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Monday, May 27, 2013

Fun Day in Trenton

Yeah, Blogolanders, in Trenton.  Yesterday Punk Rock had a flea market at Trenton Social.  Don't let the name scare you - it's an art group not Woodstock on the Delaware.  At the suggestion of The Kid, I took a table.  People kept coming and coming and coming.  One young fellow I spoke with came from Philly. 

Granted, it was a modern crowd.  First I had to get over the green hair, tatoos, and four nose rings, but once I did, I found a bunch of really nice people.  Wonder what they were like?  I arrived with twenty stacks of old history magazines - British History Illustrated, Mankind, The History Channel Magazine, etc.  I sold sixteen of them.  One young woman grapped a stack because the top magazine had an article about D-Day.  Her grandfather had been there; she was rather intrigued by it all, and we chatted about WWII, The Biggie and the last war that had public support. 

But people came to Trenton.  They spent money (I made a tidy profit, thank you).  T.C. Nelson of Trenton Social had people four and five deep waiting for food.  And there was not one freakin word (that I could find) in either paper about this event.  People came to Trenton, spent money, behaved themselves, had a good time, and the papers can't write about it? 

In closing, no cops were called, no one pulled a gun, no one yelled, "you dissed me," at the slightest bump -  it was a very polite crowd!  Trenton can do it!!!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Heartbreak Hotel

Good morning, Blogolanders.  This will probably be a quiet weekend since it is the unofficial start of summer.  Yet, while relaxing on the porch, grilling burgers, watching fireworks, or whatever, take some time to consider the following:

At TNL, Councilman George Muschal made an excellent point that no one bets on a dead horse.  As someone who followed the nags for several years, he's right. 

At the same meeting of TNL, Councilman Zachary Chester suggested that those so anxious to save the hotel, put up some money to accomplish said goal.  He and Mr. Muschal were the only ones willing to do so.  Not even Local 54 so anxious to save 84 jobs offered funds.

The City of Trenton NEVER owned the freakin hotel; the City of Trenton just guaranteed the debt.
That's rather like giving someone a credit card and you pay each month. 

The City of Trenton was NEVER obligated to meet the cash calls so every time someone came blowing into a council meeting moaning, "If we don't get $100,000 by tomorrow, we'll have no steak sauce!!" council could have said, "NO," but never did.

Keep your fingers crossed that the hotel has not been serving rubbing alcohol in place of high end scotch. 

If council decides to float the new bonds, the debt will belong to the city.  You and I, taxpayers, will be on the hook.  Forget any idea that the state or even the county will come to the aid of the hotel.  Please, Blogolanders, consider this.  Do you REALLY think anyone in Princeton or Seaside Heights gives a crap about a hotel in Trenton?  And to save the hotel, the country and/or state would either have to raise taxes or take money from some other program. 

In roughly seven months the 2014 campaign season will be up and running; forget where the candidates were born, grew up, went to high school, and had the most unhappy childhood.  Ask about solving the financial mess here in Trenton.  Ask about getting more taxpayers into the city.  Keep asking, "What are you plans?"  "How do you intend to solve this problem...?" 

And be prepared to let the hotel become a sad bit of history.  Yes, I'll miss it, but I also miss the milkman, a service that is history. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities?

A documentary comparing Colorado Springs, CO with Trenton, NJ was shown last evening.  There was a SRO crowd, and the film was interesting.  Actually, it was a brilliant piece of propaganda- for what purpose, I'm not sure.  It was put together by a Swiss team; the Swiss are very interesting people who have been hiding behind their alps for over a thousand years and doing well, too.  Switzerland was also the last European country to give women the right to vote.  It's a small, well managed country known for chocolate, watches, knives, and banking - not necessarily in that order.

This film crew contrasted Colorado Springs with Trenton.  If you knew nothing about either place, you would assume Colorado Springs was made up of nice, well spoken white bread type people who do good works on their own time and Trenton was made up filthy streets full of crappy housing lived in by unemployed, uneducated African-Americans who believed they would be shot at any moment. 

Yes, we have problems in Trenton.  Dear God, do we ever!!!  BUT....comparing Colorado Springs with Trenton is comparing apples and oranges - how?

C.S. has a population of some 419,745 living in 185.7 square miles.  Median household income is $52,984 with per capita income at $27,556.  City government relies mostly on sale tax and can outsource many services.  Further, C.S. was never a major center of manufacturing; it was, however, a mining center.  When the mines played out, health spas opened, hence the name Colorado Springs.  It was a great place for those with T.B.  Unemployment is about 6%.  AND, AND, here's the biggy.  Colorado Springs in home to the United States Air Force Academy which attracks over 1,000,000 visitors each year.  All of whom spend money which is a lot of sales tax,

Trenton has a population of roughly 85,000 in 7.5 square miles.  Unemployment is roughly 20%.  When the factories closed nothing came in to take their place (unless you include state government).  Come on, Blogolanders, can you imagine 1,000,000 visitors a year in Trenton?  Sweet Mother of God, we'd need ten hotels. 

