Friday, April 16, 2010

The blame game

"It's not my fault. I didn't cause it." --- the late George Carlin, comedian

Trenton’s lame duck city council took a double-barreled blast in the Trentonian yesterday.

In his Thursday column, Trentonian scribe L.A. Parker claimed that the five members of council who voted against the city budget demonstrated a lack of “accountability.” Parker did give the South Ward Councilman, George Muschal, a pass for only having come on board after November’s special election. He chided the other four “No” votes (Bethea, Lartigue, Melone and Segura) for passing the responsibility determining the city’s tax increase to the state Division of Local Services. Parker claims the four did not own up to their part in helping “put Trenton in this position” of begging the State for money.

It comes as no surprise that Parker did not mention at all the irresponsible and spendthrift ways of the Doug Palmer administration that for the past two years has waited until the fiscal year was more than half over before submitting a budget to city council.

Instead, Parker wrote a companion piece in which Palmer “blasts” city council’s alleged irresponsibility in the matter.

“I introduced a budget to City Council and then it was up to them to schedule meetings or hold budget workshops. The ball was in their court. I don’t want to hear anything about my Plan B,” Palmer said earlier today.

“But now we have five city council members who are attempting to point the finger at me. I made my decisions. People elected me to be a leader and that’s what I have done. Being a leader is not for the weak of heart.”

Palmer praised President Paul Pintella and at large Councilwoman Cordelia Staton for “having the guts to take responsibility for the budget.
Both Parker and Palmer seem to ignore the fact that Council cannot act on the budget until it is submitted by the administration. And Palmer should have submitted a “worst case” budget months ago and not relied upon the Supreme Court to bail him out by allowing the TWW water sale to go through without the chance of a referendum, which it didn't do.

It is just too bad Parker doesn’t decry Palmer for not accepting his share of accountability in the matter.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fear and Yawning Campaign 2010

(Apologies to the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson)

With just under one month until Trenton’s municipal elections, things have been relatively quiet on most fronts.

Last Friday, the Times ran an article about some verbal sparring between former Palmer slate-mates turned Mayoral competitors Paul Pintella and Manny Segura.

More than the rhetorical jabbing from the candidates, we liked the subliminal message sent by whoever at the Times was responsible for choosing the photos. A second look at the pictured labeled “Paul Pintella” reveals that it is actually an older photo of Doug Palmer.

Is that what had people walking around singing softly to themselves, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”?

And speaking of the reign of King Douglas, did you catch this little love note in this morning’s Trentonian?

In case the image isn’t clear enough, the text of the Letter to the Editor reads as follows:

Four more years
To the editor:Dear Mayor Palmer:
     You are doing a beautiful job with our city. You put up a lot of new homes and buildings, and you’re doing a great job fighting crime
     You did a great job helping senior citizens.
     I went to the peace rally, and you did a beautiful job with that.
     We need you on our team so Trenton can win.
     There are a lot of residents in the city who would like you to reconsider and run for mayor again.
     Please stay the mayor until Obama is out of office, and then you can be the next president.
     God bless you and your family, and keep up the good work.

                                                 Sharon Wilson
Um, thank you, Ms. Wilson.  You may stop by city hall and pick up your Target gift card at any time now.

The latest Mayoral candidates’ forum was Sunday at the James Kerney Campus of Mercer County Community College and was covered by The biggest revelations that occurred seemed to be the absence of Tony Mack who was honoring his previous commitment to coach a baseball game.

Some of the folks over on the
Trenton Speaks forum discussed the pros and cons of giving Mr. Mack an excused absence for the event.

We’d like to talk a little about the At-Large Council race but there has been little to report on. The candidates seem to be keeping to themselves.

The one standout to date has been Algernon Ward, Jr. who was one of the petitioners fighting to have a public referendum on the proposed split and sale of the Trenton Water Works. Ward had an
op-ed in today’s Times regarding the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the right to have a referendum on the matter.

The other candidates have been largely quiet. We have seen Juan Martinez signs around town…but they are mixed in with ones leftover from last fall’s failed attempt to win the South Ward council seat.

Typical Juan…doesn’t know which office he is seeking or let alone what he stands for.

And the various ward races are just about as quiet. There’s little coming out from most of the candidates. South Ward Councilman George Muschal is continuing the hands on street work that got him the win in November’s special election.

The North Ward campaign has been quiet with the exception of annoying notifications about fundraisers from Marge Caldwell-Wilson. Nothing of substance on policy or positions from any of the contenders to date.

