Friday, May 18, 2012

There he goes again

In an act of obvious spite that should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, Trenton Mayor Tony Mack is attempting to rescind the appointment of two school board members because they hold views different than his.

Press reports in the Trentonian and the Times (article not yet available online) indicate that Mack had his friend and former school board member Joyce Kersey call current board members Denise Millington and Marisol Ovalles to tell them their services were no longer required.  This occurred the day after the women had been sworn in for their three year terms and the day after they voted for a school superintendent candidate that was not the mayor’s choice.

The legality of such a move is being investigated but it stinks regardless.
{Update: local attorney George Dougherty did some research today and offers the following "...Title 18A (Education) regarding the removal of Board members. I am quite sure that there is no power in the mayor to “rescind” an appointment. Once the appointee has been sworn to the office she/he has a term. There are very limited removal provisions in the law. They operate by such things as disqualification by loss of residency or some other personal conflicts. There is no indication that a Mayor can pull an appointee for any reason." This would seem to be common sense and certainly matches our thoughts as well as those in the comment below}

Trenton is one of nearly two dozen New Jersey municipalities where the school board is appointed by the mayor rather than elected by the voters. The argument over which is a better system is a toss up. The capital city has tried both methods and neither seems to have yielded great results. A hybrid board made up of some mayoral appointees and some elected members might be the way to go, but that is a topic for another day.

For years, the appointed board in Trenton has been subject to the whims of the sitting mayor. Former mayor Dough Palmer was known to not reappoint board members after they had somehow displeased him.  And it appears that Mayor Mack is following right along in that tradition.

What is interesting, too, is some of the appointments Mayor Mack has made.

Last fall, for instance, Mack appointed Waldemar Ronquillo to the seat vacated by Algernon Ward. Within a month, Ronquillo stepped down for personal reasons.

Then Mack appointed Ovalles to complete the term. She was just appointed to a new, full, three-year term. Ovalles was sworn in Monday even though she has plans to move out of the city soon and therefore must resign.

You would think that some of these issues would come out in the vetting process prior to the mayor making an appointment.

Then again, maybe not.

In April, Mack appointed Gerald Trueheart to a vacancy on the school board.

Trueheart is a former employee of the Trenton School District.  According to the minutes from an April 12,2010 school board meeting, Trueheart was not only denied a salary increment, he was not reappointed to his position with the district.

Trueheart is also associated with the failed Paul RobesonCharter Schoolthat is being taken over by the Philadelphiabased Scholar Academies. As part of the plan to salvage Robeson’s charter, all current administrators and board members must resign their positions. That wouldappear to include Trueheart as well.

This begs the question: is Gerald Trueheart competent to sit on Trenton’s school board?

Is this another example of Mayor Mack’s inability to exercise solid judgment in selecting and keeping people for key positions? 


Unknown said...

Members of any appointed Board or Commission are sworn in for defined terms precisely to remove the prospect of political interference by the appointing authority. If these two Board members were duly and legally sworn in on Monday, the Mayor can not remove them on Tuesday.

I imagine there are rules and regs on file prescribing the legal process for removing Board members, for cause or other reasons. The existence of any such formal process will prove that a mayor cannot by whim rescind an appointment by fiat.

That's the separation of powers point to make. The concern about the singularly bad specific choices made by this mayor and his advisors for appointments to the Board is a separate issue.

I agree that personnel selections by Mr. Mack, in hiring as well as board appointments, have been disastrous since he took office. It's no surprise that these latest B of E appointments follow the same pattern.

Anonymous said...

I always thought being appointed to the Trenton School Board was a punishment! Who would want this thankless volunteer position anyway? Mack continues to display his idiocy, and no one seems to be able to stop him.

Lamberton Lilly said...

Once again, our Honorable Mayor behaves like a spoiled brat. I was at the Meet & Greet; Caldwell struck me as very bright but clueless regarding troubled school districts. Two members of the school board did not vote Tony's way so they're out. If, however, Marisol Ovalles is moving, "soon," she should not have accepted reappointment. But, how soon is soon? Two weeks? Six months? One interesting point, Mr. Caldwell is everything our Honorable Mayor is not!! Tall, good looking, bright, Princeton grad. We are two years from the next election. We're stuck with this guy. Let's make sure he is not re-elected. Lamberton Lilly