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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Senator calls for investigation of Distressed Cities program

A Republican State Senator asked for subpoena power last week to get the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs to release information about the hundreds of millions of dollars being disbursed through the state’s Distressed Cities program.

The program – which doles out state moneys to economically depressed cities like Trenton – has apparently handed out $500 million over the last five years, and Sen. Steve Oroho, R-24, wants to know where that money has gone, as a member of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee.

“The Distressed Cities program has been operating over the past five years without regulation, oversight, or even the most basic accounting of the use of taxpayers’ money,” said Mr. Oroho. “This program – this slush fund – has been operating in the dark for far too long and now it is time to shine the clear light of day on it.”

The Department of Community Affairs has refused several requests for explanations as to why certain cities got into the program and others are denied, and also refused to provide details on how the department decided to deliver the funds, according to Mr. Oroho’s office.

Trenton received money out of the fund this year, although Mayor Douglas H. Palmer denied that Trenton was really a distressed city after accepting the money, which was used to make up a massive budget shortfall that resulted from increasing municipal costs and the stagnant economic growth that has become the hallmark of the Palmer years.

If Mr. Oroho successfully investigates this issue, he will probably find that like many state funds headed to New Jersey’s cities, the moneys were likely squandered on silly expenditures, and unnecessary conveniences provided to city employees and contractors.

In Trenton, employees and even city contractors are regularly provided with cars, cell phones, offices and gasoline, all of which have costs associated with them.

There is little accountability or responsibility for this spending, which shortchanges not only the city residents who actually need the money, but the state residents whose dollars are being sucked into the state’s urban areas.

Good luck Mr. Oroho.

2 comments:

Irving Bertrand Clean said...

“The Distressed Cities program has been operating over the past five years without regulation, oversight, or even the most basic accounting of the use of taxpayers’ money,"

Uhhh... isn't this how the freakin' cities became "distressed" in the FIRST DAMNED PLACE?!?

Oy. My head hurts.

Old Mill Hill said...

Surely you are not suggesting that there might be something wrong in a city like Trenton. A city where "consultants" are provided with cars and offices and such; department directors don't reside in the the ciy as required by law (and upheld in the courts); and the administration is hell bent on spending tax dollars on neon signs and service contracts with pretend companies to provide imaginiary wireless internet access