"In a (police) budget of $40 million, is $40,000 gonna make you or break you? No," said former police director Joseph Santiago about Trenton's former mounted police unit. "But in a lot of cases, it's the public perception of what we're spending our money on."
$40,000 won't break most municipalities, but it supposedly represents what had been budgeted for the horses. And with the shell games going on in the city's administration with regard to full disclosure of information (especially the financial variety), I can't accept that number at face value. I'd love to know what the actual expense was for the horses, and not just stabling and food and general maintenance. What about the vet bills, the cost to bring them back and forth between Trenton and Hopewell every day, the cost of their transport trailer, and what that added weight did to the gas mileage of the vehicle hauling it twice a day?
No, $40,000 won't break most municipalities, but if Santiago looked around, he'd see the duress Trenton is experiencing. But he doesn't really care about public perception, and may not, in fact, even have a conscience. If he did:
- He would have moved here years ago, as required by law
- and, related to that, would never have engaged in a money-sucking lawsuit to fight the citizens of Trenton about our own laws
- He wouldn't have created havoc within the police department
- He wouldn't have disbanded the Vice squad
- He would have turned in his blinged-out, city-issued vehicle ages ago, especially when gas prices started to soar
Public perception, Joe, is that you are draining us financially, and you don't care. Watching your tail lights head back to Stirling, NJ one last time — and soon — will not save this city. But it certainly will not break us, either.