September 7, 2013

Jive turkey runs amok in Trenton Councilwoman's Mill Hill home, causes $5,000 in damages, cops say

Trenton Police responded to a break-in most fowl at the home of North Ward Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson on Wednesday morning.

A jive turkey broke into the Councilwoman's home on Wednesday and caused more than $5,000 in damages, Trenton Police Department detectives said.

At about 8:30 a.m. on September 4, a Mill Hill resident reported that a jive turkey that resembled an elf-like, lying, portly Trenton mayor had smashed through one of her neighbor's windows and broken into the home, according to Jack Featherling, a spokesman for the Trenton PD's Jive Turkey Anti-Crime unit (J-TAC).

The bird, a large "tom" or male jive turkey, ran amok once inside the home by breaking shelving, vases, stomping on her iMac, sofa and other items and poking holes in plaster walls, Featherling said. "F#@k yo couch," the police overheard the jive turkey say during its rampage in the Councilwoman's living room.

The jive turkey tried to escape by pecking through another window, but it could only make a large enough hole to fit its head through, which was huge, according to photographs taken during the incident.

When police arrived on the scene to try to remove the jive turkey, it ran into another room and crashed through a double-pane window before fleeing in the direction of City Hall. No blood was found at the scene, but the jive turkey left plenty of other evidence in the home, Featherling said.

"Political feces were everywhere," he added. The carpets and upholstery are a total loss. Featherling said the damages in the home were "in excess of $5,000."

According to the New Jersey Chapter of Jive Turkey Politicians, jive turkeys "may respond aggressively to the homes of City Councilpersons, and are probably not self-aware and do not recognize their own image or their mistakes. They will respond to a reflection as they would an FBI agent or other federal law enforcement official. Jive turkeys have been known to peck at windows, automobile mirrors and reflections on shiny surfaces, such as butt-ugly presidential busts."



Michael Walker is a city activist who blogs about Trenton municipal government. His radio show, Slipstream, airs every Thursday at 5 p.m. on WBCB 1490 AM. Download the Tune In app on your smartphone to listen or visit wbcb1490.com to stream the live broadcast.

July 19, 2013

Hutchinson hasn't pulled his weight, either

I was very excited when Samuel E. Hutchinson was appointed Trenton’s business administrator in April 2012. His background as an attorney suggested that he would be methodical, detailed-oriented and strategic, qualities that would bring financial and policymaking discipline to the turmoil of Mayor Tony F. Mack's so-called government.

Mr. Hutchinson was previously offered the management-heavy role in 2011, but backed out. “As previously stated, my goal is to move the city forward and improve the quality of service for the residents of Trenton,” he told a local newspaper. “I hope in some small way, I can contribute.”

It was all so promising, especially given Mr. Hutchinson’s responsibilities. The business administrator oversees and coordinates the city's complex finances, formulating and implementing its operating, capital and grants budgets, including the financials of the Trenton Water Works, a highly valuable (but mismanaged) city asset and revenue generator. The administrator is responsible for the review, preparation and submission of resolutions and ordinances for City Council approval and has direct oversight over personnel, benefits, insurance and union negotiations.

Last July, when a small army of FBI agents looking for the smoking gun in an expansive federal corruption probe swooped down on Mr. Mack's Berkeley Square residence and City Hall, His Honor bolted for the proverbial escape hatch. Mr. Hutchinson, who was left in charge, said publicly, “Slowly, we’re making a difference. I know I’m certainly trying to do this from my position, trying to provide direction and stability.”

Empty words. Thirteen months later, the only direction that Mr. Hutchinson has managed to stabilize is the city's trajectory off a financial cliff. His promised revenue enhancements have not materialized, and he has been hard-pressed to manage the city's affairs, including Mr. Mack’s reckless spending. Last month, Trenton taxpayers foot the bill for another one of the mayor's expensive parties: a $40,000, sparsely attended Heritage Days festival. Last year, $50,000 was earmarked for this glaring example of government waste.

