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.


Lamberton Lilly said...

While the police are high on my current list of favorites, you makes EXCELLENT points. There are many ways to save money; you listed a few of the more obvious. Sadly, you will be ignored or dismissed as spreading, "negative thinking." At least you know you are right which is more than some can say.

Old Mill Hill said...

Thank you. And you are right, these are but a few examples of how we can save money and preserve more of the essential services. Even in these lean times, there is fat to be found. And cut.

Lamberton Lilly said...

I mean to post, "While the police are NOT high on my current...." I am sorry for sloppy proffing. OHS

Old Mill Hill said...

Thank you for the clarification, although we pretty much assumed that was what you meant to type.

Anonymous said...

Although the younger Hall may not be doing an adequate job as a meter reader, removing him or any other water utility employees (Washington and Bailey) will not reduce the City's expenses and reduce the budget gap. The water utility budget is separate from the City's budget and is solely funded from water utility revenues that are not included in the City's revenues. That doesn't mean that those individuals who are nothing more than do nothing patronage hires should not be removed. Reportedly, the water utility has more than adequate funds to conduct its operations. However, it has a severe lack of supervisory and technical personnel and no effort has been or is being made to fill that need.

Old Mill Hill said...

Anonymous does make a good point. In fact, reducing the expenses at the water utility reduces the amount the city can claim out of the "surplus" for use in the general coffers, thus widening the budget gap and not reducing it.

The real point is that there are any number of Mack hires that the city can and should divest itself of. The three water utility employees may have been a poor choice of examples. Perhaps we should have invoked Ms. Ira's name and salary or the allegedly "no-show" John Vaughan. They reportedly earn $83,000 and $40,000 respectively.

Bailey, Hall and Washington are still patronage hires. they must go before any worthwhile and productive employees of the water department.

And this is one of the reasons we believe the water utility should be made a stand alone authority...out of reach of whomever is mayor. But we'll save that for another day.

Thank you for the correction.