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Friday, February 15, 2008

Council plans to file their own suit, decision delays likely

Trenton City Council members and their attorney want to file their own court action against Mayor Douglas H. Palmer and Police Director Joseph Santiago, and combine that with the lawsuit against the two filed earlier this year by nine Trenton residents, including myself.

City Council's attorney, David F. Corrigan, sent papers signalling the council's intentions Friday, stating their intention to file their own court action involving "the city's residency ordinance, the Police Director's failure to abide by the same, and the mayor's alleged refusal to enforce the law."

That action could be consolidated with the suit brought by the residents, but with the amount of lawyers involved in the case - alreay up to six - the proposal likely means more delay for a case that was originally set to be decided on Feb. 22. and delayed until March 7.

Trenton City Code states that City Council is empowered to remove the director with a five-member vote, so if they believed in the merits of their case against him the body could remove the director without resorting to a costly and protracted court battle.

But that may be the end result anyway, with Mayor Palmer stating earlier in the flap that he would not remove the director himself and planned to retain the director's services despite any council action removing Mr. Santiago from employment with the City of Trenton.

In his letter to Judge Linda Feinberg Mr. Corrigan said the council's position was inconsistent with that of the lawsuit brought by the residents, although it is unknown how that position is different from that of the residents, whose suit is based upon support the residency law and its continued enforcement.

With the filing of council's official response it should be determined exactly where those inconsistencies lie, based on the language of City Council's response.

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