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!