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By Walter Elliott

NEWARK - The six hospitals within "Local Talk News" territory, according to a safety study released by a health care watchdog group Nov. 8, are either in excellent condition or are in fair-to-poor shape.

Two of Robert Wood Johnson St. Barnabas' hospitals - Belleville's Clara Maas and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center - plus St. Michael's Medical Center in Newark received safety "A" grades from The Leapfrog Group.

Hackensack Meridian Health's Mountainside Medical Center, of Glen Ridge-Montclair, mustered a C for "fair" safety conditions and practices.

East Orange General Hospital and Newark's University Hospital are in statewide classes by themselves - for what Leapfrog said are for the wrong reasons.

University Hospital is the sole medical center whom Leapfrog said scored a D for "poor but passing."

EOGH, among 67 New Jersey hospitals surveyed by Leapfrog, was the only hospital in New Jersey that failed (F grade) the safety evaluation.

Leapfrog Group, of Washington, D.C., has been assigning such grades among 2,600 acute Medicare facilities or hospitals every spring and fall since 2008. They semi-annually grade on 28 measures among five categories: infections, surgery problems, error prevention, safety problems and staffing.

From those 28 measures, Leapfrog sets scales for the best, average and worst performing hospitals in the nation for each measure. The survey also groups individual hospital measures in Above Average, Average and Below Average gauges.

Leapfrog uses the measurements to see how hospitals are making safety improvements. The nonprofit is looking to see which hospitals are helping to decrease the 440,000 deaths that annually happen in hospitals. That figure breaks down to roughly 1,200 deaths a day.

Belleville's Clara Maas, for example, holds on to its A rating from Fall 2017. It got As in 2015 before falling to a C in Spring 2015 and rebounded to Bs in Fall 216 and Spring 2017.

Newark Beth Israel joins Clara Mass by gaining its first A in the last four years. It had made Bs in Springs 2018 and 15, book-ending a string of Cs.

Newark's St. Michael's could get the unofficial "Most Improved" citation to go along with its new A. It had moved two grades up from Spring's C. It had scored in the lower grades - D in Spring 2015, C Fall 2015, F Spring 2016, D Fall 2016 D Spring 2017 and C Fall 2017.

St. Michael's is one of four surveyed hospitals that have improved two letter grades this marking period. It, Newark Beth Israel and Clara Maas helped increase the state's volume of A-listed hospitals from 33 percent last spring to 56.72.

St. Michael's, said its CEO Robert Iannaccone, had received financial stability after it was conveyed to Prime Healthcare from Cardinal Health Care in 2016.

"Under Prime Healthcare's ownership" said Iannaccone, "St. Michael's has the resources needed to achieve an entirely new level of intense focus on patient quality and safety."

Clara Maas, Newark Beth Israel and St. Michael's are among 38 hospitals statewide who got A grades. The 38 represent 56.72 percent of the 67 participating New Jersey hospitals who made the top rank this marking period. They helped make New Jersey the state with the highest percentage of A-ranked hospitals.

"We're proud of the high number of hospitals in New Jersey that voluntarily submit their quality and safety data to Leapfrog and then use that information to continually improve patient care," said Leapfrog-New Jersey regional leader Linds Schwimmer. "We encourage all hospitals to use the survey to improve their performance."

While the upper three "Local Talk" hospitals can congratulate themselves, the lower three are digesting their need for improvement.

Mountainside has meanwhile scored Cs this year and Fall 2017. It had started the last four years with a A but fell to a "B" for Fall 2015 and Spring 2016. It declined to a C in Fall 2017 before last reaching B in Spring 2017.

Hackensack Meridian brought Mountainside into its orbit in 2015-16.

Newark University Hospital's D is actually an improvement on the F it received last spring. It got Cs Spring 2015-Spring 2016 but declined to Ds Fall 2016 and Spring 2017.

"Our new Leapfrog grade shows that we're headed in the right direction," said University Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lawrence Ramunno. "We know this won't happen overnight but we're fully committed to providing quality health care to the Newark community - and we won't be satisfied until we receive an A."

Dr. Ramunno has been coping with a bacterial infection outbreak last month that affected four premature or medically fragile infants - one of which had died. The former UMDNJ Hospital was spun off from its medical and dental schools - the latter two brought under Rutgers University's umbrella - in 2016.

Leapfrog found all but five hospitals maintaining or improving on their scores from last spring.

EOGH actually declined two grades from a C in Fall 2015. It had started with a B in Spring 2015. It had not brought data to Leapfrog for measuring and grading last spring and for all of 2017 and 16.

EOGH's not scoring is rare but not unusual. Two hospitals among the state's 71 who did not participate this marking period: Hudson Regional/Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus and Monmouth Medical Center-Lakewood.

Leapfrog said it could only score EOGH, St. Luke’s-Phillipsburg and Memorial Hospital of Salem County on what publicly available data it could find this marking period.

The last independent "Local Talk" hospital was bought by Prospect Medical Holdings last year.

Details are found at


Professor allegedly grabs a student’s hands, calls protesters “uneducated”

By Lev D. Zilbermints

SOUTH ORANGE - After a group of student activists at Seton Hall University staged a sit-in at President’s Hall, it would appear that their demands have been met, for now.

