Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Haters

It's STILL befuddling to me that Trenton mayor Doug Palmer would write off someone as a "hater" just because the "hater" has a different opinion on things than the mayor. I would have said, at least maybe until a year or so ago, that even though I don't agree with all of the mayor's policies and actions and opinions, that he, like me, at least cares about Trenton, and is doing what he feels is best to improve things here. But over the last year or so, it seems apparent that maybe — just maybe — he doesn't really care THAT much about Trenton, but rather, far more about his own agenda and future in politics. We're a stepping stone...a very loooooong stepping stone, and it's my hope the rest of the state and/or anyone else in government outside of Trenton sees the mess that has happened in Trenton under his watch. I know that not every single thing is the mayor's fault, but this is a very different city than it was 15 years ago, and I think it's safe to say that a huge factor in the quick decline is because of bad politics and stupid decisions, made by the mayor and his closest allies.

Now that I have that off my chest, I've also noticed a lot of comments under the stories of the breaking news area on nj.com; there were SCADS of comments under the breaking story about the court-ordered vacancy of the police directorship, here in Trenton, effectively kicking (former) Police Director Joseph Santiago to the curb. Many of the comments were from people thrilled with the judge's decision, and a few weren't. Several others, though, were completely beside the point, and commented on the rattiness of the city, the crime rate, the lack of safety.

I just want Mayor Palmer to consider, for a minute, anyway, his concept of "hater." Even though it's obvious to me, as someone who has lived in Trenton twice, and elsewhere for a number of years, that Trenton has some SERIOUS problems; even though I wholeheartedly agree with fellow blogger, Greg Forester, on his post today about how badly political business is conducted here, when we're surrounded by really fine examples around the county and state, and certainly have the technology and ability to do what they do (I was a reporter at one time too, and know, for a fact, that things that happen in Trenton do not and simply cannot happen elsewhere), I do think Trenton is okay, by and large, depending on who your friends are. We don't associate with criminals and knuckleheads and live in a decent neighborhood.

Some of the nj.com posters laughed about how stupid Santiago was for not buying in a house in Trenton, because "after all, where else could you buy a home for $20,000," and others complained about how they wouldn't feel safe walking the Trenton streets, and the whole thing just kinda pisses me off. Our house has gone up in value in the four years we've been here, as have the other houses in my neighborhood, even the rentals. I know this is the case around the city, despite a housing slump elsewhere in the state, and around the county. Also, I know there are neighborhoods in this city with homes with prestigious price tags, just like in the suburbs.

And as far as safety is concerned, it's a complicated issue. I wouldn't walk around alone at night here, but then again, I wouldn't walk alone in the suburbs at night either. But I have comfortably walked with Glen and our families back and forth to DeLorenzo's after dark, and have never been mugged or harassed. We've walked from Broad Street to the Mill Hill Playhouse after dark, with no ill effects, either. I used to do a lot more walking when Lacey was around, but there is less of a need now, but if I had to walk to the post office or library or bakery or neighbor's place over here, I'm fairly confident I could do it, night or day, and come away unscathed...though I probably wouldn't do it at night. Plus, wasn't there an article in a national magazine in the last month about Trenton being in the top ten walking cities in the nation? Sure, it seems weird, even to me, and maybe outright outrageous to the haters in the suburbs, but I believe the reality here is different (not as bad) as what the suburbanites think. The reality is also different (worse) than what our former "crime is down" chanting police director claimed, but hopefully, now, that's beside the point.

Someone else in the same Santiago thread complained about the litter in Trenton, and believe me, this gets me, too. It's a class thing, bottom line, and there's a certain class that believes the world is their garbage can. I do often see a lot of it, right between two schools, with some of the worst offenders — kids — walking past my house all the time. But today, miraculously, I'm looking toward the east, out my window, and there is not a speck of litter in the public areas within my view. I went into Hamilton yesterday to drop off a stray cat to get spayed, and went back, later in the day to pick the cat up, and watched not one, but two separate white people, in two separate vehicles — an older man (60s) and a woman (maybe in her 40s) — both throw trash out of their car windows. The woman tossed it out into the road; the man into the supermarket parking lot.

So anyway, I just wanted to say to all the haters in the suburbs, "shut up." Your property values are most likely going down, and your starter mansions in Hopewell and Robbinsville are killing our trees, and your SUVs are depleting our resources, and your wife and father are litterbugs, and statistical you are just as likely as I am to have an arsonist or robber living next door. And, chances are, those of you with the biggest hatred for Trenton grew up here, but your racist parents moved you out just as soon as a darker-skinned person moved to your street, so thank you and your parents for feeding ignorance AND putting the ball in motion to set this city back.

I'd also encourage Doug Palmer to stop being so critical of us in Trenton who simply may not agree with him. I'd like to extend that encouragement to a few other select people (who hopefully know who they are, but, I imagine, are not reading this blog because of their own ego and self-importance, though I don't know for sure), who feel compelled to complain about others who don't agree with them. There's a pervasive narrow-mindedness in Trenton among a select few who happen to have access to large numbers of people, about what makes a person a hater, or a productive member of society, or part of the problem and not the solution. It's this narrow-mindedness about each other and our abilities — more than the haters in the suburbs, or our bad reputation, or the criminals in our midst, or even some of the less-than-successful programs in the city — that poses a far greater problem to us as we proceed into what I hope to be a more productive period in our history. I think the lesson of the week is that the citizens really do run this city; it is OUR city, not the politicians, who were put in office to serve us, and politicians and political wannabees need to remember that.

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I was also going to comment on the abundant crime in the suburbs, like the vehicle arsons yesterday in sweet, safe Lawrence. There are plenty of criminals outside this city — homegrown in your towns — but I am done ranting for now. I can't sustain the pissed-offedness for that long.

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