The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Look Back and a Hopeful Look Forward


I want to wish everyone a very happy new year. I have been reviewing the past year (the good, the bad, and the ugly, as the line goes). I wish I could say that this had been a completely successful legislative year. In some ways, it was--here are just a few thoughts. Thanks to Councilman Adrian Mapp, who worked closely with our budget consultant Dave Kochel, we were able to pass a good budget with a minimal tax impact on Plainfield residents (exclusive of county and school taxes); in addition, we were able to restore the mayor's proposed 40% CUT to the library's budget so that this most important resource (and core service to our community) could function effectively--see here

The city council held a number of town meetings to discuss issues of importance to the community, two of which stood out: the future of the Muhlenberg campus and the PMUA. The council's PMUA study committee, led by Chairman Joseph Ruffin, examined the organization from top to bottom and arrived at conclusions that insisted on either reform or dissolution. This important dialogue, unfortunately, was ignored by the mayor as well as by the PMUA Commissioners, one of whom circumvented a legal arbitration process to ensure that a million dollar "settlement" was given to retired executives. To add insult to injury, the Commission also spoke of instituting a furlough of the workers to pay for it--see here

The future of the Muhlenberg campus remains uncertain--the 600 plus residential units proposal by JFK/Solaris was roundly rejected by Plainfielders, who insist that the hospital be restored or put to some other medical use.

This past year was a contentious and difficult one. The city had to deal with the mayor's ridiculous lawsuit (which she has since withdrawn) against the council because of her illegal use of taxpayer funds--see here and here; unfortunately, the taxpayers will have to pay her personal legal expenses. This year also saw her ill-fated and ultimately shamefully embarrassing attempt to cast me as unpatriotic (throwing in that I am not properly religious, in her mind) and causing me to receive hate mail from all over the country because of her lack of understanding of the First Amendment--see here and here

There were also fraudulent and illegal activities that I uncovered in the Recreation Division--see here and here--related to the Independence day events, wherein the Recreation Division had created and handed out fraudulent vendor applications with illegal fees on them in an attempt to defraud hardworking businesses. This fraud is being investigated by the county at this time. It is incumbent upon the administration to vet anyone who applies for employment in this city and to be on the watch for dishonest and corrupt opportunists who would think nothing of leaving the city open to lawsuits because of their greed. I hope that justice will be served, for the sake of the defrauded vendors as well as our city's reputation.

I wrote about this tendency toward corruption back in September: "Several Gallons of Corruption."  I have also written about the incompetence that I have seen in City Hall in several posts this year--see "Time to Go" and "Don't Bother, They're Here." I thought I had seen it all, until the mayor's attempt to stage a carnival backfired: "Epic Fail: Carnival in the 4th Ward." I am still awaiting documents on this debacle. The administration still has key cabinet positions unfilled, and the fiscal oversight is simply not there. 

Finally, we had Sandy. This historic storm caused great damage to our city and yet residents pulled together to help one another. Our public works and public safety departments did outstanding work in keeping us safe during this emergency. I was able to see the strength of our citizens as visited the city's Washington School shelter for several days, and also made sure that I got to all of our senior citizen residences. I checked on as many people (especially seniors) as I could and distributed flyers--some of which I got from the city, and some that Adrian and I produced ourselves, given the shortened daylight hours and my own obligations at work, but I was happy that we were able to get as much information as we did out there--PSE&G updates, county alerts, and other information--the power of social media such as Facebook could not be denied.* 

We said goodbye to our colleague, Annie McWIlliams, and will be welcoming our new colleague, Tracey Brown, to the council table. On the national stage, President Obama was re-elected to a second term, and we have a new Congressional Representative in Rush Holt, as we are now in the 12th District. As I look to serve you in the coming year as a member of the Plainfield City Council, I am hopeful that I can be a better and more effective representative. Our reorganization meeting will be held tomorrow (Thursday), January 3, in the Municipal Courthouse Chambers at 7:00 pm.

I look forward to a good 2013!

Best,

Rebecca

*And I still have not met a single individual who heard a bull horn. SMH.



8 comments:

  1. --- (throwing in that I am not properly religious, in her mind) : I'd say that NOT being what she perceives as "proper" means you're on the right path. Ain't nuthin like a foul mouthed holier than thou "good Christian" to show you the light!!

