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By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - Essex County's Division of Family Assistance and Benefits employees and their clients here at 18 Rector St., who have suffered recent power mishaps and evacuations, may take comfort in that they may not have to endure those hardships much longer.
That DFAB, formerly the Division of Welfare, may well be leaving 18 Rector this summer, however, may be a comfort served cold. Many who work or get services from that part of the former Firemen's Insurance Building are concerned that more of the power outages and evacuations they have suffered Jan. 27-Feb. 5 may continue in the meantime.
The outside power generator, mounted within a modified shipping container on a trailer, remained curbside as of 2 p.m. Feb. 18.
"We experienced some electrical problems at 18 Rector St. and the building was closed on Jan. 27," said Anthony Puglisi of Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo's office late Feb. 18. "A portable generator was brought in to provide power to the building. It never caught of fire; however, some employees complained about the smell of fumes from the generator."
Puglisi added that the generator is no longer used since power was restored to 18 Rector. The generator, he said, was the responsibility of the landlord - which "Local Talk" understand to be the Berger Organization.
The county intends to move DFAB's services from the 10-decades-old building into the 19-year-old former Maryland Bank North America/Bank of America building at 320-321 University Ave. The bulk of the 13,500 monthly families who go to here and agency offices in the nearby Hall of Records and East Orange's 50 South Clinton St. are to experience "one-stop shopping" in the consolidated location sometime in July.
DiVincenzo (D-Roseland), with Board of Freeholders' approval, announced the purchase of the ex-call center for $26 million Aug. 8. The county executive, in a public unveiling of what the new DFAB center will look like, also announced the agency's consolidation and awarding of two related contracts.
Representatives from Aecom, of Clifton, and John O'Hara, of East Orange, stood alongside DiVincenzo, DFAB Director Kecia Burnett and nine other county and state officials in the Aug. 8 announcement and photo opportunity.
Aecom received a $650,000 contract to design building improvements. O'Hara was awarded a publicly contracted $15,002,802 bid to carry out those upgrades "within 210 calendar days" - which put the estimated completion date to June or July 2020.
Aecom and O'Hara were hired to "modernize" the co-joined 150,000-square-foot buildings' flooring, electrical and HVAC systems to create a better workflow floorplan for DFAB's clients and employees.
All three addresses will be vacated of DFAB employees except for the agency's call center workers at 50 So. Clinton. Those who remember when 320-21 University was constructed in 2001 may see the irony since the first new office building in a decade here in Newark was created to house MBNA's call center.
MBNA, founded in 1982, was a bank whose specialty was in creating credit cards between other banks and companies who wanted their brand logos on them. The Wilmington, Del.-based company had 400 million affinity credit card accounts when it was bought in 2016 by Bank of America.
Some readers with a stock car background may remember MBNA sponsoring various NASCAR races and cars in a 10-year 1990s-2000s period. Some with a Congressional legal mind may recall that MBNA, in 2001, paid Hunter Biden a consultant's fee while Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) sponsored a bankruptcy reform bill. (MBNA officials, in 2008, said that the two events were unrelated.)
Bank of America eventually replaced the MBNA logo above 320-21 University with its own in 2008. The San Francisco and Charlotte-based bank bought the world's largest affinity credit card lender for $34.2 billion. BoA, however, left 320-21 in 2013.
What attracted DiVincenzo's administrators to the two-story complex included a three-level parking garage for 446 employee vehicles, the second-floor pedestrian bridge and its relative modernism.
"To be honest, 18 Rector St. isn't as welcoming a space," said Freeholder Tyshammie Cooper (D-East Orange) at 320-21 University Aug. 8. "This is a more warm and welcoming building."
"In addition," added DiVincenzo, "we'll save about $6 million a year in rent previously being paid to lease space at 18 Rector St. This is a win-win for both our customers and employees."
DiVincenzo did not say whether 18 Rector's $6 million in annual rent includes paying nearby parking lot companies for leasing spaces for employees.
18 Rector is actually the northeastern end of the Firemen's Insurance Company building, whose formal address is 10 Park Place. The L-shaped building, constructed in phases 1924-28, was built around the Episcopal Church's St. Philip's House on the corner.
The 10-story, 160,000-sq. ft. office building was designed by Newark architects John H. and Wilson C. Ely for the Firemen's Insurance Company. Firemen's, founded in 1855, was once a rival to Prudential and Mutual Benefit Life. FIC's third structure was also called the Continental Insurance Building in the 1960s.
The county's Welfare Division had moved into 18 Rector in 1987, three years before the Berger Organization acquired it. Berger, best known for owning and operating the nearby Best Western Hotel Robert Treat, last renovated the Firemen's Building in 2007. It has also been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
"The renovations are ongoing and we're still on schedule for an opening in the summer," said Puglisi regarding 320-21 University. "If the opportunity arises that we can move into the building earlier, it'll be considered."
By Local Talk Staff
NEWARK - A building which houses services to many in need has had a bevy of complications that have frustrated clients and personnel.
What is going on at 18 Rector St. in Downtown Newark? First, there was a power outage on Jan. 27. Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo put this out on Facebook: Due to a power outage, the Essex County Division of Family Assistance and Benefits office at 18 Rector Street will be closed on Monday, Jan 27. All client appointments at 18 Rector St will be rescheduled. All other locations will be open. In case of emergency, call 973-395-8000. #EssexCounty #PuttingEssexCountyFirst
A generator the size of a tractor trailer was parked outside to provide power to the building. Then, on Feb. 3, the generator caught on fire, knocking out power and forcing workers and clients to evacuate the premises. The next day, there was another evacuation. Several disabled people were still in the building due to complications from the lack of power, most likely in elevators. People looking for vouchers and other services at the Essex County Division of Family Assistance and Benefits office had to do without at the moment.
“Welfare has failed the workers, the clients that come here to receive benefits…This generator is a farce. They know this generator cannot feed this whole building all day and all night,” said one person on social media.
18 Rector, which sits near the old Science High School and a property owned by Shaquille O’Neal, is home to the County DFAB, formerly known as the Department of Welfare.
So far, there has been no word as to the main issue with the power inside the building. “Local Talk” will look to get more into this situation as time progresses.
Activist Barred From City Council Meetings For Two Months
By Lev D. Zilbermints
On September 18, Munirah El-Bomani, a well-known activist, was escorted by four police officers from a City Council meeting. Luis Quintana, vice president of the council and presiding officer, alleged that Bomani was disrespectful to the Council at the pre-conference meeting the previous day, September 17. Because of this, Bomani was barred from speaking on September 18.
What should have been a regular Hearing of the Citizens quickly descended into chaos, as police officers blocked Bomani from speaking and took her papers. Video and photos taken by “Local Talk” at the meeting show Bomani screaming that her free speech rights are being violated as she is surrounded by four police officers from front and back. Members of the public are seen taking videos and photos of the confrontation, which lasts about five minutes.
