Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dysfunctional Family?

I going to take a cue from the literary style of a friend of mine and pose this to any of you who know the situation here in Trenton and care to read/respond to this blog.

What do the following have in common:

A failing school system and a school board that refused to act upon serious allegations of nonfeasance on the part of top level administrators.

The hastened departure of a highly touted Library Director after less than six months in the position.

The resignation of (yet another) Housing and Economic Development Director after much less than a year on the job.

A somewhat secretive non-profit Lafayette Yard Corporation (LYC)that oversees the finances of the City--owned Marriott hotel but is reluctant to operate openly.

The inability or unwillingness of a majority of City Council members to truly represent the interests and needs of the residents and challenge the will of the Administration.

The answer is Mayor Douglas H. Palmer.

Now, some will argue that the Mayor isn't solely responsible for these problems.

They will say the school board and the district professionals are there to ensure that the system works.

It's the Library Board's duty to oversee the hiring and management of the Library system.

The departed Housing and Economic Development Director made his own decision to leave his post is such a short time.

The Lafayette Yard Corporation was created to manage the Hotel and keep it competitive in a tough market.

And City Council was elected by the people of Trenton and the voters can send select new representation in the next election if they are dissatisfied with the representation they receive.

While somewhat accurate, those are rather superficial responses to a very serious problem.

The fact is that the Mayor of the City of Trenton appoints the members of the School and Library Boards as well as the members of the LYC. Department Directors serve at the pleasure of the Mayor. And at least three of the current City Council people hold office in large part because Mayor Palmer endorsed and financially supported their campaigns.

More and more people are taking notice that, despite the offical spin to the contrary, the City is not doing well. Economic development is not happening. Our infrastructure is crumbling. The school system is failing our children and therefor the City as a whole. Our Libraries are underfunded and lack any kind of direction that will put them back in the forefront of the City's Civic life. The Hotel is barely making it and a potential sale has fallen through.

It is time to recognize that Mayor Palmer has ceased to use his position to lead the City of Trenton to a brighter future. While he is off self-promoting himself via his position as head of the US COnference of Mayors, the boards packed with Palmer cronies and his "loyal" appointies in the City Administration are stifling Trenton's progress with their ieffectiveness and lack of true vision. City Hall is "run" by the Mayor's hand-picked Chief of Staff and the Business Administrator. Neither is doing anything to improve the situation in town.

Council appears to lack the will or power to overcome the Mayor's control. The At-Large Candidates were elected largely due to the Mayor's continued blessing and support. The Ward representatives are somewhat at the mercy of the administration's bullying tactics. Make waves and the people of your Ward will suffer.

Maybe it's time to stand up to the bullying and reign in the Mayor. The City will not improve until the bully is put in his place.