Thursday, September 22, 2011

Former Official: Mayor Sought Last-Minute Check

Two days before a highly publicized “Town Meeting” on gang violence, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs launched a profanity-laced series of phone calls demanding a check to pay for it, former City Administrator Bibi Taylor alleged Wednesday in the first session of a long-awaited investigation into the event.

Taylor, now the Union County finance director, was the only one of five individuals to speak in public at the City Council’s special meeting on how radio station WBLS came to receive $20,000 in city funds for the Aug. 1, 2010 event. Of others subpoenaed to appear before the governing body, only Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson attended the meeting but chose to speak in closed session. The mayor “evaded receipt of service” both at City Hall and at home, council attorney Ramon Rivera said, while former acting chief finance officer Sandra Cummings could not be located and city purchasing agent David Spaulding was expected but did not show up Wednesday.

In the scramble to come up with a check on the Friday before the Sunday event, Taylor said the mayor began calling her at 1:47 p.m. on her personal cell phone rather than a city line, then made “over a dozen calls” which by late afternoon contained “expletives throughout the conversation.”

Taylor detailed for Rivera the normal procedures for cutting checks, but said between 4 and 4:11 p.m. on July 30, 2010 she was told by Spaulding that two checks, one for $16,000 for WBLS and one for $4,000 for WLIB, were needed. She said she questioned Spaulding on whether regulations for bidding and contracts had been followed, then called Williamson.

Because her conversation with Williamson might fall under attorney/client privilege, Rivera did not pursue it in the public session. Taylor’s husband Lester, also an attorney, noted his wife was there “voluntarily to cooperate with the City Council.”

By then on that Friday, Spaulding was not returning her calls, Taylor said, but the mayor wanted a memorandum in writing for the payment. After she wrote one authorizing payment “if all was in order,” Taylor alleged the mayor told her to change it to $20,000 for WBLS with a “CYA” memorandum. Asked by Rivera to explain the term, Taylor said it meant "cover your ass." Also on camera, Taylor quoted Robinson-Briggs as saying she was “the f-ing mayor.”

“Did you feel threatened?” Rivera asked.

“I was threatened,” Taylor said, adding she was cursed at and yelled at.

In further questioning, Taylor said the funds came from an Information Technology account and confirmed signatures on a July 30 purchase order she received Aug. 4, 2010 as those of the mayor, Spaulding and the IT director. In addition, Taylor discussed a $15,000 check from Investors Savings Bank, made out to the Division of Parks and Recreation for July 4 sponsorship, that she said she was told to use for the Aug. 1 event.

The mayor has alluded to a $15,000 donation that offset the event’s cost, but never revealed the donor.

The explosive testimony had members of the public exclaiming, but after Rivera said he had no further questions for Taylor, the public was excluded and Williamson spoke in closed session.

The entire public discussion was videotaped and recorded by transcript.

Rivera said the mayor’s attorney claimed she had “insufficient notice” of the investigation, but that if served another subpoena, she would appear at another date. Wednesday’s session was “not a hearing, not a trial,” Rivera said, but just part of the investigation.

Inquiries into costs of the August 2010 Town Meeting began immediately after the WBLS radio broadcast at which The Rev. Al Sharpton made a brief appearance. Plaintalker filed an OPRA request on Aug. 2, 2010 and eventually received some information, including a copy of the $20,000 city check and documents showing the budget lines from which funds were taken.

The council voted in September 2010 to launch an investigation, but issues over the governing body’s first choice for legal representation delayed the matter. Rivera was hired in April and the mayor is being represented by Stephen Edelstein. In July, Council President Annie McWilliams said an update revealed that Edelstein had failed to respond to Rivera. After Rivera gave “tentative conclusions” that misconduct may have taken place, the council agreed to use its subpoena powers to escalate the investigation.



  1. It's clear the Mayor is the victim she missed an event to show up in public to cry and beat her chest, wailing, "WHY ME" is honestly amazing. Even more amazing the Mayor's posse of 3 on the City Council not trying to put a stop to it when Bibi implied the Mayor had anything to do with it...oh sorry, not implied, stated the entire fiasco was the Mayor's doing. VOTE DEMOCRAT !!!! Keep things the way they are!

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  3. In a transparent administration, there would be no need for a subpoena to have the Mayor attend a Council meeting. Moreover, she shouldn't be evading service of the subpoena. She should be eager to set the record straight. The Council missed an opportunity to serve her when she was bagging groceries at Shop Rite yesterday morning.

  4. I guess the likes of Rob would prefer Heorge Bush and his cronies running Plainfield. New Democrats are really Republicans - Rob is proof of such.

    The legislative body cannot subpoena the Mayor. Just as congress cannot force the Pres to appear before them.

  5. It's about time this issue is being brought to light. It's sad that the Mayor could't break herself away to attend and give her account of events. It gives the impression that she has something to hide. Innocent people always step up.

