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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Palmer administration officials dance around Bradley's status

The Palmer administration of Trenton has been known to push and prod city employees into providing assistance to Mayor Douglas H. Palmer’s electoral campaigns, in canvassing, working the polls, or at least sticking a Doug Palmer sign in the front lawn of their homes.

Part of those efforts, presumably, is an expectation that city employees are expected to register to vote so that when it comes down to Election Day, they will have the ability to vote to continue the existence of the administration that pays the bills and puts food on the table.

The existence of these efforts and other long-established policy is why the recent reaction of city officials to questions about why Communication Director Irving Bradley’s name does not appear on city voter lists was so peculiar.

Mr. Bradley is the embattled chief of the city’s communications center. He currently faces twin legal threats, in the form of a lawsuit brought by city dispatchers alleging discriminatory practices and continued questions about Mr. Bradley’s legitimate residency within in Trenton, as required by the city’s longstanding residency law.

The voter registration lists in question - secured by some of those working for the Obama presidential campaign - failed to list Mr. Bradley as a registered Trenton voter, despite the fact that the city’s residency requirements mean that the director has now been legally required to live here, along with his family, for over a full calendar year.

When that was brought up to Palmer administration officials this week, someone representing the city’s executive replied that the Board of Elections had been contacted, and it was determined that there are - surprise - several different kinds of voter lists.

The wrong voter list could have been acquired and that would explain the discrepancy, said the official, who instructed the inquisitive party to ensure their request was for the proper voter list from the Mercer County Board of Elections.

What is so telling about this sequence of events is how the administration, instead of taking the initiative and simply requesting the list containing information that would show Mr. Bradley is registered to vote in Trenton, chose to dance around the issue by providing a potential but uncertain explanation for the discrepancy.

This came from officials working for the same administration that has investigated and fired dozens of employees for violating the residency law. Part of the definition of residency is not only where the immediate family of the employee lives, but where that employee is actually registered to vote.

The voter registrations and other information have not only been important to administration officials for the continued election of Mayor Palmer, but they have also been used in residency investigations directed by Palmer officials as crucial, employment-ending pieces of evidence.

But for favored employees like Mr. Bradley and outgoing, residency-ousted Police Director Joseph Santiago, this type of information is simply not that important, judging from the recent reaction of administration officials.

They had an opportunity to dispel all of the innuendo and intrigue swirling around Mr. Bradley’s residency by producing accurate voter registration information on Mr. Bradley, like they have done with so many other city employees.

But instead, they chose to dodge the issue.

This exchange not only casts doubt on the possibility that Mr. Bradley is indeed legally residing in Trenton but it also serves to further add to the constantly growing evidence that Palmer administration policy is filled with double standards and the uneven application of the law.

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