NJ court empowers residents

With yesterday’s ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court, residents from Trenton and other Faulkner Act municipalities now have the ability to put all types of city ordinances on the ballot to be overturned, after the high court ruled cities cannot challenge referendum because of the category of ordinance.

These tactics are just what Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer did when his henchmen convinced a judge to end a referendum by classifying an ordinance – which eliminated certain Trenton Police Department positions – as an administrative one rather than legislative ordinance, temporarily stopping the referendum efforts.

Wednesday’s court ruling now ends that ability of city governments to go circumvent the will of the residents by categorizing ordinances as administrative, and therefore protecting them.

Trenton residents who were involved in the original September 2004 referendum push may not have any reason to put the referendum back on the ballot, because the three deputy chiefs whose positions were eliminated by the Palmer ordinance previously retired.

But the ruling does mean Trenton residents should seriously consider petitioning any extremely questionable ordinance that gets passed by City Council.

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