The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Monday, November 11, 2013

In Honor of Veterans Day

I want to say thank you to all the Veterans who serve in our armed forces, past and present. My maternal grandfather served in the Canadian Army during World Wars I and WWII. My father and my Uncle Henry served in the Air Force during the Korean War. Other uncles and aunts served before and during the Vietnam War, and many cousins and friends served in the wars since--the Gulf War, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan. Many serve still. Here I am, pictured with one of my favorite veterans, Marine Donnie DeMary.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Unfunded Promotions?? The Mayor’s Latest Scheme

I was deeply troubled by an alarming rumor I had heard--the rumor was that several police officers were going to be promoted. I attempted to call Police Director Hellwig yesterday to receive his reassurance that this was not so. As it turns out, the director was at that very moment in municipal court at a PROMOTION ceremony for several officers from sergeant to lieutenant. You can imagine my surprise—I am always invited to these events, and when I am able, I have attended them. Other members of the governing body have also attended, as their schedules permit.  

Note: Having checked my city email, I found no notice of this event—the Director said that notification had been sent to me, and that he would have it re-sent. There was no notification on the city website, no mention of it on the Plainfield Police Division site, or anywhere else I could find--why would the mayor keep this "hush-hush?"

I have always had a good relationship with the Public Safety Division, great communication with the director, and mutual regard. We meet regularly to discuss public safety initiatives, upgrades and enhancements, crime trends, and bringing the department up to its full complement. This is why I am so surprised about thee promotions. In my August 2013 report, I noted the following, in terms of personnel: 

In June, I reported on the 3-4 officers in the academy—they should be graduating by the end of the year—November-December. The 4 recent retirements in the Police Division will create room for potential future promotions, and there are 5-6 more recruits entering the academy in September—these new hires should bring us up to our full complement. (Currently, there are 4 captains, 9 lieutenants, and 27 sergeants.)

In discussing the “potential future promotions,” the director has always phrased this in terms of the incoming administration, speaking of the person who would be replacing him, as he would be leaving. Why, then, was the administration holding a promotion ceremony at the end of a lame-duck an administration, one with less than 8 weeks to go? What is the potential impact of this promotion scheme on our city's public safety, in terms of supervision at the sergeant level? How much more money will Plainfielders have to pay to fill the vacancies with out-of-title pay?  

Why would the mayor promote individuals to unfunded positions? We passed a budget—during the budget hearing for Public Safety, Director Hellwig had ample opportunity to request additional money—the division received what he requested.

There is no money to pay for these promotions. 
Where is the money coming from? 

Is the mayor once again planning to “rob Peter to pay Paul,” as she did in taking thousands and thousands of dollars from Recreation to pay for her fraudulent “Family Fun Day cum Anti-Gang” event, which she didn’t bother to attend? You will remember that she willfully (and, I would add, maliciously) refused to grant permission to Council President Rivers and Councilwoman Greaves to host a true community event! You will remember that she illegally used grant funds--in advance of county approval! Why are Plainfield taxpayers being given this bill of goods that will impact the current as well as the next budget??

Is the mayor attempting another last-minute budget transfer scheme with these unfunded promotions that will hamper the city council, the incoming administration and, most importantly, the taxpayers of this city? 
Under state law, in terms of checks and balances, several individuals have to sign off. There must also be a certification of funds. Did the CFO provide a certification of funds? Otherwise, it seems that the promotions are invalid, and the mayor has created a huge problem by unlawfully promoting officers whose promotions may be invalidated. Why is she attempting to destroy police operations, and who else is complicit in this last-minute, desperate, and ethically, morally, and legally questionable action? 

Which other administration officials approved of this? What are the positions of the City Administrator, Director of Admin/Finance, the CFO, and the Personnel Director? These are questions that will be asked of the administration, and the Union County Prosecutor and state officials will also be contacted.

I would urge residents to come to the Tuesday, November 12 council meeting to voice their concerns to the governing body over this latest scheme by the mayor. She has once again shown the utmost contempt for the residents of Plainfield as well as for the governing body. I cannot imagine that my colleagues would allow this scheme to go forward with just a few weeks left in the current mayor’s term—it is unconscionable and contemptible, and I hope you will share your outrage at the meeting!  

The mayor has always treated your tax coffers as her personal candy store. Now that she is out of options--no job prospects, no more taxpayer-funded salary, no state NAACP presidency--she has decided to add one more affront to the residents and taxpayers of this city, a final coffin nail for her eight-year legacy of failure.