User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: November 2010

"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.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Female Politicians and Leadership 101

Rosa Luxemburg was the co-founder of the German Communist Party. By pretty much any standard, she rates pretty high on the all time list of radical female politicians.

When I started this post in was taking a brief break from a 3-day Thanksgiving weekend drinking binge.  The night before, I cracked open a quart of Wild Turkey 101 and consumed nearly the whole bottle before passing out.  When I awoke the next morning, I went downstairs, fixed a pot of coffee, went to the living room, logged on and started writing this post.  I got as far as writing the caption before discovering that there was enough bourbon left over for a shot the size of a tall drinking glass (about 12 oz.).  I poured out the eye opener and enjoyed the old-school version of Red Bull and vodka, that is black coffee with straight-up high proof bourbon served on the side as a chaser.

Needless to say, the rest of the day was spent sitting around the house in my underwear drinking straight hard liquor.  That is not to say I didn't do other things.  I had my sister in law and her boyfriend over my house for a while.  And of course, I watched TV.  Part of the day was spent watching Godfather II.  After that I put on a copy of Triumph of the Will that I lifted off the Internet.  This a Nazi propaganda film that was presented as an account of the 1934 Party congress at Nuremberg.  The version that I copied had English subtitles, but came in some strange format that would not play on my DVD player, so I had to play around with it on the computer to put it into a format that would work on the DVD machine.  In the process the English subtitles got clipped out, and I was left with the original German version.

Not that knowledge of German is required to appreciate the film.  Fortunately, the movie is basically shots of parades, military exercises, scenes from the encampment for the military attendees, as well as speeches from Hitler and others.   During most of the movie there is a soundtrack of Nazi patriotic music.  The speech scenes are usually short, and still interesting to look at even though you can't understand what is being said.

The purpose of the movie was to acquaint the public with the Nazi Party and its leadership and philosophy and to get people behind the movement.  The camp scenes showed military life as something that is fun, with rally participants having fun while preparing the site for the rally.  They got to engage in horseplay, enjoy clean air, hard work and feel camaraderie.  The civilian audience cheered for their fuhrer and his soldiers.  They seemed to enjoy the event and support the movement.  Of course, the film audience was supposed to walk away with similar feelings about supporting the party and serving the Fatherland.

When shown to contemporary American audiences the film produces a somewhat different effect.  While I could not help but get caught up in the excitement of the rally and get stirred by the patriotic music, the impression I got was not entirely positive.  In fact, you have to wonder what the German people were really thinking.  Kind of like, with all of this military imagery, didn't they know Hitler was preparing their country for war?

In the beginning of the movie there are a series of storyboards that show the timeline of recent events in relation to the rally.  One of them said that the first world war ended just 16 years before the rally.  At the time there were lots of veterans living in Germany raising families.  They knew that the military was not all fun and games.  They knew war was hell.  Yet they lined up by the thousands to join the SA and put their kids in the Hitler Youth so they too could get in on the "fun".

So that's one part of the picture.  You get to see the silly Germans getting to cheerfully board the Titanic for a one way trip to oblivion.  But wait a minute.  Nazi Germany was not your garden variety dictatorship.  They wanted to make Aryan Germans the masters of the world and subjugate "inferior" races like the Slavs and kill off "culture-destroying degenerate races" like the Jews, Negros and Gypsies.  Hitler in Mien Kampf said that the Jews and blacks must be exterminated.  What part of "exterminate" didn't these people understand.  Somebody had to notice that the Nazis were totally nuts.

Here, I'm sure the sound track of the speeches would help underscore the point of what the Nazis were up to, but I don't know German so I didn't get to see what it was all about.  I'm sure the subtitles would help, but my experience is that things are often left out of subtitles or added to them.  Considering that the copy I had was translated by the US State Dept., the subtitles would have been biased toward the US point of view.  Not that I don't trust our government (ha-ha!), but we should give the Nazis the benefit of the doubt (equally ha-ha!).

Well, after you cut through the alphabet of words and the babble of languages you are still left with the imagery, and there are two scenes in the film that are bound to creep out just about anybody.  The first one is the part where Hitler addresses a contingent of the German youth labor service.  The labor service was made up of unemployed youth that were conscripted into an organization similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps, except that participants also worked on urban projects like construction of the Autobahn and received a full dose of Nazi indoctrination.  In the scene, the unit of youths is dressed in military uniforms and performs drill maneuvers with shovels instead of rifles.  They chant in unison their praise for Hitler.  The chants sound robotic and creepy.  It's clear Hitler wants to turn his followers into good little robots.

