It seems pretty clear that a city vehicle had been repaired at the request and with the knowledge of the BA's office...specifically his assistant, John Seigle.
While it is quite plausible that Mr. Harris used the vehicle without formal, written permission, it does not seem likely that he did so without anyone's knowledge and assumed approval. The set up of the offices in which the vehicle keys are kept (in a lockbox) is such that it would be hard to obtain them during the work day without someone taking notice.
The amount of misinformation, misdirection and miss-appropriation of city resources, while par for THIS administration, is way beyond what is acceptable.
Both of the local dailies have reported on this. The Trentonian, the Times (twice) and Trentonian columnist L. A. Parker has commented on the matter.
It certainly appears that, as Mr. Parker puts it, Mr. Harris was made the scapegoat in an episode that points up several failings of Trenton City Government:
- The city has way too many vehicles than are needed.
- There are minimal policies and procedures governing who uses these vehicles, when and for what reasons.
- There is lax adherence to the policies that do exist.
- There is no adherence to the 2010 ordinance that was meant to rein in the abuses and costs of maintaining the fleet of passenger vehicles.
- The city has failed to provide accurate information in this matter: either the inventory dated June 30, 2012 is incorrect or the statements that BA Sam Hutchinson did not like the "Crown Vic" he had been assigned is flat out wrong. This document says he was assigned a Chevy Caprice.
- The vehicle in the police report, has a license plate number matching one that was "unassigned" at the time of the June inventory. Just like the Saturn that Mr. Harris had been driving around in for a few months and that it is claimed Mr. Hutchinson desired over the "Crown Vic (Chevy Caprice?)". The Ford Escape was, in effect, a "pool car" available to anyone needing a city vehicle to do city business (such as dropping off another employee to pick up a recently repaired auto).
We suggest that the Administration rescind its disciplinary action against Mr. Harris, immediately (or whatever the proper action is according to the Civil Service rules.)
We also suggest that the Administration make immediate plans to reduce the current passenger vehicle fleet and adopt a straight up reimbursement policy/procedure for business use of a personal vehicle.