By Robin Rieger
TRENTON, NJ (CBS) — “I’d give him a spanking really, if I could,” laughed Trenton City Council President Phyllis Holly-Ward.
It was a lighter moment in what’s been a stressful time in Trenton after Mayor Tony Mack was arrested Monday on charges that he accepted bribes in exchange for his influence in a phony parking garage development sting that was concocted by the federal government.
“[I’m] Honestly disappointed. I can’t say I’m not surprised,” Holly-Ward said, after jokingly relaying what she would like to do to the mayor.
Two other council members had different ideas, though.
“Mayor, if you love this city and the people in this city so much, I think out of consideration for them and what’s been happening, you should resign,” urged North Ward Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson.
“I’m not going to ask him to step aside; he won’t anyway. He has to prove himself,” said South Ward Councilman George Muschal.
The mayor, his brother Ralphiel Mack — a Trenton School District social worker and head football coach — and Mack supporter Joseph “Jo Jo” Giorgianni are free on bail, charged with taking over $54,000 in bribes from cooperating witnesses and anticipating more, according to U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
“…Held himself out as a bagman, needing the mayor’s power to get money, but the mayor needed Giorgianni, as Giorgianni described himself to be the person who handled the money,” said Fishman.
Newspaper pictures of the mayor in federal custody sat in boxes outside of City Hall, where business administrator Sam Hutchinson said he had just returned from a neighborhood visit designed to let residents know the city’s business will continue.
“It’s not unusual for the business administrator to do day-to-day operations. I’m in regular communication with the mayor. The mayor’s policies and the mayors plans are being carried out,” said Hutchinson.
On Tuesday, Mayor Mack said by phone that he was fine, was working and would make a comment on the charges at an appropriate time. The school district would not comment on Ralphiel Mack’s job status, saying that it’s a personnel matter.