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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Manny “El Fantasma” "The Phantom" Segura

Manuel "Manny" Segura one of our current At Large Councilman is batting 3rd in our so far, rather unspectacular lineup of mayor hopefuls. Manny is Trenton's 1st Latino councilman and seeking to become its first Latino Mayor. Manny, or as a like to refer to him, Trenton's Dominican Dandy (you former baseball aficionados will remember that Juan Marichal the former San Francisco Giants pitcher was affectionately referred to by the same name). We are not, even for a moment going to suggest that our Dominican Dandy is a Hall of Famer like his name sake. Actually our Dandy is more like a minor league ballplayer trying to pass himself off as a Hall of Famer.

My analysis of Manny's rise on the political scene and his subsequent crowning of himself as the Capital city's next mayor, (more on that later), would suggest that Councilman Segura is a bit of an enigma. You see when we can understand Manny; it seems that he is on all sides of an issue at varying times. The fact that we have great difficulty understanding Manny is not meant to be demeaning, rather just a dose of reality. The most common comment made about Manny is that most non Spanish speaking residents (that would be a majority of the City population), cannot understand him whether he is speaking Spanish or English. We believe that his linguistic difficulties will prove to be a challenge for him and the city if he was to be Trenton's next Mayor. As my fellow blogger Bald, Fat and Angry suggested, Manny's linguistic difficulties could very well be a showstopper for many listeners, which would include those in State, County and Federal government as well as constituents and more importantly potential investors in Trenton's future.

When we alluded to our Dominican Dandy being on all sides of most significant issues we forgot to also mention that on some of the most important issues, perhaps those that he cannot cover all bases on, his MO (modus operandi), is to just sneak off and hide so that he does not have to record a vote on any side. This angle has seemed to be Manny's comfort zone over the last month or so of the Mayor's campaign. He conveniently missed two of the most important votes in recent memory, a vote on the budget and a vote on the TWW sale. We will give you several meaningful examples of Manny's version of hide and seek. We heard Manny speak at several of the Mayoral forums held around Trenton early in this year’s political season. We had come to the conclusion then that he was a serial flip flopper as we heard his position on the Trenton Water Works (TWW) sale, the issue of an appointed or elected School Board, the yet unapproved budget, and his relationship with his Dizzoner (our version of giving you a taste of some of the diction issues), King Doug and his Court of Councilmen change from venue to venue. We were then determined to pay closer attention to Manny's proposals and explanation so we could clear up any erroneous beliefs or misunderstandings. The problem thereafter, however, was that Manny either fled Trenton for parts unknown or he made a calculated political decision that he no longer needed to expose himself to his electorate and any questions that they, the media or forum moderators may have had for him. You see we went to the next 5 forums (they were far from good old fashioned debates) and the closest we came to having a Manny sighting was at the Lighthouse forum where Manny showed up and then unceremoniously departed about a third of the way thorough the event. We deemed the departure significant because the Lighthouse was one of the very few forums that permitted extensive audience participation in the form of dozens of questions directed to particular candidates. Is the picture becoming clearer? That's right Manny smiled and waved but avoided having to answer even a single question from any voter.

Our craving for even poorly articulated positions from Mr. Segura and answers to the tough questions facing Trenton and its residents (Manny's current constituency as an At Large Councilman) continued to grow. So we attended the next forum at the Martin House and waited with baited breath for a Manny sighting, yet we were disappointed again. No Manny sightings on Chambers and East State Street. Thinking that perhaps Manny grew tired in the late afternoon or early evening and required a siesta, thus making the aforesaid forums inconvenient for him, we rose early the next Saturday and sipped coffee in the Trenton Marriot lobby awaiting a morning sighting of the now ghost like Mr. Segura at the Trenton Pastor's forum. Three cups of refreshingly bold java and you guessed it, no Manny. Having heard the same canned answers from most of the other candidates so many times, the thought of sitting through another couple hours of déjà vu, caused our stomachs to churn (perhaps it was all the java without any sustenance). So we abandoned ship. Before you think that Manny showed after our departure, you should know that we verified that there was no such twist. Rather then continuing to bore you with Manny's disdain for public forums and his continued disregard of his obligation to speak to the voters and address the crisis facing Trenton, suffice it to say that the pattern continues through this very day. Thus henceforth and forever more we shall deem our Latino Councilman, Manny “El Fantasma” Segura. Roughly translated, the ghost or phantom.

