The age-old adage, buy now and pay a lot more later—-is about to become a way of life for the city of Trenton–—due mainly to the ongoing piss-poor relationship between the mayor’s office and certain members (guess who?) of the beleaguered embattled, and incompetent Trenton City Council. In August, Moody’s Corporation—(commonly called Moody’s), a respected financial services company based in New York, downgraded the city of Trenton’s financial credit rating. Inevitably, the cost of borrowing or refinancing debt will increase. Credit ratings are assigned to a municipality’s bonds and determine if and how likely the bonds will be repaid. In the city of Trenton’s case, Moody estimates that repayment of those bonds and other outstanding debt, which is about $252 million, is unlikely.
As someone who has written about and covered politics and business in Trenton for more than 20 years, the downgrade in its credit rating is not surprising, nor is it the first, second or third time that it’s happened. When I look back over the long and checkered political and financial history of the capital city and the turmoil and harmful activities of the current crop of political and economic cronies, I shrug my shoulders and ask, “Is anyone really surprised about an unfavorable credit rating for Trenton? I’m not!”
The financial analysts at Moody’s reviewed the embarrassing economic history of the city and determined extending credit and expecting repayment of any new and existing debt was a high risk. I’m sure someone pointed out that one of the newest council members’–Sonya Wilkins had to file bankruptcy in a case that was finally closed five years ago, but publicly revealed earlier this year. How could someone, a former high-ranking city employee with a good salary for many years, who couldn’t control her own sloppy and wayward spending habits, be responsible and trusted enough to oversee and effectively manage a $230 million city budget? Add to the mix a city council president involved in countless lawsuits. A judge just ordered Kathy McBride to pay a $24 million tax levy to Trenton Public Schools. And councilwoman Robin Vaughn continues to disgrace herself and the city nearly every time she opens her mouth–it’s no wonder the city of Trenton remains mired in a deep financial and political hole.
At any rate, the election for new political leadership is about 70 days away. If there was a time when a new or significantly revamped political hierarchy was needed in Trenton, it’s right now. If not, the downward economic and political spiral will continue—taking thousands of Trentonians with it.