Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dead from the neck up

Trenton mayor and two council members prove they are fools.

The state of New Jersey has announced its transitional aid aware for Trenton for the current fiscal year (FY2012).  Rather, we should say the state of New Jersey has announced a choice in transitional aid amounts that Trenton can receive.  (Of course this is all pending the approval of the legislature to release the transitional aid funds but that is another story).

Mayor Tony Mack has a choice before him. He can select between receiving $22 million in state aid for the city or $16 million.

No brainer, right?

Not quite.

There are, after all, some strings attached to that $22 million.

In order for the city to get the higher amount of aid, the mayor must sign an MOU with the state wherein he agrees to the creation of a three person committee to oversee the process of hiring people to fill key spots in the administration.  The DCA would appoint one member, the mayor, would appoint one member and city council would appoint one member.

Considering the Mack administration’s track record in selecting qualified candidates for BA and department heads, it is not really a bad idea to have an oversight committee. Just a quick recap: over a half dozen business administrators (one who pleaded guilty to stealing campaign funds); one Housing and Economic Development nominee who is a convicted felon and another who has a history of failed businesses, judgments and tax liens against her; a municipal judge appointee with her own financial problems; a municipal court director with a police record (who, by the way, has been enjoying a six week and counting paid vacation while a superior court judge determines if he is qualified for the position); serious turnover in the law department. 

So, leaving the question of the personnel committee aside what are the scenarios for the two aid amounts? 
  1. $22 million --- balanced budget, possible tax decrease, probable re-hiring of some police
  2. $16 million --- balanced budget, probable tax increase, no additional police
Yet the mayor can’t decide.  What does that say about his ability to lead this city?

If the mayor’s apparent indecision isn’t bad enough how about this comment in today’s Times from Councilman At Large Alex Bethea:

“We certainly need the money, but I wouldn’t want to give away the whole house for an extra $6 million. You have to maintain some control, notwithstanding that we’ve made some mistakes in the past,” he said.

“If he decides that, ‘Okay, that’s okay, we’ll take the $22 million,’ then I’ll sign off. If he says this is going a little too far, then I would have to support the mayor on that decision as well,” Bethea said.

This is it Trenton? This is the best you can do? A prideful mayor who would flush away $6 million in state aid is not fit to lead and a councilman who cannot think for himself.

But wait, there's more.

Council President Kathy McBride, in the same Times article, says she’s waiting to speak to the mayor before making any more comments on the choice of aid packages.  In other words, she is waiting for Mayor Mack to tell her what to think and say as well.

At least East Ward Councilwoman Reynolds-Jackson is keeping her mouth shut on the subject...for now. Someone must have whispered in her ear that old adage about it being better to keep quiet and be thought a fool than to speak and prove it.

Friday, October 07, 2011

What others are saying

The following are letters to the editor published this week in the Times.

No confidence in Trenton mayor

I was very pleased to read The Times’ article “Four on council express ‘no confidence’ in Mack” (Oct. 4). Until this past Tuesday, I thought that I had awakened to find that we were living in a foreign country under a dictator. How can our mayor keep repeating mistake after mistake?

How can he play around with our $27.1 million aid package? These monies are not his; the funds are for the citizens of Trenton. Would Mayor Mack want to lay off more police, etc.? Maybe he would like to install more of his friends to run the city and enforce the peace; after all, isn’t that what dictators do?

I’d like to know how Mayor Mack can say council has not acted professionally, when it’s obvious that he himself does not act professionally. Additionally, how can the committee “Stand By Tony” make comments such as “Mack has submitted qualified department director candidates”? Maybe council should approve embezzlers and wanton criminals. The citizens of Trenton voted in council, just as they, unfortunately, voted in the mayor. And from where I sit, council has acted more professionally and has looked out for the city’s interests many times over compared to Mayor Mack.

I happily signed the petition for the mayor’s recall. Please — I could do a better job as mayor. My qualifications: integrity, honesty and intelligence, three qualities the mayor does not seem to have.

-- Walter R. Dietrich,

Printed in the Times, Friday, October 07, 2011

Trenton mayoral recall is an act of good faith

Trenton Mayor Tony Mack continues to march to his own drummer, despite the music the rest of the band is playing.

Besides not practicing basic management processes, he continues to violate the terms he agreed to in the Memo of Understanding he signed with the state.

There is every indication that the state will refuse to release the additional $24.4 million of transitional aid Trenton needs because of the mayor’s arrogant ignorance of the MOU requirements, as well as ignorance of sound administrative management.

It has been estimated that the loss of the transitional aid will cause a devastating blow to the city’s budget. The current proposed 2012 budget increases our tax rate from $3.63 to $3.74 per $100 of assessed value. That is a 3 percent increase in rate, and $220 on a home of $200,000.

If taxpayers have to make up for the lost aid, we would need a 37 percent tax rate increase — from $3.63 to $4.98 per $100. The total property tax would then be $9,960 on a $200,000 home. Suffice it to say that kind of increase on top of the large increases over the last two years would stress the financial resources of many Trenton residents.

We need to show the state that we are not like our arrogant mayor, but that we really are good people who deserve the transitional aid. What better way to show the state this than to sign the petition to recall Mayor Mack so that we can elect an effective replacement as soon as possible?

Isn’t this what we all want?

-- Don Wallar,

Printed in the Times, Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

And then again, maybe not

Last week we posted about the discrepancy between the resume of suspended municipal court director Nate Jones and the information provided by the online student clearinghouse that verifies (or not) an individual's college degrees.

We submitted another verification request to the same clearinghouse and this time came up with a different response:

While we cannot explain why the original inquiry turned up different information, we do feel it is only fair and correct to post the results of the subsequent research.  We have tried to contact the school directly to get an explanation but as of yet have received no response.
Name On School's Records: NATHANIEL M JONES, JR.
Date Awarded: 05/10/1985
Official Name of School: HOWARD UNIVERSITY
Major Course(s) of Study(and NCES CIP Code, if available):
Dates of Attendance:08/21/1978 to 05/10/1985

Name On School's Records: NATHANIEL M JONES, JR.
Date Awarded: 05/13/1989
Degree Title: JURIS DOCTOR
Official Name of School: HOWARD UNIVERSITY
School Division:SCHOOL OF LAW
Major Course(s) of Study(and NCES CIP Code, if available):
Dates of Attendance:08/15/1985 to 05/12/1989
So we leave it up to you readers to decide which of the reports you will believe.  We have provided as much information as we have at our disposal.  If anything changes, we'll let you know.