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Thursday, March 31, 2011

School Daze

After reading reports about the state of Trenton Central High and watching a report on WZBN, I suspect it is time to let the building go. What makes me angry is that this need not have happened. What killed this dignified building was lack of maintenance. If Trenton is to save Junior 3 and Junior 4, the city had better get on the stick. Both are handsome buildings. What's truly sad is that there are buildings far, far older still being used, still in good shape. One that comes to mind is Notre Dame de Paris - Notre Dame Cathdral in Paris, France. The building was essentially finished in 1345; it is still being used today. Back in the 90s, the French government started a new round renovations to keep the building up to snuff. If we want to keep our historic building, we have to maintain them! The time to save TCHS was thirty years ago when there was still time and hope. Was anyone screaming then?


The advertising sign is no longer on the telephone pole at Beatty & South Clinton!

The Clean Dream

Many in Trenton do not agree with L.A. Parker; for the most part, I do. I certainly agree with his column today. Yesterday, I was outside picking up trash left by the local pigs. This is something several neighbors and I do frequently! Asking Mayor Nutter to visit Trenton and talk about the Unlitter Us Program - no, no, no. How difficult is to grasp these concepts - (1) If you do not toss trash, cigarette butts, etc., into the street, you will not have clean it up and (2) If you must do so, why can't you clean up after yourself a few times a week? My piggy neighbors spent a great of time, especially in nice wheather, standing around smoking, munching on Doritos and potato chips and just dropping this crap where they stand. They also toss their damn soda cans all over the place. That problem sort of solves itself as there a colorful local type who picks them up. Councilwoman Holly-Ward means well; she does advocate for a clean city, but what she should be doing is telling the residents, "Get off your fat backsides and push a broom for a few minutes." Or words to that effect.

Catching Up

Good morning, Trentonians. There are several topics I want to cover but will do so in separate entries. The first one - city council on Thursday evening. The Three Graces were not using their microphones, but the meeting itself was short and sweet and to the point. One speaker stands out. Donald Brokate (a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment) spoke about the bed bug problem here in Trenton and called it a public health issue. I agree. The department of health and human services should be on top of this issue; I don't have the feeling this is the case. I'm told a very thin coating of borac acid helps greatly. On Sunday, my son and I decided to have lunch at Las Frontes Cantina again. Great food, folks. Try this place. It's on the corner of Beatty Street and South Clinton Avenue. As we pulled in on the Beatty Street side, I noticed a poster on a telephone pole. This is a no-no. It is bad enough when we have the lost animal posters. These poles are private property. What poster was on this pole? It was urging people to phone HNPS. One of the principals of this firm is a member of city council!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"The news from France is very bad...."

The above is quote from a speech Winston Churchill made to the House of Commons early in the war - WWII The Biggie. I listened to Mayor Mack's State of the City speech last evening on the Trentonian web site and came away with one thought. He's offering us bread and circuses. Dan Dodson summed it up perfectly on his blog. The mayor failed to discuss Trenton's problems and so he failed to discuss solutions. Bringing a college to Trenton will do nothing especially since the land used by the college will be tax free (unless, of course, the college rents space from a private party). To broaden our tax base, we MUST attract residents with high incomes. This is an idea that goes way back to the Holland administration but nothing has been done. Dan and I do not always agree on the residency issue; in fact, I've often wondered if the police and firefighters realize that they would be one hellva of a voting block if they lived in Trenton? I am also tired of hearing about what the State owes us as the Host City. If state government were not here, Trenton would be dead seven days a week rather than just weekends. We get more from the state than the state gets from us. What we should be doing is looking for ways to make Trenton attractive to state employees so they will move here. And we ain't doing it. As for Mr. Sigmund, I appreciate his devotion to his family, but how often will he fly back to the Coast? And who pays for the tickets? And why isn't his family moving here to Trenton? Due to a schedule conflict, I will not be at city council this evening; Mr. Chilson will report. But, please, Trentonians, start to attend public meetings. Start to ask questions. Start to demand answers. Realize that we are in a financial mess.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Sprung