If you have a chance to see this film, please do.  And also keep in mind, and think deeply, about how the message was skewed. 

Age Appropriate

Good morning, Blogolanders.  Before I get going on, "A Tale of Two Cities," I want to post my feelings about raising the ago of smoking, buying cigarettes, selling cigarettes (or any tobacco product) to those under the age of 18.  Yes, smoking is a dirty, dangerous habit - hell, look at me - my breathing problems are NOT the result of working with asbestos.  My problem with this is how we cherry pick - for example - anyone 18 or older can vote, sign a binding contract, join the military, get married, BUT until they are 21 these people cannot buy a drink. 

My feeling is if one is old enough to vote, go into debt (via binding contract), become cannon fodder for the military, take on a spouse, one is old enough to have a beer and a cigarette.  For those of you who disagree, the solution is very simple.  One is an infant until one reaches the age of 21.  No voting, no binding contracts, no military, no marriage, no alcohol, no tobacco. 

Oh, will the politicians scream about that!  If our fearless leaders want to save our young people from the evils of tobacco, do what Princeton has done.  Make it impossible to smoke anywhere.  Have any of you, dear Blogolanders, tried to smoke a cigarette in Princeton?  I'm not sure you can do so on your own front porch. 

Until we stop this cherry picking, I say leave the current regs in place - one must be over 18 to buy tobacco. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Facts of Life

Hello, Blogolanders.  Oh, where to begin?  I know, earlier this month when Councilwoman McBride rambled on about the fact Tom Neff of the Department of Community Affairs is really the Mayor of Trenton.  She started this because business administrator Sam Hutchinson said that DCA would NOT approve it if Trenton spent $200,000 on the hotel.  My feeling when I heard that DCA would not approve this expense was, "Thank God!!"  The next few days stories came out that the DCA did not want the hotel, the $200,000 was already in the budget,  MIDJersey Chamber of Council was holding a pep rally in support of the hotel.  The only thing we did not hear was that the famed Waldorf-Astoria was moving to Trenton.

Kevin Moriarty wrote several excellent pieces about the hotel;  I don't really agree.  I doubt very much if Governor Christie gives a damn about the hotel.  Yes, he's out looking for votes, but not here in Trenton; he's down at the shore.  Did you notice he wasn't buying Prince Harry lunch at the hotel.  Naw---he took him to the Shore. 

Blogolanders, most of whom I believe are Trentonians, if you want attention from the State House, you have to give him votes.  We're not going to vote for him.  You and I know it.  If someone were to say, "Governor, if you give us help, we'll guarantee you 10,000 votes.  That would get his attention. 

As for Heartbreak Hotel - it's time to let it go.  Yeah, the Chamber of Commerce blows in and announces support, but where?  At the hotel?  NO!  They gather at the ball park!  Kevin Moriuarty published list of meeting places for this august group.  So far this year two in Trenton and neither at the hotel. 

Far too often, people talk - talk is so cheap.  They give credit to everyone in sight but no one comes up with cash.  Trenton cannot afford the hotel.  Trenton never could.  Are we going to lose money?  Yes, and a lot of it, but we can begin to move forward financially. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

You Are Entitled to an Attorney....

For several reasons, I did not attend Thursday Nite Live but was there Tuesday and noticed Resolutions calling for some $265,000. in outside legal fees.  The city attorney gave a long, convoluted explanation about conflict of interest, attorney/client privilege, etc.  And her department is also overworked - just TWO staff members.  Who ain't overworked these days?  What I didn't ask (and doubt she would have answered) was how many of these lawsuits are plain frivolous or outright specious?  Case in point.  The Civil Service Commission ruled againt the city - Michael Morris must be rehired and Chico Melendez removed.  The Honorable Mayor decided to challenge that decision.  What will this challenge cost?  Much more than it's worth.  And, Blogolanders, Trenton now pays both men for the one job!!! 

I also feel it is time to rethink - redefine - attorney/client privilege.  As long as we, the taxpayers, foot these legal bills, we have a right to know what's going on and why.  I'd also like to see the statements from these outside lawyers.  Are they overworked?  Are they billing four hours when two hours would have done the trick?  I don't know. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bringing in the Gold

...we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the gold.  Good morning, Bloglanders.  Yes, this is my play on, "Bringing in the Sheaves,' a popular hymn with gospel choirs.  For whatever it is worth, I love gospel music, but what brought me to this?  Today's issue of, "The Trenton Times," and an article on page 9 to the left of an article about the freakin hotel.  Here's a quote from the photograph - "Trenton Central High School Inspirational Gospel Choir won first place in the Music in the Parks high school chorale division on Saturday.  The choir beat out 21 other high schools to win the Atlanta competition..." 

First, how many Trentonians even knew there was such a thing as the Inspirational Gospel Choir?  I didn't.  But then I didn't know there was a super debating society, either.  And how many knew these kids took first prize?  And why wasn't this splashed over the front page of our newspapers?  Given a choice between some child porn suspect and an inspirational choir, I'd go with the choir. 

