Shoveling snow, staying warm, and trying to hold on to New Year’s resolutions. The State offices are closed except foe essential personnel. Courthouses are closed as is the legislature. If you have to drive, do so cautiously.
Newark: Up and Down the Hill
With the departure of Cory Booker, four candidates are vying for the mayor’s job in a deeply troubled city. They are South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka, North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif and former Assistant State Attorney General Shavar Jeffries. Until the election is resolved the Mayor is Luis Quntana, a placeholder who will not rock the boat while three of the councilmen pursue their electoral strategies.
The headlines are all about murder and violence, but the real problems have their roots in high unemployment, poor education, lack of opportunity, mediocre health care, drug use, insufficient civil engagement, high incarceration levels, and a divide between the money shakers down the hill and the money-less up the hill. After decades of corrupt mayors Cory Booker brought honesty, hope, and some economic development. Under his administration parts of the downtown area have prospered. During his senatorial campaign he announced a Whole Foods shop would open in the business district – nice for those who can afford it, but not exactly a priority need for Newarkers. In the morning people drive into the city to work in corporations, hospitals, government agencies, law firms, and colleges and in the evening drive home to the suburbs. Elsewhere in the city there are far too many boarded up homes, rundown shops, and decaying neighborhoods.
While the headlines and political discussion continue to be centered on crime, the real needs up the hill are more important, complex, and difficult. They deserve more attention. Activists and concerned individuals must play an event stronger role in exposing the broader issues and working together to seek solutions.