    For Rob, it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or Republican...crooked is crooked and elected officials need to be accountable.

  6. I think they should have spent the money on a literacy program Oh My

  7. It's sad that the mayor's dogs would try to tell us to choose Sharon over someone else, like we have no choice in the matter. We're being taken to the cleaners and I prefer not to go there with Shady Sharonda. I have heard from employees and the close relatives of current employees about the fear among City employees and the rages Sharon goes into when she doesn't get her way. Sharon cares little for city law or moral behavior, she only cares about herself. I hope we will soon hear, "Off with Sharon's head, so head out of Plainfield and don't come back." We can't afford more crooked New Jersey politics in Plainfield. I hope Sharon's lackeys on the Council hear what I'm saying, or they will be paying the price for their bad actions and poor choices. We do have good choices in Plainfield and Sharon and those who follow her blindly are not good for Plainfield.

    Bob Bolmer

  8. Apparently the mayor has been hanging around/defending dave wynn too long. This is a page from his play book. Just don't show up when called. Her temper is much like his. Her demanding the check sounds so much like him and what he has done in the past.
    It's a sad day but we must remember...beware of the company you keep.

  9. To 10:11am - Because people in Plainfield believe this mayor is inept that makes us Republicans?

    If so, your world is very narrow.

    As as for executive privilege, you should do some reading before you print your statements.

  10. Plainfield is the way that Plainfield is because a group of people have blindly walked in the voting booth and always hit DEMOCRAT. You think Jerry Green or Sharon is the least bit concerned with anything you or any other citizen in Plainfield wants, is concerned with or cares about ?? No...Why?? YOU ARE GOING TO VOTE FOR THEM ANYWAY.
    Adrian Mapp takes a bunch of crap from Jerry Green during the primary and EVEN HE IS GOING TO VOTE FOR JERRY GREEN.
    AND there is nothing wrong with being ANY party member when you are educated and can vote for the best candidate, not the candidate always from your party. How many people from different parties have you voted for "ANONYMOUS" - I've voted for people from 5 different parties. And if "HEORGE" Bush cleaned Plainfield up, brought jobs and taxable business properties into Plainfield, oh hell yea I'd vote for him for Mayor. Instead...ignorant voters like you defend the status quo with you misplaced ignornace defending the very people who take you for granted. Talk about sitting at the Mayors feet and begging for crumbs. Maybe if you're lucky she'll spit on when she is done with her meal.
    Truly Pathetic...

  11. The check was written to recreation, why wasn’t Dave Wynn Subpoenaed to come before the council. They say 1 bad apple spoils the bunch city hall is rotten to the core. The mayor has been playing her game for way too long ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!! She should be tired now (she looks like it). The devil is always working but he gets tired and eventually gets his…….Watch out Sharon! The truth will set you FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Speaking of Republicans...the New Democrats remind me of the Republican congress when Clinton was President. Remember how they set Ken Starr on Clinton? Then they tried to impeach and remove him?


    Get back to work. Lower crime. Fix the streets. Stop this political circus!!!!

  13. Thank you, Rob, for your comments. Enough IS enough. Green and Briggs scare their constituents by using "Republican" in their toxic rants.

    This is one more sad story for Plainfield and its residents.

    The unfortunate things about all of this is that those who have to lose the most among us are the same ones who keep voting for Briggs and Green; because they've been promised favors, jobs, housing and everything in between. They're afraid that if Jerry and Sharon go, so will they.

    These people need to know that there is life after Jerry and Sharon, a much better life.


  14. Rob, your comments are well stated. I was very disappointed in Councilman Mapp's glowing endorsement of Jerry Green. First, being a Democrat or Republican is important on a federal level. At the local level, party is not important, what gets done is the key. We are not going to work on Entitilements or Health Care or Foreign Policy. We need economic development, low crime and stabelized taxes. Those are not pary issues, they are quality of life issues.

    The New Dems obviously are not committed to making any kind of a difference in Plainfield. Ethics in government, which I believe they tout, is selective in light of their endorsement of Jerry Green. Very sad as I believed they actually might hold the key in getting Plainfield on the right track.

  15. Rob's central points are well taken. When the New Democrats endorse Green, and staus quo, what is the difference between them and staus quo?

    They are all the same and they are all politicians form whom personal ambitions exceed the needs of the people.

    Next we will see a Sharon Robinson-Briggs in front of the McWilliam mansion?

    More tsk, tsk.

  16. Rob is absolutely right about the die hard loyal Democrats. I have had numerous conversations with very intelligent people who said they would never cross party lines. They then sit back and complain about how bad things are. After meeting with Jerry Green to find out what I could do to help the community on a voluntary basis, his only concern was whether or not I was going to become an Independent. After leaving his office that is exactly what I did.