Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The F does not stand for Finesse

Tired of having the failings and foibles of his administration splayed across the front page of the Trentonian, Mayor Tony F. Mack has apparently declared the city tabloid as “paper non grata” in city hall. One of the mayor’s minions halted Tuesday’s delivery of the Trentonian and an email has surfaced that suggests the administration is seeking to cancel its subscription to the paper.

Former Mayor Doug Palmer’s thin skin and sensitivity to criticism, while well known, never quite reached the level of Mayor Mack’s apparent discomfort. Of course Palmer may not have made quite as many missteps in so short a time as Tony Mack has, either. Still, Palmer understood the need to keep “friends close and enemies closer” and never turned his back on either of Trenton’s dailies that we can recall. He may have challenged their assertions and reporting but he didn’t cut off their access to city hall.

Mayor Mack’s overreaction is another story; a front page story.

Strange and heavy handed move for a man who promised a transparent government that was accountable to the public.

Monday, November 15, 2010

You just can't get it right, can you?

A turkey of an idea

Dear Mayor Mack and staff:

  1. In a city that is broke and broken, do we really need, can we afford, should we have a city sponsored (ie; paid for) parade? It was a bad idea in the waning years of the Palmer administration and yet here you are, the "we're going to do things differently" crew doing just the opposite.
  2. Was the Thanksgiving holiday moved from Thursday to Saturday? If it was, it somehow escaped our notice. If it wasn't, then the parade on Saturday is not really a "Thanksgiving DAY Parade, now is it?*
Yet again, your lack of common sense is stupefying.



*Before anyone raises the point...we have the same feeling about St. Patrick's Day Parades that are not held on St. Patrick's Day. Regardless of whethere they march in Trenton, Hamilton, Robbinsville, or on the Moon.if it isn't on March 17th, it is NOT a St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Random thoughts on a saturday afternoon

Hey!  All you candidates in last week's elections, it's over!  Tuesday was four days ago, how about you send out your minions to collect your campaign signs.  Especially you winners...and especially the signs that were placed illegally on public property!  Your responsibilities didn't end when the polls closed my friends! 

And you know what...some of you losers (figurative and literal) from last spring's city election and runoff need to remove your signs too.  That includes you, Mr. Segura para Trenton!


Does anybody remember the water crisis of a month ago?  Did anyone ever explain what really happened to cause the low pressure and brown water experienced by some customers of the Trenton Water Works?  We know it wasn't strictly a function of the high water level in the Delaware River at that time

And whatever became of Ron Lind?


Nobody has anything to add to the razzle-dazzle fumbling of the city of Trenton layoff plan?  We all believe that Mayor Mack's manipulation of "the plan" is going to work, right?  The numbers said so.  At least that is what we were told.


Now that we've visited the Mayoral Circus (Mayor Mack's Thursday morning press conference touting his "saving" of the public safety jobs; etc.) and wrung our hands in despair over those who did get laid off, are we going to get back to the predicament of having an unfit judge presiding over Trenton's Municipal Court?


The library branches are still closed.  And the deadbeat jazz festival promoter is still on the Library Board.


City Council meetings are rapidly turning into a side show of incompetence and in-fighting while the citizens of Trenton seem to be struck silent by the city's rapid descent from bad to worse.


You're doing a heck of a job, Tony!

Friday, November 05, 2010

No matter how you slice it

In this case, Justice wears a blindfold out of shame.

Superior Court Judge Feinberg has cleared Trenton Municipal Judge Renee Lamarre Sumners to return to the bench after a one week suspension.

City Council has voted, six to one, in favor having Judge Sumners resign.

Mayor Tony Mack seems to be taking the approach of wiping his hands clean of the mess his appointment turned into.

Trenton suffers another hit on its image.

When you analyze the situation, here's what you have:

Sumners is an attorney with a history of twice having her license suspended (2004 and 2006) for non-payment into a state fund.

Either she doesn't have the money, is a poor money manager, or feels she is above the law.

If she doesn't have the money, we have to wonder why.  She's an attorney.  If she's not making money at her chosen profession is it because she is taking work that doesn't pay or is she not working enough?  Just how good of an attorney is she?

