Trenton South Ward Councilman James Coston said Monday that City Council continually deals with an administration that withholds information, forcing council to utilize Open Public Records Act requests and other methods to acquire information that department heads are legally required to provide council.
“Utilizing OPRA and repetitive voicing of this lack of cooperation between branches seems to be the only options at hand,” said Councilman Coston in a statement on his Web site. “More to the point, why does the Administration stifle, a la Dick Cheney, the distribution of information?”
“Open discussion with a free flow of information will, in most cases, bolster Administration policy and action,” he added.
People familiar with the situation, working in previous governments, called the situation embarrassing, saying it shows the current City Council is not doing its job as the voice of the people.
For the protection of the city residents who elected them – and help for council in crafting the appropriate legislation – City Council is armed with the ability to demand timely information and reports from department heads.
They even have the power to fire personnel with a majority vote, which is something that is an important check and balance and a very “American” feature of the government.
Yet City Council members allow the other branch of the government, especially Business Administrator Jane Feigenbaum, to withhold information and force Councilman Coston to use OPRA requests as a mean of getting information he requires to DO HIS JOB.
If I were City Council, the next time a Palmer administration department head forced one of my peers to use OPRA, I would provide them with this tidbit:
“The next time I am forced to use OPRA to get information from your office will be the last time you work as an employee of Trenton City.”