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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tell us the truth, mayor

By all accounts, Police Director Irving Bradley Jr. is a big hit with many in the City of Trenton.

He has attended civic gatherings, carried himself well at government meetings, and suggested what appear to be new, innovative ideas. He even seems to be gaining solid acceptance among the rank-and-file of the city’s police force, unlike his predecessor.

That’s why it is so disturbing that the City refuses to elaborate on the director’s living situation, which has been questioned so frequently since Mr. Bradley emerged on the scene last September, at nearly the same time as former director Joseph Santiago was questioned and then ousted over his own non-residency.

That legal battle, over Mr. Santiago, cost the City hundreds of thousands of dollars and painted Mayor Douglas H. Palmer as a mayor dedicated to establishing the power to decide which workers are subject to residency rather than spending time working on the city’s problems.

Now, another director is on the scene who also appears to be breaking the same residency law, and despite the presence of a similar lawsuit that threatens the city’s funds all over again, the only thing Mayor Palmer says is that Mr. Bradley is in compliance.

Such a position loses credibility because of the continued existence of Mr. Bradley’s well-known family residence in Rahway, where the director’s children attend school and where the director has taken City vehicles. He was even seen there, about a month ago.

The city’s established position on residency - based on decades of court rulings - is that employees are not in compliance when they rent an apartment inside the City while occasionally visiting immediate family members who live in a larger, owner-occupied home far away.

But that is exactly what Mr. Bradley appears to be doing, and that type of double-standard, evident in Mr. Santiago’s case and now in Mr. Bradley‘s, is exactly why people like me are suing the city.

It is abhorrent to supporters of democracy when laws apply to most but not to all, because such activity is reminiscent of the shackles of monarchy that Americans fought so hard to throw off in the Revolutionary War, communist Russia, or the segregationist laws that kept people of color down in the South earlier this century.

If this is not the case and Mr. Bradley has some sort of living arrangement or situation in play that makes him in compliance with the law, then it would behoove Mayor Palmer and Mr. Bradley to reveal that information, before the City wastes hundreds of thousands of dollars in an unnecessary court battle with its own residents.

If there is some sort of arrangement that only emerges in court, be it a legal separation or divorce, then it shall prove that the Palmer administration would rather fight a costly court battle with City residents to prove those residents wrong than save City dollars and allow Trenton to move on, under the capable leadership of Mr. Bradley.

Mayor Palmer will likely ignore this request for this cost-saving information, and that’s fine.

But should the court battle continue and facts emerge establishing that once again the mayor has ignored the city’s own, long-established law, then City residents ought to get working on ensuring that someone else takes over following the 2010 election.

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