Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bloggers beware

Seems as though NJ politicians are suffering from a rash of thinning skin.

An article in today's Times of Trenton notes that Manalapan Township officials are going to court to have the name of an anonymous blogger revealed.

A blogger known as "daTruthSquad" has been openly critical of the town fathers and now they want to know who is behind the posts.

Sound familiar?

Remember a few months back when Trenton's Assistant Business Administrator threatened a citizen with a law suit if said citizen didn't retract his requests for updates on various development projects in the city? Fortunately, the threat was never carried out.

But should those of us who post our thoughts and opinions be fearful that those who were elected to represent us might seek vengeance?


So, Mr. Clean, TrentonKat, Miss Karen, Greg, Dan, Rollo, Sporty Joe, et al: keep posting, good or bad, about Trenton.

We want to know if your sad because your favorite cheesecake store has closed; our favorite restaurant relocated to the suburbs (to be replaced by a bar); or you want your police director to have to live in Trenton. We want to know where the tamale lady will be; that there was a good art show at Gallery 125; that you're proud of Officers Harbourt and Davis for their recent acts of heroism.

Go Thunder! Rah Devils! Yeah bloggers!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Another bad deal for Trenton

This morning's Times carried an article by staff writer Andrew Kitchenman about the continued delays in getting Performa Trenton's "Foundry" project off the ground. This time, it's the lack of closing on the loan from Citibank to finance the project.

To catch everyone up, Performa is a management/development entity headed by one John Elkington. Mr. Elkington and company's sole claim to fame is/was the management of the city-owned Beale Street entertainment district in Memphis, Tennessee. Several years ago, Mr. Elkington decided to leverage his "success" in Memphis by taking on the development of similar projects...mostly around the south. During the later years of the Bob Prunetti led County Administration, Performa proposed a development in Trenton. Originally set for the former Apex Lumber site and adjoining properties along S. Broad Street, the project was shifted up to the area opposite the Sovereign Bank Arena and encompassing the sole surviving building of the old American Steel and Wire Company plant, "Building Four" (this was to be the location of yet another failed development scheme earlier on in the site's history).

The project has been subject to numerous make overs as the developer has sought $10 million in public money along with a $21.8 million dollar loan from Citibank. While we are continually assured that this is a go and ground breaking will occur in this month or that month, nothing has happened.

Well, nothing that is except the failure of Performa Trenton LLC to make a tax payment of $16,800 on part of the property. "An oversight," Performa Trenton LLC partner and spokesman Lindsay Burbage said at the time.

And now we learn that the major financing for the estimated $50 million dollar project has been delayed as the lender seeks more equity from Performa. Perhaps not an unwise move on the part of CitiBank considering Performa's track record elsewhere.

Performa has had little, if any, success outside of Memphis. The Winston-Salem, North Carolina project was dropped because the developer couldn't get as much control of the properties as he desired. Performa was literally kicked out of Shreveport, Louisiana's "Red River District" for failure to perform as promised. The Farish Street project in Jackson, Mississippi has run aground time and again and the Mayor there is reportedly unhappy. And in Birmingham, Alabama Performa is also running into delays in securing loans for a proposed project.

Meanwhile, back in Memphis, the City Council has gone to court again to force Performa to turn over monies owed the City from the management fees collected. Coincidentally, this violates a court order issued in 2002, the same year Performa announced it's Trenton project. It seems as though there are allegations that Mr. Elkington has neither paid the City of Memphis it's share of the money collected for managing the Beale Street district nor placed said monies in a court mandated escrow account. Some estimations place the amount owed Memphis in "the millions."

Further, it has been reported that over a quarter of a million dollars is owed to a contractor for labor and materials used to construct a club in downtown Memphis, near Beale Street, that Mr. Elkington is a partner in. Horizon Construction has filed a lien in the amount of $229,562.39 against the owners of Ground Zero Memphis. The owner of the club is listed as Lee's Landing Commercial LLC with an address at Elkington's Beale Street office.

Taken altogether, it is hard to ignore the fact that Mr. Elkington's Performa Empire is built on shaky ground. It may just be time for the Mercer County Improvement Authority (of which Mayor Palmer's wife, Chris Foglio is a member) to take a step back and start looking at ways to extricate itself from this bad idea.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Checks and balances

One of the main constructs of the basic American form of government is the fact that it is divided into three distinct parts: executive, legislative and judicial balanced so that, if each does it's job, government works and no one person or group gets too much power.

