Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cogs

Glen, Matty, and I joined a group of about 20 street walkers last night. The group included Police Director Irving Bradley (who gushed over Matty, which wins him points with me), Community Affairs officer, Detective Bob Russo, a few other policemen, a representative from Inspections, at-large councilman and mayoral hopeful Manny Segura, a large contingent of Villa Park Civic Association members, and us. The original plan was for the director to walk through Villa Park and listen to residents' concerns about problem areas, as a kick-off to the formation of the Villa Park Neighborhood Watch program. We bundled up and joined the group, hoping to convince the Police Director to walk through our streets in the near future. We are not exactly part of Villa Park, nor are we part of Wilbur, though we've been called both. Realtors will say that homes for sale here are in quiet and lovely Villa Park; reporters will say that the violence up the street took place in the crime-ridden Wilbur section. Neither is correct. But I suppose, neither is totally wrong either. We are a neighborhood without an identity.

But maybe that's okay. Last night, we were totally surprised and energized that the members of the Villa Park Civic Association, as well as the police representatives on hand, were including our street and a couple others on our side of Hamilton Avenue, in the walk last night. So, like members of the Villa Park group, we pointed out the recurring nightmares on our block, and everyone got to see a pile of tires dumped in the alley. And, was nice to do the "East Ward Holiday House Tour," as many houses were beautifully decorated, everywhere we walked. Equally, it was interesting to hear what the folks from Villa Park were saying about our side of the tracks. We have more uniform homes here, resulting in a more cohesive-looking street. Our houses have a bit of front lawn. Larger porches. More trees. And, with the Christmas lights lighting some homes, I live on a pretty street. As long as the thugs stay inside.

Detective Russo urged us to see our neighborhood as part of Villa Park, and I believe the members of the VPCA are happy to have us. However, the desire to branch out on one's own, or to form yet another group, is so strong in Trenton. We all think our way is the only way, our problems and concerns are unique to the specific area in which we live, and we don't always play nice with others. It's a struggle for me, too. I have an ego and opinions, just like everyone else; and really, a designated group for our neighborhood would not be a terrible idea. But I can't get behind that after being made to feel so welcome last night. We ARE more like Villa Park than Wilbur. There's a perfectly good wheel, right across Hamilton Avenue, a wheel that's very willing to ride down my street. Why should I reinvent it?

We got in late last night. I heated up some cider, and we drank it in front of our tree, while Matty played with a kiddy tool bench, which was an early Christmas gift from one of Glen's coworkers. I checked my email and read we now have at least 9 people, to date, interested in running for mayor next year. It gave me a headache. Several of the hopefuls are already aligned politically, and have the same or similar positions on the issues. Some ran in 2006, and lost handily, and maybe their money could be better spent another way. I'm not trying to ruin anyone's dream of ruling our city, but COME ON. Why is ego so strong in Trenton? Based on what we saw in the South Ward's special election last month, I can only imagine what chaos will happen in the ward and at-large races, since it seems all seats will be open. On one hand, I find the show here in Trenton to be hugely entertaining. We could (and should) have our own reality TV show. But after awhile, the entertainment in Trenton, like reality TV, makes my brain and soul atrophy, and it might be doing the same to everyone else's. My bet, though, is that most people don't realize it. Why can't we work together and put ego aside and be functional little cogs in the machinery? I mean, it's OBVIOUS the machinery that is Trenton is broken; we NEED cogs; but the machinery will remain broken if everyone wants to be the boss.

The deadline for the paperwork expressing intent to run for office is still a few weeks away. If you love your city, you do not need to run for office! It's my hope that some folks will come to their senses and not submit that paperwork. What am I smoking, you ask? I know. I know. I'm a dreamer. Unfortunately, I suspect more people are going to crawl out of the woodwork and run. How annoying. And how wasteful.

~~~~~

An aside, maybe the attitude of "my way is better" is infused by our very system of elections, which are in May, which is permitted under election law, though many municipalities choose to have their elections in November, along with the general election. It costs more to have elections in May, and in a city already strapped for cash, does that make sense? We already have the machines here in November for the general election, so wouldn't be more prudent to just move our municipal elections to the same time? That might increase voter turn-out as well, and eliminate the need for run-off elections — and a return of the bulky election machines — in the spring.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chrissy,

A couple of small points, if I may.

1) the "deadline" for being certified as a candidate in the May election is sometime in mid-March. The first day that the paperwork can be requested from the city clerk's office and filed is the first business day of the new year: Monday, January 4, 2010.

2) the reason the city of Trenton has municipal elections in May is because we operate under a non-partisan system. I may be wrong but I don't believe we have the option of moving our elections to November without going to a partisan scheme.

Michael said...

Making it a partisan (sp?) election with real life D's and R's doesn't really excite me. Plus, we would still have city-wide elections in May (primaries) followed by a definite election in November... whereas that is not a given in the current system.

The walk was great. I was impressed with the beautifully decorated houses and great neighbors. I would say that having your neighborhood join up with Villa Park would be a great idea. If your participation grows, then strike out on your own. (A little controversy never hurt)

Greg Forester said...

I believe your neighborhood is known as Wilbur II, no?

Chrissy said...

Thanks for the clarification, Anonymous. So there's even more time for people to back out. Good. Hopefully that will happen.

Michael, I agree about partisan elections; on a municipal level, it can be ridiculous.

Greg, we've heard arguments for and against the "Wilbur II" label. We have a neighbor who insists it's the actual name, and another who just as vehemently says that is not the case. Either way, we're still kind of a middle child to Villa Park and the official, bad-ass Wilbur.

Anonymous said...

I suggest "Wilbur Park" as the new name for your neighborhood - tough yet inviting.

municipal worker said...

"we now have at least 9 people, to date, interested in running for mayor next year. It gave me a headache."

I love this quote. I hate thinking that this election is going to drag on because there is definitely going to be a runoff with all these people running. I wish we had that instant runoff system. Saves time, money and headaches.

By the way, interesting comments on neighborhood. Unless it is jurisdictionally defined, a neighborhood is however people want to define it.