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Thursday, November 13, 2008

The proof is in the timing

On the same night that the Trenton Library Board of Trustees voted to temporarily halt a plan to close four of the city’s branch libraries, West Ward councilwoman and potential 2010 mayoral candidate Annette Lartigue held a fundraiser to support those libraries.

The odd timing of the fundraiser, however coincidental, and what it symbolizes is somewhat reminiscent of how some Republican presidential candidates were forced into carefully dealing with a highly unpopular President George W. Bush, despite prior party affiliation and support.

Like the outgoing president, Mayor Palmer has become increasingly unpopular in the community, especially through budget cut proposals and the branch library closure plan. How unpopular the cuts and closures are is evidenced by how Mayor Palmer, after eyeing the public reaction, actually worked to reverse the closure plan brought on by his own cuts.

Such unpopularity, with a 2010 election looming for some potential mayoral and council candidates, is a good catalyst for shifting the perception of support and association. A peek at what such shifts could look like is the odd timing of Councilwoman Lartigue’s Trenton fundraiser, which was aimed at closing some of the $350,000 budget gap imposed on the libraries by Mayor Douglas H. Palmer’s budget cuts.

This rather awkward timing appears to demonstrate an acknowledgement by some in the community of their feelings about what this board of Palmer cronies has done to the management of the libraries’ finances. Even among board members Councilwoman Lartigue's timing raised some eyebrows, like the pair that belongs to longtime Palmer family friend Adrienne Hayling, who told The Trentonian that the timing was “embarrassing.”

Such a reaction from the trustees, who voted on a plan to reduce hours and staffing at some of the libraries to allow them to remain open, shows they were quite aware of how they have been placed out of the loop when it comes to fundraising efforts like, Councilwoman Lartigue’s event.

The unfortunate thing for Palmer supporters who may end up on the 2010 ballot is that spearheading these events to prevent physical association with the mayor and his policies will probably not be sufficient to sway many voters.

Like a national electorate fed up with years of Bush mismanagement, many citizens in this city are on the lookout for a significant political shift indicated by a turn away from the broken government and policy that has become the hallmark of the Palmer administration. That just has not happened yet.


Mr. Cleän said...

I never thought I'd live to see HizzMajesty King Douglas compared to Dubya, but there you go.

Well played, son.

Kevin said...

I had to read this post a few times, slowly, and I am still having some trouble figuring out your main point. As a co-sponsor of the reception in question, I have some interest in the subject matter.

In the course of the last two months' effort to get an independent foundation for the library established, I have had contacts and discussions with several Council members. Mrs. Lartigue many weeks ago generously offered to organize the reception.

Due to considerations for conflicts around the Election, Thanksgiving and all the other myriad fundraisers, the date of November 12. At the time we started to talk about the reception up until this week, it had not occurred to me, nor did we discuss with the Councilwoman, that this was the same evening as the Trustees meeting. Certainly this event was in the works for weeks before the mayor's rescue plan was even announced.

I don't consider this event to have been a "superficial attempt to try and shift the perception of support and association." I thought the Councilwoman did a solid by sponsoring this event to raise the profile of our efforts. You don't have to view every development in this town through a conspiratorial lens, Greg.

Greg Forester said...

My point is that people like the councilwoman, as in reliable Palmer supporters, are going to be forced to walk a fine line between their old selves and the way they will have to recast themselves when it comes down election time.

I do not mean to detract from your efforts, if it came across that way. My point is that Annette has gone along with everything Palmer says or does lately, and she must choose a position.

Either she supports the mayor's decision to cut funding and therefore close the libraries, or she must take up the opposite position, which is they shouldn't close, they need money, and that that the mayor's board of friends have mismanaged the libraries' funding resulting in the current fiscal crisis.

I think she is trying to recast herself here, but I want to remind people that it takes more than holding a fundraiser to reverse years of misguided support.

Sorry if that offended you in any way.