Posts Tagged ‘NJ’

Councilman Coston and Dan debate the role of income distribution on revitatilization

Councilman Coston referenced in his blog, an email discussion he and I had about the impact of income distribution on Trenton. Mr. Coston’s blog can be found at, SouthTrenton.com.

I’ve taken the opportunity to restate the debate here.  It’s a useful discussion for policymakers and I thank Jim Coston for being the kind of Councilman that is open to challenging his own assumptions. Read the rest of this entry »

Buying out Trenton

Saving Trenton from its crazy self

The idea of the state having to take over Trenton has come up recently. However, many citizens, even when faced with the evidence that Trenton clearly can’t take care of itself, suggest that the state would do an even worse job. They have a point; even with its broad financial resources the state clearly hasn’t fixed Camden.

So, let’s imagine for a moment that state oversight is a bad option. We already know that we can’t run the city ourselves. What then are the remaining options? Read the rest of this entry »

Saving the city by giving up the schools

A Modest Proposal to fix the budget and still keep the Water Works

In “Invest the Trenton Water Works proceeds in the future not the past” I argued that the proceeds from the sale of the Water Works should not be applied directly to the 2010 and 2011 budgets. I allowed that it was too late to fix the 2009 budget and therefore $20M of the proceeds should be used to patch this year’s gaping budget hole.

If a group of Trenton citizens have their way, the sale will be delayed until a public vote can be taken and it’s not certain at all that the public will go along with the administration’s plan. We’d be left with a huge problem. Therefore, we’d better come up with plan B for patching the 2009 budget. Read the rest of this entry »

Revitalization is a dirty job

Of the five major ways to foster urban revitalization;

  1. Facilitating high end real estate development,
  2. Supporting the arts and culture,
  3. Cleaning up the joint,
  4. Squashing the gangs, and
  5. Creating a reason for Trenton to be here,

Only “Cleaning up the joint” can be done inexpensively.

Visitors to Trenton often comment that the city looks “run down” and dirty. Residents agree. Read the rest of this entry »

Crime budget questions we need answered

If you ask a Trentonian about their number one city issue, crime will probably come up. Yet we don’t really seem to have any clue about its measurable affects on our city or how to manage them.

Previously, I wrote about the cause and effect of a city’s crime level and it’s immigration level ( How Crime Affects Trenton). However, this is a very small part of the story. First, we have to agree on what it is about a city that we’d like to improve. In general, the best measure of a city’s health is its per capita income. Cities with high crime rates have low per capita incomes and vice-a-versa (The Economics of Crime).

Read the rest of this entry »

The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness has misled the public

The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness and its funder, the Educational Testing Service have produced a report, “Housing the Vulnerable in Mercer County” that defies the laws of economics, makes unfounded assertions and argues for the abandonment of Trenton. However, it does not address homelessness.

Link to the report

Read the rest of this entry »

A quick post on the meltdown

I’d like to call ReinventTrenton readers attention to an excellent Harvard University Panel discussion on the causes of our financial crisis.  These are some of the best economic minds in the country including a Nobel laureate and the Dean of the Havard Business School.

Harvard Panel on the Financial Meltdown 9-25-2008

Basically, there are two drivers to the current problem, one of which affects Trenton and the other one, not so much. Read the rest of this entry »

Urban Revitalization is harder than Rocket Science

It is rare in America that an inner city is truly revitalized. Sometimes, cities bounce back like Cleveland, New York, Washington and now maybe Newark.

But with the possible exception of New York no inner city has turned itself into a “shining city on a hill”. No inner city, and Trenton is an example, has turned squalor into enlightened civilization. Read the rest of this entry »

The case for dumping city owned property

The city is by far the largest single holder of vacant and underutilized real estate in Trenton. This is a long standing situation and is not in the best interests of Trentonians.

It is inevitable to hear Trenton politicians and citizens alike exclaim that, while the city should sell its vacant holdings, “we shouldn’t give them away”.

Oh really? And just how have the fine folks at city hall, and many of our leading activists come to this conclusion?

Read the rest of this entry »

Trenton as a Turnaround Opportunity

Trenton has the feeling of a business on the skids

The following is an excerpt from “Leading a Turnaround” by Harvard Business School professor, Rosabeth Moss Kantor:

In organizations in decline, a kind of learned helplessness sets in. Secrecy, blame, isolation, avoidance, passivity, and feelings of helplessness combine to perpetuate the poor performance.

This “death spiral” typically starts when a company begins to neglect the fundamentals—for example, letting communication deteriorate, starting to pull decision making back into the hands of smaller and smaller groups that make decisions behind closed doors. This undermines the organization’s problem-solving capability.

If you didn’t know this was from a study of poorly performing businesses, you’d think it was Trenton. Read the rest of this entry »