Ball of Confusion

For Crying Out Loud!! According to the Times today, Mayor Tony Mack is still undecided which Transitional Aid Package to accept from the State of New Jersey:

$22 Million – which (along with some accounting sleight-of-hand) would allow the recall of some recently laid-off police as well as a modest property tax REBATE to property owners in the City; or

$16 Million – which would require a property tax INCREASE, as well as further budget cuts to close a budget hole of about $3 Million. Oh, and no re-hired cops.

Which would you choose? A no-brainer, right? Well, our Mayor is the only one in this Town who has to think – Real Hard – about the choice. Why? Because accepting the $22 Million package would require Mack to agree to a special 3-person panel, only 1 person of which to be appointed by the Mayor – to review the mayor’s appointment and hiring decisions. Mack believes this would compromise his prerogatives as the Chief Executive, or something. Considering what a good record Mack has in his personnel selection, everyone other than Mack agrees that we should take the $22 Million.

Oh, not exactly everyone. At-Large Councilman Alex Bethea doesn’t agree with the review panel. He doesn’t disagree either, mind you. He simply has no opinion of his own, but will wait for the Mayor’s decision, and agree with that. “If he decides that, ‘Okay, that’s okay, we’ll take the $22 million,’ then I’ll sign off. If he says this is going a little too far, then I would have to support the mayor on that decision as well” the Councilman is quoted as saying.


Bethea is about the only person willing to line up publicly behind Mack at this point. The lede of the Matt Fair article is that Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman wrote a letter to the Mayor urging him to take the $22 Million deal, and the review panel.  Four members of City Council – which would appoint one member of the panel, with the State Department of Community Affairs selecting the third – also call for the Mayor to take the money and the Deal. Councilwoman Kathy McBride was holding her counsel for the purposes of the article, and Council member Verlina Reynolds-Jackson was not mentioned in the article. The Assemblywoman and the four-member majority of Council are joined by the Editorial Board of the Times in their endorsement of the deal. I am sure an overwhelming number of citizens would also agree, given the chance to vent their opinion.

Not that he should need it, but today’s headlines – one  about the Trenton Police Department’s famous foot patrols, instituted at the insistence of the Mayor, being chased off city streets last night in response to a credible threat of attempted police assassination by city gang elements; and the second about the real impact to public safety in the aftermath of the police layoffs and foot patrol re-deployments – should convince someone even as thick-skinned and rock-headed as Tony F. Mack that this ain’t working.

An extra $6 Million won’t turn this city into Shangri-La, but turning the money down is guaranteed to keep it burning.

Take the $22 Million! Do it today!

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