Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mack short on wisdom

City Hall a zombie land of hacks and paybacks.

The recent moves in and out of 319 East State Street seem to point out the new mayor’s shortcomings.

Respected and experienced municipal finance guru Bill Guhl suddenly departed last week after less than a month volunteering as the Acting Business Administrator. Indications are that Guhl’s suggestions on how to pull Trenton out of the economic swamp were not only falling on deaf ears, but that there was open resistance from the Mayor’s cronies. While some see Guhl’s departure as a diva-like act, others give him credit for trying but walking away rather than to continue to bang his head on the wall of mayoral indifference.

Next came the announcement that Carleton Badger was named the acting Director of Housing and Economic Development. Mr. Badger, it seems, has had some legal issues in the past that, amongst other things, cost him his real estate license for a time.

Quoted in an article in the Times, Mayor Mack brushes the lapses aside and suggests that Mr. Badger has “paid his debt to society.”

The problem is Mr. Badger didn’t have one ethical misstep. According to the Times, Badger “…has been twice indicted for forgery, pleaded guilty to a theft charge that was brought in 2001, and has a history of bankruptcies and other financial difficulties.”

Further on in the article, LeRoi Banks, a former business partner of Mr. Badgers, indicates that there is more to be learned.

"He took money from me a lot of different ways," Banks said. "This is just the tip of the iceberg."
This doesn’t generate a lot of confidence in the statements that Badger has reformed and has readjusted his ethics.

At the tail end of the same article in the Times comes notice of three new appointments. Preacher and former West Ward Council Candidate John Vaughan has been tapped as an aide to Mayor Mack.

Why are we hiring more aides when we are looking at laying off city employees? Another irrational decision.

And what about the two ladies hired as grant writers? One is Councilwoman Kathy McBride’s daughter. The other is reportedly a bartender at the Mill Hill Saloon.

Obviously, these two individuals are highly qualified for the position. Right.

Another move that has heads shaking and tongues wagging is the lunch-time pink-slipping of former Councilwoman Cordelia Staton from her Deputy Clerk’s position.

We do believe that the 11th hour appointment of Ms. Staton by her former colleagues during the waning days of the previous administration was wrong.

We also believe that the Mack administration could have demonstrated a little more class in the handling of the situation.

Almost makes one wish for the good old days of the Palmer dynasty.



Anonymous said...

For the record anyone who has earned a bachelors degree with honors and a graduate degree from Columbia University is more than qualified for a grant writer position. Research first speculation second.

Old Mill Hill said...

Are you saying that bachelors and graduate degrees automatically confer experience?

We need only to look at our esteemed mayor and his degrees to disprove that theory.

Now...if either of the grant writer hires indeed have real, solid experience in grant writing that makes them more suitable for these positions than someone else, let us know.

Anonymous said...

You called into question the qualification of these individuals not their experience. If the position does not require any experience than the argument for experience is pointless. The issue at hand is the relationship between the grant writer and the councilperson which is also without merit given the fact that the city council does not supervise this individual nor is the individual related to anyone within the mayors office. Therefore the presence of this individual while certainly coincidental does not prove anything other than another resident of the city is now employed

Old Mill Hill said...

We do not think that the argument for experience is pointless.

The administration has created these positions out of thin air and announced two appointees.

Let us assume, for a minute, that these positions are absolutely necessary to the survival of the city. Then we would want the most qualified (your term) and experienced (our term) people to fill them. Agreed?

Were these positions properly described and posted so that any resident of Trenton, current city employee or not, could apply? Wouldn’t this be the way to find the most qualified and experienced people?

We have not seen any such job description posted or calls for applicants. What we get is an announcement of two appointees…one a relative of a council person the other a self-described “miracle worker.” Their educational background is not mentioned; nor are any other “qualifications” or “experience.”

Degrees not withstanding, what do either of these appointees have that sets them apart and above anyone else who might be interested in the position of grant writer?

And what of the people already employed by the city, presumably also residents, who may lose their jobs in the pending layoffs? Are we to ignore their qualifications, experience and plight just so these two young ladies can gain employment?

We have been promised an honest, open and transparent government and so far that has not been delivered.

You raise the issue of Councilwoman McBride’s daughter specifically (which we did not).
It is not about whether or not an appointee works under the direction of council. It is about the fact that the appointee serves at the will of the Mayor thus putting a family member in the middle of the “checks and balances” that are supposed to exist between the executive and legislative branches of our government.

Take umbrage at our position if you must, but you cannot deny that the potential for conflicts of interest or undue influence are to be avoided at all costs. Add in the question of qualifications and/or experience and we say this situation is just plain wrong.

Anonymous said...

The positions were created much like similar positions are created when new administrations form a transition team. These individuals have met the criteria as described by the person who appointed them and there is no legal or ethical explanation that has to be offered. I fail to see how this is "wrong". Your blog, your opinion.

As far as the other employees, layoffs are a part of business and no one person hired is responsible for 600 being fired or laid off.