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.
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - Imagine walking into your local municipal building and suddenly discover, without any advance warning, that your name and photo were placed on a "Do Not Admit" notice.
That possibility became a reality to community activist Munirah Bomani here at Newark City Hall while on her way to witness the Municipal Council's Nov. 27 special meeting.
Bomani, in her Facebook posting and messages to "Local Talk News," said she was going through City Hall's metal detector like most anyone any day, when the security officer on duty showed her the handbill.
"They had a 30-year-old mugshot of me in City Hall, saying someone banned me," said Bomani. "They don't know who authorized them to ban me."
By "They," Bomani included city Corporation Counsel Kenyatta Stewart, whom she immediately called in an attempt to get at the root of the matter.
Bomani told "Local Talk" Dec. 5 that she retained the copy and forwarded it to her lawyer.
Seeing a "Do Not Admit" notice with the face and name of an individual is nothing new at City Hall or many other places. Those so identified are told to leave or be subjected to an arrest for trespassing.
The individual notice usually has an issuing source, like building security, department of personnel or local police.
This would not be the first time, however, that someone dummied up an official-looking DNA notice for covert reasons.
One responder to Bomani's Nov. 28 post related how he had a similar experience at one Elizabeth Board of Education meeting.
"As people arrived at a particular school board meeting," said the responder, "there was my old DOC mugshot on a flyer strategically placed on every seat. That's when you know Goliath is afraid of David."
Bomani's Nov. 27 experience is comparable to what happened to a "Local Talk" deliverer here April 26.
Subordinates, following a Baraka Administration official's order, picked up some 200 copies of "Local Talk" behind the deliverer. A Newark police officer told the deliver that he was no longer allowed to distribute the papers, after a 10-year-run, and was directed to leave.
The April 26 suppression was cleared up the next day.
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - "Horrible," "Ridiculous" and "Bulls---" are among the printable names to describe what "Winter Storm Avery" left behind when it doubled up the Northeast during rush hour Nov. 15.
What started as gentle flurries after 1 p.m. that Thursday became a heavy snow fall by 3:30 p.m. The snow added an inch an hour during the 3:30-7 p.m. rush hour before it turned into a light rainy mix around 8:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service, who named the Nor'easter "Avery," originally predicted up to three inches of snow at Newark Liberty International Airport before trailing off. They doubled their accumulation forecast to six before 3 p.m.
Avery, on one hand, made the record books as the heaviest pre-Thanksgiving Newark-area snowfall. Some readers may remember the Oct. 31 "Snowtober" Nor'easter that left three inches in Newark; some others may remember a coating left behind on Oct. 12, Columbus Day, 1979.
Avery may be more remembered for turning millions of commuters' rush hours into up-to-12 hour endurance contests. Thousands of trips, events, classes and work shifts that Thursday and Nov. 16 were cancelled or postponed.
Some people, including hundreds of West Orange school students who stayed overnight in Liberty Middle School, never made it home. At least two people in New Jersey died in Avery-related accidents.
Many of the commuters who got snarled up in traffic or saw their trains, buses and/or airliners cancelled or delayed actually began leaving early to beat the rush hour storm.
Public officials, starting from Gov. Phil Murphy on down, found themselves on the receiving end of people's wrath over a perceived, if not actual, under-preparation for Avery.
The "Local Talk" Newark-Bloomfield Avenue Corridor delivery crew, for example, started their Thursday run an hour early to avoid getting bogged down in the rush hour. They first noticed flurries along Newark's Springfield Avenue at 1:06 p.m., which turned into a coating entering Bloomfield at 3:06 p.m.
The crew's first problem appeared on Glen Ridge's Benson Street at about 3:30 p.m. A minivan had stalled on the Lower Boonton Line railroad track, putting LT's car at the tail end of a five-vehicle uphill line.
"Local Talk" tried to get around the line but, while on the unplowed or untreated surface, slid into the opposite lane's gutter. It took 10 minutes of backing up and applied traction to get out.
