Council Liaisons Give Reports
The committee and liaison structure was initiated by the late Councilman Ray Blanco in 2006 when he was council president. After his untimely death that year, the system faded away, but was brought back last year. The plan called for committees and liaisons to report to the full council at regular intervals, but reports were spotty in 2009. Councilwoman Annie McWilliams became council president in January and is asking for written reports as well as oral reports at meetings in 2010.
Among reports Monday:
-Councilwoman Bridget Rivers, liaison to the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority and the Housing Authority of Plainfield, said the PMUA is reaching out to other municipalities (to provide services and bring in outside revenues). Among concerns is a situation where the PMUA must pick up trash whether city property owners pay or not. (Recently a major landlord was found to be several thousand dollars in arrears.)
Rivers said the Housing Authority is working with Police Director Martin Hellwig to develop a strategy to reduce crime at its West End properties, but needs more community support.
- Councilman William Reid, a former PMUA commissioner now serving as liaison to the PMUA, reported that at its annual reorganization the PMUA board of commissioners elected Harold Mitchell chairman, The Rev. Tracey Brown vice-chair, Carol Brokaw secretary and Alex Toliver treasurer. The board also adopted a resolution to suspend travel for one year.
- Councilwoman Linda Carter, also liaison to the Housing Authority, said the agency received $1.3 million in federal Stimulus funding to improve housing units. The agency is also seeking $9 to $13 million to revitalize Elmwood Gardens.
- Council President McWilliams, liaison to the Special Improvement District, said the SID was supporting several events such as Music in the Plaza and a car show. Another initiative is identifying priorities for the district, such as safety, cleanliness or signage.
McWilliams is also liaison to the Plainfield Cable Television Advisory Board and reported that Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson is reviewing the board’s policies and procedures. Local Channel 96 is airing the January Board of Education meeting and reviewing requests from citizens for airing other material. The board is planning to have an unpaid internship for the channel.
(My notes are not clear on McWilliams’ remarks about Verizon setting up a second public access channel - more later.)
Mc Williams recommended careful review of any consultants, noting questions arose over what the most recent consultant was providing and why some meetings have not been aired.
There were further reports from council committees Monday, but Plaintalker will post separately on those items.
The liaison reports were informative to the extent that the public knew some background and context to the items discussed. For example, the Verizon issue is a story in itself. Comcast of the Plainfields set up Channel 74, now Channel 96, as part of its franchise agreement with the city many years ago. Verizon sought franchise approval across the state from the Board of Public Utilities more recently, but had to reach a certain degree of FiOS fiber optic installation before having to share revenues with municipalities and to provide local access channels (to this writer’s best recollection).
The reports took up an hour or so of the meeting before the council got around to legislative matters. Dr. Harold Yood gets the Blogger Endurance Award for staying to the end of the meeting, which ran past 11:30 p.m. This blogger bailed at 10 p.m. and another one left even earlier, at 8:45 p.m.