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Monday, November 19, 2007

Santiago's ouster

One week from tomorrow marks the Trenton City Council meeting where the controversial police director, Joseph Santiago, will make an appearance before Trenton's governing body.

This will be special indeed, after Mr. Santiago exhibited arrogance while skipping out on numerous council requests for an appearance over the last six months, during the debate over ordinances that would increase the police department's minimum staffing levels.

Since that debate was seemingly squelched by Mayor Douglas H. Palmer's announcement of intentions to hire 50 more officers over the next two years - despite the fact that numerous classes of officers will be retiring in the intervening time - controversy has reared its ugly head again for the embattled director.

Numerous citizens have called for his ouster due to violations stemming from the fact that the director does not have a primary residence within Trenton, in pure, unhidden violation of employment statutes that require primary residence within city limits.

Trenton Makes agrees.

Mayor Palmer and Business Administrator Feigenbaum - who also flouts the city's residency laws - maintain that Mr. Santiago has some sort of phantom waiver that puts him above the law, even though no such measure is enumerated within Trenton City Code.

More embarrassment came in the form of media reports detailing the downgrading of crimes and department secrecy over the real crime situation in Trenton, which resulted in a press conference denying the warping of crime reports and promises to keep a map of all the crime in Trenton available on a weekly basis on the city's Web site.

A map was put up once three weeks ago, and has not been updated since.

This obvious arrogance regarding the city's laws and residents means that City Council has but one recourse next week: demand that Mr. Santiago moves back into the city within a week, or immediately remove him from office through a vote. Five votes would suffice, utilizing the council's legal ability to remove department heads through a vote.

The word of the law and the need for city employees to live within Trenton and have a stake in the city they serve mean that Mr. Santiago is in willful violation of the law, and cannot hide behind the truly mythical powers of Mayor Palmer and his minions to bend the very word of the law.

The time has come for the director to go.

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