Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer had the city’s shiny tin cup out again this week, as he spoke to members of Congress and advocated for a bailout package of billions of federal dollars for America’s cities.
Mayor Palmer pulled out his usual talking points, like how Trenton suffers from having less taxable properties due to the presence of the state government and how the state takes up downtown properties for use as surface parking.
The mayor even pulled out the latest piece of hardware from the beggary arsenal of public officials: the mortgage and credit crisis. That problem, which has sparked the nation’s recent economic downturn, had led to a 46 percent increase in foreclosure filing, according to the mayor.
These issues were then linked by the mayor to the city’s current fiscal crisis, which comes in the form of a $26 million budget gap that has could lead to the slashing, through layoffs or the elimination of vacancies, of 10 percent of the city workforce.
Reading over the mayor’s prepared comments, one nearly becomes frightened over the ability of public officials to make presentations, prepare reports, and lobby for important legislation based on positions that are partial misrepresentations of reality and deny all personal responsibility.
While the general statistics and other portions of the positions taken by the mayor are true, he of course did not go into the wasteful and haphazard manner in which his administration operates, which makes him partially responsible for the current fiscal crisis.
He didn’t talk about how his administration, through its activities, constantly opens the city up to costly litigation, or how he allows taxpayer dollars to go towards the funding of lavish and unnecessary perks for favored employees.
Mayor Palmer said nothing about the abject failure his economic redevelopment pursuits have experienced, or how he has moved to sell numerous, long-term city assets to plug short-term budget gaps.
Of course, one cannot blame the mayor for trying in this manner.
A federal bailout would be much better news than a state-sponsored bailout, which would surely come with a demand for state oversight of city finances and an end to the salad, accountability-free days of this administration.
But should such a federal bailout be put into place based on the testimony of men like Mayor Palmer, then some attentive observers will lose some of the confidence that they may have in federal decision-making.
Someone needs to go tell the Feds a little bit about this slick-looking man from Trenton, before he ends up in D.C. himself.