Saturday, October 29, 2011

Council Meeting of November 1, 2011

This meeting started out as a special meeting to approve the 6 month budget but new items have been added.

Four of the items are the pay to play/competitive bid reform ordinances. One specifically deals with bidding for insurance services. One is the model pay to play reform ordinance created by the Center for Civic Responsibility. The third calls for developers to disclose their political contributions when they do business with our land use boards and the last would bring much needed reforms to Plainfields bidding process for professional services.

We are also considering a resolution bringing David Kochel back as a consultant for a few months to aid what will prove to be an uncertain transition to a new city administrator yet to be hired.

There may also be some consideration of a way to save money on employee health benefits.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Plainfield Grassroots 5 K Run

Today I had the pleasure of running in the Plainfield Grassroots CDC's first annual 5kilometer run. The weather was perfect and the turnout was good. All proceeds will go towards good Plainfield causes. One of the best aspects of the event was that many slices of Plainfield life were represented - young, not as young (have to be politically correct), African American, Hispanic, white. The walk/run course led us through west, central and eastern sections of town. The organizers truly wanted to bring Plainfield together and they succeeded. Darryl Clark - wearing the blue jacket in the photo below - was a driving force for the event. There were many others. Kudos to all of them.

Unfortunately my other photos did not download properly.

For those skeptics wondering if I finished the run, I was proud to be the first elected official to cross the finish line and no, I didn't pull a Rosie Ruiz. Where there other elected officials in the event? No comment.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Eliminate the Invisible Tax on Plainfield Residents

Important City Council meeting Monday, October 3 at 7:30 at Plainfield City Hall

There is a long standing tradition in New Jersey government to give professional services contracts to preferred vendors who in return make campaign contributions to political leaders of the party in power. Ethical? No, but legal? Yes.

Plainfield is no exception. I have been advocating for "pay to play" reform since I joined the Council. It appears the time is right to finally move on reform legislation. Not only are there enough Council members interested in reform but enough of them to finally buck the system.

The problems with pay to play are many. It enables the party and people in power to amass huge war chests that are a disadvantage to outsiders, newcomers and non-incumbents who want to run for office. It creates a lack of confidence in government among voters. And it is an invisible tax on the average person.

Professional services includes work done by attorneys, engineers, insurance brokers and architects. New Jersey gives cities and counties the ability to purchase these services without going out to bid for them.

You can become a favored vendor by making campaign contributions to politicians in power who have the ability to influence the awarding of contracts. The cost of these contributions gets passed on to the taxpayers through the contracts approved by municipal councils and freeholder boards. This is a double whammy because the incentive for vendors to do good work is diminished - why try hard to please the customer when you get the contract through an insider arrangement behind closed doors.

The Plainfield City Council will be hosting a presentation on pay to play reform this coming Monday at 7:30 pm. The Center for Civic Responsibility, a leader in the reform movement, will present four model ordinances that have been adopted by municipal governments around the state. Please come out to learn and show your support for reform.

The invisible tax provides a real benefit to those who want to maintain the status quo. There will be an invisible push back on Council. Let your representatives know how you feel about the invisible tax.