Trenton’s Ethical Dilemma

We have a difficult choice to make in Trenton’s mayoral race on Tuesday, and not in a good way.

Neither of our candidates, Manny Segura or Tony Mack have a real plan for Trenton.  They both talk revitalization gibberish so it’s really a bit of a ugly toss-up from a policy perspective. 

Both want to go begging to the state for more money without offering anything in return.  If asked, both oppose the water sale even though they don’t have a good reason why.  Both would support the new HOPE VI project at Miller Homes even though they have no idea whether or not it will have a positive economic impact.  Both talk about selling off Trenton’s foreclosed homes though they have no clue as to how or whether it will matter.

If there’s no real difference between the candidates, then how can voters make their choice?

Voters need to consider the ethical character and financial motivations for Segura and Mack.

Consider Segura who wants no financial commitment from Trenton.  He’s on full disability and therefore says he won’t take a salary.  Ok, great but how can a person on full disability perform a demanding full time job like being mayor.  Mr. Segura won’t talk about this even when asked point blank.  A reasonable person would think he’s hiding something.   

So how will Mr. Segura make a buck as mayor?

Turns out he’s taken a big pile of money in the form of campaign contributions from politicians in North Jersey.  He won’t explain why those politicians felt so generous to him so here’s a guess.  As mayor of Trenton,  Mr. Segura will be in control of nearly $500M in municipal and school spending.  Let’s say contracts happened to go to companies friendly with those same North Jersey politicians.  And in return, those companies made generous donations to the same politicians.  How would we ever detect this form of pay to play?  Is this just a wild allegation?  Perhaps;  but it makes sense and since Manny won’t explain himself and say anything different, we have to go with the most likely story.

Now let’s turn to Tony Mack. 

Tony is apparently hard up for cash.  That by itself is no crime and we can only hope that he finds better financial times.  However, he shouldn’t be doing it on the backs, or behind the backs, of Trenton residents.

Mack owes back property taxes which again wouldn’t be a serious problem, except that he’s running for the job of chief tax collector.  It’s at least a conflict of interest for a mayor of the city to be in charge of foreclosing on his own house. 

So here’s a guy with some serious financial problems and he’s running for mayor, which is a very expensive proposition.  It seems that desperate times call for desperate measures.  Enter Jo Jo Giorgianni. 

Jo Jo is famous in Trenton as the quarter ton rapist.  There’s a long saga from back in the 1980’s where he was convicted for raping a 14 year old girl.  Furthermore, if you ask long time Trenton residents, he’s also been connected to other types of illicit activity. Why does this matter? 

Turns out, Jo Jo is a major contributor to Tony Mack’s campaign.  Election records show that he has donated $2600 (the maximum allowed).  In addition, it is widely rumored that the $20,000 Tony loaned to the campaign actually came from Jo Jo.  It couldn’t have come from Tony because he owes the back taxes, right?

So what does Jo Jo want for all that money?

Tony wouldn’t answer that.  He won’t address the charges.  We can only assume the worst.

Here’s the summary.

One candidate is defrauding the government and owes favors to North Jersey politicians.  The other candidate owes back taxes and owes favors to a convicted rapist.  With only two days to the election and no other options, why bring all this up?

The papers have let us down by not explaining these issues and the candidates have done nothing to explain themselves (I personally asked both candidates to address the allegations).  Somebody needs to let the people know what kind of candidates they’re voting for.  Voters have a difficult moral choice to make.   

As for me, Reinvent Trenton advises on revitalization policy not moral judgments.   You’re on your own.

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