OPINION: Bewildered Diaz

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Voice of the People by James J. DevineThere are a lot of things you can say about Mayor Wilda Diaz but the most appalling fact is that she is almost completely in the dark when it comes to governing and politics, even after four years on the job in which to learn something.

Nobody is suggesting that Diaz is a bad person, but the harmful consequences of her incredible ignorance and naïveté should not be easily overlooked or forgiven.

Diaz fell victim to Gov. Chris Christie’s snake charmer enchantments, endorsing his calls to abolish New Jersey’s affordable housing program, rob public employees of their hard-earned money and a tax cap that ignores reality and puts local communities on the road to financial ruin. Instead of standing up for people, Diaz believed the Republican wanted what’s best even after he raised taxes on the working poor while refusing to ask millionaires to pay a fair share of the tax burden.

Such displays of terrible judgment should rightfully invite questions about character. Following a reckless Republican politician while he destroys collective bargaining, promotes discrimination and strangles police and fire departments deserves repudiation by the public.

Similarly, a bewildered Diaz hired Republicans, double-dippers and out-of-towners to top municipal government positions. Her city attorney comes from a law firm founded by a former GOP senate president. She has had three business administrators on the payroll at one time, yet none of them lived in Perth Amboy, and her public works director is only the latest appointee who is tapping taxpayers for a pension and a paycheck at the same time.

These appointments are a clear betrayal of promises made during her campaign and the fact that she is unable to detect such glaring disqualifications among her top lieutenants begs inquiry about her intellect. The three million dollar price tag for taxpayers adds injury to insult.

There is no indication that the Mayor has sought to improve herself by learning what she needs to know about running a $72 million municipal corporation. A high school graduate who worked her way from bank teller to branch manager over a 20 year career could have cracked open a book, taken some college courses or otherwise expanded her mental capacity for the job but she failed to do so.

Worst of all, some of the politicians surrounding Diaz know she is not able to do the job well and they are preying on her lack of ability and poor understanding to gain political advantages for themselves. Woodbridge lawmakers will benefit by weak, inept leadership in Perth Amboy because that would allow them to safely ignore the city’s problems without a grave risk of political consequences.

Diaz has no business being mayor but the power of incompetence and greed and dishonesty and self-serving motivation are driving her on. The elected officials who enable her feeble governing style and promote her re-election campaign — particularly state Sen. Joe Vitale and Republican Councilman Kenneth Gonzalez — should be called t0 account by voters who may be cheated by a system that benefits incumbents at the expense of the electorate.

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