The next part is the Hitler Youth scene.  How cute is it to see the little elementary school kids marching in uniform and singing the Hitler youth song.  They even got the little boy beating on the drum lifting his arms above his shoulders as he enthusiastically swings the sticks.  Translation:  Little kids aren't immune from this crap.  They need to be brainwashed too.  Far from being cute as originally intended to be seen, it looks sick to us.

And what does this have to do with Rosa Luxemburg.  Not much, except that a Freikorps officer murdered her during the aborted Communist revolution of January 1919.  Rosa is the "Communist that we all love", meaning that her actions were generally a positive force for democracy and the allied cause in the first world war.

Many Americans equate Communism with Nazism.  We see Communist countries as militarized places that brainwash their people to follow the party line.  And of course anyone who steps out of line winds up in Siberia or gets a bullet in the head.

We owe our impressions of Communism to the actions of Josef Stalin and his proteges who used their philosophical system to run their countries like gangsters.  These places were not so much about Communism as they were about staying in power and grabbing everything that was not nailed down.

The bad thing about Communism is that in practice it tends to turn out badly.  However, theoretical Communism, of types other than the Leninist variety, is not about a one-party state or dictatorial control.  At its heart is the economic system of Socialism which assumes all people are created equally and should share equally and hold all productive assets in common.  Rosa Luxemburg has a famous quote which says that freedom is always the freedom of the dissenter (in German " 'Freiheit ist immer die Freiheit des Andersdenkenden").  In other words, she is a believer in 1st Amendment freedoms and multi-party politics.  Of course, she didn't believe in private business ownership, but that's what Communism is about.

I don't pretend to know much about the nuances of socialist theory.  I'm a man of action, and am not really into debating things like what Marx really meant by "dictatorship of the proletariat" and stuff like that.  I understand there are lots of sites like this on the web.  Personally, I believe the business of America is business and that private enterprise is a necessary part of the American scene and is not going to go away any time soon.  We need regulation to keep things from getting out of hand.  On these things, I'm like Roosevelt or Truman or the Social Democratic parties of Europe.

So who was Rosa Luxemberg and what did she do that was so memorable.  She was a Polish Jew who married a German and became a German citizen and became active in German left wing politics in the late 19th century.  She worked as a professor teaching political economy and got to meet Lenin at the 2nd International.  By that time she already disagreed with his more extremist views.

During World War I, she and Karl Liebknecht broke from most of the socialist movement in Germany which supported the war effort.  Together, the two of them published anti-war leaflets and built an underground anti-war movement in Germany.  Her ideas caught on with the general public.  By 1918, much of German industry was under the sway of soldiers and workers councils - similar organizations existed in Russia at the time of the 1917 revolution.  In Russia, these councils were known as "Soviets", though the Germans did not refer to them as such. 

Strikes and protests organized by the German soviets throughout 1918, brought industrial production within Germany to a halt.  This caused General Lundendorf to withdraw his support for the Kaiser and led to the Kaiser's advication and the end of the war.  Basically, the Communists were at least as responsible for bringing the war to an end by their actions within Germany as the efforts of the British and American forces on the western front.  Since the leadership of the German Communist movement was Jewish, this led credence to the Nazi argument that Germany lost the war because it was "stabbed in the back" by Jews and Communists.  The Nazis said Allied victories in France in 1918 did not cause Germany to collapse.

My feeling is that Liebknecht and Luxemburg could only lead through moral suasion.  They did not force the German people to follow.  Rather, ordinary Germans had enough with the war and the Kaiser's brutality and turned the Communists as an alternative.  The man on the street had enough and that is what brought the government down.  In other words, Luxemburg and Liebknecht  were patriots, not villains.

After the dust settled, a government was formed under the Social Democrats.  The Communists chose not to participate in the Reichstag.  In January 1919, Karl Liebknecht  called for a revolution and ordered his followers to occupy government offices.  Initially Luxemberg opposed this, but finally gave the revolution her support.  Both Liebknict ant Luxemberg were quickly arrested by army reservists (freikorps).  Shortly thereafter she was bashed in the head with a rifle, shot and her body was thrown into a canal.  A few months later it surfaced.  It was turned over to the Communist party which gave her an elaborate funeral.