Closing the sale on approximately 90 city-owned properties that were auctioned off in December 2011 is at a stand still. Several of the transactions were cancelled. Should buyers be expected to wait indefinitely, and is this the improved quality of service that Mr. Hutchinson promised? He told the City Council in recent months that he needs more staff, a reasonable request if he did his job well.

The list of Mr. Hutchinson’s missteps is growing. Most obvious is his sandbagging of a federal grant that would have rehired 12 police officers who were laid off in September 2011. Despite Trenton's unemployment rate of 15 percent (New Jersey's is 8.7 percent), thousands of Trenton Water Works' customers have been receiving estimated bills because of an inadequate number of meter readers. He has not shutdown Mr. Mack's costly, ineffective and counterfeit library initiative or taken certain members of the board that oversees the city-owned Brand X hotel to the woodshed. Losses continue to mount there and the board's chairwoman, Joyce Kersey, has not been honest with her fellow board members and the City Council about the status of its debts.

Even the simplest of tasks are Herculean to the business administrator’s office. Council members and city activists have been asking for lists of various city assets with no hope of seeing their requests fulfilled in their lifetimes. Exactly how many clerks/typists does it take to create a list in an Excel spreadsheet?

Last year, with businesses running for the hills of Hamilton and elsewhere—most notably Lorenzo's Tomato Pies, Wells Fargo and the Marriott brand—Mr. Hutchinson blindsided the City Council with a Mack-catalyzed tax increase. The part-time Council members had to roll up their sleeves to reduce its impact on the city’s dwindling tax base. Council members are paid a little more than $20,000 annually. In contrast, both Mr. Mack's and Mr. Hutchinson’s salaries are in the six figures.

What is so confounding about Mr. Hutchinson is that Mr. Mack cannot fire him without first getting permission from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA). This protects Mr. Hutchinson from interference by Mr. Mack. So you would think that he would be bold in managing the city’s day-to-day business against the damaging, amateur-hour machinations of the mayor. But that is not happening.

Instead, Mr. Hutchinson has turned out to be just another disappointment further eroding Trentonians’ confidence in the capabilities of their local government. The next mayoral election cycle cannot get here quickly enough.

Michael Walker is a city activist who blogs about the performance of Trenton municipal government. His radio show, Slipstream, airs every Thursday at 5 p.m. on WBCB 1490 AM. Download the TuneIn app on your smartphone to listen or visit wbcb1490.com to stream the live broadcast.

July 3, 2013

The Perplexity of Trenton Mayor Tony F. Mack

Former Washington, D.C. mayor Marion S. Barry Jr. severely damaged his political career in 1990 when law enforcement videotaped him smoking crack in a hotel room with a woman who was not his wife. During that sting operation, Washingtonians learned about two of Barry's personal challenges that had the potential to hinder his effectiveness: addiction and adultery.

It might be easier to make sense of Trenton Mayor Tony F. Mack’s odd behavior if he were caught in a room with his lips wrapped around a crack pipe.

But unfortunately, that has not happened. So Trentonians are left wondering why Mr. Mack is such a calamity; why he continues to undertake phony initiatives and engage in activities that suggest his shortcomings run deep, even beyond incompetence, self-absorption, laziness and a penchant for telling boldface lies.

As Trentonians continue to be gunned down—19 homicides since January 1—I have been thinking about Mr. Mack's blatant hubris. It is so repulsive, so unbelievable, that it simply defies logic, and nobody has been able to explain to me—including many former supporters-turned-angry-detractors—why he seems to lack the ability to self-correct, to discern when he is making himself, and the city, look utterly ridiculous.

Consider this example: In January 2012, Mr. Mack announced the formation of a Commission for International Business Affairs that he claimed would foster trade relationships with countries in Africa and the Caribbean, presumably to catalyze opportunities for area businesses and jobs for Trentonians (Cue the laughter).

To date, not one job or trade relationship has been created by this phony-baloney initiative, and I doubt that Mr. Mack could even name a single African nation that has a thriving economy and a substantial presence of American companies, such as Algeria, Botswana, Mauritius, Tunisia, South Africa and Ghana.