Virtually everyone we talk to in about Trenton seems to say that El Fantasma - the Phantom was rivaling Pauly Urban League Pintella for the rites to tie King Doug’s shoes and wash his car, during the Phantom's rise through Trenton politics. To protect our journalistic integrity, however we decided to check for ourselves. I would encourage all of you to go back and read through the Trentonian online archives regarding Manny and Doug's cozy relationship from 2002 through 2009. A fair summary of the articles would suggest that Doug Palmer was "El Fantasma's buen amigo and perhaps even a mentor. My fellow blogger BF&A describes Manny as a Palmer Puppet of Pintellan/Lartiguesque magnitude that still has a whiff of Palmer Stink about him. If you question this analysis even slightly, please check out our Segura video link under our gotcha section and prepare to be amazed. We encourage this humorous foray into the sublime particularly if you need to quell your anger after reviewing Tony Mack's delinquent tax bills. The only excuse we can think of for this form of idol worship of a living King is temporary delusions or an insatiable desire to climb the ladder in Trenton politics. In some areas of Trenton this would be more aptly referred to as unabashed ass kissing! After watching the Phantom to the Kings left and Pauly "The Blind Prince" to the right; following the Kings orders and attending to his every desire (ok, I agree that was an ugly picture, so perhaps not every desire), for the past 7 and 1/2 years we were somewhat shocked to note that the Phantom is now striking a loud chord, suggesting that he has always been the people's Councilman. According to our new and improved Phantom (sort of like Spiderman 2 or a Superman sequel), our super hero, has not only always been at odds with Lex Luther, sorry, we mean the awful King, or with his Blind Prince. Aw the sins of blind ambition.

When it come to the TWW deal, Phantom II says that he has always been a champion of the people in opposing the water sale. In fact in a Trentonian April 13, 2010 article Phantom II says “Manny Segura has been opposed to the sale of the water system from the beginning." Yet in the same article the "Blind Prince" says” As a matter of continued ‘reversal’ and ‘flip-flops,Councilman Segura consistently misrepresents himself by ‘lying’ to the public about issues that he was directly informed about and voted for." He goes on to say that the Phantom II continues a pattern of ‘reversal’ and ‘flip-flops.’ and that he consistently misrepresents himself by ‘lying’ to the public about issues that he was directly informed about and voted for. Confused about who is telling the truth? Now remember we told you earlier that our ears caused us to believe that the Phantom II was conveniently flip flopping on the important issue. Our problem with that thesis now, is that to prove ourselves right we must rely upon the word of a man variously known as "Pauly P., Pauly"Mr. Urban League", The Idiot Prince, Paulie PowerPoint Pintella, Mini Me, Slick Paul and the Blind Prince. Does that sound like a model of integrity and a reliable witness? Wow, what a quandary we are in. Our research to date would suggest that it would be more plausible that they were both bending the truth. Let's see. It could be that this is just sibling rivalry trying to determine which one of them will be given the keys to the castle (and likely some last minute campaign money that won't be reported until after the election), by our departing King. Yet perhaps the King's other adopted son, Eric Jackson will be rewarded. Aw the plot thickens. We will visit "Pothole Jackson" tomorrow. What a web the King has woven.

Next we will delve into your ridiculously high taxes and the role both of the above Councilmen have played in putting that oppressive tax bill on your desk. Mr. Pintella has managed to raise your tax bill by 60% during his term in office. Mr. Segura has not been quite as proficient, but then again he did manage to raise your taxes by 33% in just half the time. The Phantom, Phantom II and the 'Idiot Prince" have managed to give a bad name to the phrase tax and spend. The City has record deficits and the one solution that both of these fellows came up with was to break your back again with another huge tax increase (22% this time). We really do not think either of these clowns has had one single original idea to help this city and to alleviate the burden on its residents. To further bolster this premise we again note that your City Council did not hold even one budget cutting session in the last 10 months and could not find even $1 to cut from the King's ransom demand, I mean his proposed budget.

Mr. "Pothole Jackson" recently took a pot shot the Phantom’s disability status. (See Trentonian, April 29, 2010). Initially, we thought that Potholes play was a cheap shot. But, that was before we observed the Phantom driving a $60,000 Black SUV with Pennsylvania license plates. So our curiosity heightened as to how a person too disabled to work could afford a luxury vehicle. A little birdie told us to look up some of the Phantom's real estate transactions. So we trekked down to the County Courthouse. And what to our wondrous eyes did appear (the answer in this case is not 8 tiny reindeer, but similarly surprising) but some interesting transactions regarding 234 Hamilton Avenue. The county records reveal that 234 Hamilton Avenue was purchased from CitiMortgage, Inc., by an L.L.C. with a New York mailing address, on 1/22/2002 for $32,500. Then on 8/1/2003 Manuel Segura, unmarried, a totally disabled Phantom, bought the same property for $140,000 (Deed Book 4709 Page 018), from another L.L.C. On 10/31 200 our "Phantom" sold the same property for $282,000 (Deed Book 5521 Page 079). Ay caramba, that was one heck of a deal, $142,000 profit in just about 3 years. Now we can figure the fancy cars. The real estate post script is that the same property sold again on 11/16/2009 to another L.L.C. for $125,000 (Deed Book 6036 Page 513).