During the postwar period, several monuments named for her were erected for her in East Germany.  After reunification, the monuments still remain and are still named after her.  The Federal Republic considers her a patriot.  The Communists participate it the political process in modern Germany and regularly draw about 10 percent of the vote in national elections.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pavo Gratis

While shopping at the Supremo Supermercado at the Lalor Plaza a few weeks ago I noticed a sign as I was passing through the caja advertising pavo gratis.  No, as you can probably guess, I don't speak much Spanish.  But I did go to high school once, spent a week driving around Puerto Rico, worked in the Mercer County welfare office, and lived in South Trenton for about 18 years.  Taken together, all that collective experience means that I can read signs written in Spanish.  For the uninitiated a caja usually means "box", but if you are in Puerto Rico it is also a checkout counter.  And of course, pavo gratis means free turkey.   Happy Thanksgiving!

While I'm on the subject, I thought I'd give you some links to Spanish language recipees for roast turkey so you could try out some of the ways our European cousins cook the bird.  This is a link to a cooking site from Spain.

Today, many of the people living in South Trenton are of Hispanic origin.  Not very long ago, Eastern Europeans predominated.  Today, I am going to celebrate my Eastern European heritage while helping to support a local business.  I will be eatin my turkey dinner at the Blue Danube, a wonderful Hungarian joint located at the corner of Elm and Adeline streets a few blocks from my home.  Maybe I'll also be cooking up my own bird and having it on another day, but today I feel lazy and am planning to relax.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Canary in a Coal Mine. Tom Goodwin Looses State Senate Race


Here, Senator Tom Goodwin stands to the right (blue tie and glasses) in this photo of Governor Christie signing into law the two-percent property tax law at the Nottingham Ballroom in Hamilton Township this summer.  Assemblyman Goodwin received heavy backing from Christie and the state GOP to win a midterm election for the unexpired state senate seat previously held by Bill Baroni who resigned to take a post in Christie's administration.  Goodwin lost the 14th Legislative District senate race this November to Linda Greenstein, a liberal Democrat and supporter of public employee unions.  Next November, all seats in the state legislature are up for grabs.  Could Senate President Stephen Sweeney (right, red tie) also get kicked out. (Photo from The Trentonian)

 Looking at the newspapers following election day, at first all looks well for Governor Christie and his fellow Republicans.  After all, in Washington, the GOP took control of the House of Representatives and narrowed the Democratic majority in the Senate, a firm rebuke to the Obama administration.  In addition, the GOP now controls a majority of the nation's governorships, including the seat in neighboring Pennsylvania won by Tom Corbett, who Governor Christie identified as a protege.

Since being elected governor of New Jersey in November 2009, Chris Christie has become a regular on the national television talk show circuit, and has become a household word nationally.  Many people in other states look up to him for the way he was able to quickly cut the size of government in New Jersey.  They went ahead and elected many other new governors who indicated that they want to follow in his footsteps.

So what do we have here?  Is it the makings of a long-term movement or is it just a flash in the pan?  Are all those new governors getting in on the ground floor on the next big thing in politics or are they just getting in line to follow all the other lemmings off a cliff?

As someone who spent time living in western Iowa and served boot camp with the US Army at Ft. Leonard Wood, which is located in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri, I know we live in a big country and that opinions and beliefs vary widely across this great land.  So I don't want to predict what will happen in other more rural and conservative places.  Perhaps less services and control of the governmental apparatus by the rich and powerful is just their cup of tea in places like Waynesville, MO or Bronson, IA.

I can however speak for the people of Mercer County, NJ for here the people have spoken earlier this month, and the results do not portend well for the political future of Christie and his followers in the legislature or in local government.

In local elections, the voters sent two Democrats back to the Freeholder board (for folks in other parts of the country, in other states this type of body is usually called the Board of County Supervisors).  We also returned a Democrat back to the County Clerk's job.  In fact, there are no elected Republicans serving in our county government.