The following month, he made a fool of himself when he traveled to New York City to ring the NASDAQ opening bell. Trenton activist Kevin Moriarty caught some of this buffoonery on video and posted it on his blog (Cue the applause).

"We're trying to create jobs and interest in the city for jobs, and I thought, what better way to do that than ringing the bell?" Mr. Mack told The Trentonian.

What Mr. Mack forgot to mention in that interview is that he had not even designed an economic development plan with a business attraction and job creation component for Trenton, or any real communication or relationships between his administration and New Jersey's corporate community.

Thirty-seven months since he took office in June 2010, beneath the staggering load of disappearing revenues, unchecked spending, tax increases and an 11.5 percent unemployment rate, Mr. Mack still has no plan to rescue and strengthen the city's economy.

When the online retailer Amazon.com announced plans to build a 1 million-square-foot distribution facility in Mercer County, Mr. Mack announced in June 2012 that he would form a "committee" that would work to attract the warehouse and its estimated 1,600 jobs. He told The Times of Trenton that the city's Roebling complex near Route 129 could be “a really attractive area” for the company.

In the end, Amazon selected a sprawling industrial site in Robbinsville. Let’s analyze for a moment Mr. Mack's nonsensical suggestion. The Roebling complex in Chambersburg and the Sun National Bank Center, an arena that often creates a traffic nightmare for city residents, are surrounded by dense residential neighborhoods, including the Mill Hill Historic District. Trenton's downtown area is less than a mile away.

Now envision the logistical needs of a 1 million-square-foot warehouse that is responsible for fulfilling orders for a Northeast market comprised of approximately 60 million consumers. Wouldn't that mean tractor trailers rumbling with all 18 wheels through the streets of these neighborhoods 24 hours a day?

What is even more disturbing is that HHG Development Associates (hhgdev.com), a Trenton-based developer that has done award-winning work transforming the historic A. Exton & Co. Cracker Factory on Centre Street into contemporary condominiums, has been advancing a $60 million plan for the Roebling complex called "Block 3."

The innovative project, which was approved by the city's planning board in December 2012, will redevelop a cluster of the historic industrial buildings into hip, mixed-use commercial and residential spaces that will undoubtedly elevate the look of the area and energize the local economy.

So, my question is this: Did Mr. Mack just simply forget about this game-changing South Ward project? Who knows? It is just yet another example of his cluelessness.

Then there is the nightmarish possibility of a Mack reelection bid. Despite a sweeping federal corruption probe that began a mere two months after he took office, the eight-count indictment accusing him of bribery and extortion, and his trial that is scheduled for January 2014 (unless he is taken aboard an alien spacecraft, which works for me), Mr. Mack recently held a reelection fundraiser at the Catholic War Veterans in Trenton. Tickets to see this circus act were $40 a piece. About three dozen people showed up.

Who in their right minds would support Mr. Mack, except his family, given the damage that he has done to New Jersey's capital city?

Here is a brief recap of that record. Comprehensive economic development plan to attract businesses and create jobs? No. More police officers and lower crime rates? No. Engaging programs to connect with Trenton’s growing population of anti-achieving youth? Nope. A partnership with state government to renovate the city? No. Marketing plan to promote the value of living and working in Trenton? Non-existent. A crack down on parasitic landlords? No. A plan to clean up the city? No. A strategy to govern that garners results? Nowhere in sight.

Whatever Mr. Mack's affliction, and the symptoms by which it festers, the city is paying an incalculable price for his incompetent and destructive behavior. Every day that he remains in office is one less day that Trenton has to regain its footing and set out on the steep and winding path toward recovery and ultimate prosperity.

Michael Walker is a city activist who blogs about the performance of Trenton municipal government. His radio show, Slipstream, airs every Thursday at 5 p.m. on WBCB 1490 AM. Download the TuneIn app on your smartphone to listen or visit wbcb1490.com to stream the live broadcast.