The activists, known as Concerned 44, put forth a number of demands to the college administration, headed by SHU President Mary J. Meehan. The demands include the reconfiguring of the Africana Studies Program into a department with adequate funding; the reconfiguring of the Latin American and Latino/Latina Studies Program into a department with adequate funding; a thorough examination reconstruction of the University’s Office of EEO and Title IX compliance; allocation of adequate funding for Black History, Hispanic-Latino History, Women’s History and Islamic History Months; and a permanently established critical student board to review prospective professors at Seton Hall University.

According to the Setonian, the student newspaper of Seton Hall University, the Concerned 44 also delivered a petition against the SHU Talent of Inclusion Initiative. The protesters have so far gathered at least 1,232 signatures on their petition. The petition reads in part, “As students of color, investing our work and money at this university, we believe that this initiative is neither a proper, professional, nor ethical response to the students’ discontent with the campus climate. This includes, but is not limited to: structural and verbal racism, discrimination, and social segregation within Seton Hall. It is our collective observation that the Talent Inclusion Project mocks discrimination towards students of color and transforms it into a game of feel-good rewards for putting on a good show.”

The Setonian reported that there were 18 demands originally presented by the Black Caucus to the school last semester. According to the Setonian, the catalyst for the 18 demands was the school’s failure to re-hire Dr. Karanja Keita Carroll, a former adjunct professor of Africana Studies. The list of demands was condensed to five, because the protesters were disappointed with the administration’s response, protest leaders told the Setonian.

On Oct. 30, the SHU administration, provost, Faculty Senate Executive Committee, and Student Government board all collaborated on a response, with Meehan, Provost Dr. Karen Boroff, Seton Hall University Student Government Association President Rishi Shah, and Faculty Senate Chair Jonathan Farina signing off on it.

In short, the response indicated that Seton Hall would “search for a full-time English faculty member specializing in Latin American, Latino / a literature and culture for Fall 2019.” Also, there would be an effort to expand upon Latin American and African studies, as well as more attention to Latin American, African, Islamic, and Women’s history.

Additionally, the response indicated a review of EEO and Title IX compliance by Fall 2019, and seeking student input regarding faculty searches, effective immediately. The response praised the Concerned 44 for bringing such issues to light.

While the response represented some action taken in part to appease the students, Taylor Newkirk, the president of the Black Student Union and one of the protest leaders, approached the news with caution.

“As a member of the Concerned 44, I am reaching out to make a statement regarding the administration's response that they publicized today (Oct. 30). While they have responded to each of our demands, we have not made a public response because we would like to meet with them once more to assure that they will hold to their word and not only implement these demands by the next academic school year, but consistently.

“A negative light is still being shed on our movement, however, we will continue to fight for change while being centered in our revolutionary love for our comrades, those who came before us, and those we are paving the way for.”

As the public awaits news of the outcome of any such meeting, another issue took hold during a protest in the SHU faculty Cafeteria.

According to Newkirk, Professor William James Hull Hoffer put his hands on one of the leaders of the Concerned 44, Emani Miles. In front of multiple students and fellow faculty, Dr. Hoffer called the protesters “uneducated.” He then grabbed Ms. Miles’ hands and pushed her back.

In a brief video posted on Instagram, Dr. Hoffer is seen arguing with protesters, shouting, cursing, yelling, and pointing his finger at them. He then heads towards two other faculty members. One of the faculty members steps forward and gently but firmly steers Dr. Hoffer away from the protesters. The video ends with the faculty member trying to talk Dr. Hoffer into calming down.

According to the Seton Hall University online directory, Dr. Hoffer holds a B.A. from Rutgers College, 1993; a J.D. from Harvard University Law School, 1996; and a Ph. D. from John Hopkins University, 2003. Dr. Hoffer is the author of five books.

With many trying to understand why Hoffer reacted the way he did, students pointed to a portion of a Mar. 17 editorial the professor posted in the Setonian, where he wrote, “…As demonstrated in the College of Arts & Sciences faculty meeting on February 23rd concerning the ‘diversity’ requirement, inherent to the forums on ‘Microaggressions’ and ‘Privilege’, and has been reported to me on numerous occasions over the past several years, many members of the faculty and staff are attempting to indoctrinate you with Marxist ideology - put simply, the simplistic, misleading division of the world into the oppressors and the oppressed - instead of educating you. These instructors are well-intentioned, but misguided…”

What is Concerned 44? 

According to its statement, the Concerned 44 is a group of students advocating for the marginalized student body at Seton Hall University (SHU). The group states that it is “deeply dissatisfied with the way students of color have been treated and are holding the administration accountable.”

Local Talk interviewed multiple protesters. Every one of them, from freshmen to seniors, said that the University was dragging its feet in finding solutions to demands cited by students.

Chris Duran, a senior majoring in history, said, “My perception is that the administration is actively refusing to meet our demands or to consult with us.” 

Tehyah Carver, a sophomore majoring in English, said, “(SHU) mission statement is based on Catholic curriculum. Our demands are more of having an inclusive curriculum. It should be for all students. It is not a phase (students are going through), it is our existence. For me personally, having inclusive curriculum is important.”

Finally, Taylor Newkirk said, “The Concerned 44 created five demands that we have given to Dr. Karen Boroff, the Provost. In the past three days (October 23-26), we have seen no chance that the provost will comply in any way, so we will continue applying pressure. Today (October 26) we are on the third day of our sit-in and have members of the outside community protesting outside of SHU gates. If we still get no response, we will continue applying pressure.”

