South Ward Councilman Jim Coston was there when Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer gave an audience at the recent League of Municipalities convention a description of his mythical self, as he usually does when he is in public relations/state and national celebrity mode.
After reading Councilman Coston’s short account of the green-themed seminar, one is left with a sickened feeling, originating from recognition of how officials like this mayor represent themselves to others, when promoting policies and governmental practices away from their municipalities.
At some point, Mayor Palmer told the audience of his decision to drive a Mercury Mariner hybrid, instead of a gas-guzzling Lincoln Town Car. From the account of the talk, it appears this woefully incomplete anecdote was provided as evidence of how officials can make green decisions, with an eye to influencing public behavior and decision-making.
Audience members at the Atlantic City seminar probably had visions of the dungaree-clad mayor, driving himself all over town in his Mercury while taking care of the capital of New Jersey’s ills, instead of how it really is: Mayor Palmer spending little time in the city, being picked up by a taxpayer-funded police-and-driver detail for the daily, environment-polluting commute to Trenton from his palatial Hunterdon County estate, while clad in a suit worth more than Trenton’s median family income.
What’s scary about a situation like the one at this convention is how misinformed all those public officials in the audience must be, after having taken part in it.
They heard about the mythical mayor from Trenton, who drives around in an environmentally-friendly vehicle, instead of the real mayor who is rarely seen in the city except for photo ops, public relations stunts, or during promotional efforts for the latest highly-touted but effectively useless policy or project.
Perhaps this discussions will lead these officials to consider extending an invitation to Mayor Palmer to weigh in, or even worse, to allow the mayor to leave his own indelible mark on their policies.
Maybe some high-ranking official that attended the convention will consider appointing Mayor Palmer to some higher position, where he can expand his broken system of governing to a larger scope and make life difficult for many hundreds of thousands of people.
Perhaps the League of Municipalities needs to consider hiring fact checking personnel to sit on these discussions.
They could find many takers here in Trenton.