Water appeal advances

The validity of a Mercer County Superior Court decision that invalidated petitions challenging Trenton’s misguided water works sale will be evaluated by a three-judge panel in the state’s Appellate Division later this year.

The petitioners contend that the lower court was incorrect in ruling that the ordinance implementing the sale was not subject to a citizens’ protest petition.

Attorneys for the city, however, argue that a small section of state law governing sales of small utilities prevents the Trenton Water Works ordinance from being put to a public vote through a protest petition.

Judge Linda Feinberg, who made the initial decision, was overturned on a similar issue by the state Supreme Court two years ago. The high court interpreted state law to mean that under Trenton’s form of government any and all ordinances are subject to protest petition.

At issue was a petition that sought to put an ordinance that would have changed the city police department’s command structure to eliminate the positions of three deputy chiefs.

In comments in The Times Thursday, acting business administrator and enemy of the people Dennis Gonzalez said the Appellate Division agreed to accelerate the hearing schedule at the city’s request.

This is patently false.

The city and its attorneys, upon Feinberg’s most recent ruling, immediately requested the Appellate Division consider the appeal in an expedited and emergency fashion.

That request was immediately denied by the appeals court.

But attorney for the petitioners George Dougherty supported an expedited hearing schedule in the interest of sparing the city unnecessary budget mayhem in the event the Appellate Division affirms Judge Feinberg’s ruling.

Without this move on behalf of the petitioners the City of Trenton would have faced Appellate Division proceedings that could have dragged on for a year or more.

In conclusion, Mr. Gonzalez doesn’t know what he’s talking about.


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