The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Native American Heritage Month Resolution

COUNCILMANIC RESOLUTION IN RECOGNITION OF NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH 2011

Introduced by Councilwoman Rebecca L. Williams:


            WHEREAS, Native American Indians and Alaska Natives were the original inhabitants of the land that now constitutes the United States; and
WHEREAS, Native American tribal governments were among those that developed the fundamental principles of freedom of speech and separation of powers that form the foundation of the United States government; and
WHEREAS, Native Americans have traditionally exhibited a respect for the finiteness of natural resources through a reverence for the earth; and
WHEREAS, Native Americans have served with valor in all of America’s wars, beginning with the Revolutionary War through the current conflicts, and often the percentage of Native Americans who served exceeded significantly the percentage of American Indians in the population of the United States as a whole; and
WHEREAS, Native Americans have made distinct and important contributions to the United States and the rest of the world in many fields, including agriculture, medicine, science, music, language and art; and
WHEREAS, Native Americans deserve to be recognized for their individual contributions to the United States as leaders, artists, athletes, and scholars; and
WHEREAS, this recognition will encourage self-esteem, pride, and self-awareness in Native Americans of all ages; and
WHEREAS, November is a time when many Americans commemorate a special time in the history of the United States when American Indians and English settlers celebrated the bounty of their harvest and the promise of new kinship; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Governing Body of the City of Plainfield stands committed to ensuring that all citizens remain aware of the challenges that continue to face tribal communities and fully support the struggle by Native American Indians to have meaningful opportunities to pursue their dreams; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Governing Body of the City of Plainfield does hereby call upon its residents, employees and elected officials to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate our diversity and recognize Native Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life.

As adopted by the unanimous Municipal Council of the City of Plainfield
this 21 NOVEMBER 2011

CITY OF PLAINFIELD, NEW JERSEY

Honorable Adrian Mapp                      Honorable Vera Greaves                           Honorable William Reid                      Honorable Bridget Rivers
                        Honorable Cory Storch                         Honorable Rebecca Williams
                                 
Council President
Annie C. McWilliams

                                                ____________________________________
Abubakar Jalloh, RMC
Municipal Clerk

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Public Purse

Of all debts, men are least willing to pay their taxes; what a satire this is on government.  
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
I have decided to write this brief blog post in response to the numerous questions and comments I have received about the city tax lien list--this goes for those who wrote to me the last time the tax lien list was published in the newspaper. In answer to those questions: 

1) No, my name does not appear on the tax lien list; 2) Yes, I pay my taxes on time (however, it is possible that some people on the list paid quarterly taxes a bit late--some of the sums listed--in the $2,000 range--look like a quarterly amount);  3) Yes, I pay my PMUA bill on time; 5) Yes, I agree that part of my ethical and fiduciary responsibility as an elected official is to pay my fair share--and to pay it on time, since I am held responsible for a budget that levies taxes on the residents I was elected to represent; 5) Yes, I agree that taxes are extremely high; 6) Yes, I am deeply, painfully aware that many residents are hurting--many of my friends are among this number--here and outside of Plainfield (see my note below).

I receive a small salary for the work I do as a member of the governing body--$166 per week after taxes, paid biweekly, for a total of $9,000--obviously, I use some of this to help with my taxes. By my calculation (when I add up the hours), this is a little over $7.00 an hour for the time I put into council work (agenda and public meetings; liaison and council committee meetings--I serve on a number of committees; constituent services in-person, email, and via telephone; block association meetings; research for constituents, and so forth.

I do not take the benefits offered (I pay for benefits through my job), since I view this work as part-time, which results in significant savings to the city--several hundred dollars per month. I hope this clears it up.


All best,

Rebecca

Note: Regarding #6, I would again note that the reform ordinances we just passed are designed to help with taxpayer relief by ensuring that the competitive bidding process is adhered to, and that we don't pay more for services through inflated, padded, pay-to-play contracts.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vote As Well on the Sports Betting Ballot Measure!