June 28, 2013

Justice Department Opens Investigation Into Obama Bust

At the urging of the White House, the Justice Department on Friday added to the scrutiny of the bust of President Barack H. Obama that sits in the atrium of Trenton City Hall. Mayor Tony F. Mack's administration installed the bust last December.

The department has opened an investigation into the bust, according to a person briefed on the matter. The inquiry, which is being run out of the FBI’s Hamilton office, is likely to examine how the bust ended up looking absolutely nothing like Mr. Obama, potentially a violation of federal law.

The Obama administration has come under intense pressure in recent months from the National Sculpture Association, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., whose members “create, interpret, exhibit, and support the evolving tradition in sculpture of American presidents," according to its website.

“Quite frankly, we are outraged,” said Mira Roberts, a spokesperson who confirmed that the group received a photograph of the bust in January from a Trenton City Councilwoman, including a handwritten note that read: “Are you going to let this shit stand?”

Obama administration officials said that the White House switchboard has been inundated in recent months with phone calls from people throughout the country and internationally who have seen photographs of the grotesque bust on the Internet and social media sites.

Barbara Williams, an emergency room nurse at a hospital in Mr. Obama’s hometown of Chicago, said she first saw an image of the bust on her sister’s Facebook page. She is one of thousands of callers to the presidential complaint hotline at the White House who have voiced their outrage about the misshapen bust.

“The president is a handsome man,” said Williams. “I don’t know who that bust is supposed to be, but it’s not Barack Obama. Someone’s got to do something about that corrupt, trifling Trenton mayor who can’t even manage to represent our nation’s first African American president properly.”

Williams, whose sister lives in the West Ward of New Jersey’s capital city, was referring to Tony F. Mack, the city’s calamitous mayor who was elected in 2010 and whose trial on federal corruption charges is scheduled to begin in January 2014.

Officials at the State Department have grown increasingly concerned about the impact that the butt-ugly bust may have on homeland security. In addition, analysts at the National Security Agency have been monitoring a slight increase in terrorist “chatter” in the last six months specifically referencing the bust, particularly how awful it looks.

“Obviously we are concerned about the implications that the bust is having on our nation’s foreign policy image,” said an unnamed State Department official. “But we will decide when it is appropriate to act. Remember, we are the federal government. That means our resources are unlimited. We can simply make the bust disappear.”

A City Hall janitor, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of losing his job, said that the bust is bolted to a granite base, which is bolted to the floor. He added that it would not be too hard to mount a middle-of-the-night heist to unhinge it along with a framed color photograph of Mr. Mack that hangs nearby on the wall.

"In all my years cleaning this building and caring for its needs, I have never seen something so disturbing. This is truly a hideous representation of the 44th president of our great nation," he said. "I'm handy with tools. I've thought of getting rid of it myself.”

A science teacher at a London, England high school, who was working on preparing a lesson plan on climate change that incorporated President Obama’s recent speech on the issue, collapsed after a high-resolution image of the bust appeared in Google search results.

She was taken to an area hospital where her condition was stabilized using a coffee-table book that featured strikingly beautiful photographs of Mr. Obama, the First Lady and their children vacationing in Hawaii.

Doctors said that the part of her brain that processes imagery was overloaded by the sheer ugliness of the bust, intensified by her computer’s high-definition, flat-panel display. They added that they were very lucky that the hospital’s CEO had an autographed coffee-table book of America’s first family lying around his office.

In Trenton, where the bust has become a reminder of the Mack administration's reckless spending and misguided priorities, the City Council in January advanced its own investigation into the bust, querying the mayor's top aides about how the project was paid for and if city employees and city vendors were improperly pressured for donations.

When the bust was unveiled by Mr. Mack last year, approximately 35 city residents—mostly seniors with poor eyesight—came out to watch the dedication. Some brought along memorabilia from Mr. Obama’s two successful presidential campaigns, others binoculars.

