Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Biting the bullet

Early reports from last night's City Council Conference Marathon (gee, maybe they should have met last Tuesday and split the work load over two night!!!) indicate the following:

1. Trenton is faced with a $7 million budget short fall in fiscal 2009 (which begins July 1).

2. The E-Path presentation/resolution was pulled from the agenda by the Administration (why was it even being brought up again?)

3. Director Santiago and his crew defended their choice of a $200,000 plus investment in new guns for the department.

It shouldn't take more than a room temperature IQ to follow this logic: If we are looking at a $7 million deficit, we do not need to spend money on new guns (especially if we are being offered new guns for free from the current provider!).

It is that simple.

Realizing that we've been over this topic before in this blog, let's refresh every one's memory.

Checking around on-line for commentary and ratings on the two weapons in question, one from Glock and the other from Springfield Armory, the prevailing opinion is that they are comparable weapons. Preference for one over the other is personal choice.

Casual discussion with a few Trenton police officers of our acquaintance has demonstrated no urgent need or mad desire to switch guns. Upgrade, yes (if for free). Switch, no.

Questions that we would like to have answered:

Does the proposed expenditure include the cost of new holsters, etc.?
Are there people on-staff in the TPD trained to service and repair the Springfield guns?

As for arguments that have been made about the Springfields being safer: have there been any incidents of accidentally discharged weapons due to a mechanical failure on the Glocks?

Are the Springfields better weapons for women and less experienced officers? I'm sorry but if the Glock is the standard issue weapon of the force and you have trouble using it, then you are not qualified to be on the force are you?

While this topic will no doubt be fodder for forum posters and bloggers for awhile, let us put a suggestion on the table for consideration.

Accepting the Administration's calculation of a $7 million dollar shortfall in next year's budget, it is obvious that Trenton needs to severely cut expenses. Since, as Chief of Staff Renee Haynes is reported to have put it, "everything is on the table," let's start trimming the obvious fat and waste by not asking for ridiculous expenditures.

Let's withdraw the proposal to purchase new guns from Springfield Armory and take the offer of free upgrades from Glock (this presumes that the stated offer of upgrading the department's guns for free is legit and meets all of the appropriate regulations and guidelines governing such matters). Why spend money we don't have for a change that isn't needed?

Further, let's immediately draw up and put into place a realistic automobile use policy that restricts take home cars and such as much as possible. Let's face it, there are a lot of vehicles being used for little more than commuting to and from work that are costing us, the taxpayers, a lot of money. Those employees who might complain should consider this: they can give up/severely cut back on the use of their city vehicle or they can face possible layoffs or worse.

Let's settle the Police (and any other outstanding contracts) thereby mitigating further increases in the size of retroactive pay increases already incurred.

And, here's one more money saving suggestion for the Administration: no more "free" legal representation for Mr. Santiago or Mr. Palmer in the residency case. The taxpayers do not owe them a defense for their beliefs and actions. They broke the law, they should pay for their own lawyers.

Let's see how quick they are to spend their own dollars on these follies!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Arrogance of Incumbency

What's ailing Trenton

After nearly 18 years in the position, it looks like Trenton’s Mayor has lost any and all sense of duty to the electorate he pretends to serve.

It is expected that the solemn news of the city’s poor fiscal condition will be delivered along with a preview of the FY09 budget at today’s City Council Conference session (5:00 pm, 2nd Floor City Hall). Rumors abound regarding potential layoffs, departmental budget cuts, and even a possible firehouse closing.

Make no mistake; the blame will be aimed at everyone and everything from the Republican White House, the War in Iraq (and Afghanistan), the mortgage crisis and the country’s overall weak economy. Everyone and everything that is except the Palmer administration.

We won’t hear anything about failed economic development strategy of our 5 term Mayor.

There will be no accounting for the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid for outside legal work (just guess what the ongoing costs are for the protracted residency fight that is getting stranger by the day).

Of course, at the same time as the bad news about Trenton’s finances is being delivered to City Council, the Administration is going to once again make its case for two sizeable yet unnecessary expenditures:

A contract with E-Path communications for a city wide WiFi mesh (that was already voted down once).

New guns for the Police Department from a new vendor (when the current vendor has offered to provide new guns for free).

The simple fact is and has been for too long, Douglas H. Palmer does not care about moving Trenton forward. He may have at one time, but he's long since past that point.

What he does care about is projecting himself as something he is not: a capable, credible, leader.

It is no secret that Doug Palmer has an eye on bigger and better things…for Doug Palmer. But he also has an eye on Trenton in 2010 because if he doesn’t get to go to Washington on Hillary’s skirt tails or get tapped for the newly created Lt. Governor’s position in Trenton (and it is the opinion here on the stoop that he will get neither of these), he will most likely run for Mayor again.

In the free-for-all that the next Trenton city elections are shaping up to be, it is conceivable that Mr. Palmer and his chosen few could maintain their death grip on local government. Palmer’s deep pockets and army of accomplices could possibly win over the mixed assortment of likely challengers.