Inside President’s Hall, students sat on the floor, mattresses, the stairs. Food was brought in by supporters. A table stood by the right-hand wall, with fruit, drinks, snacks and other food. Two empty pizza boxes lay in the corner.

Signs with slogans stood nearby. One read, “Seton Hall Cares More About Money Than Students.” Flyers hung from the door of the president’s office. The doors leading into President’s Hall were festooned with flyers outlining student demands.

Voices could be heard, as students discussed strategy, politics, worked on their iPhones, laptops and tablets. Those too tired slept on mattresses or on the floor, using their book-bags or clothing as pillows. Other students relaxed by playing chess, checking the Internet or reading. On the stairs leading to the second floor, student book bags were stacked neatly by the wall. 


EAST ORANGE - Third Ward Councilman Bergson Leneus - in conjunction with Mayor Ted R. Green, Council Chair Christopher James, Third Ward Councilwoman Quilla Talmadge, and the East Orange School District - have partnered to begin a Book Club to provide middle and high school students with a forum to discuss issues such as community policing, gang awareness, code switching, and activism.

The first selected reading, the New York Times Best-Seller “The Hate U Give” is currently being read by 225 middle and high school students from the Hart Middle Complex, Whitney Houston Academy, STEM Academy, Cicely L. Tyson School, Fresh Start Academy and East Orange Campus High School. On Sunday, October 21, 2018, the students took a field trip to the cineplex in Newark to view the 10:30 am showing of the film starring Amandla Stenberg.

The fictional novel was initially developed by author Angie Smith - then a college student - who was shaken by the 2009 police shooting of Oscar Grant.

Mayor Green, who also has read the book, is excited about having a healthy, robust dialogue that will help to bridge the gap between the youth and adults in the community.

“This book really makes you think, and I want to empower our young people to know that they will always have a voice,” said Green. “Our charge is that East Orange is ‘one city, one community with one goal and that goal equals progress.’ Engaging our students in addressing issues that affect them both inside and outside of school is a huge step toward progress.”

Leneus, formerly President of the East Orange School Board, said the idea to form the book club was a serendipitous “meeting of the minds” between himself and Yukima Vannoy, Supervisor of English for Grades 6-12.

Both were seeking an opportunity to enhance student literacy, while also addressing current events and topics of interest to the students.

“Reading the book coupled with the cinematic experience and culminating activities will afford students the context and opportunity to participate in thought-provoking conversations and discourse about relevant issues that affect the community and country as a whole,” said Vannoy.

Leneus said the book club is also an opportunity to introduce students to community leaders, such as the police officers and firefighters, who will be invited to lunchtime and afterschool and book discussions on a regular basis.

“We are hoping to see real measurable results. Working with the school district, we will track performance over the next two years and see how we can expand this concept to all of the schools,” said Leneus.

Vannoy, along with Taniesha Whitaker, Assistant Principal at Patrick F. Healy School, are spearheading the Book Club, under the leadership of School Superintendent Dr. Kevin West and East Orange Board of Education President Terry Swanson Tucker and Board Members.

Book club and event sponsors include the Ted R. Green Foundation, East Orange General Hospital, Novus Equities, M&J Global Transportation, Comcast, PSE&G, Papa John’s Owner Joe Johnson.


By Walter Elliott and Dhiren Shah

NEWARK - Where else but in Newark where one can enter a city fire station house - and walk into an art gallery.

That was what happened to "Local Talk" upon entering 56 Prospect St. as part of the Newark Arts Festival here around 4 p.m. Oct. 7. The address, which is still the western half of Newark Fire Station Engine 5's home, has recently become the Prospect Fire Station Gallery.

While 65 Congress St. - the station's eastern half - remains an active fire house, the half "Local Talk" walked into featured art work from 14 area artists on its walls and tables. The 14 are among the literal several hundred artists whose painting, sculpture, photography, film and mixed media were placed among 55 sites in Newark's five wards.

Artists Spartacus Beals and Gregg Banks were talking with Newark Arts Executive Director Jeremy Johnson by one of the two open bay doors. Beals' work of gold foil-like etchings was one of the first encountered on the gallery/station walls.

"This is my first Newark Arts Festival exhibit," said Beals, who "represents" Newark. "I missed out on the deadline for last year's festival. Gregg Banks then invited me to be part of his display."

Banks, by contrast, has been part of the festival since it was originally called "Newark Open Doors." The portrait artist and muralist calls 56 Prospect, in The Ironbound, home for his year-round "Walls of Life" gallery and classroom.

The festival, which ran Oct. 4-7, allows local artists to display their work in a range of established and "pop-up" venues before visitors who may not normally get a viewing chance. Some sites were open throughout the weekend; some others at places, days and times specified in the "Local Talk" carried program.

Participating locations range from institutions like the Newark Museum, Newark Public Library-Main Branch and City Without Walls to pop-ups in Burger Walla and Mercato Tomato Pie.

Although pop-ups have appeared in between-tenant locations like furniture stores throughout the year in recent times, they blossom during the festival weekend.

"Art and Artifacts of Newark," for example, temporarily opened a second gallery at 233 Washington St. in addition to its 270 Central Ave. base. Femme Curator Arts and Evoluculture presented "The Womb" exhibition above a Halal restaurant at 256 Washington.

