Monday, September 13, 2010

Is Tony Mack a gambler?

During last spring’s campaign, questions arose about Tony Mack’s personal finances. He hadn’t held steady employment for several years, his short-lived restaurant was closed and in debt, and there were rumors about pending foreclosure proceedings on his personal residence. The “icing” on this cake was the $20,000 personal loan Mr. Mack made to his campaign.

Where did the money come from?

Since taking office, the Mayor’s personal financial picture has come under scrutiny and criticism. Reports have surfaced about outstanding tax issues on the building at Calhoun and W. State Streets that served as Mack Campaign Headquarters. That building is owned by Foremost Development Construction LLC. Foremost is Tony Mack.

The Sheriff’s sale of the Mayor’s residence on Berkeley Avenue was postponed from August 25 to September 29. Beneficial Mortgage Company filed for foreclosure on the mortgage, delinquent water bills, interests and such that total some $319,457 due.

And now comes a report by the Associated Press that the money for the $20,000 loan to the campaign came by way of a mortgage on one of Mack’s rental properties. The mortgage is the fourth on the property and is held not by a bank or financial institution but by a Burlington County resident who states she “is not comfortable” discussing the loan.

The continuing saga of the Mayor’s personal finances indicate that he was willing to bet his already highly leveraged real estate portfolio on the fact that he would win the election.

While he did succeed in becoming the city’s top elected official, his salary has already been knocked down from $149,107 to $126, 460 due to a court decision in a case left over from the previous administration. That’s about a 15% decrease in anticipated salary to the sole bread winner for his family of four children and wife. There is no doubt Mack is heavily in debt and in danger of losing his home and his income properties.

And there is little doubt that his big ticket ($175 per person) Inaugural Ball slated for October, just before some 400 city workers are slated to be laid off is being targeted to refill his campaign coffers. This would enable him to pay back that loan “he made” to his campaign.

But what if he hadn’t won the election? Where would Mr. Mack be right now? How would he face his financial obligations?

Mack and his city paid spokesperson, Lauren Ira, are correct when they say his financial problems are “personal.” Correct, to a point.

Being willing to take such high stakes risk with his own money and his family’s security is one thing.

The city of Trenton is extremely serious financial trouble. Is gambling with what little resources we have the best approach to stabilizing the city budget?

We don’t think so.

No comments: