I read nj.com/essex daily to find out what’s going on in my county, but mostly to keep abreast on the violence in the city that I have always called home, Newark,NJ or more affectionately, The Brick City. I do this because when I was a college student at Temple University, I became less desensitized to the violent crime that was part of my life daily growing up. It was normal for me to hear, see, or run from by gun shots; and to hear, see, or know who was shooting who for what reason. That was life on Stratford Place. It was the kind of street that people didn’t walk unless they were from there or had dealings there. It was the kind of block that was and is until this day a hotbed of what Newark is infamous for. As I’m sure, any who’ve heard about Newark know, it is not the only place like it in the city. In 1996 the Morgan Quitno Press and Time magazine ranked Newark, NJ the most dangerous city in the United States. And in 1997 Morgan Quitno ranked Newark as the most dangerous city again. Before and after the those years ranked #1 in a bad way. Newark, NJ has appeared somewhere in the top 25 rankings of most dangerous cities with other New Jersey cities, Camden, Trenton, and Jersey City. During 1996 and 1997, Sharpe James was the mayor when Newark was considered to be the most dangerous city in my country. Before Sharpe James ascended to the highest political office in the city of Newark, NJ, Kenneth A. Gibson was mayor in 1981 when Newark recorded its highest murder total for one year of 161 during his 16 years of service from 1970-1986. Cory A. Booker has only been the mayor since 2006.
Have I ever supported Cory Booker’s campaigns through volunteer service or monetarily? No. Have I ever voted for Cory Booker? No. Do I plan on voting for Cory Booker if he runs for re-election? Maybe, probably not. So why am I defending him? Simply put, he is a politician who came into leadership in a city where nothing was ever close to perfect. I’ve also met him, spoken with him, and heard him speak; and Cory Booker is not the evil man looking to bleed the city of Newark dry like some people think he is doing. For the most part, he’s a pretty nice guy. The information above was to a paint picture in people’s minds to re-inform them that Newark’s problems didn’t happen overnight and they will not be solved overnight. Sharpe James couldn’t quell the violence alone that existed after Kenneth Gibson stepped down and it is naive to think that Cory Booker could do it alone after Sharpe James. Sure Cory Booker made some outstanding boasts in his campaign before he was elected for his first term. But that’s what politicians have to do to gain supporters and then have those supporters vote for them on election day. However, the job is a totally different animal. People must not forget this. I am sick of seeing comments about Booker like this on NJ.com “No surprise. This is the way Cory Booker has determine[d] public safety to be as mayor – layoff police officers, reward political flunkies, and continue to make our streets unsafe and even unsafer!!! At the same time keeping about two percent of the NPD as his personal protective security force.” Source.
I don’t know how Cory Booker made the streets unsafe. Is he being held on charges for murder, robbery, rape, assault and battery? Please fill me in. I know that police officers were laid off and it was a direct result of poor budget management, state aid to the city being cut by governot Chris Christie in Trenton, and fiscal mismanagement for years previous to Booker’s first term. So is he to blame, no because he is not working alone. There is a city council who is supposed to be the balance to the mayor and there are other people who are in leadership positions who must be doing their due diligence to resolve issues and plan for things in advance. He is to blame because he is the final word and all bad decisions ultimately fall on his shoulders because he is mayor. It is the proverbial catch 22 or double-edge sword so to speak. Can he do better? Yes. Is he beyond reproach? Hell no. Should he spend less time on twitter and television? Yes and no. And lastly he can do better because Newark is not perfect.
In my mind the biggest problem in Newark is what makes Newark-Newark. That problem is the people. Too many people are quick to ridicule leadership when they do nothing to make their communities better. Some people in Newark are doing great work and are fiery activists. But the best communities in our country are the best communities because ALL of the good people have a vested interest in making the city better, safer, and more prosperous. They do not simply look to their leaders and point the blame. They do their part sincerely and when the leader isn’t following suit, they point the finger and vote them out. Only 36,365 of Newark’s 277,140 (2010 Census data) citizens went to the polls and 21,397 of those votes were for Cory Booker. Even if only a third (92,380) of Newark residents are eligible to vote, then still only 39% of those eligible to vote were at the polls. There is much to be done in Newark. Cory Booker is the leader today and the results fall on his shoulders as the incumbent mayor. But let us be mindful that the blame or fault is not his to shoulder alone. It includes those who do evil and those who would do good but are too afraid who allow evil to go unchecked. Whether that be school policy, unemployment, pots holes, fiscal mismanagement, gun violence. etc. Make sure that you are pointing the finger at yourself first and ask what you have done to help before you go vilifying the actions of another.
Until next write.
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