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Monday, November 10, 2008

Fix the fire director issue

The city government in Trenton needs to start following its own rules.

That's not being done right now, thanks to people like Mayor Douglas H. Palmer and Councilwoman Annette Lartigue, who either don't know or don't care about the some of the law that governs the way things are supposed to be done in Trenton.

A perfect example of this is the continuing saga of acting Fire Director Hank Gliottone. While occupying a civilian directorship that requires adherence to the city's residency ordinance, he also happens to be an actual firefighter, which exempts him from residency.

But also calling his continued employment as director into question is that City Council and Mayor Palmer have allowed Mr. Gliottone to continue in his position long after the statutory 90-day period for acting appointments expired.

At some point, a civilian director living in Trenton should have been found, but since the city declined to do this, Mr. Gliottone has continued in the position and has been commuting back and forth from his Jersey Shore home to Trenton in a city-owned and city-fueled vehicle, according to some officials.

Of course, Mayor Palmer and some council members chose to let this sleeping dog lie, until it became politically beneficial for Councilwoman Lartigue and others to use their administrative screw-up as a method of attacking residency supporters in the city, like me, for not calling Mr. Gliottone's employment into question when we have scrutinized others.

However, such a strategy ignores the fact that Mr. Gliottone's employment as both a firefighter and director exempts him from residency. It also ignores the fact that an arrangement that puts a non-civilian in a civilian's position, however silly, is the fault of no one but Trenton's elected officials.

Recognizing that, Councilwoman Lartigue, Mayor Palmer, and others who have questioned why residency supporters haven't gone after Mr. Gliotonne should be officially on notice that city residents expect them to immediately rectify any inconsistencies regarding the residency of the director and the apparent expiration of his 90-day appointment.

They should do this by either making Mr. Gliottone director and requiring him to move into the city, or by finding another city resident willing the lead the department and make a much shorter, less-costly taxpayer-funded commute.

When it comes to this problem, the only ones who should be sharing the blame are the city officials who created this situation, and not a group of vigilant residents who have no power whatsoever to rectify the specific issues raised by the fire director situation.

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