The Essex County Donald M. Payne, Sr. School of Technology, which just opened for county vo-tech high school classes just after Labor Day, hosted "Voices of The City" Friday night.

Add this year's tours, performances and screenings and one may face the same problem facing world's fair, museum and theme park-goers: so much to see in so little time.

It was no wonder that Johnson decided to sit down shortly after arriving at "Walls of Life."

"There's so much to see that I can't do it all in one day," said Johnson. "Newark is bursting with artistic talent. Some are taking things from and beyond today's news headlines."

Johnson handed "Local Talk" off to Banks - who wanted to present art literally in the making towards the gallery's rear section. Three people were making their own paintings under his instruction and supervision.

"There was one boy, seven years old, who has several of his paintings here," said Banks. "Someone saw one of his work, liked it and bought it from him. It was his first sale."

Banks then pointed to nine small portraits between the bay door and Beals' display.

"These are from a woman from Portugal who lives in the neighborhood," explained Banks. "She walked by Friday and asked, through her husband, what this was all about. She came back to show me her work - and I made space for her."

"Local Talk" and a guest picked two venues each to visit Saturday. The Newark Public Library's first floor display, "The Synagogues of Newark," had no directional signs there.

"I'm sorry to hear that," said Johnson. "It was in a room off to the side. It was a smaller version of what was on display earlier at MetroWest of New Jersey (in West Orange) and at the Jewish Museum of New Jersey."

The NPL-Main and the Jewish Museum sites were also reminders to check the "Local Talk"-provided program for venue hours. The Jewish Museum, at 145 Broadway, was closed Saturday to observe host Cong. Ahavas Shalom's Sabbath observance. NPL-Main - which also offered its continuing, "Are Latinos Transforming the US?" and "Old School" on its second and third floors - was closed Sunday.

"Local Talk" was far from alone in finding a hit in the Prospect Fire Station gallery. Sunah Nash, who was among the artists on display there, brought over several members of her family. They paused to admire a Banks portrait of Malcolm X/Malik Shabazz and Angela Davis.

"They look so much like them," said Sunah Nash before taking selfie photos with her family before the work.

Cromodonna, an artist at the Artisan Collective, said, ‘We are specializing in costume designs and visual artistry. This is really important and a creative partnership in the community.” 

In a once very rough neighborhood, she said, “The Neighborhood is great; very lively with a lot going on during the day. At night, it’s very quiet. It’s a fun place to be.”

Fernandez came from Jersey City and rented the store above Artisan for 10 days. He said that one of his set of three paintings cost about $3,000. It’s a Cuban instrument painting.

At Barnes and Noble on Halsey Street, African American portraits were standing out. Most of the historic figures, like Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and many more were in view. The artist who did those said that he always enjoyed doing portraits of people, especially historical portraits, bringing person back to life and reminding others of the great work they did.


WASHINGTON, D.C. - As most of the proceedings with a potential Supreme Court Justice have been closed, one senator decided to open it up - with a vengeance.

On Sept. 6, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) publicly released several documents previously marked Committee confidential from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s time as White House Counsel under President George W. Bush.

“As I’ve been saying from the beginning, this process has been a sham,” Senator Booker said. “The fact that tens of thousands of documents revealing a Supreme Court nominee’s views on key issues were deemed Committee Confidential and not available to the public reflects the absurdity of this process. The public has a right to access documents about a Supreme Court nominee’s views on issues that are profoundly important, such as race and the law. This process has demonstrated an unprecedented level of secrecy and opaqueness that undermines the Senate’s Constitutional duty to advice and consent.”

Booker said that his actions were “civil disobedience” and that it could result in his expulsion from Congress. However, while many GOP lawmakers did call for his ouster, several colleagues on the Democratic side supported Booker, in what he called an “I Am Spartacus” moment.

Last month, Booker joined Senate Democrats in advocating for the full public release of the 141,000 documents related to Judge Kavanaugh’s record that had been marked Committee Confidential.

The documents Booker released contain several emails regarding Judge Kavanaugh’s concerning views on racial profiling and affirmative action - emails that Booker referenced during his questioning of Kavanaugh.

In one email, with the subject line “racial profiling,” Judge Kavanaugh remarked that he “generally” favored race-neutral security measures, but thought there was an “interim question” of whether the government should use racial profiling before a supposedly race-neutral system could be developed sometime in the future.

Booker asked Judge Kavanaugh to further explain his views on these subjects during questioning, but Kavanaugh refused to answer.

The next day, Booker released more documents, which raised new questions about Kavanaugh’s relationship with Republican Senate Judiciary Committee staffer Manny Miranda, who stole documents from the Democratic staff of the Committee to help advance Bush administration nominees. Kavanaugh has sought to downplay his relationship with Miranda throughout this week’s hearing, but these documents show that Kavanaugh received stolen information about Democrats from Miranda.

These documents also pertain to Kavanaugh’s involvement with the nomination of Judge William Pryor to the Eleventh Circuit; Kavanaugh denied any involvement in the controversial judge’s nomination during his 2004 Senate confirmation hearing for the DC Circuit Court but emails contradict that claim by showing Kavanaugh’s involvement in the Judge’s nomination.

