Mayor W. Reed Gusciora celebrated the completion of the Montgomery Street Plaza rehabilitation, connecting historic city landmarks to the Mill Hill neighborhood, despite his grim record on murder and other violent crimes.
As Gusciora cut the ceremonial ribbon at the rehabilitation project, about one mile away, Trenton police officers found the body of 41-year-old Corrine Daniels, which was unceremoniously dumped in the basement of her Park Avenue home in Trenton.
According to campaign finance reports filed in July, Gusciora has raised at least $141,274 for his re-election campaign, which seems to be a greater priority for him than the lives of people who he is supposed to protect. Evidence of that is the ribbon-cutting.
The plaza improvement is the latest restoration of Trenton’s historic sites but recent years have seen a spike in gun violence that ballyhoo over such cosmetic improvements reveals that officials are wildly out of touch with the public, which has little reason to trust the police and political establishment.
A group of officers recently shot a young father who went to retrieve a drink from a parked car while visiting his children at their mother’s house in the city, leaving the innocent victim paralyzed.
That’s hardly the kind of thing that inspires the public to cooperate with authorities who are responsible for solving the murders of 123 homicide victims who were killed in Trenton since Gusciora was elected.
To say Gusciora has had a rocky relationship with the city council would be an understatement of geological proportions.
His administration has burned through executive department directors like an arson was in charge of the human relations bureaucracy, among them six police directors.
One of those former police directors filed a discrimination lawsuit against Gusciora and other city officials alleging that she was fired because she is a Black woman who refused to protect corrupt, white men working in the police department.
Sheilah A. Coley was fired by Gusciora after two years on the job as police director.
Coley, who has had a long career in the military and law enforcement, held every rank in the Newark Police Department including three years as its police chief and director. She then served as public safety director for East Orange before Trenton hired her in May 2019, and fired her in June 2021.
Trenton set its highest homicide record with 40 murders each in 2020 and in 2021, the homicide rate is on pace to come close to those record high numbers again with 16 slayings so far this year.
The lawsuit claims that Coley blocked attempts by a white male supervisor to return a white male supervising detective – who was found guilty of perjury in federal court – back to active duty. However, Gusciora eventually returned the crooked officer to his job “behind Coley’s back,” the lawsuit states.
According to Gusciora, the plaza is an important downtown site adjacent to the Mill Hill Playhouse, the Douglass House, and Mill Hill Park.
The Mill Hill Historic District spans some 10 linear blocks of mostly 19th-century homes, within walking distance of the Trenton train station, putting it within feasible commuting distance of greater New York City and Philadelphia.
The oldest home in the district was built in 1826. The newest was completed in 2005.
The new Belgian block pavers surrounding the base of the George Washington statue will never restore the damaged lives and fear bred by a surge in gun violence that the entire New Jersey political establishment merely pretends to ignore.
Gusciora was joined at the ribbon-cutting by North Ward Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson, South Ward Councilman George Muschal, community members, and Director of Recreation, Natural Resources, and Culture Maria Richardson.
Corrine Daniels could not attend because she was apparently murdered in her Park Avenue home.
Anyone with an ounce of common sense or compassion for beleaguered residents of the capital city can see that Gusciora has got to go.