Confusion is the appropriate word to describe the feeling that emerges when one is confronted with an instance in which legislators call out a few of their own for taking action to ensure they have the tools necessary to do their job.
That is a fairly accurate description of what City Council members Annette Lartigue, Paul Pintella, and Cordelia Staton did Thursday, when the other four council members – Milford Bethea, Jim Coston, Gino Melone, and Manny Segura – finally stood up the administration’s constant abuse and lack of respect.
The four voted to put a stop to council voting on the Thursday docket.
They basically told officials under Mayor Douglas H. Palmer to take the docket and shove it until a time when administration officials begin providing timely responses to council requests for information like the request in question, made by Mr. Coston regarding police costs and what the city incurrs for guarding Mayor Palmer’s oft-empty house in Hiltonia.
While the supporters of the City Council work stoppage deserve credit for their thoughtful actions, the more important focus should be on the other three representatives who don’t seem to understand the job they have been tasked with as City Council members.
That hypothesis was quite evident in some of the reactions from the three slower council officials, like when Ms. Lartigue actually accused the other members of “collusion” in organizing the council vote prior to the meeting that stopped the passage of legislative measures.
Such accusastions betray a frightening disconnect between the job description of City Council members and the actual conduct of a small faction of council officials.
Having proper knowledge to actually deliberate on matters coming before council is crucial to how council members carry out their duties, in that their specific job is to discuss, write, and vote with the interests of their constituents at heart. They are not a vestigial body that ceremonially votes on city business without having a proper understanding of what’s before them.
Yet it seems like the three council members who continue to fail in holding the administration accountable prefer council to take the latter role, as a ceremonial body, versus the former, as an effective deliberative body that makes the best decisions for Trenton’s residents.
If that is their take on what City Council is meant to do, then they need to step down from the dais immediately and let other potential council representatives take a seat.
More importantly, any new members ought to be more like the four members who stepped up for the public interest Thursday, in putting a stop to the disrespect and nonchalant attitude of administration officials that effectively damages the the proper functioning of this city’s government.