It's a fact that we've all been taught and should have learned before we graduate high school.

Yet some way, some how, the residents of Trenton have lost sight of this fact just as the elected officials (most specifically our current, long-term mayor) have ignored it.

Instead, presumably to ensure his "vision" and secure his "legacy," Mayor Palmer has bought and/or bullied a majority of the current council members enough to always get his way.

Not only does this subvert the very principles of our form of government, it appears to have been ruinous to the civic, if not fiscal, health of Trenton. By stifling any real discussion or debate on the matters brought before them, the Mayor virtually assures the Council will vote "his way," no matter how ill advised or poorly conceived. Repeatedly, the Council takes action supporting the Administration's position without asking the tough questions and holding out for complete answers.

The awarding of a contract to a 15-month old technology company to build and maintain a city-wide wireless Wi-Fi network is one example. While we are promised that the system will be built "at no cost" to the city of Trenton, we don't yet know how much the City will ultimately have to pay to have access to the network. Nor do we know how much it will cost citizen's to access it. And that's if the system ever becomes operational.

There's ample evidence that the time has yet to come when technology and costs make these municipal Wi-Fi networks feasible. Larger, more experienced companies such as AT&T and EarthLink are having trouble finding business models that work in demographically more lucrative markets. How can a virtual start up realistically expect to make it work here?

But Mayor Palmer wants this (for his resume?) and so Council has approved it.

Another item was the purchase of 10 unmarked SUV's for the Trenton Police Department. The proposed Capital Budget expenditure was to replace vehicles in the Police department's aging and well-worn fleet. And this request is only the beginning. The Police Director has put in for 30 new SUV's total.

Fortunately, questions were raised...not about the need for new vehicles...but for the need for expensive, high fuel consumption SUV's over more traditional sedans. At least that has been tabled for further discussion

To be sure, this item will be revisited. No doubt Police Director Santiago will address the "need" for this purchase when he visits Council next week (Tuesday, 11/27). Let's hope he does. And let's hope the Director also addresses his lack of residency in Trenton, the latest flap surrounding Capt. Paul Messina, the murder rate, and more.

Mayor Palmer has demonstrated his lack of management acumen for over two decades. He's been good at touting his "accomplishments" and polishing his image, but he's failed at actually moving the city forward.

Our high school is crumbling from decay; historic buildings such as the the Douglass House, Eagle Tavern, Mill Hill Playhouse, et al suffer from neglect (true, the Eagle Tavern has undergone renovations in recent years, but even that process suffered from a lack of oversight that ultimately left the interior of the second floor exposed to the elements); our police fleet is one big rolling wreck.

Still we can find tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a neon sign for our main firehouse while our crews wait for training; police overtime spending has soared into the millions but we can't find money to hire more cops (or settle the contracts with the ones we have now); we're committed to pay an unknown amount for wireless internet services from the only vendor who answered the city's request for proposals but we can't get our police and fire communications system to work all the time, everywhere in town or manage to make our once highly touted surveillance camera system function reliably.

It's time for Council to stop writing those blank checks and start seeking some common sense balance to the business of serving the citizens.

Technology Turkey

Who gets the gravy?

Not surprisingly, Trenton's City Council once again swallowed the Palmer party line and approved a contract with Florida based E-Path Communications to provide a city-wide wireless internet system. The Mayor himself made an appearance before Council to show his sincere support of this proposal, presumably to secure any possible wavering votes from the body.

It comes as no surprise that the majority of Council demonstrated once again their lack of ability to think and act independently by approving this ridiculous plan without doing their homework.

Fact: E-Path is barely a year old company that was the sole respondent for the city's ill advised RFP for a city-wide wireless network.

Fact: Larger, more established and experienced companies have repeatedly failed to find workable business models for providing this service in other, dare we say more affluent and thriving, communities around the country.

Fact: Offers of free help and consultations from outside parties were spurned by the Administration.

In article in the Trentonian, Mayor Palmer is quoted as saying:
“We envision a network that brings widespread, affordable Internet access to residents, students and teachers — and adds another important amenity for existing businesses and future economic development. In addition, E-Path will build, at no cost to the city, a separate, secure, dedicated network that the city will use for police, fire and emergency services, communications and all other city services.”

Interestingly familiar rhetoric that sounds a lot like what was said when companies were vying to get lucrative municipal cable franchises. Remember the promises of "low cost" and "access?" What are you paying for your cable access these days?

