Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thank you Ed Santiago, Plainfield Police Chief

Chief Santiago is retiring from the force.  He received a proclamation and a standing ovation from those in attendance at the last Council meeting.  It was well deserved.  He served Plainfield well for many years as a dedicated, trustworthy and progressive public servant.

He made some remarks, gracious and unselfish as always, including compliments to current Police Director Carl Riley and retired Courier News reporter Bernice Paglia.

Ed - your presence on the police force will be missed.  And I know I am speaking for many thousands of residents over the year in saying that you made life better in Plainfield in countless ways.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

What Good Government Should Look Like

There are two sides to the Plainfield Earned Sick Leave ordinance.  Both sides have expressed their positions at the March and April City Council meetings with passion.  There is one more meeting in April at which the Council could approve the ordinance on second reading, which is the final step for an ordinance.  The Council has options.  We could approve it as is or we could approve with amendments.  A third choice is to vote it down but no-one on Council has taken that position and I do not believe anyone will switch in this direction.  In my opinion, the best outcome is a compromise through amendments.

 Bridget Rivers suggested that there is still one week before the next April Council meeting for the two sides to come together for compromise.

After last Mondays Council meeting it was not clear to me that someone agreed to take the lead to convene a session between the two sides. So I made some phone calls, encouraging stakeholders to have one more working session towards a compromise ordinance.  I suggested that 2 or 3 people represent each side and that, given Plainfield's unique job market and business environment, each side include local people, not just outsiders.

City Council members would be the natural and logical conveners of such a meeting (I was not volunteering because, in the limited time before Mondays Council meeting, my schedule makes it difficult for me to be one of them).

I hope this meeting takes place and a compromise is brought back to the April 13 Council meeting.  If so, I will be very receptive to it. If not, I will propose amendments to create a balanced ordinance that works for Plainfield.

A working session is also an opportunity for relationship building within the business community and between them and local government.  This is sorely needed.  The Plainfield Chamber of Commerce, the Special Improvement District and the Plainwood Square Merchants do not always work well together.  It appears that a new group, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, may be entering the Plainfield business scene.  And the relationship between the business community and the Council and administration could stand improvement.  This legislation is an opportunity to work together, a step beyond complaining about lack of cooperation.

One point needs to be clear. From the beginning, this ordinance was in the hands of the City Council.  Councilwoman Rebecca Williams was the initiator and sponsor of this legislation.  The Mayor and administration have recommended two amendments but have no vote on the subject.  Will the Council step up and take legislative leadership?