Palmer: I granted numerous illegal waivers
Mayor Douglas H. Palmer admitted to granting numerous invalid waivers to city employees while harshly enforcing the law against others, in a letter sent to City Council members Thursday.
The letter effectively threatens City Council with the termination of many of these illegally-employed city workers if council members do not move ahead and enact a waiver provision to city law, effectively legitimizing what has apparently been going on improperly and behind the scenes in Trenton’s morally bankrupt administration.
Previously Mayor Palmer has said he needed a waiver provision to exempt high-ranking department directors, but in his letter he expresses a desire to be able to legally exempt lower-ranking city employees.
The letter fails to note that because of Mayor Palmer’s defense of labelling the residency law invalid, the court struck down the portion of the law regarding granting waivers for residency.
“Since the court’s decision, we have reviewed personnel files to determine if any employees were currently under a grace period. In so doing, several employees were found to have invalid waivers,” wrote Mayor Palmer. “Nevertheless – based on the court’s decision and the council’s apparent lack of urgency to reinstate a waiver provision – these employees too, must b immediately terminated.”
Several points jump out of the letter.
First, it seems the mayor is threatening the council with being responsible for the firing of the employees.
But as a rule that Palmer administration officials know and actively enforce, any non-resident city employee is not to be employed. Being a municipality that has a residency ordinance, any potential or otherwise hired employee should know that they are subject to termination if they are no longer residents.
It is not the fault of council if the Palmer administration continually and actively enforces the law, unevenly and subjectively.
Secondly, Mayor Palmer states that the waiver provision has been used many times, by administrations prior to his own.
This is completely untrue. The waiver provision was never used, according to former City Attorney George Dougherty, until Police Director Joseph Santiago received an illegal and improper one that resulted in his removal from office at the hands of a judge.
The waiver provision is therefore so unnecessary that it has never been used – at least properly – a single time.
Further, Mayor Palmer admitted to City Council that Mr. Santiago was the only employee to ever get a waiver, “because he asked for one,” Mayor Palmer said, in City Council chambers in the fall of 2007.
Trenton simply does not need this waiver provision.
Also untrue, is Mr. Palmer’s talk of grace periods.
There are no grace periods in Trenton. Once someone is an employee, they must live here. That much is plain and simple.
If Palmer administration officials have been illegally employing city workers, it needs to tell these employees to move in, or enforce the law as quickly and effectively as it has done in the past and is currently doing against several city water utility employees.
City Council should not back down because of these idiotic and facetious scare tactics.
Mayor Palmer and his administration, through their active enforcement and sworn dedication to the residency ordinance, created this situation. They should not be allowed to lie, cheat, and contradict themselves to change a time-tested and important city law, and get out of that situation.
You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.
*It may be time to get those recall petitions going. This man has now lied repeatedly, and admitted to breaking the oath of his office he has now taken four times as Trenton’s mayor, to uphold city law. Taking him out of office bears serious consideration.