Mayor Muti emphasizes a point at a public meeting filled with Ramsey citizens. Portraits of former mayors line the wall behind him.

Mayor Muti and Chelsea, First Dog of Ramsey, as she receives the tra-ditional Blessing of the Animals at St. John's Episcopal Church.

Passion, Politics and Patriotism in Small-Town America: Confessions of a plain-talking, independent Mayor

On November 5, 2002, the people of Ramsey (pop.14,500) in Bergen County, New Jersey, elected Richard Muti, a 62-year old political novice, as their mayor. Muti was an Annapolis graduate and a former Navy pilot. He had an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a law degree from Rutgers. He had been a prosecutor for 19 years. He was a published writer and had taught English, history, American government and politics, and criminal justice at three universities. If ever there was a man ready to lead his community, Muti was he.
 
Ramsey was no different from thousands of municipalities across America. Escalating costs, like health insurance benefits for employees, were squeezing an already overtaxed citizenry. Muti took office with a bold reform agenda, but also with an entrenched council majority of political opponents stacked against him. 
 
This book is the story of an idealistic newcomer's four years at the helm of "Small-Town, America"—his highs and his lows, his successes and his failures. It will cheer you with the realization that, yes, there are leaders willing to tackle truly difficult issues with courage and determination. But it will also be a sad reminder that such men and women are few and far between, not surprising when one considers the obstacles often thrown in their path.
 
Anyone holding public office should read this book. Anyone thinking about running for public office should read this book. It is a "how to" and a "how not to" manual for the politically ambitious. And anyone who has ever railed against corruption, waste and inefficiency in local government or muttered in frustration, "You can't fight City Hall," should read this book.
 
Muti attacked problems head-on, often dragging governing-body colleagues, kicking and screaming, across the finish line. But such boldness was not without cost.
 
In the book's final chapter, "The Mayor's Report Card," Muti gives a frank assessment of his time as mayor, including a number of "do-overs" he wishes he had. In the end, we picture a modern-day Don Quixote, with his fair share of human frailties, tilting not at windmills, but at real-life misfeasance, nonfeasance and other villainy in the public sector. Muti leaves office after one term—face marred by the dust, sweat and tears of battle, much like Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena," but with spirit unbowed.   
 
Here is what two prominent observers of the American political scene said about this book and its author.
 
"It is a rare person indeed who combines academic credentials with public service and both of those with lucid, reflective writing. Muti excels as teacher, and teaches as an elected leader."
—Peter Woolley, professor of comparative politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

 
"Mayor Muti asked the tough questions and challenged the status quo. Whether you agree or disagree with his style, no one can doubt his sincerity as a public servant—one who was more concerned about future generations than his own political career. That’s called statesmanship."
—Murray Sabrin, Ph.D., professor of finance, Anisfield School of Business, Ramapo College of New Jersey.

Selected Works

Biography
A fast-paced, one-volume study of the most fascinating entertainer of the 20th century. The book isn't an academic tome, although it is extensively researched and footnoted; rather, it is designed to be a highly readable page-turner, for avid Sinatraphiles as well as more casual fans of his music and films. It examines the forces, both positive and negative, that made Sinatra Sinatra, with special attention given to the love-hate relationship he maintained toward Hoboken and New Jersey for most of his life. He once called the city of his birth a "sewer," but later observed, "When I was there, I just wanted to get out. It took me a long time to realize how much of it I took with me."
Essays
"Richard Muti's essays are smart and provocative, personal and political."
–Linda Fairstein, former prosecutor
and crime novelist
As this eBook is published, Gov. Chris Christie enjoys a 72 percent approval rating, the highest level attained by any governor in New Jersey history. Yet, the man still evokes passionate feelings from supporters and foes, alike.
"Much needed fresh air out of New Jersey, where the political atmosphere has long been foul."
Kirkus Discoveries
True Crime
"The Charmer is definitely one of 2012's 'must read' books."
True Crime Book Reviews
Novel
Filled with “brilliant plot twists, vivid descriptions, and great dialogue, with a smooth, easy-to-read writing style.”

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