Monday, June 30, 2008

Elective Residency

I've been thinking a lot about the 2010 elections, and running different scenarios in my head about who's likely to run, who's likely to run again, and for what positions. I think so much about the election because the stuff that happens in Trenton, pretty much only happens in Trenton. Trenton politics is just an open, festering sore, and things just cannot be allowed to continue, without risk of sending this city too damn far into the abyss. And I don't want that to happen.

Earlier this month, I wrote about how those of us interested in politics — the ones who want to run, as well as the ones who want to support — need to think of this election as a group effort, and leave our egos behind. We can't have 6 people running for the same position, or else we'll split the vote. We don't even need to challenge every seat. I may sound like a broken record, but just in case you're new to this, my thought is that the current slate of representatives who either "represent" (if you can call it that) or hail from the West Ward, need to move along. Specifically, I'm talking about the Mayor, Douglas Palmer; West Ward Councilwoman, Annette Lartigue; At-Large Rep and Council President, Paul Pintella; and At-Large Rep, Cordelia Staton. The West Ward is full of intelligent, diverse people, and I am stunned that these clowns have been in office for so damn long, especially since they're so self-serving and short-sighted, and because it would seem there's a zillion other more qualified people for the jobs. So, we have our work to do in the West.

Yep, we've got progress concerns, and some great debate happening on the other blogs and boards about the proposed Transit Village, and I do think new business and new opportunities will help our city, but we need to simply clean house first. It's not super smart, for instance, to build an addition onto your home, when the rest of your home is in shambles. Priorities, you know? We need to fix things here in Trenton first. Make it desirable, as is, and then get talking about shiny new buildings.

Our biggest, most offensive issues are crime and quality of life concerns. We need to get that stuff under control. There are things, we as regular people, can do to help improve our neighborhoods, and simply getting outside and talking to one another is a great way to help quell some of the activities we hate so much. But we need more. Specifically, we need police help. We've personally been pleased, overall, with the police response in our neighborhood, but things could just be so different, so much more productive, with, I think, some simple logical changes. And that's not happening right now, under the current leadership of former police director, Joseph Santiago. An aside: I'm confused and disgusted that man whose job is under review by the high court has any ability to make massive, sweeping changes in the department. I mean, the future of his job is on hold, so how on earth can he disband our extremely productive and needed Vice and K9 units? Under his leadership, with Mayor Doug Palmer's blessing, the Trenton Police Department has descended into near chaos, and we, the citizens, will pay for that. It's unacceptable. Read more about the death of Vice and K9 on Councilman Jim Coston's blog post on Saturday; he's been looking at the numbers, and it seems the citizens of Trenton, again, are getting a hose job from Santiago, and by extension, Palmer.

And I'm sorry, so sorry that I have to say this, but I believe it to be true: as soon as the city's police officers moved outside the city, they gave up nearly all of their real power. Unions can only do so much. True influence over your future comes from having the ability to vote. Personally, I don't think rank-and-file police officers should have to live in the city; folks who were hired to fill directorships, and other political positions fall into a different category, and this is where the distinction between "job" and "civil service" comes into play. That said, living where you work is a great idea, especially for police officers right now. Life is short, and because of that, I think it's important to find satisfaction in your point of doing something you hate, right? I'm sure you'd be far more satisfied with your jobs, far more happy in your lives if you, like me, had the ability to vote for someone other than Doug Palmer in 2010. So, are there any Trenton officers out there who would be interested in moving back to the city? I know that there would be difficulties, especially in a city so full of crime and distrustful people, so my proposal is primarily directed at the officers who are single, or don't have children living with them. You'd be doing a great service to the community: becoming neighbors with the folks who live here will give you an advantage of knowing who's just a bit of a punk and who's a full-on knucklehead, right? And over time, residents will be more likely to confide in you, and provide much-needed information to help solve difficult crimes. And, eventually, more officers, even ones with young families, would want to move to Trenton. But best yet, you'd have the right to vote in the 2010 election, giving you far more control over your own future, your own happiness, your own job satisfaction than what you have now. With a Trenton address, you'd have the direct ability to remove Santiago from your future. Elective residency. And in choosing Trenton, you're also sending a message to Santiago (and Palmer): they're big, stinking babies for being too scared to live here. By the way, there's a house on my block for sale, and another one for rent. You'd like being neighbors with me and Glen. You would.

Anyway, there's not that much time left, really, so let's keep talking about this, and hopefully get some officers living in the city. It would be beneficial to so many.

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