The Trenton Times alerted the world in its March 21, 2010 article about Trenton's Pay to Play ordinance, and that there have clearly been several violations of the ordinance and likely more. Our Phantom was a key player in that story as he took excessive contributions in violation of the Pay to Play ordinance in 2008 and 2009 and then proceeded to sponsor a Council resolution to benefit that same contributor. That in itself seems to reek of impropriety and a quid pro quo. Our Phantom however, went further and did not recuse himself from the vote (do to an actual or perceived conflict of interest), and actually voted AYE on the motion to give a 94,000 contract to his favored contributor, Borden Perlman Insurance. (See Trentonian, 1/23/2010 Times, 3/21/2010 and Trenton City Council minutes of 1/2010). Despite the Phantom’s adverse publicity he continues to accept substantial campaign contributions from what appear to be inappropriate if not illegal sourcesJaquez Liquors ($250 on 9/20/2008), M & M Bar and Liquor ($500 on 9/15/2009 and $3,000 on 3/9/20100), New Home Liquors ($500 on 9/15/2009 and $1,000 on 3/7/2010 and another $1,000 on the same date from a management employee of New Home). The problem with accepting donations from these businesses is that City Council also acts as the local Liquor Control Board and has the authority to review licenses. This would also seem to place today's hero in a position of an irreconcilable conflict of interest.

Much has been said of Phantom II's fundraising abilities. (See Trentonian May 7, 2010). No story on him would be complete without analyzing the peculiarities found in the Phantom and Phantom II's ELEC reports. We examined 5 of Mr. Segura's ELEC reports filed in the past year and one half and found that about 54% of his contributors were from outside of Mercer County. This is a substantially larger percentage then any other candidate in the race for Mayor. Our Phantom has also received a shocking amount of money from North Jersey (Union, Hudson, Passaic and Essex Counties). He has also received contributions from New York, Pennsylvania and even Minnesota. The magnitude of out of town money being directed at our Phantom, begs several questions. What interest do these persons and companies have in the City of Trenton? Will the Capital City be run by North Jersey political power brokers? Has there been a quid pro quo handshake agreement between Phantom II and his out of town contributors? Will a Segura victory mean that all the out-of-towners will benefit with City Hall jobs and contracts? Given the Phantom II's apparent lack of appreciation for the voter approved "Pay to Play" ordinance, do or will any of his contributions violate the same ordinance? Just wondering.

The positive side of Manny Segura is that he appears to be an affable fellow who has developed a large following in Trenton's Hispanic and Latin community. He appears to be quite active in that community and apparently has represented that segment of Trenton's population well evidenced by all of his accomplishments listed on his website and on the City of Trenton website. His membership in the Trenton Downtown Association is the only Trenton accomplishment he notes on his website that does not refer to a Columbian, Dominican, Guatemalan, Ecuadorian, Costa Rican, Mexican, Hispanic, or a Latino cause. Councilman Segura should be proud that he is the 1st Latin American on City Council. He also deserves kudos for championing the causes and his representation of the Hispanic and Latin American communities. The problem however, is that Trenton is an ethnically, religiously, culturally, economically and educationally diverse community. As an At Large Councilman and I dare say a Mayor Manny should be a representative of all of the residents of the Capital City.

Many "the Phantom" Segura should have remained a Councilman. Our analysis suggests that his interest in championing one segment of our society is not a good fit in a town that could well be a microcosm of the United Nations. Any candidate for public office has an obligation to present his views and to answer the questions and address the concerns of his electorate. Manny has already demonstrated a lack of understanding or appreciation for the purpose of Trenton's pay to play ordinance. He needs to understand that the voters of Trenton approved that ordinance because they did not want individuals or businesses to be able to disproportionately influence the operation of this government. Manny's actions and the magnitude of his out of town fundraising does not engender any confidence in this regard. The days of quid pro quos, special favors for special contributors in Trenton need to be over. That is why so many Trentonians are looking forward to a completely new government. As you might suspect with the nickname the Phantom
we believe his hide and seek game with the community forums and with Trenton's media outlets gives him a failing grade. Manny's flip fop reputation of doing or saying whatever is politically prudent for him at the time seems to us to be well earned. By vacillating on many of Trenton's critical issues he seems to lack the backbone or wherewithal to analyze the complexities of the issues and appreciate the nature of the crisis. We overheard Manny tell one woman that he would gauruntee150 more policemen in Trenton. How would he propose to pay for the 15 million that would cost when we are already in a 40 to 70 million budget hole? Wishful thinking, or just another example of saying whatever the listener wishes to hear? Trenton's problems are not part of some futuristic philosophy course. They are here on our plate and in our faces right now.

Incidentally, Mr. Pintella was right. The entire Council voted in favor of signing a contract with American Water for the TWW sale and yes Mr. Segura vote AYE as well. (See City of Trenton website, Council Minute of 12/20/2007 meeting).

Manny seems confidant that his money has already made him our next Mayor. WE HOPE NOT!! For those of you who may have similar concerns remember Jon Corzine spent a great deal more money than the current occupant on West State Street. Issues do matter. Trenton desperately needs a competent, qualified leader to take the bull by the horns and get to work post haste. Manny Segura is not that person.



  1. How many people have been killed in or near M&M?

    I'm okay with an official changing his/her mind about an issue, but I respect it more if s/he can be honest about it. But, there's all that other stuff...ugh.

  2. Send Manny to Berlitz, not the mayor's chair!

  3. So is Manny on Social Security Disabilty, declaring himself unable to work, yet at the same time able to be Mayor? Can't have it both ways, amigo, another baffling flip-flop we're supposed to accept from this candidate?????