Monday, March 13, 2006

Cabinet Appointments Will Be Offered For Confirmation

With the clock ticking on acting appointments, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs asked the City Council Monday (March 13, 2006) to consider confirmation of her cabinet members at next week’s regular meeting.

All had been appointed in acting capacity at the Jan. 1, 2006 reorganization meeting with no reason given. The city allows only 90 days for interim appointments and their terms would expire at the end of March, failing confirmation.

The affected positions include Acting City Administrator Carlton McGee, who is responsible for day-to-day city operations; Acting Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson; Acting Director of Public Works and Urban Development Jennifer Wenson-Maier; and Acting Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig. Acting Director of Administration and Finance Norton Bonaparte Jr. just left the city for a position of city manager of Topeka, Kansas, and no successor has been named.

But Wenson-Maier, Hellwig and Bonaparte constituted the three department heads mandated in the City Charter.

Council comments indicated that city residency requirements will also be waived.

Cabinet officials are supposed to move to Plainfield within a certain time after appointment. But Wenson-Maier is not only a Rahway resident, she is president of the Rahway City Council.

Hellwig lives in Nutley. McGee’s home address has not been verified, but he previously lived and worked in Jersey City.

The news met with little opposition Monday, but Councilman Cory Storch did ask his colleagues to be more attentive to past protocol for putting forth names for confirmation.

Councilwoman Linda Carter disagreed, saying the agenda session Monday was meant to set up the regular meeting for next Monday.

Robinson-Briggs said she had not previously discussed the item with City Clerk Laddie Wyatt, who then mentioned something about a 120-day timeframe for appointments.

The regular meeting will be next Monday (March 20, 2006) at Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

--Bernice Paglia

KEYWORDS: administration, appointments