What a wild Tuesday past. We've made several interesting observations about Trenton politics over the course of the past 3 months. Prior to pontificating on the more analytical or perhaps intellectual observations let's visit some of the more ridiculous happenings.
From the ridiculous to the sublime. The theatre of the absurd was in full (probably better suited for "fool"), swing this past Tuesday. The day started out with one of the voting machines in North 9 failing to operate properly. My concerns were quickly allayed by the Board of Elections promptly replacing the flawed machine with one of the ten replacement machines it had stored on a truck for just such a situation. Thereafter the day seemed to meander along until I discovered the first unqualified "dirty trick" of the day. For those of you that cared (voting totals would suggest damn few) Shahid what's his name was on the ballot in position #3. Manny Segura was #2 on your ballot. Then why did a piece of campaign literature, printed in Espanol, and placed on cars in the South and East Wards promote voters to vote for "Manny Watson" #3? I'm sure you all know the answers as well as we do. Emmanuel Shahid Watson ben Avraham heard a voice beckon from the adjacent mountain top (Bowman's Tower?), and it said change your name once again to "Manny Watson", and being the God fearing, Baptist, Muslim and Jew that he is he immediately complied and altered his campaign literature. Well at least the Spanish version. The problem...he did not bother to advise the Board of Elections so his name in fact appeared differently on the ballot.
Ordinarily, a dirty trick conducted by a candidate finishing 9th in a field of 10 would not be cause for alarm. This one is different, however, because the candidate that our resident lunatic tried to dupe was Manny Segura, who finished election night just 3 votes out of the 2nd place runoff position. We'll leave our readers to speculate how many votes that scheme cost the Dominican Dandy, but we would hazard a guess that it was more than 3.
Wednesday's headlines not only reported one of the closest elections in the history of the Capital City, but also a blurb about our resident lunatic finding it necessary to commandeer a home for one of his election staging points. Apparently this home had been listed for sale and Shahid or one of his followers arranged a "showing" the Monday before Election Day. The realtor logically assumed that the showing would not last for 36 hours and include hosting 30 campaign volunteers and the use of the range. Will someone, anyone, please tell this deranged, self indulgent fool that his 15 minutes of fame are up. Shahid, it is closing time. We do not care where you go, but please do everyone a favor and just go! We are going to try not to address this lunatic again, unless we can advise you of his pending incarceration.
Over the past 5 months we have made it our habit to regularly peruse over 20 Trenton related blogs. Opinions regarding any particular issue facing Trenton can vary from blog to blog. However, we feel safe in saying that virtually every blog and nearly every blogger realized that Trenton was facing some very serious problems. A huge recurring structural deficit, a 22% tax hike, a failing school system that graduates less than 40 % of our students, a disappearing commercial tax base, a city ravaged by crime, a lack of businesses or activities open after the state workers exit, a minefield in our roads, poorly funded and maintained recreational facilities, the complete elimination of Capital City Aid, a rising AIDS epidemic, and a contentious TWW sale referendum. We could go on, but we feel sure our readers get the point. The issue is why did the rest of the city find it unnecessary to educate themselves about these issues and the candidates’ positions on them. How in God's name with the City facing all of these problems and impending fiscal disaster can 72% (7 out of 10) of Trenton's eligible voters stay home! How can those people sit on their derrière and do nothing. Folks the status quo is not acceptable!!
We could continue to rant and rave but that would not fix the problem. What we are asking all of you, is there any hope of gaining greater participation in the Trenton voting process? When Barack Obama was on the Ballot, 15,000 more Trentonians voted. We realize that was an exciting time with a legitimate opportunity to elect the 1st woman or the 1st African American to the Presidency, but don't those 15,000 voters and the remaining 13,000 that stayed home both times, think that there are just a few important issues facing Trentonians. This Mayoral election had 1 woman, 1 Hispanic, 1 Caucasian man and 8 African American candidates. It was a diverse group and the issues were screaming for solutions.
We are left to believe that the voter apathy must somehow be related to the candidates not attracting sufficient attention from the voters. This election has been relatively well documented as a snooze fest. Part of the blame in that regard goes to the candidates that were either incapable of effectively addressing the pressing issues or did not have the chutzpah to do so. The other part of the blame needs to be put squarely on the doorstep of the mainstream media. If a voter wanted to know if a candidate failed to pay his taxes, bounced checks, got fired from his job, was on disability, voted to raise your taxes, was known by multiple names, was a philanderer, was investigated by the F.B.I., ordered police to "stand down", refused to hold budget hearings, put Bloods on his payroll, was an admitted forger, was implicated in the Trenton Urban League investigation, accepted money from a convicted child rapist, violated the pay to play ordinance, accepted large amounts of out of town money, took an illegal raise, failed to fill your potholes, or worst of all was a bosom buddy (past or present) of King Doug, they would've found it necessary to read the Trenton Blogs. This election really would have made a great soap opera. If only the voters noticed.
Our next observation was regarding the voters distaste for educated, articulate, well informed candidates. We made a point of suggesting by process of elimination that we thought the two best choices for Mayor were John Harmon and Keith Hamilton. To the best of our knowledge neither Mr. Harmon nor Mr. Hamilton possessed any of the long list of negatives articulated in the previous paragraph. Nonetheless, neither of them cam e close to finishing in the top two, although we note that Mr. Harmon did garner some 1391 votes. Although this blog has focused on the Mayoral campaign, we believe that a similar argument can be made about the results in the Council races. We are not suggesting that all of the individuals that made it into the runoff are uneducated, inarticulate and uniformed, but, a clear case can be made that some of the best educated, informed and articulate were clearly left on the sidelines.
What does it mean that a candidate of Tony Mack's stature or lack thereof can be the clear winner in this race? Does it mean that 2,357 Trentonians do not care that he bounced a prolific amount of checks, that he was labeled professionally incompetent at his last significant job, that he associates with and takes significant campaign contributions from a convicted child rapist, that he owed more than $6,000 in delinquent taxes and that he educates his children in private schools in Hamilton? Our friend Trenton Kat called for Tony to resign prior to the race to save the city from disgrace. Bald Fat and Angry and Trenton Speaks also justifiably raked him over the coals regarding his indiscretions, incompetence and for being a tax deadbeat. Yet it did not seem to matter. Is it more important in Trenton politics to be a cool dude from the hood then it is to be able to balance a checkbook and hold a job? Is it way cooler to hang out with convicted criminals then it is to get a grip on fiscal and educational problems?
Honestly, we understand the success that Mr. Jackson and Mr. Segura had at the polls. Mr. Jackson had over 400 employees that reported to him. Those employees have wives, families and friends. Additionally, Jackson could argue to every appointed employee within City Hall that he was the only candidate that would maintain the status quo (until the Governor takes over), and keep them in their jobs. Mr. Segura had cornered the market on a significant portion of one of the city's largest voting blocks and managed to run a positive energetic campaign. But, Tony Mack, we are baffled. However, we are not from the "hood', and do not have a criminal record. Maybe they changed the election law and permitted all of the criminals with "jackets" to vote prior to their probation expiring.
In any event Trenton is in for a long 4 years if the present trend continues. Pray for a meteor strike and perhaps the 28,000 voters that stayed home will hear the noise and become alarmed. Where are H.G. Wells, Orson Welles, and the Martians when you really need to create a panic?