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.


Trenton Watch said...

Not so foolish after all, Mr. Stoop. You spoke to soon, and foolishly???

"The state had threatened to withhold $6 million in aid to the distressed city unless Mack agreed to have all his hires approved by a three-member panel.

Mack dug in his heels but finally agreed to let the state recruit applicants for top jobs, as long as he has final say over who is picked. Mack also can't fire anyone without approval from the state Department of Community Affairs."

See http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/ce9a21d908de4b1496245f44ebc96619/NJ--Troubled-Trenton/

Old Mill Hill said...

Yes. We are well aware of the new version of the aid agreement.

So you think it is ok that the mayor got his way and the city got the extra $6 million.

It is good that we got the money but we are not sure anything is going to change in the personnel department.

And there were no guarantees it would have been any better with the three person panel.

Now we have a delusional, incompetent mayor who thinks he is a tough negotiator.