The meeting began at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall. A total of twenty speakers had signed up to speak. The time limit was five minutes for each speaker. According to Council Rules posted on the back of the Agenda, “a speaker must at all times conduct himself in a manner which avoids disorderly conduct or behavior, not make comments that are excessively loud, disruptive obscene or violation of applicable law, or make statements directed at Council Members or City Officials that are defamatory or malicious.”
If a speaker does not obey the rules set by the council, then other measures may be taken. According to Council Rules, “The Presiding Officer may interrupt or terminate any individual’s speaking privilege if these rules are violated and further may prohibit requests from such individual to register and speak at future Municipal Council meetings in accordance with RULE XVI.”
According to an Order of the City Council dated September 18, “…the said Munirah El-Bomani, in addressing the Municipal Council acted in a disruptive manner, directing personal, and malicious remarks at the Business Administrator, Mr. Eric S. Pennington…”
The order referred to an incident which occurred the previous day, during the public portion of the scheduled Pre-Meeting Conference of the Municipal Council.
In a text message to “Local Talk,” Bomani gave the following account.
“I was signed up to speak during the citizens hearing on September 18, 2019, and they served me a notice while attending, banning me for 60 days, claiming at the September 17th Pre-Council Meeting I was disruptive, directing personal and malicious remarks at the Business Administrator, Mr. Eric Pennington, who got up from his seat and said I was giving out misinformation about a letter that came directly from the administration.
“I responded back, saying, ‘You talking about me? I have the evidence. Don’t address or speak about me without expecting a response.’ So Councilman Quintana called the police and asked them to escort me out of the building. I am tired of these politicians violating my free speech.”
The letter in question is dated October 5, 2018 and is addressed to Jerome Wakefield, Director Division of Central Purchasing. Then-Director Andrea Hall Adebowale, of Department of Water and Sewer Utilities, asks that the firm Helen of Troy Health and Home be awarded a contract to supply water filters and replacement filters at a cost not to exceed $1,352,248. Adebowale noted that “considering an emergent condition exists, the Department of Water and Sewer, with assistance from administration, contacted several vendors that manufacture and sell water filters to solicit proposals.” Only one firm responded.
At the September 17 meeting, said Bomani, Business Administrator Pennington did not explain what happened, but started calling her a liar, spreading misinformation. Bomani said, “All this Administration does is lie.”
Witnesses at the September 18 meeting shared their feelings with “Local Talk.” Debra Salters, who was the first speaker signed up to speak, said that the officers disrespected Bomani by touching her.
“I feel that what happened with Munirah was an injustice and it violated the constitutional rights! Whatever happened the day before in the pre-council happened before the day before. Munirah was sitting in the council quietly, didn’t say a word. When it was time for her to speak she stood at the podium quietly, and before she can say anything Luis (Vice President Quintana) was hostile towards her!
“The male officer should have never touched her. The way he grabbed her from the back and looked as if his hands touched her breasts! I was standing right there by the podium, telling them that what they were doing was not right. The officer began telling me about the day before, which should have had no bearing on Wednesday evening.
“This council has to stop calling police as their pit bulls against the constituents when they hear something they don’t like!
“Munirah has grounds for a lawsuit and I hope she takes this to the full extent of the law! She was discriminated against because the white gentleman that used the word “b--ch” was not accosted!”
Dion McCutchoen, of Newark Matters, told “Local Talk” outside the Council Chamber, “What happened yesterday (Sept. 17) has nothing to do with today. Different function, totally separate situation. You don’t ban me from future meetings.”
Shakima K. Thomas, another speaker, texted “Local Talk.” In her statement, Thomas wrote, “People exploded at last night’s city council meeting because they refuse to suffer in silence. City Council members were violating people’s right to free speech because they cannot take the criticism and rather oppress the citizens instead of displaying empathy and compassion for the wrongdoings of the administration they represent.
“I think the ejection was a violation of free speech. I also believe they were abusing their power as public servants.”
This is not the first time the Municipal Council barred someone from speaking. According to a Municipal Council Order dated September 6, 2018, Colleen M. Fields was barred from attending Municipal Council Meetings for six months. The order, signed by Municipal Council President Mildred C. Crump, says in part, “Wherein the said, Colleen M. Fields, in addressing the Municipal Council acted in an extremely disorderly and disruptive manner by repeatedly using profane language in speaking with Council Members, threatening to kill Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose, threatening bodily injury or harm to Council President, Mildred C. Crump, and finally refusing to cease and desist such egregious conduct despite numerous warnings for her to stop.”
Apparently after the six months were up, Ms. Fields returned to speak at Municipal Council meetings. On the September 18 agenda, Fields was listed right after Debra Salters, the first speaker.
Footage of the controversial removal can be found on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter social media platforms, all @localtalknewark
NEWARK - Twelve members, associates, and suppliers of a drug trafficking organization based in Newark have been charged in connection with their roles in distributing heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine and using firearms to protect their illegal operation, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
The 12 defendants were charged in a complaint unsealed July 31 (six others have been previously charged on separate complaints). Eight of the 12 defendants charged appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court. One remains at large.
“That these defendants allegedly used a neighborhood rec center as a place to conceal and sell dangerous drugs is almost beyond comprehension,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “While neighborhood children were coming here to play basketball and chess, they may have been just a few feet away from narcotics and the criminals who sell them. Getting the people who ran this operation off the street is a priority for law enforcement, and together with our partners in the DEA, the Newark Police, the New Jersey State Police and many others, we are doing just that.”
“Today’s operation highlights how cooperation between law enforcement at all levels can successfully lead to the dismantlement of a drug operation,” Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, Susan A. Gibson, said. “Those arrested not only held a community hostage with their violence and drug dealing, but they also utilized a community recreation center to deliver and store their heroin. These people were concerned only with making money with no concern for damage they were causing.”
“Once again, a great collaboration with our federal partners helps Newark to become a safer place,” Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said. “Last year, the US Attorney’s Office was responsible for over 100 violent cases. I’m glad to see this trend continue in 2019. The people of Newark are the benefactors.”
“I want to thank the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the US Attorney’s Office, and our own Newark Police Division for their extremely effective work in investigating and charging these members of a drug trafficking organization based in Newark, and their efforts to keep our city safe every day,” said Mayor Ras J. Baraka in a statement.
“It is appalling that three of the individuals who were charged today are part-time employees of the city’s Department of Recreation, Cultural Affairs, and Senior Services. The use of a recreation center for the delivery of narcotics, as a place to stash drugs and money, is despicable, and must not happen again. All three employees have been terminated from municipal service.
“This afternoon, I met with our Recreation staff, to reiterate critically important city policies affecting this issue. In addition, we will institute more rigorous screening procedures for hiring part-time employees as we already do with full-time employees. We will also investigate to see if other policies were violated. If so, we will act quickly.
