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.