With what appears to be a solid City Council majority of rubber stampers in hand, Palmer administration officials are poised to bring forward a resolution awarding former city gang consultant Barry Colicelli a contract to work at his old position once again.
The resolution, which is on City Council’s Tuesday docket in the amount of $71,149, probably would not have been placed there were Mayor Douglas H. Palmer not totally assured of its passage, so its emergence likely means that one of the councilmen who voted against the contract earlier this year has flipped his position.
That man could be Councilman Gino Melone.
Mr. Melone demonstrated a new outlook on administration initiatives earlier this fall when he voted for the confirmation of Police Director Irving Bradley, Jr., despite lingering questions about Mr. Bradley’s residency, Mr. Melone’s own formerly strong position on residency, and other red flags about the appointment.
It should be interesting to hear Mr. Melone’s comments, if there are any, during this vote, in light of what he said when he voted against the contract last February.
“I feel we have capable individuals” to fulfill Colicelli’s role, said Mr. Melone, who also cited cost and accountability during his previous negative vote on the contract, according to The Times of Trenton.
A lot has changed since that article, when the contract last surfaced.
The city faces a potential $28 million budget deficit, and every municipal department has experienced 10 percent budget cuts and the threat of layoffs. Crime, according to Mayor Palmer, is continuing to drop, so there appears to be little need to take on another expense.
Yet this is the time Palmer administration officials have chosen to bring back a hefty contract that City Council strongly rejected only 10 months ago.
With a yes vote this time around, council members better be prepared to tell their constituents exactly what has changed since the last time this albatross of a contract came up in City Council chambers.
Without justification, approval simply means that Mayor Palmer has wheeled and dealed and once again co-opted a majority of City Council members out of being the proper check on administrative power that they are supposed to be.
That is certainly a sad state of affairs for Trenton.