Monday, September 7, 2015

Outsourcing, Outside Counsel, Out with Night Club: Notes on Tuesday's Agenda-Fixing Meeting

I did not see anything on Tuesday's agenda regarding the rumored outsourcing of the Planning Division, nothing regarding layoff notices and nothing about Mayor Adrian O. Mapp explaining the rationale for any such action, as he said he would in a statement last week.

It is possible that the administration proposed something that did not make it to the agenda, either because the deadline to submit items was missed or because Council President Bridget Rivers exercised her right to decide what goes on the agenda. Tuesday's meeting is an agenda-fixing session for the Sept. 14 regular meeting, but the deadline to submit items is noon of the prior Wednesday.

There are four discussion items, none of which pertains to the topic of outsourcing. They are City Council newsletter, outside counsel, crossing guards and ward town hall meetings. There is a provision in the city's special charter for the mayor to "take part in discussions of the Council" but not to initiate any. While he has spoken at times, collegiality does not always prevail and Rivers has cut him off at times, saying, "Moving right along ..." So we must wait to see how things go Tuesday.

The notion of dismissing the in-house Planning Division in favor of an outside consultant did not
 sit well with the Planning Board. In a discussion last Thursday, members questioned how it would work and agreed to send a letter to the governing body voicing their concerns. The board had not been informed of any such proposed action. Besides  the support the Planning Division gives the board in dealing with development applications, its staff also assists with the Capital Improvement plan, Community Development Block Grants, road work and related shade tree matters, other land use boards and general questions from residents.

I jumped the gun on another matter, thinking the Muhlenberg "in need of redevelopment" study would go to the council for possible action this month, but again due to the deadline for agenda submissions, it would have to wait until next month or be added with council approval as as a new item.

The discussion items noted above  could take a while Tuesday. The council newsletter came up last month as a concept, with few details. The "outside counsel" issue may be related to an investigation of the March 21 demolition on North Avenue that was halted when portions of the building being demolished fell on a restaurant next door. Crossing guards received a pay raise earlier in the year, but may have other issues. Town Hall meetings in each of the city's four wards are a tradition, though not usually held so late in the year.

Tuesday's agenda also includes annual liquor license renewals, which may cause some discussion, especially on the controversial former Richmond Beer Garden, now named Express Night Club. The Plainfield Police Division has recommended denial of the license renewal, as it did in April. In May, a council majority approved the license renewal, but later advertisements contradicted owner Luis Penaloza's claim that dancers would wear bathing suits.

The deadline for liquor license renewal was changed this year from June 30 to Sept. 18 to allow time for a conversion from paper documents to an electronic renewal system. More later on city liquor license renewals.



  1. It's 11:30 AM on Tuesday, the day of a City Council agenda session, and nobody seems to know what's going on with the issue of outsourcing the Planning Division. It would, in my opinion, be illegal for the Council even to discuss this tonight, or to have an executive session based on the "personnel" excuse, because it didn't make the agenda which is given to the public. I have multiple reasons to give as to why this proposal would be a terrible idea. But what I object to most of all is the possibility that I may feel I have to go to Council, instead of the Netherwood Heights meeting which I was planning to attend tonight, just because nobody seems to know what - if anything - is expected to transpire there. If the Mayor is angry about the South Avenue Gateway issue, sacking the Planning staff doesn't seem to be a very logical way of showing it. They weren't even minimally to blame for that.

    1. Maybe it’s not on the agenda because it’s a rumor not fact. Claim down.

  2. The Planning Division outsourcing plan was suggested before the PILOT was turned down. One has nothing to do with the other.

    Perhaps, this administration is just focusing on efficiency and making some changes to improve, which is, quite frankly, why I voted for the Mayor.

  3. William Michelson the planning outsourcing will be discussed tonight. The planning division requested that we be heard not in executing session but in public session. The administration wanted to hide us in executive session so that the public would not have the opportunity to ask question. GET THERE AROUND 6:30 SO YOU CAN HEAR WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO THE DEPARTMENT.

  4. Anyone that support the planning department please come to the meeting early. Please we need all of your help. Come for executive session the entire department requested to be heard in public.

  5. Thanks Ms. Paglia