Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Just a thought

It has been suggested that City Council rearrange their standard docket in order to allow public comment to come earlier in the meetings. The request for this change has come about principally due to the fact that members of the public were kept waiting for hours before getting their time to address council at the July 19 meeting.

Charges of deliberate delays to discourage the attendees from waiting it out just to unload on Council have been floated from several quarters.

To be fair, there was an unusually large amount of work laid before council that evening:
  • a presentation on the revamped city wide housing inspections initiative
  • some Alcoholic Beverage Control Board matters (remember, besides regular Council responsibilities, Trenton's City Council sits at the local ABC Board as well)
  • an executive session
  • docket review
And that all came before the regular public meeting.

As long as I have been observing Trenton's City Council, they have pared down their regular meeting schedule to just one each in July and August. Ostensibly, this is to provide the opportunity for Council members to enjoy a little down time in the summer.

Faced as they are with an increasing work load and with the added burden of dealing with ABC issues (all liquor licenses are up for annual renewal in June leading to some extended 'business' in July), maybe Council should reconsider the cut back in meetings for July and August.

Surely the long hours of an extended meeting such as occurred on July 19 must be hard on our elected officials.

Certainly, the delays and discussions were frustrating to the members of the public awaiting their turn at the podium.

If there is too much work to get through in one night's meeting, Council should think about not voting to lighten their summer schedule. Instead, they might want to choose to allow adequate time for all of the business in front of them even if it means having to hold two or more meetings during the "dog days."

At the very least, and as one attorney suggested that evening, they could relenquish their ABC duties to a separate, appointed Board.

If allowing adequate time to do fulfill their responsibilities year round isn't to any one's interest, they can always forfeit their $20,000 pay check and seat at the table to someone for whom the sacrifice of an evening or two a month is more of a calling.

Perhaps someone who was in the group waiting for their chance to address the issues of the day.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

"Johnny" talks back

Below is the text of a Letter To the Editor that appeared in today's Times. It is an eloquent response to Trenton City Council President Paul Pintella's ridiculous assessment and subsequent dismissal of residents who openly dissapprove of City Hall's status quo. Kudos to the author.

Listen to Johnny,
come lately or not

Trenton City Council President Paul Pintella's remarks in The Times' "Residents present litany of wishes" (July 21), in which he referred to city residents who addressed council July 19 as "Johnny-come-lately" are reckless and unbecoming of the leader of Trenton Council.

The council president's comments serve to divide the electorate in the city. More important, it seems counterproductive to make such comments at a time when Trenton seeks to attract young liberals who prefer neither Philly nor New York City, but a safe haven in between. Trenton has great potential to be that hub, to attract this "disposable income." But Pintella's remarks would suggest otherwise. It would suggest: We want your investment, but do not come with expectations of us (the elected officials and administration) and when they are not met, don't come to city council and complain. Come into the city and buy a home, a brownstone, open a boutique, café, or bookstore, and pay your taxes -- just don't think you have a right to ex pectations and the right to ask questions.

If the numerous men and women who addressed council that Thursday are "Johnny-come- lately," then what would Mr. Pintella call the pastors of so many of our black churches who migrated to and around the city and have similar expectations? Does this same logic apply to the numerous administration officials who were not born and bred in Trenton? President Pintella should consider apologizing for his remarks. Trenton needs all the support and input it can get from all people.

-- PAUL A. HARRIS JR., Trenton
The writer maintains a blog about Trenton at http:// TrentonRising.blogspot.com.

Friday, July 27, 2007

What's A Tourist To Do?

Trenton used to have a Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

Housed in the 18th Century Masonic Lodge at the corner of Lafayette and Willow (now Barracks) streets, it was the point of contact for anyone seeking information on Trenton activities, history or sites via the phone, Internet or even in person.

Then came the great idea.

In order to better fund the bureau, the state, county and city regrouped and hired someone to coordinate it's activities.

What was the end result?

The Convention and Visitor's Bureau Downtown office (located, by the way, just across the street from the hotel), hasn't been open on any kind of regular basis for a couple of years.

The "regional" effort appears to have failed.

Now, the Trenton Downtown Association (TDA) has shown an interest in taking it over.

