The public comment period at Trenton City Council’s Thursday meeting saw city residents making impassioned pleas to their council representatives to start standing up to the city administration, under Mayor Douglas H. Palmer.
The source of the concern was a plan to shut down the city’s branch libraries due to budget problems, but residents used that issue to expand on the various ills they see with the misguided and faltering Palmer administration.
Resident Rafeal Valentin said the closure of the city’s four branch libraries would be an abandonment of Trenton’s children, which he declared the city’s most important resource. Mr. Valentin mentioned that Mayor Palmer, during his first term in office in 1990, unveiled a grand vision for the city that had its basis in the city’s youth.
“But that’s a vision which is no longer a reality,” Mr. Valentin said.
Others attacked the city’s bloated administration, noting that a city that has seen decades of population decline and a shrinking of tax ratables continues to operate with excessive layers of bureaucracy, accented at the top with an unnecessary assistant business administrator, chief of staff, mayor’s aide, and driver-protection detail for the city’s missing mayor.
Regarding the libraries, residents told City Council to step up to the plate and begin demanding answers from the administration, regarding library finances and all of the other city operations. One told council members that they had failed to use their statutory abilities to investigate, interrogate, and hold administration officials accountable through the power of thorough questioning.
Council members were told that while foundations and other entities were being created to support the libraries, little money would be forthcoming until the current membership of the library Board of Trustees was turned over and filled with new faces.
Right now, the cronies and associates of Mayor Palmer filling the membership of the board have run the library system into the ground and frittered away millions of dollars in an endowment that has all but disappeared.
In other council news, members who were set to vote upon $180,000 in contracts to various outside law firms could not get the information they wanted regarding the appropriations from administration officials, and moved to table the measures until the proper information could be secured.
Council members announced that they would hold a special council hearing on the library system on Tuesday, Sept. 23.