Are you up for the task, Dougie?
President Barack Obama met with some of the nation's mayors yesterday, to offer advice and instructions on how cities should use their stimulus checks.
Here's an excerpt from his speech:
"Now, what is required in return, what I will need from all of you, is unprecedented responsibility and accountability on all of our parts. The American people are watching. They need this plan to work. They expect to see the money that they've earned, that they've worked so hard to earn, spent in its intended purposes without waste, without inefficiency, without fraud.
And that's why I'm assigning a team of managers to ensure that every dollar is spent wisely. And that's why we've created recovery.gov -- so that every American can go online to see how their money is spent, and hold their federal, state, and local officials to the highest standards they expect.
So I want to be clear about this: We cannot tolerate business as usual -- not in Washington, not in our state capitols, not in America's cities and towns. We will use the new tools that the recovery act gives us to watch the taxpayers' money with more rigor and transparency than ever. If a federal agency proposes a project that will waste that money, I will not hesitate to call them out on it and put a stop to it."
In attendance was Trenton's long-time mayor, Douglas Palmer. Trenton has a hugely inefficient city government, with more municipal employees per resident than Newark. Furthermore, the mayor has a posse fit for a rapper, not a mayor of a relatively small, and shrinking New Jersey city.
Trenton is witnessing Inspections — already kinda shoddy — get outsourced. Trenton's libraries and community centers are struggling — and failing, in some cases — to stay opened. Many Trenton residents struggle to pay their energy bills this year, while the mayor is chauffeured to and from his home in Hunterdon county. Dozens of low level city employees were cut from the payroll while the administration is full of redundancy, waste, and favoritism.
Mayor Palmer is hoping to sell off one of the biggest (and last) of the city's assets, the Trenton Water Works, as a last ditch effort to keep taxes and services status quo, so he can ride out the rest of his term without Trenton's oozing fiscal disaster from exploding in his face. Instead of looking at the last two decades of his own wasteful ineptitude for the problems, Palmer is blaming concerned residents who simply disagree with him, for the possibility of tax increases, should the Water Works sale fail. That's completely immature, and it's completely irresponsible. Without control of the Water Works, there are no guarantees about rate increases, down the line. And, certainly, once the cash influx the sale of TWW might bring is spent, what then? No one can read the future, but one thing's for certain: Mayor Palmer put us on a dark, dangerous road, cut the brakes, set a brick on the gas, and bailed the hell out, years ago. We're headed for some tough times, but with some responsibility and perseverance, we'll be able to dust ourselves off and move forward.
It's unlikely Palmer will change his behavior or philosophy on how to run the city at this late date of his term. It's up to us, the citizens of Trenton, to keep a close watch on what the administration is doing with our economic stimulus money. Become familiar with www.recovery.gov and demand accountability for Trenton.