Yes, it is offically spring, but it feels like November. Last Thursday spoiled me. On Saturday, my son and I had breakfast together and talked about the current world situation. Two things we agreed on. The situation in Japan is very bad. The fact the emperor was on TV urging the Japanese people to stay strong means the government is nervous. Unlike the Queen of England, the Emperor of Japan does not flit about doing sweet things; he is rarely seen and seldom heard. We also agreed the Americans should stay out of the difficulties in the Middle East. It is time to let the people living there solve their own problems. We decided to have lunch at a great Mexican restaurant here in Trenton - Las Fronteras Cantina on the corner of South Clinton Avenue and Beatty Street. The food is great and the prices reasonable. During the warm weather, you can eat outside. We got home to find out that the American, British, and French were bombing the hell out of Libya. Suddenly Trenton's problems looked very small. We still do not have a budget. The administration continues to tread water. Taxes will go up. Municipal services will go down. I wonder if we, Trentonians, really want to solve our problems. Enjoy the State of the City message.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Leave it to George

Once again, George Muschal came through. I questioned a bounced check for some $27,000 made out to the Trenton Water Works. George was the only one who seemed interested and tracked it down. It was a stop payment; the organization writing check overpaid by some $27,000. So they stopped payment which makes sense. Too bad I couldn't get that answer on Tuesday. I was not at council last evening; a neighbor invited me to a St. Patrick's dinner, and I decided to go. It was a nice break in the routine and the meal was very good. Typical Trenton; neighbors getting together on short notice for a pleasant time. Thank you, Jason. With a new business administrator, perhaps we can get a budget - the current fiscal year will end in 104 days. And perhaps the new business administrator will sit down with Dan Dodson and his group to hammer out the budget for fiscal 2012. Anybody willing to make book on whether that happens?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday Nite Live

First, The Three Graces were not using their microphones, but what I did hear was not encouraging. The last thing Trenton needs is more affordable housing; this city needs more residents with more disposable income. Apparently, Alex Bethea never heard of the Mt. Laurel Decision, and he's a native Trentonian! I've known about it from the beginning. My feelings about any government providing housing - if you can't afford to live in Princeton, that's your problem not Princeton's. I was also startled to hear Mr. Bethea question the woman from the Rescue Mission about the fact there would be extra money coming in; I guess Mr. Bethea doesn't realize even a rescue mission needs funds for maintenance and improvements. As for Roland Pott - I'm willing to give him a second chance and will say so on April 7. Last night, it seemed too early to comment. The night club is closed; the new venue is a restuarant. By the way, I did get the city's bank statements for the month of January 2011. A nice thick packet. The good news, none appear to be overdrawn. The city does get a crummy rate of interest, but so does everybody else these days. It was a damn good thing Trenton did not sell the water works; it does bring in cash. BUT someone paid a water bill of over $27,000 with a rubber check. No one had any answers; in fact council didn't even know about it. The only council member who seemed interested was George Muschal. A function of city council is watch the municipal purse; maybe they should start doing so. But, please, Trentonians, step up to the plate, start asking questions, start demanding answers. That is the only way things will ever change. Do not be afraid of council. They sit at the pleasure of the voters - that's you and me! Time for coffee.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

To Those Who Only Moan & Groan

Last evening the Fix Trenton's Budget held the third informational session. There seemed to be a good crowd; I couldn't judge as this was the East Ward session so I don't know if there were new people or just the regulars. Bob Lowe did an excellent job presenting the budget process. Bob is comfortable talking to a group, his presentation is logical and easy to follow, AND he has no problem saying, "I don't know," if he doesn't know. The budget mess concerns all of us - every one of us - you and me both! Yet the turnout has been underwhelming! The South Ward session last week had about fourteen people only three were NEW faces. Hey, Trenton, this is your chance to make your voices heard. What do you feel we need? What do you want? How much are you willing to pay? Here is an opportunity to make known your thoughts, your needs, your wants known. And who takes advantage? A handful of people who have, "involved," for years. The same old crowd. So when your taxes go up - and they will - shut up! If you can't get yourself out to a venue for a few hours to find out how the budget process works and how you can contribute/control it, you deserve what you get.

Monday, March 14, 2011


The other day I posted random thoughts about the earthquake in Japan. Someon who knows far more about this than I do, pointed out that the Pacific Plate slammed into the North American Plate pushing Japan eight feet to the east. I'll go with this expert; you can't believe what you read in the papers or hear on CNN. I apologize for the bad info. Everything else stands.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Cleaner Trenton