“Finally, I would like to re-assure every person who uses our Recreation Centers, regardless of age, that they are safe and welcome for every resident and will remain that way.”
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court: The charges and arrests are the result of a long-running wiretap investigation led by the DEA. The organization’s leaders - Edward Williams and Wali Duncan - obtained their supply of narcotics from Rahim Jackson and Arthur Hardy, who would deliver the narcotics personally or through runners. On numerous occasions, large narcotics deliveries took place in and around the Rotunda Recreation and Wellness Center on Clifton Avenue, where Hardy was the director and Jackson and Williams were employees. (The City of Newark disputes that Hardy was the director.) These individuals also used the center to stash drugs and money.
Williams and Duncan are members of the G-Shine set of the Bloods street gang, which operates at the Janice Cromer Village public housing complex, also known as the Broadway Townhomes, in Newark. Duncan supplied narcotics to numerous individuals who would sell them in the neighborhood, which is near two elementary schools and a high school.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of DEA, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gibson; members of the Newark Department of Public Safety, under the direction of Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose; and the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, with the investigation leading to the charges.
He also thanked the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura; the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II; the Rockaway Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Martin McParland; and special agents of the ATF, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson in Newark for their assistance.
This investigation was part of the Violent Crime Initiative (VCI), which was formed in August 2017 to combat violent crime in and around Newark. Federal, state, county, and city agencies collaborate and pool resources to prosecute violent offenders. The VCI is composed of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals, Newark Department of Public Safety, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Essex County Sheriff’s Office, N.J. State Parole Board, Union County Jail, N.J. State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center, N.J. Department of Corrections, East Orange Police Department, and Irvington Police Department.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather K. Suchorsky of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Unit in Newark.
This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Photo By Kristopher Seals
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - The Brummer family will probably have a timeline in place to reopen Hobby's Delicatessen, which was damaged in a July 1 fire here, around the time you read this.
Hobby's, a downtown Newark institution going back 100 years, suffered what appears to be an electrical fire above its bar Monday afternoon. Newark and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Arson Squad, as their standard operating procedure, are searching for the fire's cause.
Although Newark Fire Division personnel put the blaze out within 30 minutes, its aftereffects may last several days to several weeks.
"We would like to be open on Monday (July 8) but it's too early to say," said Marc Brummer to "Local Talk" at 5:15 p.m. July 2. Brummer was standing with two other local store owners at the southeast corner of Halsey Street and Branford Place, recalling what had happened some three hours earlier.
Marc, who co-owns Hobby's with brother Michael, said that there were 25 employees and as many customers in the two-room public area Monday afternoon. He said that he was talking with a couple of diners at a bar area table when he started smelling smoke at 2 p.m.
"I started running around, trying to find where the smoke was coming from," added Brummer. "Once I realized what the circumstance was, I ordered everybody out."
By "everybody," Brummer was including any tenants in the two Halsey storefronts and in the apartments above them in the three-story building that is 32 Branford.
The first NFD firefighters arrived by 2:10 p.m. and attacked the bar area's front and ceiling to get at the thick smoke and flames. The fire was brought under control by 2:40 p.m.
Visible damage was limited to the bar area's ceiling and facade. The 1950s-era "Hobby's Delicatessen" lettering signage now stops at "De," the other metal and neon letters either having been dislodged onto the sidewalk or destroyed.
Two workers from Staten Island's Harbor View Salvage were removing damaged wooden panels and false ceiling tiles during "Local Talk's" 5:15 p.m. visit. They were propping the items along the front wall or on the sidewalk. Yellow police tape still ringed Hobby's sidewalk area.
While the salvager's panel van was directly parked in front of Hobby's, NFD units were long gone. here was a second van, from the local American Red Cross, parked across Branford, to assist affected apartment residents with temporary housing and aid.
Most, if not all, of 32 Branford's doors and windows were open to ventilate smoke. The open doors include a sidewalk opening to Hobby's basement, protected from being wide open by a screen and traffic cone.
One door's interior sign, warning, "Keep Locked at All Times," was still in place.
Brummer said that fire damage had not spread into the kitchen or storage areas, making recovery easier. Electricity was still on to the freezers and refrigerators. He was even allowed to re-enter the eatery to rescue or recover Independence Day-related customer orders.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Newark FD,” tweeted brother Michael Brummer. "You came promptly and extinguished the fire quickly and professionally. You saved our bacon!"
"All this can be fixed, so it's not that serious," added Marc Brummer. "Everybody got evacuated; nobody got hurt."
At least all civilians were not hurt. Two news sources report that an NFD firefighter was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
Diners will have to make do without Hobby's pickled corn beef, Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic and other mostly-Eastern European Jewish fare for more than the usual time being.
Hobby's had just started is summertime Saturday closings June 29, which was to continue into the Labor Day weekend. The deli had been closed several days in May for the three-week mock-up, filming and breakdown of a scene for "The Many Saints of Newark."
"Many Saints," the prequel to the HBO "Sopranos" series, had Branford Place stand-in for Springfield Avenue where the July 12-17, 1967 riots or rebellion erupted. Hobby's exterior needed only a metal awning to blend into the scene.
Hobby's mid-20th Century exterior and interior, indeed, has not changed much since Samuel Brummer bought "Hocky's Delicatessen" in 1962. "Hocky's" became "Hobby's" by changing just two letters.
S. Brummer (1922-2015), a Polish refugee, first worked in a Newark superette (mini-supermarket) in Newark until World War Two broke out. The U.S. Army infantryman who was part of the Allied Normandy invasion in France began working in several New York City-area delicatessens upon his honorable discharge. Kartzmann's, on Newark's Bergen Street, the Clifton Deli in Lakewood and the Globe, in New York's Lower East Side, were part of his pre-Hobby's apprenticeship.
Marc and Mike Brummer began working at Hobby's as teenagers and on breaks from Brandies University and Franklin and Marshall College. Samuel, who sold them the business in 1988, was involved until a few months before his Nov. 15, 2015 death in North Caldwell.
The Brummers have stayed in Newark "through thick and thin." S. Brummer insisted that the deli stayed open during July 1967. The trio shipped 15 tons of donated deli meat to Iraqi troops as part of "Operation Salami Drop" in 2005.
Hobby's had a more serious fire, in September 1992, which destroyed the kitchen and damaged a sign store above it.
Marc Brummer, after 16 months' recuperation from a broken back, just returned last month - which Michael Brummer, in his latest FB posting, playfully ribbed.
"We promise to reopen faster than it took Marc to recover from his broken back."
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - Several hundred people - some coming from across Newark and some from across New Jersey - to practically lock their arms around a four acre lot here on the southeast corner of South Orange Avenue and Grove Street by 4 p.m. May 19.
