Or was it?
That was the week that was (or TW3) was a comedy show filled with political satire and parody that ran first on the BBC in 1962 and 1963 and then on NBC in 1964-65. The attitude of both the British and American versions was to illuminate the absurdities and foibles of contemporary culture and society by lampooning the establishment.
Last week’s three ring political circus in Trenton had similar, albeit unintended effect on the local government.
It began with the revelation that recently elected Mayor Tony Mack had nominated Carlton Badger, a convicted felon and admitted forger, to be the Director of Housing and Economic Development for the city. Mack tried defending his choice by saying Badger had paid for his past mistakes and should be accorded a second chance.
Few were buying it.
On the same day that the Times reported the above story, both papers ran advertisements that Mack’s Berkeley Avenue home was slated for a Sheriff’s Sale on August 25. The Mayor at first denied that he was in foreclosure. At a press conference two days later he claimed it was personal business and not for public consumption. And over the weekend Mayor Mack assured both the Times and the Trentonian that his finances were under control and “paid in full.”
At the same time, a story in the Bergen Record on Saturday delved deeper into Mack’s financial woes. It seems the Mayor has a history of financial difficulties stretching back several years and involving several properties. This includes two previous foreclosures on his residence.
There are also questions about his foundation, Tony Mack Cares, which hasn’t provided any reports on its operations or filed any tax returns since 2002.
The Mayor’s association with other questionable individuals does nothing to improve his image. The maximum contribution to his campaign (and long-time support) by the infamous Jo Jo Giorgiani and the financial issues of Pete Fields and Carla Hogan, Chairperson and Treasurer respectively, of the “Partners for Progress” Political Action Committee that helped fund the Mack campaign leave many wondering just what is going on.
And then there is the question of the $20,000 loan Mack made to his campaign in April.
Where did the money come from if Mack was already in foreclosure proceedings on his home, in arrears on rent for his business (Broad Street Grill, now closed), and he had no job?
Financial questions aside, Mack’s leadership continued to be questioned after he totally mishandled the dismissal of Deputy Clerk Cordelia Staton. It wasn’t just the rudeness of notifying Ms. Staton she was fired by leaving a letter on her desk chair while she was at lunch that was bad form. Someone, we can only presume the Mayor or one of his aides, called the police to have Ms. Staton physically removed from City Hall.
Mack’s highly public suggestion to city council that perhaps the calling of the police and the presence of local media personnel were planned did nothing for his credibility.
While we believe that Ms. Staton’s appointment in early June was done improperly, that misstep is nothing compared to the way the Mack Administration fumbled the attempt to dismiss her. Her removal now is most assuredly going to result in a lawsuit that will prove costly to the taxpayers of Trenton.
In an effort to defuse and disarm criticism of his personal and political missteps, Mack issued a hastily (and poorly) written press release touting his alleged successes of his first month in office. Unfortunately, the lengthy fluff piece is long on wishful thinking and short on actual substance.
What the events of the past week have demonstrated quite plainly is that Mayor Mack is not up to the task at hand. His decision making leaves much to be desired and shows that he is totally incapable of running the city of Trenton.
The only hope we have is for Mayor Mack to forget about appointing friends and cronies. He must…if he still can…surround himself with truly experienced and talented advisors and do as they direct him to do. Otherwise, he is going to sink the city deeper into debt than his predecessor did. Then will come the firestorm of ethics, if not criminal, violations.