Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Two Committees Formed, One Pending

Background material in the documentation for Monday's City Council meeting listed names of members for the new Budget Committee and IT Committee.


Ellsworth Williams, Joann Macaluso, Jeanette Criscione, Jan Massey, Fred D. Ellis, Alan Goldstein, Carrie Faraone, Lisa Casey, Shari Effman, Susan Kilduff.


Pui Evans, Greg Meyers, Gayle Z. Bayse, Amanda Smith, Nicholas Stevens, David Williams, Jerry Gainey, Wayne Armor , Susan Kaercher, Donald Robinson.

At the meeting Monday, Councilman Cory Storch said the governing body was "swamped" with applicants for the Economic Growth Committee, but besides residents, he suggested inclusion of non-resident members of the Special Improvement District, the Chamber of Commerce and other local business people. But Councilwoman Linda Carter asked how did the council know whether nominees may have had past business experience. Council President Rashid Burney said extra people could serve on the committee.

The plan was to have two nominees for each of the seven council members, but Councilman Adrian Mapp pointed out a high number of nominees were from the Second and Third wards. Councilman William Reid, who represents the First Ward, said people there told him him they were too busy or they felt the committees were a waste of time.

Last year, the council revived a citizen budget committee, which made several recommendations but also heaped criticism on the administration and council. The council also has a committee structure of its own and each one is supposed to report back to the full governing body. In addition, council members serve as liaisons to various boards and commissions. On Monday, Storch reported on the Planning Board, saying the board had recently done a capital review of road projects. He said sometimes sidewalks were included in the cost of a road project and sometimes not. A written policy is needed, he said, as funds projected for the 15-year plan could probably not cover sidewalks. City Administrator Marc Dashield said there is a policy, but not in writing, He said he would have it put in writing and forward it to Storch.

Although not mentioned at the meeting, there is an ongoing need for residents who want to serve on boards and commissions. The city web site has a downloadable application form that can be filled out and returned to the mayor's office. Most vacancies occur at the beginning of the year. A complete list of impending vacancies was supposed to be compiled as part of the Civic Responsibility Act passed several years ago, but it was never done. However, each year a couple of seats on major boards expire and vacancies may also occur when people move or resign.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you have a policy if it is not written down? Doesn't something not written down mean that it is an opinion?

Please, people, don't let 4 more years of this go on. Vote R in November because it is the right thing to do.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding "Councilman William Reid, who represents the First Ward, said people there told him him they were too busy or they felt the committees were a waste of time":

Bernice, does Councilman Reid (and Councilwoman Carter, who represents the 1st AND 4th wards and McWilliams, who represents the whole city) really expect us to believe that in the ENTIRE FIRST WARD he cannot find TWO people to serve on a few committees? His response, frankly, shows a lack of interest on his own part, rather than on the part of the citizenry. HOW has he put out the call to serve? Has he (along with Carter and McWilliams) gone to the 1st ward block or neighborhood associations to ask them? Has he gone to some of the churches to ask the pastors to ask their congregants? Has he approached the business owners to see if they have regular local customers? Has he asked the newly-appointed Democratic city committee people if they know of people (or even the Republican committee people, if there are any in the 1st ward), or unaffiliated voters? Has he reached out to some of the civic groups (Latino, Caribbean, Masons, and so forth) to ask about first ward residents who might want to serve? If he has not done these steps, then I question HIS own commitment to finding people. It sounds like he's passing the buck. I would say the same for Councilman Simmons of the 4th ward. Working with Carter and McWilliams,s they certainly can find people to serve. To say that thousands of people are "too busy" or find serving "a waste of time" tells me that he didn't do much asking. If he is unable, for whatever reason, to do the canvassing himself, he should be able to count on his fellow councilwomen to help. Councilwoman Carter GREW UP IN THE FIRST WARD, for goodness sakes!

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"William Reid, who represents the First Ward, said people there told him him they were too busy or they felt the committees were a waste of time."

I'm shocked, not so much at the people of the 1st Ward, but at the councilor, who apparently doesn't think its worth his time to convince his constituents to serve for the good of the community. Thanks for nothing, Bill.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Bernice said...

People make choices. Maybe there are more individuals in the Second and Third Wards with discretionary time. Maybe after observing last year's budget process, people are just being pragmatic about spending hours on study and analysis only to have the last-minute pension deferral plan pulled out of a hat as a budget solution. I do not think it is fair to blame Mr. Reid in this instance.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice try Bernice, but I'm not buying it. I doubt that more than a very small percentage of those in the 1st ward, or any other ward for that matter, know much about previous attempts at council advisory committees in Plainfield. Nor do I believe that the 2nd and 3rd wards lead the league in discretionary time.

I think that Reid thinks it's a waste of time so he made no effort to recruit. It might be alright for him to think so, but in shifting the blame to his constituents he makes them look lazy and unconcerned. Reid deserves to lose big in the next election.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the bloggers who commented on other avenues for Councilman Reid to research in order to get people from the First Ward to participate have a valid point. Perhaps reaching out to the Councilman and offering to help would be beneficial. As well as talking to Councilman Simmons.

It is imperative that people from all wards participate in these sessions.

Thanks to the bloggers for the additional ideas of getting people involved.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Bernice,

I think it behooves Councilman Reid to make a more prolonged attempt to recruit 1st ward residents to become a part of these committees. He has many people he can call upon to help him find some. The frustrations of public service notwithstanding, in terms of how some of the committees have functioned, it is no excuse. As someone mentioned earlier, he can call upon the other councilors who may have names. For instance, if Carter put out the word, she may have gotten several responses but can only make 2 appointments. Same with McWilliams. SO why don't they alert Reid to the additional 1st warders and he can make those appointments. My suspicion is that some of the names don't meet someone's "smell" test, politically speaking.

5:44 PM  

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