Trenton Fire Director Position in Limbo
Did acting Trenton Mayor George Muschal follow procedure when he fired Fire Director Qareeb Bashir?
The answer is not clear.
Muschal, the president of the Trenton City Council, became acting mayor when a court ordered Tony Mack to vacate the office after he was found guilty of corruption. Muschal has followed through on a promise to move forward with "honesty and integrity" and has removed many Mack appointees from office.
In the case of Bashir, four of five city council members at Tuesday's council meeting questioned whether or snot Muschal had the authority to fire Bashir and believe they should have been consulted.
Councilwoman Kathy McBride told Bashir to report for work on Wednesday as the city's legal team reviews the action according to the Trentonian. Bashir was greeted by police called by current fire director Leonard Carmichael on Wednesday morning according to the Times of Trenton. Carmichael tells the newspaper that Muschal told him to do whatever is needed to keep Bashir out.
“At best, George Muschal wasted the valuable time of our police officers and firefighters, who should have been working to make our city safer instead of staring each other down,” McBride said in a statement to the Times.
The Trentonian reports that a city ordinance requires written notification to the city council and the firing would take effect 20 days later. Muschal filed such a letter on Friday but then took it back. The city's transitional aid agreement with the state Division of Local Government Services requires the state to approve the firing of a department head but ruled that Bashir's dismissal did not need their okay.
Bashir is also under investigation by the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office. "We are investigating potential criminal activity that occurred after his termination,” spokeswoman Casey DeBlasio told the Times. A computer used by Bashir while director has been removed from his office.
The Trenton City Council will meet on Thursday in closed door session to discuss wrongful termination of employees according to the Trentonian.