Friday, July 29, 2011

Save a cop's job

We can all agree and accept that the city of Trenton is in bad financial shape.

We all recognize that there must be some severe cuts in staff and services to balance the budget.

According to the folks at Fix Trenton’s Budget, their survey showed people somewhat favored cutting spending on cops.  While we won’t argue the results of the survey, we do disagree and we do wonder if people will feel the same after the police department is reduced in size by one third.

Be that as it may, what is disconcerting now and was equally questionable at the time of last November’s layoff/demotion cycle (and the May correction to that faulty process) is the continued employment of do nothing folks.

For example, the two grant writers hired by Mayor Mack. Yakial McBride (yes, daughter of now Council President and then running mate of the mayor, Kathy McBride) and Samara Lentz.

At last check, neither of these women had produced any significant grant income for the city.  Ms. Lentz in particular has had her hands on two grants.  One was for $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts to develop a reality video series spotlighting urban art.  Yeah, well you can pretty much figure out how much the NEA wanted to fund that plan.  $0 money received.

The second grant application was to the National Endowment for the Humanities in the amount of $400,000 to upgrade the HVAC system at Ellarslie Mansion in order to better preserve the collection at the City Museum.   Ms. Lentz fumbled that one, got a do over and still ended up with the city receiving $0.

Between them, McBride and Lentz earn $105,000 PLUS benefits!  And what do we get in return?

Now, if that isn’t bad enough what about that whip smart Management Assistant, Colin Cherry?  Mr. Cherry, for those of you keeping score, is the son of Merkle Cherry.  You may remember Mr. Cherry from when he was employed in the Palmer administration and his, um, departure, from that position.

Anyway, young Mr. Cherry has been assisting Business Administrator Berry with special initiatives.  For instance, Mr. Cherry was working on the long promised, yet to be delivered city vehicle fleet inventory etc.  That was, until Mr. Cherry was dispatched out to Ellarslie mansion (yes, the same Ellarslie Mansion that didn’t get the money for the improved HVAC system) for who knows what reason. 

What we do know is that Mr. Cherry earns his $56,000+ salary sitting all day playing on Facebook.

Add that salary to McBride’s and Lentz’s and we are over $160,000.  Before benefits.

Do you see where we're going with this?

I’ve found over $160,000 in salaries we might better spend elsewhere.

Want more?

Shortly after taking office, Mayor Mack hired two old buddies of his to work as laborers in the Water Utility: Rodney Washington and Terrance Bailey.  These guys are each earning over $20 per hour/$40,000 per year before benefits and whatever overtime they might catch.  They have yet to be threatened with layoffs, nor are they being disciplined for their various behaviors, lack of driver’s license, etc. 

Add another $80,000 to the salaries above and we’re at $240,000 before benefits and such. 

Then we have Charles Hall, son of Harold Hall.  Hall the younger got tapped for a meter reader job last August pulling in $46,356 in annual salary.  He seems to be safe from layoffs too.

Well, here’s my radical idea.  Let’s get rid of these six people before we even utter one word about laying off cops.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Class Act, Trenton-style

It's been three weeks since the ugly incident on Parkside Avenue where supporters of Mayor Tony Mack verbally assaulted and tried to intimidate people collecting signatures on recall petitions.  The details of the incident have been reported first hand by Kevin Moriarty, the target of most of the vitriol spouted by city employees Rodney Washington and Terrance Bailey.
Well, for those who are embarrassed or upset that these men ever put on the uniform of a City of Trenton employee, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Seems our friend Mr. Washington has a little problem. Or two.  Maybe three.

You see, Rodney Washington was arrested in Ewing Township back on April 10, 2011.  According to the report, Mr. Washington was unable to pass any one of the three field sobriety tests administered by the arresting officer. At the Ewing Township Police headquarters an inventory of Mr.Washington's personal property what appeared to be a half smoked marijuana cigarette was also found.

Mr. Washington was issued a second summons for refusing to submit to the breathalyzer test. 

The arrest report also shows that it was discovered that Mr. Washington was the subject of a warrant.

