After more than a week of heated arguments, angry discussions and vitriolic verbiage, embattled Trenton mayor Tony Mack finally agreed to accept a $22 million state transitional aid package that could ultimately save New Jersey’s capital city from sinking deeper into a financial pit, officials announced on Tuesday.
The bone of contention was that, as part of the deal, a three-member panel would be established to oversee a portion of the city operations-a suggestion that Mack vehemently opposed, claiming that a watchdog group would “compromise” his role as mayor. Critics argued that due to Mack’s poor management record as mayor, including a record number of key officials in his administration resigning in less than two years, the city of Trenton must be carefully monitored.
Under the new agreement, Mack and the Department of Community Affairs will actively assist in the hiring process of key department director positions. Had Mack not agreed to the most recent offer, the city would have faced, by some accounts, “financial ruin.”
The latest news is flicker of hope in the struggling tenure of Mack. Several prominent residents of the city of Trenton have fueled an effort to have Mack removed from office and force a special election. Advocates of the recall have until Nov. 15 to collect 9,700 signatures in order to force a special election. According to various sources, more than 8,500 signatures have been obtained, with less than three weeks left before the deadline.
“I can’t believe that [Mack] said he’s doing a great job,” said former City Council Woman Cordelia Staton. “He is ruining the city of Trenton and needs to go,” said longtime resident and former city worker, Andrew Bobbitt.
In the past, Mack has answered his critics by accusing them of being bitter or angry because he didn’t hire someone or award them a lucrative city contract. “I can’t give everybody a job,” he said. “Most of the people criticizing me at some time wanted something from me.”