But with the looming Justice Department inquiry, including building interest from a Congressional sub-committee that oversees how presidential likenesses are represented in public spaces, it would seem that the butt-ugly Obama bust controversy is just another insult added to the multiple injuries Mr. Mack has inflicted on a city in desperate need of new leadership.

Officials with the Mack administration declined to comment about the federal inquiry into the butt-ugly bust.

Michael Walker is a city activist who blogs about the performance of Trenton municipal government. His radio show, Slipstream, airs every Thursday at 5 p.m. on WBCB 1490 AM. Download the TuneIn app on your smartphone to listen or visit wbcb1490.com to stream the live broadcast.

June 14, 2013

Analyzing the Trenton Mayoral Debate

Wednesday's mayoral debate that was held at the Big Easy in downtown Trenton was an eye-opening and well-attended event. It highlighted how difficult it is to get substantial details from candidates vying for the top job at City Hall about their plans, well, to do anything that would substantially change the city's social and economic condition.

It was organized by citizens Scott Miller and Jacque Howard, who launched Trenton Elections on Facebook to help Trentonians learn more about the candidates. Miller and Howard are creative geniuses who recorded the event using the audio/visual capabilities honed at Exit 7A, a broadcast and media production company that is headquartered in Trenton. Their efforts to rally interest around the candidates and election are commendable.

James (Jim) Golden of the West Ward, Mill Hill's Paul Perez and businessman Patrick Hall, who was Skyped in, participated in what was the first debate in a mayoral election cycle that pretty much started when Hall announced his intentions around the same time that the FBI swooped down on Mayor Tony Mack's alleged matrix of corruption. Personally, I think that Trentonians won't start paying attention to the mayoral candidates until early next year.

All of the candidates—and I cannot stress this enough—need to get away from using empty political rhetoric and phony catch phrases that seem to define the modern-day political lexicon. We have heard enough of "running the city like a business," "I'm a lifelong Trentonian," and "George Washington fought key battles here," and "moving the city forward in the 21st Century." Somewhere around "lifelong Trentonian," I could have used an air sickness bag.

Trentonians know painfully that the city needs more than a plan to bring its crime wave under control, a centerpiece of Golden's platform. He spent his entire career in law enforcement, he said twice during the three-hour gathering. So he knows something about crime and police departments.

The crime wave is the elephant in the living room that everyone is talking about, but no one in the anti-police, pro-criminal Mack administration is doing anything about. The radio dispatch room at the Trenton Police Department has received more than 49,000 calls for service since the beginning of the year. With only 122 patrolmen actually working the streets, that means each patrolman has been responsible for 401 calls. And it's only June.

Our police force needs more support to make our city safer. But do not count on it coming from the entitlement-hustling, poverty-pimp, do-nothing, political pirates who occupy City Hall today. Throw business administrator Sam Hutchinson into the mix. He has been a signal disappointment. Mr. Mack is too busy being invisible and planning a legal defense against federal corruption charges. His sycophantic aides are organizing festivals and preparing to distribute free refurbished laptops with Internet connectivity, frozen burgers, hot dogs and complimentary barbecue grills this summer.

New Jersey's capital city needs a superhuman mayor with extraordinary skills and an effective team that can devise and execute at a high level to reorganize an underperforming and woefully dysfunctional municipal government. According to Perez, Trenton's government has no idea how to drive revenue or accept money. That remark was one of his most effective on Wednesday because it was spot on, and it resonated with the audience. Perez served in the Army and ascended to roles in the federal government managing more than 1,000 employees, budgets, material and infrastructure, he asserted. Interestingly, he got a chance to speak first because Golden arrived late due to a miscommunication.  

A new mayor would be faced with developing a Herculean policy agenda that should focus on driving economic development to increase ratables; establishing a stronger relationship with state government and its own City Council; fomenting policy innovations that garner the public's buy-in; cleaning up blighted properties; controlling costs and eliminating waste; enhancing customer service; developing a blueprint to drive tourism; and some sort of marketing plan that touts why Trenton deserves serious consideration as a place to live and work.

