Sunday, February 22, 2009

Council Meets on Public Safety

Random image: Pink Diamond Amaryllis with Inspector Mousie

Wednesday will mark the first of four scheduled City Council "working meetings" for 2009.

The late Councilman Ray Blanco initiated the concept of special meetings on a single topic in 2006, when he was council president. He called them "working conferences." Three were scheduled, but only two were held. Blanco died unexpectedly while in office and in subsequent years no such meetings were held.

Council President Rashid Burney brought back the notion this year and the first one, on Public Safety, will be 8 p.m. Wednesday at Washington Community School. But don't look at the city's web site for reminders. The meeting is neither on the February city calendar nor on the council's list of meetings. The first meeting is apparently falling through the public info cracks, perhaps due to a calendar transition that Burney is also instituting.

The other three scheduled topics are Information Technology on April 27, the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority on July 27 and Economic Growth on Oct. 19.

Originally the PMUA was first up, but Councilman William Reid, a former PMUA commissioner and now council liaison to the PMUA, told his colleagues he was "getting a little resistance" from the authority about the proposed meeting. The PMUA reluctance is not surprising in a way, because the purpose of the meetings as stated in Blanco's 2006 "Rules of Order"is policy development for the council. The PMUA is an autonomous body governed by its board of commissioners. It serves the city by providing sewer and solid waste services through an interlocal service agreement. The other three topics concern matters over which the governing body has direct policy input. Perhaps by July, city and authority attorneys can agree on ground rules for the meeting.

The proposed format for the Public Safety meeting is presentations by law enforcement entities, council questions and one hour set aside for public comment. Gun violence, gangs and quality of life issues such as how to handle public intoxication are likely topics for the discussion.

I will not be able to cover the meeting, as I have a commitment to attend the Shade Tree Commission's meeting the same night. More information on presenters may be available Monday, when the City Council holds its agenda session at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rashid Burney means well-maybe. Plainfield has been down this path before-numerous times! So if Rashid Burney doesn't know what to do by now, what is the good of another meeting? From my seat, this is grandstanding by Mr. Burney. Is Mr. Burney a procrastinator? Where is his conviction? I'll answer that question. Plainfield politicians have no conviction. When we lost Ray Blanco, the city lost a politician with conviction and empathy. Mr. Burney this is a wake up call: citizens are asking for the streets to be paved, quality of life issues be effectively dealt with such as property maintenance code, beautification of the city, a school system that encourages education, a downtown redevelopment plan that encourages residential, retail mix and of the quality that will make an economic difference. So why have a meeting Mr. Burney? Find courage, talk less, get the damn job done!!

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Burney, ask yourself would you feel safe walking to and from Washinton School for the meeting? That should answer ANY doubts about how peoples feel about public safety in the City

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the public safety meeting, it would have been nice to have asked Mr. Hellwig to prepare an update in advance of the meeting, to post it on the city's web site and all the city council blogs, and give residents a chance to read it so we could have a chance to speak on it rather than the hurried public comment time. I think Rashid Burney is sincere in wanting to bring more openness, but they still need to slow down and think and plan before holding these meetings. That way the discussion and proposed solutions will be more fruitful. I also don't like that the city council thinks they're doing US a favor by cutting the meetings down to 2X per month.
Public comment and scrutiny once a week at a public meeting is the least we should expect from individuals who are being paid by us and who are receiving health benefits from US. For someone who may not be able to attend one of the meetings, that means he/she would have to wait a whole month to speak before the entire governing body. In a city the size of Plainfield 50-60,000 residents, it would be shameful to only have public meetings two times per month. Mr. Burney ought to think about that.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a woman over 50 and do not feel in danger when I go to Washington School. Too many people unwilling to give up old ideas. Not that this city is Westfield "safe", but it certainly is not Newark "unsafe".

Also, Plainfield's population is around 48,000 and losing people. Probably because only now, when pocketbooks are being affected, are people demanding more of their city. Where has everyone been for the past 30 years??? Better late than never.

11:17 AM  

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