Monthly Archives: December 2007

Mayor Palmer on residency in 2006

It has been my longstanding policy to require residency for City employees. Many people have asked me to relax this policy, but I feel very strongly about it for a number of reasons.

First, I want to give residents every opportunity for employment in the city where they live. I believe we have a talent pool that can provide the right experience and expertise for many positions.

Second, for certain specific jobs that require expertise that is less common or more field specific, I advertise statewide to find the right person. However, these individuals are required to live in Trenton, because I believe that if you are going to work for the City, you need to know the City and be a part of the community.

Third, I believe this city is a desirable place to live and work. It is also a city that critically needs its middle-income base of residents who have more of the disposable income that positively affects our city as a whole. I would especially want Police Officers, Firefighters and Teachers to live in the City, to get to know the communities they serve and have a vested interest in Trenton.

Unfortunately, I am preempted by State law to require these employees to live in our city. However, I am certain that if this critical mass of public servants did live in our city, our neighborhoods and schools would be better stabilized, and, we likely would have much less need to have a residency requirement in the first place.

That having been said, we are seeing much success in being able to attract market rate homebuyers who choose to invest and live in Trenton. They reside in neighborhoods all over our city.

– Mayor Douglas H. Palmer, spring of 2006



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Which is it, Mr. Palmer?

One line of questioning that has been conspicuously absent in media coverage of the ongoing controversy of Police Director Joseph Santiago’s non-residency in Trenton is clarification over Mayor Douglas H. Palmer’s often misleading and contradictory statements over the city’s residency ordinance.

The city executive initially stated that he believed he did indeed have the power to grant extra-legal waivers to city employees for special reasons, in Santiago’s case citing continued harassment and threats and a curious inability to afford a home in Trenton.

Mayor Palmer has threatened continued court action and mounting lawyer’s fees should the council move to use their statutory ability to remove the director for his continued violation of city law.

Then the mayor said the ordinance warranted revision, due to what he called the law’s confusing nature, supporting calls for an amendment to the law proposed by his right-hard man on City Council, President Paul Pintella.

Well, which is it mayor?

First the mayor comes in an angered and irritated state to City Council, threatening to drag out the matter in the court due to your sovereign right to grant waivers that are nowhere enumerated within the law.

Then he advocates revising the ordinance to include provisions legalizing waivers through an advice and consent procedure similar to many mayoral appointments.

This constant contradictory braying – by someone who continues to maintain an image of some sort of strutting ass – sure makes it sound like Mayor Palmer doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

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Battle lines drawn at council Thursday

Public outcry over the Joseph Santiago residency-flap reached the boiling point tonight at City Council, with the governing body listening to numerous residents speak out against the illegal nightmare that continues to haunt Trenton municipal government.

Council members were informed of the imminence of a lawsuit seeking the ouster of Mr. Santiago because of continued disregard of the city’s residency law for city employees, to be filed by residents sickened by the city’s inability to even follow the most simplest of laws and procedues in a fair and legal fashion.

Also, a petition of around 700 signatures was shown to council, after being gathered over the last five days.

Palmer administration influence – in the form of discussions about amending the ordinance to provide a legal avenue for the mayor to grant waivers to favored employees – was also dealt a death-blow Thusday.

The residents assured the council that any such measures would be quickly met with a second, official protest petition with an expressed goal of putting an amended and weakened residency law to a citizen vote, and then in the trash can.

Residents from Villa Park, Wilbur II, Chambersburg, Franklin Park, South Trenton, Mill Hill, Glen Afton, and the Island gathered the informal first-run of the petition, which was distributed with an eye to evaluating just how effective city residents could gather voter signatures in the event of a true threat, like the proposed ordinance amendments.

Simultaneously, a petition/lawsuit committee is being formed, with a dual nature of overseeing a second official petition drive and forming an official body of plaintiffs for the citizen-based lawsuit seeking to vacate the office of Police Director, held illegally by Mr. Santiago.

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Permanent waiver issued by King Palmer

Mayor Douglas H. Palmer flouted the law and the will of City Council even more Thursday by extending his already-illegal waiver of the city’s residency law for Police Director Jospeh Santiago even further, to the end of his term as mayor, according to the Times of Trenton.

Despite the language of the law – which enumerates no special waiver of any kind unless the office was vacant – Mayor Palmer continued on his President Bush-like agenda further today, announcing that his extra-legal waiver had been extended until the spring of 2010.

Mayor Palmer and his minions, including Chief of Staff Renee Haynes, continue to spew extra-legal mumbo-jumbo about granting extended waivers and implicitly stating that Trenton’s City Council is somehow in understanding of this illegal political law-bending.

“This was not a rash decision nor should it have been,” said Ms. Haynes, in a statement in the Times Thursday.

