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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Camden is Shifting, I hope

Power loves a vacuum and you can call Camden "Hooverville" right now. It's a game of musical chairs in our fair city and here are the changes.

1. We will have a new mayor in the fall, most likely - Dana Redd (giving up her state Senate seat and City Council seat. FYI she replaced a Senator who entered Federal prison today :P)

2. We will have a new President of the City Council - Angel Fuentes is running for State Rep.

3. We will have 2 new city council members - Fuentes and Redd are running for new offices

4. We will have a new state appointed COO - Judge Davis leaves this week

5. We will have a new Public Safety Director - Vega resigned last week

6. We will have a new State Rep - open seat

7. We will have a new State Senator - open seat

8. We will have a new CEO of Cooper's Ferry Development Corp., nonprofit developer of the Camden waterfront - Tom Corcoran left for a similar job in Philly and the V.P. will move up.

9. We have a new Chancellor at RU-C - Wendell Pritchett came over from U Penn

10. And we will have a Gubernatorial election in November, which may or may not give us a new Gov.

You have lame ducks running for a different office, you have vacancies, you have higher-ups running for re-election, and most politicos are paying attention to the election - not governing.

Two things happen when there is this much tumult.
One is that people hunker down and try to keep everything at status quo until new people arrive and the situation can be assessed.

Two is that people proceed into the void and hope to shape the landscape before new people are in place. This is the more likely scenario. People take advantage of the fact that eyes are elsewhere and there is opportunity to act. In Camden, this may be a good thing. If the regular cast of elected officials is looking at the election, there is room to maneuver and actually make some headway in this town where every pol puts their thumb on the City's neck!

The city is in the midst of trying to apply for as much Federal stimulus money as it can. This was not a good time for the COO to walk out.

The city is in the midst of reshaping the police force and getting officers on the street instead of behind the wheel or a desk. This has not been easy. Not a good time for the PS Dir. to quit.

The city needs jobs, jobs, jobs. Not a good time for 2 key City Council people to leave to campaign.

I don't know that it matters if the State Rep and State Senator change. The state legislature is still a bit of a mystery to me.

It is a great time for a new Chancellor at Rutgers, Camden - the academy does not move well with interim place-holders, no matter how good they are.

It is a great time for new leadership to take on the development issues of waterfront neighborhoods. Tom did his job well and was a great champion for Camden. But even he needs to move on to a new challenge and let his successor take a run. Young blood can be a game changer.

Stay tuned. It should be a very interesting Fall season!

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