Some of The Most Dangerous Words in the English Language

When strung together like this, these are some of the most dangerous words in the English language:

“The problem is not that difficult to correct.”

Those words express a sentiment that often leads to much misery, on all levels of human circumstance. When confidently spoken by a humble homeowner, that boast can turn a simple leaky faucet can lead to thousands and thousands of dollars and weeks and weeks of repairs. When  spoken by national leaders, that kind of bravado can lead to years and years of war. And everything in between those two extreme examples.

“The problem is not that difficult to correct.”

This latest foolhardy boast was made yesterday, once in the form of a press release announcing his candidacy for Trenton’s Mayor, and later on a Facebook group page by Paul Perez-Barroso. Mr. Perez-Barroso introduced himself to Trenton’s voters yesterday.  Although a Trenton native, he moved back into the city only about six months ago after a period of over 30 years, according to an article in this morning’s Trenton Times.  The main thrust of his candidacy  is described in this section of his press release:

“Trenton is currently experiencing an incredible case of neglect on behalf of the current administration that has systematically wrecked the first responder agencies capabilities to maintain the safety and security of the city.” “This absence of a secure environment negates any possibility of economic development and investment in the city, therefore the poor jobs situation and limited tax base”.  The problem is not that difficult to correct, however, it does require seasoned business acumen to get it done.” [Grammatical and punctuation errors in the original. – KM]

Such “seasoned business acumen” to be provided, presumably, by Mr. Perez-Barroso.

As proof of his “acumen,” he cites “over 27 years of leadership and government experience.” This experience consists of service in the US Army and other Federal agencies. Most recently, he touts his own company, The Protective Realm, which he describes as a “Business Development and Business Process Modeling Company, based in Virginia and with a virtual office in Trenton.”

A cursory search of information on this company shows that it was formed as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Virginia only in April of 2012. The website was registered more recently than that, in September of 2012. An examination of the website does not, to this reader, describe very much about what his consulting company actually does, or provide any sense about how large the company may be apart from Mr. Perez-Barroso and his Trenton “virtual office.”

Yesterday afternoon, after some chatter on Facebook regarding his announcement, Mr. Perez-Barroso contributed some comments to the discussion. Most of the discussion focused on a promise he made to Emily Brill of the Trenton Times: “I believe I’m the right person to come here to solve the issues regarding out-of-control crime. Make me the mayor today, and tomorrow you will have 105 police officers back on duty.” Understandably, this quote led to a great deal of skepticism on the part of many on Facebook.

Perez-Barroso offered no detail to this extraordinary claim, and offered no specific plan or formula that would allow this overnight restoration of 105 officers, and the approximate $12 Million in funding that would be required. The best he could come up with was this:

Make me Mayor today and I will have 105 police officers back on duty. Understanding budget prioritization and being an executive for many years, I would call in all Directors and re-prioritize that portion of the budget identified as discretionary and re-tag it to address the crime problem. Directors can be asked to reduce their numbers by a certain amount and that money could be redirected. What is missing is a little bit of managerial experience, cooperation and transparency when it comes to the real issues of this city. The current crime situation in the city should not take back seat to any other issue.

That’s it. Re-prioritize the discretionary portion of the budget. “Re-tag it.” He made this claim without demonstrating that he has even a basic understanding of the budget or even the structure of the City’s government. Did he suggest any program, department or personnel as “discretionary?” No, he did not.

After being called out by several individuals including myself on this incredibly bold promise without offering any detail, all he could do was provide further reassurance of his own ability:

I have an strong network of business people who are chumping at the bit to come and do business in Trenton. The drawback is Crime. I have worked along side business development professionals at the Export Import Bank of the United States who are directly responsible for implementing President Obama plan of doubling the amount of Exports and Job creation for the nation… I recently left the National Science Foundation. For three years I worked with the worlds best innovators when it comes to education. I am currently consulting them on some of these issues and included in the talks are some of our local educators…

Here he seems to be including himself as one of the “business development professional” and “worlds best innovators” on the level of the Ex-Im Bank and the NSF.


