The honeymoon is over

After a wonderful honeymoon away from the era of faulty governmental practices, it appears that Trenton City Council members are allowing the Palmer administration’s traditional, disrespectful relationship with their body to reemerge.

Councilman Jim Coston today reported that once again he is having trouble getting information from the Palmer administration regarding important city matters necessary for City Council to do its job, as city representatives and legislators.

But unfortunately for the city, it appears that when it comes to what administration officials or Mayor Douglas H. Palmer say or do, a majority of City Council members have reverted to a submissive and meek demeanor. This sea change seems to have occurred sometime in the days preceding the appointment of alleged residency breaker Irving Bradley to the police director’s position.

Prior to that date, councilmen Milford Bethea, Jim Coston, Gino Melone, and Manny Segura stood together as a united bulwark against the administration’s old abuses, as the four men were labeled “the gang of four” in local newspaper accounts.

They regularly challenged Palmer initiatives, and even ground a council meeting to a complete halt when administration officials failed to provide information necessary for proper deliberations on a specific piece of council business.

But now, Councilman Gino Melone appears to be back in tow with council president and Palmer lackey Paul Pintella, Councilwoman Cordelia Staton, and Councilwoman Annette Lartigue.

No one knows exactly what happened, but when it came to Mr. Bradley’s highly questionable appointment, the former residency supporter and “gang of four” member, Councilman Melone, flipped and voted for Mr. Bradley’s appointment without serious questioning or any of his previous skepticism of Palmer initiatives.

This was odd indeed, coming from a man who only months earlier was pushing and prodding residents to start an effort to recall Mayor Palmer and to begin organizing a return to a police chief-led police department.

But regardless of what happened to the Gino Melone that made those requests, the entire city is now worse off.

City Council members cannot get the information they want and they cannot do their jobs effectively. The members who would do so no longer have the ability to use their powers to cut funding, remove officials for cause, or stop meetings, because there simply aren’t enough votes to do so.

The result is clear: this City Council, as it is currently constituted, is simply not doing its job, and the next batch of members elected in 2010 must be required to do so.

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