By "practically," they could not completely ring the eastern half of the Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery site without cutting across three historic Jewish cemeteries and 18 modern homes' backyards along 14th Avenue and South 21th Street.
For that late Saturday afternoon minute, the around 500 mostly young people, who marched one-third of a mile west from a rally at West Side High School, made their point to Gov. Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Corrections: Do not build a jail for juveniles here.
The rally and subsequent march to the brewery lot corner was the latest development since state officials told Mayor Ras Baraka in April that they were interested in building a "youth rehabilitation center" there or somewhere in northern New Jersey.
The rally featured Rev. Dr. Charles Boyer, of Bethel AME Church in Woodbury and State Sen. Shavonda Sumter (D-Paterson).
Sumter talked about her Senate Bill S-3701, which calls for the state to close all of its juvenile facilities by Jan. 8, 2021 and appropriates $100 million for "youth rehabilitation centers and other programs." It and companion bill A5365 remains in the state law committee.
"Surely, this incoming governor, who received 94 percent of the Black vote," said Boyer, "would never follow through with plans to build a new prison for our kids."
Murphy (D-Rumson), as of April 16, wants to replace the 150-year-old Jamesburg juvenile jail with three regional centers as part of a juvenile justice system overhaul. Those three new centers would be built for $160 million.
The plan is a continuation of what then-Gov. Chris Christie (R-Mendham) started in 2016. The Union County Detention Center in Linden, for example, was closed Oct. 1, 2018. Its remaining youth were sent to Newark's Essex County Juvenile Detention Center.
The Christie-Murphy plan came from the state's Juvenile Justice Commission, formed in 2004 to end the racial disparity of incarcerated juveniles or youth. Murphy, last October, followed up by creating Continued Transformation of Youth Justice Task Force.
Baraka, less than 48 hours after a Newark City Hall press conference with Murphy and State Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Belleville), had to clarify his support of the Governor's plan.
"There's no way we should spend $160 million to build three jails or even three rehabilitation centers - new ones," said Baraka while on WBGO-FM Aug. 18. "We look forward to the opening of smaller regional centers to allow young people the ability to be closer to their families and home communities. These regional sites will provide a secure residential setting whole providing treatment, rehabilitative service and community space."
Baraka's explanation sounds as if he is in alignment with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. NJISJ, of Newark, have campaigned for the closing of Jamesburg Training School for Boys and the Female Secure Care and Intake facility in Bordentown the last three years.
NJISJ - who organized Saturday's rally, march and demonstration - have been conducting its "150 Years is Enough" education and demonstration campaign the last three years. The 150 years refers to when Jamesburg was first open.
The legal watchdog group is calling for "substantial financial and other reparative and restorative investments in creating a system that build up kids."
NJISJ, on one hand, welcomes the declining statewide detention or holding of juveniles and youth.
It, however, decries that 80 percent of those incarcerated and released in 2012 would run afoul of the law and 33 percent returning to jail. About 80 percent of those detained are African American.
The group called Saturday's demonstration after saying it had learned that the state had sent the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation "a letter of intent" to build on 552-72 South Orange Ave.
NCEDC-funded demolishers leveled the 1930 Hoffman soda bottling and Pabst brewery plant 2006-10, some 30 years after Pabst, of Milwaukee turned off the taps. Its landmark 60-foot-tall, 55,000 gal "Pabst Beer Bottle" water tower was dismantled and stored in demolisher T. Fiore's Ironbound warehouse.
Activity on and around the lot has since been sporadic. The Essex County highway department had realigned that block of Grove Street around 2012.
Contractors building the new houses along So. 21st Street accidentally opened several Jewish graves around 2010. Newark police and Essex County Sheriff's officers evacuated the B'nai Abraham cemetery when an explosive device was left on a headstone there Sept. 18.
It is not that the city wants those blocks economically quiet. An initial plan for a mixed residential/retail commercial center, proposed while Cory Booker was mayor and Ron C. Rice was West Ward Councilman, fell through.
Now NCEDC will have to decide between the latest proposal and what the state wants. It and Baraka were talking about a Veteran's Center plaza, where housing and rehabilitation would be sited, in 2017.
"There's property up there that's owned by the bank, which's now owned by somebody else," said Baraka April 18. "They sold it to someone else who's not in contact with the state. They might be now if they found (that) the state wants it - but, today, that's not happening."
NJISJ, however, noted that the "youth jail" site would be placed next to the historic Jewish cemeteries - which would not be conducive for a rehabilitative environment.
The site is also within 1,000 feet of WSHS and Newark Public Schools' Speedway Academies and Early Childhood Center. It is also within range of the old South 15th Street and Ashland Avenue school buildings - which NPS leases out to the North Star charter school system.
Having a "juvenile detention center" within 1,000 feet of five schools may strengthen an impression of a "school-to-prison pipeline."
Current West Ward Councilman Joseph McCallum may still be as angered over the state's supposed intent for the brewery site as he was April 18.
"Over my dead body," declared McCallum of building a jail there. "everybody's ticked off."
By Dhiren Shah
On April 17, 1849, brave abolitionist Frederick Douglass came to Newark and gave a speech at the Plane Street Colored Church. Years later, the site became home to what is now known as Frederick Douglass Field. In 2018, Rutgers-Newark renamed its Alumni Field to Frederick Douglass Athletic Field in his honor.
Now, 170 years later, RU-N hosted a “Agitate! The Legacy of Frederick Douglass and Abolition in Newark” event to recognize his contributions to society. Many local elected officials and important community supporters gathered on a beautiful day right around the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., a street named after another legendary freedom fighter.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka gave the importance of protesting against injustice. Newark Historian Junius W. Williams, Rutgers University Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor, University President Robert L. Barchi, Congressman Donald Payne Jr., former Assemblyman William Payne, Senator Ronald Rice, Senator Teresa Ruiz, Senior Adviser for diversity, faith, urban and regional growth Derrick Green (who was representing NJ Governor Phil Murphy), Newark Council President Mildred Crump, Mr. Barker (representing Senator Cory Booker) and many other dignitaries talked about the work Frederick Douglas dedicated himself to 17 decades ago.
Mr. Kenneth B. Morris Jr., the great-great-great grandson of Douglass, said that he was a slave like others African Americans, but he fell in love and his wife gave inspired freedom. Senator Rice gave a proclamation to Mr. Morris for his hard work and travel all over the United States of America to spread the word of the importance of Frederick Douglass.
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - Nubian Flavor co-owners Rashid and Pamela Salaam were shifting from serving breakfast to lunch here April 3 when their and the late Mayor Ken Gibson's eyes met from across their dining room.
Gibson's image was captured among a wall of some 160 snapshots of diners taken some 12 to 15 years ago. Newark's first African American mayor, dressed in a grey track suit, was looking up from his plate.
"He was a regular, coming in once a week," said R. Salaam. "We named his favorite entrée, chicken and waffles, on the menu after him."
