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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bad Move, Governor!

Things are slowly returning to normal here in the South Ward, but Monday was one for the record books. Starting about 6:30AM (maybe earlier) traffic began backing up along Lamberton Street because Route 29 was closed at Cass Street. We had some seven hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic; I haven't seen such gridlock since I lived in Manhattan. But the one most at fault was not the Honorable Mayor. This one goes to Chris Christie. He should have ordered all non-essential state employees to stay home (he could fight with the unions next week). How many people were going go to Motor Vehicles anyway? Of course, the Honorable Mayor could have called the governor and asked him to issue those instructions. Then Tony could have closed the streets to all but non-essential traffic. This would have cleared the streets and allowed the authorities to assess the damage, find out where there was flooding, stuff like that. Traffic was so bad on Lamberton an ambulance could not have gotten through. And thank God there were no fender benders. I saw a few nearly happen because drivers were running stop signs. Today, I find it humorous that several drivers had no idea where they were!! I wasn't laughing Monday. I haven't walked up to Bridge Street to check things out because the public safety folks have enough going on without an audience. George Muschal was on Bridge Street most of the day, but he had a good excuse - he's the South Ward councilman. He was in a position to render assistance, which he did.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ironic Irene

To the ancient Greeks, Irene was the goddess of peace; our Irene was not that peaceful. And her aftermath left the door opened to the Bitch & Moan crowd. And I'm one of them. Last week, Governor Christie was right to declare a state of emergency and to clear the beaches. I don't care what it cost, it's always better to be over prepared than under prepared. Not closing nonessential state offices yesterday was a BIG mistake. I would have shut them down and argued with the unions over pay later in the week. As to our honorable mayor - ye gods!! Trenton has a rather good robo calling system (to which I subscribe). Did he use it to the fullest? Naw... I'm not arguing about the evacuation of the residents of the Island or Glen Afton, I'm pissed about the rumors that started regarding the TWW. Ms. Ira should have sent out a robo call assuring us that there was no water shortage or boil water order. As to yesterday's traffic nightmare.... By now Trenton should have alternate routes mapped out. By now, Trenton should have people who can direct traffic (even if it is a volunteer corps). Yesterday, I sat on my front steps watching the mess; several drivers leaned out the car window to ask, "Where am I," or, "How do I get to the Justice Complex?" The best was our local gang members who were approaching cars asking for donations for flood victims. That was stopped by a resident who came flying out of his house. screaming, "Don't give them no money. They're gangsters. You a##holes, go back under your wet rock. Leave them people alone!" He frequently yells at them. He is also still alive and kicking. To close this out, Trenton will continue to face floods, blizzards, who knows, maybe even earthquakes, so we should have this emergency thing down pat, but we don't. At least keep the members of city council up-to-date.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stay Off the Internet - It May Be Illegal!

This morning, our honorable mayor was quoted in The Times of Trenton that no one had the right to perform an illegal background seach on any city employee (not a precise quote). Well, Mayor, here's a news flash! Anybody with a computer and a credit card can sign on to any number of search sites. You type in a name and as much information as you have on the person and VIOLA! the information appears usually with a list of possible relatives. You get info on criminal history, bankruptcy, unpaid taxes, etc. All of this info is a matter of public record. And as of today, there is nothing illegal about it. So if someone in Trenton ran the name Nathanial Jones through one of these websites, tough. Of course it is possible that the wrong Nathaniel Jones popped up; that happens quite often. So, did the right Nate Jones pop up or someone else? I'm sure the Talking Heads in city hall will get right on it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Once & Future Law

This current flap about the police layoffs got me to researching old law codes. The internet proved a great help (I wish I had it when I was in college). I started with the Code of Hammurabi (1700 BCE) which is touted as the oldest law code available. There were earlier codes, but we haven't found them. There are two other codes that are as equally fascinating - The Code of Nesilim (BCE 1650) and The Code of Assura (1075 BCE). Most of the laws deal with contracts, property rights, and marital obligations. There also seem to have been three types of punishment: Fines, physical mutilation, and death. Some of the laws really touch home. There are those laws dealing with Judge Judy type problems. If you borrow a man's boat and damage it, you have to pay for it. If you accidentally flood your neighbor's field, you have to pay him. On the marital side, if a man dies leaving a wife and sons, the boys have to support Mom. None of this putting her on Medicaid and parking her at an old folks home. If your wife takes on debt, you, the husband, are also responsible. Today, we call it, "Marital Debt," and divorce lawyers love to haggle over it. If you're a crummy doctor, no malpractice insurance claims, your eyes are put out. If you steal from someone, you will be put to death. If you try to rape a woman, and she says, "No," but you rape her anyway, you'll be punished. She is held blameless. And Blogolanders, if you think our society is obessed with sex, these folks were over the top! I was illegal to have sex with a dog or a pig. DON'T ASK!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Philosphy of Crime