All the optimism and hope in the world cannot make this turkey of a deal palatable.

We need to look at who exactly is "E-Path Communications;" what their real plan is and who stands to gain the most from this contract.

Probably not the citizens of Trenton.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Let the games begin!

The 14th Annual "Safest and Most Dangerous City" crime rankings as compiled and calculated by the good folks at Morgan Quitno Press, now a part of CQ Press, have been released. Prepare for the yearly debate over the validity of these rankings.

In years past, Trenton has not fared too well in these rankings. For example:

14th Most Dangerous City in 2006 overall, 4th Most Dangerous City with a population of 75,000-99,999. And Trenton had the 9th largest drop in ranking from 2005 to 2006.

27th Most Dangerous City in 2004, 4th Most Dangerous City with a population of 75,000-99,999.

And such.

Now let's be honest, the 2006 rankings were based upon the crime stats from calendar year 2005. Since we had a record homicide rate (31) that year, we'd hardly expect a good showing. Interestingly, the Police Director started really pumping the "Crime Is Down" mantra just about the time those rankings were released last year. That was also about the same time there was a sudden "drought" of crime reports coming out of Police HQ.

Of course, when the rankings came out the City Spin Doctors went into overdrive.

"Questionable methodology," "can't compare only numbers," and other responses were flowing forth from Director Santiago, City Public Information Officer Kent Ashworth, Mayor Palmer and others. And they weren't alone in refuting the validity of the rankings.

NPR ran an interview with the Mayor of St. Louis,Missouri, 2006's "Most Dangerous City" and he was livid about the (false) implications of the rankings.

At the other end of the spectrum, "Clean, Safe and Beautiful Hamilton Township" was the 31st Safest City in 2006. And don't think for one minute the Gilmore machine was above a little puffery and false pride in their rating.

So, which is it? Are the rankings just worthless data manipulation that are meaningless in the real world? Or are they a reasonable measure of just how successful one municipality's policing efforts are compared to others?

This year's rankings (based on the 2006 crime stats..."the lowest in 40 years in Trenton") place Trenton as the most improved but the 7th most dangerous city of it's size (75,000-99,999) and 39th most dangerous/340th safest city overall.

We've got our "number one" as the most improved in the rankings from last year to this (more properly from 2005-2006). And we're still in the top 10 most dangerous cities of our size/top 50 most dangerous nationwide.

Any guesses on what we'll hear coming out of the propaganda machines at 319 E. State Street and 225 N. Clinton Avenue?

Wi Fi Fo Fum...

On Tuesday Trenton's City Council will be on the receiving end of a presentation from the would be provider of a city wide WiFi wireless network.

Mayor Palmer touted this in his recent State of the City address so we might assume, judging from past experience, that the Mayor considers this all but a done deal. In fact, recent history tells us that if the administration wants it and City Council approval is required, so it shall be.

Of course the vendor-to-be will put its best face on and sell lots of sizzle to Council. Business Administrator (and part-time city resident) Jane Feigenbaum will note all the positives that adopting this technology will bring to city services. Non-resident Police Director Joseph Santiago, in his appearance before Council next-week, will no doubt tout the benefits of a City-wide wireless network to improve policing (like surveillance cameras that work?). To be sure, a strong case will be made for adopting this technology as a way to help bridge the "technology gap" between Trenton residents.

While these arguments and benefits need to be weighed, so too should the facts and experiences of other municipalities around the country who are considering WiFi networks as well.

The facts are pretty clear to even the least techno-savvy layman: the technology is not yet sufficient to provide a low-cost, wide-spread, consistent network. The cost of installation and maintenance are not insignificant and too high for most municipal governments to bear alone. For an outside vendor to provide cost-effective, profitable service the system must be supported either by advertising, subscription/access fees or some combination of both.

In neighboring Hamilton Township, there is free public access to wireless internet in Veterans Park. Before you can log-in you have to register (for marketing purposes) and there are ads on the access home page. And this is just to cover the costs of providing access in one limited area of the township.

Just downriver, Philadelphia's ambitious plan to provide wireless internet access across the city has been a less than glowing success. Some residents still haven't been able to achieve proper connectivity and Earthlink, Philly's service provider, has actually regrouped and stopped bidding on contracts elsewhere as they seek a build a better business model.

Before any decisions are made whether or not to approve a wireless internet package for Trenton, the contract should be reviewed thoroughly by an independent consultant. Of course, this won't happen.

