Embattled Trenton City council President Kathy McBride is being sued by the Trenton Police Superior Officer’s Association (SOA) for gross violations of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) and not allowing residents, constituents, and others to speak openly at public City Council meetings, according to a copy of the lawsuit filed in the capital city on Tuesday.
According to the lawsuit, McBride has repeatedly violated the mandate by shutting down constituents and others attempting to speak or ask questions at council meetings that may be outside of the docket items for the current session. However, at an abruptly ended Council meeting on Thursday evening, McBride said the lawsuit is not specifically against her. “I want to make it clear that this lawsuit is not against Kathy McBride,” she said. McBride added that legal counsel on her behalf and the Trenton City Council (TCC) advised and recommended limitations of public comments during council meetings. However, McBride and the Trenton City Council are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
McBride is also running for mayor and has been president of the Council for four years. Her tenure has been marred by controversy–including numerous lawsuits, public shouting matches, canceled meetings, and allegations of massive incompetence from Trentonians, political pundits and journalists.
In the latest legal drama, the Trenton Police Superior Officer’s Association (SOA) contends McBride and the Trenton City Council have engaged in a pattern of refusing to allow the public to comment at council meetings–a gross violation of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). The measure ensures that public members can speak at every governing body meeting on any government issue.
McBride has repeatedly claimed that time constraints and limitations to meetings are a reason for limiting or shutting down public comments or discussions at council meetings. However, the point is disputed by some Trentonians. “Council members making excessively long and repetitive statements and coming to meetings unprepared contribute more to meeting length than time alloted to public comment,” said Michael Ranallo, who is running for a seat on the Council. He added that constant bickering, arguing, and the current City Council’s general disorder impede the public’s right to comment and actively participate in meetings.
Lastly, if the preliminary results of several recent polls is any indication, incumbent mayor Reed Gusciora is favored to be re-elected. He leads his competitors for the top spot, including McBride, Councilwoman Robin Vaughn, and Trenton Housing Authority Commissioner Cherrie Garrett. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8th.
Leave a comment