This could be good. TDA is located downtown; it's focus is downtown. TDA has successfully developed and grown the "Patriot's Week" concept over the past few years.

And having a Visitor's Center that is actually open and accommodating to, um, Visitors, might be a good thing.

Ya think?

It's Not All Bad

Trenton's City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park continues to prove that there are some wonderful things in Trenton.

Housed in what old timers (not those vilified "johnny-come-latelies") might remember as "the monkey house," the Trenton City Museum houses a wonderful permanent collection of locally produced ceramics plus works by regional visual artists and more. (See http://www.ellarslie.org/)

The non-profit Trenton Museum Society owns the bulk of the collection housed in the Museum. The City owns, operates and maintains the building...a glorious Italianate Mansion built as the summer home of the wealthy McCall family of Philadelphia by famed 19th Century architect John Notman.

Under the guidance of Museum Director Brian Hill (a city employee) and in conjunction with the Trenton Museum Society and groups like Trenton Artists Workshop Association (TAWA), the programming at Ellarslie is as strong and diverse as ever. A full year's calendar of exhibits, concerts, lectures and workshops is on tap for those looking for a local diversion.

This evening, a full house of patrons enjoyed a concert by Trenton-based Joe Zook and Blues Deluxe accompanied by free refreshments. Two sets of "Jersey Blues," a to-die-for chicken/pasta salad, and liquid refreshments were provided, all in an elegant setting showcasing the summer TAWA exhibit of works by local artists. The audience was made up of more than just Trenton residents.

There is life in Trenton after dark and on a summer Friday night!

Ellarslie and the Trenton Museum Society, along with entities like Artworks, Cafe Ole, Classics New and Used Books, Passage Theatre, the Trenton Film Fesitval and the Trenton Downtown Association's Gallery 125 are doing a lot to promote the arts as an economic engine for our city. We've got to support these efforts if we hope to generate the kind of civic life that will attract and retain more forward thinking individuals who can join the campaign to turn Trenton around.
There is still good to be found in town. We need to promote that as heavily as we point out what's wrong here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

But will it really help?

Both houses of the New Jersey Legislature have passed a bill aimed at curbing the number of "illegally registered" vehicles in the state. The Bills (S2087/A3372) aim to close a loophole that has allowed individuals residing in New Jersey "touring privileges" and not forced them to legally register their vehicles here once residency is established. (links to an online copy can be found at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp

It has been a popular belief in Trenton (and throughout NJ, no doubt) that enforcing the required registration laws would somehow free-up spaces in the parking starved capital.

To be sure, it is always good to revisit our laws and tweak them for better efficacy. But before everyone gets there hopes up too high, they must bear in mind a couple of things.

First, should Governor Corzine sign this into law, it won't just be enforced against those residents who may not have enough documentation to properly register their cars in New Jersey. This will also apply to people with second homes in states with lower insurance rates who've registered their autos there. If NJ is your primary residence (test: are you registered to vote here?) then your automobiles need to be registered here.

There goes your insurance discount!

Second, if this bill becomes law, is it enforceable and will it be enforced? Can you truly see a squad of Trenton Police detailed to patrol a neighborhood solely to issue summonses for improperly registered automobiles?

Do you think we have that kind of manpower to spare?

Finally, what if the law goes into effect and all the illegal cars are then properly registered in NJ. They'll still have to park somewhere...maybe in front of your house!

I'm not saying this bill isn't a good idea, or shouldn't be enforced if it makes it into law. But we must be aware that it may not be the panacea so many have hoped for.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

How Does Your Shoe Taste, Mr. Pintella?

City Council President Paul Pintella seems to have a chronic case of "foot-in-mouth" disease.

Over the years he's admitted to forging the signatures of young athletes on letters of intent to play for a specified baseball team so their spots on the rosters were safeguarded. Yet he didn't think he, as a City Council person, should be sanctioned in anyway for this illegal act.

While attending a conference related to his then job at the now defunct Urban League, he felt is was legitimate to charge some travel expenses to the City as Councilman because he was also acting in the interest of Trenton.

In the heated battle over the ill-fated Leewood Development proposal for a large chunk of South Trenton, the Council President uttered the infamous "sometimes a new brick is better than an old brick" line. He also made a statement threatening those in opposition to the project with being "run over" by the train of progress.

