Wednesday, October 3, 2007

My Perfect Trenton
the ball of healing

BBC World News America debuted last night, and I would have not known about it were it not for the fact I am somewhat of a geek, and have been watching a lot of Doctor Who, and its spin-off, Torchwood, lately, which air locally on the BBC channel. But I was glad to see it mentioned in the Trentonian as well. It makes me feel a lot less geeky!

Maybe you think the fact I watch sci-fi on the BBC makes me a geek AND a snob. After all: the accent thing. Need I say more? But I'm not a snob, I swear. In many ways, I am a typical American, in that the British accent — well, not all of them, but some of them — are difficult for me to understand. But I'm getting better. Being married to a Canadian has its advantages, though: he can understand both North American English and British English effortlessly. And the exposure to British programing by way of Canada has improved my understanding. Canadians sound more like Americans than they do the British, with some nuances, like their use of the word "eh" and their distinct pronunciation of the "ou" vowel combination in words like "about," and which come out (oot) like "a-boot." And their pronunciation of the word "again" is very British, which can be mildly alarming, especially if you're listening to a Canadian band, and the singer rhymes "again" with "plane." Which, when I see the word written, I can kind of understand. But I'm not gonna say "a-gane." To me, it's a-gen, and that's that.

And, oh yeah, Canadians apologize incessantly for everything, even stuff that is totally not their fault. I think it may be a pathological defect in the Canadian psyche. Hang with one for long enough, and you'll see what I mean. They apologize for everything, which reminds me, they pronounce the word "sorry" in a distinct manner as well. You'll hear a lot of "Soo-ree aboot that" from Canadians. There's a small park in Glen's hometown, and at the entrance, it says, "NO DOGS ALLOWED. Sorry!" The over-apologizing is strange because Americans (in general) apologize for nothing, and as far as I can tell, the British are not terribly apologetic either, so I'm not sure from where the Canadians get the guilt.

But I don't want to rile 'em up either, since Canadians always like a good fight, and can easily kick my ass. Obviously, they have a lot of great traits. Here's one: they have a town named Bonarlaw. That's pretty awesome.

And there are worse things than apologizing too much. In fact, I think a bit more apologizing might make the world a better place. It certainly would improve things right here in Trenton. Apologies can make a world of difference, and earn the apologizer SO much respect.

In a Perfect Trenton, here are some starter apologies I'd like to see, which will begin to undo some of the polarization in this town:

  1. Assistant business administrator, Dennis Gonzalez should apologize to Zac Chester for threatening to sue him for defamation when Zac simply asked to see Gonzalez's progress record. Dennis Gonzalez should also, in turn, offer an apology to every citizen in Trenton: after all, he has no right to threaten to sue just because people are exercising their right to information.
  2. Mayor Doug Palmer should apologize to the citizens of Trenton for standing behind Dennis Gonzalez after he threatened a baseless lawsuit. Standing behind a guy who threatened a baseless lawsuit is ridiculous, and does not inspire confidence or trust, two qualities people like to have in their leaders.
  3. Police Director Joseph Santiago should apologize to the citizens of Trenton – and the whole police department – for continuing to stand by his man, Captain Paul Messina. If what I'm reading in the papers and online has any merit at all – and in my opinion, it does — Captain Messina is in too deep; he is not cut out for his job. I really do think I'm a fair and diplomatic person, and believe me, even if it doesn't come across in my blog, I always try hard to see all sides of an argument. Ask Glen. It annoys him when he comes home from work with a story about an office mishap, and I try to find ways to show him that the perp probably didn't mean it, or else he's misreading the situation. But, I've given the problems of Trenton a lot of thought, and when I think about Paul Messina in the very important role of police captain in our tough — but hopefully salvageable — city, it simply doesn't make sense. Director Santiago, I appeal to you directly: I implore you to stand back and look at this without any emotion. You have a guy who has fallen asleep twice on the job, that we know of. Our neighbors in Bordentown fire their officers for that. This same man dresses down his subordinates; you can turn to any management book, and you'll see this is a bad thing. And now, he's accused of making sexist comments, to boot. People anywhere else in the country — corporate, public service, whatever — get fired for much less. Please try to see how your continued support of this man is viewed, not only by the people for whom you are working, but by the outside, as well.
[10/5/07 UPDATE: Rumor has it that city officials have apologized to Zac Chester. Can someone confirm or deny? I hope it's true. –blogger's note]

I can easily think of at least five more apologies I'd like to see, in my Perfect Trenton, but I just wanted to suggest a couple no-brainer apologies to get the ball of healing rolling. Just imagine the relief among our population just to hear those three simple apologies. Imagine the weight lifted. Imagine what else we might accomplish once we repair some of the damage. I read an article recently about the abortion debate: instead of fighting each other so ruthlessly, people on both sides of the argument are working together to improve common ground interests, like teen pregnancy prevention. I figure if people on both sides of the abortion issue are able to bridge a bit of the gap, we should be able to do the same here in Trenton. Right?
Anyway, if those apologies aren't forthcoming, our differences will continue to tear us apart, and Trenton will find itself in a unique situation in this country. There are so many things here that you simply do not see elsewhere. The reason why gets so many hits, as well as the You Tube video of him sleeping, is simply because it doesn't happen often anywhere else, and if it does, the officer is fired. Only in Trenton can we find a city official threatening to sue a citizen for a lame-ass reason, and he doesn't even receive a reprimand from the Mayor. And while residency issues come up in various places in this country, they are debated, discussed, and legislated. Here, we have a mayor who doesn't even live in Trenton, and he quietly slipped away without even mentioning it. Here, we have an administration openly hostile to concerned citizens, even though the real enemies are poverty, crime, and addiction. Oh, and lack of enforcement.

I started out talking about the BBC news because it's comprehensive and well-done. Like my apology scenarios, I know it's pure fantasy to think they'd ever open a Trenton Bureau, but it's still fun to think about. They could set up shop here at least long enough to produce a mini-series on the state of affairs in Trenton. There are so many things in Trenton that simply should not be, and there's no good reason; and those things just don't happen with any kind of frequency anywhere else in the world. I think the world would be interested: the number of hits on the sleeping captain video is evidence of that.

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