Many Blogolanders are upset that Trenton may lose one third of the police force in a few weeks; most truly believe Trenton will face a crime wave. I have my doubts, but then I see things differently. Trenton could have one thousand police officers and there would still be crime. First, there are always people who refuse to behave for whatever reason. Second, those who misbehave rarely notify the police of their plans. Third, few buy into Officer Friendly - most just don't like the police. Fourth, when the police try to be proactive (stop a crime before it happens), they are accused of racism, sexism, agism, you name it. Fourth, the public has never been taught how to deal with the police. Fifth, we all watch too much television. We forget that television is not real life; it is entertainment. I confess to watching Law & Order C.I., but I watch for laughs. Most of the evidence gathered by Detective Robert Goren would be tossed out of court; he had no search warrant. So all those times when he was in someone's home questioning them and casually flipping through the suspects mail, whatever -- a Robin Lord would fry his ass at a trial. But it makes for good television. To wind this posting up, the biggest problem we have in Trenton is that we tolerate anti-social behavior. Some even think it's cool.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Hon. Shirley K. Turner

If anyone ever deserved the tile,"Honorable," it is Senator Turner. She is someone whom I both like and admire, but she is also someone with whom I frequently disagree. The Port Authority upped the bridge and tunnel tolls; if you don't have an EZ Pass, you pay $12 to cross the god damn river. I'd sooner swim. But Senator Turner announced she feels Governor Christie is wrong to support the increase. Before, I go on, there is a lot at the Port Authority that will not bear close inspection. A good forensic accountant would probably turn up good, old fasioned fraud. There, the senator is correct - an in-depth investigation is called for. But her belief that the increases will fall hardest on those least able to pay, I question. No one works in Manhattan for minimum wage. The folks who work in Mahattan are the yuppy sort. Stand at the station some morning and notice the number of suits, brief cases, and fedora hats that board the train. As I posted the other day, this toll increase may just be a GIFT! It is getting too expensive to work in Mahattan. But it is still cheap to work in Trenton. Rather than repeat myself, read my previous post. I'm on a roll, so I'll be posting again later.

The Rules of War

Several times, I've told council that during times of war, the men (the grunts, average G.I. Joes) are fed first. If there's anything left, then the officers eat. Well, Blogolanders, we've reached a point of war. The grunts in the field must be fed first. What I'm trying to say is that the Honorable Mayor Mack should start cutting salaries at the top; pay the average worker first. If there's anything left over, then pay the bosses. That includes council. What a great impression it would make on the voters, if council voted to reduce their salaries and cut back on their perks. I don't argue the fact that you are entitled to your pay, but as I said on Thursday, we ALL have to lower our standard of living, we ALL have to lower our expectations. So folks, bite the friggin bullet and get moving!!!!

Shared Sacrifice

Back in the Dark Ages of the late fifties, I wrote a report for school on rationing during WWII; to gather information, I interviewed my mother. She produced my ration book and explained what each page was for, etc. I asked if people resented rationing. She answered, "No, we really didn't like it, but we figured if we co-operated, our boys would come home sooner." And my teenage research turned up info that there was surprisingly little cheating. In short, the vast majority of Americans sucked it up. Well, Blogolanders, we have to suck it up, and if we co-operate we can resume our spree sooner.

