Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The morning news...and more

The Trentonian’s front page is screaming about the fact that one of Mayor Tony Mack’s properties is on the current tax sale list.
It is a shame.  Public officials should set a better example.

But what is a larger shame is that this Hampton avenue property has sat vacant and burned out for years with nothing being done. The city has never moved to forced Mack to fix up the building or tear it down. Never mind that he is now the mayor and CEO of the city. What does this say about Trenton’s ability to operate effectively as a city?

The Trentonian article mentions a few other names that appear on the tax list: Raphiel Mack, the mayor’s brother, for one. Jo Jo Giorgianni, a Mack confidante and supporter, for another.

What wasn’t mentioned was that Bayville Holdings, the owner/developer of the Broad Street Bank building, is also on the list. They owe $15,992.65 a combination of their payments in lieu of taxes and their assessment for being in the Trenton Downtown special improvement district. 

Bayville, you will recall, financed their extensive and expensive renovation of Trenton’s first skyscraper in part with state funding that resulted in an income cap for prospective renters of the buildings apartments. This meant that what could have, should have been a pricey, desirable urban enclave turned into just another high rise filled with subsidized tenants.  At the same time, the developer twisted the city’s arm to get a lengthy PILOT on the property taxes.  Payments they apparently aren’t making anyway.

Good deal (NOT!) that the Palmer administration stuck us with. 

The Times has an interesting story by Alex Zdan about Mercer Countytaking back control of the TMAC grant from the city because of non-compliance with the terms of the funding agreement.

The TMAC grant is state money passed through the county to municipalities to fund alcohol and drug abuse prevention programs for children.  Since the Mack administration took over, there has been the typical lack of attention to conforming to the terms of the grant agreement. The monies have been used, at least in part, to pay friends of the administration, like Lisa Whitaker, with no reported work product being shown.

In April, the city convened the required steering committee in a last ditch effort to retain control over the funding but the county was not impressed.  In this morning’s article, Zdan states that the county will select the program providers, taking the decision away from the city.

Interestingly, the article also states that Joyce Kersey was named the coordinator for the grant.  This is a paid position. It begs the question: if the county is now running the grant, why is it paying, through the city, someone to coordinate the program?

Is Ms. Kersey, who was recently singled out as the individual Mayor Mack used to inform two school board members that he was rescinding their appointments (which, it turns out, he can’t do), yet another “Friend of Tony’s” grabbing a few extra taxpayer bucks for no real reason?

Not reported in the article was another little tidbit we heard re: the TMAC steering committee meeting. One Ms. Linda Gundy was chosen to chair this committee to steer the program that the county has now taken control of.  As ridiculous as that sounds, it gets better.

Ms. Gundy is a friend and supporter of Tony Mack.  She was listed in TMAC grant documents asbeing a “concerned citizen” that was appointed to the steering committee. (It should be noted that many people who were named on this list weren't even aware of it until Anthony Roberts convened that April meeting. It should also be noted that Ms. Kersey's name is not on this list.)

Ms. Gundy may very well be concerned, but she is also on the city payroll.

Since January, Ms. Gundy has been employed by the TrentonWater Works.  Prior to that, she was listed on documents as “an intern” in the recreation department.  She was paid as an independent contractorfrom September of 2011 until she was placed, full time, at TWW.  Interestingly, in August and September of2011, Ms. Gundy was also listed and paid as a “seasonal employee” of theTWW. 

This means that during September of last year, she was a city employee and a paid city consultant. This would appear to violate state law, not that the Mack administration has ever appeared to be concerned about following such law.

Being a friend of Tony Mack’s sure has its advantages.  


Unknown said...

Standard Operating Procedure for this Administration.

Great piece, thanks for the analysis.

Anonymous said...

Hello - is anyone out there listening? Mack continues with his incompetence and illegal acts, and no one except a few activists and reporters seems interested. Certainly no one is doing a thing about it. Appalling.

Lamberton Lilly said...

Did the Honorable Mayor collect insurance money for the Hampton property? If so, what did he use it for? Certainly not to rehab the building. When is the Honorable Mayor going to stop looking like an asshole? As to the Honorable Mayor saying,"The taxes will be paid before it becomes an issue." News Flash! It is already an issue.