More importantly, two Republican officials who were quite vocal in their support for Christie's policies lost to Democrats.  First, Tom Goodwin who was appointed to a state senate seat in the 14th district that was held by a Republican, Bill Baroni, who accepted a job in the Christie Administration and resigned his job as Senator.  In New Jersey, appointed legislators must stand for election for the remainder of their unexpired terms at the time of the next general election.  So, Mr. Goodwin had to run in an off-year for the one year remaining on his unexpired term.

Mr. Goodwin ran as a tax cutter and as a supporter of Christie with the heavy backing of the state GOP who saw this senate race as a test of Christie's popularity.  Goodwin made a point that he was one of the main sponsors of legislation to cap local property tax increases to two percent per year.  He even had Christie come to his district to do the signing ceremony and stood at the front of the room with the governor and Senator Sweeney for the signing.  He said he was a businessman who believes the governor's policies will revive private sector jobs and portrayed his opponent as a liberal union lover.

Well, both Goodwin and the governor got egg on their face when Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein wound up winning this close race.  The main factor in this race was Hamilton Township, which is a Trenton suburb heavily populated by state workers and state retirees, two groups in Christie's crosshairs.  This is the largest municipality in the 14th district.  What the Governor and Goodwin failed to realize is that even though Hamilton usually votes Republican,  when push comes to shove people are more concerned about their own welfare than they are about party identification.  If your elected representative talks about talking away your benefits and cutting your pay, perhaps you would consider voting for the candidate in the other party who wants to help you.  Add to the newfound Democratic fervor of erstwhile Republican civil servants are parents who lost bus service for their children and had class sizes increased due to Republican-driven school aid cuts, and you got a Democratic victory.

The other example is Ewing Mayor Jack Ball who also lost this November.  This Republican was one of the first governors to speak out publically in favor of the governor's property tax cap proposal.  At the same time he was trying to get an ordinance passed limiting the amount of garbage homeowners could put on the curb.  When this was rejected, he said that people have to realize that service cuts are necessary to keep property taxes low.  After the cap was approved, he supported police and teacher layoffs this summer.  He said these were needed to keep tax increases within the cap and that it is going to be painful, but people have to make due with less police protection and poorer quality schools.

What is significant here is that property taxes are higher in Ewing than on similar residences in surrounding municipalities and that people still rejected the Republican approach.  Although the municipality has some state employees living there, it is not the haven for state workers that Hamilton is.
The anger at the Republicans came from ordinary homeowners working in private industry that want to keep their good schools and not get overrun by hoards of thugs coming in from neighboring Trenton to take advantage of the township's lowered police protection.

Here you have it.  Two Democratic victories for seats held by Republican incumbents.  The Republicans lost because they polarized the voters.  The angered public employees, public retirees and disaffected homeowners ganged up and voted Democrat.  The Republicans managed to accomplish the opposite of what the hoped to do.  They united and energized the Democratic constituency so that they would go in large numbers to the polls and vote Democratic.

I know many Republicans have had secret doubts about Christie's radical proposals.  That's why nobody tried implementing them until he became governor.  They now feel they have a duty to get behind their leader and back him.  However that support will only continue so long as it is not the ticket to political suicide.

In November 2011 all Senate and Assembly seats are up for grabs.  My guess is that teachers, police, state, county and municipal office workers and government retirees will have been angered enough  by Christie and his supporters to vote Democrat.  Since more people work for state and local government than work in construction and manufacturing combined this is a formidable force.  Add disaffected homeowners and retired government employees and it will be a tide that the Republicans won't be able to counter.  Look for Democratic legislators in places that never elect Democrats like Sussex or Cape May counties.  That's right, a sea of blue from High Point to Cape May.

Think what that will do to that unified Republican support for the Governor at the local level.  My guess is it will shatter like a glass at a Jewish wedding.  And so will any support outside the state for Christie's election to the presidency.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stupid Is As Stupid Does. Governor Christie Screws Up Black Friday Holiday Battle

When I came into work today, I checked my email as I usually do.  This is one of the messages that I found:

All Department of Labor and Workforce Development Employees:

Please be advised that the day after Thanksgiving, November 26, 2010 will be a paid day off for all represented employees of CWA, AFSCME, and IFPTE.  For those employees not covered by one of the enumerated unions, November 26, 2010 remains a regular work day.  Employees may use personal leave time for that date, as permitted in accordance with Department policy.

Represented employees are those assigned to Employee Relations Groups A, C, H, I, O, P, R and S.