So there you have it, folks.  A personal friend of the mayor, hired for a city job days after Mayor Mack took office. Outstanding warrant, DUI, possession. 

Oh yeah, and he's a "video star" too.  Remember this little piece of thug art? 

Makes you proud to be a Trentonian, doesn't it?

Sign the petition already.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Dude, where’s my car?

Mayor loses wheels while courting civic group

Mayor Tony Mack pulled a surprise visit to the Old Mill Hill Society monthly meeting last night at the Mill Hill Saloon.  But the OMHS had a surprise of its own.  The group didn’t have a quorum so there was no official meeting. 

Instead, the Mayor reiterated the points made in a letter tothe neighborhood delivered after the re-dedication of the newly refurbished Ike Williams Center in Clay Street Park.  The hoopla celebrated the completion of work begun stewarded by collaboration between the city recreation department under former Mayor Doug Palmer and various neighborhood residents.  Some of those residents, rightfully, took umbrage at the initial press release that left the impression the project was entirely the doing of the Mack administration.   

The fact is that most of the work being in done in parks around the city has been on the drawing boards for some time and funding set aside for it.  Those funds were about to expire if work wasn’t at least started this spring and the Mack administration wasn’t shy about touting all the projects from the earliest days of the Mayor’s term.

Public safety also came up at the meeting, giving the Mayor the opportunity to trot out another of his favorite ideas: taking police officers out from behind desks and putting them on the street.  Nobody has ever been able to answer the question: who will be left to investigate crimes and manage the department if you return all of the detectives and desk jockeys to the streets?

At some point during the meeting, the Mayor was notified that his car was being towed.

Apparently, Mayor Mack drove himself to the meeting…presumably in his personal vehicle. (And if that is truly the case, we give him props).  Seeing an open spot across Market Street from the Mill Hill Saloon, the mayor parked and ran in to court the OMHS members. 

Guess he didn’t see this sign. 

Or this one.

And his car was removed from the premises for being illegally parked.

Now, this might be funny and kind of charming.  Except for what came next.

The Mayor, apparently trying to figure out which of the two towing companies made off with his wheels, approached one of the Mill Hill residents who was standing at the bar and accused her of calling to have his car towed.

No rhyme or reason to it.  He just walked up and in more than a serious tone asked her point blank “Which number” she had called to have his car towed.

He asked the question three times as the woman and those around her stood in total disbelief. He never offered an explanation or an apology (obviously not Mayor Mack’s strong suit) to those who had witnessed this bizarre turn of events.  He just walked away.

Uh, Mr. Mayor. You forgot something.  Your manners.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Metaphor for the Mack Administration

Looking to the past, we see that when I took office, a lot of things were wrong, a lot of things had to be cleaned up, and I’m going to tell you what we did to clean up that mess. But, much more important, I’m here to talk to you about the future, about my vision for the City of Trenton. It’s a vision of a greener city, with world-class parks for our children. It’s a vision of a safer city, with police officers walking the beat, focusing on preventing crimes before they happen. It’s a vision of a more beautiful City with freshly paved, litter-free streets, and community gardens in every ward. And, most of all, it’s a vision of a vibrant city, with an active street life, new private sector jobs and a strong growing economy.”  Tony Mack, State of the City address, March 21, 2011

“…we are also continuing a project dear to my heart: the Annual Clean Communities Litter March.”  Tony Mack, State of the City address, March 21, 2011

A greener, safer, more beautiful and vibrant Trenton begins with the quality of our city parks. In order to preserve recreation programs, parks, and cultural venues; we need seasonal park rangers right away who are able to help put these plans into action,” emphasized Mayor Mack. -- City of Trenton press release,March 23, 2011

I’m so excited about the fact that we kept garbage collection two days a week when it was slated for one day a week,” he added. “We are making monumental accomplishments with less.”  Tony Mack, Times of Trenton, June 7, 2011

"For his first year, Mack said he would give himself an A grade — 'maybe a B plus' " — Times of Trenton, June 16, 2011

We hope you will enjoy other improvements such as:…invested approximately $2 million total into the Mill Hill Community.”  -- Tony Mack, letter to the Mill Hill neighborhood, June 23, 2011.