From where we sit here on the stoop, it seems that there is one course of action open to the people of Trenton who wish to see meaningful change in their city.

It is admittedly quite drastic and would take a lot of organization and effort. Serious consideration should be given to a recall of the Mayor. And along with that recall, a likely (not just “likeable”) replacement must be identified and supported.

It may be the only possible cure.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What part of "NO, THANK YOU" don't you understand?

Well it seems like our old friend E-Path is back on the agenda for City Council again.

According to Jim Coston's blog the CEO of this company that is desperate to build a city-wide WiFi mesh here in Trenton will visit Council and listen to their questions.

Questions, by the way, that the Palmer Administration has asked be submitted to them by Friday.

Ok, Mr. Pintella and Ms. Staton; Ms. Feigenbaum and Mr. Gonzalez; Douglas and Renee; in case you didn't get it the first few times we ran this by you:

Municipal WiFi models have yet to live up to their hype and promise.
E-Path has yet to deliver a system anywhere (read this or this -- including the comments or this).

Larger, more advanced and experienced corporations with deeper pockets have pulled out of the Municipal WiFi market.

These are facts, plain and simple.

Knowing and understanding all of the above, please tell us why the cash-strapped City of Trenton should commit to a contract with company that hasn't and probably won't build the system to deliver the services specified in the contract?

If you all are so damn sure that this will fly...let E-Path build the system and demonstrate it's total functionality and reliability. Then, and only then, should you have reason to come before Council and request approval of a contract for services.

Got it?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Caught! Again!

Seems as though long-time Palmer puppet Paul Michael Pintella has been caught in a prevarication yet again.
The multi-term Councilman At Large and two term Council President claimed in yesterday's press that South Ward Councilman Jim Coston had taken the sole initiative to invite dubious developer K. Hovnanian to present to council (and the public)on the status of the Champale site development next week. Claiming that Coston did not follow protocol in this matter, Pintella took it upon himself to cancel the appearance.

Now it comes to light that an actual resolution was presented to and passed by City Council as a body to have K. Hovnanian come in and present its case.

So Paul Michael, you've been caught lying. Again.

And you've been shown to be the servant of the will and whims of the Palmer Administration who has continually secured your seat on council rather than the people you pretend to represent. Again.

Are you proud of yourself, sir?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Riding the wave

"Crime is down!"

"Crime is down!"

So goes the mantra of the Palmer/Santiago acolytes.

And despite questions about how crimes are reported,it appears as though crime just might be down.

But not just in Trenton.

New Jersey's Uniform Crime Report (UCR) for the first six months of 2007 show a statewide decrease in violent crime. (read about it here)

State Attorney General Anne Milgram rightfully acknowledges the hard work and dedication of the law enforcement agencies across the state for their commitment to improving public safety. The UCR figures show that urban areas experienced the largest drop in reported crimes.

So it makes us wonder, is Joe Santiago really the world's greatest crime fighter who's management of the TPD is solely responsible for the improved crime statistics in Trenton?

Or has he been lucky enough to catch the wave of positive results we're experiencing statewide?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April foolishness

Trenton's wayward administration is still at it.

On the docket again this week is a resolution to enter into a $250,000 contract for services with E-Path Communications. E-Path, you will recall, is the small, Florida-based company who wants to build a city-wide WiFi mesh in Trenton. They promised they would do this at "no cost" to the taxpayers. The costs of building and maintaining the system will be paid for by selling access and services to government entities.

Enter the $250,000 contract with Trenton.

The "free" construction and implementation of the network is dependent upon having paying customers. E-Path is essentially asking the City of Trenton to commit to buying access to the (as yet unbuilt) system. With a signed contract in hand, we presume E-Path's management will then try to leverage that deferred income into financing for this project...and probably the yet to be completed system they are supposed to be building on Long Island in New York state.

Today's city council conference session is to include another presentation by the Wizards of WiFi from E-Path as they desperately try to make their case for the city to grant this contract.

We've said it before and we say it again...No, Thank You!

No doubt there will also be talk about the Mayor's request that Council amend the city's current residency ordinance to allow exceptions and waivers.

Haven't we been over this before?

If council had wanted to amend the residency ordinance to allow exceptions and waivers, wouldn't they have done so before entering into a law suit on the side of the citizens who wanted the law upheld? Would they/should they have spent all that money on legal representation to fight the Mayor only to turn around and acquiesce to his child-like demands of "My Way! My Way!"

Doug Palmer and his administration need to stop all of this foolishness right now.

No WiFi. No amendment to the residency ordinance.

This is not about you, Doug Palmer, and not about "defining moments" of your time as Mayor.

This is about common sense and doing the right thing for the City as a whole. Stop worrying about running around the country trying to line up your next step and take care of business here in Trenton.

When and if you come back to work for the people you claim gave you a mandate, I'd suggest leaving your ego at home with your pettiness and your spoiled brat tantrums. Accept that you don't have all the answers and the ones you do have aren't always right.

If that doesn't suit you, then step aside and let those who truly care about the people who live and work in Trenton take charge and stop this nonsense.