According to Council Chairman Ted Green, in his own words, “the unemployment rate in East Orange, NJ, is at 46 percent.”  Despite this huge challenge in our community, the city council gave themselves a huge pay increase.  This leads me to believe that our city council thought nothing about the working people, homeowners or the 46 percent of unemployed individuals in which their pay increase impacts. This is a prime example of how NOT to build a community. 

I believe that any pay increases during a time of recessions should be postponed indefinitely. With the massive difference with income inequality, these officials are out of touch with the everyday reality within the community. You and I know that in spite of what the experts are saying, our community has yet to recover from the Recession. 

A portion of $3,684,634.00 is being allocated towards salaries between 2012 and 2016 for members of the city council.  This is an absurd amount of money that should and could be used to help the community, not force the community into more debt.  Poverty in urban communities unfortunately is passed down to the next generation, and then that generation has the challenges of financial issues to face making it a difficult cycle to be broken. I, John Thompson Jr., am not a believer that our current community’s financial situation is permanent. Nor, do I believe that we have to keep passing this legacy of debt forward, toward future tomorrow’s. 

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I, John Thompson Jr. am proposing that we help the ongoing financial hardship of our community, by redistributing that $3,684,634.00 back into our community. We can help our community out of poverty and create a community that can thrive and start anew by using that three million plus dollars. Community members need to focus on both vision and policy.  As a community, we have experienced what “LINE A”, can do, has done and what they have NOT done for our city. Their policies have only added to our burdens and change needs to happen now.  

Foreclosed homes, abandoned buildings, un-kept property, kids with nothing to do businesses and again, the issues with property taxes! These are daily reminders of the poverty, suffering, increased unemployment and despair that our city is stuck in. Our city deserves better, our future deserves better and you deserve better.  

As the previous article “3,684,634.00 Million Reasons to Change Our Community” states, the Council members gave themselves a $20,000 pay increase without consulting with any community members but themselves. How can they say this is a democracy when they, YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS, won’t even allow your voice to be heard regarding their salary increase? Things need to change.  That decision caused an increase in the budget from a collective salary of 10 council people from $492,000 to $677,700. Now, if you add that figure to the salaries they are collecting from other taxpaying jobs, also known as double-dipping, some of them are netting close to $200,000.00 per year.  Let that marinate for a minute. Ok, now ask yourself, is that ethical? Most likely the collective response would be, “No!” Face it, you can’t be for the people and get rich off them at the same time!

So now, how can we as a community fix this problem?  First, we need to change our voting “habits.  Our city needs a clean slate.  I, John Thompson Jr., will work diligently to fix this blight on our broken democratic system. $3,684,634.00 is the money I found in our budget. This money could go a long way to solving some of our self-inflicted wounds.  Given a chance to be your mayor, I John Thompson Jr., and working with a new administration will always keep the community abreast to the changes in our city. A more informed community is a better community. 

Remember, vote your conscience and stop voting your habits. East Orange Deserves Better.