How the City of Paterson became a city in crisis

By HAYTHAM YOUNES As the May 13th election for Paterson officials nears, I’ve noticed a lot of candidates running using slogans and empty promises as if they weren’t around watching Paterson get to where it’s at today. I think it’s important that Patersonians be reminded that many of the candidates asking to be reelected and elected have held positions in the city for years. Some even as long as 12 years!

I’ve written a brief article below discussing just a few of the city’s issues and how our city in crisis has come to be in crisis to begin with. I think it’s something every Patersonian needs to know about their city. Hopefully educated voting decisions can be made on May 13th, void of racial biases and false dreams, so Paterson can emerge to be a great city once again.

How The City Of Paterson Became A City In Crisis

In a few short weeks, on May 13, Patersonian will once again cast their votes for who will lead their city for the next coming years. Their decision will be hard to make, but just by looking around them, they’ll feel the path that Paterson is on right now will need to change. There are very few who believe the city is in great condition.

As a Patersonian myself, I know that I must do everything in my power to build a better future for my children and my fellow Patersonians. In order to do that though, we should reflect on how our troubled city got to where it’s at today.

At the end of February 2011, Mayor Jeffery Jones laid off 125 police officers and demoted 28 sergeants and lieutenants. He did so because the city’s budget was out of control. In laying off one third of the police force of Paterson, the Mayor was essentially trying to keep Paterson from breaking under financial stress. But he did so without a plan to continue keeping our streets safe. You can’t cut a third of your police force, plan using your remaining police force in the same way, and expect the lower number of officers to do the same job as the greater number did. Operational changes must be made and that’s where Patersonians were let down.

Without crucial operational changes to our police force, we’ve watched crime skyrocket through our city streets. We’ve watched our neighbors and family members mugged and slain in broad daylight. We’ve watched our city’s economic regions deteriorate because people from outside of Paterson are too scared of shopping in Paterson.

That’s one of the main reasons I put together a plan to ensure five minute or less police response time that I’ll push for when elected into the Council-At-Large position. My plan outlines operational changes that can position our current police force and ensure swift response times without the need for “special police”, as the incumbent city councilmen are claiming as a possible solution. My plan doesn’t require hiring more officers, but by using what we have to maximize operational capacity efficiently, we will be able to get a grip on the out-of-control crime epidemic that’s flowing through our city streets.

I say “special police” is a red herring to Paterson’s crime problems because both city council members up for reelection have held their positions watching Paterson’s crime skyrocket, safely from their $42,000 a year positions. Both incumbent members have wasted valuable time, years in fact, doing absolutely nothing to curbing our evident city’s crime epidemic.  

Hiring “special police” will actually further balloon Paterson’s budget, which is practically ready to burst. Despite our Mayor’s efforts to reign in the city budget, it has actually continued to expand at a feverish rate. With a police force that’s one third smaller than the previous administrations police force, the budget has increased a whopping $15+ million! Where has the increased expenses come from? It surely hasn’t come from cleaning up our trash cluttered streets. Wasn’t the new street sweepers the administration purchased, with the approval of the current city council, supposed to do that? Has it? To me it seems like there is a serious lack of mismanagement in the city’s administration and the city council itself. Yet both incumbent city council members are asking Patersonians to reelect them into office, so they can continue doing a “wonderful job” by representing Patersonians.

I want to take a moment and ask every Patersonian out there, ARE YOU READY FOR MORE OF THE SAME IN THE YEARS TO COME? If you are, then I pray this city’s crime epidemic doesn’t befall you. But if you aren’t, then seize the opportunity on May 13 and vote for a better Paterson. Help change the course of Paterson by choosing a better course for your children and your family. Make your vote count!

Haytham Younes is an at-large candidate for Paterson City Council How the City of Paterson became a city in crisis