"He was a pillar of the community," added P. Salaam. "He was well-liked. People trusted him."
P. Salaam's reflection typified those made to "Local Talk" since Gibson's March 29 death. The collective comments formed a tribute that, while deeply rooted into Newark's history, transcended the city's boundaries.
Gibson, 86, who was Newark's mayor 1970-86, was the city's first chief executive in its current renaissance era. His supporters and a majority of city voters defeated incumbent Mayor Hugh Addonizio in 1970 and, in 1974, turned back North Ward Councilman Anthony Imperiale. Gibson was re-elected twice more before his defeat by then-South Ward Councilman Sharpe James.
Gibson, during his 16 years, was one of the first African American mayors of a major U.S. city and the first thereof in the Northeast. His administration saw improvements in health care and public housing, with assistance from state and federal funds, while striving to keep major businesses downtown.
Gibson, during his four terms, saw voters approve changing the Newark Board of Education from a mayor-appointed panel to an elective body.
Gibson became the face of urban America during his time in office. "Where-ever America's cities are going," Gibson said often, "Newark will get there first."
Kenneth Allen Gibson, who was born May 15, 1932, in Enterprise, Ala., was among the northward African American Great Migration of the early 20th Century. Parents Willie and Daisy moved into Newark's Central Ward to escape discrimination and for respective work as a butcher in Swift's Kearny packing plant and as a seamstress.
Ken was a Newark Public Schools student, attending Monmouth Street elementary and Cleveland Junior High schools before entering Central High. The CHS Class of 1950 graduate then walked west to study civil engineering at the Newark College of Engineering. (The CHS building was absorbed into the now-NJIT campus by 2015.)
Gibson worked his way through high school and college, playing in a local jazz band while in Central and as a New Jersey State Trooper while in NCE. He continued studying civil engineering while stationed in the U.S. Army's 65th Engineer Battalion in Hawaii 1956-58.
Gibson, NCE Class of 1958, held an engineering job with the New Jersey Highway Department (now NJDOT) 1950-60. He became chief structural engineer for the Newark Housing Authority and, in 1966, the City of Newark.
Along the way, Gibson headed the Newark Business and Industry Coordinating Council and was member of the National Urban League plus CORE and the NAACP's city branches. He was also vice president of the United Community Corporation anti-poverty group.
Attorney-turned Rutgers Abbot Leadership Institute founder Junius Williams - in a News12 New Jersey interview and in an ALI class in Conklin Hall March 30 - reminded people of Newark's social climate and of Gibson's first mayoral run in 1966.
"Hugh Addonizio, who was mayor at that time, allowed the Newark Police Department to do what they wanted to do with the African American community," said Williams before a Conklin Hall class of 100. "Except for a few patronage jobs, we had no access to City Hall."
Gibson, running as a moderate reformer, finished third to Addonizio and predecessor Leo Carlin in the nonpartisan 1966 mayoral election. (Carlin, who was mayor 1954-62, changed the Municipal Council format to the current ward and at-large structure - which led to the Central ward's Irvine Turner becoming Newark's first African American councilman in 1954.)
"Gibson drew 15,000 votes, which was enough to force a runoff election between Addonizio and Carlin," said Williams. "African Americans, in the ethnic politics of the time, had to choose between the Italians and Addonizio or the Irish with Carlin. A majority went with Addonizio."
It was under Addonizio's second term when the July 1967 riots/rebellion/civil disorder happened. Newark was meanwhile losing a quarter of its 400,000 residents and some of its industry to the suburbs and beyond. Issues over the quality of NPS education, the Newark Medical School (later UMDNJ or University Hospital) and the Route 75 Connector were also simmering or roiling to a boil.
A group of Rutgers-Newark Black Organization of Students held a sit-in in Conklin Hall Feb. 24-27, 1969, demanding more hiring and admission of minorities. Williams, who had just moved here from Richmond, Va., added that parents, clergy and community activists provided food and other support in R-N's Ackerson Hall across University Avenue.
Addonizio would later be indicted, stand trial and convicted on kickback charges 1969-70.
Gibson was meanwhile endorsed by the Black and Puerto Rican Convention of community activists in early 1970.
"The convention was when various people agreed that it was time for a change," recalled Williams. "A coalition of people with the same interests started demonstrating, organizing and mobilizing. The confrontation in the streets merged with negotiations in the suites."
Gibson, in 1970, defeated Addonizio and third-placed Imperiale. He entered office with a Model Cities pilot program which Williams was a part of 1971-72. The new mayor, however, inherited a pair of teacher strikes, spanning 14 weeks, 1970-71.
"The teachers at that time were mostly white and coming from the suburbs," said Williams. "They saw the changes coming but were fighting to preserve their own power."
Williams, Saturday, drew a parallel to how both Gibson's electoral and the elected school board coalitions lost their respective momentum.
"The people's coalition of school board members held a majority by 1984 but something happened," said Williams. "It became about representation, jobs, patronage - and education of the children was never brought up. The same thing happened in City Hall."
Williams cited Gibson's lack of support of the Kawaida Towers public housing project, which pitted Amiri Baraka, Sr. against Imperiale and then-North Ward Democratic Committee Chairman Steven Adubato, Sr., 1971-72. Baraka, calling Gibson as being too close to business interests, fell out with the mayor.
That diminishing power base contributed to Gibson losing to James in 1986. Sitting Essex County Executive Jim Treffinger defeated Gibson in their 1998 election. Gibson finished third in the respective 1981 and 85 Democratic Gubernatorial primaries to James Florio and Peter Shapiro.
Gibson, who retired to start an engineering consultancy 1986-98, was acquitted of offering a no-show job for a former city councilman in 1982. A jury was deadlocked in 2001 over whether Gibson defrauded Irvington over a school project; he pleaded guilty to a tax evasion count and received probation.
Gibson became an elder statesman in later life. He, often in the company of second wife Camille, would dine at Nubian Flavor, shop at the West Orange K-Mart Plaza and attend selected public functions.
The Salaams said that they had been seeing less of the Gibsons when Ken's health started to decline. When Ken Gibson would make recent appearances and speak, people present paused to listen.
Gibson spoke against NPS State District Superintendent of Schools Cami Anderson's increasingly autocratic ways in 2015. He supported Ras Baraka's mayoral election in 2014.
Camille Gibson said her husband died Friday in a West Orange rehabilitation facility; she was unable to attribute a single cause of death.
Camille, who was Orange Mayor Eldridge Hawkins, Jr's City Hall secretary, married Ken 15 years ago. His first wife, Muriel Cook Gibson, of Orange, 53, died in 1983.
Daughter Cheryl Gibson-Fuller was an Orange Business Administrator.
Daughters Jo Anne Gibson-Danks and Kennon Hunter, stepdaughter Joyce Byran, brother Harold, seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren are also among his survivors.
