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Acting governor should clear city aid logjam

Originally appeared as a Jersey Journal Editorial on Thursday, March 29th, 2001.

Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler heated up the political rhetoric over Jersey City's fiscal straits last week. He specifically linked the state's delay in supplying formal distressed cities aid figures to the city to his battle with Acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco over the GOP gubernatorial nomination, by saying that state officials wanted the city's fiscal woes to worsen in order to hurt the political image of its mayor.

This wasn't the first harsh verbal blow exchanged in the Schundler-DiFrancesco political fight and it won't be the last. The mayor's allegations, based on suppositions and suspicions, aren't likely to produce any significant action by themselves.

But whether the state is taking its time giving the aid figures to Jersey City based on DiFrancesco's direction, or the decision of other state officials to do what they think will benefit DiFrancesco politically, or without any regard to Schundler's GOP primary challenge, is not the crucial point.

The important thing to remember is that the delay in making a commitment in aid to the second-largest city adds too much uncertainty and risk to the city's financial future.

With his dual hats as Senate president as well as acting chief executive of the state government, DiFrancesco can and should do something about this -- not for Schundler's sake but for the sake of the city's taxpayers. He should insist that the Department of Community Affairs -- in cooperation with the Legislature -- make the needed commitment of aid to Jersey City expeditiously.

Schundler's harsh attacks may rile the acting governor, but in a little over three months Schundler will no longer be running things at City Hall in Jersey City. The city's residents and taxpayers would be the ones to suffer if the city's fiscal state worsens.

For their sake, DiFrancesco should not allow either state politics or simple state bureaucratic tardiness to contribute to those fiscal woes.

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