Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Watson's Hiring Hits Headlines

Eric Watson's job change made the front page of today's Courier News after breaking on the blogs yesterday.

For those who missed it, the longtime former executive director of the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority is back in his original role as director of the city's Department of Public Works and Urban Development at a salary of $110,000.

Watson received a controversial payout for his PMUA service in 2012, sparking outcry from residents already upset by a citizen's investigation that uncovered excessive spending by top PMUA executives. Also in 2012, a city study recommended dissolution of the PMUA, a course endorsed by then-Council President Adrian Mapp. Not the least of the puzzlement over Watson's hiring was that Mapp, now mayor, named him acting DPW&UD director.

In his news article, Sergio Bichao reminds us that the state Division of Local Government Services within the Department of Community Affairs had launched its own probe of the PMUA. But as he notes, no outcome has been announced.

On Aug. 11, the current PMUA executive director, Dan Williamson, came before the City Council to report on the authority at the behest of Council President Bridget Rivers.. He gave a brief overview, but urged the council to have a joint meeting with the authority.

The biggest news out of the PMUA this year has been the signing of service contracts with various outside entities, something promised at the outset in 1995 to bring in revenue. The authority now receives bulky waste and vegetative waste at the Rock Avenue transfer station from neighboring towns and school boards, which must then be delivered to another destination for final disposal. PMUA Commissioner Malcolm Dunn credited Williamson with finally launching the long-awaited outside revenue program. The trick in making the program profitable will be to make sure the final disposal costs do not outweigh the revenue from outside use of the transfer station.



  1. The outside contracts commenced prior to Mr. Wiliamson's appointment. The ability to use the Rock Avenue Station as a transfer point was awaiting State approval of an application that had been submitted long before Mr. Williamson ever entertained employment by the PMUA. If Mr. Dunn wants to give Mr. Williamson credit., why not? Mr. Dunn has vast experience at giving away things that don't belong to him. Bill Kruse

  2. I applaud PMUA for developing new municipal customers, but I'm also concerned, like you, that the final disposal costs don't outweigh the revenues. These disposal costs, as well as the tonnage figures, should be supplied to the City annually. In point of fact, the Transfer Station's disposal costs for all solid waste generated within the city's geographical boundaries should be appearing in the City's budget, per the Inter Local Agreement. That has never once occurred because it bit the dust when the PMUA cash flows were secretly reversed in 1998 as part of the original corruption of the contract that saw the disappearance of a Solid Waste Lease payment to the City.

    Mayor Mapp knows it takes two to tango, and the corrupted agreement was a joint effort by the City and PMUA management. It happened when the McWilliams Administration took office, when Malcolm Dunn was Council President, and Mapp as well as current PMUA chairman Harold Mitchell sat on the governing body. At least two of these officials knew what was up, and probably all four. But so too did Eric Watson, who was managing PMUA's daily affairs as Executive Director. The seminal corruption of the Inter Local Agreement is just one reason Watson should not be hired in any capacity by the City, but it is one among many, and they all outweigh any ability to "hit the ground running."

  3. Actually, plans for the establishment of the PMUA began when Mark Fury was mayor. There were some vigorous objections from some Council members such as Joe Scott and Helen Miller, and the votes weren't there to pass it. Then, when Al McWilliams was elected to the Council, he cast the deciding vote.

  4. What is interesting is that citizens like Bill Kruse and Alan Goldstein have repeatedly lodged acquisitions about mismanagement at the PMUA. The state came in and investigated the organization and found nothing to cause any alarm. If the company was as corrupt as they say it is the state would have taken action.

  5. I agree with anon, 5:33AM, There is no documentation of any illegal activity at the PMUA.Yes, they did over indulge with perks that has stopped, thanks to Philip Charles.There has never been any corruption charges, no arrest, nothing. Alan is just swoll that this multi-million dollar agency is run by African Americans,and they dictate what residents will pay, including those who live on the hill. I know everybody is going to say why play the race card? If you are not AA you will never understand the racism that AA EXPERIENCE EVERY day of our lives, Every day.Let me say this the rates at PMUA are too high and need to come down, and Dan Williamson needs to go, not because of corruption because of incompetence.

    1. Ahhh now, Dan is not incompetence, he just stays on the golf course just like he did when he was the city attorney. I am sure if you could get away with playing golf all day and getting paid big bucks to do it, you would jump at thechance.