Moneyball, Trenton NJ

“Okay. People who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs.”

– from “Moneyball,” (2011)

I don’t want a Mayor and City Council to buy players. We bought players.

We bought an Arena, a Ballpark, a new Nursing School, and a frigging Hotel. The Arena has a total of seven – count them, seven – bookings between now and the middle of April. That’s like one event every 12 days. The new school is nice. If you stand in Pennsylvania and look at Trenton, the school is a nice addition to the skyline. But it hasn’t done one damned thing for the surrounding neighborhood. The Hotel? That’s a real sore spot, you know? The less said, the better.

OK,  the ballpark is great, the Thunder is a winner. But it’s empty 2/3 of the year, and really doesn’t help the town that much.

We tried to get a Dunkin Donuts plant, but that plan died stillborn. No one wants to be reminded of that anymore.

Trenton did welcome a new business to town last year, which doesn’t happen all the time. But it cost the State of NJ $17 Million in tax incentives, and the City over a Million. Hey, I’m glad Maestro is here. It’s good they moved in. I just don’t believe that business will impact this City very much at all.

I don’t want a new Mayor and Council to spend all their time and effort buying new players. I want a new Mayor and Council to work on getting more runs.

How do you do that? Help the lives of the people who already live in Trenton. Who already own businesses in Trenton. Who already own homes in Trenton. Who already rent in Trenton. Who already raise kids in Trenton. Who already have those kids in Trenton’s schools. I think, if you can get the hang of taking care of the people already here, getting more people and businesses will take care of itself.

That’s a real big order! Again, how do you do that? Start in a few places. Get some runs on the board.

First off, throw out that blasted property revaluation that was completed last year. That was a big slap in the face and knock in the wallet to every person who tries to keep a home or business in this town. The first impact felt last year was one of shock and outrage.  This year, drive around town and look at all the new “For Sale” signs posted. Watch how long they’ve been there. And been there. And been there. The current Mayor and Council did no one any favors by the way they botched that process. Throw it out. Start over!

Let’s get some runs here!

Adding insult to injury, the current Mayor and Council then turn around and give new tax abatements to politically-connected friends and contributors, for properties that have already received multiple, generous abatements in previous years.

On top of this, as icing on the cake,  the current Mayor and Council endorsed a screwball plan from the former Governor to put new state office buildings in parking lots far from downtown, where they would have done some good for that poor bleak place, and put holes in the ground where the current, old buildings are.

The current Mayor literally had the former Governor’s back on this, remember?

christie jackson

This picture speaks thousands of words about Trenton’s past. None of them good. Let’s move ahead, shall we? Finally???

I want a new Mayor and Council who will listen to the people who already live and work Downtown, and who know a few things about the place. I hope the new Governor and his new Administration pay attention to the master plan of the Capital City, and acknowledge that the New Jersey government has big-footed around for far too long.

Let’s get some runs here!

I want a new Mayor and Council to help the people who live in this town to feel safer. Who recognize that a huge portion of the violence that permeates this town to its pores is due to the illegal drug industry here. Efforts to interdict the supply side by arresting dealers and confiscating stashes doesn’t do a damn thing to interrupt business when new dealers and product show up without missing a beat to replace those arrested and jailed. I want a new Mayor and Council to realize that meaningful crime reduction in Trenton means meaningful reduction in the demand for illegal drugs. Legalization of marijuana in New Jersey would be a good start. Prohibition didn’t work in the 1920’s. It’s not working in the 2010’s. Tougher drugs like opioids will take harder solutions. But let’s start somewhere, shall we?

Let’s get some runs here!

I’d like a Mayor and a Council to make some improvements in our schools. Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot that these guys can do. The School District is its own major entity, with a budget and infrastructure that is pretty independent of the City. But a Mayor does appoint School Board members. I want a new Mayor to clear out some of the dead wood on that Board. Members who don’t even know how their system is funded have no business sitting on a school board. I want Members on the Board who will question why so much money – hundreds of millions of dollars – buys so little education and fails so many students!  We’ll finally be opening a new High School building in a few years. Perhaps that prospect might lead to good things systemwide.

Let’s get some runs here!

I want a new Mayor and Council to demonstrate they are professional and competent. I don’t want millions of dollars stolen under their noses while they ignore months of warnings. I want them to rebuild relationships with our funders and partners in the federal government. (And I want a new federal government, too, by the way. Another topic for another day!)

I want a new Mayor and Council to rebuild the Trenton Water Works so it becomes once more a safe and dependable public utility.

I want a new Mayor and Council to spend the taxpayers’ money more wisely. No more multi-year contracts to companies that cost more and offer less than their competitors.

I want a new Mayor and Council to recognize their own shortcomings and hire, appoint, and contract people and vendors who know what they are doing, regardless of personal and political connections. I don’t want failures from the past brought back to run operations with which they have no prior knowledge nor experience.

A lot of this stuff is hard. A lot of it won’t work. A lot of it will work but not have much impact. That’s ok. Give me more ideas. Let’s try again. Let’s work harder.

Let’s get some runs here!

In short, I DO NOT want anyone like the current Mayor and Council. I DO NOT want people who have nothing to offer but good intentions and a ready smile.

I don’t know who they are, just yet.

There are a lot of people who have announced campaigns. The names of others are floated into the media and conversation. Some, to me, are interesting and show potential. Some sound like more Trenton fools.

Some have pulled their petitions from the City Clerk’s Office. Some have filed with the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission. Some have done both. Some have done neither. This time around, to be taken seriously, candidates will have to show they know how to comply with the law. What a concept, right? We’ve tolerated failure and willful non-compliance in this regard before. See where it got us?

Some have run for office before. Some have been elected before, but have not been part of the civic conversation in this town since they left office, or since they lost the last time. Some, however, have stayed in the game. Good for them. Keep going. If you haven’t played in the game between elections, don’t dare come to me like a vampire waking up every four years, and ask for my vote. We’ve had enough blood sucked out over the last dozen years!

I have an open mind and open heart. You have until May to convince me.

Tell me how we get some runs.

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