Monday, March 09, 2009

New Calendar Requires Planning Ahead

Soon the new calendar advocated by City Council President Rashid Burney will take effect.

This calendar calls for just one agenda session and one voting meeting per month. Previously, there have been two of each per month, except for summer months and those affected by elections.

Practically speaking, the new schedule will mean that ordinances which have to be passed on two readings will now take two months instead of one for passage. In addition, community groups seeking City Council permission to hold events involving sidewalk encroachments or use of city streets will have to plan ahead, as they will get just one shot per month to gain approval.

The other innovation, as some have learned by my kvetching, is that four of the agenda sessions will be held at schools instead of at City Hall Library. The first already took place Feb. 9 at Washington Community School. The April 6 agenda fixing session will be at Emerson Community School. Others are Oct. 5 at Hubbard Middle School and Dec. 7 at Cook School. I personally don't like the change because I can't walk to these remote venues.

The calendar has not yet been published officially, although it is up on Burney's web site. Erroneous information on the school meetings is posted all over City Hall and on the city web site, because officials used the calendar adopted Jan. 1 as the basis for extrapolating the agenda sessions. City Council attendance is poor enough without adding confusion about where and when to show up to see the governing body in action.

In 2006, a calendar change resulted in attendance falling off drastically and I am afraid the same will happen this year, despite the cheerleading of officials who like the new plan. One of the rationales for the reduced meeting schedule is that council business is sparse enough to be conducted once a month. Having observed the City Council for 25 years now, it is my opinion that the reason for the apparent lack of resolutions and ordinances is that the administration is not taking care of business that needs council approval, such as timely appointments to boards and commissions.

Another innovation is early budget meetings, starting Tuesday, March 10, and continuing on March 17, 24, 31 and April 7 and 14. Supposedly this is to get a running go on the FY 2010 budget year that starts July 1. It is my opinion that no matter how early the council starts, the budget year staggers on until after the New Year anyway. Early talks in 2005 ended up being fruitless because the administration changed in January 2006. This fiscal year has only three months to spare and the budget has yet to be passed. The city is still waiting on news of extraordinary state aid for tax relief. Why prolong the agony with early talks for next year?

Enough of my crankiness. It has been my choice to report to you, the citizens, on government doings as best I can on this blog, so until I decide to do something else such as catch up on re-runs of all the TV series I have missed, so be it.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If my employer cut my hours in half, my salary would be cut in half. And more than likely, would still be expected to do the same amount of work!

Council is cutting their meeting requirements in half - Is their salary adjusted to reflect the amount of time they have to spend at meetings??

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not from anyone who has any connection with a council member, but I would like to say this. Council members are not just working when they are at the meetings. They have separate committee meetings which they attend as well as being liaisons to many programs within Plainfield. They attend block association meetings, answer constituent questions by phone and email, and keep us apprised of what is going on by blogging. Quite frankly, I wish that some members of City Hall worked half as hard at their full time jobs.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with your assessment of attendance at council meetings. I think the agenda sessions have been well attended. The council meetings themselves seem to be just a rehash of the agenda sessions which may be why no one goes.

And the attendance at the Safety meeting was considerable. Especially since it was changed at such a late time.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey can you tell me how much the coucil members make???

that would be very interesting indeed...

4:20 PM  

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