Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pay to Play Reform Passes!

Last night was an important moment for local government. The City Council approved four reform ordinances that will change the way city hall bids and contracts for professional services. Three of the four ordinances passed unanimously and the fourth, the most important one of all, passed with five votes. The Mayor has 10 days to let these ordinances stand or she can use her veto power.

These ordinances do not end pay to play. For that to happen, the state legislature would have to approve much stronger legislation closing significant loopholes. On the local level, Plainfield can consider strengthening the legislation we just approved. Let's have that discussion 10 days from now.

As Councilwoman Rebecca Williams pointed out, we can urge the PMUA Board of Commissioners and the School Board to approve similar reform measures through policy resolutions. That will be a question I put to the two PMUA Commission nominees that the Mayor just put forward.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority - A New Direction?

I attended the PMUA Board of Commissioners meeting last Tuesday. Duane Young, the interim Executive Director, introduced the annual budget and there was some good news for rate payers. Solid waste charges remain the same and sewer charges will go down 2.6%. Solid waste charges to the PMUA are rising and a re-organization of staff was needed to keep solid waste rates level. 15 staff positions were eliminated. The budget is up for adoption at the December meeting.

Mr Young acknowledged that that the PMUA has public relations problems and needs to change its ways to regain the confidence of the public (my words - can't recall exactly how he said it). One improvement would be to hold the meetings at a time more convenient to the public. Last weeks meeting was at 6 pm and on election day no less. That creates a bad impression, like the commissioners are trying to avoid the public.

Time will tell if this is a new direction for the PMUA, a move towards responsiveness to its customers. Further rate reductions would do a lot to ease rate payers minds as well as the burden on their family budgets.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Post election comments

I thank the voters for having confidence in me for another 4 years of service. Municipal officials and employees face real challenges and things will not get any easier. There is no evidence yet from the Mayor of a willingness to collaborate. I do not doubt her desire to see Plainfield succeed but she seems to want to go it alone. We must never close the door between Mayor and Council because the residents of Plainfield need us all to do the absolute best jobs we can do...together. I promise to meet this challenge.

Some supporters have commented that because I supported the Democratic ticket, that I have sold out my principles. There is nothing further from the truth. I ran against my local democratic party organization in the primary to earn the right to be on the Democratic line in November. I agreed to be part of a team for election with people that I sometimes disagree with. I will continue to have those disagreements but there are still some common values and strategies that I share with other Democrats. I share a belief that in our economic downturn everyone must share the pain, not just poor, working poor and middle class citizens. I believe that capitalism and government regulation can go hand in hand. These beliefs influence what I do as a councilman. But I do not walk in lock step with anyone, not the local party leader nor my allies on Council.

Time to get off my soap box. Plainfield faces serious problems. I believe that I can make a positive difference and I look forward to working with fellow residents for the betterment of Plainfield.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Election Day - Suport the Democratic Ticket

Please come out to the polls and show that Plainfield is committed to the democratic process. And when you cast your ballot, I urge you to vote for the Democratic team in column A.

Plainfield needs the support and cooperation of county and state government and our best chances are with effected officials from the Democratic Party. They understand best what the needs of our community are. The economic downturn has limited what government support is available to Plainfield. The Republican Party would deliver a much smaller slice of the pie to Plainfield if we do not return Democratic freedholders and legislators to office. And we need government support to alleviate our property tax burden and for the public - private partnerships that will bring redevelopment and economic growth in the future.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Recap

I spent the active hours of Halloween walking and driving around the 2nd Ward with my council colleague, Rebecca Williams. We were happy to see families on the streets having fun while feeling safe and secure. We spent time in the sections of town that get the most trick or treat action: Sleepy Hollow, Netherwood and Hillside historic district. There is a long standing tradition for families from all over town and out of town to trick or treat in these areas. Our tour confirmed that this tradition is thriving. We also saw some trick or treating behind Cook School and on Stilford and Thornton.

The downed trees made Halloween spookier than ususal. There are still a few blocks with no street lighting and most trick or treaters wisely paid attention to police barricades. The police were visible throughout the night and when we did our post curfew drive around, we did not see anyone on the streets.

A number of years ago some unfortunate incidents were giving Halloween a bad reputation nationwide. We experienced a drop off in trick or treating and a few local trouble makers caused many Plainfield residents to worry about the future of this great tradition. A few years ago, Councilman Rashid Burney, Police Director Martin Hellwig and concerned residents helped the Halloween comeback with a safety plan. Last night was proof that families feel comfortable taking to the streets and showing that Halloween is alive and well.