Trenton residents set to protest on Friday, September 14th
TRENTON – Coinciding with the U.S. Conference of Mayors 2007 Fall Leadership Meeting, a broad coalition of concerned Trenton residents will peacefully protest outside the Trenton Marriott on Friday September 14th at 12:30 p.m. to call attention to the persistent social and economic ills plaguing the Capital City and to the poor performance of the administration under Mayor Palmer’s leadership.
Organizers cite a sharp increase in violent crime and gang activity, a failing school system, joblessness and lack of opportunity, loss of homeownership, misguided and botched revitalization projects, political exclusion and disenfranchisement, lack of vision, and a host of other issues.
– Trenton’s current homicide rate is poised to equal the record set in 2005 and exceeds that of Philadelphia on a per capita basis. In the most recent Quitno City Crime Ratings report, Trenton jumped from 10th to 4th most dangerous city of its size. Whereas Trenton had only minor gang activity before 2002, national gangs have now fully established their presence throughout many neighborhoods. This poor law enforcement record exists despite the questionable and misleading data promulgated by the Police Department under Director Santiago.
– The Trenton Public School System now ranks as one of the lowest performing in New Jersey in broad categories under NCLB and QSAC and is threatened with partial State takeover. According to the recent State Review, the district failed to meet the 80% minimum in the five areas of review, scoring 11 in Instruction and Program, 22 in Governance, 22 in Personnel, 60 in Fiscal Management, and 67 in Operations Management. The 2005 Sherman Ave. scandal exposed student record falsification by administrators and caused some 130 students to fall short of required credits. Recently, the 2007-2008 school year scheduling foul-up saw many of Trenton’s 14,500 students spend the first two days of school loitering in gyms and auditoriums with nothing to do.
– While the administration has touted various economic development projects and made extraordinary job creation claims, hard data proves otherwise. Trenton is falling further behind New Jersey’s other cities in per capita income with a dismal (unadjusted) 9% rise from 1999 to 2006 as compared to Newark’s 24% and Jersey City’s 29% rise. Between 2000 and 2005 Mercer County’s unemployment rate was cut by more than half from 6.7% to 2.3% while Trenton stagnated from 10.5% to 10.2%.
– While the administration has developed numerous affordable housing units, the overall picture shows a discouraging net loss of homeownership from 48.9% in 1990 to 45.5% in 2000 and a growing problem with absentee landlords and overcrowding. Residents have continued their exodus with a 3.6% population decline from 1990 to 2000.
– Major concerns over development include the continuing abuse of Eminent Domain for private development, the use of Regional Contribution Agreements (RCAs) for affordable housing, pay-to-play relationships with developers, and the exclusion of public input from neighborhood revitalization planning. Recently, a community leader was threatened, in writing, with a lawsuit by a top administration official for requesting information about and questioning various development projects in the city.
Coalition members consider the above record unacceptable for a Mayor with a 17-year tenure!