First, let me begin by thanking my colleagues for the trust and confidence they have placed in me by choosing to elect me as their leader for the 2012 council year. Also, let me extend to all of you here, and to all of the residents of Plainfield, a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
We want, very much, to work cooperatively and collaboratively with the Mayor and her administration to improve the quality of life for all citizen, through enhancements to our public safety across all neighborhoods, proper enforcement of our property maintenance codes, and major improvements to our decaying network of roads.
We also intend to pursue greater partnerships with our other governmental entities such as the BOE, the PHA and the PMUA by way of meaningful shared services agreements. We are asking the Mayor to work with the Council to create shared service arrangements that will advance the goals of City Hall, the Board of Education and other governmental entities.
The Council stands with you to make this happen. To that end we propose the establishment of a Shared Services Committee with representation from the council, the administration, Board of Education, the PMUA, the Plainfield Housing Authority and the Plainfield Public Library. The purpose of this committee would be to identify opportunities for shared services and to make recommendations on how to best leverage resources to reduce cost and improve services.
Also, I have asked the Clerk’s office to reach out to the BOE to arrange a joint meeting between the BOE and the governing body, the agenda will be determined jointly by the two bodies.
Our Senior Citizens have been on the frontline of every battle of every kind that has been fought on every front; they have paid their dues. Colleagues, I ask you to join me in the creation of the Council’s Senior of the Year Recognition Award, an award that will go to one of our seniors for his or her service and dedication to our city and our nation.
Council members: we have an opportunity to appoint a commissioner to the Plainfield Housing Authority this year. Let’s make sure this person brings something positive to the table and is supportive of the redevelopment of Elmwood Gardens; a person that understands the role of a commissioner and who does not seek to cross the boundary that should exist between the commission and employees.
Let's work closely with the Union County One Stop Career Center; let’s create a jobs friendly ordinance aimed at creating employment opportunities for Plainfielders. Every redevelopment project and project funded with government money should go to the One Stop Career Center located in the Park Madison Complex to find Plainfielders who need jobs. Development has begun in our downtown; therefore, the time is right for us to pass an ordinance, in 2012, that makes job creation a reality.
Council members: let's press the Mayor and her administration to take more aggressive actions on bars that serve liquor to patrons that break the law and disturb the peace. We serve as the Alcoholic Beverage Control board and we must insist that police and code enforcement do whatever is necessary to clean up these establishments or put them out of business. We cannot afford to continually send our police officers to break up bar fights; they have more important work to do protecting our residents and making our neighborhoods safe places to live and work.
There have been many discussions during the past year about ownership of the 4.7 miles of highway known as Rt 28 that runs through our city. An agreement that dates back to 1927 placed responsibility for the upkeep of Rt 28 on the backs of Plainfield’s tax payers; it is an agreement that is now beyond our ability to bear. Hence, one of our goals for 2012 is to work with our 22nd district representatives to have legislation introduced that would seek to return Rt 28 to its rightful owner, the State of NJ.
As elected officials, we must be willing to be a part of the shared sacrifices that we are asking of our citizens and tax payers. To this end, the 2012 council will introduce legislation to end health benefits for all elected officials. Additionally, I will propose a Lame Duck Ordinance that will preclude lame duck legislators from attending seminars and conferences at the city's expense.
During the first one hundred days of this year we intend to adopt a capital ordinance that will result in the rebuilding of several of our roads; we will also encourage the administration to use our in-house equipment to preserve the life of our roads through the use of tarring and sealing techniques, and we will provide the financial resources to do so.
Transparency is something that we strongly believe in, that is why our council meetings can be seen on television. We want to expand this service by taping the meetings of the PMUA for broadcast on our cable channels. Additionally, we will work on creating a program that will give each member of the council an opportunity to address the community via 30-minute recorded interviews.
Let me say this: there is no partnership with the Council more important than the one between Mayor and Council. In 2011 the Council saw fit to increase its oversight on the Mayor and her administration. Whether this continues, increases or decreases depends on the level of transparency, mutual trust and respect. Let's all be honest, there is a huge need for improvement, and there are no easy fixes. I call for an improvement process that will lead to a revised schedule for the timely submission of resolutions for the council’s agenda and for an agreement which will result in directors and senior managers meeting with the various council committees. Today I am extending an invitation to the Mayor to meet with the Finance and Administration Committee to work out an agreement.
The people of Plainfield deserve a 2012 that is better than 2011. Therefore, let’s get to work forging meaningful partnerships, improving on our constituent services, delivering on our promises and delivering results. Again, happy New Year, and may God bless each and every one of you.