Or a Civic Association of one person.
The recent revelation that Council President Paul Pintella has produced a website for the Paul M. Pintella Civic Association demonstrates that Trenton once again seems to be in the advance guard when it comes to community engagement and activism. We see, too, that the Paul M. Pintella Civic Association is sponsoring some sort of Obama Inaugural event next week. (What happened Paul, didn’t get your ticket to the bash at the Marriot?)
The notion that a person can be a civic association of and unto him or herself is pretty forward thinking.
First, let’s take the term Civic Association. Association by definition has a collective sense about it. Mr. Webster defines an association as “an organization of persons having a common interest.” The key here is the word “persons.” It is plural and that usually denotes more than one.
Other observers have commented on this phenomenon. TrentonKat has an entry about it. Greg Forester has discussed it. And there was some chat about it on the Trenton Speaks forum.
Interestingly, while he may be the first to name a civic association after himself, Paul’s is not the first ‘phantom’ organization to be created in Trenton in recent memory.
Juan Martinez has for years touted himself as the head of the organization “People for the Revitalization Of South Trenton” (PROS). He even launched an unsuccessful bid for the South Ward Council Seat in 2002 from that platform and has trotted out the banner whenever he needed the appearance of a collective in support of his espoused views.
Trouble is, no one that we know of has ever seen a copy of PROS bylaws. No one knows when PROS meets, who the officers of the organization are or who makes up the membership. Rumor has it that at one time membership dues were actually collected from those willing to give them…but no accounting was made of the funds raised or how they were dispersed.
Maybe it occurred at one of the unknown meetings and was reported to the anonymous body by one of the mysterious officers as proscribed in the mythical bylaws.
We fear the Paul M. Pintella Civic Association may operate on the same model.
Trenton rightfully boasts of several active and effective civic associations, not to mention a council of those civic associations, all working for the betterment of their respective neighborhoods and the city as a whole. While they may vary in the formality of their structure and the way they run their meetings, these groups have been successful at stabilizing neighborhoods and keeping city officials accountable…most of the time.
The usurping of the name and/or concept of a “civic association” strictly to further ones personal ambitions is an insult to the people of this city who actually work for positive change. Naming the false association after oneself is the height of conceit and self-aggrandizement. But what else would we expect from the likes of Mr. Pintella.
The members of the Front Stoop Community In Action Coalition for Civic Improvement unanimously vote to repudiate the Paul M. Pintella Civic Association.