The idiot neighbors have been reasonably well-behaved in the last couple of weeks, but current events in Trenton are more disturbing than ever. I've been busy with work and life, and luckily haven't had much time to dwell on the unsettling news, but we were driving today, and I saw a large sign in a nearby New Jersey municipality which threatened a $1000 fine for riding off-road vehicles on the road, and that sign triggered an enormous amount of irritation and rage about all things Trenton. All of the bullshit that's been going on in Trenton just exploded in my head, and started to eat at the lining of my stomach. Thank you, Tony Mack.
If Trenton simply enforced the laws we had on our books, not only would we not have assholes riding around on ATVs and dirtbikes, waking up babies and killing spectators at events, but we would be able to generate some much needed revenue while said assholes began to learn that city streets are not the place for off-road vehicles, even if many of the pitted and battle-weary roads here, well, look like the dirt and semi-paved fire roads in the Pine Barrens.
Another bit of semi-annoyance last week was that city council proposed an ordinance that would make landlords responsible for their shitty tenants. A couple of particularly lousy properties on my street are owned by uncaring, absentee landlords; I see and hear those tenants all the time, and I loathe them, along with the people who rented to them. So it's hard for me to feel sympathy for some landlords. If there's a hell, I hope for their sake, it's as Dante imagined, and those shitty landlords suffer somewhere on the 8th or 9th level. You know, the circles reserved for those who consciously commit fraud, treachery, and/or violence against society. But not all landlords suck, and some only deserve the 2nd or 3rd level of Dante's hell: the levels reserved simply for the self-indulgent unrepentant. Hell aside, it strikes me that this proposed ordinance may be a bit redundant: there are probably dozens of laws already on the books that cover shitty tenants, shitty landlords, and shitty people in general; and if, for the love of god, Trenton just frigging enforced the laws, we, again, would not have to deal with assholes up the street (many of whom ride off-road vehicles on the streets), and we'd be able to collect fines from them until they learned how to to behave properly in a civilized society.
But instead, we're laying off inspectors and cops, the people who are the most useful in keeping the lowest forms of humanity from disrupting the rest of us too badly. One such city employee is Detective Robert Russo, one of the most dedicated officers I've ever met: he was recently offered a demotion after 36 years of service. And by service, I do mean service. He served our community extraordinarily well, and now he's retiring, and I have no idea what we'll do without him, but I wish him the best, all the same. I wish things were different. By different, I mean better for all parties involved.
And, while we're down, we might as well get pissed on a bit, right? We found out recently the annual St. Patrick's Day parade will be moving to Hamilton. I can't help but figure that this had to be in the works for several years, since, you know, everyone's pretty much clamoring to get the hell out of Trenton, anyway. Hamilton is a giant mess of suburban spawl, and I imagine the traffic problems next St. Patrick's Day will piss off a lot of Hamiltonians, but whatever. I enjoyed living in the neighborhood that was home to the parade, and walking up every year to listen to the bagpipes and watch the mummers, and it burns a bit that we're losing that wonderful bit of history. But hey, most folks in the US don't live in neighborhoods that host such big parades, so I guess we were lucky for awhile. Rumor has it that some folks here in Trenton are going to march down Hamilton Avenue next St. Patrick's Day, anyway, and I'll be there to watch. Even if it is just one guy. Who's with me?
All of this is small beans, though, compared to the water crisis we experienced this week. I tend not to worry too much or for too long; I let a lot of stuff slide, but our boil advisory caused me to lose sleep this week, something I can ill-afford to do. If you're reading this entry, you probably know all about the fiasco, but if not, I've posted some links at the end. I'm not an alarmist, but as the days of the boil advisory wore on, I couldn't help but wonder what the hell was in the water. I imagined officials furiously and repeatedly testing, and not telling us what was going on because whatever was in the water was THAT BAD. We still don't know. Why? Why don't we know what was in the water? Don't we have a right to know, since we were exposed to whatever was in the water for at least a day, before the alarms were sounded? Because of the lack of forthcoming information, I can't help but assume the worst case scenario: that we were exposed to coliform*, and perhaps pesticide/industrial runoff. I hope I'm wrong. And, based on other reports around town, I don't feel comfortable that we're completely in the clear yet. That a 30+ year veteran of the Water Works would turn whistle blower and give up his career yesterday does not instill confidence, either. I'm still concerned about washing my kid in Trenton water because I do not want genuine or figurative shit particles** and their associated bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and/or parasites anywhere near his perfect little body.
I know Tony Mack was handed a city on life support when he took office, but what he's done in his first three months continues to squeeze life from us. Please, Tony, pack up, or nut up. Please.
* Coliforms are abundant in the feces of warm-blooded animals; and, according to this entry in wikipedia, as well as my recollection from a fairly recent biology lecture, they are easy to culture (which is why I don't understand why we had to boil water for so long, and had no information), AND indicate that other nasty fecal pathogens are present.
** I must make one exception for his own shit, although I don't particularly WANT those particles near him either, and do my best to separate him from said particles as quickly as possible. Maybe we'll be lucky, and he'll take to toilet training early.
Further reading on Trenton's — and Mercer County's — water crisis:
Kevin Moriarty's blog
The Trentonian has been doing a great following the story. Here's one story on how Trenton Water Works may have caused a Hamilton sinkhole. Here's another one on how worker inexperience may have caused the problems. Check their archives for more stories.