Trenton enjoyed a somewhat delirious day on Monday.
A city afflicted with a serious public safety problem was delivered from its mayor’s deliberate politicization of the police force through the ouster of its dubious police director.
Capt. Fred Reister, a longtime officer and police administrator, was appointed acting police director following the sudden resignation of the previous holder of that office, better known as residency-law violator Joseph Santiago.
The Times of Trenton’s recollection of events had a mayor beset by grief, forced into appointing a new police leader out of necessity without regard to the very residency law that ousted the very previous director.
Yet that recollection bears further consideration, in that Mayor Douglas H. Palmer is truly the maker of his own bed.
Despite the fact that he was given 75 days to find a suitable candidate to replace Mr. Santiago from the deep pool of city-based talent, Mayor Palmer chose instead to wait until the last minute, and appoint a non-resident, acting director.
His decision on the appropriate use of that 75-day period was to settle on feigning like the decision was forced upon him, due to what is an obviously false lack of administrative skill among residents dwelling within the city limits.
Residents of the City of Trenton, despite the current pleas of Mayor Palmer and the current news coverage, must recognize that the legal wranglings going on about the “acting” director who has now taken power are nothing more than a ploy to secure the power to circumvent the city’s residency ordinance for the mayor of Trenton.
This strategy is designed to restore the power to exempt city employees from residency, which the mayor lost through his own legal defense during the residency battle over Mr. Santiago.
Mayor Palmer, in choosing to espouse a view that he can suspend and execute city laws at will, caused a Mercer County Superior Court judge to invalidate the waiver portions of the residency law.
But the mayor is now trying to get the very council he faced off with in court to restore those abilities, through an ordinance amendment, as if the long legal and political battle he waged with council members carried no meaning.
At this point, it would behoove council members to avoid supporting residency amendments and other changes, which appear to be nothing more than the questionable political inclinations of a mayor who has demonstrated a preference for fighting his own constituents in court, rather than addressing his own city’s problems.
For now, residency amendments and the like should be put off until the point when the city’s lengthy list of problems are addressed, including the possible closure of libraries.