Trenton libraries' money questions

September 25, 2008 4:16:42 PM PDT
Should gang money be used to keep neighborhood libraries open? That's been a topic of discussion in Trenton after a self-proclaimed gang leader who identified himself as "Eugene" recently offered city council some help.

"If it's a fundraiser that we need, I already made phone calls. I could have rappers; all kinds of other people come down to make the money," Eugene said.

That offer has people talking about whether the end justifies the means. If accepting money from what police call "criminal organizations" will help save four branch libraries--is that okay? Lots of people think so.

"He's trying to give back to the community. I think it should be accepted. I don't think it should matter where the money came from," Nicole Bishop of Trenton said

"The kids already ain't got nowhere to go. If they shut the libraries down, then what are they going to do?" Nick Jackson of Trenton said.

One East Trenton woman and her friends have collected over 1500 signatures on a petition calling for the city to maintain the neighborhood libraries. She says she doesn't approve of gangs, but is desperate to keep the branches open for local kids.

"Yes, I would accept the money. I know it's dirty money, but that dirty money can help us keep the library open," Brunivette Ramierz said.

Trenton mayor Doug Palmer says it doesn't matter how fiscally strapped the city may be, the gangs can keep their money, he'll never take what he calls the gangs' "ill-gotten gains."

"No, money's not money and I wouldn't take drug money. I wouldn't take dirty money. These individuals that are in gangs are terrorizing these communities," Mayor Palmer (D) said.

Palmer wants to consolidate services at the city's main library and offer transportation there from the neighborhoods and some council members would like to find a way to keep the branches open. But whatever happens, the mayor says it will be done without financial help from street gangs.

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