True Grit - Trenton Style

If today's young people (especially those living in Trenton) need a hero, they have one in retired Chief of Police Ernest Williams. The last months of his life, this man was in a great deal of pain. Stirring a cup of coffee sapped his energy. BUT he continued on. He literally spit in the eye of DEATH. This a rare form of courage that is to be admired, envied, and imitated.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How to Make Enemies and Lose Friends

This going to be another post that many will find offensive, wrong, you name it. This morning I received an e-mail from someone whom I both like and repect announcing a public demonstration to urge the state to provide funds to avoid a lay-off in the police department. Yes, Trenton faces the loss of roughly 108 officers next month. The announced lay off was followed by a cry of, "We'll have a crime wave. The criminals will run the city!!" Well, Blogolanders, they already do. Lest anyone think I'm trying to be cute, I'm talking about street activity. When the Stewart family arrived in Trenton twenty-five years, I noticed that whenever a police car drove by, the groups of teenagers (and sometimes even adults) would scatter. Today, on the rare occasions when a police car does drive by, no one moves, not even the damn dealers. Two of my pet peeves here on Lamberton Steet are (1) An outdoor dice game that has been going on since the warm weather started. The rare police car just drives by. (2) People who park on the street and chat with their friends thereby tying up traffic. One evening there were three such vehicles on Lamberton Street. When the police drive by they don't even ask the driver to move much less write a ticket for blocking traffic. Last week, I attended a civic meeting and heard how the police were upset that there was so little public outcry The answer was, "All you've done is alienate the citizens; no, they're not prepared to fight for you." Sadly, that's so true. My civic group often heard from a police officer attending the meeting, "You're our eyes and ears." OK. Yet, generally, when we report a crime to the police, usually drug dealing, we're told, "If we don't see it, we can't do anything." We, the residents, see it yet the police, trained (one hopes) professionals, see nothing. Next there is the cry from the police, "We do a dangerous job." Yes, policing is dangerous. Firefighting is probably more so." Yet the danger is no secret. Every cop and firefighter knew the dangers when they signed up. My last bitch is the fact that police and firefighters rarely live within the City of Trenton. Oh, they offer great reasons, but they miss one important point. If they lived within the city limits, they would be one HELL OF A VOTING BLOCK! In fact, if just the police lived within the city, the police director plan would have been defeated. In closing, I have the highest regard for the fire department. I have watched them fight fires many times (once it was the house next door to me), the co-ordination among those men and women is almost like a ballet. As for the police - I resent it when calling in the fact that an empty hosue is being broken into and having the police arrive only to ask, "If it's not your house what do you care?" To use a quote from a once popular comic strip, "You brought upon yourselves."

RIP - Ernie Williams

My heartfelt regards to the family of retired Chief of Police Ernest Williams.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Just Wondering

For the last week, I've been following the news about the riots in England. Several things caught my attention. The first - there were no riots in Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland. All three places suffered the budget cuts of the present government just like England. The Talking Heads blamed the riots on bad relations with the police, a bad economy, and youthful angst. The kids have nothing to do! That is a cry frequently heard here in Trenton to which I usually respond, "Merde." There is plenty to do if only the Little Darlings would look around. Grab a broom and sweep up; pick up the trash, start a community garden, volunteer somewhere, or, and this is a truly radical suggestion - READ A BOOK! During one looting session, the only shop not touched was a bookstore. I assume that reading is as popular in the UK as it is in the USA.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Freedom of the Press

This morning I noticed something very interesting about the two Trenton newspapers.
The Trentonian carried an article about Ms. McBride's new directive, and The Times of Trenton published not one word! I'm told the editor wants to hold off on such stories. Freedom of the Press does allow publication of articles not favorable to those in authority; the opposite is true. A publication is not required to publish such articles. By ignoring this current flap, The Times does a disservice to its readers. But the editor has the right to do so. In my opinion, however, this is a shortsighted decision. The Times leaves itself open to being scooped by The Trentonian.

Recently, I read how Chinese journalists meet regularly with the government to go over what should be published (and how) and what should not be published. Since there is no freedom of the press in China, the journalists do not tell the government to,"blow it out your wonton." Has The Times taken up this type of journalism?

New Directive!

So Ms. McBride flexed her muscles; members of council can no longer contact city employees directly. All issues and requests must be filtered through her where they may be conveniently lost. A bit of history, Blogolanders. Back in the Dark Ages of the Holland administration, citizens who had problems, issues, beefs, called the appropriate city department. If there was no satisfaction, a call to the mayor's office usually solved the problem. Council passed resolutions and ordiances and kept an eye on the public purse. The Palmer administration introduced the Office of Citizens' Concerns. The results were so-so; in fairness, Ms. Holly-Ward responsed to my, "concerns", promptly and effciently. Others were not so lucky. Citizens began to turn to their councilpeople for help. And a few of them picked up the slack. This habit carried over to the current council; only one councilperson seems to enjoy going around Trenton doing stuff - that's George Muschal. And his colleagues seem to resent it. Perhaps because it makes them look bad - who knows? So we have a new directive! Badly written. Ye gods. Can no one write English? I was particularly interested in the word, "politely," because few denizens of city hall are polite. At best, I would call their attitude, "disinterested." I would suggest Ms. McBride withdraw this directive IMMEDIATELY. If you agree, start calling her.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Gift Horse!

