Concerned citizens showed up in droves for City Council’s doubleheader session Thursday, finally getting a chance to address the council after the governing body worked through several hours of a month’s worth of council work.
Given a chance to speak nearly five hours after the start of the proceedings, a group of Trenton residents addressed City Council and implored them to start doing their legal duties set forth in the Code of the City of Trenton.
The group had been much larger around 4 p.m., but the lengthened docket session took so long that many residents were forced to go home.
Stuyvesant Avenue resident Zach Chester addressed the body and pointed out that despite requests for investigations into the work of the administration regarding the stalled Trenton Town Center development, the council and Council President Paul Pintella shirked their duties as representatives of the people.
Mr. Pintella never replied to a letter sent by Mr. Chester, failing to do so within the 60 days outlined in portions of the city ordinances. Mr. Chester scolded the city governing body for failing to do their duties as elected representatives of the people.
“As the city council you have the ability to question members of the administration and demand reports on their duties, and even vote to have them removed,” said Mr. Chester. He said this action showed the council not performing their legally-mandated duties.
Walnut Avenue resident Dion Clark, usually outspoken at City Council meetings, refrained from speaking, simply carrying a large sign imploring the council members to start remembering the people they represented in Trenton.
Other residents commented that members of the administration, including Chief of Staff Renee Haynes and Business Administrator Jane Feigenbaum, had bullied councilmen Jim Coston and Geno Melone about their requests for information regarding ordinances increasing the minimum number of police officers.
This followed along the same lines as Mr. Chester’s speech, showing council members forgetting their rights and duties to question the actions of the administration.
Residents at the meeting said they heard members of the administration further trying to hide public information about the officers protecting the streets of Trenton, despite that information being readily available publicly.
“We would be willing to discuss information about that in executive session,” said Ms. Haynes, speaking with Mr. Melone about police coverage information. “That is confidential.”
Residents after resident implored the council to move forward with legislation increasing police staffing, especially considering the city’s $8 million police overtime bill.
Members of council and administration, including Mr. Pintella and Ms. Feigenbaum, had previously called the problem contractual and said they didn’t know if more officers would address the cry for more staffing.
One Chestnut Avenue resident, and most of the others in the room rejected this response outright.
“I called the police and dispatch put me on hold, because they were too busy,” said the Chambersburg resident. “Hire more officers!”
This swell of discontent about the actions of City Council, and the rest of the city government, seems to continually increase with each day.
The message Thursday to council was loud and clear: start legislating and doing their duties as representatives of Trentonians or face increasing scrutiny and outcry, and the application of drastic political measures.