At this point every resident and voter in Trenton should be convinced of their executive’s continued pissing and shitting on the City Code and the New Jersey Constitution.

Mayor Palmer seems to think that he has some sort of sovereign power to bend the law, while inflicting residency law-based punishment on city employees who do not toe the Palmer line, while simultaneously making special exceptions to politically favored city employees, like Mr. Santiago.

The mayor should have an interesting awakening on Thursday at City Council, when residents who support the existing ordinance show up to make a strong and concerted statement.

The lawsuit planned for the following week should also pack quite a punch.

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Mayor Palmer: teenage girls threaten us

The perpetrators of threatening phone calls made to the home of West Ward Councilwoman Annette Lartigue were none other than three teenage girls from Trenton and Hamilton, who apparently called the city representative by accident.

The councilwoman received around 30 of the phone calls last week, which were filled with homicidal threats and curse words and caused the Trenton Police Department to begin monitoring the home of Ms. Lartigue, similar to the way police are required to protect the oft-empty second home of Mayor Douglas H. Palmer, who lives with his family in Hunterdon County.

“A lot of people, including myself, Police Director Joseph Santiago and others are under assault by people who threaten our homes, families, and personal welfare,” said Mayor Palmer of the teenage girls in Tuesday’s Trentonian.

The report of the attacks and their perpetrators prompted Mayor Palmer to state that he and Police Director Joseph Santiago, who also lives illegally outside the city, receive similar threats, necessitating the police presence at the mayor’s empty Buckingham Avenue home and the director’s continued residence in a $650,000 Morris County home far away from Trenton, in violation of the city’s residency ordinance.

The residency flap should come front-and-center again on Thursday, with Councilman Jim Coston and others on council set to introduce a new resolution that has been described as “palatable” to residents who support the continued existence, and renewed enforcement of the law.

A large contingent of community activists, working through the city’s remaining civic associations, has been circulating an informal petition among residents who support the continued existence – without amendment – of the ordinance, and reject the continued employment of any public servant in clear violation of the letter and spirit of the law.

That petition should be delivered to council sometime during their Thursday meeting, with a promise to circulate another official protest petition should the governing body move to amend the law, as has been discussed, sometime in the future. That official petition would carry a goal of striking down any watered-down exception-laden ordinance through forcing a special election, where the law could be put to a vote.

The law requires city employees, regardless of seniority or political favor, to maintain a bona fide residence within Trenton city limits, where they take meals at night, where their family lives, and where they are registered to vote.

Mr. Santiago has never complied with this law, and Mayor Palmer maintains that he waived Mr. Santiago’s need to comply because of threats made to the director, and unforeseen housing costs that made the director – with his six-figure salary – unable to purchase a $200,000 home in the Mill Hill neighborhood

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Guest Piece: Nicholas Stewart of South Trenton

Dear Trentonians,

Please join me in asking Trenton’s government to explain the recently resolved matter involving Trenton-Trigen (a power company on the corner of New Warren and Livingston Streets behind the ‘new’ Mercer County Courthouse).

Quick note, just because a matter has been resolved, City Council has the authority to revisit the matter, assuming a motion passes regarding the same.

In 1982, Trenton lent the Trenton District Energy Company (TDEC) $3,880,000. The loan was being repaid until TDEC experienced financial difficulty and stopped making payments to Trenton. For a time, Trenton did nothing. Later, in 1987, the debt was restructured into an equity position. In short, the city became a ‘special’ limited partner with TDEC or another company, known as Thermal North America Inc. (TNAI) Whichever, currently Trenton is in the energy distribution business.

The equity position translates, as I understand it, into a 15% annual share of net profits for a period of 30 years – January 1987 through January 2017. A ‘paper’ capital account was created and at its inception on January 1, 1987 it held a value of $4,313,000. By the way, that is $433,000 more than the initial loan amount forgetting that TDEC/TNAI defaulted on loan payments to Trenton and also discounts interest and inflation.

This is where my ears perked up when I heard the matter presented by Trenton Assistant Business Administrator Dennis Gonzalez at the November 20 City Council docket review meeting. Trenton Business Administrator Jane Feigenbaum was also present.

Trenton’s administration, allegedly to fill a budget deficit, negotiated a deal to sell Trenton’s share in Trenton-Trigen to the partners of TNAI for $5,175,000. Another interesting note is that TNAI offered to buy our share of the net profits for $3,100,000. Fortunately, Trenton’s Business Administrators negotiated a deal for $5.175MM.

