If you are a reader of this space, you likely know by now of the passing of Patricia Stewart.
I’ll miss Pat. I served with her on Trenton’s Zoning Board for a dozen years. She cared a lot about this town, which she adopted as her home as did I. It seemed she was involved with just about everything going on. She was an early and a strong supporter of the effort years ago to establish a Foundation for the Trenton Public Library, and was crucial in steering some very large grants to the fund. She was a very effective woman.
She was characteristically direct to the point of bluntness. If a neighbor speaking before the Zoning Board objected to a proposal on the docket on quality of life grounds, she would often bark out something to the effect of, “Quality of Life? Have you happened to notice you live in a city, sir? Noisy, crowded and dirty is what all cities are, and Trenton is no different. Suck it up!”
Pat was equally direct with her blog. She took the nom de plume Lamberton Lily, and posted less frequently, and more succinctly (ahem! Guilty!), than others around here. What she had to say still resonates, and will be on my mind as we start this New Year.
For example, a few months ago as she surveyed the landscape of the upcoming election season, she had these words for us:
Before voting, Blogolanders, PLEASE DEMAND of all candidates their plans to solve the various city problems, and I don’t mean vague answers like, “We need more jobs;” We have to improve our eeducational system [sic]; ” We have have increase our tax base;” We have to fight crime.” No shit! But how? That’s what, we the voters need to ask; that’s what, we the voters need to know.
And where a candidate was born and raised, went to school, what sports played, means nothing. What plans the candidates have matters.
Should you, the voters, decide not to go this route but instead follow the usual campaign crap, then do not bitch and moan if another group of losers gets elected.
It’s like she was psychic, or something! This morning’s Trentonian website features a piece allowing some of Trenton’s current Council members reviewing the city’s bloody 2013 just ended, and speculating on what 2014 may bring. Councilman Alex Bethea is quoted:
I’ve been an educator for the last 39 years, and I understand the educational system in Trenton. I know the high school dropout rate, and from what I understand it’s a high number. It’s somewhere around 48 percent, I think. That’s unacceptable. And if we as a city allow that to continue, we are asking for trouble. If young people in an urban setting are not educated, not working, and don’t have money, the outcome will be bad. But we can fix this. We can fix this through education, and we can make sure we have jobs for these young people. When they don’t have jobs, they look for alternative ways to get money; and usually it’s through criminal activities. And that leads to violence. We have to put more emphasis on engaging our young men with programs that will prevent them from dropping out, and ensure they learn basic skills early in life.
No, Pat wasn’t psychic. She just knew Trenton, and its many characters, all too well. Including its many elected losers, of whom Mr. Bethea certainly sits at the top of his class: “‘We need more jobs; We have to improve our educational system; We have have increase our tax base; We have to fight crime.’ No shit! But how?”
Damn straight, Pat!
Rest in Peace, Pat. We’ll miss you.My best wishes and condolences to her son Nick and the rest of the Stewart family.
Along with folks such as Dion Clark and Frank Weeden, also passed in 2013, their voices will be sorely missed as we try to rebuild the city after years of chaos. We’ll miss Pat’s voice, yes, but we should be mindful to pay attention to what she was telling us while she was here.