Yesterday afternoon, the Port Authority of NY & NJ dropped a gift on Tony Mack. It was announced that the P.A. would request mega bridge and tunnel toll increases! Being a self-centered sort, my first thought was, "Hell, from now on I'll fly to Long Island; it'll be cheaper and FASTER." Then other thoughts came. It's going to get too expensive to work in Manhattan. So here's a suggestion to the Honorable Mayor - find out how many people living within a twenty-five to fifty mile radius of Trenton (starting with north and east of the city) work in Manhattan. Then find out where they work. Then decide if it is feasible to tempt these people (and their employers) into Trenton. There is one person on the mayor's staff who can handle such a project - Paul Harris. He's a genius at getting info off the internet. Many of you might say, "No one will come with all the bad publicity Trenton gets." There is something to this argument; however, MOST have short memory spans. Here's a test - what was the big scandal in early May?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Emmy Award! Not Likely

After watching Mayor Mack of Trenton, New Jersey and Mayor Walling of Flint, Michigan on CNN this morning, I realized that neither mayor said anything worth hearing. They both spoke words, but that was all. Mayor Mack's saying Trenton had a budget deficit and these were tough economic times, sorry, I can't find that a DEEP thought. Yeah, so what else is new? Neither will win an Emmy for news reporting.

Lay Offs

Sadly, a number of Trenton employees will lose their jobs in a few weeks; this is unfortunate news not only for Trentonians but also the employees. They will be facing financial challenges. Two of them were mentioned in this morning's Times of Trenton - Officers Kevin and Maria Starkey. But if they had made different choices, the challenges they face would be less onerous. Maria Starkey admitted that she and Kevin have a big mortgage on their house in Hamilton, and that they barely make their bills with their two salaries. If they bought a house right here in Trenton, their mortgage might actually be a cost they could handle. They might have been able to bank some money from each paycheck. The best advice my husband and I ever received was, "Live BELOW your income!"

Monday, August 1, 2011

Security - Social and Otherwise

Recently, The Kid demanded to know why I called myself a conservative when each month I accept federal welfare. He meant, of course, my social security check; yes, each month a check (based on my work history, not my husband's) is deposited into my checking account. To my conservative mind, this is income based on an annuity started with my first job back in 1960. But I digress. The Talking Heads have been screaming that Social Security is going broke; I really don't know. What I do know is that things have changed in the last seventy odd years. When FDR introduced this program with the retirement age set at 65, many felt he picked that age because few would live that long, or if they did, they wouldn't live much beyond 70. There was some merit to that argument. The American life span has increased. Further, the program was based on many, many people working and contributing to the fund which made payments to the few. Everything was going along fine; even WWII helped as women entered the workforce and contributed to the social security fund. After the war, these women left their jobs, returned home, and had BABIES. The Baby Boom began. The Boomers grew up, entered the workforce, and contributed to the social security fund. At one time, there was such a large surplus, that LBJ introduced Medicare. We move forward; people occasionally mumbled about social security running out of money but no great panic. Then someone noticed that the Baby Boomers were not reproducing at the same rate their parents did. Then we experienced the Baby Bomb. Those born during the boom years began to retire; the pyramid was now inverted. Fewer workers were funding more retirees who were living about twenty years longer than their grandparents. And to make matters, there is an active underground economy - many workers are paid in cash which means no one, worker or employer, contributes to the social security fund. I'm not sure, however, there is total need for panic. In thirty years or so, most of the baby boomers will be dead. The retirement age has been raised - maybe it should be 70. Perhaps it is time for a means test to collect. Do the very rich really need this money? I have mixed emotions about that scheme. The annual adjustment for inflation stopped - that made me happy. It really did. If The Kid is right that social security is really federal welfare, it is the only welfare that is collected by those who really worked.