Star Ledger: A brand-new ride for a big wheel

A brand-new ride for a big wheel
What a waste of print and pixels. Joanie’s lost her way since her excellent piece last year accusing City Hall of spending too much of its time fighting billboards rather than crime. She spends this week’s piece dogging the mayor about … wait for it …

Municipal trucks. Forty-thousand-dollar municipal trucks used to cart senior officials around the city. Sure, they’re pricey. And, they’re hard on gas for our crunchy Whole-Foods-shopping mayor. And the trucks they’re replacing are less than three years old.

But, seriously? This is what the Ledger is paying its reporters for? This isn’t holding the mayor accountable: it’s being a pain in the ass. Somehow, I’ve got to believe that in a city of 300,000 people with a budget of $720 million, where a quarter of the population lives in poverty, there must be a more compelling story to tell than that of eight $40,000 trucks.

Or maybe this reporter has forgotten how to tell it.

Author: Ken Walker

Husband, Father, Newarker, PCA Elder, Business Analyst. In a glass case of emotion since 1978.

6 thoughts on “Star Ledger: A brand-new ride for a big wheel”

  1. That’s $320,000.00 That’s real money. That could pay for a few summer jobs for Newark teens, that could pay for more programs for teens like Project Build, that could buy tickets to events that could expand the experiences of Newark’s children. $320,000. is an awful lot to spend to replace three year old cars.

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  2. Edna, I actually agree that the stewardship of municipal resources here is open to question.
    Replacing three-year-old vehicles sounds fickle. But we don’t know if the city was able to recoup any expenses by selling the old vehicles, or if there are other accounting details we’re not privy to that make less of an impact on the municipal budget. We don’t even know if the “average cost” calculated in Joan’s article is sticker price or actual cost to the city. We don’t hear anything about standing contracts with vehicle dealerships or whether the city negotiated a fleet discount.
    But my issue is with the fact that Joan — whose work I appreciate and have lauded in the past — has been spinning any infraction lately by the Booker administration as maliciously self-serving. Was this a poor use of taxpayer money? Maybe, but we don’t get enough context from the Ledger to make anything more than a knee-jerk judgment call.
    How many other municipalities in the state are liberal with upgrading their service vehicles? Just because Newark has special needs doesn’t mean we give a pass to those other municipalities, do we? But we don’t get any context from the Ledger whether this type of spending is normative or unusual.
    The thing that gets me is that the Ledger is paying a reporter to be “embedded” with City Hall, and somehow is missing one of the most compelling stories in America: the rebirth of one of it’s great cities. If Whitlow wants to be a contrary voice, I’m all for it, but let’s see some real investigative reporting. Her recent pieces have ranged from pointed to meandering to just stupid.
    This latest piece does more to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt than engage in interesting — let alone helpful — public discourse. Newark really deserves better coverage than this.

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  3. “…from pointed to meandering to stupid.” I echo Ken’s feeling on Joan Whitlow. She either enjoys being stupid, or thinks that Newarkers are stupid. Let’s see some real investigative reporting in this developer-friendly city at this critical moment of the city’s history.

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  4. $320,000 for trucks lasting years is not “REAL money” for a city with a 700+ mil budget. Newark cops can use all the equipment they get and then some. The mayor of newark is a crime-fighting and gang-fighting figure. His security needs are high. a safe functional city government is a must.

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