Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Toothpaste Cap Administration

I used to work with a guy with a severe cognitive impairment. He happened to have a radiant personality and was adored by everyone in the company. He handled a lot of essential (but underrated) tasks for the firm: he sorted the mail, watered the plants, made sure we had coffee filters, and swept the floors. He told me once, "You don't have to be smart to do most jobs. You just have to work."

I'm not saying that cognitively impaired folks are dumb, or should be relegated to the mailroom; all humans, regardless of brain function, have different strengths and weaknesses. But what was noticeable about this particular guy was that he had a tight, caring family, the support and admiration of everyone at work, and in his case, was probably placed perfectly for his skill level.

As weeks turn into months during Tony "I'm my worst critic" Mack's reign as mayor here in Trenton, I cannot help but conclude that Mack himself must have suffered a traumatic brain injury in his past. I am by no means saying that someone with a damaged brain could not be mayor, but I am saying that this particular brain-impaired individual is not a good fit for the particular job he currently holds. The difference between Tony "A/B+" Mack and my former coworker is that Mack does not have the proper support network of friends, family, and colleagues, and furthermore, he is clearly in over his head, skill-wise.

Based on my limited knowledge of the human brain, I suspect that Tony "I don't think" Mack's brain impairment is in his frontal lobe. The front area of the brain is responsible for — among other things — problem solving, memory, and judgement, all of which are clearly impaired in our mayor.

How else can we explain the 8 business administrators (one* who quit and then plead guilty to stealing $480,000 in campaign funds from Congressman Frank Lobiondo's [R-NJ's 2nd district] campaign treasury fund; the heroin addicted deputy mayor; the 30-houses-for-$30 deal; the firing of a political rival using the SWAT officers, the do-over bullshit with the IT firm; the contaminated water; the unauthorized overtime; the raises and jobs for close friends and family, while many, many others got the axe; the empty promises to reopen the libraries; the even emptier promises to keep police officers on the job; the resignation of our law director; and the appointments of judges without background checks? Every week, this mayor is behind another insult to our dignity and intelligence. Every week, there are more episodes of poor judgement, and he is counting on us to forget.

Tony "Happy Pearl Harbor Day" Mack and his friends list mundane ribbon cuttings and photo opportunities as "monumental accomplishments" for his first year in office, and yeah, I'm sure it can go to one's head — and take awhile to get used to — to have so many people looking at you all the time. But what Tony's done so far — and I'm being generous here — is the political equivalent of putting the damn toothpaste cap on after brushing his teeth. Give. Me. A. Break. It's disturbing to see otherwise intelligent people snowed over by this**. Yeah, it's great that a boy from Wilbur has made it to the big league. I'm living just blocks away from Tony's childhood home, so I have a firsthand understanding of the hurdles Mack must have faced. What an example he could have been! It's profoundly disappointing that he's been given this chance in life — knowing that he was walking into a mess — and has chosen to surround himself with knuckleheads, thugs, and asskissers, and they are demolishing the city instead of rebuilding it.

I'm sure the mayor and his allies don't agree. They're still caught up with the newness of the spotlight; they like the spotlight. They like what it does for their ridiculous, massive egos. But the job of mayor, like so many others, has nothing to do with ego, or even brain function. It has everything to do with community and the capacity for hard work: qualities completely absent from the Mack administration.


* On March 4, 2011, Andrew J. McCrosson Jr., who served as treasurer of LoBiondo's congressional campaign committee from 1995 until August 2010, pleaded guilty in federal district court to charges of embezzling more than $450,000 from campaign accounts over a fifteen year period. The charges included one count of wire fraud and one count of converting funds contributed to a federal candidate. He faces up to twenty-five years imprisonment on his sentencing date of June 16. (from wikipedia)

** If they want to worship a politician, there are so many other worthier ones out there, right now. Just about ANY other politician. Except for maybe Anthony Weiner.


Captain Har said...

Just because you have an education doesn't mean you have common sense.

Anonymous said...

Trenton should at least get some notoriety for being the first city in the US to elect a "mentally challenged" mayor. I swear voters should demand an IQ test along with the criminal background and drug tests.

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked you did not work my favorite Mack quote into your piece.

"I don't think..."

Otherwise you hit the nail on the head.

Well done!

Anonymous said...

Mack was on WZBN news yesterday and said that he is considering giving Paul Sigmund his job back. That Sigmund is still his friend and is still currently calling him to advise him on how to run this city.

Mack is self admittedly currently be advised and taking the advice of a heroin addict only 30 days straight out of rehab.

Perhaps the Mackster is on crack or indeed is brain damaged...

Chrissy Ott said...

Anonymous #2: I had your back all along! "I don't think" is by far my favorite Mackism. It was worked in to paragraph #4.

Anonymous said...

As a newcomer to town, can I ask a quick question? How did Mack get into office if he is so unqualified and stupid? Is it merely that a city with an African American majority voted in the candidate who looks like them? Or did no one bother to do his research before the election? Or were the voting machines malfunctioning that Election Day (or whenever the h*ll you people elect majors here)?

Chrissy Ott said...

Hi Anonymous #4. Thanks for reading. The simple answer might be yes, at least to some degree, to all of your questions. But it's never that easy. I'm at the point where when I think of Mack and what he's doing to Trenton, it can be practically likened to rape. I'm not trying to make light of sexual assault, by the way. But just imagine someone headed for a night out, and she feels hopeful and happy and nervous, too. She meets someone who says all the right things. She wants to trust. She wants to hope. So, she starts to...and then he betrays that trust and hope.

So, sure, maybe the citizens of Trenton were too quick to trust Tony. Maybe, collectively, we didn't listen to those little voices in our heads that said, "Steer clear of THAT guy." Maybe the whole process of elections here in Trenton is screwed, and maybe by the time we got to the run-off, many of us were utterly confused and dismayed and didn't know what to do, and felt anything would be better than the last guy. So, sure, there's some blame to go around among the voting citizens of Trenton. But we believe in the process, we hoped, we trusted. Our actions, largely, came from a good place. On the other hand, Tony took money from a convicted child rapist. He bounced checks. He attempted to appoint a felon and unqualified judges to key positions. He attempted to make sweetheart deals with his campaign contributors. He was the guy on duty when the Water Works fell apart and therefore risked everyone's health in the entire region. He appointed a heroin addict to his chief of staff, and by his own admission, still calls on him for advice, even though he's no longer employed by the city. He defied the DCA and the governor and put the future of our state aid in jeopardy. He turned a blind eye (or was maybe actively involved) with egregious staffing/overtime issues. His actions came from a selfish, immature place.

All of these missteps took place AFTER he was elected. He was an elected official prior to his stint here in Trenton, but we couldn't get an accurate read on how he'd be as mayor, because he was a freeholder, and we all know freeholders don't have any power, or have to do anything that requires a brain. Stupid and power hungry is a bad combination. Sure, maybe we should have known better, but we really did not know the full extent of how bad he'd be. That happens, and it's not the fault of the citizens. It's the fault of the shitty politician. And we're within our right to say, "you know, we made a mistake. We're going to recall this guy." We've paid enough for our mistakes. It's time to make things right.

Anonymous said...

‎~...This opinion and article was written by a THINKING MAN,..ahhh A THINKING MAN ~ How RARE we are in this modern day ~...You know a TREE by the FRUIT it BEARS,..you know a MAN through HIS WORKS and HIS FRIENDS ~... BIRDS of a feather flock together ~...So if you are an EAGLE, don't hang with chickens, because chickens can not fly,..and TRENTON'S CITY HALL is a CHICKEN COOP ~

Anonymous said...

More. Posts. Please.