Patrick Hall, who has run several businesses, made some puzzling points: He doesn't believe in phoning the governor and we need a mayor who can "get down and dirty." Wait a minute. Isn't that what Mayor Mack has been doing? Also, I do think that the mayor of New Jersey's capital city will have to call the governor occasionally during his tenure. Pat, whom I like and respect, here's some advice: Communication is at the heart of a politician's performance.

Although there were a few technical and logistical hiccups—the Big Easy had no coffee—debate organizers shined and enabled attendees to learn more about a few of Trenton's mayoral candidates. Most importantly, we learned that the candidates need to provide more details about their plans to revive the city if they want our vote.
  
The Big Easy is located at 120 S Warren Street in historic downtown Trenton. Their phone number is 609-989-7900. Exit 7A can be reached at 609-815-1343.

Michael Walker is a city activist who blogs about the performance of Trenton municipal government. His radio show, Slipstream, airs every Thursday at 5 p.m. on WBCB 1490 AM. Download the TuneIn app on your smartphone to listen or visit wbcb1490.com to stream the live broadcast.

June 3, 2013

Strengthen Our Police; Resurrect Our City

The safety of our police officers as they carry out their work in New Jersey's capital city is paramount, and we need to expand their numbers to keep them safe while they keep us safe.

Recently at a Rutherford Avenue block party in Trenton, police officers found themselves surrounded and taunted by 25 unruly ATV drivers and had to radio for backup, according to Lt. Mark Kieffer of the Trenton Police Department. It was a dangerous situation. The threat of ambush assaults on our police is real.

Trentonians need to be concerned when our police officers are confronted by situations where they may be injured or killed, and we must ensure that the Trenton PD has adequate manpower, other operational resources, and continuously develops and evaluates practices that will protect them from the unthinkable. Police work can be deadly.

Increasing the number of Trenton PD patrolmen and women should be a singular focus of City Council president Phyllis Holly-Ward. She should take the lead on achieving this critical imperative and expend the necessary political currency to counteract misguided pushback from people who know nothing about what it takes to execute effective police work in a city that is plagued by shockingly high rates of violent crime.

As the deadline for the city to apply for the federal grant needed to hire back 12 police officers approaches this week, Ms. Holly-Ward should demand from the Mack administration an immediate plan to comply with its financial stipulations. Why business administrator Sam Hutchinson has not produced these details, including his promised plan of revenue enhancements, is puzzling, to say the least.

Council members are often blindsided by last-minute requests from the Mack administration to fund big-ticket policy items. They cannot vote properly without financial details, and it is unfair to ask them to do so. But the reality is that Trenton municipal government is nonsensical and dysfunctional. Taking into consideration Mayor Tony Mack’s performance since he conned his way into office in 2010, I fully expect him to sandbag the Council, but Mr. Hutchinson should know better. While he was hired to organize the connoisseurs of disorder at City Hall, I do not see much evidence of that.

Since January 1, Trenton PD’s dispatchers have handled more than 46,000 calls for service. There have been 96 shootings, 11 of which resulted in death. The city has suffered 14 homicides. Six people were shot over Memorial Day weekend. One gun-toting thug was a 15-year-old boy, which exemplifies the anti-achievement challenges plaguing our young people. They are seduced by the shadows of the streets in a city that offers up few opportunities. A total of 122 police officers work Trenton’s streets. Divide 46,000 by 122. That is one police officer for every 377 calls to the police radio room. We simply do not have enough cops to meet Trentonians’ demands for service.

It is unfortunate that Mayor Mack and Mr. Hutchinson are allowing Trenton to lose the battle against its growing criminal population—an angry, mostly uneducated, parasitic and debilitating demographic that produces nothing but misery in Trenton's poorest neighborhoods. Proactively addressing the issue of long-term police funding appears to be beyond their capabilities.