So it should be no surprise when Paul Michael Pintella is quoted in the paper as discounting people who openly disagree if not outright oppose his presence on City Council as "johnny-come-lately's."

If Mr. Pintella was half as astute as he is glib, he would recognize the fact that longevity and tenure in town are not prerequisites for observing and understanding how woefully deficient our City Government has become. Just because someone is younger than the Councilman or has lived in Trenton less time than the Councilman doesn't mean their concerns should be summarily dismissed.

It doesn't take a genius to see how and where City Officials are failing us. And if anyone should be chided or dismissed for being oblivious to the facts and history, it probably should be those who continually elect the same inept leaders.

If Mr. Pintella were truly a believer in being cooperative and progressive, he would embrace these recent arrivals and invite them to the table rather than sending them away with a verbal wave of the hand.

Instead, he'd rather sit alone, exalted on his high horse, packing a lunch of shoe leather.

We really have to be able to do better than this.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Can We Be Honest, Just Once?

Capital Health System has announced that it is interested in developing a first class, tertiary care facility in Trenton. (Think Cooper Medical Center in Camden) This would mean an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in the City. Some of the money would come from the State of NJ which, by the way, has expressed an interest in just such a facility.

Mayor Palmer says, "No thank you. I want St. Francis (Medical Center) to build it. Downtown."

Well Mayor Palmer, how about some full disclosure.

How about you are trying to prop up the sagging fortunes of St. Francis Medical Center which is in need of some tertiary care itself. Even after you "suggested" this plan to St. Francis' management, they have not done the necessary planning nor do they have even have the proportionate amount of funding that CHS does to put toward such a major development. (Translation: more government investment)

How about the fact that old friend and confidant Bill Watson is on the Board of Trustees for St. Francis?

How about you tell the truth and the whole truth. Just once.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Don't Even Think It

This morning residents of Trenton's Mill Hill neighborhood awoke to find they were the victims of an apparent gang-related spate of "criminal mischief." Several buildings and cars were spray painted with signs and sayings consistent with those of the city's gang element.

Police response was apparently quite thorough. The 200 blocks of Mercer and Jackson and adjacent streets and alleys were blocked off by mid-morning so that investigators could photograph and videotape the vandalism. Officers, accompanied by Police Director Santiago, canvassed residents.

Additionally, city graffiti removal crews were dispatched as soon as possible to work on the buildings that had been "tagged."

Now, I want to get this on the record before any of our local scribes or activists start howling about preferential treatment for Mill Hill.

From what I have seen and heard about this situation, the city's response was what any neighborhood that is actively engaged in making things better in Trenton should expect.

Everyone in Trenton should get the best services the city has to offer, in good times and in bad. If and when the City leadership fails the residents (as in the lapses previously noted in the posting about Sunday's situation on Centre Street), it is the responsibility of the citizens to hold that leadership accountable.

When the system goes to work for the people, it is what is expected of them. So don't cry foul or ask why? Ask why it isn't always the norm and ask your leaders to do better.

What happened in Mill Hill last night should not happen anywhere, anytime.

What happened by way of a response from the Trenton Police and Public Works Departments should happen everywhere and all the time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Oops! They Did It Again!

As a very unfortunate series of events unfolded in the greater Trenton area Sunday, dozens of South Ward residents were left standing in the heat and rain with no initial consideration for their physical well being.

With law enforcement types of all stripes on hand to apprehend a fugitive, there was no one present to attempt to deal with the needs of the residents evacuated from neighboring homes.

While it is understandable that things might get overlooked in the initial moments of a crisis, shouldn't there be procedures and considerations in place to communicate with and support those who are impacted by government actions?

In a newspaper report on the handling of the situation by City leaders, Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer is quoted as saying he wasn't told about the evacuations or made aware of the plight of those forced from their homes. He further claims to have been in constant touch with Police commanders on the scene and yet hours went by before any relief actions were taken.

True, once he became aware of the plight of the residents left without shelter, food, beverages or rest room facilities, the Mayor acted. Unfortunately, it wasn't until hours had gone by that any of this occurred.

