Friday, July 24, 2009

Two boys, two days, two Trentons

What a wonderful feeling to see the smiling face of 10 year old Alphonso Jones II beaming out from the front page of the Trentonian on Wednesday.

Young Master Jones, an aspiring musician and stellar 5th grade student at Trenton’s Patton J. Hill School has been tagged to play the lead in “The Lion King” in New York City beginning in September.

Uplifting and positive stories like this are what keeps the hope alive that Trenton can and will turn itself around and live up to its fullest potential. And it’s not just the rare occurrence of a10 year old going to Broadway.

There are many kids, adults too, leading exemplary lives; Trentonians working hard to better themselves and their community. People taking pride in themselves and striving to do the right thing; givers as opposed to takers; this is the Trenton many of us know.

A day later, the other “Trenton” came back into focus. On Thursday, the police released the information that a 15 year old was arrested and charged with the fatal beating of 56 year old Frank Rivera, Jr. The youth, we are told, took the man out with one punch during a robbery back in February. The victim succumbed to his injuries June 29.

This is the Trenton many of our suburban friends and family see: a city where youth runs wild in the streets 24/7; where violence lurks at every corner and where life is cheap.

There is no denying this face of Trenton. But there can be no denying the other face either.

There is more good about Trenton than bad. There are more good people in Trenton than bad.

Over the next several months there will be real opportunity to set the city’s derailed dreams back on track. Beginning with the special election in November to fill the South Ward Council seat being vacated by Jim Coston, and continuing through the May 2010 elections, the people can push aside those that have misgoverned and misguided the city to it’s present state of disarray.

There will be many candidates for the eight elected positions, some with familiar names and some who seemingly materialized out of nowhere. It’s up to the electorate to weed out the ones without legitimate leadership experience and the ones who’ve said a lot and done little over their years in “public life.” It’s time to choose representatives not by ethnicity or neighborhood, but by competency and conscience.

Choose wisely, Trentonians. Choose wisely and show our neighbors that the Trenton family is more like that of Alphonso Jones II…hard working, caring, and proud of real achievement. Show them that we care enough to better ourselves and our community by providing an example to follow so there are no more 15 year olds arrested for homicide.

We are not suggesting that elected officials past, present, or future are responsible for our out of control youth or Trenton's crime issues. We do believe however that these officials by and large have failed to manage the city in a responsible and successful way that has permitted the quality of life to spiral downward and thus contributed directly to the sense of hopelessness in Trenton. Further, the voters have continued to elect the same representatives who have failed their constituents term after term.

This is a call for all Trentonians to take a keen interest in moving this city forward by making informed,reasoned decisions in choosing elected representatives that will restore pride, polish and professionalism to the capital city.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Heat shimmer.

Even though we’ve had a relatively wet and cool summer so far this year, it is mid-July and Trenton is beginning to suffer from heat stroke. Or at the very least, the distorted vision caused by heat radiating up off of State Street is causing creating near hallucinatory conditions for some of our politicos.

In a move only subtly referred to in an online forum and Jim Coston’s blog, the infinitely imbecilic city council re-appointed a citizen to the Zoning Board of Adjustment after that same citizen quit in a snit several months earlier. This is the one board that city council appoints in its entirety and they can’t even get this right. Citizen X was given a chance to serve and voluntarily quit. Why would this person even be considered for reappointment? Especially given the fact that this appointment gives the city’s West Ward a majority of representation on the body when in the past council has gone to great lengths to ensure balanced representation from around the city.

It seems as though the idiot prince, Council President Paul Pintella, nominated the quitter to rejoin the zoning board. Most likely this was done at the behest of Mr. Palmer in order to needlessly flex his “I can do what I want to” muscle. And in the usual game of “Palmer sez,” Pintella and the majority of council followed his lead.

The trippy antics of Palmer, Pintella et al haven’t gone unnoticed on a state level.

In an email blast titled "Bringing Back Our Cities" and sent out by GOP Gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie’s campaign, Trenton’s failures were well documented:

...Trenton: High Crime, Failing Schools, and Skyrocketing Unemployment

On Education:

• In 2007, the New Jersey Department of Education failed Trenton's Public Schools in all five categories of evaluation. They scored just 11% in Instruction and Program. (NJ Department of Education, "Commissioner's Evaluation of the Trenton School District," 07/23/07)

• 48% of Trenton Central High School seniors didn't pass the state's standardized graduation exam. (NJ Department of Education, 2008 Report Card)

On Employment:
• In May 2009, 18% of Trenton's residents were unemployed. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed 07/14/09)

On the Economy:
• 20% of Trenton's residents live below the poverty level. (US Census Bureau 2005-2007 American Community Survey)

On Crime:
• In 2007, Trenton suffered with over 31 Murders and 1,176 Violent Crimes. (NJ State Police Uniform Crime Report 09/08)

Of course, Christie's campaign tried to place the blame for all this on the current Governor. While the numbers may not lie, the suggestion that it is Corzine’s fault is a bit of a stretch. By Christie's faulty reasoning, the Governor should be given credit for the safe municipalities with great schools, low unemployment and a high standard of living. But we know that is not going to happen.

Shouldn’t the city's continued failings really be laid in the lap of the local government of none other than…all together now…Douglas H. (for Hunterdon?) Palmer?

Is it any wonder Palmer didn’t get the Lt. Governor nod from Corzine in favor of a reality TV show winner and Rhodes Scholar who is so far untainted by Jersey politics?

And now that DHP has been passed over so many times, maybe he should consider converting to Judaism