Friday, November 21, 2008

Does he think we are that stupid?

Doug tries to foist Colicelli on council and the city again.

Almost a year ago, Trenton's city council pulled the plug on Barry Colicelli's sweetheart deal with the Palmer administration by not renewing his contract. Now he's back again in a resolution to hire his consulting company to be the city's "Youthstat Coordinator."

Colicelli, you may recall, was a former Newark cop and crony of former Police Director Joe Santiago who for three years or so had a contract with the city to be a special advisor to Mr. Palmer in matters pertaining to the city's gang problem. Colicelli's "Target Law Enforcement and Security Consultants, LLC" was given annual contracts worth just shy of $100,000 plus a car, cell phones, computers and furnished offer in city hall.

Finally, members of city council apparently had their fill of funding the position for an outsider when there must be one or more individuals already on the city payroll who could take on the tasks of this "consultant." Further, there might actually be a resident (or two or three) qualified to do the work.

Fortunately for Colicelli and Palmer, there was never any real look at the fact that the former was paid for work done without a contract in place; from apparently duplicated invoices; and without proper checks and balances from within city hall.

Fortunately for the taxpayers, a majority of council saw that it was their duty to not allow these questionable practices to continue siphoning off serious resources from a cash-strapped city.

Now, not even a year later, Colicelli/Target Law Enforcement is up for another contract with the city. While it is apparently a slightly less valuable contract (not to exceed $71,149), it is still questionable as to whether or not it is a reasonable or required expense.

First of all, we have never gotten a satisfactorily reasoned and explained answer to the question of whether or not we already had people on staff who could perform these duties as part of his/her job?

Second, there are questions about the "bidding process" used to fill this position.

Rumors have swirled for the past few weeks that an equally if not more qualified city resident expressed an interest in this consultant contract...and allegedly for a lower amount...but was passed over in favor of Colicelli.

Doug Palmer must thing we have forgotten what happened not even 12 months ago.

He must also be pretty certain that he has a majority of council votes to approve this contract.

After conducting a caucus on the front stoop, we suggest that the citizens of Trenton let their elected officials know that they will not stand for this type of shady dealing.

Once again, it is incumbent upon the residents to remind Mr. Palmer and city council that we are not stupid or forgetful and that we will not tolerate the administration's cavalier attitude towards spending our money on their whims.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Library Branches Saved...For Now

Palmer plan appears to block citizen efforts on library's behalf.

In a press conference at City Hall this afternoon a plan was announced that would keep the main Trenton library and the four branches open, but with reduced hours for the remainder of this fiscal year and the next one. An exception was granted from the state that would allow the reduction in hours.

Whle this is good news in the short term, there is a disturbing side story.

In announcing various steps to be undertaken to shore up the library's precarious finanical condition, Palmer stated that the Board of the Library is to "create a foundation that will work with and report to the Executive Director and Board to raise signifcant funds for multi-year capital projects as part of the long-term strategic plan." {view the full release here}

Oh no he didn't!

There is already a foundation in the works that has been successfully raising money in no small part because it is independent of the current Board of Trustees.

And the long dormant Friends of the Library group has revived itself and is working to be another, autonomous support agency for the Library.

Both of these groups exist in their current state simply because it has become apparent that the Library board cannot and/or will not carry on it's mandated function in a reliable, transparent and responsible manner.

For Doug Palmer to suggest that the very parties responsible for the mess the library system is in could and should oversee an entity charged with raising substantial funds is dangerously wrong.

At the very least, it is a slap in the face to those who've stepped up, on their own and in spite of the current leadership to support the libraries.

In the worst case scenario, it is yet another attempted power grab by the control hungry Palmer as well as a complete denial of the utter failure of the current library board. A board, don't forget, that includes his sister; is headed by a long-time family friend, and of which every member is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of Despot Doug.

When will Palmer learn to play nice, and fairly, with others so that the city he claims to love can truly progress?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Oh, Deer!

It has been reported that the administration of Doug "Hey, Mister. Can You Spare A Dime?" Palmer will remove the remnants of the deer herd from Cadwalader Park because of the worsening budget crisis.

While the deer paddock has been a sentimental favorite for generations of Trentonians, the collection of rag-tag ruminants is not an example of enlightened 21st Century animal keeping and display. It may be time to let the herd go.

Certainly given the choice between keeping the deer or adding an additional member to the city's police or fire departments; striving to keep the library branches open; or repairing the heating/air conditioning system at one of the Senior Centers, the deer would and should lose.

No one doubts that we are in tough financial times. All reasonable adults understand that cuts have to be made and cherished "institutions" like the Cadwalader Park deer herd may have to go.

Maybe the City should forego the expense of the Thanksgiving Parade (scheduled for Saturday, November 22). The police overtime, the fuel for the vehicles, the cost of setting and collecting the barricades could all be saved and at the same time the city will not be embarrassed by this half-assed and unnecessary display.

The parade, like Heritage Days and the so-called "Jazz Festival," are colossal wastes of resources that do nothing for the city except drain money better spent elsewhere.

Let's get real.

Mr. Palmer likes to speak about everyone having to cut back; having to give up something. Yet it is always the public who has to give up something, never Doug.

Maybe he should take his own advice.

How about it, Doug?

Let's give up on Heritage Days and ask the sponsor to give that money towards the libraries.

Let's stop robbing from the Recreation budget to cover the river of red ink the "Jazz Festival" hemorrhages each year.

How about you give up your drivers/security detail and cut your bloated administrative staff. Take a 10% pay cut as Mayor Nutter is doing in Philly.

You do that, then come see us about the deer herd.