Monday, February 16, 2009

Burney Explains Working Meetings

In 2006, the late City Council President Ray Blanco called them “conference meetings.” Now, City Council President Rashid Burney calls them “working meetings.”

But what are they?

“Let me start by stating what these meetings are not: They are not town hall meetings nor are they public forums. These are still Council meetings and as such, the format for these meetings will remain the same as any other council meeting - like budget or agenda fixing meetings,” Burney said in an e-mail response to Plaintalker’s request for an overview.

“The goal of these meetings is to allow the Council their attention on a single subject - something we are never able to do in regular council meetings. Obviously the administration and attending public also are put in the frame of mind of the discussion. So we as a community spend an evening delving deep on a subject important to all of us,” he said.

The first of four such meetings will be held Feb. 25, on the topic of public safety.

“The overall format of these meeting will be as any other council meeting: Topic introduction, presenter, Council comments and questions. The presenters at these meetings will be diverse. I want to get some block association representation at these meetings also. Not just industry experts and department heads,” Burney explained.

In 2006, Blanco formulated a 28-page “Rules of Order” document that included many innovations, including a calendar change and detailed descriptions of types of council meetings. Working conferences, he said, were to be held for the purpose of “policy development.” Council discussion and policy formulation were to be the main elements, with 15 minutes set aside for public comment.

But the April 2006 working conference ended up with two hours of public comment. Click here to see the Plaintalker post on the meeting.

Burney said he expects to have a full hour for public comment at the Feb. 25 meeting.

“Personally speaking, I will be particularly interested in input from the public on the discussion items. I particularly value solutions to the problem and issues we talked about,” he said. “For example, we know drug dealing and gangs are a problem for the city - the public is welcome to give us their opinions on the issue. But in addition to that, to me, it would be helpful if we also got suggestions on how to fix the problem. So if you know of resources or solutions from other cities, please bring them forth.”

Burney said the agenda for the meeting will be posted online.

“The public present and watching at home must be able to follow along. The days of the public being in a fog because they are not able to see what we are looking at are gone,” he said.

Besides the Feb. 25 working meeting on public safety, future topics are information technology on April 27, the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority on July 27 and economic growth on Oct. 19.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Councilor Burney seems clueless in many ways. Public safety should also include the feeling of security on the part of the residents that their elected council officials are doing a good job. Burney has rolled over for Mayor Robinson-Briggs and Jerry Green for 3 years now. All of a sudden he wants to act like he's independent and wants to do something about public safety? What a joke.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous JT Smith said...

Ahhh.. look that that. The above is an prime example of what is nationally known as identity politics. You being right depends less on the issue but more on what side of the pilitical spectrum or wing or even color/race you are on.

The Republicans did this to Obama with the stimulus package. The above is a New Dems writer. The New Dems are really Republican and that truth came out when the past mayor switched to become a Mayor. Thus they employ Republican style of identity politics.

Burney is the brightest in a very partisan Council.

He alone stood for Obama before it was trendy to do so. Where were all the "indipendent" New Dems then?

Many of us are hoping he will run for Mayor in 2009. We need a voice of reason and vision.

Not the same recycled politicians.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 11:25 commentator - I am not going to get into what Mcwilliams did. That is history. However yes you are practicing what is now a decade long Republican strategy - that strategy is as follows:
- Don't talk about the issues
- Attack the person - not the issue
- When all else fails, resort to patriotism and call your opponent an enemy of the nation.

These tactic was tried heavily against Obama. People are now smarter then that.

Common 11:25am - Plainfield deserve better than such pettiness.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any criticism of elected officials means your a New dem? That is so silly. I agree with the first comment, I am a "Dem" not a new dem at 56 years old, although I did vote for the McWilliams and Mapp team. Burney has no backbone and that much is clear. He is quoted as saying he doesn't want to be public about who he would support because of how it would affect his standing with Green and the county. Thats not leadership. He has voted for every single initiative this mayor and Jerry Green has proposed so how would he be different? What vision has he expressed? He has not in all his years on the council ever been critical of how things are being done by this mayor. the people are not happy.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been in town for just about 12 years now. Got involved in 2003 with the McWilliams uprising.

Burney is promising tranparency. So far he has delivered and I don't see why working with the powers that be is such a death-wish. Obama does it.

I also find it a bit discomforting that both posts attacking Burney see the problem as working with Jerry. Is everyone who talks to Green is an evil person?

Like Burney I have not yet decided whom I shall vote for this June.

1:05 AM  

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