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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Santiago's new boss implicated in corruption probe

It seems that Joseph Santiago, Trenton’s former police director and the current police director of Irvington, is in good company up in Essex County.

There a politically connected gentleman by the name of Keith O. Reid has implicated the man who brought Mr. Santiago into the Irvington fold, Mayor Wayne Smith, in a state corruption probe that netted numerous New Jersey public officials for bribery, according to published reports.

Mr. Reid said that he accepted $5,000 in bribes from undercover agents to be delivered to Mr. Santiago’s big supporter, Mayor Smith, in return for ensuring the awarding of a Irvington municipal contract to a fake government insurance firm set up by the feds.

A Star-Ledger piece today stated that tape recordings of the proceedings demonstrated that Mr. Reid organized a meeting between representatives from the fake firm and Mayor Smith in August of 2007. The representative, Bruce Begg, offered the Irvington mayor a $5,000 payment for the contract – calling it a “pre-commission” – but the mayor told Mr. Begg to give it to Mr. Reid, according to the report.

Back in Trenton, City Council is holding a marathon doubleheader meeting today where few city residents will be in attendance, since the meeting begins at 1 p.m. Sadly there are some very interesting items on the meeting docket.

Palmer administration officials have scheduled a city vehicle policy discussion, in response to Councilman Jim Coston, who has been calling for an examination of the policy and the institution of a vehicle ordinance to better regulate the municipal fleet.

Councilman Coston has also been brandishing a potential ordinance, although it is likely that administration officials and their allies on council will block the passage of the ordinance. Thankfully, citizens can take this matter into their own hands through an ordinance initiative.

Also, a contract for former gang consultant Barry Colicelli is up for discussion and possible passage. Council members ended his relationship with the city 11 months ago, but it appears that the majority on council that did so has weakened and what represented a positive step towards better government accountability could be reversed today.

Council members cited a lack of accountability and demonstrable work product in eliminating the contract last year, so one wonders what has changed to warrant reexamining this unnecessary expenditure.

More on this tomorrow.

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