User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: Who Will It Be This Tuesday, Tony or Manny?

"Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Defend."

Commentary on national and local events from the standpoint of a Trenton city resident and state worker.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Who Will It Be This Tuesday, Tony or Manny?

As I hope everyone reading this already knows, there is a city election this Tuesday June 15.  I hope a lot of people come out and vote, but based on past experience with runoff elections in the city, turnout is usually a lot lower than in the first round of voting.  I sadly believe that will probably also be the case again this time because there has been relatively little publicity compared to May.  The one exception to this is the water works vote which seems to be drawing more interest than either the mayor or city council races.

According to the the Trenton No website, both Tony Mack and Manny Segura oppose selling the water works.  This is good.  The only real problem is the Trenton Yes campaign financed by American Water is much better financed, and it seems to have convinced the people that I know that are not politically active that the sale is a good idea.  Of course Palmer did this by deliberately holding off on scheduling the referendum so the whole year's tax increase could be charged to a single quarter to make it look like the sale is necessary to avoid a disasterous increase in property taxes.  If they were worried about taxes these same people should have been out last November backing Corzine with the same enthusiasm they backed Obama with in 2008.

Past the water works, what seems to be the big diference between the old Spanish guy and the short black man?..Tony mack has the support of Frank Weeden as well as city council candidate Juan Martinez and South Ward Councilman Frank Muschel.  Of course, all three of these people are rough-hewen law-and-order types who say they want to go after landlords and the criminal element with a sledgehammer.

Mr. Mack also indicated he opposes the use of eminent domain to displace homeowners to make way for economic development projects.  I couldn't agree more, because I supported Jim Costen and Carlos Avilla's efforts to stop the Leewood Village project.  It is a shame however that Costen and Avilla backed the city's efforts to allow Hovnanian to tie up the Champale site for years without building anything.  As a result, some homeowners were coerced into selling their properties for less than they would have otherwise would have taken and other people were forced to give up their back yards.  The neighborhood deteriorated severely while the project was stalled.  Fortunately, Hovanian did come in and build, but the city should have never tied up the property nor pressured people into giving up their homes until it secured a substantial performance bond from the developer.  It was for that reason that I could not back Mr. Avilla in the last election.  He wouldn't address my question about the performance bond in a meeting, he only would say that he was behind the effort to bring in Hovanian. 

I own several hundred shares of Hovanian stock, and for that reason have every reason to wish the company well.  However no mean s no and the threat of eminent domain should not be used against owner-occupants to take their homes, yards or anything else.  Also, in all cases, the city should demand a permormance bond before giving a company the exclusive right to develop a tract.  Why inconvenience the little guy, when the big corporation is under no pressure to move forward.

I like some of what Mr. Avilla has to say about selling city properties one at a time to homesteaders or small contractors or landlords.  Back when Art Holland was mayor, the city had an urban homesteading program where the city would reserve certain homes for owner-occupants and would lend them money to bring them up to code.  Also landlords and contractors could bid on the other properties at auction and develop them so they could get back on the tax rolls.

The Palmer administration got rid of the auctions and urban homesteading and instead relied on big developers who promised to come in and build grandiose projects like Leawood Village or the Broad Street Entertainment District.  As we know, many city-owner properties rotted during the last 20 years, because the big boys never came in and to do anything.  Rather than relying on the Great Father in Washington or on Wall Street, we should rely on ourselves and allow people with the drive and determination to take over individual homes or business properties.  I think we can't do any worse than we have done for the last generation.

Well, then who do I want?  It changes from day to day.  I worked with Tony Mack in the past, but agree with Frank Weeden that he can't handle money.  After all he couldn't pay the poll workers in a timely manner when he was chairman of the city Democratic Party and his payroll checks bounced when he ran for mayor four years ago.  Also, the folks in Bellmawr found out the hard way that he did not have the talent to be a school board business manager.  Let's see, did he loose $1.25 million like he said or $1.75 million like the Courier-Post said.  It doesn't really matter because in the end he screwed up and the school board fired him.

For that reason, I'll go with Manny Segura!