At last Thursday's TCCA meeting, Councilwoman Holly-Ward spoke about an anti-litter program she's interested in; I voted against TCCA participation. This, by the way, is not a political gimmick on Ms. Holly-Ward's part; for the fifteen or so years, I've known her, she has always advocated for a cleaner city. I voted against participating because I think it time to speak out as to why our city is filthy. Yesterday afternoon, I spent half an hour or so picking up crap in the immediate area of my house and filled two plastic bags with trash left by other people. I did the same thing last Monday afternoon but only filled one bag - slow day. For many years, I took part in neighborhood clean-ups usually sponsored by one of the local civic groups. The last one I took part in was along Centre Street and sponsored by Paul Harris. We had a good turn out including a resident of Pennington who deeply loves our fair city. Trenton supplied garbage bags, gloves, etc. and off we went along Centre Street from Broad down to Federal at which point we ran out steam. As our group headed down, several residents spoke with us. Most were sitting on the front steps drinking coffee (or something in a brown bag) and smoking. We heard things like, "It's about time this stuff was cleaned up." "I hate looking at this." "You gotta come here more regular." Since of the volunteer cleaners believe in using honey to catch flies (yeah, sure), a few replied, "Why don't you join us? We have extra gloves," or words of that sort. It was always said with a smile. The answers? Are you ready? "I work all week; I'm tired." "It ain't my mess." "I'm just visting; I wouldn't live in this &^*( place." "No way, I pay taxes. Let the city do it." If we are ever to have a clean city, everyone must do their part even if it means telling the residents of Centre Street to, "Get off your big butt and clean up your street yourself!" During this clean up, the volunteers tried using honey and got nowhere. It is time for truth, vinegar, and responsibility. I am not prepared to beg, plead, explain, or teach. I am tired of these pigs.

Just Wondering

Someone responded to Bob Chilson's blog post that ADPC was essentially a Palmer Problem, but my understanding is that ADPC had the city contract for twenty-four years; the Palmer administration lasted twenty years. So the contract was four years old when Doug Palmer became mayor. Which means the original contract was signed when Art Holland was mayor. While I did not agree with everything Art Holland did, I do not believe he had any nefarious reason for going with ADPC. The Palmer administration is clear on this one. By the way, I heard the Lynx presentation and was not impressed.

Philosophical Thoughts

The major earthquake in Japan got me to thinking about how we humans mess up the environment and how Mother Nature still controls the big stuff. The earthquake was 8.9 magnitude - a biggie. Japan is no stranger to earthquakes; in fact, the country was born of earthquakes, and that's why for centuries the Japanese lived in, "paper," houses. If an earthquake knocked the place down, you swept away the rubble and built anew. What happened Thursday was something that we, humans, had no control over. The Pacific Plate slammed into the Eurasian Plate which shifted Japan about eight feet to the west. We can stop burning fossils fuels, we can go to organic farming, we can rely on rain water for our crops and terrible things will continue to happen. One thing we can do to prevent disaster is stop building so close to water! Back in 1985 when my husband and I were looking for a house in
Trenton, the real estate agent showed us a lovely place in The Island neighborhood; I loved it. It was right on the river, lovely views, you name it. My husband said, "NO!" It was too close to the river; the agent assured us that there hadn't been a flood since 1955. My husband's answer was, "All the more reason to avoid this place; you're long overdue for a flood." So we bought the place in the South Ward. Close enough to river, but about a quarter of a mile from the flood plain. Which is why I can feel sorry for those who face the mess of a flood but continue to wonder why people insist on defying Mother Nature. We can build all the dams we want, all the levess, all the sea walls, but in the end the water will win. Remember Hurricane Katrina? New Orleans may be a great port, but it is no place to build a major city. We cannot stop Mother Nature - you name the river and it will flood when it is damn good and ready. Just like the various plates will continue to slam into each other and cause earthquakes. Just random thoughts on a Saturday morning.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Arrogance - Alive and Well

This is the first for today. It's early, and I wanted to get this off to the good citizens of Blogoland. The Trenton Council of Civic Associations met last evening; a guest was Sam Frisby, our new freeholder. Sam is a nice fellow; I found him easy to work with when he ran the parks department (yes, I know it included more - culture), but last evening he introduced himself as, "recently elected..." No, freeholder, you were NOT elected; you were appointed to fill an unexpired term. Samara Lentz was also there; she's in the mayor's office and wanted to, "open a dialogue with residents about issues." The last thing we need is a dialogue! We need results! Let's stop talking about issues; just do it!!! Here's the last complaint - please folks, stop with the urban city crap. If it is a city, it is urban. If it is urban, it is a city. Urban comes directly from the Latin word URBANUS meaning city. So when using the expression, "urban city," one really says, "city city." I understand Mayor Mack now has a chief of staff; where is the money for his salary coming from? Perhaps the mayor will dismiss one or two of the losers working in his office. Taking a coffee break. Later, folks.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It All Relatives

