The Douglas H. Palmer solid waste treatment plant

Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer has told some that he has no plans to run for mayor for a sixth term in 2010, although he has made no formal announcement to that effect.

If he follows through with such a decision, it will be interesting to see what exactly his legacy will be in Trenton in the years following his departure from the office he has occupied since 1990.

A Times of Trenton story from over the weekend pointed to part of his likely legacy – overseeing the capital of New Jersey’s continued economic decline, depopulation, and loss of viable neighborhoods, manifested in a surging jobless rate.

The Times’ Meir Rinde reported that Mayor Palmer’s Trenton has beat out Camden, Newark, Paterson, and all of New Jersey’s other downtrodden cities for the out-of-work cup, in achieving an amazing 17 percent unemployment rate.

An incredulous Mayor Palmer remarked that he could not see how such a rate was possible, but such comments show just how out-of-touch, in denial, or dishonest the mayor is when talking about his city.

It is obvious – despite the mayor’s comments – that many Trenton neighborhoods have few jobs or businesses and most residents lack the skills necessary to work at the state, county, or other governmental centers that occupy space throughout town.

Instead of pursuing responsible redevelopment and mixed-income neighborhoods, the mayor took in loads of cash from other New Jersey towns through Regional Contribution Agreements in return for stuffing loads of affordable housing into city neighborhoods, turning them into massive pockets of poverty.

For such decision-making, which directly leads to ominous statistics like 17 percent unemployment rates, the most deserving treatment for Mayor Palmer’s legacy would be forgetting about the longtime executive for good.

 If that can’t be done, another suggestion could be naming the city’s solid waste treatment plant after the mayor.

Solid (and governmental) waste is one of the last things Trenton still produces during the waning days of the Palmer administration, so such an action would be a fitting memorial to the outgoing mayor and his 20-year legacy.


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