Non-represented employees are assigned to groups V, W, Y, X, and M.  Non-represented employees are not covered by the June 2009 Memorandum of Agreement.  Again, November 26, 2010 remains a regular work day for such employees.

Employee Relations Group designations are indicated on the bottom of job descriptions which can be accessed through the Civil Service Commission website, or by contacting your personnel liaison.  If you are not absolutely certain of your designation or requirement to report to work on November 26, 2010, please contact Human Resources.

Thank You.

Like I said before, I like to write on several levels at one time.  Well, by publishing this memorandum, I am expressing two important ideas.

First, welcome to the Byzantine world of labor relations at the State of New Jersey.  Whether you work for a large company, or on a job where you are represented by a union or for a governmental organization, you will most likely be exposed to complicated work rules written in an arcane manner.
Employees of the state get all three.  We are a large governmental organization with union representation.  Oh the joys of deciphering legalese!

Perhaps a little translation is in order.    Basically, what this document says is that if you work for the state labor department and are represented by a union, you get the day after Thanksgiving off this year.  If you are not represented by a union, then you must report for work unless you use your time to take the day off.

People who are represented include most rank and file employees and some people outsiders probably would consider middle management.  Security workers, maintenance workers, clerical staff, technicians, professional staff, primary supervisors of professional staff (that's me!) and bureau chiefs (my boss) are all in the union. 

Those who are not in the union would include management types of the rank of Assistant Director and above (my boss's boss for example) as well as unclassified workers (various political appointees) as well as confidential workers (like administrative analysts and staff handling personnel records).

That takes us to the next idea the memo represents:  It is the vengeance of a defeated man; none other than Governor Christie.  Your governor would rather express his anger by wasting taxpayer money to make a point rather than accept defeat at the hands of the unions.

To fully explain what I mean by this, you will need a little background information.

The governor decided to score some points in the media this fall by "taking on the unions" by saying he would not honor the Memorandum of Understanding (MUA) negotiated between the various unions and Governor Corzine and signed June 2009.  The Memorandum of Understanding was negotiated because Corzine was hobbled by a State Supreme Court ruling which said he could not furlough unionized state workers selectively, but rather would have to shut all departments down at once, except essential operations like prisons, mental hospitals or state police patrols.

Corzine, like the current governor wanted to have his cake and eat it too.  He wanted to keep state offices open to the public on all workdays even with the furloughs.  He wanted to furlough a percentage of workers at a time.  The unions took him up on it and the courts ruled that he could not lay off workers for even one day without following the layoff guidelines in the contract.  To do otherwise would violate the contract.

So Corzine wanted furloughs, and the only way he could get them was to reopen the contract with the union.  Well, we also wanted something.  After a lot of hoopla in the media, Corzine decided to end the longstanding practice of giving us the day after Thanksgiving off by executive order, even though he was not required to do so by the union contract.  He also wanted to show he was being tough on unions by being able to take away one of those holidays that we get that no one else gets.

Ahah.  The only holiday I know that fits that description is Lincoln's Birthday.  Since Martin Luther King's Birthday came out, the practice of celebrating Lincoln's Birthday with a day off has almost completely died out outside of state government.  When I was a child in the 1960s, I remember that my parents both got off for Lincoln's Birthday and that schools were also closed on February 12.  There were sales in all the stores on that day, just as we now also have on Memorial Day.

So the MOA said that Corzine could furlough workers for one day a month through June of 2010 without having to shut the whole state down.  It also said that the day after Thanksgiving was going to be an official day off and that henceforth, we would work on Lincoln's Birthday.

Enter Governor Chris Christie and his efforts to play to the media during the fall pre-election "silly season".  What better way to rally the pro-Republican troops than by bashing unions and demanding that state workers work on Black Friday, because "all the private sector workers" have to work that day.

Mr. Christie should have already known the MOA was binding.  He once claimed it was not binding and he was going to violate it and furlough workers as often as he wanted.  He changed his mind after his "lawyers reviewed it" (he is a lawyer isn't he?) and they determined it was binding.  No Duh!

So, he decided to go ahead any and declare that we would work on Black Friday and would get Lincoln's Birthday off instead because it is still a state holiday.  Never mind the last governor agreed to something else to get the furlough days he wanted. 

