Sunday, January 25, 2009

Foreclosure Moratorium, Discussions Up Monday

Councilman Adrian O. Mapp is calling for a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures.

At Monday's City Council meeting, Mapp will introduce a resolution urging banks and other lenders to suspend foreclosing for an unspecified period of time. The idea was popular last fall, with calls from Sen. Hillary Clinton, Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger and presidential candidate Barack Obama all proposing the same. Clinton is now U.S. Secretary of State and Obama is president. According to a study prepared for Congress members and committees by the Congressional Research Service, the pros and cons include balancing relief to homeowners with the needs of lenders to keep capital flowing. Click here for the full 18-page report.

The meeting 7:30 p.m. Monday in City Hall Library also includes reports from numerous council committees and liaisons. Council President Rashid Burney has scheduled reports from the Finance Committee, which includes himself, Councilman William Reid and Mapp; the Code Enforcement Oversight Committee, whose members are Burney, Reid and Councilwoman Annie McWilliams; the Economic Growth Committee, consisting of Burney Reid and Councilman Cory Storch; Board of Education Liaison Councilwoman Linda Carter and McWilliams as alternate; and Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority liaisons Reid, a former PMUA commissioner, and Burney as alternate.

The assignments were only given out on Jan. 15.

An extensive structure of committees and liaisons was established in 2006 by then-Council President Ray Blanco, who died suddenly the same year. Since then, the system was largely dormant, but Burney is pushing for it to be reactivated this year. He also wants to revive the "working conferences" that Blanco established, similar to town hall meetings on a single topic such as public safety.

Another discussion item is the City Council calendar. Normally, agenda-fixing sessions are held in City Hall Library at 515 Watchung Avenue on Mondays prior to regular meetings, which are held on first and third Mondays at Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Avenue. Burney said last month he wants to reduce regular meetings to once a month and hold agenda-fixing sessions at schools in the city's four wards. The reduced schedule, he said, would allow more time for committee work and conference meetings and the offsite meetings would permit residents in the wards to see the council close up in their neighborhoods.

Critics said last month the council should stick to its normal schedule and locations, in part because the proposed calendar might be too hard for people to follow. Citizen attendance fell off sharply after the council adopted another of Blanco's innovations, holding agenda sessions on Mondays with regular meetings the same week on Wednesdays. The schedule was dropped in part because of the burden it put on the office of City Clerk Laddie Wyatt, allowing barely a day or so instead of a week to prepare for the voting meeting.

Burney has also proposed that council meetings be taped for airing on local Channel 74 and that the council have its own online presence. Some meetings, including the four hour Jan. 1 annual reorganization, have appeared on Channel 74, but not all have been posted on the local channel's online schedule.

On his own web site, Burney has posted council documents as well as the entire Municipal Code and the City Charter. In the future, he wants agendas to be published on the city web site prior to meetings. Currently, they are posted later.

To see the city web site, visit and to view Burney's web site, click here. Burney also has a blog, "As I See It."

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Councilman Adrian O. Mapp is calling for a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures"

Next I hope the Council tackles world hunger and then we need a moratorium on cancer.

10:51 PM  

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