Monday, April 27, 2009

Saving a City From Four More Drunken Years

Journalists often complain about the uselessness of regular press conferences. They're filled with cliched quotes, spin and stonewalling. Rarely does anything groundbreaking come out of them.*

*Unlike in Blue Chips, people don't usual confess to major scandals at them.

But I think the journalists themselves are being a bit hypocritical here, considering many of them do the same sort of dance—creating a public shield that obscures the truth. There's the old sucking up profile to curry favor with sources, known as the beat sweetener. There’s mingling with insiders to gain “insight” into various issues, agreeing not to print anything one hears. And, there’s one of my biggest pet peeves, which is when columnists (See Peggy Noonan) don’t write what they actually believe.

That's why I'm really glad to see Jersey Journal political columnist Agustin Torres is taking the current Jersey City administration head-on. I won't bore you with the details of Hudson County politics, but I'm not exaggerating things by saying Mayor Healy has been a drunken embarrassment for the city. Unfortunately, a politician backed by a powerful political machine can overcome incidents such as passing out naked on his front porch or getting into a brawl with police after drinking "five beers" down the shore.

Torres, though, is pushing back against the mayor. He'd been sparring with the mayor forever, but he finally began to really lower the boom this month. I’m not sure what impact—if any—the newspaper still holds, but I hope Torres’ columns help expose the administration for the fraud it is:

From "Healy's surely not been the mayor he said he'd be":

The mayor is correct when he says this columnist is biased. I am.

For too long this city has allowed politicians to not do their basic jobs - care for the safety and welfare of its citizens. They don't get it. Instead of putting future tax abatements and millions of dollars in grants into new waterfront projects along Newark Bay and the Hackensack River, city officials should just concentrate on upgrading the "quality of life" in the heart and spine of the "traditional" part of the city - from the Heights to Greenville.

New businesses, homes, parks, schools and more can do wonders for residents who already pay high taxes. Or how about just making sure the laws and codes that are on the books are obeyed? Isn't it amazing how first-time home buying programs always benefit members of city government - right, Dom. We can go on and on.


The truth is I would rather anyone else - even a write-in vote for those metaphoric dozen monkeys who when locked in a room with a typewriter and given enough time can write a Shakespeare play - than the present administration.

Mad at me are you? Boo-hoo.

Many of his more recent columns have continued to puncture holes in the political machine.

It's not exactly Royko-esque work, but I'm glad that at least one journalist is calling things as he actually sees them.

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