Friday, August 05, 2011

A new low for Trenton

The Mack administration with the apparent approval of Council President McBride has struck a blow against open and effective government.

In a directive dated August 4 and signed by BusinessAdministrator Eric Berry, department heads and their respective employees are advised that “any request to review a constituent issue, information on your individual department duties, projects or other city business, all employee are directed to politely ask that Council member or members to make the request through the procedure established by Council President McBride”

The memo continues with the statement “that in the event any Council member independently makes a request of any employee, all employees are instructed to politely remind the individual member of Council or members of Council that they are acting outside the established policy of the President Council {sic}.”

This, in effect, is saying that all requests for information, attention to a problem etc. are to go to the Council President first who then will transmit the request to the BA’s office.

While there is a state statute (below) that directs the municipal council to deal with employees through the mayor or his designee, it does not in any way give that power of communication solely to the Council President.

§ 40:69A-37.1. Mayoral control of administration
In any municipality adopting the mayor-council plan of government, the municipal council shall deal with employees of the department of administration and other administrative departments solely through the mayor or his designee. All contact with the employees, and all actions and communications concerning the administration of the government and the provision of municipal services shall be through the mayor or his designee, except as otherwise provided by law.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the council's inquiry into any act or problem of the administration of the municipality. Any council member may, at any time, require a report on any aspect of the government of the municipality by making a written request to the mayor. The council may, by a majority vote of the whole number of its members, require the mayor or his designee to appear before the council sitting as a committee of the whole, and to bring before the council those records and reports, and officials and employees of the municipality as the council may determine necessary to ensure clarification of the matter under study. The council may further, by a majority of the whole number of its members, designate any number of its members as an ad hoc committee to consult with the mayor or his designee to study any matter and to report to the council thereon. It is the intent of the mayor-council plan of government to confer on the council general legislative powers, and such investigative powers as are germane to the exercise of its legislative powers, but to retain for the mayor full control over the municipal administration and over the administration of municipal services.

We hope that the members of Trenton’s governing body will put their presiding officer on notice that they are not about to give up the powers and authorities of their office.  Further, we hope that the Mack administration will see this folly for what it is: an attempt to further remove itself from accountability to the residents of the city of Trenton.


Anonymous said...

These clowns just don't quit!

Lamberton Lilly said...

I'll overlook the way Mr. Berry split an infinitive, and just say that arrogance of this crew is mind boggling. PHS