Milestones, Surprises at Annual Reorganization
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.