Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Tough Nut to Crack

Image: A Nutcracker figure at PNC Bank.

The city administrator in Plainfield is supposed to be in charge of day-to-day operations, but all too often political whims of elected officials seem to have taken precedence over good governance. How likely is it that a no-nonsense city administrator might tell the mayor who appointed him, or the mayor's mentor for that matter, that a proposed activity was a waste of time and money? Or that a department head was not pulling his or her weight? And even if he did, would they listen?

With Marc Dashield's impending transition to Montclair township manager and another four-year mayoral term looming, the possibility exists for a better cabinet than the mixed lot the city has seen in the past four years. Some were clueless, some were most likely unqualified, some were onboard only for political reasons. None lived here, except for Norton Bonaparte, the former city administrator who was kept on as finance director in January 2006 and who left to become the first city manager of Topeka, Kans.

A good first step would be to rethink waiving residency requirements. The next step would be to set politics aside and listen to what a new city administrator makes of Plainfield, its strengths and weaknesses. Third, let the mayor and her mentor resolve not to leave top seats unfilled so that as in Dashield's case, the city administrator is not burdened with dual roles, especially in fiscal matters.

Several times in the last year, the line between the executive and legislative branches has become blurred. Dashield rightly took umbrage at a couple of these instances. A qualified candidate is not going to venture where the role of city administrator is not respected, communication is garbled and the ship of state keeps getting turned into an ill-advised luxury cruise. If stewardship of city resources has not been the watchword in the past, it must become so now and for the next four years and beyond.

Since January 2006, the number of citizens keeping an eye on City Hall dwindled at first, but has recently swelled. Still, what is apparent to citizens must also be acknowledged by elected and appointed officials if progress is to be made in improving city government and the delivery of services. All the citizen involvement in the world means nothing if the administration is unresponsive or dismissive.

Let's hope 2010 will bring a full complement of qualified cabinet members who will put Plainfield first and not just be part of the tangled political web where loyalty to power brokers is the primary demand.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well it appears the Furlough Plan has begun. Let the Mayor do the job of running the city. More with less, share the pain, cut to the bone .....

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame on us African Americans. We've waited centuries to be able to be in positions of power then once we do we do nothing but argue with each other and bring eachother down. Our ancestors would be turning over in their graves if they knew how we acted once we got power. With the entire Plainfield leadership being African American their is no reason why we can't move this City forward on a positive note. When outsiders looking in view Plainfield they don't categorize us as dems- new dems, green-briggs, Mcwilliams- Mapp, They view us as a foolish people who fuss over nonsense! Whats sad is Marc Dashield will probably be viewed as a genius and praised in Montclair. All we did here was try and bring him down. This mentality has been engraved in us since slavery, this is exactly how "they" want us to act. Its a shame.

I imagine this comment may be to real to post!

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dashield viewed as a genius? No way. Montclair will eat his "style" alive--I predict he will be replaced in a year.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The people of the city of Plainfield came out and voted for what we have. We want incompetence, we want corruption, we want higher taxes and we don't want our hospital. The people voted and now they complain? We got what we asked for. I don't blame Mr. Dashield for leaving. How much incompetence can you anyone handle before someone goes to jail. The voters made their bed now try to sleep in it. All Hail King Jerry. (Remember it was publicized in the Courier News)

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 10:18,

Who is "they"?

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 10:18 - It is the African Americans who have kept Jerry Green and his minions in power. They voted for them. Not all, but I would bet that the majority of their votes in Plainfield came from the African American Community.

We are a city that is smarter than that. I agree with you, African Americans waited to get into power, and for 20 years, this is the best that Plainfield has to offer? Is it because there is a believe that you don't deserve better? Absolutely not true if that is the mindset.

Let's hope that there is enough outrage within Plainfield and ALL citizens that we demand better, and that we make sure we get it.

I do believe Plainfield will scratch our heads and wonder why Marc is doing so well in Montclair and did not do so well in Plainfield. What is the constant here - Jerry Green.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too wonder, who is the "they" that 1018 is referring to? It is shamefull to think that the African Americans in charge are, in fact, enslaving its own people. The welfare recepients are not going to come out to vote. They get their money regardless of who is in power. The remaining voters in the city could care less as indicated by the turnout numbers. Barely reaching 7,000 votes out of a city of 40,000+. Pathetic!!! Seems to be the voters of the city are happy living in ghetto where the excitement downtown is for a new dollar store opening up. Wheee! Its a big draw to bring people into Plainfield. Where we have to send our kids to private school, where the taxes are going up another 10%, and for what?? We will never know if Marc was as bad as he is believed to be until he gets into Montclair. Question now is, will the current admin hire someone qualified by state standards to do the job, or simply put in another warm body?

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And to 1018, I can understand your frustrations, after all these years, and this is the best that we get?!?! Dead end results with no plan in place for the future. Enough to make you want to scream!

4:47 PM  
Blogger Maria Pellum, Plainfield Resident said...

I wonder if anyone thinks that Plainfield is the the way it is because Plainfield has not got the attention from residents as other towns and cities do.

Just wondering.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maria, I believe that it is the lowly thinking of Plainfield residents that keep us the way we are. No one with self respect or who believes they are worth higher than this would allow Plainfield to turn out like this.

It is the perpetuation of low class thinking that keeps us here. Does anyone think that Jerry Green has Plainfield's best interest at heart? 20 year he has had a hold on Plainfield and my bet is that he has told the people this is as good as you get.

Shame on us for not demanding and getting better. Let's make sure 2010 breaks the cycle.

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, all you blowhard complainers LEAVE! Go to Scotch Plains, Westfield, or where ever your heart desires. I am so sick of hearing complaint after complaint! Obviously there are enough people here who like Plainfield just the way it is! So please, go somewhere, ANYWHERE else, and be happy.

3:15 PM  

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