Trenton mayor unveils controversial Obama statue
TRENTON, N.J. - December 13, 2012 (WPVI) -- A bronze bust of President Barack Obama is now prominently displayed in Trenton's City Hall, despite controversy over its funding and the involvement of indicted Mayor Tony Mack.
A week after being indicted on bribery and corruption charges, Trenton mayor Tony Mack hosted a ceremony at city hall to unveil a bronze bust of President Barack Obama, who he calls an inspiration.
"His victory showed me that you can overcome all obstacles if you put your mind to it and you work hard," Mack said.
Organizers of the committee that had the bust created put out a press release saying the cost was paid for completely with donations. But the City Council President Phyllis Holly-Ward says records show $1000 of taxpayers' money was used to pay for the granite stand the statue sits on.
Holly-Ward asked the mayor to postpone the ceremony until questions could be answered about city employees being pressured to donate and city contractors who may have contributed toward the bust in possible violation of pay to play laws.
"Unfortunately I just think this is a desperate attempt and a sad one for the mayor to try to redeem himself after the indictment," Holly-Ward told Action News.
One woman at the ceremony disagreed.
"Really I'm offended by that," said Patty Williams of Trenton. "If they want the money back I got a thousand dollars. They can take my whole entire check."
This week Mack's office released video of a smiling Tony Mack at the annual Senior Citizen gala. But the mood was decidedly less jolly today when Action News tried to ask the mayor about funding for the bust and his indictment last week.
"This day is for the president, so let's just stick with that," Mack told Action News. "You have to accept that, you have to accept that, right?"
In addition to today's event, one of the mayor's appearances in the near future will be before a federal judge next Wednesday where he must appear for his arraignment on corruption charges.
new jersey, trenton, local/state, nora muchanic
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