The City of Newark had scheduled Gibson to lie in state in the City Hall Rotunda Noon-6 p.m. April 4. His remains were to be moved to Newark Symphony Hall for a 7 p.m. life celebration. Arrangements have been made by the family with Whigham Funeral Home.
Memorial donations may be made to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newark.
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - City taxpayers can anticipate paying $211,382 more to its Municipal Council up front and, going forward on April 1, $23,498 per month in salaries.
The Municipal Council, in a 5-1-1-2 split vote in a special public meeting here March 12, gave themselves 32 to 48 percent pay raises.
The Council President, currently Mildred Crump, will have her $71,000 annual salary rise to $105,000. She will be getting $2,834 more per month starting on April 1.
Each of the other eight Council Members will see their annual salaries rise from $64,000 to $95,000 beginning on April 1. The individual member's increase comes out $2,584 more per month - or $20,664 when multiplied by eight members.
By paying "up front," "Local Talk" is referring to the Council's president and members getting retroactive pay going back to July 1 as per clauses found in the March 12-passed Resolution 19-0234. July 1 was when Mayor Ras Baraka and his entire "Moving Newark Forward" slate of council members, who were voted in May 8's municipal election, had been sworn into office.
"Local Talk" has calculated the nine months of retroactive increases to be $25,506 for the Council President and $185,976 per council member. The $211,382 is found when the council member rate is multiplied by eight members and the Council President's sum is added.
July 1 was also the retroactive date set by Baraka and 29 of his key department heads, administrators and aides' salary increases to take effect. The council approved R 19-0181, which approved increasing salary brackets of the mayor and his 28 administrators, 9-0, Feb. 26. (West Ward Councilman Joseph McCallum was absent.)
The Baraka Administration and council's swift introduction, public hearing and approvals of both measures have many residents and taxpayers asking questions - starting with "Why now?"
City Hall officials have given "Why now?" a two-fold response.
City Clerk Kenneth Louis, responding after the 10 a.m. March 12 meeting, said that the council last had a pay hike in 2006. July 1, 2006 was when Cory Booker and five of the current council members took office.
The July 1, 2006 date reminded "Local Talk" of City Business Administrator Eric Pennington's Feb. 26 statement of the mayor's request to expand pay brackets.
"The current mayor makes less than his predecessor (Booker) and his predecessor's predecessor (Sharpe James)," said Pennington.
City officials also pointed towards the four years of New Jersey Local Government Finance Board monitoring of municipal budgets 2014-18.
The Baraka Administration accepted having a monitor from the state Department of Community Affairs moving into City Hall and looking over its financial shoulder in July 2014. The monitoring was a condition then-Gov. Chris Christie (R-Mendham) set in exchange for granting $30 million in state aid to bridge the 2015 Municipal Budget's gap.
The DCA's board monitor left City Hall last November.
"Why pay out $95,000 to $105,000 in annual salaries for part-time jobs?" was another often-asked question.
"If you're going to propose the increases, (then) you should make this a full-time job," said East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador in his sole dissent. "I don't believe in the concept of getting paid this much money and, at the same time, having a job someplace else."
Amador is a retired PSE&E official. North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. abstained.
"We continue to work hard every single day on behalf of the residents but, to me, a legislator in this form of government is essentially a part-time position," said Ramos. "I really believe that, if there's additional funding available, then that funding should be earmarked to help us support initiatives and programs such as little league organizations and community cleanups."
Ramos is also Essex County's Human Services and Employment Training manager in Newark.
Crump, McCallum, South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James and at-large councilmen Carlos Gonzalez and Eddie Osborne voted March 12 for the salary increases. Councilman Luis Quintana and Central Ward Councilwoman LaMonica McIver were absent.
Newark's elders also approved up to $30,000 salary payments in lieu of expenses for the mayor and themselves. The measure eliminates their expense account line items.
“It’s a scam,” said “Local Talk” Publisher Dhiren Shah. “They plan this out together, and they do it regardless of what the people want. I fear that this will come back on Newark’s citizens in some way, whether by property tax increases, cuts to other programs, or something else. There is a false sense of momentum because they flirted with Amazon, but Amazon didn’t come, and reality will hit them eventually.”
Local activist Munirah El Bomani also responded to the raises, saying, “How were they able to give themselves a raise when they claim the city is broke? I have a problem with public officials voting to give themselves a raise, period! How did they raise their salaries 33% which is the same as the median income of the residents living here in poverty? Shame!
“Why should they get a raise when the city is suffering under their administration economically, with high poverty, unemployment, wealth disparities, potholes, dirty streets, unaffordable housing, homelessness, ineffective programs, ineffective policies, incompetent, misogynistic, homophobic and under totalitarian government. This is the first time in the history of city of Newark that we have witnessed the unprecedented amount of lawsuits against the administration that is costing taxpayers millions of dollars in settlements. This is the first time that we have seen the total assimilation of the executive branch and administration.
“This administration is no different than what we are see going on in Washington DC with the Republicans under Donald Trump. It is a shame that we have a council that goes along with everything no matter if it hurts the citizens or not. We have more cronyism and nepotism going on more than ever. There is also the climate of intimidation and retaliation that has caused residents and workers to be afraid to be seen with longtime friends and family members who do not agree with the administration practices. Residents must stand up like never before against this type of government and injustices happening within our own local government.”
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - The Newark Municipal Council, after 28 minutes of public hearing and deliberation, granted Mayor Ras J. Baraka's request to increase salary range brackets for himself and 28 other administrative employees here Feb. 26.
Passing Resolution 19-0181 by all nine council members present (West Ward Councilman Joseph McCallum was absent) in the special Tuesday morning session may translate to up to $1 million in salary increases.
"May" is the operative word Business Administrator Eric Pennington stressed during his answering questions from Council President Mildred Crump and her colleagues.
"Not every person will go automatically to the top of the range," said Pennington before the Newark TV-78 camera and a Council Chamber gallery audience of 46. "Each position will be evaluated on the size of the department, the complexity of the job and whether the administration's goals are being met."
Pennington's remarks coincide with those from East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador. Amador said he had abstained from Feb. 13's introductory vote until he was assured that the ranges did not mean automatic increases.
"Not all positions can be treated equally," said the councilman. "We have department heads with some very large departments and with some very small departments. Their functions vary."
The increases may also well be going to 14 department heads, 10 municipal council aides, four mayor's aides, two mayoral secretaries, the Assistant Business Administrator and several full- and part-time municipal judges.
Mayor Baraka's annual salary, for example, may get a 38 percent boost from $130,000 to $180,000. This would compare to East Orange Mayor Ted Green's $140,000 salary and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage's almost $163,000 salary.
The State of New Jersey Local Finance Board financial monitor's November departure gave the Baraka Administration its first opportunity to request salary hikes. The NJ Department of Community Affairs had a monitor here in City Hall since 2014.
