The Language of Trenton 

Kevin O'Toole, former senator from the 40th Legislative District, warns legislators to learn from the lessons of former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who was indicted for misuse of public funds and aids for personal gain.

Recently I watched a documentary about Steven Spielberg and in it movie critic Janet Maslin says “Steven Spielberg speaks cinema as if it’s his native language, and that got me thinking about Trenton’s language that so many of us speak and many don’t understand. Given that there will be new leadership and new faces roaming the halls of the Statehouse, I thought this Rosetta Stone-like translation guide might be useful:

Trenton: I will give that a lot of thought…Translation: Little chance of voting for it

Trenton: This is the first time I’m hearing about this important issue…Translation: I have not seen your support lately

Trenton: Thank you for your view on this issue…Translation: Not a chance in hell I’m voting for it

Trenton: I’m still reviewing this with leadership…Translation: I’m waiting to be told how to vote

Trenton: Who is really against this?…Translation: If my biggest money folks are against it, then I’m against it

Trenton: Let’s meet up with staff and really study this topic…Translation: I don’t want to talk about it right now but my staff will follow up and stonewall you later

Trenton: There is no way I can vote for this…Translation: There’s no way I can vote for this unless the Governor/Senate President/ Speaker tells me

Trenton: Have you spoken to the Senate President or Speaker?…Translation: I don’t have time nor care about your issue.

Trenton: Do you have the votes?…Translation: I’ll vote YES but won’t be the one to put it over the top (meaning 41st or 21st vote)

Trenton: Sure, let’s sit and discuss later…Translation: I hope by the time we get around to it, your issue will be dead and a meeting will be a moot point

Trenton: The Governor is upset with you…Translation: Senior staff is upset with you. The Governor doesn’t know who you are and staff doesn’t want to look like liars to the boss, since they probably told him you’re on board before discussing with you

Trenton: I can’t attend your event but will send a check…Translation: I’ll talk to others to gauge your chances of winning the election, if not, the check will never show up. If you win, the check shows up AFTER the election

Trenton: The front office is giving me the run around…Translation: I’m not a big player and need help

Trenton: I’m not sure I want to run again…Translation: I’ve got either a tough primary or general election looming and I’m not about to run in a tough race

Trenton: That is an interesting way to look at that…Translation: You are nuts and haven’t done your homework to know that my views will never line up on this one

Trenton: I have passed along your resume…Translation: It is the off my desk and now in a sea of other unimportant resumes

Trenton: I don’t seem to have a problem with that…Translation: This ain’t a YES

Trenton: You should have my support…Translation: Don’t count my vote because I really didn’t commit

Trenton: I might be able to get there…Translation: I’ve given you a pathway now find magic to make it happen

Trenton: I haven’t seen you in a while…Translation: You haven’t been to any of my fundraisers lately
There is a dialect within the language of Trenton known as “Senatorial Courtesy’…that translation will be forthcoming…

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