From the Philly Inquirer:
So much spent, still so far to go
By Dwight Ott
New Jersey taxpayers have bet $114 million on Camden’s recovery. But four years into the state’s ambitious plan to revive the struggling city, progress has been slow.
Camden remains a sump of poverty, crime and lost hope, sucking down increasing amounts of outside tax dollars to maintain city services. The city is still in the clutches of corruption, scandal, high crime and mismanagement.
Oct. 28 marks the fourth anniversary of the state’s Economic Recovery Act. Its state-appointed chief operating officer, Melvin R. “Randy” Primas Jr., who resigned last week, is required to report his accomplishments to Gov. Corzine before he leaves his job and explain what happened to taxpayers’ millions.
But questions remain about whether the Recovery Act is already doomed.
“We need more money from the state today to balance the budget than we did before,” said Kelly Francis, vice president of the Camden Taxpayer’s Association.
The 15-member Economic Recovery Board in charge of saving Camden has spent almost $114 million of the $175 million earmarked for the city’s revival. The money gushes into the city in exchange for control of day-to-day operations, which was Primas’ job.