Pennington added that the said positions have not had a wage boost since 2007.
"The current mayor makes less than his predecessor (Cory Booker)," said the city BA, "and his predecessor's predecessor (Sharpe James)."
Moving up the salary brackets' goalposts was actually one of three city personnel pocketbook items the council passed Tuesday morning.
Baraka and the Municipal Council may get another $5,000 to $30,000 through expense accounts. The walk-on Resolution R 19-0184 actually eliminates the expense account and assimilates the funds into elected officials' salaries.
"I've a problem with getting a measure like this without getting a chance to read it," said North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. "My concern is that we're eliminating a category we use to help fund community groups."
Crump denied Ramos' request to table this bill.
"Everyone here should vote their conscience," said the council president. "I don't want to go back to the third floor (council offices) and have my staff ask me why I voted it down."
This late-starter was passed with Ramos abstaining.
The council also passed a bill extending Anthony Ambrose's overall seniority. The bill plugs a gap between Ambrose's 25 years as Essex County Prosecutor's Office Head of Detectives and former Newark Police Director and his current position as city Public Safety Director. The bridge would allow Ambrose to get fuller retirement checks.
Several of the six public speakers in the public hearing and public comment, despite the council's ruminations, remained unhappy with the three bills' outcome.
Newark Firefighters Union Kevin "Stretch" Simpson, with 14 of his dress uniformed colleagues seated behind him, reminded the council that he had last written them of their negotiations stalemate this time last year.
"You talk about the love you have for us," said Simpson. "My aunt taught me that love is an action word. After a year, it's come to where I'll only believe in your actions, not your words."
"Instead of serving the people who voted for you, you're lining your pockets," said activist Munirah Bomani. “The water's contaminated and the streets are dirty. And what about the people who work in city hall for you who you haven't handed an increase?”
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - The Municipal Council took the first step in lining up what may be more than $1 million in salary increases for Mayor Ras Baraka, 14 department heads and 1 key administrative support staff here Feb. 13.
The eight council members present passed an introduction of Resolution 19-0181 here in a special Wednesday morning meeting. (Council President Mildred Crump announced that At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana was "away on a business trip.")
Their introductory approval paved the way for the said legislation being scheduled for another special meeting public meeting, to start at 10 a.m. Feb. 26, and for publication in the interim.
R 19-0181 calls for raising the minimum and maximum annual salary brackets for the following administrative positions:
· $180,000: Mayor.
· $190,000-$260,000: Business Administrator, Public Safety Director
· $100,000-$190,000: Corporation Counsel, Director of Economic and Housing Development, Director of Engineering, Health Director (non-doctorate), Director of Recreation, Cultural Affairs and Social Services, Public Works Director, Director of Water and Sewer Utilities and Finance Director/Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer.
· $100,000-$225,000: Health Director (with doctorate).
· $100,000-$160,000: Tax Assessor
· $175,000: City Clerk.
· $150,000: Presiding Municipal Judge.
· $100,000-$150,000: Assistant BA.
· $140,000: Deputy City Clerk.
· $90,000-$140,000: Aide to Mayor (40 Hours), Mayor's Aide I (40 Hours).
· $130,000: Full-Time Municipal Judge.
· $85,000-$125,000: Deputy Mayor.
· $50,000-$85,000: Municipal Council Aides.
· $65,000: Part-Time Judge.
· $65,000-$115,000: Mayor's Aide II, III.
· $65,000-$90,000: Mayor's Office Executive Secretary (40 Hours).
· $65,000-$80,000: Mayor's Office Personal Secretary (40 Hours).
One bracket, for Chief of Police, was mutually struck off the resolution by the council and Business Administrator Eric Pennington Wednesday morning. That position was abolished when the police and fire divisions and Office of Emergency Management were merged into the public safety department in 2015.
The boosted brackets and the pending approval of salary increases would take effect retroactively to July 1 - when Baraka's second administration and current council members were sworn in.
"The administration believes that increasing the brackets would be commensurate with the work they have been doing," said Pennington.
The increases, pending Feb. 26 or later approval, would give Baraka a $50,000 boost. The current $130,000 salary earner has no other job.
The mayor of New Jersey's largest city would be among - but not on top - of the state's highest paid mayors. There are several who top out above $190,000 when their other jobs and pensions are factored in.
Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose, potentially in line for up to $260,000, is also being paid by Essex County. The Essex County Prosecutor's Office, in a shared services agreement, with Newark, has lent its Head of Detectives - Ambrose - to Newark.
At least half of the six public speakers assailed the council considering the new wage bracket resolution in part for their holding "second jobs." State law, since 2016, has grandfathered out public officials from holding a second elective office.
The council's introductory approval, held live before the NWK-TV 78 camera and a Council Chamber gallery audience of 101, initially came with East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador's abstaining - until he was allowed by Crump to make a partial pre-roll call statement.
"I have no problem with approving salary increases but with taking into consideration the size of the department and the work done," said Amador. "I'm concerned that some departments, like code enforcement, is being understaffed compared to the increasing amount of development."
The East Ward Councilman said that increasing development compared to the current number of code enforcement and building inspectors are causing "weeks or months" of approval delays. He considered the mismatch as making Newark, "not a 21 Century city but an 18th or 19th-century city."
"You're starting to enter an area," cautioned Crump, "which would be better discussed in executive session."
(The council, indeed, held a 62-minute executive session that emptied the gallery audience into the adjacent hallway. It is not presently known if Amador's complaint was discussed.)
North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr., in his pre-vote remarks, started off by acknowledging the at least 76 identifiable city firefighters sitting in the gallery before noting the police chief line-item.
"I see members of the firefighters, fire officers and superior officers associations in the audience," said Ramos. "There may also be members of the police associations among them. I thank them for putting their lives on the line every day and I know they and the administration are in contract negotiations."
The firefighters, before and during the initial 19-minute special meeting, had a "What about us?" look on their faces.
The firefighters and possible police officers present had expressed allies both in Ramos and public monitor Donna Jackson.
"I have no problem giving wage increases to police and fire," said Jackson. "They put their lives on the line daily. I do have a problem with giving people in City Hall salary increases when your support staff - the people who work hard and make you look good - haven't had increases in 15 years."
The community activist cited Newark for having "the third lowest wage rate among its public workers" and added that there are "Newark police officers who apply for transfers as soon as they are put on duty.
"You're talking about boosting the mayor's salary 38 percent when there are workers here who are not getting a living wage," concluded Jackson in her public speaking period. "Raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour and give them the prescription drug plan they need before you raise the administrative salaries."
The salary hikes come during a time when residents are displeased with the city’s crime situation and ongoing water problems. Also, there was no information available as to what, if any, increase the Chief of Staff would get, or if the position is categorized as another job title for salary purposes.
