With two murders committed on one night this past weekend, and a total of four lives taken by violence over the last four weeks, accompanied by many other violent crimes no less jarring if not as deadly, one would think that today would be a perfect opportunity for the Current Occupant of Trenton’s Mayor’s Office to comment on the matter. After all, today is the second of his newly-announced weekly chat fests.
But no, the CO will not be speaking on the record today. A note posted on the City’s website last Friday announces that after only one such session, the next meeting will be next Tuesday morning, November 27. Today’s chat “has been canceled due to the holiday.”
Presumably, this means the Thanksgiving holiday, two days from now. That an event scheduled for Tuesday has been canceled because of a holiday on Thursday probably comes as a surprise for those City employees who are working today, and who will be working tomorrow. However it’s business as usual for the CO, whose approach to the job has lately seemed as if he considers his duties more a hobby than a full-time commitment.
The Office of the CO did, however, make a statement to the paper this morning. It just didn’t come from the mouth of the CO. “‘We continue to work tirelessly to solve crime in our city and we appreciate the assistance of the state and county law enforcement agencies involved in this process,’ mayoral aide Anthony Roberts said on behalf of Mack in an e-mail.”
In any case, it’s probably just as well. The man seldom has anything useful or constructive to say on most subjects, let alone the current public safety situation. A report in this morning’s Times by Alex Zdan features hearsay quotes attributed to the state’s Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno to the effect that the state is willing to provide more police assistance to the City, but only if they don’t have to work with the CO. The quote wasn’t confirmed for the story directly by the LG’s office, however. Not that it really had to be. When someone is absent from his job as often as the CO is, what incentive does anyone have to want to work with him, anyway?
Another group of Trenton officials who will be working today are the members of City Council, meeting tonight. They have a full docket this evening, including a vote to override the CO’s veto of the ordinance reducing his salary. This motion needs five votes to override, and the swing vote necessary to make that happen is generally agreed to be the East Ward member, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson.
Ms. Reynolds-Jackson initially voted for the ordinance as written, but reversed her vote at the second reading, because, according to a news piece written after the vote, “she did not agree with the wording of the resolution.” She had ample opportunity before, during and after that meeting to suggest language for the ordinance that she might agree with, but she failed to do so.
Even up to tonight’s meeting, she has declined to offer her colleagues any revised language that would get her backing – even though she is on the record with her vote backing both the broad objective and the specific language of the ordinance. According to Council President Phyllis Holly-Ward in another Times article this morning by Erin Duffy, Ms. Reynolds-Jackson “at one point drafted one similar to legislation proposed by state Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence) that would suspend the pay of any elected official indicted for a crime. Ultimately, however, she scrapped that version, Holly-Ward said. ‘The reality is, I’ve heard nothing but excuses, so we’ll see what she does tomorrow,’ Holly-Ward said.”
Indeed. The timing of this morning’s cancellation of his weekly chat, because of a holiday two days away; and reports (even second-hand) that the State of New Jersey wants nothing to do with the guy should further impress on the members of Council – even including Ms. Reynolds-Jackson – that the man occupying the Mayor’s office is actually on the job less and less than he used to be. Not that he was ever that engaged with the job, but he’s not even phoning it in anymore, letting his aide and office wife Anthony Roberts speak for him, and even that only by e-mail.
Tonight’s vote to override should be a no-brainer. There are four solid votes, who have backed the measure since its introduction. In any other circumstances, someone like Ms. Reynolds-Jackson would normally be expected to override as well, having backed the measure and its objectives previously, especially since she has failed in her obligation to offer any substitute to allay her supposed objections to the measure as it stands. But the East Ward member has distinguished her term so far with a record of contradictions and inconsistent positions that mark her as a reliable vote for the CO even as his presence and influence wanes, so she is likely to vote against the override.
Too bad. A successful override vote would be a major step for this Council, and a welcome one. But, whether that vote is successful or not, at least Council this evening, and the other City Hall employees today and tomorrow, will be working.
Which is more than you can say about the Current Occupant, starting his Turkey Week nice and early.