May 1, 2013

Mayor and Council Choose Not to Heed Citizens Addressing Important Issues

To the Editor:

When the Mayor and Council of Princeton hear, they do not heed what they hear; when they listen, they do not hear what is said; when citizens speak, they rarely listen; and when they make decisions or pronouncements they do not adequately explain (if they completely understand) the consequences of their words and actions.

1. Despite Council members indicating that most, if not all of their neighbors, like the Nassau Street kiosks the way they are, they vote to lease (give) the kiosks to the Chamber of Commerce.

2. Serious issues about the mayor and Council’s forced resignation of Chief Dudeck were raised by serious people with years of experience far in excess of the current mayor and Council (former Council members Martindell, Wilkes, and Trelstead, and former Mayor Trotman). Lifelong residents of Princeton also raised questions about the treatment of Chief Dudeck and the problems with our police department. The Council and mayor (with one exception) accepted the resignation. By way of explanation they simply read statements prepared in advance of the meeting without dealing with the significant issues raised by the many people who spoke on behalf of the Chief and his previously unblemished, exemplary career. No one will ever know the bona fides of the complaints made nor the motivations of those who made the complaints. This is now a zero tolerance town. If we applied the same standard to the mayor’s and Council’s performance, would any of them still be in office? Who would willingly agree to work for such a harsh and “supportive” supervisor?

3. Any member of the public who has faced most of the stone faced or distracted elected members of our community knows that the message is hurry up and finish so that we can do what we want to do. The major (almost the sole) reaction to public comment is “can you sum up” or “your three minutes are up.” Even when a fellow member of the Council (trying to understand one of the complex issues to be dealt with) seeks to ask a question, his or her colleagues try to hurry the proceeding along rather than learn from their colleague’s intelligent question and its answer.

4. Had they chosen to explain the import and content of the consent order in the AvalonBay matter, they may have faced many fewer angry comments about it. Had they not proclaimed a savings of 2 to 3 million dollars from consolidation before their own commission said it was only $750,000, the citizens would have had more confidence in their financial stewardship.

The mayor and Council have many important issues to deal with. Because they choose not to heed, hear, listen, or explain to even the wise experienced people who once sat in their shoes, I, a mere citizen, wonder if it is worthwhile to address them. They know it all.

Joseph C. Small

Hawthorne Avenue