Saturday, March 05, 2011


On the docket for Trenton’s City Council meeting this past Thursday was an executive session to discuss “Personnel and Litigation: ADPC.”

Published reports say that Acting Business Administrator Elaine Adams was to go before council to answer questions about the city’s financial situation. Ms. Adams is a long time city employee who, by all accounts, is competent and conscientious but who has reluctantly taken the hot seat by holding down the oft-vacated position of BA for the city. Apparently, the pressures and controversy surrounding this pivotal position in the city administration are not to Ms. Adams’ liking. She has not been present at many city council meetings and reportedly has not been very responsive to inquiries from city council.

Presumably, Thursday night’s executive session would have provided an opportunity for Ms. Adams and the governing body to come to an understanding regarding the BA’s responsibilities in responding and reporting to council.

Ms. Adams may be uncomfortable in her duties as acting BA. If that is affecting her job performance than she needs to either politely refuse the “honor” of the position and go back to the work she is familiar with or resign from the city completely. If she wants to continue in the acting BA position, than she needs to suck it up and do the job or face these closed-door inquiries.

Council went into session with Ms. Adams standing by. A quarter of an hour later, Council President Muschal told the acting BA she would not be meeting with council after all.


Council, who has complained for weeks on end about a lack of answers from the administration, had the opportunity to flex its legal authority and call a high ranking, if reluctantly so, official onto the carpet and they balked!

Because of the nature of the closed-door session, we may never actually know what happened. What we do know is this: the governing body of the city of Trenton failed yet again. This group…and we are speaking of them as a singular entity here; either does not understand its power and authority or is totally unprepared and unwilling to use it.

While much attention has focused on the failings of the Tony Mack administration, little has been said about the council. This week’s episode pretty much demonstrates that this group of neophytes is ill prepared to carry out the duties of the elective offices they sought.

Looking back over the past eight months of their tenure reveals their repeated breakdowns. This council approved the appointment of the municipal judge at the urging of the Mayor…even though the requisite background check had not been completed. This council approved a legal services contract with Cooper Levenson that later had to be voided because it violated the city’s pay-to-play ordinance. This council drafted and introduced a faulty ordinance that would allow them to participate in their meetings via telephone.

Let us not forget how this council voted to give the city’s Information Technology (IT) consulting contract to a bidder with a weak and non-compliant proposal. Even after a number of individuals pointed out the flaws with the proposal, this council went ahead and made a choice that was overturned by a judge. Now the city is left without an IT director (let go in the November layoffs) or a consultant to monitor and maintain the city’s systems. Moreover, there is the matter of continued litigation in the matter as witnessed by the second item that was to be discussed at Thursday night’s executive session.

In baseball, as in all sports, when players are not performing as expected they are removed from the game. This council has had way too many “visits to the mound” made by members of the public to encourage, enlighten, and enlist them to do the right thing. The council has continually failed.

Time to pull them from the game.

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