Woeful Trenton Sees Mayor Add Insult to Injury

Kate Zernike, New York Times, July 20, 2012

To measure the decay here in New Jersey’s capital, residents could have counted the unfilled public pools, the shuttered libraries and police stations, the block after block of boarded-up stores and homes.

But they did not need to go that far. The city was falling apart from the top.

It started just a month after Mayor Tony F. Mack took office in 2010, when his housing director quit after it was revealed that the official had being indicted on charges of forgery and theft. Two months later, one of his judicial appointees quit over bad checks and unpaid debt, and his business administrator—the second of seven, during just nine months—resigned, having stolen from a Congressional campaign.

Then the mayor’s half brother was indicted on a charge of using city resources to do private work. And the chief of staff who Mr. Mack promised would finally bring order resigned after the police said they found him near City Hall with heroin.

So it was momentous but not surprising when the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided City Hall on Thursday morning after descending with search warrants the morning before on the homes of the mayor, his brother and one of the mayor’s chief donors.

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Mr. Mack, 46, said on Thursday in a statement that he had not violated the public trust and that he would not comment further. No one answered the door at his home on Friday.

Like other manufacturing cities that have stopped thriving, Trenton has been bedeviled by decades of poverty and a low property tax base. But if other mayors merely find themselves unable to reverse those currents, Mr. Mack has been exceptional for the amount of disruption he has brought to an already broken city, all in just two years.

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The city is about 52 percent black and 34 percent Hispanic; Mr. Mack, a Democrat who is black, won against a Hispanic candidate in a nonpartisan runoff in June 2010.

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