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Monday, June 18, 2007

Unilateral Mayor

There are rumors swirling once again about the executive branch of the City of Trenton moving forward with actions that normally require the advice and consent of the City Council, at least in normally functioning municipalities.

In these unsubstantiated reports, a candidate selected by Mayor Douglas H. Palmer has received a letter from the mayor offering the position of Deputy City Clerk, in a move that was not reviewed by the City Council.

The anonymous source said the letter was dated June 7, and gave June 18 as the start of the position, if the candidate accepted it.

Up to this point, it seems that no mention of this nomination has come before the City Council at any of their recent meetings.

Trenton Makes representatives were at the last City Council meeting, which the mayor attended.

He made no mention of this move.

Currently, Penelope S. Edwards-Carter fills the position of Acting Deputy City Clerk, but she is actually the real City Clerk, as City Clerk Anthony Conti continues a leave of absence following his retirement announcement last winter.

Despite her city job she currently resides outside of the city with Mayor Palmer’s blessing, according to officials familiar with the situation.

While sources say Trenton tradition points to the appointment of a clerk out of the current City Council, removing one of those members would remove the current "rubber-stamp" nature of that body.

After careful legal review, it seems that the Code of Trenton is ambiguous about the specific appointment procedures for the Deputy City Clerk.

However, there is a portion of the code that states appointment procedures for positions not spelled out within the Code should be appointed with the "advice and consent" of the City Council.

This proviso would seem to mean that this letter and the selection of a candidate should have already come before City Council.

While this candidate has not been officially put for review by the City Council, sources say some of the members do know about the nature of the offer and the candidate, specifically Council President Pintella.

Perhaps this unofficial review and the keeping of the rest of the council in "official" darkness is because Mayor Palmer doesn’t need their official consent.

The majority of the current City Council has a long record of approving Palmer appointments and ordinances without much fanfare, usually in the form of 5-2 and 6-1 votes.

Developments will follow....

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