It has become increasingly evident that officials in Trenton are hellbent on leaving residents on the hook for their boneheaded decision-making.
This most disturbing trend of mismanagement continues at a time when the city faces a potential $27 million budget shortfall that, if unfilled, promises a dramatic tax rate increase for all property owners in the city.
Most recently, an external audit firm official told City Council on Tuesday that the city received a clean audit, despite major discrepancies, in the form of a $16 million grant the city never received from the state and some questionable Public Works time sheet activity.
Solidifying the trend of mismanagement is the fact that over the last month the city and its officers have been named as defendants in no less than three separate and highly avoidable lawsuits. Two center on the former communications director and present police director, Irving Bradley, Jr.
The first was filed by dispatchers who used to work under Mr. Bradley. They allege that Mr. Bradley engaged in racially-charged employment practices and harassment in an effort to drive white employees out of the communications center.
The second suit was filed by a group of residents, including me, over Mr. Bradley’s residency status, in renting an apartment in the city while maintaining a family home in Rahway that Mr. Bradley is known to frequent on the weekends.
The director’s residency status was consistent with that of dozens of employees the city has fired over the years for non-residency, yet city officials did nothing about Mr. Bradley’s apparent violations, which opened the door for another costly round of unnecessary legal battles over residency enforcement.
The sad thing about the lawsuits targeting Mr. Bradley is that the man should not have been employed by the city, in any capacity, due to his being unqualified for the communications directorship in addition to his highly questionable residency status.
If the city’s elected officials had done the right thing and cut him loose, hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs would not be headed into the pockets of expensive, high-class lawyers.
Finally, the outlying townships that rely on water from the Trenton Water Works filed their own lawsuit against the city this week, seeking to put a stop to the recently instituted 40 percent water rate hike.
City Council members dutifully passed the rate ordinance at the behest of officials from the Douglas H. Palmer administration, despite overwhelming evidence of malfeasance regarding the city’s water works budget practices, very public threats of costly lawsuits from the townships, and numerous requests from outside officials for cooperative discussions on the matter.
And now, all these chickens are coming home to roost, and once again, Trenton’s residents will be left holding the bag because of the poor governance of their elected officials.