Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stand by me

An article in this morning's Trentonian bearing the headline "Palmer's last speech?" contains the following quote attributed to the Mayor:
I will stand with anyone who wants to move this city forward, but I have no time for people who are going to stand on the sideline and root against Trenton.

Seems like an interesting choice of words coming from a man known for his vindictive approach to anyone who dares criticize or disagree with his decisions.

Need proof?

Let's look at residency. Although city teachers, fire and police personnel are excluded by state law, it is a requirement that city employees reside in the city. Over the years there have been a number of incidents where employees have circumvented the law by setting up "in town" addresses when they really resided elsewhere. This was tacitly approved by the Palmer administration...unless or until you somehow stepped on the Mayor's toes. Then all of sudden you could find yourself suspended if not fired for non-residency.

Former Director's of the City Library, City Museum at Ellarslie and managers within the City's vast Public Works Departments are just some of the people who took a hit for not living in town.

On the other hand, various and sundry Palmer appointees have been allowed to maintain false residences here or given dispensation to live elsewhere over the years.

Allan Mallach took an apartment here, but never really left his home in Roosevelt when he was Housing and Economic Development Director.

Business Administrator Jane Feigenbaum, has a home on Mercer Street in Mill Hill that she visits so rarely the neighbors frequently turn her front porch into their own personal social club. Her backyard gets cut about once a season...only after the weeds get at least knee high. And the building itself is showing signs of neglect and disrepair.

Assistant Business Administrator Dennis Gonzalez lived in the city, then moved out when he left his job at City Hall to work for the Trenton Economic Development Corporation (TEDC--remember them? That was the agency that bungled the construction of the office building at Front and Broad Streets preventing the move of the Hill Wallack Law Firm into Trenton from West Windsor). Once the TEDC unravelled and Dennis sought shelter back at Palmer HQ at 319 E. State Street, he resided outside of the city long enough for the leadership of the Trenton Council of Civic Associations and others to start asking questions residency. To his credit, Mr. Gonzalez did purchase another house in the city shortly thereafter.

Police Director Joe Santiago is a real interesting case. When he first took the position in 2003, Mr. Santiago said he was anxious to move his family to Trenton and various neighborhoods were cited as possible locations. In the interim, Mr. Santiago took up weekday residence at the Trenton Marriott (did we ever find out who paid for that?). After awhile, the Director allegedly took an apartment in South Trenton at the Grand Court Villas (Cigar Factory). Still later, he listed his address as the residence of his assistant, Abe Hemsey in North Trenton. Then came the revelation that Mayor Palmer was granting Director Santiago special permission to commute to and from his home in Sterling, NJ (at the City Taxpayer's expense) due to medical and family reasons.

Yup. The Mayor "stands with anyone" who will go along with him and do his bidding. But he sure doesn't stand too close to those who have a differing opinion.

And it doesn't just extend to city employees.

But what about the local architect, preservationist and developer who had to sit out a round after not being reappointed to the City Landmark's Commission for Historic Preservation. This just happened to occur after the individual actively campaigned for one of Doug's opponents? You don't find many bigger Trenton boosters than this fellow, but he was given a "time out" by the Mayor.

How about local business owners who have struggled and hung in there, waiting for the tide to turn and things to get better in town only to have the Mayor's wife suddenly stop using their services. Could it be because the shop owners openly criticize what they see as wrong about the city? Or support candidates other than the Mayor's chosen few?

The examples go on. Anyone who is the slightest bit engaged, even the "johnnie-come-latelies" as Council President Pintella calls them, in the local scene can provide a story or two of their own. And they all point to the same sad fact.

Mayor Palmer's words, "I will stand with anyone who wants to move this city forward" are as devoid of veracity as his suits are empty.


Anonymous said...

What's the address on Mercer? I don't see her name coming up as owning a property on this street.

Old Mill Hill said...

225 Mercer Street in Mill Hill.

Yellow house.

Drawn shades, peeling paint, rotting wood.