Tuesday, May 01, 2012


The Mayor’s Learning Center Library.

Well, we can’t really use the term “library.” There is no professional staff. No reference help. No resources.

What difference does it make? It’s all just a bunch of words.

Words: Mayor Mack’s biggest nemesis.

He knows words. Sometimes he can actually pronounce them correctly. But he just doesn’t seem to be able to grasp their meaning; at least not when he is in public grasping for answers to questions.

Why do words have to be so mean?

For instance, the mayor stated yesterday during the ribboncutting for the new Learning Center in the old Skelton Library building that he’d received “…an email from someone at the state today saying they were concerned…”

“They sent out a letter asking us to reconsider or rethink opening a library.”

“$100,000 of a $2 million budget does not give you the right to dictate to us what we do with our building.”

The communication the mayor refers to here was not sent “from someone at the state” but rather from New Jersey Library Association ExecutiveDirector Patricia Tumulty. 

The NJLA doesn’t give the city any money towards its libraries. In fact, the NJLA, amongst other things, lobbies for increased financing from the state to the public libraries.

There is the “state” and there is the “state library association”. Two different entities, but it is all just words to the mayor. 

We got what he meant. “Keep your nose out of our business. I’ll do what I want.”

“The library board,” he states, “had the same opportunity to come and join us in this effort as all the other volunteers had on this project. They had the same opportunity. For those who say they didn’t know about the committee, they didn’t know about what we wanted to do, it’s just untrue.”

Maybe Mayor Mack didn’t mean to say “it’s just untrue”. Maybe he meant to say, “it’s unfortunate that I didn’t let them know what I was going to do whether they participated or not.”

You see, here is how it really played out. 

The library, faced with budget cuts from the Mack administration, made the determination that it could no longer operate the four branch libraries.

There was some back-and-forth that included the mayor promising to deliver the funds needed to keep the branches open part-time several days a week.

On October 25, 2010, the mayor issued a press release inviting people to participate in a “community lead Library task force who will identify best practices for operating and maintaining our libraries and day to day operations immediately.”

So this press release, which we have only ever seen on thecity website and which appeared only a day or two before the infamous “Highlights of the first 100 Days” press release that was little more than a recounting of the mayors appointment calendar for the preceding three months, was issued but largely overlooked.  Was it ever distributed? Did the media pick up on it?

Well he issued an invitation in a press release. So we all “knew” about it and could have joined in.

Mayor Mack even repeated this last night at his South Ward Town Hall meeting (a very sparsely attended affair when you take away the members of the Mack cabinet, his posse and the three council people that were present).

Mack was questioned on the transparency of his government by one citizen in attendance. The mayor’s response was first to blame the newspapers for only printing negative stories and then to ask of a specific example of when his administration was not forthcoming with information.

“The library plan that was developed in secret” said the citizen.

The mayor again trotted out his explanation that nothing was done in secret. That everyone was invited to join this committee.

Mayor Mack has yet to offer any explanation for the lack of information available from the administration when requested via OPRA on two separate occasions.

He was invited to tell us what he was up to but chose not to participate.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Words, and libraries, are not Mack's strong suit. He is appalling. Anthony Roberts is frightening.