Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Slippery finances kill off jazz fest; grant writer resigns.

Word out of Trenton City Hall yesterday was that the money-losing Trenton Jazz Festival has been suspended. It was reported that a press release distributed by the Palmer administration cited lack of corporate sponsorship in these tough economic times meant there would be no festival.

No doubt that is true. But let's look a little deeper at the problem.

The festival, a vanity project of the current administration, has never made money or been self-sustaining because of bad management and poor attendance. There have been rumors of inflated talent prices along with over spending on sound and stage equipment and technicians. It is actually surprising that corporate funders didn't pull the plug on the event sooner since we doubt they ever got any sort of real accounting of how the money was spent, what the proceeds were, etc.

Interesting that Chief of Staff Renee Haynes was quoted in the Times as saying that the city's contribution has been mostly "in-kind."

The festival's budget had grown to $250,000, with the city contributing assistance worth about $50,000, said Renee Haynes, committee member and chief of staff for Mayor Douglas Palmer.

"City support has largely been in-kind, relying on the countless hours of devoted volunteers," she said. "Having the Jazz Fest be mostly self-supporting has always been within our reach, but this year it is clear that the economic conditions would not make that possible."

Last year's festival apparently lost so much money funds reportedly were taken from the city recreation budget make up the difference. Funds that might otherwise have gone to the also cancelled weekly summer music series that traditionally brought free musical entertainment to various city parks throughout July and August.

Just another example of the gross mismanagement of the city administration.

Compounding the city's fiscal mess, it appears the city's leading grant writer is leaving her post in Trenton. Nancy Diehl, the Coordinator for State and Federal Grants, is reported to be joining former business administrator Jane Feigenbaum in Perth Amboy.

Ms. Diehl has been quite successful in securing outside funds for various departments of the city government. The Trenton Police Department is but one beneficiary of her good work.

What remains to be seen is if the vacancy will be filled and with someone as competent as Ms. Diehl. Or will they let the position remain empty, thus short-sightedly saving money on wages and benefits.

The city continues to wither from neglect while the Mr. Palmer and company ignore their responsibility for the financial hole we are in. We're drowning in red ink and one of our lifeguards just quit.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Council has a lobotomy

The thinking person's representative steps down Sept. 2

The announced resignation of South Ward Councilman Jim Coston has the city all abuzz this morning.

Jim, a Baptist Minister, has taken a position with a church in Waco, Texas and will be leaving Trenton at the end of the summer.

While we congratulate Reverend Coston on his new position, we can't help but feel sorry for not only the city's South Ward, but Trenton as a whole.

Even if you didn't always agree with Councilman Coston's position or action, you know he gave it thought and considered all the information he had at hand before making a decision. He certainly raised the level of discourse on council to something approaching what you would expect of the city's governing body.

His too brief tenure as an elected representative helped open the public's eyes as to what a councilperson could and should be.

We send our hearty thanks and best wishes to Councilman Reverend Coston and family. And we hope Trenton can survive his departure.

For the remaining members of council who must now choose someone to complete Jim's term, we advise you to choose someone who can continue the work begun by him. Do not make your choice based upon what is politically expedient, popular, or who is propped up by the administration.

Make a choice for someone who will continue to stand uphold the sworn duties and responsibilities of the position.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Have some pride, Trenton!

A few weeks ago, fellow blogger DTV Deputy Clean wrote about the worsening conditions he’s witnessed in and around his neighborhood since moving to Trenton. In his post, he talks about the criminal element, the trash factor, and the overall lack of common consideration and civil behavior practiced by a growing number of Trenton residents.

Not too long after that, another web colleague a series of similar observations from her corner of town. TrentonKat also commented on the generally lack of civility and respect that many people show for the neighbors and other Trenton residents. She then contrasted Trenton with a Canadian town of similar size and economic woes.

As is often the case, the thoughts of these individuals resonated with me and echoed similar observations I have made.

Many of us have been quick to point out the foibles and farces of our elected officials as the cause of Trenton’s woes and left the citizenry out of the picture. Now, this is not to say we have been wrong about our public officials and we’re now letting them off the hook for the condition of the city. This is to say there is certainly an equal amount of blame to be placed on the citizenry who just doesn’t seem to care about anybody or anything that isn’t instantly gratifying to his or her own immediate, selfish needs.

This self-centeredness is evident everywhere you look in town. From the trash strewn streets and poorly maintained rental properties to the slovenly dress and rude behavior of our fellow citizens.

Walking through downtown one day, I was struck with the contrasts of Trenton today and the Trenton of yesterday. Where there used to be throngs of people in appropriate attire for their business day activities there are now people looking as if they just got out of bed or had just finished changing the oil in their car.

If you go to any thriving downtown at midday during the workweek, you will see well-groomed people in clean, properly fitting clothes taking care of business. In Trenton, you are treated to women in revealing clothes that are at least two sizes too small while the men are usually struggling to keep their oversized jeans up.

Don’t tell me that it is “fashion” or that it is the only clothing the under-employed, under-educated, underclass can muster. It is laziness and a lack of respect for themselves and for others. These circus-clown garbed individuals are not wearing hand-me-downs and cast-offs, they have chosen to spend their money on these costumes.

Is it any surprise why we can’t get businesses offering good jobs to locate in town!

Moreover, if people don’t know how to dress properly and still be comfortable, they also don’t know how to behave in public.

Just this week while tending to business at a downtown bank branch, I was privileged to watch as another customer calmly consumed his lunch of fried chicken and potato salad from a paper plate…while transacting business at the teller’s window. This repast was most assuredly “finger lickin’ good” as our gourmand smacked his lips and asked the teller, loudly, if she had any hand sanitizer to share with him after he had finished eating.

You’ve read here before about the high number of public urination and defecation incidents we encounter on a regular basis. This goes hand-in-hand with the frequent episodes of people leaving their trash in the street after cleaning out their vehicles or in the parks after having lunch or a snack. And we’ve all seen the person finish with whatever fast-food, take out delicacy and drop the cup/plate/wrapper to the ground rather than hold onto it for a few more steps until they reach one of the many curbside trash cans.

Pet owners constantly flaunt the laws regarding cleaning up animal waste, let alone registering their cats and dogs as required.

Noise issues stemming from too loud music in houses and vehicles of all description are numerous (and not just a Trenton problem). While everybody may feel the need to “rock out” once in awhile, most choose an appropriate time and place so as to minimize the potential for disturbing others.

Do I need to go on?

Trenton has become a very uncivil, rude place to be. It is, contrary to some, not all that great a place to “live, work, play.”

Our “leaders” have failed to do anything about the markedly downward slide the city has taken. Perhaps it is because the same ill-behaved, poorly dressed people are the very same constituent base that continually elects and re-elects the carnival act known as “Trenton city government.”

Therefore, as the city readies to celebrate Heritage Day tomorrow we urge everyone to stop acting as if this is his or her last moment on earth. Start thinking about how everything you do…from the way you dress, the way you talk, how you eat, who you vote for…effects everyone around you.

Show some pride in yourself and your city.