In light of the embarrassing situation Mayor Tony Mack is currently putting the City of Trenton through, Senator Shirley K. Turner introduced two bills today that would deal with indicted or convicted public officials.
The first is SCR129, a constitutional amendment which would require the immediate suspension, without pay, of any public official who is indicted. Officials could return to office if later absolved of any wrongdoing. Turner proposed the bill in the last legislative session after Mayor Bencivengo of HamiltonTownship was indicted.
“Everyone deserves a presumption of innocence, but as a public official, the slightest hint of wrong doing can have a devastating impact on those you serve,” said Turner. “During the entire period Mayor Mack was under indictment, the City of Trenton and its residents were held hostage. And we saw where the governor indicated he wasn’t going to do anything to help the city as long as they had a mayor under indictment.”
Senator Turner also added that Mack has been collecting a taxpayer funded paycheck the entire time the city has been paralyzed by his arrest and pending trial. Mack was eventually found guilty earlier this month of corruption, but has refused to vacate his office.
In order to avoid similar situations in the future, Senator Turner is also introducing a bill to close the loophole that has allowed Mayor Mack to stay in office pending a court hearing, despite the fact he has already been found guilty on six counts of corruption. The statute currently only requires public officials convicted under state law to forfeit office. The bill would add convictions under federal law to the statute to ensure that no convicted public officials can remain in office.
“If the Mayor wishes to continue this in the courts, that’s his right; however, he shouldn’t continue to hold the residents of Trenton hostage to this side show and continue to collect a paycheck and use city services at the expense of residents and taxpayers. He’s been convicted in a court of law and should have been removed immediately. We need to ensure this situation does not happen again, whether it is in Trenton or anywhere in New Jersey. People should not suffer because their elected officials decided to commit crimes. It is long passed time for Trenton and Mayor Mack to move on,” said Turner.