Also never mind that while almost nobody gets Lincoln's Birthday off and the stores don't have sales, nearly everybody gets Black Friday off and it is one of the biggest shopping days of the year.  The champion of the private sector thought it would be a wonderful idea to make about 50,000 unionized state workers not working in prisons, hospitals or colleges work on Black Friday so they could not shop.  Keep these poor slobs chained to the desks and let the merchants be damned.  I say they are overpaid when it benefits me, but I don't care now, because if they are really overpaid they would have ample disposable income to throw away on Black Friday deals.  So screw the private sector.  I need to make a point.

Christie didn't back down even after the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) ruled against him and said that he wanted to appeal the ruling to the courts.  A few days latter, common sense prevailed and he backed down, but not without getting quoted making a few wisecracks about unions stealing taxpayer dollars in the Star Ledger.

Back to our governor's sour grapes stand at the expense of taxpayers.

A rational person would say "I lost" and walk away.  He would shut the state down the day after Thanksgiving just as every governor did every year for decades.  No, he is not rational.

He would rather keep every DMV office, every Unemployment Office, and every other state office to prove a point.  Overtime would have to be paid for security to come in (at double time and a half).  If he wants clerical staff at counters at offices opened to the public, the unionized clerks would have to get double time and a half as well.  The buildings would also have to be heated and lighted for one day between a holiday and a weekend, an expensive proposition.

For what.  To have all the big chiefs show up for work when all the Indians get to stay home.  That's right, lets have a bunch of big bosses sitting around on their keisters with no staff to direct.

A total waste of taxpayer money.  Just like the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid that the federal government wants NJ Transit to pay back because he decided to stop work on the Tunnel.

Sometimes it helps the taxpayers to just admit you are wrong and back down rather than having to be a pompous jerk.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Who Are We, How Are We Doing?

All you folks in the states are familiar with the slogan, "There's an ap for that."  Well Blogspot is a Google product, and the good folks at Google produce a report which tells me how many readers I have, what country they are from and what posts they are reading.  I'd thought I share that information with you.

First, I am really a regular state worker from Trenton.  I am just a little bureaucrat with some college that wants to share his experiences with you.  I am not a corporation or a bot or anything like that, just some guy with a wife and no kids that is stuck living in the armpit of the universe.

What do people read?  I have a hard time figuring out what people want to read when I write it.  It is basically hit and miss.  But after it gets up there, some things are definately hits and other things misses.  The all time hit is Christie's contributors outed, which is simply something I copied from the dark recesses of the state's website and brought out into the open where people can find it.  Other popular things are the articles about Janice Miranov, the roach infested kitchen as well as posts about my experiences with cars and a post about how state workers have the right to make their voice heard through their union.

Where does our readership come from.  Of course, most people come from the good old USA, after all this blog concerns American politics.  Suprisingly, we get readers fron several other places including Russia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Luxenbourg and Canada.  A few people look at us fron China, India, Hong Kong and Indenosia.  Africa, the Middle East and South America are noticably missing from my readershsip.  I guess my humor appeals to the Slavic wit which explains my popularity in Russia and the Balkins.  I hope I get a few more people fromSoutth America on board in the future.  Watch for blogs about Juan Peron and the like.

We now get about 50 hits a day on a regular basis.  That may not seem like much, but that is a lot more than most social networking sites get.  Thank you for reading my stuff.  Recommend me to your friends.

The Trentonian, It's What Trenton Wakes Up To

This is the front page from The Trentonian from November 3, 2010.  In addition to the standard post-election reports, the paper also sports a headline across the top which says "K-9 Masturbation".  That says just about everything to explain that The Trentonian is not just another newspaper.

Mercer County is the smallest market in the nation that is still served by two competing daily newspapers.  What I mean by this is not that Trenton has two morning papers, but they are each under separate ownership.  How can both keep going at a time when newspapers all over the country are in bankruptcy.  Readership is down and advertising has fallen off as the readership migrated to the Internet.

The Trenton Times is a staid publication like most others everywhere else.  It reports the news in a straightforward, inoffensive manner.  It is the type of paper that would put Casper Milquetoast to sleep.  That probably explains why they have to practically give it away to keep the circulation high enough to  justify its existence.  Its newsstand price is twenty-five cents, something that's unheard of in this day and age.