Booker released 47 “Committee Confidential” documents, which can be found here:


By Dhiren Shah

EAST ORANGE - Gazi Sarwar Hussan has been working for Salil Corporation in East Orange, NJ for the past 25 plus years. Mr. Hussan is a key employee at the liquor store, helping to continually employ ten employees. According to Mr. Sid Sheth, President of Maple Liquors, he said that he has paid over $2 million in combined taxes to the federal government within the past 31 years.

Sheth further said, “Gazi has a wife and four school aged children. He has been paying real estate taxes on a house he purchased and has a mortgage balance. He is a hard-working, tax-paying and law abiding good member of our society. Deporting Gazi based on mere statutes will render his family to depend upon federal and state aid to survive, which means that the government will not only lose the tax income from Gazi, but will have to shell out public funds to support his family thru welfare and other assistance.

“Does this make any sense when you recognize that Gazi’s son, born in USA, will sponsor his father for ‘Immediate Relative Visa’ within a matter of mere less than two years? It is my recommendation that Mr. Gazi be given the extension of stay of his visa until his son can officially file petition for the ‘Immediate Relative Visa’ thereby giving his well deserving chance to become a citizen of this great nation and continue to make valuable contributions to his family, society and this country.”

On Tuesday July 16, 2018 East Orange Mayor Ted Green joined with members of City Council, other elected officials, East Orange Clergy Association, CAIR, many organizations and members of the community organized a rally in support of Gazi Sarwar Hussan, a longtime United States resident, who has been slated for deportation. 

Even in heavy rain, the community got together, which shows Gazi has been involved and part of the community for the past three decades. If a boyfriend and girlfriend live together for five years, they have rights like a married couple. So, after three decades, why is Gazi not a US citizen? I, Dhiren Shah, and Local Talk request postponing his deportation for another two or three years when he will be officially sponsored by his son. 

January - June 2018



By Lev D. Zilbermints

NEWARK - Hundreds of people from across New Jersey and beyond gathered at Newark City Hall on June 30 to protest Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists, all came together in Newark on June 30 to protest President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policies. The crowd filled the steps of Newark City Hall and spilled outside. By one estimate, there were at least 500 - 1,000 people at the height of the protest.

Nor was the Newark protest the only one. According to multiple media sources, similar protests were held in New York, Philadelphia, Mexico, Australia, and throughout the United States and the world. According to media, more than 700 protests took place on June 30, 2018.

The list of partners in the Newark, NJ march included Communications Workers of America - NJ Chapter; Planned Parenthood Action Fund of NJ; Make the Road NJ; BlueWaveNJ; New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice; NJ 11th for Change; Wind of the Spirit; Women for Progress; 1199 SEIU; ACLU-NJ; American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program; Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War; Health Professionals and Allied Employees; Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey; Ironbound Community Corporation; National Association of Social Workers - NJ Chapter; New Jersey Citizen Action; New Labor; NJ08 for Progress; SPAN - Parent Advocacy Network; Unitarian Universalist Faith Action NJ.

Many of the protesters were school-age children and teens, as well as college students. The age of the protesters ranged from babies lying in prams pushed by their mothers, to old men in their 80s. Regardless of race, sex, age, or other factors, all came together to demand that President Donald Trump not tear apart immigrant families.

Numerous signs could be seen among the huge crowds. “Defund ICE!” No human being is illegal”, “Immigrant Rights are Human Rights,” “Don’t let hate Decide Someone’s Fate” were a small sampling of the various signs held by the anti-Trump crowd.

The list of speakers included U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez; Tammy Murphy, the wife of New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy; Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman; Johanna Calle, director of New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice; and numerous activists from the many organizations that partnered in the march.

Erika Martinez, of Make the Road New Jersey, told the crowd that immigrant youth was under attack from an administration that valued white supremacy and hate more than anything else.

“As a Dreamer who crossed the border as a small child seeking refuge in the United States with my family, the Trump administration’s cruelty shakes me to my core. Immigrant youth are under attack by a government that rules with an agenda of white supremacy and hate, and ICE officers who seek to detain and deport us all - whether it is at the border or here in New Jersey. Today we stand in unity and resistance because our families belong together. It’s time to abolish ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and stand up for our families,” Martinez said.

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman came to the protest with her granddaughter. Watson blasted President Trump for being “inhumane, cruel, heartless” for separating children from their parents at the southern border.

“It is hard to find words to describe the policy of separating children from their mothers and fathers as they seek safety from violence and persecution. Words like cruel, inhumane, and heartless have been used, but they fall short. Public outcry led the President to stop ICE from ripping terrified kids away from the only sense of safety that they have, but we cannot afford to quiet down for his bait and switch. 

“Instead of caging kids and families separately, he wants to hold them indefinitely - and he has been silent about reuniting the hundreds of children who were separated from their parents over the past several weeks. We have to be the voices of these people who have come here, to a nation of immigrants, for asylum and opportunity… We cannot allow Republicans in Congress and the White House to commit these atrocities, “Bonnie Watson Coleman said.

NJ Governor and His Wife Stand With Protesters

First Lady Tammy Murphy, the wife of New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy, attended the protest. While her husband was busy negotiating the state budget with the Democrat-controlled Legislature and averting a government shutdown, the First Lady spoke her mind.

“As a mother, there is nothing more cruel and inhumane than seeing children ripped apart from their families. The President has made it his mission to tear families apart, but we won’t stand for this. Phil and I will continue to fight tooth and nail to protect immigrant rights and the defend the values that our country was founded on,” First Lady Tammy Murphy told the assembled protesters.

