‘Let Mayor Mark Smith get his hands around the problem’

To the Editor:
This is in response to a letter submitted to the “Bayonne Community News” and published on Jan. 7, 2009 by Mr. Leonard R. Kantor. Many of his letters to the editor printed over the last number of years contain the same theme. He provides us with his wisdom, rants about taxes, criticizes almost everyone in city government, and constantly complains that no action is taken to reduce the cost of running the City of Bayonne.
Our new mayor has been in office for two months, and Mr. Kantor is already on the attack. Mark Smith ran for office and was elected by the people of Bayonne to lead the city into the future. Mr. Smith explained that very difficult decisions were going to have to be made in order to balance spending with revenue. His speech made in front of 800 supporters in June was very clear that there was not going to be any quick or magical remedy to our financial problems. We elected Mark Smith to find solutions to help keep local property taxes under control. He is just starting to formulate a plan to achieve that goal.
Mayor Smith recently addressed the Municipal Council and used a Power Point presentation to identify some measures, which might get the city moving toward a fiscal balance. It was only a start, and I just don’t see how Mr. Kantor can accuse him of ignoring the Council. It is my understanding that the City Council must approve the budget that any administration submits.
Hard choices are going to have to be made! Many of the ideas Mr. Smith proposed are not going to be popular. Personally, I don’t want to see the local library branches closed. What I do expect to see is the administration place everything on the table, with no sacred cows exempted from scrutiny. The final plan should be the product of cooperation from all the interested parties. The process should fair and transparent. With the Council’s full participation and final approval, even Mr. Kantor should be satisfied.
Mr. Kantor complains about the suggestion of having the school system pay for the stadium. It’s funny, because I first heard that idea put forth by Mike Masone at an August City Council meeting. I remember that I commented to Mr. Masone that he made a lot of sense when he spoke without anger. He, like Mr. Kantor, was supporting the judge for mayor at the time. Is it possible that Mark Smith has accepted an idea from the opposition? Why not? If it only transfers revenues or costs between different entities in the city, there are merits to this approach. The school may be in a better position to fund itself from grants or other aid. Everyone will be able to associate the true costs of a program with the ultimate user. This would enable decision makers to reach decisions based on sound accounting.
I won’t address the other matters raised by Mr. Kantor at this time. Sooner or later, he will have to face the fact that the majority of people in Bayonne don’t agree with him. Once in a while, he has a good idea that I can agree with. Most of the time, I just hear noise. Let Mayor Mark Smith get his hands around the problem and allow him the time he will need to right the ship.

LARRY BUCK