Please don't forget to read and vote on the ballot measure on sports wagering:

PUBLIC QUESTION: CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING LEGISLATURE BY LAW TO ALLOW WAGERING ON SPORTS EVENTS AT ATLANTIC CITY CASINOS AND AT HORSE TRACKS.

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund has offered a summary and analysis of this question, which appears on the ballot to be voted upon in this year's general election, with reasons to vote "YES" and reasons to vote "NO."

The link below will take you to the home page of the Plainfield League's web site, where you will see it listed as "2011 Ballot Question Analysis":


Vote at your regular polling places. Polls are open until 8:00 pm.

All best,

Rebecca


Monday, November 7, 2011

I Endorse Democrat Cory Storch for City Council

 
I hope that you will join me in supporting Cory Storch for re-election on Tuesday, November 8--Cory is experienced, ethical, and fair--he has been a steady, thoughtful, and reasoned councilor, and we need him to help us move into the future.
 
It was Cory who introduced the Citizen's Campaign's four municipal reform ordinances (set for second reading and final passage at the November 14 meeting), which, among other good government legislative changes, will ban pay-to-play at the local level and bring competitive bidding for contracts to Plainfield. Click here for Cory's original post. 
 
The choice for 2nd Ward voters is to re-elect Cory to serve with a city council majority that understands its fiduciary responsibilities to the residents of Plainfield.
 
All best,
Rebecca
 
 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's Time for Radical Change: Support Plainfield's Municipal Reform Ordinances


When I ran for my seat on the Plainfield City Council nearly a year ago, part of my platform was to work with my council colleagues to get pay-to-play reform passed in Plainfield. For a number of reasons, "politics" and an unwillingness to upset the status quo chief among them, prior councils had not taken up serious reform measures. Instead, we got weak excuses and double-talk, and nothing got done. These ordinances have the potential to change the way business is conducted in Plainfield, and to provide opportunities for other vendors to bid for contracts in a way that is ethical, fair, open, and honest. 

In a January 23, 2011 blog post, Time to Stand and Deliver, I reiterated my intentions to follow through on my campaign statements: 

As your new councilor, I want to restate my goals as your public servant for the next four years. My service on the Plainfield City Council will be focused on good government. We are all aware of the issues facing Plainfield, and my pledge to you is that I will do my best to make sure that all Plainfield residents can feel safe and secure in their persons and in their homes; that Plainfield will work seriously on economic revitalization; that residents receive a proper accounting of how our tax money is spent; that Plainfield passes the strongest municipal pay-to-play reform ordinance possible; that developers adhere to contracts they have entered into with the city (I am thinking here of the Senior Citizens Center/Veterans Center); and that Plainfield abolishes the "preferred vendor" status and opens true competitive bidding for all public contracts (which will save taxpayers money). 

In addition, on March 30, I wrote a blog post on one of the related ordinances regarding insurance reform: Insurance Reform May Save Plainfield Taxpayers Millions: The Citizens' Campaign Model Ordinance

This year, the governing body finally has enough votes to get four municipal reform ordinances passed. Councilman Cory Storch introduced these ordinances and, in two recent blog posts, has detailed how important the reforms are:

Eliminate the Invisible Tax on Plainfield Residents


It is estimated that New Jersey residents pay upwards of 15-20% more for services in the form of padded contracts which are often awarded to vendors in exchange for making  contributions to politicians. I hope folks will ask that their councilors support these ordinances, which have the potential to save Plainfielders money.

Now is the time to get it done. It is in the interest of Plainfield residents to urge all seven of your councilors to vote in favor of these reform ordinances. Hold us accountable. We have the votes to put these measures through, but I would rather it be a unanimous vote (all 7 voting in favor). That would clearly demonstrate that we are public servants in the best sense of that phrase. 

I will be voting YES.

All best,

Rebecca