U.S. Senators Speak Out Against Trump’s Policies

Following the First Lady of New Jersey, Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, both U.S. Senators, spoke. The two senators condemned Donald Trump for excessive use of ICE, for tearing apart families, and for not giving Dreamers the opportunity to become legal U.S. citizens.

Menendez said, in part, “We are here to remove the national shame that Trump brought us…We have heard the soulless excuses of a president… Today is not about resistance, today is about insistence! We insist that no child be held in a cage. We insist on the human rights and freedoms that made America the exceptional country it is… But we must be vigilant and make sure that the more than 2,000 children who were torn away from their families at our Southern border reunite with their parents. 

“We will not let this President bully us into believing that we should fear immigrant children and families who seek safety and asylum in the United States. Here in New Jersey we believe that the United States must always be a beacon of hope to those fleeing violence and injustice in the darkest corners of the world, and we are proud to say once and for all that families belong together,” Menendez said.

Senator Booker reminded the audience how U.S. authorities, during World War II, turned away a ship full of refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe. The ship eventually made its way back to Europe, where most of its passengers disembarked. Upon Nazi Germany’s invasion of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Denmark and Norway, most of the ship’s passengers who debarked in Europe, died in the war.

After listening to the speeches, the protesters marched to the Peter Rodino Building, which houses the ICE offices. Standing across the building, protesters raised clenched fists in silence. Then the entire crowd kneeled in silence. Once that was done, the crowd chanted, “Abolish ICE!”

Drums beating, the protesters them marched down Broad Street, then turned on East Kinney Street, then left on Mulberry Street, and finally Green Street, heading back to City Hall. 


By Dhiren Shah 

By now, you may have heard of the announcement made in The New York Times that Newark is one of the cities that is on the short list of 20 cities across the United States of America and Canada for Amazon’s second headquarters, commonly referred to as HQ2. 

There were 238 applicants from many countries, the majority of them from the United States. It started in October 2017, when Amazon said they would accept requests for proposal (RFP) from those cities and organizations who have the following criteria. A population of one million people, business friendly environment, easy transportation, and a hub for strong technical talent. 

Amazon, the world’s most advanced and largest retailer, has had an incredible effect on Seattle, Washington, home to its main headquarters. They own 800 acres of land in Seattle. Due to their expansion, they decided on setting up an HQ2. The second headquarters will create 50,000 jobs and is a $5 billion investment. HQ2 has a 600-member committee to select the location. The team has leadership from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Also, two of the Amazon executives have a strong connection to Pittsburgh, PA. The majority of the cities are from the Northeast, including New York and Newark. There are cities from outside of the region, including Denver, Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin, and Miami.

While Newark does not meet the population requirement, it has a good chance due to the proximity of the airport, seaport, Amtrak, PATH trains, diversity, and a business friendly environment since Cory Booker was mayor, and Mayor Baraka has spread the development to other parts of Newark. The city is centrally located between New York and Philadelphia, with several major highways. Last but not the least, the city and state are offering a combined $7 billion tax break over 10 years.

HQ2 is a win-win situation for both. Meanwhile, a local HQ2 committee is seeking more info and people’s feedback to add to their proposal. The Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (Newark CEDC) arranged two meetings, Feb. 22 and Feb. 24. The Feb. 22 the meeting was for the business community at the PSE&G Building on Raymond Boulevard. The Feb. 24 meeting was at Newark Public Library for residents of Newark to voice their opinion.

I attended the Feb. 22 meeting. Amazon is expected to announce the HQ2 location sometime this year and will start running the show there in 2019. So, time is of the essence here. The impact is from both ends. Amazon is very well organized, so it will be a little easier for them. Amazon is an online company, so it will not impact the loss of local businesses, but may lead to more business if the administration works diligently. 

At present, the most important thing is the site selection. The proposed sites are; the Gateway Complex, 33 Washington Street, 520 Broad Street, and 707 Broad Street. For new construction in the second phase development, the spots are: Bears Stadium, Matrix Riverfront, Mulberry Commons and SoMa (South of Market Street) master plan. The administration has to convince all the landlords and business owners to move from their existing locations. 

Due to the time frame, they have to offer way more than the market value, so the business owners and the building owners will be happy. However, the employees might be the losers, as they may have to travel more, since a place like the Gateway Complex is very close to Penn Station. 

Newark claims that they have the largest workforce in the country and largest tech workforce of the finalist cities. They are highly educated and meet the diversity requirement. This strong and very diverse talent pool stems from the three main universities within the city. The located also allows for East Orange, Orange, Irvington, West Orange, South Orange, Montclair, Bloomfield, and surrounding neighborhoods to play a role.

The East Ward of Newark, which is known as the Ironbound section has many world class restaurants. Lately, under Newark CEDC, many more restaurants have opened in the heart of the city. Newark is changing, and changing fast, and if we get HQ2 in Newark, the city will be on top of the world. 

Recently, the city regained control of the school system, which will allow better development of the education system according to the demands needed with a lot less bureaucracy.

It is easy when we look at billions of dollars’ worth of business. However, there was some sentiment against the whole deal as well. The problem will be housing, displacement, retail rents, access to jobs, and local procurement as suggested by Newark CEDC. However, there are many more problems. The displacement of Newarkers is huge, due to unaffordable rents and the standard of living. The cost will rise in all areas, but those living within the communities may have to move out if it is not affordable. 

