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Saturday, November 8, 2008

City spins deer paddock elimination

It is always interesting to see how the Palmer administration tries to spin faulty decision-making, when it comes to eliminating city amenities because of fiscal mismanagement.

The City of Trenton's chosen public relations strategy in closing down the deer paddock in Cadwalader Park relies on the notion that park designer Frederick Law Olmsted never wanted to have the deer there in the first place. That much is clear from a public relations questionnaire put out on the city's Web site, which also details that maintaining the paddock and the animals costs the city around $50,000 a year, or approximately 66 percent of the annual cost of one of Mayor Douglas H. Palmer's two police chauffeurs.

Expanding on Olmsted's apparent dislike of these four-legged park residents, the city goes on to state that many well-liked amenities have been removed from the park, because of the designer's desire for a park that was "more pastoral, and less programmed."

But the bottom line with the elimination of this amenity, and other budget-related decisions in Trenton, is that the city administration is simply not looking in the right places to make cuts, and is instead looking at eliminating important or well-liked services or amenities, like the city's branch libraries, and to a much lesser degree, the city's deer paddock.

Some people, including me, could care less about the deer paddock, and many have advocated for its removal, but it is also quite clear that there are many thousands of residents who enjoy having it and appreciate its existence here in this city.

For only $50,000, the city could easily keep the deer paddock in existence, just like the branch libraries, which face closure because of a $300,000 shortfall that represents an amazing service for many of the city's residents, for less than 2 percent of the city's entire annual budget.

It is obvious that there are plenty of sacred cows in the Palmer administration that should be feeling the budgetary axe before the libraries, and less so, the deer paddock.

But for this city government, a bloated administration flush with unnecessary perks and unneeded employment positions is more important than services and amenities that residents use and love.u

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