Quickly reviewing the numbers:

$3,880,000: initial loan to TDEC

$3,100,000: initial offer to buy back Trenton’s share

$5,175,000: negotiated price by Trenton

$4,313,000: value of ‘paper’ capital account at inception, 1/1/1987

$8,400,000: current value of ‘paper’ capital account, 11/20/2007

$13,400,000: value of ‘paper’ capital account on 1/1/2017 (presumed future value)

$5,000,000: difference between current and presumed value

So, in 20 years of profit sharing with TNAI (actually the current owner of Trenton-Trigen who will be mentioned moving forward), the ‘paper’ capital account has not even doubled in value.

More numbers (again, using averages and not factoring compounding interest or inflation):

$8,400,000 – $4,313,000 = $4,087,000: value of profit sharing over 20 years

Is this not a little low?

$4,087,000 / 20 = $204,350: contribution to ‘paper’ capital account annually

Where x = Net Profits, then .15x = $204,350 and therefore x = $1,362,333 annual net profits (average)

I find it hard to believe that this energy company is clearing a little over one million dollars annually.

I am in pursuit of some answers. I simply want this deal explained to me. I simply want City Council to ask pointed questions about this already negotiated deal. I might add that City Council was not aware of this transaction until City Council convened for the docket review. Shock and awe.

Trenton and its ‘special’ partner should bring in the company’s books to prove this is the best deal. I have reservations about completing this transaction, but I am willing to listen to an explanation. I hope the members of City Council will also want to know more about this transaction.

This may be of no real importance, but while searching throughout the Trenton-Trigen website I found a press release dated 6/12/2007.

It can be found at this link:

In it, TNAI announced that an agreement had been reached with Veolia Energy Inc. Veolia will be purchasing the Trigen Companies (there are several throughout the U.S.) from TNAI. From my experience in business, which is limited, entities rarely agree to close deals while there are existing partnerships involving claims on capital, intellectual property, net profits, etc.

So, my final question is: did Trenton approach TNAI to buy back our 15% share of Trenton-Trigen net profits. Or did TNAI approach Trenton, offering a slight $3.1MM initially, and this is a convenient time to complete the transaction since we have a budget deficit somewhere in the vicinity of $5,000,000.

I urge Trentonians to ask their elected council members about this deal. Ask them to ask questions at their meetings. Ask them to ask for all documentation involving Trenton and Trenton-Trigen. Ask them to do their job, and then Trenton’s administration will do their job.

The current value of the ‘paper’ capital account is $8,400,000. If Trenton sells its share now, considering the nature of the resultant equity position’s creation, I believe we should not settle for less than $8,400,000.

I attempt to keep up with Trenton’s business dealings. This can be a challenge due to my lack of experience, but I always find it interesting. Trenton is preparing to sell assets to fill budget deficits all the while reducing city revenues through awarding Payments In-Lieu of Taxes (PILOT). Recently, City Council awarded a 40 year PILOT to a developer. The State of New Jersey will not and can not support Trenton moving forward. We need to hold onto what is ours, referring to income generating assets, and ensure proper care of the same. We need to provide developers with a better incentive to build here than zero to low taxes: a safe city. Safe isn’t cheap, but at least it ensures a future.

Above, I used my sense and understanding of the information as I know it. I fear irregularities regarding this transaction. I ask to be corrected should I be wrong.

Nicholas I. Stewart

Vice President

South Trenton Area Residents Society

Lamberton Street

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Council seeks legal representation

Some City Council members are seeking legal representation in the lead-up to what could be a protracted legal battle over the residency of Police Director Joseph Santiago, according to numerous media reports today.

Councilman Jim Coston – who has been spearheading the residency effort – curiously said he believed the city’s Special Counsel Joseph Alacqua would be representing the governing body, and that he had not begun a search for a lawyer.

Mr. Alacqua does frequently advise City Council at their regular meetings, but he has previously advised council that they do not have the ability to challenge any waiver by the mayor, and that he could not comment publicly in the Santiago case, citing a conflict of interest during at least one council meeting.

Mayor Douglas H. Palmer responded to reports of council members seeking legal counsel by imploring the body to move to amend the ordinance, giving the mayor some ability to grant a waiver to Police Director Joseph Santiago and other city employees so they need not follow city law and reside, with their families, within Trenton city limits.

“I stick with my assessment that the police director should live here,” said Mr. Coston in Wednesday’s Trentonian. “I would not consider changing that ordinance.”

Mayor Palmer has threatened legal proceedings and court costs paid by city coffers in the event the council moved to remove the director, saying the ordinance somehow states he has the ability to waive the law for the director, who says gang threats and housing costs prevented him from moving to Trenton.

But the mayor has not enlightened council or the public, as one might expect him to do, as to where in the law it specifically provides for the mayor to grant long-term waivers long after the director’s initial appointment.

Save us loads of money, Mayor Palmer, and show us the law!

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