After several hours of this exchange, his comments trailed off, and a member of his campaign announced no other comments would be forthcoming, saying “Please be advised that Mr. Perez is prepared to answer yours and the community’s questions in face to face meetings and in structured debate forums with any of the candidates. At this time, however, [this Facebook] forum will not be the place where our platform and plans will be communicated.” And that was that.

This should give some sense of Mr. Perez-Barroso’s candidacy. All he offers to us as of today is his resume, however thin and vague it is. I have no doubt that he has a long and distinguished career behind him in service while in the uniform of the United States and afterward. I thank him for his service.

But I see nothing – nothing, not one thing – in his resume that leads me to believe he is in any way a credible candidate for mayor. Other than acknowledge the severity of the public safety situation in Trenton, he shows no familiarity at all with any of the specifics associated with the problem. He demonstrates no knowledge of the city and its affairs, and despite relying exclusively on his so-called business acumen as qualifying him for the job, fails to tell us what he has actually done, or what he is capable of doing. All we know is that he was a federal government employee for nearly 30 years, and runs a year-old consulting business out of his house.

I am sorry. That is not remotely good enough.

A person like Mr. Perez-Barroso, who returns to the city a half-dozen months ago, has a much higher bar to clear than other candidates. Since we do not know him, and he has no recent track record in this town, such a candidate must immediately and forcefully demonstrate a mastery of local issues as well as presenting detailed and credible solutions. You only get one chance to make a first impression, after all. A long-shot unknown candidate has to make it count. Before you even get to candidate forums, you must clearly, repeatedly and publicly demonstrate that you know what you are talking about, and that you can walk the walk, too.

Using that yardstick, Mr. Perez-Barroso unfortunately failed to make a favorable first impression. His formal announcement is tomorrow, so to give the gentleman the benefit of the doubt he has a chance to rectify yesterday’s terrible debut.

But, to be frank, I am not optimistic. To correctly – as he did – identify public safety, economic development, the poor jobs situation and limited tax base as some of Trenton’s main problems, and then immediately say “The problem is not that difficult to correct,” reveals a lot.

To me, this kind of statement reveals someone with an exaggerated view of his own capabilities, an understated appreciation of the severity and complexity of the issues facing Trenton, zero knowledge of the city as it exists today, and not incidentally little appreciation for those capable (and there are many) individuals in the city’s government and in the state’s who are facing these complex issues every day.

Sound like someone we know?

Listen, Mr. Perez-Barroso, a friendly word of advice. Welcome back to Trenton. Thanks for looking to make this your home again. I’m glad you’d like to help be part of the solution to our problems. Good Luck to you and your family as you re-establish your ties to the city, and to growing your business.

But as far as your decision to come back to town and immediately thrown your hat in the ring? I hope you re-consider. Because we have experienced three years of incompetence from an unprepared, incapable pretender, who rode to office on his resume, smiles, waves and promises.

We won’t get fooled like that again.

I know you aren’t Tony Mack. But, respectfully, sir, like him you are equally not qualified to be Mayor of Trenton.

4 comments to Some of The Most Dangerous Words in the English Language

  • Chris

    When I first saw the quote, I thought it might have been from Mack. Instead it’s from a possible Mack. Yikes.

  • Chris

    Read something today that reminded me of Mack:

    I never forgot what the Lawyer told us next (paraphrasing):

    When the federal Government comes after you in a high-profile manner, you won’t know it until it is too late. It’s like having a radar detector and coming over a hill to see a cop. Your detector goes off, but it’s just telling you that you’re busted. The Federal Government is the same way. Once you see them, it’s way too late. Sure they will ask you questions, like do you know why you got pulled over, or do you know where the hard drives are, but the jig is up. When it comes to high profile cases, the Feds don’t like to look stupid. They have gone over the facts hundreds of times and made sure that it’s a slam dunk.

  • Michael Smith

    Interesting, after a 30 year hiatus a person may reasonably question where Mr. Perez will raise the necessary funds to run for mayor.
    Perhaps the entire matter is a ruse to draw attention to his fledgling business.

  • ed w

    they had a word for it after the civil war, “carpet baggers” what trenton needs is way beyond this characters abilities, 30 yrs as a federal employee is no qualification for running a city such as trenton. maybe he should run as dog catcher.