The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Circumventing the Rules?



Last night, I attempted to bring a new item to the voting meeting—an ordinance dealing with parking issues in the 3rd Ward near Cedar Brook Park. It was a simple, non-controversial ordinance to bring relief to our residents. There had been a delay with the ordinance because of some corrections, along with the need for a review by our new city attorney, as Mr. Minchello had resigned. I had sent the council president an email requesting it to be put on, and she said that it hadn’t been received in time, so it would have to wait. I responded to her that because of how long the residents had to wait for this issue to be resolved, it should go on as soon as possible, and that if the council would agree to add it, we could add it. As members of the governing body, city council members may bring items to the council meeting to be added to the agenda. It has been done from time to time, and Council President Rivers knows it. The council will vote either to put it on, or to not put it on. It is not for the council president to unilaterally decide what to put on, and she is certainly aware of that.

I reminded the council president that in our July meeting, the Housing Authority director showed up with a mere draft of the ordinance to illegally convey property to the Housing Authority of Plainfield (see A "Discussion" Becomes an "Ordinance!" and Got Ethics? Part Deux), and the council president took that draft—a mere draft—and she and some of her council colleagues voted to add it to the agenda right then! So, is the lesson that it is okay for some councilors to walk on items and vote to add them to the agenda, but it's not okay for me to do so? The inconsistency in treatment is certainly exposed for what it truly is. Further, the extremely rude way in which the council president addressed me all evening has been memorialized on camera and certainly noted by those in attendance. She continued to pound the gavel and interrupt me when I clearly had the floor—she was out of order. To attempt to speak over me was also out of order. Keep in mind: the council president’s duty is to preside over the meeting, not to silence members of the council whose words she does not like to hear. 
 
Regarding the land grab ordinance, the corporation counsel raised a number of legal issues with it when we asked for a legal opinion. Remember that our previous Corporation Counsel, as well as the redevelopment attorney, Robert Renaud, also found illegalities with it. I called it an illegal ordinance and asked for it to be tabled. No one on the council has a law degree (myself included!) but these NON-lawyers decided to pass it anyway. I will write on some of the other issues that came up at the meeting in the near future.

Best,

Rebecca


8 comments:

  1. Rebecca, you would think Gloria Taylor would support you on any And all issues regarding the Third Ward.
    I don't know of any ordinance she has put forth that would improve the quality of life in HER Ward.

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    1. She has done nothing. Perhaps if she answered her city-issued phone or checked her city email, she would have a clue as to the issues facing those she purports to represent.

      Rebecca

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    2. But the third ward re-elected her. They got what they asked for.

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  2. I would say council president has no home training but that would be unfair to her mother. What I will say is she didn't listen and she is an embarrassment. And let's add hypocritical as she was so warm and patient with the FORMER mayor who needs a better hobby. Maybe if Jerry Green gets her (srb) a job it will be a 3pm-11pm shift.

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  3. They are all on record publicly supporting a backroom deal.... don't worry.. their shock and astonishment will be of epic proportions if it blows up in their faces.. They be outraged and dismayed that you and Storch allowed them to vote for it.. They will also want to pass a public resolution condemning you for not convincing them their actions benefited a select few gravy train riders of the local party oligarch.. They will proudly pat themselves on the back for condemning you for not convincing them of the evil of their ways..

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  4. Rebbeca, Don't expect you to print this because you only print compliments , or things totally favorable to you.Do you really think that you are always right and your enemies are always wrong.Do you think it is productive to constantly knock your colleagues, and make disparaging remarks about Rivers.How can you sit next to one of the nicest people in the world (Rev. Brown) and be so nasty. I was hoping she would rub off on you,If you really want to move the city forward you must learn the art of compromise.Trust me your style is nonproductive, but entertaining to your cronies.I don't really care for anything in Plainfield, it is a city that was nice but now not so much. Look forward to your tirade.

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    1. I will answer you point by point:

      First, I don't have any "enemies" on the city council--I disagree with my colleagues on some issues, and I agree with them on others. I have never made disparaging remarks about Councilor Rivers--I have pointed out the unequal treatment that has been doled out to me by the council president and the chairman--allowing others to speak at length (often for several minutes--Chairman Reid himself is by far the worst offender in that regard), and cutting me off and ignoring Robert's Rules of Order (and the council's rules of order). When the Chairperson of the Committee of the Whole gives the council the floor, we are each entitled to speak. Calling for a vote while I am still speaking and making my points violates those rules (see the rules at the bottom of this response). At the meetings, I remain very respectful and calm, and I try to make my points as succinctly as possible--if you look at the broadcasts, you will see who who violates the rules, who is rude, who interrupts, and so forth.

      Second, I have a very good relationship with my colleague, Councilwoman Rev. Brown. Even when we disagree, we do so in a respectful manner, and we are always pleasant with one another.

      Third, I don't know what you mean about "compromise," because you have not offered a specific example of an instance where you think I should have compromised--as opposed to others compromising. On about 80-90% of the items that come before the council, we are all in agreement. However, on the other 10-20% of items where we discuss and debate and have split votes, I will not let others dictate my vote--I always vote my conscience and for what I feel is best for Plainfield.

      Finally, with regard to subject at hand (the illegal ordinance), past AND present Corporation Counsel, as well as our redevelopment attorney (one of the top ones in the state) have ALL said that the ordinance does not meet the legal criteria. My colleagues who were present (and NONE of whom are lawyers) ignored the legal opinions and passed the ordinance anyway. This does not bode well for the city's residents.

      Rebecca

      Excerpt from Rules of Order:
      11.7 Interruption: A Council member, once recognized, shall not be interrupted when speaking unless it is to call a point of order or as herein otherwise provided. If a Council member, while speaking, shall be called on a point of order, he or shall cease speaking until the Council President determines the point of order; if in order, he or she shall be permitted to proceed.
      11.8 Speaking on an Ordinance, Resolution or Motion, Time: No Council member shall speak on any resolution, ordinance or any other matter more than three times, or longer than 15 minutes the first time, 10 minutes the second time, and five minutes the third time without the permission of the President.
      11.9 Questioning Administration Officials, Invited Guest, Time: Council members will rotate according to the roll call order to question anyone that appears before the Council. Each member will be entitled to five continuous minutes of questioning before the next Council member is allowed to pose any question or make any comments. A
      Council member may pass or yield their time to another member of the City Council once the President has approved it.


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  5. Nazi council. It's sickening and a waste of time for the citizens. Rivers had such promise. It is a shame.

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