The Palmer administration has already reportedly turned down on offer from a professional consultant (and city resident) to review any proposals from interested vendors. Admittedly the consultant is a frequent critic of the way the city goes about its business, but is that really a reason to turn down free, qualified help?

Lacking any real due diligence on the part of the Mayor's hand picked henchmen (and women), it is up to the members of City Council to do their own homework.

We should all encourage our elected representatives to study not only the "facts" placed in front of them but to also research how other municipalities are approaching this technological frontier? City Council has the resources and the responsibility to gather the facts independent of those spoon fed them by the administration.

...this may be an idea who's time has not yet come.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Still waiting

As noted here previously and in Trenton Kat's blog, as part of the Police Director's Public Relations spin on keeping the citizenry informed a city-wide crime map was hastily posted to the city website last week. The intimation was that this was a regular part of the TPD effort to share information with residents.

(By the way, has anyone else noticed that the "Departments" link on the Trenton homepage ( is mysteriously missing?)

Now that two ComStats (for which the weekly maps are prepared) have come and gone since that solitary posting, nothing new has appeared on the City website.

This is but the latest example of Police Director Santiago and Mayor Palmer's total disregard for maintaining open and honest communication with the people they are supposed to be serving.

You would think that they might have taken note of the downfall of neighboring Hamilton Township's Mayor Gilmore. It's an accepted fact that the two term incumbent lost his reelection bid largely due to his attempts to cover up things including, but not limited to the latest auditor's report on the municipal budget.

Apparently, the arrogance of Santiago and Palmer towards the populous of Trenton can not be stunted. Residents of the Capital City are doomed to suffer under the whims and misdirection of these petty tyrants until enough of us stand up and say, "NO MORE!"

Judging from the voter turnout on election day, that time may not yet be here. And even for those who do it in general or municipal elections, if we continue to reelect the same representatives who continue to fail us, we will continue to get the representation we deserve.

We can do better. The time to start is now.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Uh, Mr. Police Director, Sir. Did you forget something?

So last week's drama over accusations that the Trenton Police Department leadership wasn't reporting crimes accurately or in a timely fashion resulted in the hyping of the fact that the "weekly crime map for Trenton is on the Police Department's Public Safety Information page."

And lo and behold, last week you could find the most recent map posted there.

Now since that startling announcement, there has been another weekly ComStat meeting.

So there should be another, newer, map available for posting on the City website, right?

Oops! Guess again!

So the question is, was this just another "knee jerk reaction" to criticism by the Trenton Police Director to show how open and forthcoming he is about crime?

Or does he really think the community's memory is so short that we have all forgotten about this issue already?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Oh really! And since when?

Trentonian writer Jack Knarr ignited a controversy with Tuesday's article on how Trenton Police Department brass report crimes.

In response, media representatives and community members were invited to a press conference on Wednesday to hear the department's rebuttal. It should be noted that Director Santiago was not present at the press conference, but left Captain Scarangelli and others to defend the department from the slings and arrows of the media and any malcontents from the community at large who might have been in attendance.

An official response was posted on the City's website. Of particular note was the following section:

The title of Mr. Knarr’s editorial, “TRUE CRIME: THE REAL TRENTON STATISTICS” suggests that there exists an ongoing conspiracy among the Command Staff and within the Trenton Police Department to under report crime in order to show our organization in a positive light. Mr. Knarr’s assertion that a “secret police source” had to “smuggle” out several crime maps from the COMSTAT meeting to show a true compilation of crime in the City of Trenton could not be further from the truth. Crime maps are routinely exhibited to members of the public at community meetings where discussion between the public and police officials concerning crime events often occurs. In addition,crime maps are posted in the roll call rooms throughout the Trenton Police Department for utilization by police personnel to analyze crimes occurring in their areas of responsibility. I do not understand why Mr. Knarr’s “secret police source” would have to smuggle information from the COMSTAT Meetings when it is readily available to him/her each day of the week.

We were particularly interested by the assertion that "Crime maps are routinely exhibited to members of the public at community meetings..."

While this has occurred intermittently over the past several years, it has hardly become routine. In fact, this important flow of information and data reporting to the community has been turned on and off, with no explanation given, over the past several years. There have been several requests for maps to be provided in electronic format for email distribution and/or posting on various websites that have gone unanswered.