Then of course, there's The Trentonian, which is smaller, thinner and costs fifty cents.  Why would anybody pay extra for a paper that has less news in it?  Well, because it is a different kind of paper.  Let's say it's real different.

Trenton is a place that is down on its luck.  The factories that have been the area's economic mainstay for over a century are nearly all gone.  Unemployment among city residents is rampant.  If you got rid of welfare, social security, pensions and SSI, the place would probably starve to death.  That's what a lot of people that live in the city do for money.

True, the State of New Jersey is the city's largest employer.  It is also the state's largest single employer, counting both the public and private sectors.  In the northern end of the county we have Princeton and the Route 1 Corridor with its extensive array of stores and offices.  Pharmaceutical companies and hospitals are also important employers in the county, but most city residents don't qualify for work at these places. 

You guessed it, highbrow most people here are not.  The newspaper readership doesn't get most of their news from listening to NPR or reading the Wall Street Journal or New York Times.  We prefer publications that are simpler and easier to read and deal with topics we understand.

Enter the Trentonian.  Big on sports and pictures.  A publication which regularly features the results of football games on the front page rather than the sports page.  It has the Page 6 Girl pinup as a regular feature.
It is staunchly Republican and anti-union.  I don't know who holds those views here, but it provides good entertainment even if it treats the Governor like a god.

Then there's the stories about blood, guts and gore.  Once we had someone walk in front of an Amtrak train in Bristol, PA.  The Trentonian covered this suicide by showing picture of what looked like a piece of meat laying on the ground and the caption said it was part of the person that just got smashed by the 120 mile per hour train.

We had a stabbing this week in broad daylight this week in front of City Hall.  The Trentonian was there and ran a picture of blood running down a gutter.  It described the stabbing as happening in front of the 10 Commandments monument which sits on the front lawn of City Hall.  It said the victim was a homeless man named 6-8 on the street because he is six feet 8 inches tall.  It said the stabbing was over the attempted collection of a two dollar debt.

The next day the paper ran a headline which said Cops Spared.  The mayor announced he would not be laying off any more cops or firemen and that recent crimes in the city had something to do with his decision.  No Duh!  You just had a stabbing in broad daylight in front of city hall.  Perhaps you need more police protection, not less.  He hasn't said how he plans to pay for the police or firemen.  The governor isn't interested in giving him any more money.  He says he wants to get grants from the federal government.

Great.  We'll keep the cops and hope for handouts from the Great Black Father in Washington.  That's a real sound plan.

Back to dogie masturbation.  The paper claims that City Council President George Muscal believes the mayor is circulating rumors that he jerks off his retired police dog, Ars.  Not that the dog is around to tell the truth.  Muscal recently had the 14 1/2 year old pooch put down because he was getting old and feeble.  Muscal owns a local laundromat and is a retired city police officer.

No proof was offered about the dogie sex acts or that the Mayor actually accused Muscal of engaging in lewid conduct with animals.  However Muscal says that the mayor's brother has been stalking him and taking pictures of him without his permission.

Trenton politics at a new low.  What a way to sell papers.  Here is a copy of the article as it appeared in the paper.

Geriatric Politicians Gone Wild!

Sheriff Gill Lugossy may soon be back in the saddle,   Mr. Lugossy who served as Mercer County's sheriff from 1976 to 1990 has indicated that he plans to return to the Sheriff's office after 20 years of retirement.

Yes it's true.  In a blast from the past, 74-year old Gill Lugossy told the Trentonian he is interested  in becoming Mercer County's next sheriff, since Sheriff Kevin Larkin resigned from the job last week due to personal reasons.  He says he has the support of the local Democratic Party and now all that remains is for Governor Christie to appoint him to the job.

The Republican governor is required to replace Sheriff Larkin with another Democrat according to state law.  What a perfect person for the job, from Christie's standpoint.  Lugossy will make the perfect caretaker since he is so old he probably won't stand for re-election when the job goes on the ballot next November and therefore the Democrats won't be able to benefit from having an incumbant on the ballot.

And of course, us taxpayers get the "benefit" of having Sheriff Hoveround back on the job.  I can just see him now chasing criminals down Broad Street in his electric wheelchair.

He is the perfect match for Trenton's new court administrator Nate Jones, a former elementary school principal and perenial city council candidate who also retired in early 1990s.