Residency controversy continued its role as the albatross of Trenton’s city government with Monday’s release of some damning photos that provide visual evidence of the continued abuse of city laws, city vehicles, and city-funded gasoline by a relative newcomer to the Trenton scene.
Two different vehicles of Acting Communications Director Irving Bradley were shown at his alleged new address within the City of Trenton at the Broad Street Bank building during the workweek, but then one of those same city vehicles was shown over the weekend at what is purported to be Mr. Bradley’s old home address in Rahway, nearly 40 miles away.
The important thing here is that Mr. Bradley and his family would have completely moved out of Rahway and into the Broad Street Bank apartment to comply with the city’s residency ordinance, or else he would face immediate termination at the hands of the city’s personnel department.
This same issue is exactly why Police Director Joseph Santiago – who happened to have work with Mr. Bradley in Newark – could soon be dismissed from his position for feigning residence in the city and then later refusing to move into Trenton to comply with the law.
The story of Mr. Bradley’s flouting of the residency law just continues the long line of people under the Palmer administration who demonstrate the attitude that the law does not apply to them when they hold the favor of Mayor Palmer or his higher cabinet members, like Mr. Santiago.
More residency controversy is sure to only further divide the city and spark further discussion about amending the city’s residency laws, but those who suggest doing so fail to see the reason for having such a law, and the importance of maintaining the current law, or even strengthening it.
Trenton’s current impoverished and dilapidated condition only came about with the flight of industry and the middle class out of the city, which was then followed by housing programs that cemented many of the region’s poor within the city’s borders.
The residency ordinance serves to keep a solid base of middle-class wage earners inside the city limits, providing for at least some mixed incomes and keeping the city alive economically, at the bare minimum.
Without the residency ordinance a group of 2,000 people earning some of the better salaries in the city would likely flee for the borders, leaving the city in more economic turmoil that it is already experiencing.
A lesser benefit of the residency ordinance is that it makes those in public service positions actually share in the interests of the community, likely working harder towards improving a community in which they have a greater stake.
People advocating for a weakened ordinance or its elimination forget exactly why the ordinance was enacted – by a citizen’s referendum in the late 1960s – and how Trenton got into its current condition.
The flight of the middle class and business has only accelerated since those times, and for Trenton to turn that around it will likely require development and the reconstruction of neighborhoods ruined by the scourge of poverty, and the addition of attractions that bring people into the city.
Weakening residency will only allow people to go the other way, right out of Trenton.