If she is working hard, and a lot, but still doesn't have any money to pay the required fee ($258 was the amount I believe) than maybe she is a poor money manager. 

We'll concede that keeping a balanced check book is not every one's favorite pastime.  But the woman holds herself out to be a professional; someone with advanced and specialized training in a line of work that requires her to be able to analyze and reason through problems.  Like keeping track of her finances and meeting her responsibilities. 

If she can't manage her finances and doesn't realize she needs to find someone who can than we have to question her ability to analyze and reason her way through the problem.  If she can't comprehend that this is a problem after twice having her license to practice suspended, then we might infer her skill set is not up to the standards of her chosen profession.

Now we look at the fact that Sumners bounced two checks paying the dues this year.  If she knowingly wrote bad checks, it's criminal.  If it was due to an inability to keep a checkbook, she's incompetent.  If she just doesn't care, she's arrogant.  None of the three are good traits in any line of work...especially so in the practice of law.

And then there is the issue of unpaid income taxes. Reports indicate that Sumners and her husband owe $15,808 from 2003 and 2006.  Why?  Was they money there but they didn't feel they needed to pay?  Did they screw up their tax returns?  Or was there no money?  Didn't they both have jobs?  They must have had income if they owed taxes?

This brings into question Judge Sumners' approach to meeting her legal responsibilities.  Did she think she didn't have to pay?  Did she place herself above the law?

Then there is the matter of the unpaid credit card bill.  Seems Judge Sumners owed $2214.22 on a credit card from 2008.  The creditor filed and received a judgement against Sumners in December of 2009 and Sumners received the notice to pay in January of this year.  She failed to return the paperwork, the creditor filed a civil action complaint and a bench warrant for Sumners arrest was issued on September 29.

Um, she's an attorney by trade. Right?  She should know better.  Right? 

Judge Sumners is the cause of her problems.  Through ignorance and arrogance, she has demonstrated quite plainly that she is incapable of serving as a judge. 

The New Jersey Supreme Court decides ethics cases.  This, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing as it can somewhat mitigate politics from influencing the tenure of a judge.  Only the Supreme Court can remove a judge from the bench.

Unfortunately the State of New Jersey seems to have a fairly liberal interpretation of what constitutes ethical behavior by attorneys. Sanctions in ethics cases more often result in suspensions than removals or disbarment's.

In layman terms: Judge Sumners would need to be found with a smoking gun in her hand, standing over the still warm body of her victim before she is likely to be sanctioned for breach of ethics. Even then she'd probably only get what amounts to a slap on the wrist.

The fact that once a judge takes the oath only the state supreme court can remove her might explain another little piece of this puzzle. 

On the night that Mayor Mack convinced six members of council to approve the appointment by lying about Sumners having completed a background check the would be judge and family were present.  Upon being confirmed by city council, Sumners immediately sought out Superior Court Judge Paulette Sapp-Peterson to be sworn in.

Hmm.  If it's so difficult to remove a judge once he or she has taken the oath and a newly appointed judges has some questionable baggage, why not hurry up and get sworn in. Maybe she's not so incompetent after all.

Sumners needs to resign.  Period. 

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

That was close!

By a margin of approximately 3 to 2, Mercer County voters chose to keep Paula Sollami-Covello as their County Clerk rather than hand the office to former Trenton City Councilman Gino Melone.

Guess Gino finally coming out as a closeted Republican after all those years pretending to be a Democrat didn't win over any voters.

Or was it the electorate's memory of the games Gino played going into his final term on Trenton's council.

At that time Melone shepherded Doug Palmer's slate of at-large candidates around the East Ward to get them votes with the hopes of securing the council presidency for himself.  That ploy didn't work either.

We don't mean to pick solely on Gino.  All politicians and would-be candidates should take note of his plight.

You'll win office once in awhile with your craft and cunning but sooner or later the voters will tire of your games and duplicity.  Then you will be left out in the cold.

Serve the public and you can serve for a very long time and move up the ladder.  Serve yourself and eventually you will pay.


Mayor Mack tallies his toils for the first 100 days (give or take a few days)

On Wednesday, October 27, Mayor Tony Mack held a press conference to enumerate the things he's done since taking office on July 1.  In an accompanying and poorly constructed press release titled

the Mack Administration enumerates a lot of...well...nothing.