Yet, when criticized by a resident for failing to perform his duties to the citizens of Trenton, the Mayor is reported to have "bristled" that he indeed did do his job. Well, he may have acted as Mayor, but the performance was less than stellar and he deserves the criticism.

Now before any of you dear readers throw up your hands and claim this as just some more unwarranted Mayor bashing, consider two items:

Mayor Douglas H. Palmer is in his fifth term as the elected leader of this city.

He has been chosen to head up the U.S. Conference of Mayors based upon his leadership skills and successful management of the affairs of New Jersey's Capital City.

After 17 years in office is the Mayor's leadership so good he can literally "phone it in" from afar.

Rather than being on site to see exactly what was happening and how it was impacting the residents, the Mayor relied upon phone reports from law enforcement officials on the scene.

Why wasn't the Mayor on hand to witness for himself what the situation was? And if not the Mayor, why not a staff member empowered to act on behalf of the people? Why wasn't the Ward Councilman notified by the Mayor immediately?

Why wasn't the Police Director on-site...oh right, he doesn't live in the town where he's employed as is dictated by local ordinance (but that is a story for another time). And, for thta matter, where was the highly compensated, city-car driving Special Assistant to the Mayor?

Why isn't there a public communication/coordination component to these types of emergency scenarios? One might expect these oversights from a rookie Mayor, but they are inexcusable from a veteran officeholder.

In the spring of 2006 when a rash of shootings left Trenton nearly under martial law, the Mayor and the Police Commanders failed to notify and communicate with the public in general and with various groups and institutions that would specifically be impacted by some of their actions.

Countless hours over several years have been spent trying to forge better relationships between the public and the police as well as other city departments. And it's funny how, when they want to, various City officials can tap into that network to communicate things they want to spread the word about.

But when it really counts, the contacts are not utilized; community leaders are not brought in to help; and even the local council people are left in the dark.

A veteran Mayor knows better. A good Mayor does better.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fair Play

The NJ.com/Trenton forum was on fire yesterday as flamers burned up the Internet with commentary on the "sleeping police captain" story. Smoldering on the sidelines was the growing debate about the need for more police officers versus escalating overtime costs.

In the former case, there are those who are gleefully enjoying the negative spotlight playing across the career of Police Captain who was caught on camera for the second time sleeping while on duty. Certainly, this is a serious infraction of the regulations and it should be dealt with accordingly.

I won't pretend to have thorough knowledge of Police Union and Civil Service disciplinary procedures, but common sense dictates a possible course of action. Immediate dismissal is probably not warranted in this case. A suspension without pay would probably be more suitable. Along with the suspension this officer should be relieved of some of his many extra responsibilities (professional standards positively, Patrol quite possibly)so that he can get the proper amount of rest that would allow him to then focus his renewed energies on his narrowed duties.

In this writer's opinion, anything less would be grossly unfair to the many officers who have suffered more severe sanctions for lesser offenses. To do less would demonstrate to all the world that the Police and City Administrations do indeed play favorites. And that just isn't right.

As for the "More Cops/Overtime" debate, again we need to stop all the posing and posturing and bear in mind a few simple facts:

The call for more cops is not a "knee jerk reaction" as our Mayor has so glibly categorized it. "Knee jerk reaction" to what? If we are to believe him and the Police Director, crime is down in the city. If overtime is what is driving these numbers downward, then wouldn't more cops on the force be able to accomplish the same thing with less risk of physical and emotional fatigue to the force (thereby providing for an even safer environment for all)? The simple fact that at least one citizen group called for more police over two years before this shows that this has been on the minds of people for awhile.

Any financial argument to be made that the costs of increasing the number of cops would be greater than the ballooning overtime expenses, should be readily available to the Police and City Administrations right now, not two months after the issue is raised by City Council. A dynamic and competent management team would be looking at these cost factors for planning purposes and should have already identified the tipping point where the OT costs start to exceed the personnel costs of an larger police force. It certainly seems as though the Administration is stalling for time as they try to make the best of what appears to be a weak case for not hiring more cops.

The myth of the four on/four off schedule is not the sole problem. Let's be clear, it is a scheduling problem. It always has been a scheduling problem. And when the Palmer Administration was making the pitch for it, many citizens and community groups spoke out against it. Still it became part of the contract with the unions. We've known for six or seven years that sooner or later, the City was going to have to renegotiate (pay more) to return to a more traditional work schedule. The fact is, the schedule went into effect when there were more police on the force and fewer dedicated posts. Available manpower was greater then than now. The schedule has created the need for more cops. Resource deployment and departures from the force have.

Rather than hide behind excuses and stall for time, the Administration needs to step up and say it has made a mistake. We need to increase the number of police on the street by hiring more cops and by returning to a more standard work schedule. The Unions must graciously accept that position and bargain in good faith and conscience for a fair and equitable agreement for all.

We need, now more than ever, to drop the grudges and vendettas; end the controversy and start the conversation. Everyone must dismount from their high horses and start dealing fairly and openly with each other.

Something New for Something Old

The Trenton Historical Society, that venerable body of folks interested in preserving and promoting the Capital City's incredible story, has hit upon an idea to help preserve the character of it's housing stock.

The "Restore Trenton!" historic property rehabilitation grant program offers homeowners a funding source for historically appropriate work done on the exterior of their residences. Grants from $300 to $3000 can be applied for.

Homes must be 50 years old or older and owner-occupied. Preference will be given to homes located in designated historic districts, but properties can be located anywhere within the city limits. All work must be done according to appropriate historic standards.

More information on the program can be found at www.trentonhistory.org.

This is a great example of a local, volunteer driven non-profit doing something concrete to secure Trenton's future by honoring its past.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

More Cops

This one is just too simple.

We're going to spend over $8 million in Police overtime this year.

Overtime spending has been increasing for awhile, but the climb has steepened in the past couple of years.

The Administration likes to point to the fabled "4 on/4 off" schedule that the cops work as a prime culprit. The Administration likes to forget that it was on their watch that this schedule went into effect. And, I might add, over the objection of many citizens and community groups.

"You'll end up with only a 'part-time' police force that will cost you more to operate," we told them.

"It will actually save us money," the Administration said.

Well, too late for that argument and it doesn't really matter anyway. The work schedule is only part of the problem.

When questioned by Councilman Melone about the number of new cops that could be put on the street for the money spent in overtime, the Director played it off.

According to the Director, what's driving a lot of the overtime right now are the mandated "posts." Director Santiago admitted that the Walnut Avenue posts, the Mill Hill post, the Chambersburg (Restaurant District) post, the Hamilton Business District post, etc. was putting demands on staffing that were hard to meet. He inferred at the time that these posts were there at the discretion of the public and the administration and he'd gladly do away with them if allowed to.

Director Santiago didn't' address the posting of an officer nearly 24/7 outside of the Mayor's home...even when the Mayor is not present.

Director Santiago didn't address the lockdowns that occur in certain areas after trouble (usually a murder or shooting) has occurred.

And then there are the emergencies (like last year's flooding of the Island and Glen Afton neighborhoods) that require a police presence. We have to have personnel available to work these types of situations.

While we can find more and more uses for police officers beyond the normal patrol, crime investigation, etc., we have fewer and fewer cops available to fill the slots. Retirements have outstripped recruitment. And the shortfall is made up with mandatory overtime.

Officer are working longer shifts and more consecutive days without time off and they have little choice. And really, neither do we. We obviously have a need for the staffing levels. In fact, I have read that mandatory staffing levels were actually reduced in an effort to reduce overtime costs.

So, we the taxpayers are paying through the nose to stretch our police to the breaking point. We're demanding that they work extra hours, fore go days off and put vacation plans on hold just to cover the day-to-day needs of policing our city.

This is insanity! It is grossly inefficient and a very cheesy way to operate a business, let alone run a city.

We need more cops and we need them now!

We've been very lucky so far that we haven't had an exhausted, stressed and demoralized cop react poorly in a situation that escalates to a major problem.

We don't have enough cops to maintain a minimal presence on the meaner streets in town.

And the administration thinks the cure all is to wave the magic wand of overtime.


It is time that the people of Trenton; the residents and business owners alike stand up and demand a more effective and efficient expenditure of our tax dollars.

We need to hire more cops and hire them now!

Trust me, a safer, more secure city will pay dividends.

We need more cops.