This is a defining moment for City Council members to act on behalf of their constituents; to demonstrate that they have the leadership to authorize the necessary funding to put more cops on the beat. They must not surrender to what is politically expedient or safe, despite Mayor Mack's well-known anti-police posture and penchant for empty policy-making. They can demand that Mr. Hutchinson perform. He should spend the entire day on Tuesday running the numbers for the Council, and present them at its regular meeting.

Unchecked lawlessness and insufficient police manpower are eroding our city's reputation. Trenton is overrun with gun-toting, drug dealing criminals who perpetuate the perception that Trenton is not a safe place to live or even to visit. Businesses choose to move to Hamilton or elsewhere to escape the threat to their lives and livelihoods. People who do not have to travel here for work or to transact business choose instead to stay away entirely, weakening our local economy and limiting the number of patrons for restaurants and other small businesses that depend upon steady customer traffic to survive.

It has been almost three years since the Trenton Police Department was hobbled by a shortsighted decision and City Council vote that laid off 105 police officers. Since then, neither the Mack administration nor the City Council has devised ways to provide long-term, sustainable funding for the police; to ensure the PD's organizational health and increase the morale of the men and women who do a fine job under difficult circumstances. This includes operating in an anti-police political environment.

City Council members need to remind their respective constituents that Mayor Tony Mack is responsible for devising policy that guides municipal government, including the Trenton PD, and that he has failed to formulate any policy to renovate the city's social and economic condition in a substantial and permanent way.

In the meantime, the City Council will have to take some more political heat—to do Mayor Mack’s job—and work with business administrator Sam Hutchinson to find the money in the municipal budget to secure the federal grant that will restore a dozen police officers to Trenton's force. The police department needs the full support of the city's law-abiding citizenry to accomplish its work.

Unfortunately, Trenton is a municipality that has an inadequate tax base to fund its government, so tax increases to bolster valuable services are inevitable. It is worth noting that the city needs a viable economic development plan to expand commercial ratables and a hard conversation with the Gov. Chris Christie about Trenton’s long-term economic future and how state government can play an important role in driving the city’s economic transformation. But that will take ethical, credible, effective, and visionary leadership, not the indicted nightmare mayor that Trentonians have now.

Ms. Holly-Ward, I ask that you act courageously, swiftly and decisively; to lead where others will not; to encourage the necessary Council votes on Tuesday that will strengthen the very safety and economic success of our city. We must hire back twelve of our finest police officers to protect and serve.

Michael Walker is a city activist who blogs about the performance of Trenton municipal government. His radio show, Slipstream, airs every Thursday at 5 p.m. on WBCB 1490 AM. Download the TuneIn app on your smartphone to listen or visit wbcb1490.com to stream the live broadcast.

May 15, 2013

Trenton Mayor Tony Mack Suffers Third-Degree Burns

Mayor Tony Mack, who fell asleep while trying to formulate a plan to bailout the city's beleaguered, money-losing hotel using a Number 2 pencil, colored construction paper, a variety of crayons and a 20-year-old Etch A Sketch, told his park rangers that he awoke to find his buttocks on fire Tuesday night. 

Park rangers, the mayor’s seasonal but full-time elite guard, said they were called to his office at City Hall at 8 p.m. on a whistleblower’s tip that smoke with a fishy smell was emanating from the mayor’s office on the second floor. 

When they arrived they found the mayor who told them he had fallen asleep at his desk and that he awoke to a burning sensation around his rear end. Rangers said the mayor realized he was on fire and that he was able to quickly extinguish the small blaze by rolling up a copy of the federal indictment that he received last year, tapping his buttocks with it expeditiously to smother the flames. 

The mayor was airlifted at taxpayers' expense to a high-priced law firm, where he was treated for severe burns to his honesty and credibility, rangers said. He was released on Wednesday and is resting at his treehouse with the other Keebler Elves. 

Rangers are still investigating the bizarre incident, and they are uncertain if someone else intentionally set the fire, or if it was self-inflicted. 

Several eyewitnesses claim that they saw a well-known Lawrenceville attorney who was seen running from the scene followed by a cadre of plaintiffs, but rangers have not confirmed business administrator Sam Hutchinson's account.