This morning, I really feel sorry for Tony Mack; he can't catch a break. His nephew, the son of his brother, the notorious, "Muscles Davis," was arrested for dealing heroin. This nephew (half-nephew, whatever) must be one stupid dude. Here's the deal. You sell drugs. You have an uncle, Honorable Mayor. Uncle Honorable has every several media outlets banging on him. A smart dude would think, "If I get busted, Uncle Honorable won't be able to help me. I won't even get a slap on the wrist. I may even get hard time so it doesn't look like judges were doing Uncle Honorable any favors. I have a choice. I can leave town to continue my illegal occupation in a venue where I am not known, or I can engage in legal activities until the heat is off Uncle Honorable. Maybe he can even get me some sort of work at city hall. I can be his assistant chief of staff." No, the nephew continues his illegal career (even after his father is busted) and gets caught. Nephew Stanley Jerome most likely will get more than a few years probation. Most of us have relatives we wish we didn't; Tony Mack is no different. If Tony is smart, he will saw the Stanley Davis branch off the family tree. In closing, this is not something I'm going to blame on Tony. The budget, well that's a whole nother posting.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chief of Staff

Both Trenton papers report that DCA ordered Mayor Mack to hire a chief of staff. The mayor needs, he has needed since July 1, 2010, a good office manager/personal assistant/secretary - whatever you want to call it. Lauren Ira is not that person; she should be terminated. I don't know if a former freeholder is the man for the job. What I do know (and I speak as someone who once managed an office), the Office of the Mayor is run like something out of a situation comedy. Sadly, ain't nobody laughing. Trenton cannot afford a chief of staff for $110,000 a year (any more than we can afford Mrs. Ira who is paid a nice salary to pass out badly written press releases). Does Trenton need a chief of staff? NO! We also do not need people who must feed their ego at public expense. The administration should be looking for ways to streamline the staff not increase it. Thank you for reading this as right now, I am major league pissed off.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Sad Childhood Platform

This is a continuation of a thread started a while back. During municipal elections, has anyone ever noticed that there is a subcontest going on - a contest as to who had the hardest childhood? People who start out with nothing, and God knows there are many such in this world, and end up with much do deserve praise and credit. It's not an easy road to walk, BUT it does not necessarily mean that one is qualified to hold elective office. We, Trentonians, keep electing people who have a sad story, people who are thrilled to be at the trough and begin to drink deeply. I suggest the next time around, we look for candidates who are not looking to improve their standard of living via the tax payers. People who are truly and only interested in Trenton not in their personal balance sheet. Stay dry.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wants vs. Needs

We all NEED certain things to survive - air, food, water. We NEED those three to survive (we do not need sex to survive although you'd never know it to hear some folks talk). After that everything else we have is a WANT. As I sit at this computer typing away, I realize this machine is a WANT. Right now, Trenton faces a conflict between the NEEDS and the WANTS. How to sort this out? That's what Dan Dodson and his Fix Trenton's Budget group is trying to do. Dan wants residents to decide what they feel they NEED - fire protection for example. How much are we willing to pay for this protection? Another example - public pools. Is this a NEED or a WANT? Whichever, what are we willing to pay? It is time to separate the NEEDS from the WANTS; it is time to pare down the WANTS. It is also time to realize our NEEDS (as well as our WANTS) cost money! How much are we willing to pay? That's why Dan and his group are holding meetings in all four wards. The South Ward takes place on Wednesday, March 9 starting at 6:30PM at the Mill House Rehab Center, 325 Jersey Street. Excellent, safe parking. Trentonians, we are not going to get everything we want unless we are willing to pay for it! So please, please attend. This is a great opportunity to hear how the budget process works (or should work) and to express your views. See ya!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Praise Where Merited

Usually I get on this blog to complain about something. Not this time. Christine Donahue deserves praise for two things. She is now chair of the South Ward CPAC. She ran a tight meeting; we were done by 8:15. And she is now second vice president of the Trenton Council of Civic Associations; the only function of the 2ND VP is to plan the annual fund raiser banquet. As of today, Ms. Donahue has everything well in hand. Please mark the first Friday in November for this great event. Good for you, Christine!

