Friday, January 01, 2010

Milestones, Surprises at Annual Reorganization

New City Council President Annie McWilliams.

In milestones on New Year’s Day, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs began a second term as the city’s first female African-American mayor, Councilwoman Annie McWilliams was welcomed as the youngest City Council president and former Board of Education President Bridget Rivers was sworn in to serve in the same Fourth Ward seat occupied by her sister, Joanne Hollis, from 2002 to 2006.

The audience in Municipal Court Friday was full of family members and allies of the new leaders, applauding their accomplishments.

The City Council’s annual reorganization also included cabinet appointments, some of which were renewals and some that were surprises. Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson was reappointed for four years with council consent, as was Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig, who is also police director. But Bibi Taylor, appointed as director of Administration, Finance, Health and Social Services in July, was named acting director of that department as well as acting city administrator, a move which does not require City Council consent.

The city administrator vacancy came about when former City Administrator Marc Dashield resigned last month to become township manager of Montclair. The department head position had previously been vacant since the departure of Douglas Peck in late 2008.

Upon questioning in public comment by former mayoral candidate Jim Pivnichny, Robinson-Briggs said Taylor had taken a position in her home city of East Orange and would only be serving for the next 30 days.

The mayor later told Plaintalker she expected to fill both the city administrator and department head posts within the month.

The council approved the third department nominee, David Brown II for Public Works and Urban Development, but Brown did not appear Friday to be sworn in. Brown replaces Jennifer Wenson Maier, a Rahway council member who served in the cabinet since 2006. In recent press reports, the mayor had said Brown was one of three candidates for the city administrator post.

The reorganization meeting included remarks by McWilliams on her hopes for the year and the mayor’s State of the City address. McWilliams, a daughter of the late Mayor Albert T. McWilliams, said she was “deeply honored” by the council’s support for her presidency. Having discussed city needs with her council colleagues, she said, “I am ready to lead us to that brighter future.”

McWilliams recalled a “Plainfield First” slogan that was often displayed at functions in the family home and called it “really a phrase that is etched in my mind.” She said she is confident that there are “reasonable and actionable” solutions to city problems and forecast 2010 as “the year that changed Plainfield.”

The mayor’s State of the City address included many statistics for 2009, as well as the promise of a C-Town supermarket on South Avenue, possibly by April. The city has not had a major supermarket chain for many years, although officials had long courted one as the centerpiece of the Marino’s redevelopment site in the West End.

The entire presentation on the State of the City is online, the mayor said, and hard copies of her presentation were also passed out to the reorganization audience. Robinson-Briggs said increasing the level of communication was a key goal for her second term, along with a focus on “green Plainfield” practices.
The council adopted a calendar that includes only one regular meeting per month, bringing objections from regular council attendees Dr. Harold Yood and Dottie Gutenkauf, who both contended the business of the governing body would be better spread among two agenda sessions and two voting meetings per month.
Plaintalker will be expanding on some of these issues later.
--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A C-Town supermarket?? wow!! another Urban ghetto store...can't wait.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is C-town really considered a major supermarket? Well any rateable is better than no rateable!

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess it would have been too much to ask for a Stop and Shop, Pathmark or A & P.... C Town, you mainly find them in urban areas...
no vision, no higher expectations.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heres to livin in da ghetto!

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Administration can't handle to have respectable business individuals to deal with; can't have anyone that will speak to high over their heads.

1:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hummm, just as Shop-Rite is considering downtown Somerville for a new store...and we are getting C-Town??

2:19 PM  

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