Sunday, November 6, 2011
Take a Look at PW&UD
I used up my extra fall-back hour by sleeping late, but if you follow city government and still have time today, I suggest you take a quick look at part of the 2010 State of the City report today.
As soon as Eric Jackson came on as director of Public Works and Urban Development, I thought of a number of things that I hope he will be able to address between now and Dec. 31, 2013, when his term ends along with the mayor's. For all of the mayor's first term, the PW&UD director was Jennifer Wenson Maier. She was not reappointed, but then there was some mix-up over her successor and she agreed to stay on for a couple of months. As it turned out, she left for Hoboken and David G. Brown II became director March 1, 2010. But he left in November 2010.
To refresh my memory about the scope of the PW&UD department, I looked at the 2010 State of the City address and found that of the three departments - Public Affairs & Safety; Administration, Finance, Health & Social Services and PW&UD, the last one took up half of the report. Its divisions include Public Works, Recreation, Planning, Economic Development, Inspections and Community Development.
Instead of giving a traditional speech on the state of the city, the mayor's style has been to give a slide show listing details of each division's accomplishments.Even if you just scroll through the online report, you will see the wide-ranging responsibilities that Jackson has inherited. What it doesn't show is the disproportionate focus some divisions have required, notably Recreation with its ongoing controversies over management and interaction with a volunteer baseball league.Nor does it show the effects of layoffs on Planning and Inspections, for example.
These grocery-list reports do not give a sense of the overall direction and most pressing priorities of PW&UD. The reader (or listener, if the 2012 one follows the same format) must glean them, if possible from the piled-up statistics. The report also documents the past as opposed to summing up major goals for the New Year.
If you read the report (I did not use 2011 because it is sideways on the city web site), you will undoubtedly think of some goals you would like to see addressed in 2012 or items for which you would like an update. As a citizen, you can always speak during public comment at City Council meetings or you can call - (908) 753-3375 - or write Jackson's office at City Hall. My pet project would be refurbishment of city parking lots, most of which are in poor condition. See my Plaintalker post here.
This year is rapidly drawing to a close. What will the next two years bring for the city and especially for Public Works & Urban Development?