As in Earned Run Average.

Wikipedia defines this as:

“In baseball statistics, earned run average (ERA) is the mean of earned runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings pitched (i.e. the traditional length of a game). It is determined by dividing the number of earned runs allowed by the number of innings pitched and multiplying by nine. Runs resulting from defensive errors (including pitchers’ defensive errors) are recorded as unearned runs and omitted from ERA calculations.”

This has running in my mind over the last few days, after seeing this story about the City of Trenton’s $195,000 out-of-court settlement with Mike Morris. Morris is a City employee who brought suit for his treatment during the Administration of Tony Mack, which included on-the-job harassment and layoff from his job as city Park Ranger to make room for a friend of Mack’s. I wrote about this case back in 2013, but it is just now coming to resolution.

The $195,000 cost of this settlement, approved last night by City Council, should really be counted against the record of the Mack Administration, which created the problem cleaned up during Jackson’s term. Which is just like a pitcher in Baseball who puts one or more men on base and is then removed. If any of those runners score, the runs are charged to the previous pitcher, in most cases. He put the runners in play; they get charged to his record.

So, that’s gotten me thinking. We’re still paying for the disasters incurred in Tony Mack’s Administration. Those should definitely factor into his ERA.

But what about our current hurler, Eric Jackson? He’s running up quite the score himself, and he’s only 2 1/2 years into his current rotation. He will no doubt leave men on base when he leaves office, but we can start to set up a running scorecard to assess whether he’s bound for the Hall of Fame, or whether we should release him in favor of a new left-hander.

Let’s take a look. I’ve briefly gone through a number of stories over the last seven years to compose this first pass list below, based on the reported or otherwise estimated dollar costs of these Hits, Runs and Errors. It’s certainly incomplete, but something I will refine and update as circumstances change and as more stats from previous seasons are dug up.

Hey, anyone can play! For items I have not listed here, please send me the info and a link (if you can), and I will update the info. Thanks!

Tony Mack (2010-2014):

  • Mike Davis Settlement – $195,000
  • Westside Plaza Settlement (closed Hermitage Avenue grocery story rented as Municipal Court building; project abandoned) – $1,300,000
  • Family of Kenneth Howard wrongful death (while in police custody in 2011) – $690,000
  • Family of Darren Horton wrongful death (3-year-old who drowned in city pool in 2010) – $1,200,000
  • Kenia Leiva police excessive force settlement (2011) – $43,000
  • “Mayor’s Learning Centers”/Zombie Public Libraries – $500,000 (? No one really knows how much these cost. Accurate numbers would be welcome)
  • Lafayette Yard Hotel 2013 funding ($295,000 cash flow appropriation, and $200,000 transition costs during sale) – $495,000
  • Youth Stat (Costs incurred under US Justice Department grant disallowed by Feds) – $55,000
  • Heritage Days and Thanksgiving Parades – $100,000 (? See “Mayor’s Learning Centers,” above)
  • National Night Out 2012 – $12,000
  • Cadwalader Park sign – $17,000
  • UPDATE: Maria Richardson settlement (Parks & Rec whistleblower, unjustly fired 2011) – $350,000

I come up with a rough total of UPDATED $4,957,000 for Tony Mack’s ERA over four seasons. Yes, he was yanked before he completed his fourth year, but he left a lot of runners in scoring position. Remember, this is a preliminary number, before all you amateur statisticians keeping score at home have a chance to weigh in.

Now, Eric Jackson (2014-present):

  • FCC Consulting Services (3-year premium over competitors’ lower IT bids) – $500,000 (will go up if options are exercised for Years 4 and 5)
  • 2016 Public Swimming Pools Contract – $100,000 (Estimate of actual 2016 costs over those of 2015 after mid-season vendor replacement nonsense)
  • 2015 Audit findings – $105,000 (disallowed city administrative expenses as determined after annual audit)
  • Lael Queen police excessive force settlement (2014) – $175,000
  • The Great Payroll Robbery of 2015 – $4,700,000 (cost of funds stolen by Innovative Payroll Services. Number does not include interest costs on bond floated to replace money owed to IRS and State of NJ, nor legal costs of lawsuit filed to recover part of this amount. This amount might go down if any funds can be recovered, but any likely recovery will be pennies on the dollar.)

Jackson’s total – for only 2 1/2 out of 4 years, remember – comes to $5,580,000.

Let’s drop a couple of zeroes to look at in a way somewhat similar to what we’d see with an actual pitcher. Let’s call it at 4.95 for Mack, and 5.58 for Jackson. Pretty mediocre numbers on their own. Neither of them bring any heat to their game, and we know that Mack was taking money under the table.

UPDATE: Yikes! The ERA calculated for Jackson was just for his 2.5 years served. If I had figured it properly, I should divide that number by 2.5 and multiply by 4, to allow for the effect of a full 4-year (9-inning) term. Doing that, Eric Jackson’s 5.58 becomes a withering 8.93. Unless the guy can hit, he should look for another line of work.

Now, a couple of notes. I’ve only looked at these two pitchers. I haven’t tried calculating the ERA of Doug Palmer. His role in getting the City involved in the Lafayette Yard Hotel debacle in the first place would give him an astronomical average all by itself, if the total cost to the city could ever be accurately calculated.

And I have only looked at dollar amounts here. During the time of Tony Mack the inestimable cost of human life and misery paid by Trentonians during a horrid rise in violent crime simply cannot be calculated, and I won’t even try. But I will say that although the dangerous environment which led to the loss and injury of so many lives during the years of 2010 to 2014 was fostered in large part by the massive 2011 layoffs in Trenton’s Police Department. The man who signed those pink slipss was Mayor Tony Mack, without a doubt. But the guy who has to share a big part of the responsibility for that decision is Governor Chris Christie. By gutting the City’s finances in 2010 by the outright elimination of much of the annual state subsidy of the city’s budget and replacement with an inadequate “Transitional Aid” grant, Christie directly caused much of the financial stress that the utterly incompetent Mack chose to respond to by the horrible (and, in the end, unsustainable) public safety reductions of 2011.

With that said, I think that there is a strong case to be made that, as far as the damage done to the City of Trenton’s well-being by mis-management of its meager financial resources is concerned, the current Mayoral Administration of Eric Jackson is at least as bad, and – on many important measures – much, much worse than Tony Mack’s.

Who would have thought such a thing possible?!?!

If this were a real baseball game, the manager would have walked to the mound a long time ago to send Eric Jackson to the showers.We, unfortuately,  have to wait until May, 2018.

We’re only in the fifth inning, folks. Gonna be a long game.

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