Friday, October 16, 2009

A quick note to Bill

Dear Mr. Clinton,

I like you, and I reflect back on your years in office as good times in my life. But I can't understand why you've been chumming around with my mayor, Doug Palmer. He supported your wife during her presidential bid, and I can see how that may leave you with an obligatory affection for him. But he was unable to deliver his city's vote to Mrs. Clinton, and I'm quite sure it's because he's so disconnected from the people he's supposed to be serving that he is no longer able to inspire.

He has an adversarial relationship with many of us, and the rest of his constituents are lured to the voting booths with promises of gift cards and fast food if they cast a vote for him.

And yet, he's asked you here to support his green initiative, which is, if not a full-blown sham, way-too-little-too-freakin'-late for him. Sure, Trenton could green up, but it will not happen under Palmer, even though he's been yapping his fool head about the idea to the US Conference of Mayors for the last few years. He's all talk. And back at home, his actions are petty and the backstabbing variety. Speaking of green, he did away with City Hall's recycling program because the guy who headed it up ran against him in 2006. And, oh yeah, then Palmer saw to it that the same guy got fired a short time later.

He's a charismatic man, and he can talk a mean green line, most notably with the "Live Where You Work" campaign, but Palmer, an elected official does not live where he works. Did you live in France while president of the US? No. Because that would be stupid. And wrong. Compounding that lack of green is the shocking amount of waste that gets him back and forth from his Hunterdon County estate to Trenton. He has two drivers, police detectives, actually, earning police detectives' salaries. The car is city-owned and city-fueled. There is a paid police dispatch in front of his abandoned Trenton home. Did I mention that Trenton is a fiscal mess? Did you know he gave himself and his top pals a big raise earlier this year?

Trenton faces the highest urban unemployment rate in New Jersey — higher than Camden, Paterson, and Newark — and has a dense population of unskilled, uneducated workers, a group Palmer brought to the city en masse. I have nothing against the poor; their conditions are heartbreaking. But while Palmer was trading low income housing for quick, suburban cash, Trenton's businesses left. The schools fell apart, both physically and academically, making it nearly impossible for the city's massive poor population to improve their lives. So much of this happened while you were in office, and the rest of the country was booming.

Palmer has missed the boat on every federal or state appointment/endorsement he wanted, but it wasn't for lack of pimping himself. I believe most good politicians look at someone like Doug, then the state of his city, scratch their heads, and decide to call Cory Booker, or some other functioning urban mayor, instead.

I believe in your heart, you are a compassionate, humanitarian sort, and if you have a few minutes next week while you're in town getting adored by our mayor-in-name-only, please take a drive around some of the Marriott's surrounding neighborhoods. I suggest Passaic or Spring Street. Or, head toward Olden on Calhoun. All of Trenton is not like that, I promise, but there are other similar, shattered neighborhoods and compromised lives all over this city. It's unfathomable. It's unacceptable. And, to be fair, it's not 100% Doug's fault, but he dug the graves for so many of Trenton's once flourishing neighborhoods, and you know what? He was too busy trying to impress your wife or make nice with our governor to even attend the funerals.

I hope you get to see some of the other side of Trenton while you're in town. I bet it boggles your mind to be confronted by some of the ruins of Trenton, ruins that stink of the Third World. In the state capital! In New Jersey!

Please do not associate with our mayor. He's just going to use your visit as a way to impress the large amount of people in this city with voter cards, but without the resources to buy a newspaper to learn about what's happening here. To them. And, under Palmer's watch, the public libraries almost fell apart, and now hours and resources have been cut, making it more difficult for the city's poor to get online. Palmer is charming and dangerous, like a snake, and you need to know that.

I'm not saying don't visit Trenton. We'd love to see you. Instead of hanging with Doug, please consider visiting one of the many groups here who actually works with, and cares about, the city's poor. Not that I'm opposed to a green initative, but since it's coming from Doug, I'd rather see your time and efforts in this city actually count for something.

Christine Ott


Anonymous said...

Don't you think there should be at least some picketing across from the Mariott during Clinton's visit?

Chrissy said...

I don't know what's involved, with the Secret Service on hand, and all. But if someone were to organize something, I'll be there.

Rich Carroll said...

Well said and I could not agree with you more! Palmer has been sucking at the teat of the green movement, and that is about it. I love how he thinks that by replacing all the stop lights with LED lamps, Trenton will become a green leader...Keep up the great writing!