The Court has determined that former Police Director Joseph Santiago has 75 days to exit the city. The time frame was given to "facilitate and 'orderly transition' to his successor."
The think tank gathered here on the Front Stoop has the following to offer as this matter winds to a close:
1) Just because the Court allowed 75 days for a transition doesn't mean the former Director has to take all of that time before leaving. A professional, forward thinking manager would have been thinking about and planning for an orderly succession regardless of the circumstances. Especially considering the possibility of a court ordered vacation of the office, Mr. Santiago should have been working on plans to do this all along. The fact that he apparently didn't, and that the Palmer administration did not consider this possibility is but pure negligence. They need to step up and transition Mr. Santiago out of here as soon as possible for the sake of the city.
2) There should be some immediate oversight given to the operation decisions made by the former Director from here until he officially leaves the position. His pettiness and vindictiveness are well documented and his command abilities questionable at best. To let him have his way now, in the waning days of his regime could do more harm to an already depleted and demoralized department.
3) Any candidates for a new Police Director should not be reviewed solely by the Mayor, but should be vetted by a special selection committee comprised of two City Council members and three citizens. No more "surprise" appointments. The search should commence immediately.
3) There should be absolutely no city funded appeal of the court's decision. Four judges at two levels of the judiciary have come to the same opinion. Any appeal, request for a stay, etc. cannot continue to be funded by the financially strapped City of Trenton. For his part, Mr. Palmer should accept the defeat and focus on getting Trenton back on its feet; Mr. Santiago must accept the defeat and just move on.
4) The City needs to immediately and definitively address any and all employees currently not meeting the residency requirement of their position. The legal process has struck down the once existing waiver clause in the city's residency ordinance. There are no exceptions. There shall be no exceptions. This means that Mr. Bradley should be immediately dismissed as Director of the Communications Division. If not, Council should act swiftly on this matter. And Ms. Feigenbaum, if she does not meet the full requirement of bona fide residency, must go as well. Same with Mr. Gonzalez or anyone else.
This situation has not been good for Trenton and those who live and work here. It is time to close the door on this chapter and move ahead into a new era. Mr. Palmer could go a long way towards redeeming himself by seeing that the transition is not only orderly, but swift and complete.