It’s unfortunate that the valiant work done by many on The Times of Trenton’s talented reporting staff is frequently undermined, overshadowed, and ignored by the fools in charge of writing the paper’s editorials.
The reporters and the paper’s readership deserve well-written, educated opinion pieces that actually heed the paper’s reporting, rather than the drivel that occasionally indicates some sort of perverted allegiance to Trenton’s misguided mayor, Douglas H. Palmer.
This kind of garbage emerged over the weekend, with Sunday’s editorial that called upon City Council members to either scrap the city’s longstanding residency ordinance or do the impossible, and circumvent state law that exempts police, fire, and teaching personnel from residency requirements.
This editorial spin comes as the reins of the Trenton Police Department have been handed over to Capt. Fred Reister, who is now leading the department in an acting capacity after former Police Director Joseph Santiago was ousted for living outside of Trenton.
The first indication of spin was that Sunday’s editorial, in questioning Mr. Reister’s appointment as a residency-exempt sworn police officer, ignored the fact that City Council is powerless against relieving the exemptions of fireman, policeman, and teachers from residency.
It is common knowledge that those exemptions are grounded in superseding state law that would require legislation to undo, which is totally out of the realm of Trenton City Council’s power and duties.
Again using the temporary appointment of Capt. Reister, a non-resident, The Times took the position that the city has conducted some sort of search for appropriate police leadership, but came up empty, meaning the residency must be relaxed or eliminated to find suitable leaders.
The Times and Mayor Palmer act as if Trenton has deteriorated so badly that there is no one in the city with the qualifications to lead the police department. But the reality is that a lack of candidates is due to politics, and the blame for that lies squarely on the shoulders of Mayor Palmer.
With all due respect to Trenton’s mayor and The Times’ editorial writers, Trenton is actually holding on, and a thorough search would have surely located plenty of qualified candidates. There must be dozens of men and women looking to lead a large department and earn a six-figure salary, even if it meant moving into the city and becoming part of our community.
But no one in the administration made an effort to seek out such candidates.
Mayor Palmer readily admitted that as a court-ordered 75-day period prior to Mr. Santiago’s ouster dwindled and expired last week, the administration made no effort to find a successor with the qualifications to lead the department and a willingness to live in Trenton.
What’s actually occurring, is that a situation brought on wholly by the arrogance and indifference of Mayor Palmer and his minions is being used a political sticking point as to why the residency law should be changed.
In fact, these calls for the amendment or elimination of residency are nothing more than a push to legitimize the double standards and unfair policies that the Palmer administration uses when dealing with employees.
Prior to Mr. Santiago’s ouster, the residency law was used as an uneven tool that, when broken, meant termination for some employees, and nothing for others enjoying the favor of Mayor Palmer. That embarrassing situation, more appropriate for fascist countries, was resolved when the courts did what Mayor Palmer and others refused to do and ousted Mr. Santiago.
Now Mayor Palmer wants to get back to the status quo – a reinstatement of Mr. Santiago or someone like him – and a return to the days when he could appoint anyone to lead the department, regardless of the existence of a residency law
Mayor Palmer, with the support of some loyal faction at The Times, obviously wants City Council’s help in the affair, despite the fact that amending or eliminating the residency law will weaken the city’s economic base and allow for politically-based exemptions and more uneven justice.
It’s better to ignore those calls, and remember that such a situation was, and remains, unacceptable to the people of Trenton.