Broken Promises

Yesterday, several thousand off duty police and firefighters rallied in Trenton. By doing so, they did nothing wrong as the US Constitution guarantees the right of public assembly and the right to petition elected officials for a redress of grievances. But I feel they miss the point. Let's start with an analogy. You're doing very well, job wise, so you promise your kid a new Lexus as a high school graduation gift. BUT six months before the kid graduates, you lose your job! You made a promise yet you have to tell the kid you can't afford a Lexus - you might be able to come up with a previously owned Chevy. The kid's really disappointed and screams, "You promised!" Before I continue, let me say I have realize the importance of the police and firefighters. As a retired probation officer, I know the police have a hard time; they deal with a lot of attitude; they also don't know if the individual they're dealing with has a weapon or not. The job is dangerous. The same for firefighters. The perform a valuable service; they do a super job. And they were promised a great deal. These promises, however, were made when everyone believed the economy would continue to grow. WE WERE WRONG!! In fact, there are those who believe our economy is heading for a total collapse. The money just ain't there no more. So here's the choice. Pay more for your medical and not only have a job but also have medical insurance or maybe have neither. Work a few more years before you can retire at full pension or have no job to retire from. What I'm trying to say is a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. This isn't being done to be mean or to blame you for all the problems (I do believe the governor should ask the wealthy and the very wealthy to kick in a few more bucks; I also believe it is time for everyone to pay into Social Security no matter how much they make each year. There is a cap; after you reach $105,000 [I think], Social Security is no longer deducted. Stop that. It's not fun when things go up. I am not thrilled when my Medicare payment increases. I was not thrilled when I was notified that COLAs were gone. I was, however, relieved when my pension check was decreased by only $8.00. I really expected a decrease of more like $50. The governor could have been more diplomatic in his approach. I don't like breaking promises, but I also believe that we MUST if we are ever to climb out of this financial hole. So police and firefighters, please don't take it personally; we are all going to have a diet of bread and water for a long time, and the bread will be stale and moldy. The sooner we all accept that, the sooner we will get out of this mess.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Catching Flies

Bob Chilson's most recent post mentioned that one can catch more flies with honey; that is true, but I could never figure why anyone would want to catch flies which are filthy, diease-ridden insects. I want to swat the little buggers and get great satisfaction from swinging the swatter. I'm pretty good at it, too. During the last fifteen years or so that I have been a regular at council, I've noticed that those who speak softly get little attention even if they carry a big stick. I have seen the eyes of council members glaze over; I have seen council members doze off; I have seen council members chat with each other; I have seen council members play with their cell phones. To get their attention, one, usually, must rant and rave. Unfortunately, most council members, once sworn in, forget who they work for. We, the voters, do not work for them - they work for us. Have a nice day. Hope to see you all at council.

Tuesday Nite Live

Good morning residents of Blogoland! I meant to post yesterday, but gmail was down. Don't you just love technology? Like Robert Chilson, I was at the Tuesday council meeting. Good news. There were a few new faces. Please, let's have more and more. Like Robert, I strongly suggest that Ms. McBride (as well as Ms. Holly-Ward and Ms. Reynolds-Jackson) use the bloody microphone! The part of the meeting that stands out is when Janet Schoenhaar stood up to explain why the administration wanted persmission to move 6 million dollars from one account to another. OK, I guess, but the trouble started when Mr. Chester asked a perfectly good question. "If we take 6 million from Account X how much will be left in that account?" Ms. Schoenhaar hemmed and hawed but couldn't give an exact figure. One assumes that she has a background in accounting and can do simple arithmatic so she should have been able to answer the question. I'd like to know why she couldn't. Is it perhaps because no one in the administration knows exactly how much money the city has on hand or are the municipal accounts overdrawn? Having long suspected something was rotten in the state of Denmark, I've filed an OPRA request to see ALL the city's bank statements. I received a call asking that I be more precise. OK. If there are fifteen bank accounts, I want to see fifteen bank statements. If and when I have this info, I will let you know. After all, by paying taxes, we feed these accounts, so let's find out what's happening with OUR money. Dan Dodson' group, Fix Trenton's Budget will hold four meetings, one in each ward, to discuss the budget. The South Ward meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 9 at Mill House Rehabilitation Center, 325 Jersey Street starting at 6:30PM. PLEASE, all residents of the South Ward, be there. There is plenty of parking, the venue is VERY safe, and Mill House is always a gracious host. If things are to change, we must change the way we do business. The days of sitting around to bitch and moan are over. We must get involved; we must speak out. These are the times that try our souls.