The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Monday, January 23, 2012

Citizen Inquiry and the PMUA Petition

A petition has been circulating (online and by more traditional means) to have Governor Chris Christie look into the recent huge settlement the current commissioners voted to award to former Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority executives Watson and Ervin, who resigned their positions last year. 

I don't know how many residents and rate-payers have signed thus far, as the petition is being walked around neighborhoods in addition to the online form, which would add to the total number of signatures received. Dan Damon wrote a story on the petition last Tuesday (see here). At Dan's sites, CLIPS as well as Plainfield Today, readers can read and sign the online petition. 

The citizen movement DumpPMUA (see here) has more information and history about the settlement and other serious issues of concern to residents regarding the authority. It behooves all Plainfielders to read the petition, to become knowledgeable about the all issues facing our city. The city council's citizen-led PMUA Task Force, which was formed toward the end of last year to look into the operations and effectiveness of the authority, is expected to deliver its report to the council in March. I will post the report when it is available.

All best,



  1. To the anonymous commenter: Do you really think that the desperation of ratepayers who are struggling to pay their bills is something to "LMAO?" really? Your moral compass is waaay skewed. You are beneath contempt, so don't expect to see your asinine comment posted here.

  2. As of the last open to the public monthly PMUA meeting the Commissioners, through their attorney spokeswoman, refused to identify the basis of the claims submitted by the retired Director and Deputy Director. That same evening they approved an award to the claimants which, with the prior partial settlement, aggregates to more than $1,000,000. The amount awarded to Mr. Watson, the retired Director, exceeded the unpaid balance of his salary for the duration of his contract.

    If, as is suspected, the claim was based on health issues which arose from emotional stress,the proper forum was Worker's Compensation, not Arbitration. The claim should have been rejected and submitted to the proper forum.

    Whatever the theory behind the claim was it is outrageous that this Authority has been empowered to administer public funds, and distribute them in substantial amounts without explanation and without accountability.

    This conduct, which follows a long established pattern, and the inability to initiate cost effective reforms is what has given rise to the current protest in the form of a petition. The administrators, notably the Board of Commissioners, past and present,have spawned the protest, not the protesters.

    If I were an employee of the PMUA and valued my job I would be at the monthly meeting to raise the loudest cry for reform. Reform to bring the rates to competitive levels, starting with demanding a full explanation why their prior bosses received the windfall.

    Lastly, it is noteworthy that with each award the Chief Financial Officer issues a statement that , "the funds are currently available and the payment will not effect the rates ". The Charter for the PMUA mandates that what ever the PMUA spends it must in turn collect from the public. When the PMUA spends 1 cent for a 1 cent stamp it affects rates. The rate may not rise because of an expenditure, but the expenditure may result in the rate not being lowered which would have occurred absent the expenditure. These hypocritical affidavits are issued in an attempt to assuage the public, and are seen for what they are.