In the West Ward, signs are starting to pop up on lawns along with the crabgrass and dandelions. Early entry Zach Chester has been playing the role of the quiet candidate, as has former school board member Joyce Kersey. Kevin Moriarty has been working the streets as well as the internet with regular
blog postings. There are two West Ward candidate forums coming up that should prove to be enlightening for the voters. The first is tonight at the Lighthouse Community Center on Bellevue Ave and next Monday at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Parkside and Parkway.

The East Ward has been equally quiet. We don’t really know anything about the candidates other than Dion Clark has attended a lot of council meetings and spoken frequently about the need for cleaning up the trash (human and other) found along Walnut Avenue and such.

Chambersburg resident Joe Harrison can claim a similar attendance record at city council meetings and has been one of the few candidates in any of the races to utilize
video on the internet to make his case to the voters.

If it seems like it has been an underwhelming campaign has been. Whether due to the majority of uninspiring candidates, lack of real press coverage or both, who can say.

Regardless, it will be up to the voter to exercise some real critical thinking when they step into the voting booth on May 11.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Pop quizz

Are you really paying attention?

Let us leave aside those who want to hold a Rally or March; let’s ignore, for the moment, those candidates hosting “clean-ups” and cook-outs to promote their candidacy (did they do this before they got on the ballot?); let’s go back to the days before the NJ Supreme Court upheld the citizen’s right to hold a referendum on the ill-advised sale of part of the Trenton Water Works.

Let’s turn back the clock a week or so. You remember, back to when Mr. Palmer and others were wringing their hands and rending their garments and wailing at the Capitol building because the Governor had announced he was cutting all funding to Trenton.

(You do remember that “crisis,” right?)

The Palmer plot line is and has always been that the city loses a lot of money because it hosts the seat of state government. He regularly cites the amount of land the “state controls” as 1/3 of the city’s landmass and repeatedly claims Trenton does not get its fair share of property taxes from all the state buildings.

Some folks agree.

Some don’t.

Here’s an online quiz you can take to test your knowledge of ownership of office buildings in the city of Trenton. This appeared this morning on the Trenton Speaks forum. Like the individual who posted it, I think most will be surprised.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The people will have a say in Trenton water deal

The New Jersey Supreme Court published it's ruling today in the case regarding the proposed sell off of the outlaying portion of the city owned water utility.  The court voted 5 - 1 to reverse the Appellate Courts ruling that the right to referendum was not applicable in this case.

This is the second time in recent years that the Palmer administration has fought, at considerable cost to the taxpayers of the cash strapped city, to prevent the public from having it's say on an ordinance passed by city council. 

And it is the second time that the Palmer administration has failed in its attempt to circumvent the public's right to referendum.

It is not known at this point what this actually means for the proposed separation of the existing Trenton Water Works (TWW) into two parts, one serving customers within the city of Trenton and the other, larger portion, serving customers in the adjacent suburbs.  The "outside" portion was slated to be sold to New Jersey American Water Company (NJAW), a devision of a large, international, private water company.

It is possible that the lame duck city council could seek to rescind the ordinance approving the sale.  More than likely, if either side terminates the agreement, it would be NJAW.

Should the ordinance go to referendum, the vote probably will not occur until November's general election.

Rally this!

L.A. Parker and others are right.

Having a rally, or a march, and having Al Sharpton, Russel Simmons, or other notables show up is NOT the solution to Trenton's woes.  It is but another cheap political stunt by Emmanuel Shahid Watson ben Avaraham and a chance to grab some headlines for Mssrs. Sharpton and Simmons*.

Self-promotion at the expense of a poor little girl and her family.

Of course, Mr. Parker doesn't mind going on the radio in another city to speak about the case.  He's just as guilty of self-promotion as the others.

*We have just learned that Mr. Simmons has announced he will not attend this event as per a post here.  Seems either Mr. Simmons' name was being tossed out there without his permission or he came to think there were better ways to help.  Good for him!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

More dollars, less sense.

"For Trenton, because of shoestring budgets that have always reflected little money, reduced money, or no money – we are accustomed to the idea of doing more with less."
                                                                                                    --- Doug Palmer, March 30, 2010

Yet he can haphazardly mail invitations to his speech…in several instances mailing two invites to the same person and address at nearly half again the required postal rate.  Maybe he meant to say "doing less but costing more."

We recognize that we’re talking pennies here: 61 cents vs. 44 cents; even when multiplied by the hundreds of letters that were mailed out.

This is indicative of the Palmer administration’s careless and wasteful ways. At least he didn’t have the invitation letters FedEx-ed to the mailing list.

Thanks for an excellent demonstration of your style of fiscal management, Doug. Your credibility shrinks with each and every passing day.