Most of the benefits will be taken by the top layer businesses, politicians and building owners. It is still skeptical that local businesses will gain more business, as nothing has changed much even with deals before this. The majority of the new businesses are franchise businesses, so their profits will be gone from the community. In response to my question, Newark CEDC President and CEO Aisha Glover replied that Newark has improved its local hiring by the developers and businesses from 3% to 15%. 

Activist Donna Jackson said that she does not care if HQ2 comes to Newark or not, but if it does, there should be a contract with Amazon that some of the jobs must go to Newark residents. She was concerned about the residents of Newark, who live their lives in Newark.

This is unusual that a private firm is for all intents and purposes dictating the government, not only in this place but throughout the United States. So, how will this kind of decision making impact our representatives in the future? 





By Walter Elliott

NEWARK - City taxpayers, when the Newark Executive Protection Unit submits their last time cards Dec. 31, may find themselves paying the police detail more than $1 million in overtime.

Newark Public Safety and payroll department records show that EPU overtime payments from Jan. 1 through Aug. 25 have so far run up to $1,121,557.20. (Aug. 25 is the latest available record as of press time.)

The 27-member Newark Police Division unit's primary task is to provide 24/7/365 security for the mayor "and his designees." EPU members go with Mayor Ras Baraka at his home and on his travels, be it across Newark or across U.S. borders.

"These services are made available to the Mayor as they were with his predecessors," said NPD spokesman Capt. Derek Glenn. "EPU members are responsible for investigate all threats made against the Mayor or persons in his immediate office."

Capt. Glenn added that EPU members have investigated 14 death or physical harm threats against the mayor since his coming to office July 1, 2014.

Baraka said, on Jan. 5, 2016, that the EPU had extended is holiday staffing levels in light of a pair of threatening letters found in his mother's home. The mayor said the two letters, which were postmarked in October and were found December 2015 in a stack of mail, were investigated by both the EPU and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

"What's more frightening to me more than about my own safety is (that) I'm really more concerned about people going to my mother's home," said Baraka. It makes me wonder more about my own safety. We don't take this lightly."

One can ask resident Kenneth Curry and Jerry Jordan, of New Brunswick, how seriously the EPU takes threats against the mayor.

Curry, 56, was arrested here at Newark Penn Station March 30, 2017 and Jordan, 65, at his New Brunswick home April 4, 2017. They were identified as two men, dressed in camouflage fatigues, overheard talking of plotting to kill Baraka.

EPU members, acting on a phone call made to them by a bystander, arrested Curry along Market Street after a brief chase. He was held on two outstanding arrest warrants. Jordan was apprehended five days later.

It is not known, as of deadline, how Curry and Jordan's cases were adjudicated.

One may have seen EPU members in City Hall Council Chambers or at functions and may not be aware of it. They provide security at council members' offices and coordinate with security of visiting dignitaries. These plainclothes officers and their in-uniform peers also provide security at Municipal Council meetings.

This year's EPU consists of an NPD captain, a lieutenant, a sergeant and 24 officers. They earn a base salary of $100,000 each based on this calendar year's municipal budget and on current police and superior officers' contracts.

Individual overtime payments these first eight months, however, range from $15,000 to $108,000 - or an average of $16,650 should all 27 EPU members had accrued overtime.

The $1.121 million (and counting) of overtime may be compared to $2.7 million of the 27 members' base salary - provided that all of them earned only that base pay. (Some members most likely receive more pay based on rank and seniority.)

Glenn would not elaborate what prompted EPU members to pull an additional $15,000-$108,000 in overtime.

"For security reasons we aren't at liberty to provide specific information about staffing or those assigned to the unit," said Glenn. "The unit's staffing levels are comparable to that of previous administrations. We consider this number necessary and adequate in fulfilling their roles of providing security for the mayor and conducting investigations."

Cory A. Booker, while as mayor 2006-13, had a 16-member EPU detail.

Records were not readily available on what overtime they accrued before Booker became U.S. Senator, nor of when Council President Luis Quintana completed Booker's term as mayor 2013-14.

"Local Talk" recalls both Quintana and then-South Ward Councilman Baraka, at an early 2013 council meeting, questioning Booker's need for 16 officers on the unit.

"I can walk about in the city without needing so many officers," said Quintana. "What is the Mayor (Booker) afraid of?"



By Walter Elliott

Note: Due to the nature of the content in this article, reader discretion is advised.

NEWARK - The indefinite suspension of seven East Side High School students since Oct. 2 for their Sept. 26 attack on a fellow student in a hallway is one of several steps towards justice for and reconciliation with Kylie Perez. Other steps since Perez, 14, went public with her victimization Sept. 29 include:   

- Her speaking at a "Justice for Kylie Perez" rally held before ESHS's main entrance 2:30 p.m. Oct. 2.

- Her meetings with NPS officials, ESHS administrators, Mayor Ras Baraka and Essex County Prosecutor's Office prosecutors that Monday morning.

- Her speaking out on her assault and being a transgender person here and in Newark's other 11 public high schools' assemblies throughout October.

- Awaiting ECPO's decision whether to charge the seven suspended students and send their evidence before a State Superior Court-Newark grand jury.

