grows and spills out into the Council meeting chamber. Speaker after speaker blast the Council members for mean-spirited disservice to the community. But wait, are those rumors distortions of the truth. The Council actually recommended moving $30,000 from administrative salaries into youth programs, leaving Recreation with the same overall budget as recommended by the Mayor (who happens to be the chief supporter of the Recreation Director). And the Recreation Director's position will be unaffected unless the Mayor decides to reduce his hours - not going to happen. Alrick can you clean up the plot a little, make it a better story than what I just told. Annie and Sharon can play themselves but I suggest you use Sean Connery ( a younger Sean) to play me.


Anonymous said...

You are very gracious in your appreciation of the Public Comment section.

I'm not sure if Alrick is quite talented enough to make Sean Connery younger though.

Anonymous said...

Those who disagree with your assessment are the ones who do not partake in this city government.

This is a great time for Plainfield, and I am proud to live here.

Anonymous said...

People who come out to voice their concerns are worthy of praise when they are not there because they were threatened or lied to into coming. Some of the faces are new in support of dave wynn because they probably don't know they were duped. Others were there because they desperately need their seasonal jobs. Still others were head scratchers. dave wynn is notorious in his disrespect and hatefulness to those who he feels he doesn't need. But one should wonder when he's been nasty in the past and suddenly best buds. It's a shame he is able to use the same scare tactic to rally the troops. The only difference is Council president McWilliams has attempted to make sure the Council's position is clear. I hope the Council will continue to dig through the smoke and mirrors

Jim Pivnichny said...

From what source did the misinformation about the City Council cutting Dave Wynn's working hours arise? I can only wonder. How were Mr. Wynn's supporters inspired to speak in his favor? Was there something specific behind this outpouring of this support? On the other hand, I am sure that many, if not all, of Ms. Taylor's verbal supporters last night were individually motivated by a desire to reverse an obvious hurtful action by the Mayor ... hurtful not only to Ms. Taylor but the entire City of Plainfield. Is my skepticism about Mr. Wynn's support misguided?

Cory Storch said...

Dear readers

I've received other comments for and against Dave Wynn, more against. I will not post comments that make allegations that aren't backed up by facts or at least observations. When I am ambivalent about a comment and the writer identifies himself (thank you Jim Pivnichny) I am more likely to post that comment.

I am more careful in this regard when it relates to a city employee. A Councilmembers blog should not be a forum to debate an employee's performance. If an employee goes public with "dirt" or attacks other employees or elected officials, thats another story. Unfortunately Mr Wynn has fit this description in the past.

Unknown said...


It was an honor to be there. Thank you for the mention.
I look forward to telling stories in Plainfield and about Plainfield. The history is rich, the present is engaging, and the future is boundless.
Peace love and respect