Further down in the document, a note is made of the fact that the "weekly crime map for Trenton is on the Police Department's Public Safety Information page."

Lo and behold, a quick check (once we navigated the not so intuitive city website), located the map in question...and the most recent one at that.

Not to sound unduly suspicious, paranoid or cynical, but just how long have these maps been posted there?

Certainly not over the last weekend when the whole website was down due some domain name registration snafu.

And for a city that can find ways to trumpet the most mundane and useless information (ticket sales for the jazz festival via the reverse 911 system comes immediately to mind), why wasn't the public told about the availability of these maps on line? Wouldn't it be simple for the officers attending all these community meetings to state "and the weekly maps are now being posted on the city website" or send a press release to the local media or put a banner on the front page of the website?

Or was this a very sneaky, clandestine response to not only Mr. Knarr's article but the civilian generated and well distributed crime map created by fellow blogger TrentonKat for the past couple of months? And wasn't it just a year ago that there was the big flap between the media and the Police Director about the timely release of any crime reports that ended up in a meeting with the County Prosecutor?

Let's face it folks, by and large the members of the Trenton Police Department are doing a tough job under any circumstances. And the community appreciates that.

What is difficult to accept is the detachment of the non-resident Police Director; his refusal to accept that he is accountable not only to the Mayor but to the citizens of Trenton; and his failure to let the better instincts of the capable members of his command staff take the lead in managing the department.

Let's get back to open and honest dealings about the crime situation in Trenton. Working together,openly and honestly is the only way to go.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Media Alert

OK, so Director Santiago has called a press conference for 2pm today in response to yesterday's article in the Trentonian in which Jack Knarr argues that crime reporting is being tweaked in favor of the "crime is down" mantra.

Well, 2pm is the perfect time for the daily news cycle, and it makes it tough for John and Joan Q. Public to attend...even though there is a big push to get "community leaders" to be at the event.

So, in case you have to miss this event, here's are the talking points that most likely spew forth from the august leaders of the the TPD and possibly even the sometimes "missing Mayor" himself:

Crime is down!

Media is bad. They never tell you the "good stuff" that happens here.

Crime is down!

Yes, some crimes that are reported one way are, upon further investigation, classified another way. There is nothing incorrect, illegal or wrong about this.

Sometimes a "break in" is not a burglary, but just a trespass. Doesn't get counted the same way.

Crime is down!

People have axes to grind. They can't admit that {the administration of the police department} is making a difference and crime is down.

Well, from where we sit. Crime is not down.

The numbers may have been reduced, in part through reclassification of the "deviant acts" as one blogger calls them. And truth be told, in some cases such reclassification may be warranted, but not all. Still, anyone paying attention to their neighborhoods, let alone the city as a whole can tell you that "incidents" are happening all over.

As for the big bad media only reporting the negative stuff: well, when the authorities aren't forthright and forthcoming with the facts and information, that is news. Of course, we would like to see the local media apply the same rules to other local municipalities.

Have you heard about the half dozen cars stolen from the Hyatt Parking Lot on Route 1 a couple of Saturday's ago? No? Where are the papers on that one?

But back to Trenton, if what the Director has said in the past and will say again this afternoon is true and crime really is down, why aren't the weekly crime maps made public for everyone to see? Then we can compare our knowledge with what is being "reported" and see if things actually match up or not.

Yes, Director, until you are totally open and honest about the weekly crime reporting and share the information willingly with the public and the media, warts and all, people will be suspicious.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bending the law

It's shaping up to be a tough week for the stand up guy who leads the City of Trenton Police Department.

The front page of this morning's Trentonian touts a story about how the crime reports are tweaked and sanitized before being provided for public consumption (and at that, they are rarely made easily available to the general public).

It will be interesting to watch how City Hall and Police HQ try to spin this one. Hopefully they are more successful than Hamilton Mayor Glen Gilmore was at hiding the sizable budget shortfall in Mercer County's largest municipality (you know, "Clean, Safe Hamilton").

There are those in the community who have for years begged, bargained and pleaded for the regular release and publication of the crime reports to the public. Why?

For one, so that the residents of any given neighborhood can see if what they are experiencing is actually showing up in the reports. That way all parties can be kept honest about what is reported and how large or small the crime problem actually is. This is not an unheard of approach. And really, how hard would it be to accomplish since the crimes are mapped for the weekly comstat meetings anyway?

Additionally, regular disclosure of criminal activity will reduce the suspicion that the authorities are holding back or hiding information.