For six pages, the Mack flacks assembled a rambling, mismatched cut and paste listing of daily functions and activities that any elected official/administration would go through.  There is no substance; no breakthrough. 

It doesn't take much scrutinizing to realize that the list was assembled out of snippets lifted from various supervisors' reports.

For example, on page four of the document is this tidbit:
  • 1719 William Trent House Museum hosted may events for the public such as Getting the House Ready for Summer, Colonial Ice Cream Making, Herbs in the Trent House Garden, Trent’s Enslaved Workers-Theme Tours Garden Theme Tours.
And right below it:
  • Fred Miller concert, Art Exhibit Opening, Art/Theatre Camp, Art Exhibit Opening, Battle Against Hunger Event, Garden State Watercolor Exhibit Opening, Gallery Talk, Trenton High School Exhibit Opening
The former was obviously taken from a report on activities held at the Trent House.  It lists a number of the full schedule of activities held there.  These are nothing new.  The non-profit support group the Trent House Association has been programming activities at the city owned facility for years.  It is not an accomplishment of the Mack Administration's first 100 days.  It is a continuation of something already in place.

In the case of the latter the reader is left guessing as to exactly where and what and how the activities were held.  Those in the know would realize that this was a listing of events held at the Trenton City Museum.  The museum is currently housed in Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park.  Both the building and the surrounding lands are city owned.  The collection, exhibits and programming of the museum are the responsibility of the Trenton Museum Society, another non-profit.  These accomplishments that the Mayor lists as his own are actually due to the Museum Society...solely or in partnership with other groups.

In both of the above cases the Mayor is actually claiming as an "accomplishment" items from ongoing series of events that pre-date his term in office.  We call "FOUL!"

Others have taken note in blogs and comments elsewhere on the Internet of the liberal use of "we" and the poor grammar; mismatched writing styles, etc contained within the press release. It is such a blatant patchwork of poor writing it begs to be printed in a ransom note type font (you know, as seen on TV and in movies, where the kidnapper cuts words from magazines and newspapers and glues them onto a sheet of paper and sends them to the police or whomever).  This begs the question of why the city is paying over $83,000 a year for someone who is supposed to be overseeing "policy and communications" for the mayor.

So with that point, let us leave you with a real list of Mayor Tony Mack's "accomplishments" since taking office on July 1, 2010:

  1. One of Mayor Mack's first appointments, Carleton Badger, was a convicted felon.  Mr. Badger "withdrew" from consideration after the press published his criminal history.
  2. Mayor Mack pads the city payroll with friends, relatives and the daughter of a city council woman while layoffs loom for nearly 400 city employees (including over 100 police and fire personnel).
  3. Mayor Mack's promises to keep the city's four library branches open even on a limited basis failed after he was unable to deliver adequate funding through an outside donor that never materialized (some would argue that never existed).
  4. Mayor Mack lied to the city council about his nominee for the lead Municipal Judge seat having completed a full background so they would vote in favor of the appointment.
  5. Mayor Mack fumbled the removal of deputy city clerk and former councilwoman Cordelia Staton from her job. He then lied on the record at a city council meeting and tried to implicate the Trentonian in a conspiracy surrounding the police being called to escort Staton from City Hall.
  6. Mayor Mack's team failed to communicate openly and in a timely manner when the city's water filtration plant was shut down in early October. We're still waiting for an explanation of what really happened.  And why.
  7. Mayor Mack continually submitted and re-submitted resolutions to city council until he got professional services contracts awarded to law firms connected to his transition team and inaugural ball committee. 
  8. Mayor Mack's Municipal Judge pick Renee Lammare Sumners (see # 4) is revealed to have a history of passing bad checks to pay for her license to practice law and an unpaid credit card bill of over $2200.00 that resulted in a bench warrant for her arrest to be issued in September.
  9. Mayor Mack's total mishandling of the city's affairs (and yes, we all agree he inherited a mess, but what has he done to mitigate that?  NOTHING!) may weigh heavily in the Governor's final decision on how much "transitional aid" the city gets from the state.
Do I need to go on?

For those who keep talking recall, you had better start the search for a viable replacement or we are going to be in worse shape one year from now.