It Could Be Worse

So the City of Trenton has yet another Director of Housing and Economic Development. Sassa Olessi Montaño was named "acting" Director of Housing and Economic Development by Mayor Palmer last week pending her approval by City Council.

I don't know Ms. Montaño personally or professionally. She may be a very competent person with the best of intentions. But I question the Mayor's choice.

With an extensive background in social services and subsidized housing, is she really the best choice to head up the department charged with not just Housing, but Economic Development as well?

Can her experience running the local YWCA, overseeing programs for Luther Social Ministries, managing a community service program in Princeton serve her, and Trenton as a whole, when it comes to overseeing the redevelopment around the Train Station? What about the inertia bound Full Spectrum Town Center project? How will she apply her experience to the "Mannex" site or the proposed Performa Project across from the arena.

I don't mean to sell the woman short. I've no doubt that she is bright and articulate and well intentioned. But is that enough to survive in City Hall let alone make a meanigful difference in the city's redevelopment?

It hasn't even been a year since we experienced all the ballyhoo surrounding the appointment of Alan J. Greenwald. According to the Mayor's own press release, Mr. Greenwald was noted as "a veteran urban policy and community development specialist." We all had high hopes that Greenwald would be able to get real redevelopment moving in Trenton.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Mr. Greenwald took his expertise and knowledge and left in April, allegedly due to "family problems." Insiders say it was more a case of having his hands tied by the Chief of Staff and the Once and Future Director of Housing and Economic Development, Dennis Gonzalez. Mr. Greenwald couldn't or wasn't allowed to unravel some of the rat's nests Mr. Gonzalez has created during his various tenures in the post. Additionaly, Mr. Greenwald was not given the authority to do his job as he saw fit. Instead, this world class talent was handcuffed and hamstrung at every turn by micromanagement.

So, what hope does Ms. Montaño have of being truly creative and proactive about jump starting redevelopment effots in Trenton? With Chief of Staff Renee Haynes and Assistant Business Adminstrator Dennis Gonzalez standing over her shoulder there is little expectation that anything will change.

Sasa Olessi Montaño will survive just as long as she doesn't overstep her bounds. She can't cross Renee or Dennis or her days will be numbered. The first time crosses either of the two characters above she will be rendered ineffective and ultimately cast aside in favor of a more loyal subject.

No. I don't expect much from Ms. Montaño in her tenure as Housing and Economic Development Director. But it could be worse.

No matter how long she serves in the post, it's that much less time that Mr. Gonzalez holds the "acting" title and wreaks more havoc.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Palmer Flip Flops On RCA's

According to news reports Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer has refused to take Regional Contribution Agreement (RCA) funds from Hopewell Township.

This is a new tack for our Mayor. He's previously vigorously defended the acceptance of RCA's as a way for urban centers to provide better housing and home ownership opportunities for residents.

Granted, of late, he's been moderating his stance to say that RCA's are not good, but that New Jersey's cities need some form of funding (from the state) in order to provide for the housing needs of its residents. Mr. Palmer has begun to advocate for a change in the funding mechanism but until now he's not refused to accept any RCA's offered the City of Trenton.

What Mayor Palmer has always seemed to ignore is that by accepting RCA's, urban centers get to house the working class who are priced out of the suburbs where the jobs are.

Now, because the State of NJ has approved the move of Capital Health Systems Mercer Campus to Hopewell Township, Doug Palmer has found a new religion.

No longer will Trenton accept Hopewell's RCA's. No, the Mayor, feels it would be wrong to allow Hopewell to shrug off their responsibility for providing affordable housing, especially since it will be needed for the workers at the relocated Capital Health Systems Mercer Campus.

Funny thing, as I recall, the Management at Capital Health Systems have always declared they would provide transportation for their Trenton dwelling employees to their new facility (whether in Lawrence or Hopewell). Now Mayor Palmer is on the one hand "hoping" that CHS will take care of their current employees while at the same time declaring that Hopewell will need to be prepared for the influx of employees looking to follow their jobs there.

Mayor Palmer needs to serious up and get a grip. He's been wrong on RCA's and his "conversion" is cheapened by his constant pot shot taking at Capital Health System. It's about time for our Mayor to stop posing and start acting like the leader he purports to be.