Battle of Trenton, 2014

First thing, a little self-congratulatory note, for context.

During the year 2013, this site was visited 326,135 times. Total page impressions viewed were 639,325.

site traffic 2013

See  that little plateau just above in the bottom left corner, toward the end of the year? Those were the “Trenton City Christmas Tree” columns. Very popular, those were! That story hit a nerve, I think.

Not too bad, overall, for a part-time space mostly devoted to the goings-on of a small, Northeastern post-industrial town of 80,000-odd (and many of them are odd, indeed!) that punches way above its weight when it comes to municipal shenanigans. This means that a little under 1,000 people a day on average visit here, and browse a while.

The total number of readers is probably higher, since I doubt that this is a daily stop for many. I figure most of you stop in every couple of days to check for new columns. I have individual daily numbers between 1,200-1,300. For the sake of modesty as well as anything else, I will consider the readership at a nice round One Thousand. For that, before anything else, I must say Thank You! I am glad that you have found this space and this scribbler occasionally informative, or at least entertaining.

I intend to keep going as long as I can find the time, which is always scarce; and as long as I can find the material to write about. Luckily for me, I’ve struck the motherlode when it comes to daily inspiration. Trenton never ceases to fascinate, amuse and anger. Glad you are along for the ride.

End self-congratulations.

The larger context is that having close to 1000 daily readers for a site such as this – in a town when barely 11 times that number actually bother to turn out to vote for their local officials – means that there are at least 1000 people who care about this city, who are passionate and engaged about what goes on here, and who are starved for good information and informed commentary. And all this, in a town where local mainstream print media is fast declining editorially and economically, and which is typically ignored by electronic media unless someone is shot, stabbed, arrested, indicted or tried. Despite this difficulty, there are at least 1,000 Trentonians who try to stay pretty informed, and who are also very opinionated about issues, events and people.

And at least 1,000 Trentonians who are plenty pissed about the last several years, fed up with the bullshit and those who aid and abet the bullshit.We – and I will presume to speak for you in this instance – are more than ready and willing to throw out the trash, and look forward to the election in May to do just that.

Tony F. Mack is finished as a force in this town. As long as he occupies the Mayor’s Office he can and does create further mischief. We will be recovering from the last four years for many more to come, but his time is coming to a close. Five men seek to replace him. I’ve written several times over the last year about these gentlemen, and expect to do so often over the next five months.

The seven members of City Council are finishing their first full terms, and the Trenton Times tells us that they each intend to seek re-election. I believe that not one of these members deserves a second term. They have served Trenton poorly.

As a body, they accomplished almost nothing of note. Much of that record, it must be said, is due to the continual obstruction of three Council members – Kathy McBride, Alex Bethea and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson – who always had the back of the Mack Administration, both pre- and more inexplicably post-Indictment. For their willingness to condone the endless corruption, mismanagement and incompetence, these three deserve to be sent packing.

The remaining four members offer nothing to cheer about either. Collectively, they never came to fully grasp the powers and authority granted to them as Trenton’s Governing Body. They lacked the self-confidence, the skills and the knowledge to assert themselves and their voting records reflect this, time and again for the last four years.

These seven failed in a responsible exercise of their advise-and-consent role on mayoral appointments by allowing a revolving door of “Acting” appointments to head city departments that led to among other absurdities, eight Business Administrators in one year. And Council failed to rein in and discipline other mayoral appointments even when they suborned City rules and regulations, and/or outright lied to Council (Looking your way, Anthony Roberts!)

With their legislative work, they distinguished themselves only in their questionable decisions:

This Council voted against spending more money to hire back police, but they did vote to waste more on the dying city-owned Lafayette Yard Hotel. They would have thrown even more millions of dollars at the hotel had it not finally sunk under the weight of its own losses.

Early in its term Council promised to more closely oversee its operations, then failed to follow through. A pattern they frequently repeated over and over again with promised financial oversight of the Administration’s finances. Even Charlie Brown knew that Lucy would pull the football away from him. This Council never learned.

This Council made the financially-questionable decision to take one of Trenton’s most desirable parcels of real estate off the city’s property tax rolls permanently by deeding it over to a local college for pocket change.

And this Council’s indifference to the ill health of its 53%-tax-exempt property base led it just weeks ago to unanimously endorse a state program that will let select developers put up new projects in the City and not have to pay Trenton a dime for 10 years, and then pennies on the dollar for the following 10.

Individually, they may be nice people. They may have perfect credit, love animals, plow your street when the city snows up, and they may be good for a daily inspirational quote cribbed from a fortune cookie. Great people.

But they have failed as legislators.

According to the newspaper today, very few challengers are in the wings to take on the current incumbents. I hope that changes.

We have been fighting a war in Trenton for the last few years. A war against corruption and criminals inside our City Hall, yes, but a war also against ignorance, complacency, incompetence and entitlement.

And too, lest we forget, a war to be taken seriously by the State of New Jersey, and not patronizingly bought off with enough “Transitional” cash to keep things from boiling over but not enough to fairly compensate the city for hosting the state’s government on its most valuable property. A war in which its citizens are lulled into accepting the false promises of “new development” that won’t earn the city a dime.

It’s a war over whether Trenton has Any Reason To Be, anymore.

The election this May will be a major battle in that war.  I am sick and tired of the way this war has been fought over the last four years. We are losing. I want all of the current team out, and I want to see the best people we can find go in to fight for our future.

If you are reading this, then chances are that you are one of at least another Thousand who feel the same way.

Here we go.

2 comments to Battle of Trenton, 2014

  • Thank you. I must say that, as the shenanigans of Trenton politicos fade into a distant memory, I continue to read your blog for It is a wonderfully written piece about a city where many friends are in peril. Here, at this site, I always find the truth. You are a Paul Revere sounding the constant warning “The incompetence is here, the incompetence is here!!!!”

    And for Tony Mack I can only quote someone dear to both of us…. “You live and learn. At any rate, you live.” …..Douglas Adams

    Keep it going!

  • ed w

    Kevin, keep up the good work, don’t doubt that change is coming.

    it will be slow and it will be painful(for those that are abusing city government) IMHO not painful enough.

    i do not know what the outcome of Mack’s trial will be, i have read the FBI complaint and with JoJo’s confession, I expect that he will get the same sentence as the former mayor of Detroit.

    Anything less would not send the message. Corruption is not allowed.