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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Numerous people in Trenton have commented on how much the city has taken on the feeling of an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” following the appointment of Police Director Irving Bradley Jr. this week.

First, the usual hate mongers were playing to the fears of the people in the local media today. They were quickly branding any and all opponents of Mayor Douglas H. Palmer as racists, as those opponents - including me - pursue the ouster of Mr. Bradley, like his predecessor Joseph Santiago, for violating the city’s residency ordinance.

Part of the basis of this racially-charged response is the surveillance tactics used by some residents in observing Mr. Bradley at his family residence in Rahway two weeks ago, but such a response only demonstrates the hypocrisy of Mayor Palmer and those who support him.

These tactics were taken right out of his administration’s playbook. Mayor Palmer’s own officials have spied and investigated employees for maintaining similar living arrangements to those of Mr. Bradley.

The icing on the cake in the lawsuit filed this morning is that one plaintiff, Frederick Constanzo, did exactly what Mr. Bradley is doing and was fired by Mayor Palmer for doing so.

As Councilman Manny Segura told Mayor Palmer this week, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

The playing of the race card was expected, since it has become the only worthwhile tactic to the advocates of hypocrisy. But there was other, more unexpected rumors and innuendo flying around the city today.

One rumor holds that some council members were aware that in the event of a legal challenge being mounted against Mr. Bradley’s appointment, the man would move towards the pursuit of some sort of separation, legal or not, designed to foil the challenge and embarrass the residents.

Rumor number two holds that council members were bullied into accepting the man’s residency status, and accepted that the living arrangements of his wife and children were “personal” information and thus went unquestioned during Tuesday’s confirmation hearing.

If count one of the rumor is true, then Trenton’s government is completely broken, because it effectively means that elected officials have decided to keep important information, which has only become more important due to recent events, from the very people they are elected to represent in an effort to marginalize and embarrass said residents.

Count two, if true, means that some of the current city representatives sorely lack the credentials necessary to do their jobs, which include a willingness to uphold city law and enforce it.

Residency is a city law, and living arrangements, however personal, are subject to this law. Dozens of employees have been fired in the past based on these livings arrangements, which were probed, investigated, and spied upon with vigor by the Palmer administration at great cost to the taxpayers.

To suddenly declare such information off-limits is a ridiculous and hypocritical position to take. This is something that Trenton residents have come to expect from their mayor, but not City Council members.

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