Can we agree on one thing this morning, before anything else? Comparisons of Anything in Trenton to Adolf Hitler are overblown. For Councilman Muschal to invoke Hitler in reaction to an apparent ban at Trenton’s City Hall of the Trentonian is kind of over the top. I mean, really! The Trentonian is persona non grata at City Hall apparently due to all of the bad press about Mayor Mack and his administration. (This “ban” is itself an overreaction to the aggressive reporting, but more on that later. ) But there is no comparison to Hitler at all here.

For one thing, Hitler never had to worry about bad press. He got adoring stories all the time, from all the newspapers. That’s the whole point of being a totalitarian dictator! Joseph Goebbels never shouted “Next Question!” to shut up questions from pesky reporters at news conferences.

I would guess that, even as Hitler sat in his Berlin bunker as bombs were dropping all around the city, newspapers carried stories coming out of the Chancellery like “It’s April 1, 1945, and today is the 4, 444th day of the Hitler Administration. Among his many accomplishments in office during that time include: an aggressive urban renewal campaign that is seeing old, obsolete and decrepit residential neighborhoods and factories being demolished courtesy of the US Air Force, at no cost to the German taxpapyer!  Hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors pouring into Germany from all directions!  Chancellor Hitler honored by the Bavarian Cheesemakers Association!” and so forth.

We’ve got nothing like a Hitler situation, here. So, Councilman Muschal, ixnay with the Itler-hay comparisons. And Trentonian, ditto with the screaming headlines. There’s no comparison here, move along.

Going back to the ban on the newspaper, nothing does more for creating desire for an item like banning it; ask any parent.  Prohibition wasn’t much of a good idea, either. The Administration has only given the object of its ban the gift of a great story that it can play the heck out of, exclusively: this is one story the Times is not likely to touch.

And apart from that, the Administration only shows how thin-skinned it is, and how prickly and defensive it gets when attacked. This ban is a show of weakness. It doesn’t look good and other than forcing City Hall workers to sneak looks at the paper’s website when they can (and, perhaps post online comments, hmmm?), I don’t know what possible benefit the Mayor and his colleagues hope to get out of it.They overreacted.

The Trentonian, for all of its many faults and wrinkles, has been doing some good journalism over the last several months. With an aggressiveness seldom seen during the Palmer Administration, the newspaper has been breaking news, posting frequent updates online, using video, and generally proving the continuing value of a strong local news presence.

In comparison, the Times has been lagging in its city coverage, reduced often to reports of press conferences and Council sessions, as well as ripping and re-writing press releases from outside sources.  This is no doubt the inevitable result of a long process of downsizing at that newspaper, and the hollowing out of local resources in favor of concentrating them at Star-Ledger headquarters up north.

I’m not saying the Trentonian doesn’t make mistakes. Too many stories are rushed onlne and into print without corroboration, relying only on single unnamed sources whose credibility on a given story can’t be evaluated by the average reader. For instance, over the weekend in the wake of the departure of Business Administrator Andrew McCrosson, the Trentonian ran an article by LA Parker -UPDATE:  not conspicuously gone from, but here – reporting a theory that McCrosson’s departure was caused by a tip to him from Governor Christie advising McC to leave Trenton City Hall before some looming state investigation hit the fan. In light of the latest information about Mr. McCrosson, any story about a tip from the Governor to McCrosson seems – at this point – pretty ludicrous.

Such a story surely looked good to the Trentonian, and was a snug fit with the narrative to date that the paper has been writing about our city’s government. But, by relying on a single unattributed source to pass along what the paper freely indicated was only informed speculation, they went to print with what ended up a bad story.

Regarding the McCrosson story, what we know now hasn’t changed much from what we all first heard on Monday morning. Financial records filed by Congressman LoBiondo’s campaign indicate several hundred thousands of dollars not accounted for, apparently for periods during which Mr. McCrosson was the campaign treasurer for Mr. LoBiondo. A Federal investigation is apparently underway centering on one the actions of one individual formerly with the campaign; because of that everyone is keeping a tight lip. Beyond that, we don’t know anything for sure.

I won’t speculate about Mr. McCrosson’s role on that campaign. As I said on Friday when the news of his departure broke, whatever the reasons for him leaving s our Business Administrator, it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the city of Trenton. We are awaiting news of state Transitional Aid needed to plug gaping holes in our budget;  long-planned layoffs have started to take place among the non-uniformed employees; demotions and bumps within the fire and police departments are creating headaches and complaints; cuts in city services created by these layoffs have yet to be fully felt by city residents; and the prospect of more massive property taxes hangs over us all as budget uncertainties persist.

Not a good time to lose your Business Administrator, for whatever reason. And we hear today that Mr. McCrosson actually resigned last Wednesday, although City Council members and the public didn’t hear about it until Friday afternoon. The reason for this delay is not known, but the delay is not being taken well by City Council. I hope the Mayor has a good explanation for it; we’d like to hear it.

I’m sure Hitler never had to explain his personnel moves.  Another example for why we shouldn’t be making these types of comparisons. Relax, take a deep breath, and let’s keep moving.

4 comments to Overreactions

  • In the know

    Go to the “Opinion” tab and then look under Nov. 12 and you’ll see the link to the “conspicuously gone” column.

    Here’s a link to it:

  • Kevin

    You are correct, sir!! Thanks for that, I have updated the post. I looked for it under News (which my admittedly faulty memory tells me I first found the article), and couldn’t find it. Even as an Opinion piece, an article based on nothing more than a rumor shouldn’t have run without at least a second source corroborating the story.

  • pete

    Hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors pouring into Germany from all directions.
    love it

  • Robert Chilson

    I think Alex Zdan and Matt Fair do a good job over at the Times I see them everywhere around Trenton digging up stories, they do however stick to press releases and do not push controversial speculation like the Trentonian is known to do.