NAACP Letter to Mayor Jackson – Water Crisis

Dear Honorable Mayor Jackson,

January 26, 2018

With a climate of uncertainty, fear, and mistrust, citizens are doubtful about how our city is
being governed and managed. The recent crisis at the Trenton Water Works (TWW) and
the subsequent mismanagement of them, as you no doubt know, have caused public health fears, and
mistrust among Trenton residents as to your administration’s ability to efficiently manage this,
and other pressing City issues. This letter is an attempt to bring clarity to the
public pronouncements made by you in your official press statement and the email addressed to me by
your Chief of Staff both dated January 18, 2018.

During the monthly NAACP Trenton Branch meeting members found the following to be
contradictory:

1). Paragraph 1 – “First let me be clear, TWW has operated according to state and federal
standards, supplying water to its customers that either meets or exceeds federal
standards.” There have been temporary operational issues, but the water quality and the public’s
health was never in danger, and we addressed each issue as we normally do, expeditiously,
professionally, in concert with our high-quality contract consultants, and with the engagement of
the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) every step of the way.”

2). Paragraph 2 – “For many months now, my administration has been communicating, holding meetings
and advising principals including outgoing Commissioner Bob Martin and his staff at the NJDEP
since the agency shared its concerns with us on the need to correct staffing and other issues at
the TWW.”

3). Paragraph 3 – “we are contracting with a water management company with the
expertise and know-how to run the water filtration plant. This expertise will be available to us
immediately.”

4). Paragraph 5 – “we will continue to advise and accept input from the NJDEP, a
regulatory body of Trenton Water Works, about our comprehensive effort to modernize Trenton Water
Works operations for our current base of customers and for future generations.

In regards to paragraph 1, your statement implies that the State has signed off on the quality of
water we are drinking. If that is a fact, we would like to have a copy of that letter, and also to
have it reprinted in both Trenton papers, as well as the African American and
Hispanic newspapers in Spanish and English.
In regards to paragraph 2, you indicated that the city has been working for many months with Former
Commissioner Martin, his staff, and “advising principals” on correcting staff and other issues.
Please direct your Chief of Staff to provide us with your staffing updates and changes within the
TWW to improve water quality and customer service.
Paragraph 3, implies that what was stated in paragraph 1 may be flawed. Paragraph 1 indicates that
the TWW is working with “high-quality” contract consultants to address temporary
operational issues and that NJDEP was engaged every step of the way. Paragraph 3 indicates that the
city will be contracting a water management company with expertise and the know-how to run the
filtration plant. The expertise will be available immediately. Clarity is certainly needed here:
please provide a detailed explanation of the “high-quality” contract consultants and what their
function is/was as it relates to water services for the customers of TWW. In addition, please
provide a detailed explanation as to what the expert water management company will provide that is
inclusive of or different than what the TWW employees or high-quality contract
consultants aren’t, can’t, won’t or don’t know how to do.
Paragraph 5, “the city will continue to advise and accept input from the NJDEP, a regulatory body
of TWW about our comprehensive effort to modernize TWW.” Commissioner Martin stated in a news
release, that TWW had acquired many violations over the nearly 4 years your
administration has been at the helm of the city, and if these issues are not addressed fines will
be imposed upon the city. Please provide under OPRA a chronological report of those violations and
the remedies taken to fix said violations. If violations have not been corrected,
please provide the reason why they haven’t been corrected and if the violation is pending
correction or if the correction is no longer, and remains logged as a violation why?
Also, what is your projected total cost to modernize TWW, timeline from start to finish, funding
source, and projected increase in property and other local taxes, expected source of Federal and
State funding.

 

In conclusion, please understand that most long term Trenton residents understand that
the structural, financial and political problems of the TWW, date back at least three
Administrations. And they have persisted, in PART, because of a lack of positive
communication, and Team planning between Trenton, surrounding municipalities, as well as most
State, County and local elected and appointed officials. This lack of mutually beneficial
leadership must stop, because all concerned are harmed. The NAACP Trenton Branch, as well as NJSC
NAACP stands willing to meet with you personally as soon as possible to finally address and resolve
the problems of TWW that can be traced back at least 30 years.
I thank you in advance for your quick reply to pressing issue.

Yours in Advocacy for Civil Rights,
Jonette C. Smart President

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