NEWARK - The former executive director of a Newark-based childcare and community program and a partner in a political fundraising and consulting company was sentenced April 18 to 38 months in prison for wire fraud and tax evasion, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Kiburi D. Tucker, 43, of Newark, previously pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud and four counts of tax evasion. Judge Linares imposed the sentence in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court: As the executive director of The Centre Inc., Tucker embezzled its funds through ATM, debit card and bank withdrawal transactions to fund personal expenditures, including gambling, travel, and furnishing his home. Tucker defrauded The Centre of $332,116 from 2012 through 2015.
In addition, Tucker, who was also receiving an annual salary from his employment at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, filed false personal income tax returns in which he intentionally under-reported both the proceeds that he embezzled from The Centre and income from his partnership in Elite Strategies, a political fundraising and consulting company. Tucker admitted that he was responsible for under-reporting $177,040 in income from these sources for the 2015 tax year, resulting in a tax loss of $56,509.
Elite Strategies organized a $1,000-a-seat mayoral gala fundraiser in 2016 for Team Baraka, and had also issued emails on the mayor’s behalf. The firm received over $60,000 in consulting fees from Baraka's campaign committee, according to the Election Law Enforcement Commission.
From July 2015 to April 2017, Baraka’s campaign paid at least $64,400 to Elite Strategies. In Oct. 2017, Baraka’s campaign was hit with a complaint from the ELEC over its campaign finances.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Tucker to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $133,624 to the IRS and forfeit $334,116.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Bradley W. Cohen in Newark; IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert; and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacques S. Pierre and Jihee G. Suh of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
By Lev D. Zilbermints
NEWARK - An investigation done by “Local Talk” staff showed that contrary to what Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and other officials said, crime in Newark is not the lowest in fifty years.
According to a March 13 press release from the Newark Department of Public Safety press release, Mayor Ras Baraka said, “We have reduced crime in Newark to the lowest level in 50 years using several strategies…”
Facts, however, state otherwise.
In 1968, according Newark Statistics supplied by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the city had 109 murders and 252 rapes. The population of Newark in 1968 was 392,537 people.
Murder rates went up in 2016, the last year for which data is available. In 2015, there were 107 murders and 107 rapes in Newark. During 2014, there were 93 murders in Newark, a decrease from 112 in 2013. The 100 murders in 2016 are one less than 101 in 1969 and nine less than the 109 in 1968. The numbers do not support Mayor Baraka’s claim that crime has been reduced to the lowest level in 50 years.
Rapes increased from 49 in 2014 to 107 in 2015, then fell to 99 in 2016. The increase was from 17.6 to 35.2 rapes per 100,000 people, city-data.com reported. The website www.neighborhoodscout.com reported that property crime in Newark was 23.82 per 1,000 residents, as compared to 15.45 per 1,000 for New Jersey. Violent crime rate per 1,000 residents in Newark was 0.35 for murder, 0.37 for rape, 4.83 for robbery, 3.99 for assault.
In 2016, Newark had 103 rapes, 1,362 robberies, 1,125 assaults. There were 1,162 burglaries; 3,418 thefts; 2,132 motor vehicle thefts. Violent crime rate was 9.55 per 1000 residents in Newark compared to 2.45 per 1000 for New Jersey. Crime had a major impact on Newark demographics over the decades.
Research of Newark demographics shows that at one time, in the early 1900s, the city was over 97% white. By the time of the 2016 census, the number of white residents in Newark fell to slightly over 26%. The main reason for the decrease was white flight to the suburbs and racial tensions.
According to the federal census, in 1930, Newark had 442,000 residents. White flight, which occurred after the 1967 riots, contributed to the demographic decline. The number of residents fell from 393,926 in 1967 to 281,764 in 2016. According to U.S. census records, Newark steadily lost residents almost every decade from 1940 to 2000. The only exception was the 1950 census. At that time, Newark had 438,776 residents.
Data shows that between 1973-1974, almost 10,000 residents left Newark. At that time, there were 163 murders and 329 rapes in 1973. During 1974, according to data supplied by the Federal Bureau of Intelligence, there were 130 murders and 290 rapes.
The murder statistics fluctuated between 107 in 1975 and 161 in 1981. Rapes increased from 159 in 1975 to a high of 598 in 1981. During these years, the population of Newark fell from 372,663 in 1975 to 332,746 in 1981.
Rapes were a major problem throughout the 1980s. The numbers show 598 rapes in 1981; 489 in 1982; 553 in 1983; 589 in 1984; 594 in 1985; 589 in in 1986; 577 in 1987; 522 in 1988. The decrease came in 1989, with 107 murders and 376 rapes. From that point on, while murders ranged between 112 in 1990 and 57 in 1997, the number of rapes steadily decreased. In 1990, there were 326 rapes, in 1999, 103 rapes.
The 2000s saw murder and rape reduced to the double digits. In 2000, there were 58 murders and 95 rapes. By 2009, there were 60 murders and 68 rapes.
Murders and rapes increased slightly in 2010-2016. The years 2010-2016 saw 90, 94, 96, 112, 94, 107 and 100 murders, in that order. Rape numbers for the same period are 79, 58, 55, 45, 49, 107, 99 in that order.
Between 2010-2016, Newark has slowly grown, albeit at the rate of less than one percentage point per year. Population increased from 273,546 in 2000 to 281,764 in 2016. African Americans make up 48.7% of the population. Hispanics alone make up 34.4% of the population. Non-Hispanic whites make up 13% of the population.
Based on city-data.com crime index, the numbers show an increase in murder, rape, arson and assaults. There is a decrease in robberies, burglaries, thefts, and auto thefts, other violent crime categories.
In 1985, there were 3,705 aggravated assaults. This number rose to 4.573 by 1995. By 2005, the number of aggravated assaults dropped to 1,391. Since 2006, the number decreased from 1,359 to 944 in 2104. In 2015, there were 1,130 aggravated assaults; in 2016, 1,104.
Newark’s crime index was 673.6 per 100,000 residents in 2002. It steadily declined every year until 2010, when the crime index increased to 541.3 from 491.1 the year before. The current crime index is 451.8 per 100,000 residents. By comparison, the crime index in 2014 was 522.2.
According to city-data.com, the higher the index, the more crime. BY comparison, the U.S. average is 283.7 crimes per 100,000 people. Newark’s crime index is about 1.5 times higher the national average.
If any year could be said to have less crime than 1968, it would have to be 2000. In that year, there were 58 murders and 95 rapes. By comparison, 1968 saw 109 murders and 252 rapes. Moreover, murder in 2000 went down. In 1999, there were 69 murders and 103 rapes.
So, overall violent crime in 2016 is lower than 2015, murders were up about 14% and rapes were about 118%, but in 2016 murders were down after a spike in 2015 down by 7%, and rapes down by 7.5% compared to 2016.