    .. on a side note... there should be crossing signals on parts of Central Avenue most notably at West 7th and Front Street & Central .. those spots are high traffic and high pedestrian traffic areas..
    Happy New Year to you ... thank you for actually working for the citizens of Plainfield. There's always one in the crowd... :-)

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  2. Thanks for your good work as our representative.

    Can you tell me why the Mayor [does] did not pay for her legal bill?

    Did she sue in her official capacity or as a private citizen?
    Or, did the Council agree to pay her costs as part of a settlement?

    Richard Goldenberg

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    1. Hi, Richard,

      The mayor filed a PERSONAL lawsuit against the council and then withdrew it, but not until she racked up thousands upon thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds. The council was obligated to pay the bills during the investigation, as the mayor was entitled to representation. The personal lawsuit, however, should have been paid for by her. Unfortunately, the former corporation counsel (Dan Williamson, now running the PMUA with his cronies) apparently assured the mayor's legal counsel that the city would be on the hook for her personal bills--he did NOT inform the city council about this until it came out later, under our questioning. I am still of the opinion that the mayor is responsible for her own legal bills to defend her own inanities, but the legal opinion that we sought from our city solicitor was that since Williamson represented to the law firm that the bill would be taken care of, it should be paid--meaning that YOU, as a taxpayer, would be obligated to pay for the mayor's mess. The thought of being sued by this law firm and spending even more money was something that a majority of the council did not want to do, so the final vote was to just end this thing and pay the bill to end litigation. I voted against paying this bill--it in unconscionable that the mayor would not have to pay for what she, as a private citizen, initiated, but it is not surprising. Her illegal spending of taxpayer funds and the two years of evasion regarding it are something that I hope voters will remember. The voters will be reminded of all the editorials that have come out from all quarters confirming that she is a state-wide embarrassment for this and other acts of incompetence.

      Best,

      Rebecca

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  3. Councilwomen Williams please stay on top of IT with their own tempoary hiring agency. As I was leaving City Hall there was a young lady from IT giving out the Mayor's Brochures from the her state of the union if thats what she want to call it. They do all of her campaign work. They even have one of their secretaries answering the phones for her. I have been working for the city for a long time and its the worst it have ever been. They have to many employees in that department thats why they have time to do the mayor's work. I really hope something is done about this.

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  4. Good morning all council members, Congratulation to councilwomen Rivers for being selected as council president.I hope when you stated you will be reaching across the board, the board wouldn't stop with certain people. I have sent emails in the past about the IT department. I heard in your speech you will be creating a IT committee. I hope its a true committee that will get to the bottom of all the crap that goes on in IT. IT have their own temporary hiring agency. They have several employees in the department that work for the mayor ALL DAY LONG. They do all of her campaign work, and her leg work. I thought it was disgusting to have members of the IT department handing out her State of the City at least that's what she called brochures. I was leaving the court house and was giving one by a young lady from the IT department. This is a disgrace. They were probably getting overtime or comp time to do so. As you can see a lot of employees that work for the city are upset about this. We give you guys information, then we are intimidated by administration when issues are addressed. I'm not trying to come down on you newly elected council president but I am sure you, councilmen Reid, Councilwomen Greaves, or Councilwomen Brown will not address this issue. The IT department ask for a lot of money ever year and the council just rubber stamps it, I really hope that changes.

    Thanks

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  5. BREAKING NEWS THE MAYOR HAVE ORDERED HER ADMINISTRATION TO BRING DAVE WYNN BACK TO RECREATION. THIS IS DEVASTATING. COUNCILWOMEN, I KNOW YOU CAN NOT DO IT ALONE BUT WE NEED SOMEONE MAPP PLEASE HELP

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  6. THEY ARE GOING TO PUSH THIS THROUGH THATS WHY IM GIVING THE COUNCILMEMBERS WHO CARE THE HEADS UP

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  7. To Anonymous,

    I cannot imagine that, given the illegal and fraudulent activities that occurred in the Recreation Division, the administration would even consider going backward. The Recreation Division needs fresh, competent leadership, not fraud, abuse, waste, and illegal activities designed to defraud hard-working business owners.

    Rebecca

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