- Perez's return to studies at ESHS Oct. 3.   

The above actions may or may not include any anti-bullying activities or intervention regarding what happened in The Ironbound high school about the hallway assault. Perez and her mother, Lillian Richards, said, on Sept. 29, that no such action had been taken in ESHS since Sept. 28.

The above flurry of activity came in the wake of Perez and Richards speaking to a WPIX 11 news crew Sept. 29. They also showed reporter Jay Dow a 10 second video recording of the assault's start taken from an ESHS security camera.

Perez was seen walking towards a group of four students. She was about to pass one of them when that person decked her with a right-hand punch. The punch sent Perez across and onto the hall floor.

"The girl was like, 'Oh, there's the tranny!'" recalled Perez. "Two punches, like right here, and I fell. It felt like everybody was coming towards me."

At least four visible on the recording continued to beat and kick Perez; the other three were recording it on their personal electronic devices. She promptly reported the incident to the ESHS main office, who then called the Newark Police Division Special Victims Unit and ECPO.

An NPD report listed Perez's beating as a "Bias Incident/Assault" before sending a copy to county prosecutors.

"When I received the call, I panicked, I started crying," said Richards when Perez and the main office called her. "They've called her 'gay' and faggot;' thank God she has a thick coat of skin. When my daughter goes to school, I expect her to be safe."

Richards said, on Monday, that she was planning to drop Kylie off before and pick her up after her first day back to class Tuesday.  

She had done the same Sept. 28, only to be called back to pick her daughter up; someone had allegedly made a threat against Kylie.

"Every day this week has been bad," said Perez Sept. 29.

"She wants to go back to school," added Richards.

Although Perez's bruises were physically healing that Friday, she declared, "I'm not going to let it fade away," and called Channel 11.

Perez believes that the girl who yelled, "There's the tranny," Sept. 26, did so in connection with one of the boys. She said that she had put on Snapchat a video of a boy who had been paying attention to her - the same one who suckered-punched her.

Perez was into her third week as an ESHS freshman. She had started her transition, changing her name from Justin, in the Sixth Grade.

ESHS Vice Principal for Culture and Climate Carlos Rodriguez said that the four who assaulted Perez and the three who recorded it without intervening were immediately suspended after video review.

Perez said that "there was one aggressor" among the seven, who come from among all four grades. Their disciplinary hearing has been scheduled for later this week past press time.

Newark Public Schools and its Board of Education, in an Oct. 2 press release said they are "standing with our LGBTQ students and staff and the entire Newark community in condemning the heinous and discriminatory acts that occurred in ESHS last week."

The release said that the seven were "immediately suspended" and longer term "appropriate placement and disciplinary action" will come from the hearing. The district is cooperating and sharing information with NPD."

ESHS's social worker, guidance team and administration, continued the statement, "has been working with the student and her family to ensure she feels safe and secure. She has been attending school every day since the incident took place and has reported feeling safe."

NPS confirms that East Side school leaders will be holding "tolerance education lessons and conduct restorative justice circles" in connection with the already scheduled statewide Week of Respect.

ESHS among other participating schools, wore blue Oct. 2 and subsequent Mondays this month in addition to tolerance and anti-bullying lessons.

The NPS Board of Education, at their Sept. 26 regular meeting at University High School, supported member Reginald Bledsoe's resolution to "support school safety and educational opportunity for LGBTQ students."

The measure, which Bledsoe first proposed at NPS' Sept. 19 business meeting, calls for a trained and dedicated staff member to be a support person for the LGBTQ community within each school building.

NPS and ESHS will be working with outside community activist groups like GLSEN, of New York. GLSEN, whose mission "is to create safe and affirming schools for all," will be developing tolerance training and anti-bullying policies.

Perez and her gathering supporters, however, are doing more than the Week of Respect.

Several dozen students, parents and activists held a Justice for Kylie Perez rally on Van Buren Street between ESHS main entrance and Independence Park Monday - in time for the school's dismissal bell.

"These lives matter," said Richards before the crowd and several metro New York City media news crews. "Transgender lives, gay, bisexual, black, white, straight - whatever you are."

"We're here to make sure the community knows, that Kylie knows and the quiet students around her know," said Newark Gay Pride President Sharronda "Love" Wheeler, "that they can live with their true selves."

"I'm overwhelmed," said Perez. "I didn't know so many people would be so supportive of me."

Several students at the rally, however, showed WPIX-11 a video of a boy recently suggesting to Perez that she was pretty. She allegedly laughed that he didn't know that she is transgender.

"It wasn't right for him to attack her," said student Lucas Ramirez, "but at the end of the day, she shouldn't have make him seem like he was gay."

"If he's insecure about his feelings, with people calling him gay around this building," responded Perez, "that's not my problem."

A GLSEN spokeswoman said that it will work with the school to re-launch the ESHS LGBT/GSA club.

School principal Santos confirmed Monday that Perez will be a keynote speaker of a series of school assemblies here on bullying and tolerance.

"We're a very open-minded school, always have been," said Santos. "We're a school of tolerance, of love."

Perez, after consulting with Baraka and others Monday morning, is working on exactly what she will say as of deadline.

"This act was particularly egregious because the victim's a young teen who assailed her without warning," said Baraka Monday afternoon. “This incident reinforces the importance of the role in our schools in educating students about the need to respect each other's rights regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.”