Monday, April 30, 2012

Roni Taylor for City Council

Roni Taylor has decided to run in the Democratic Party primary for Council at Large. This is a great opportunity for Plainfield.  Roni is the kind of person we need to represent the interests of all residents.  She is a rarity in that while most City Council candidates come to election season with little or no experience in public service, Roni has experience and actually has successful experience.

Her twelve years of Plainfield School Board service occurred during the tenure of Dr Larry Leveritt. When she was first elected, the Board of Education was split and the Superintendents office had a revolving door. After one year, a turnaround began.  Roni helped engineer a Superintendent search by insisting on a more professional presentation by the Board at its public meetings.  This helped Plainfield attract qualified candidates, among them Dr Leveritt.  With the support of the Board, he was the most effective schools Superintendent our district has had in decades. And he began the gradual process of school and school district improvement.  It is sad to say that after Roni (and Dr Leveritt) left, the schools were unable to keep up the momentum and have struggled of late. Still, the limited progress we see is built on a foundation Roni helped create.

Roni was born and raised in Plainfield and has deep roots here.  She was the Director of Housing for the Plainfield YMCA for many years and was known around Union County for running a tight ship.  She is currently a teacher in the Plainfield Schools and has two children, both enrolled in the Plainfield schools. 

Roni and I go back to our overlapping service on the School Board.  I've known her to be a pragmatic and dependable public servant.  She knows how to be an effective team member and how to compromise and disagree constructively. Do we need that in Plainfield!  I know she will put Plainfield first when she gets elected.
I urge you to support Roni Taylor for City Council in the Democratic primary.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

PMUA in the Spotlight

At last nights Council meeting I proposed four resolutions to be put up for approval:

1. thanking the PMUA Taskforce members for the hard work of researching the solid waste and sewer service rates and presenting the comparisons with rates of similar towns. The taskforce also presented findings and recommendations to improve transparency and accountability, food for thought for the Mayor, Council, Board of Education and other Plainfield boards and commissions.

2. directing the Mayor and administration to procure the professional services needed to conduct a dissolution study. This study would be sent to the NJ Local Finance Board whose approval is necessary if the City Council is to dissolve the PMUA. More on this in a future blog post.

3. urging the PMUA Commission to make immediate and significant rate reductions. This is appropriate because if the PMUA is dissolved, it will take considerable time and the rate payers need relief now.

4. urging the PMUA Commission to rescind the $1 million settlement with the retired PMUA executives.

A majority of Council members agreed to put all four resolutions on the agenda for a vote at next Mondays Council meeting.

The Mayor was asked to support the dissolution resolution and she responded by stating concerns, more like worst case scenario's should dissolution succeed. She is right to bring up concerns and ask for more information. She was given the contact information for attorneys who have successfully facilitated dissolution of other municipal authorities.

These attorneys met with Council President Mapp, Councilor Rivers and I and they explained that a dissolution study will only be approved by the Local Finance Board if:
1) a case can be made that ratepayers will benefit from the action,
2) that a viable plan is in place to guarantee that essential services remain in place and
3) that there is a plan to treat authority employees in accordance with applicable laws.  I would advocate further that there is a plan to retain Plainfield residents to do the essential work of waste disposal.  I believe my Council colleagues are with me on this.

I hope Mayor Robinson Briggs is ready to voice her support next Monday.