Sunday, March 26, 2006

New Calendar Has Big Glitch

The City Council’s new schedule is supposed to kick in on April 17. It calls for an agenda session on the Monday preceding the third Wednesday, when the regular session will take place.

But in what amounts to a perfect storm for the City Clerk’s office, the intervening Tuesday just happens to be April 18 - the date of the school board election. The result will be three late-night evenings in a row and a conflict between handling the school board election and accomplishing the turn-around for the Wednesday meeting.

Resident Dottie Gutenkauf has repeatedly warned of conflicts that will arise from the new schedule and others have complained that it will force residents to choose between Wednesday night Bible classes and the regular council meetings. But so far, nobody made the connection that the first week of the new schedule will clash with the school board election.

City Clerk Laddie Wyatt said Sunday she will look into the situation.

The schedule does allow time off for the June primary and the November general elections.

The council decided to set the new schedule this year, saying it will cut down on the number of meetings. But residents pointed out there will still be four meetings each month - except for June, July. August and November - there had been with the Monday-only schedule used for decades.

Officials deny the new schedule is meant to cure a problem for Public Works and Urban Development Director Jennifer Wenson-Maier, who is City Council president in Rahway and must be there on second Mondays for that municipality’s monthly voting meeting instead of being at the Plainfield council’s agenda session to answer questions.

Under the new schedule, the May 3 meeting conflicts with the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Sept. 7 and Oct. 5 meetings, both on Thursdays, appear to conflict with the Planning Board. Under the new rules, the Monday session moves to Tuesday in case of a holiday such as Labor Day, and the regular meetings moves to Thursday.

The new schedule was adopted despite the fact that the council approved a traditional schedule in December that was published in local news papers and posted in the clerk’s office. It also defies language in the new City Council “Rules of Order” that the schedule must be finalized “no later than December 10th” of the preceding year.

--Bernice Paglia

KEYWORDS: city council