Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer fired back at a City Council and resident-led attack on the city’s controversial Police Director, Joseph Santiago, saying the mayor does have the right to grant a waiver to the director allowing him to live outside of the city, in violation of city law.
“While I support the Constitution, I believe I am well within my legal rights to grant Director Santiago this waiver,” said Mayor Palmer in a statement in today’s Trentonian.
The mayor also has received the legal support of the city’s Law Department, with Special Counsel Joseph Alacqua telling City Council and the press that the council has no ability to challenge or remove a director based upon Mr. Santiago’s circumstances.
Both statements fly in the face of the laws that govern municipalities like Trenton, which are governed under the Faulkner Act. The law specifically gives the council the ability to remove municipal personnel for cause, which in this case is the director’s residency status.
On top of that, the residency ordinance itself only grants waivers in the case of unfilled positions that would be a detriment to the city if left unfilled, according to the word of the law. Mr. Santiago’s position was never unfilled, and the waiver was not granted until several years after his appointment, in clear violation of the law.
Sources say that council is now developing some kind of resolution that will demand Mr. Santiago repair his residency situation in a timely manner, or face removal, through a vote requiring at least five yeas as enumerated within Trenton City Code and the Faulkner Act.
That could come up as early as Tuesday.