To these young men and women, I offer my sincere congratulations.  "How great thou art..."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's Time...

to leave the table.  Blogolanders and Trentonians, the hotel continues to be a very white elephant; a millstone; an overpriced luxury.  We must sell it!  Yes, Trenton will lose a lot of money, but, hell, we've already lost a lot of money!  The hotel was a bad idea from the beginning; if Trenton had a market for a hotel, a private chain would have been here on their own.  Maybe a smaller hotel would have worked - you know, one hundred rooms, seventy-five rooms.  I don't know.  What I do know is that we can, as a city, no longer afford this place.

Losing money on a a deal does not make me happy, but I also know when to leave the table.  Ain't gonna get better only worser.  And you wonder why the big, bad state doesn't jump in to give us millions?  Hell, we've borrowed money that we haven't even begun to repay.  If this were an AmEx card, we would have been cut off long ago.  Obviously, we're not too good with money.

Kevin Moriarty did an excellent posting on this hotel nightmare - read it.  Hopefully, the four members of council will stick to their guns and vote down anymore money. 

By the way, a bit of history.  Former South Ward Councilman, John Ungrady, always said, "The city shouldn't be in the hotel business." 

Finis for a bit.

It's the Media!!

At the last (hopefully in the sense of, "no more")town hall meeting, the Honorable Mayor opened his screed with, "The media give Trenton a bad name..."  (Not an exact quote.)  Yeah, sure.  Blame a free press.  And let's look at today's Trenton Times and the front page.  First page - above the fold - the best placement.  What do we have?  Two stories.  One about Mercer County efforts to control mosquitos.  Very informative - not what one could call negative.  Another about public monies going to private religious training schools - is this legal?  This is an issue that concerns the entire state.  Just below the fold is an article about the resignation of a candidate for Hamilton council.  She's been accused of stealing from a client.  Nothing to do with Trenton!!  Now - here it comes...

Below that is an article about Trentonian, Dan Dodson, and his recent experience with an intruder.  Several people have pointed out questions about what happened Sunday evening.  Yesterday, I was told, "someone broke into his home and took stuff."  Apparently, the intruder never made it beyond the foyer.  But it took the police some twenty odd minutes to respond!  Now that makes Trenton look bad.  If the police had appeared within a few minutes, the story would probably have never even made the paper, certainly not the front page. 

I strongly advise everyone involved - dispatcher, officers, victims, administration - to find out exactly what happened and why and issue an HONEST report.  Just a suggestion, but since the Honorable Mayor has been ignoring suggestions for nearly three years, I doubt he will jump on this one. 

I am very happy to learn the Dodson family is safe and sound. 

Ode to Gregory

This posting is inspired by the, "Killer Groundhog," that chased a bunch of Little Leaguers.  The story was posted on NJ.Com.  Those who feel it was female protecting her young are probably right.  Any animal with young can be very protective - vicious.  For several years now, I've had a groundhog living under my back porch; several times, I've tried removing him to Hunterdon County via a havaheart trap.  I swear he calls a taxi the minute he's released because he's back.  So I've decided to live with him; his name is Gregory; I'm sure he's a male as I never seen any small groundhogs around.  He's not dangerous.  In fact, he's rather shy; the slightest sound sends him running off.  He has a taste for tulip buds which is my only objection.  Watching him is rather amusing especially on warm, sunny summer days when he lies on his back with his little paws in the air.  Or when the local feral cats come; the cats and Gregory have stared at each other without moving for over an hour.  Thank you, Gregory, for the many pleasant times you provided.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wishful Thinking - I Think

Last evening, city council met for about an hour to discuss what happens when the office of the mayor or a council seat is declared vacant.  Other bloggers have posted the info so I won't do emphasis through repetition.  Of course, the last time Trenton faced this problem was in 1989 and there was no scandal involved.  Art Holland died. 

Right now, we have a mayor who has been charged with a federal crime, and whose lawyer will probably stall the trial as long a possible.  Don't expect to see the Honorable Mayor in a court room any time soon.  And the Honorable Mayor is one lucky dude.  How many times has he dodged the bullet?  So, until he is found guilty and sentenced, we're stuck with him.  And I'm not betting he will be found guilty; I can see him with a verdict of, "Not Guilty." 

The next muncipal election will be held in a year.  The Honorable Mayor seems to think he'll run again, and win.  If he is not in a federal prison, he'd run and maybe even win.  I don't have much faith in the average Trenton voter.  And the average Trenton voter doesn't read this blog. 

As I see it, there is only a small possibility - if the mayor (or member of council) is declared mentally unfit to serve.  Frankly, I've often suspected many of our elected officials could use medication.  It's not easy to have one declared, "mentally incompetant," so scratch that idea.

So, let's all accept the fact that the Honorable Mayor is ours for at least another year.