My Opinion -
Today's News Journal Local section says that the error has been corrected. This refers to the huge jury award against the City of Newark this week in Federal Court.
It seems that the City was ordered to pay the aggrieved party's attorneys fees ($1.7 Million), and that in the math, the amount was counted twice. Well, that's understandable. I can understand it because the amount of the rest of the award was so large as to minimize the impact of the double counting of the attorney fees. It is good that it was promply corrected today.
I think we should look however at what was really the error. The bigger error. The one that is in the neighborhood of $36 Million Dollars. I think we should know what caused that error, and fix it.
And the multi-million dollar error that Newark made regarding the adjustment of power charges. Who's going to fix that? Do the people even know about it? I know that I would like to understand it better.
What I am crystal clear on however, is that the City's leadership by Mayor Vance Funk has been disappointing, arbitrary and capricious.
For example, the Mayor recommended that the way to deal with the growing Alderman Court caseload was to ignore the growth issue and recommend formally that the Alderman's salary be cut so as to provide for more compensation for the Deputy Alderman. The Mayor said... on the record... that there was nothing that the judge of Alderman's Court could tell him that he didn't already know. While it is true that Mayor Funk was Alderman thirty some years ago, it is also true that some things have changed since then. Further, the Mayor at that meeting spoke of the arrangement that had been made upon the hiring of the Alderman. Well guess what? He wasn't there. He wasn't Mayor then. He didn't know. He was imprinting upon the present day what he wanted to remember from thirty years ago.
But instead of acknowledging the changes and working with council and the judiciary towards the development of a plan to deal with the growth of the Court and the City, the Mayor preferred cheap political rhetoric.
Such has been the Mayor's practice since he has taken office. And his cavalier and demeaning comments of this nature have been generally demoralizing to the dedicated City employees. Myself included.
After hearing of the meeting regarding the Alderman's Court discussion, I immediately resigned from the position of Deputy Alderman in protest to the manner in which my dedicated professional colleague was treated.
The Alderman had appeared to discuss the matter in private with council, only to find that he had not been informed that the City had decided that the meeting must be in public. Since the planned private meeting was to discuss budgeting which included my personal compensation, I did not attend. Nor was I invited. Had I been invited, or even if the slightest of a suggestion have been made that either there would be a public meeting on the topic, or that I might be asked questions at a private meeting, I would surely have been there. I had already supplied the City with written documentation and supporting data with which to make its budgetary planning, and I had expressly invited the City to ask me any questions that the Mayor and Council might have. Indeed some written questions were forwarded to me and answered promptly.
The Mayor will want to point out that he wasn't in office when the original firing of the reservoir contractor took place. But he was Mayor during the litigation. I would like to know what happened during those years that spiraled the City into this disaster. If he dealt with that the same way he dealt with other things, then I do understand.
Correction is still needed. It's needed at the polls.