Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Toliver, Rivers Denounce Budget

I sat up last night for hours pondering the City Council meeting and finally went to bed without posting. Here's my attempt to report on it:

The 2017 budget passed 5-2, with Bridget Rivers and Diane Toliver voting "no." Each one later made harsh comments, Rivers saying the budget was full of "slush" and "fluff." She objected to a $10,000 reserve item in the $83.4 million budget, saying it should "go toward the seniors." Toliver railed against an $11,000 raise "someone" was getting, also saying it should go to the seniors.

The senior issue was about a shift in responsibilities. City Administrator Rick Smiley explained that the administration made a "change in reporting," but Toliver and Rivers drilled away at who reported to whom at the Senior Center. Although rules forbid naming personnel in discussing the budget, the comments made it obvious that the titles involved were Superintendent of Recreation and Senior Center Director. Smiley told Toliver it was the administration's decision, but she retorted, "I'll speak to you after the meeting."

Later, two members of the Senior Center spoke in public comment. Mafalda James said programs were not better over the past six to eight months, describing delays in getting supplies for millinery and jewelry-making. She said members had been contributing toward the cost of supplies, but were told not to do so any more. The senior lunch program declined from 100 per day to 60, she said, calling other changes in the program "a smack in the face for all of us" and "unconscionable."

"Someone said, 'We know what you need.' You don't know what we need - don't try it," she said.

Senior Center member Carolyn Johnson said she did not understand the "restructuring" of the program.

"It's been in existence a long time," she said. "How come we need overseers?"

Toliver next pivoted to why landscapers can't take grass clippings to the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority. Public Works Director Oren K. Dabney said the PMUA is not a "Class C" facility that can take vegetative waste.

(I looked on the PMUA website for more information on whether vegetative waste can be accepted at the Rock  Avenue transfer station/Plainfield Environmental Resource Center and I am hoping to get to the 6 p.m. meeting tonight to ask whether the NJDEP still rates the facility as Class C. The Authority in recent years has contracted with other municipalities to accept vegetative waste and could lose a revenue stream if its status has changed.)

Toliver's inquiry reminded council members that they have not held a joint meeting with the PMUA for a while, and they will now look into scheduling one.

Although Rivers took up a lot of time with accusations such as "money hidden in pockets everywhere," she said "I am not up here campaigning."

Monday's council meeting was the last before the June 6 primary, where Rivers is one of four mayoral candidates. Two council seats are also on the ballot. At least two candidate forums have been announced (NAACP on May 21, League of Women Voters on May 31) at which voters can weigh the options.


  1. WOW! For Rivers to suggest that money is being hidden in the budget to sponsor some type of “slush fund” is insulting to the CBAC committee members. Me being one of them. I read the entire budget line by line and questioned anything I thought looked questionable, including the increase for the superintend of recreations. If Rivers accusations had any merit why didn’t her and Toilvers’ appointees to the committee bring this to light? Maybe because a hidden slush fund doesn’t exist and if you can’t prove it does, why make such an charge. Of course I would love to see a budget with absolutely no increases to property taxes, however, all things consider, Mr West and team did a great job in getting the budget completed and on time with a minimal increase to tax payers.


    1. RB I applaud your community involvement and know you ask good questions, but the CBAC report is light on questioning budgetary line items. Indeed, the section on recreation gives no hint that a salary increase was questioned. All I read is laudatory and uncritical comments on policies, nothing specific on the dollars and cents of proposed budget items.

    2. Anon at 10:55
      You are incorrect because the budget has all salaries, increases, vacancies and new positions in it and the CBAC received everything just like the council, they had big binders. One of the above was kind enough to show a couple of us what the binder looked like, a cover sheet with vacant, new etc. and then the tabs which show everything. At the budget hearings all the CBAC members and all council members were able to question any and every line in the budget. Councilwoman Rivers appointed Ray Edwards as her CBAC choice and he never raised a question about salaries of anyone. Rivers didnt raise a question about salaries of anyone and the Dept head and Division heads were all present and responded to all questions. There were not a lot of us residents there. On the last day when the report was read there were no dissenting reports offered by any of the CBAC members.

  2. Bridgette and her partner in crime, Toliver, need to make points as they are not doing well in the primary race. They both have done things for years to cause people not to trust them. Remember, they both agreed with everything Sharon wanted, even questionable spending. Should they be trusted and were they campaigning at the Council Meeting? That's for each voter to decide. I have trouble trusting anyone who gave Sharon cart-blanche to bring the city to the sad state it was in when she left the mayor's office.

    1. You should get your information correct. I dont think Toliver was a councilwoman under Sharon

  3. Bob then you should not trust Corey Storch either he Voted yes on everything Mayor Briggs asked for until Mapp decided he was going to run for Mayor.

  4. Anon,May 9,2017 at 1:06 PM, You are right people will give all kinds of false info and the sad thing is some people believe it. When Tracey Brown got on council Sharon only had about six months left if I recall .Bob please stop lying on people and I hope you have the decency to apologize to Toliver.

  5. Tracey Brown served as councilwoman beginning in Jan 2013 and served the entire year when Briggs was mayor. Briggs served her final year from January to December 2013, so your recollection Anon 2:54 is wrong. Brown served her entire term sitting in the chair but never really did anything of distinction as a councilwoman. She is a good preacher, I have visited her church a few times but she is out of her area of interest in running government, that showed all the time since she never proposed anything or introduced any legislation on the council. And now with no record of anything as a councilwoman she wants to be mayor. I hope people aren't fool enough to vote for mayor because someone is a good preacher.

  6. I am not a big fan of preachers in Politics, and although I have great respect and admiration for Rev. Brown because I know her personally I hope she gives this political stuff up. She does great community service, she is a great humanitarian, and does great mission work foreign and domestic, that is her calling not politics .Officer, she is more and better than just a good preacher. Please do not insult the intelligence of the residents of Plainfield who would not elect a mayor just because they are a "Good Preacher"