Monthly Archives: February 2011

Mack is Trenton’s own personal mess

The recent string of newspaper-based requests for political intervention in Trenton seems to hint that the Mercer political establishment is uncomfortable with the public policy decisions of Mayor Tony Mack.

Like us, they are probably horrified by the endless stream of bad news that has enveloped the Mack Administration since inauguration.   Unfortunately, the existence of private horror with Mack’s policy decisions doesn’t warrant hope for this big political intervention.

Such a move would carry a potentially heavy price for Democrats in the county, who would risk alienating voters from in and around Trenton.  If he’s even half the politician former Mayor Doug Palmer was, Mack would cast any such move as outside hacks intervening in the affairs of city voters on behalf of special interest groups.  Mack could even borrow a Palmerism and talk of shady characters working to implement a “shadow government.”

Hope for some concerted action by outside officials also ignores the fact that it is fundamentally unlikely for officials to interfere with a party member, even an incompetent one.

New Jersey’s political parties rarely eat their own in the sort of public fashion alluded to by some in the press…unless the stakes involved move from mere ineptitude to risking party-wide destruction, such as those associated with criminal wrongdoing.

It is a long shot to expect officials from Mercer County or anywhere else to do anything about Mack.  We’re probably looking at the next election as the first opportunity to rectify this situation.

Of course, a successful recall would move said election closer…

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Mack: no tax hike means police layoff

TRENTON — Mayor Tony Mack says Trenton must lay off 150 police officers to close a $17 million budget deficit, according to The Trentonian’s L.A. Parker.

The revelation comes after City Council voted down a proposed 43-cent tax increase Thursday.

The increase would have gone far to close the gap.

It would also, however, represent the latest in a series of tax increases that have whacked taxpayers as Trenton grapples with deficits and insufficient tax revenue.

No word has been given as to when these layoffs will occur or if they will truly consist of 150 officers.

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Get the house in order

News of a 43-cent Trenton tax increase left city residents groaning today.

They feel the pain of old wounds left by city tax hikes of similar size.

It is likely that each tax increase suffered by Trentonian property owners has led to increasing numbers of foreclosures and property sales.  Each one of these events further damages the tax base and its ability to support services.

It’s like giving a patient treatment that cures current health issues but weakens defenses and leads to more fundamental disease later.

Frankly, it’s surprising how many property owners have stood fast and not put up that For Sale sign.

Such fortitude is a testament to the connection to home felt by so many people, even when that home sits in the City of Trenton.  It puts the latest tax increase in an even poorer light.

Many Trentonians have been willing to hold on and put up with tax hikes, out of faith that the worst is over and that the city’s financial house may finally be in equilibrium.

Their goodwill is irreparably harmed by the city government.

Current leadership has failed to put together a strategic plan for putting the city in a position to minimize the need for more hefty tax increases.  When city residents with valuable knowledge on budgeting offer assistance, the response has been lukewarm, at best….another confidence-killer.

The true damage is to those who have the resolve to hold on.

In their support lies the key to the future of cities like Trenton.

But dashing that support to pieces with irresponsible fiscal policy is the best way to drive them right out of town.

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What’s up with Tony Mack?

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There comes a time in the life of a dormant blog when enough is enough.

That times has come, signified by a new albeit short post.

Despite my relocation to Philadelphia, as many know, I keep abreast of affairs in my former adopted hometown of Trenton, NJ. In this historic but struggling city, first-term Mayor Tony Mack has all but squandered the good will the people of Trenton bestowed upon him with their votes in the 2010 election.

Instead of bringing in new, competent faces and respecting the opinions of proven arbiters of city administration, Mayor Mack has filled 319 E. State Street with cronies and driven away those who would have provided appropriate and effective guidance in the running of a city teetering on the brink.

Instead of changing the status quo of governmental dealings with critical but caring city residents, Mayor Mack has resorted to the old adversarial tactics of former Mayor Douglas H. Palmer by picking fights in the media and bending the truth of citizen-criticism.

Instead of fostering an open and honest discussion of his own personal financial problems, he has allowed the city to become the laughingstock of the state and regional media and only fanned the flames feeding rumors of his government’s susceptibility to corrupt and questionable practices.

Unfortunately for Trenton, the next scheduled opportunity to correct the electoral mistake of May and June 2010 isn’t until 2014 – unless a difficult recall process is successful.

Whatever the case, Trentonians need to draw the conclusion that the most important future priority is vetting and selecting a stable of viable, competent mayoral candidates for 2014.

Otherwise the city is forever doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, ruining the future.

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