Saturday, March 24, 2012

Street Paving Update

City officials are saying that the South Avenue street paving project is scheduled to begin the first week in April. Atlantic and Pacific Streets will be done first.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

PMUA Taskforce Presents its Recommendations March 19

The taskforce will present its findings and recommendations at Washington School at 7 pm on March 19. The public is welcome. The charge to the taskforce was to analyze the PMUA rates and compare them to other towns. The taskforce also was given the latitude to take its research wherever the facts led it.

The controversy about the settlement for retired PMUA executives is bound to come up and whatever is paid out will have a negative effect on Plainfield residents' family budgets. This will be part of the discussion but the taskforce, the Council and ultimately the PMUA Commission must keep their focus on the big picture. That means the biggest costs: labor and fees paid downstream within the waste management system.

Having said that, there is a lot of buzz about a letter from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA)to the PMUA Commission. DCA Director Neff indicated that DCA and the Comptrollers office will be investigating the PMUA and actions of its commisioners regarding the $1 million settlement. I received a copy of the letter. Due to technical difficulties I could not copy the letter into this post so I will email it to other bloggers. Check to see if they will share it.

Mondays Council meeting should prove interesting as the Mayor's PMUA commission nominations are on the agenda.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Update on Local Government

Normally, my posts are on a single topic. Since I haven't posted frequently for many months, today I will cover a number of topics of interest to Plainfield residents.

PMUA - at the PMUA Commission re-organization meeting last month, there was an opportunity to permanently apppoint Duane Young as Executive Director. The City Council had not acted on new commission appointments so that the existing commission members, those with the most knowledge of Mr Youngs work, could take that action. They did not do so. I was particularly disappointed with Tracey Brown and Alex Toliver for declining to support Mr Young. I fear where this is going.

Also on the PMUA front, information has come to the attention of the public about how commissioners decided on the financial settlements with retired executives. Those who voted for the settlement have a lot of explaining to do on why they opted not to continue with arbitration that would have saved residents a lot of money.

The PMUA Taskforce, appointed by the City Council in 2011, will present their findings and recommendations to the public on March 19 at 7 pm at the Washington School. This should prove interesting and informative.

There is still an opportunity for the PMUA to lower its rates and thereby prove that it serves the residents first. I have always been a supporter of the PMUA in spite of its management and governance flaws and have opposed disbanding it. The way things are going, I am reconsidering my position on this.

City of Plainfield annual audit
The Council now has the audit report for the year ended June 30, 2011. It is not a positive report. There are what appear to be a record number of findings and repeat findings. Anyone who has questioned the Council on the cost of the WBLS investigation should think twice. The audit demonstrates the critical need for the City Council to increase its fiscal oversight on the Mayor and administration even more than it has done recently. WBLS is just a relatively small indicator of dysfunction at city hall. And there are no signs that Mayor Robinson Briggs intends to collaborate with the Council or change her management style.

I don't like to put the city in a negative light and for our Mayors first term, I generally held my tongue or softened my criticisms about missteps to give her a chance to learn her job. But I have not been as concerned about local government as I am now and I took office 8 years ago. The Mayor has generated so much negative publicity that I don't see any more downside to telling it like it is.

I will post soon on economic development. I want to end this post on a positive note and there are many non-governmental opportunities for sharing good news about Plainfield:

* the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District has received national recognition from This Old House magazine as "Best Old House Neighborhood". Congratulations to their neighborhood association and to Plainfield for this important designation.

* the Plainfield High School boys basketball team advanced to the state tournament section 2 group 3 final last night with a victory over Newark East Side. It has been a pleasure watching this team. They exemplify teamwork. Unlike most of pro basketball and a good number of college teams, the players aren't standing around watching their stars go one on one. They play like the team comes first. That is a credit to them, their families, coaches and to Plainfield. Go Plainfield - all the way to the state championship.