I believe it has been about two or three weeks since the mayor laid off 105 cops, which amounts to about a third of the city's police force. And yesterday, one of the headlines on the front page of the Trenton Times read "Six are Shot in 12 Hours in Trenton". Four of those shootings took place after Dance Night ended last Thursday at the Baldassari Regency on the corner of Morris and Division streets in the Burg. The business owner, who held a well publicised anti-crime meeting at his establishment in the middle of last month to protest the layoff of a third of the police department and deteriorating conditions in the once-safe Chambersburg section of the city, says he believes the shootings occurred because the extra police which normally show up at closing time were not available because of the layoffs. He also says his staff takes precautions when holding dance night, such as frisking guests for weapons, however the shooting started outside, and the guests who returned fire probably retrieved their guns from their cars.
To make matters worse, the bar sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood across from an elementary school. The shootout spilled over into the school's parking lot and a few rounds hit the school. Check out this link to video from Channel 6 News which shows interviews with the owner, Eddie Baldassari as well as neighborhood residents. http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/crime&id=8373712
The Baldassari's shootout was no freak occurrence. Multiple shootings have been happening on a daily basis since the police layoffs. The Trentonian blames Mayor Tony Mack for the layoffs. However, the record will speak otherwise. Mack was under pressure by the governor to get rid of the cops back in July of 2010, when other major cities in the state such as Newark and Camden laid off their police, but Mack refused to do so. He tried to get federal money to keep the police on. This year, when the governor slashed state municipal aid to almost nothing, the mayor tried to pass a massive tax hike to save the police, but city council refused to go along. As far as I am concerned, no mayor could have saved the police jobs. Rather the blame falls square on the shoulders of Governor Christie because he refused to pony up the money which he believes is better spent on property tax rebates for suburbanites and tax cuts for companies and the rich.
This is not to say that Tony Mack is not a pretty sad case. He has a penchant for hiring the incompetent and criminals for top positions in his administration and allowed his brother to run a criminal enterprise from the city water works, while trying to cover it up by harassing the employees who blew the whistle on "Muscles" and his private plumbing business which kept its costs down by using city employees and city equipment to do the work. He should be recalled and replaced.
However, Governor Christie is no saint either. His aid cuts have contributed to hundred of shootings and dozens of murders across the state because the police can no longer protect the public in New Jersey's cities. Perhaps the national media should take their rose colored glasses off and expose this charlatan for the fraud he is rather than trying to build him up to become the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination.