I haven’t been able to post very much lately, and that won’t change for at least the next couple of months or so. Busy at work, which is a good thing. But this morning I just had to respond to a couple of things that struck me as absurd.
Lord knows that Trenton is in a pretty tough situation. The current elected “leadership” lurches from one embarrassment to the next. One of the few things that may help the average citizen make it through the day is to hope against hope and pray that next year’s election might be an opportunity for more capable and honest people to run for local office, and an opportunity for Trenton’s voters to make smarter choices than they’ve been making for years.
Looking at Kathy McBride and Paul Perez this morning, I am not encouraged.
Ms. McBride is, of course, a member of the current Trenton City Council. This morning, the Times posted an Alex Zdan article describing how the Councilwoman bought some local commercial TV ad time to air a spot she produced taking Governor Chris Christie to task for neglecting her pleas for state help to fight the on-going plague of violence hitting this city.
First off Ms. McBride, whatever you spent to produce that spot is way too much! How you approved an ad that features the world’s worst camera turn – ever! – is beyond me. You are stiff and not credible. Your appeal to the Governor a few months ago to “deputize” outside law enforcement to work in Trenton was never adequately explained at the time. Your spot does nothing more to explain what you are proposing. All the piece does is provide another illustration of how you are among the dimmest of a very low-wattage body.
But it’s the fine print of this ad that struck me. “Paid For By Supporters of Kathy McBride,” the ad states, as it must by NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) rules. But there does not seem to be such a group in existence. According to the few reports filed by Ms. McBride for the upcoming election, her campaign committee is called “Friends to Elect Kathy McBride.” But, after looking at the Councilwoman’s financial reports, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. If you believe these reports, the Councilwoman’s campaign should be broke.
The two financial reports filed by her campaign, both submitted last week on September 4, detail the first and second quarters of 2013. Per the First Quarter report, she spent $1490.39, on expenses associated with a Fundraiser dinner in March of this year. But she only declared $675 in revenue for the quarter. Fear not, because after deducting $1490 in expenses from $675 in revenue, she was left with an ending balance of… $675.00.
Pretty neat, huh?
And she maintained that balance to the end of the 2nd quarter of this year, raising no money, but spending none, leaving her at the end of June with that same $675.00 in the bank.
But in that case how, then, did she pay for the expenses of opening a “constituency office” in June? And how is she paying for these TV ads?
I suppose we may find the answers to these questions in her next financial report, due October 15. But I won’t hold my breath. Anyone who can subtract $1490 from $675 and come up with $675 isn’t to be trusted when it comes to any more complex numbers.
The Councilwoman is definitely running for something next year, whether for re-election as an At-Large Council member or, as is rumored, Mayor. This tv campaign is obviously an attempt to broaden her image and present her as a serious and sophisticated public figure.
But in doing so, Ms. McBride seems to be ignoring Abraham Lincoln’s advice. One hundred years before politicians started appearing on television, he said “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
With her TV ad, as she earlier did with her infamous “Blue Waffle” caper, Kathy McBride once again removes all doubt about her.
So what’s up with Paul Perez? He is one of the many, mostly silent, people running for Mayor in next year’s election. He was born and raised in Trenton, but returned only last year after several decades away from the City in Federal service, in several military and civilian capacities.
He has no recent and relevant record of experience in Trenton civic affairs, so he is running primarily on his extensive record of that Federal service. As he demonstrated competence and leadership in progressively more responsible positions in the US Government, so his argument goes, so he will demonstrate the same for Trenton’s governance.
In support of that argument, Mr. Perez has presented a nice-looking website. This page describes his background.
Actually, after reading this page, one really does not find out much about Mr. Perez’s background or his experience, other than a recitation of job titles he’s had as well as listing the schools he attended and the agencies he worked for in federal service. There’s no sense of the accomplishments, if any, he achieved in his career to date, or the kinds of skills he possesses.
In fact, one finds out rather more about the history of the National Science Foundation and the Export-Import Bank of the United States than one does about Mr. Perez. The history of these agencies is accompanied by illustrations of the official Seals of those, and other government agencies, along with a picture of the Pentagon.
Here’s how it looks.
I’m sure Mr. Perez’s intention is to reassure Trentonians that, even though he has no record in Trenton to run on, he surely knows government service, and can easily make the transition from running a large Federal agency to a small NJ city.
However, for me this page on his website demonstrates the exact opposite. Rather than being an example of how much Mr. Perez knows, it actually shows that he is either ignorant of, or blissfully negligent of some basic rules of the game.
Namely, that is against the law to use the official seals of these government agencies for any non-official purpose, let alone in promotion of a campaign for political office.
You see the Department of Defense seal above? According to the official DoD website, “The Defense Department and Military Seals are protected by law and reserved for official use only. Under U.S. Code Title 18, Section 506, unauthorized use of the Seals may include, but is not limited to commercial, marketing, advertising or promotion use by any non-government entity and is punishable.” [Emphasis mine - KM]
Ditto the Department of Homeland Security: “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seal is protected by several sections of the United States Code (USC) and any unauthorized use is a violation of the USC, specifically Title 18, sections 506, 701, and 1017.”
Now, this is a small embarrassment, but very telling. Mr. Perez is running for Mayor of Trenton on a non-existent record in Trenton. Instead, he touts his extensive resume in past government service as demonstrating his qualifications for the job. Yet he does so in a way that demonstrates either a significant ignorance or carelessness when it comes to presenting that very same government service to potential voters.
What do we take away from this? I for one take away that, whatever Mr. Perez’s talents, skills and expertise, he is nowhere near ready to be Trenton’s mayor.
I suppose that as the 2014 election approaches, we’ll continue to see more of these attempts from candidates seeking to impress us with their personas and their messages. Based on these two recent examples, it’s going to be a long and exasperating year if this is kind of quality we can expect from these guys.