A few years back when I ran against Mayor De Luca during the Democratic Primary, I did so for a variety of reasons including my belief that families with school aged children were not significant members of his base. Sadly, I was right.
In announcing that he has no plans to continue funding YouthNet, the all so valuable after school program for middle-school children, the Mayor has made it clear that these kids are better off unattended if tax payers are forced to fork over $15,000.00 to support the program. I was outraged and so too should you. Making matters worse, the Mayor also said Youthnet's inability to reach out during Hurricane Sandy was perhaps central in his decision to pull the plug.
Of course, making the program expendable due to fiscal restraint might make sense if not for this administration's continued spending habits which recently included two consultants to help formulate a plan for the soon to be vacant Post Office and a consultant to help the Mayor try and figure out a way to turn Springfield Ave. into the next great outdoor shopping Mall.
All laughing aside, the consultant's first act after being hired was to make it clear that tattoo parlors and check cashing businesses would no longer have a presence on the Ave. Good Grief! No such businesses ever existed there in the first place!
Township Committee member Gerry Ryan, who is also the Township Committee liaison to YouthNet has made a few statements including his belief that perhaps a negotiation with the Mayor could help save the program. Odd, perhaps Mr. Ryan forgets that his vote counts equal to the Mayor so in reality if it's a 4-1 vote or 3-2 vote in favor, what negotiation is needed? Mr. Ryan, whose political career was salvaged when Mayor De Luca appointed him back onto the TC after Mayor Pettis resigned some years ago might still feel a little guilty disagreeing with his "boss" but the Mayor is not Mr. Ryan's boss, we are. Don't forget that, Mr. Ryan.
I did peruse the local gossip site, Maplewood Online hoping that perhaps this topic had gained some momentum there and surely it had but not surprisingly there were no comments from either the Mayor or Mr. Ryan. Instead I found Mr. Ryan horsing around on a "Who from Maplewood should be the next Pope?" thread. Mr. Ryan nominated himself.
For those of you raising children, you need to stand up and be heard. Let this Mayor know that $39,000 in generator purchases in case we ever have another storm of the century might alleviate some concerns, but if that requires abolishing YouthNet, Town Hall will just have to live in the dark for a few days.
Find your money elsewhere. The antiquated Community Coalition on Race might be a good place to start.