But crime reporting isn't the only issue facing Mr. Santiago this week.

The question of his residency continues to dog the police director. In today's Times, Mayor Palmer states that he has granted Mr. Santiago a waiver of the residency rule.

There's only one small problem: there doesn't appear to be any clause in the City Ordinance granting the Mayor or anyone else the power to waive residency once the appointee has accepted the position.

Therein lies the basis of Frank Weeden's complaint.

Hopefully, these issues will not go away between now and the Police Director's scheduled appearance before City Council at the end of the month.

And, if you only attend one council meeting this year, make it that one.

Make the Director answer directly to the questions about crime reporting and residency.

You've got nothing to lose, the TV writers are on strike anyway.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Over the past several months there has been a recognized surge in people posting blogs about the goings on in and around Trenton, NJ. To some, the blogs have become a sport; a source of amusement. For others, the blogs have provided news, information and opinion not readily found in more traditional (and income dependent) media. And, for those who are the "featured players" in the various entries, the blogs have become (perhaps) an annoyance or irritation.

Still, despite the angle or subject, the bloggers have a common belief in the power of the people to change things. That power resides in the right (and privilege) to vote.

This year, the entire New Jersey Legislature is up for election. Who sits in the Mercer County Executive's Chair will be decided, as will two of the Freeholder seats.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done in this state to get things back on track and moving forward. You can truly have a say in just how and what gets accomplished in the next couple of years simply by going to the polls and voting.

It's very easy to criticize and second-guess those elected to public office. But they wouldn't be there if wasn't for the simple fact that the majority voted for them.* Sometimes, as in the City of Trenton in recent elections, the "majority of votes" did not come from a majority of those who could vote.

You'll have over 12 hours to get to the polls on Tuesday, November 6. Make the time to do your part. Politicians are a funny bunch, they hear the loudest what is said in the silence of the voting booth. Let them know what you want or be prepared for "more of the same."

You have got the power; You have the right; You have the privilege.

Use it!


*a few years ago I learned the disturbing fact that at any given time, up to one full third of elected offices are filled by appointees of one of the two main political parties. While the general public doesn't get to vote on filling these vacancies, party committee people do. Another reason to get involved....!

Step up

Last week, city activist, businessman and former mayoral candidate Frank Weeden formally notified City Council that he was questioning the residency status of Police Director Joseph Santiago. In a letter addressed to Raisa Walker, Director of Personnel, Weeden raised the issue of Santiago's non-compliance with the city ordinance requiring residency.

As has been noted here previously, Director Santiago is not the only member of Mayor Palmer's cabinet, past or present, to flex the residency rules. Some may have done a more complete job of covering the fact that they don't really live here than Mr. Santiago, but it is still a known fact that he is not the only one.

West Ward Councilwoman Annette Lartigue immediately went on record as supporting Mr. Weeden's inquiry. You might almost have thought she was first learning of this little tidbit. Or you might reason that she's starting to align things for the 2010 municipal elections when she will be seeking a post higher than representative of the West Ward. Her letter to the editor in either Sunday's Trentonian or this morning's Times is a further indication of her intentions (if you click on the link to the Times, you'll have to scroll down the page. Her letter is the third or fourth one).

It doesn't really matter why, it is good that Ms. Lartigue is echoing the question. One can probably guess that South Ward Councilman Jim Coston will also be interested to hear the 'explanation' for the Director's lack of Trenton residency with the North and East Ward Councilmen joining the chorus.

And while it is tempting to point fingers and ask these elected officials why it took so long for them to recognize this issue, we can't forget that they were elected to represent the people of this city. If the residents didn't publicly or formally bring this topic up prior to Mr. Weeden's letter, then we can't really blame the elected representatives for leaving it alone.

While we might hope that our elected officials were a little more proactive in such matters, we have to understand that they are subjugated to the bullying tactics of the Mayor and his administration. If a Councilperson pushes the administration too hard on this or any matter, he or she may just find themselves in a situation of not being able to procure proper city services to his or her constituents. And that doesn't do any of us any good.

Maybe now that Mr. Weeden has broken the public silence on the matter of residency, a majority of Councilpeople will join in and demand the administration do the right thing.

And to help stiffen the resolve of Council, everyone who can should plan to attend the City Council meeting on the 27th when Director Santiago is scheduled to appear. Let him know that he's not fooling anyone and that he is not above the law.