The crew tried to go west on Belleville Avenue but remained at a standstill by Bloomfield Cemetery for five minutes. They turned around for LT Home Base in downtown Newark when a driver, coming from the opposite direction, told them of a stalled car blocking traffic at the Ridgewood Avenue intersection.
Bloomfield Avenue traffic was heavy but moving eastbound until about 4:40 p.m. by Park Avenue. The crew found themselves in a slow-moving funnel formed by drivers also coming from Broadway, Mount Pleasant Avenue and Clay Street. They endured 90 minutes of creeping before backtracking north and west to find another inbound route.
Although the crew's driver kept scanning radio news stations for traffic reports, almost no one knew of a bus that stalled out by the Broadway/Clay Street intersection. The driver decided against trying Route 21 McCarter Highway South - which turned out to be fortuitous.
What few local drivers knew was that State Troopers had ordered entrances and exits for 21, US 22 and 1-9 and Interstates 280 and 78 closed. The closures were to take the volume off the main highways until state and contracted snowplows could carve out a paved surface.
State Police had similarly ordered highways and streets going up or down the First Orange Mountain in Maplewood, West Orange and Montclair closed east of Prospect Street. Eagle Rock Avenue, Mount Pleasant Avenue, Northfield Road - with West Orange police assistance - and 280's entrances and exits were blocked off.
The Essex County Sheriff's Office reported "multiple" disabled vehicles and accidents along South Orange Avenue over the Second Orange Mountain through South Mountain Reservation and towards the Millburn border.
"Local Talk" spent the next three hours looking for an unblocked path back into downtown. Trying West Market Street, Springfield Avenue, West Kinney Street, 18th Avenue all came up with the same result - a wall of brake lights east of Norfolk Street/Irvine Turner Boulevard.
The crew found most roads - county, main city or side streets - mostly unsalted, unsanded and unplowed. It did not take much for motorists to get stuck or spin their wheels - and have traffic behind them back up.
Meanwhile, “Local Talk” Content Editor Kristopher Seals reported that South Orange Avenue was virtually inaccessible. According to Seals, the county road - which runs next to UMNDJ - had traffic at a standstill, as well as a bus disabled on the side. When traffic did move, cars were sliding up and down the hill, and one car was smoking due to revving the engine in an attempt to navigate the ice.
"This simply can’t happen," said Seals. "It's a county road that’s right next to the hospital. Do they not want the ambulances to get here in time?"
A State Police spokesman said that troopers handled 555 accidents and 1,000 road calls statewide. Nearly 200 schools closed early. About 13,000 residents lost power in a storm that dumped up to a foot of snow in Northwest New Jersey.
"Local Talk" counted at least six New Jersey Transit buses scattered in Newark, Belleville, Bloomfield, East Orange and Irvington stuck against curbs, coming within inches of striking a pole. Being either a straight NABI or an articulated MAN bus made no difference.
Although "Local Talk" saw several contracted dump trucks fitted with snow plows and/or salt spreaders, they mostly stood in place until in the later part of "rush hour." Newark's own outfitted sanitation trucks would not be seen until even later.
"Where are the trucks?" asked the driver aloud. "Nothing's been done!"
"The nearest I've seen anything like this was one Thanksgiving Eve on the Garden State Parkway in the 80s," recalled the crew's deliverer. "The southbound Parkway was backed up 22 miles, from the Bergen Tolls to the Union Tolls. That and Sept. 11 (2001)."
The State Police-Bloomfield Barracks reported 10 miles of delays on the Parkway alone at 3:05 p.m. between Exit 150 - Bloomfield's Hoover Avenue to Exit 140, for Rt. 22 and Morris Avenue, in Union. A car crash in Nutley north of Exit 150, closing the right hand lane, did not help matters.
Few knew at that time that state officials had asked Newark to divert their 40 plow and salter equipped dump trucks to help clear those very highway on/off ramps the State Police had ordered closed. Helping the state meant neglecting the local residents and motorists - like abandoning Peter to help Paul.
"Nearly all entry and exit points to Newark, virtually all state and federal highways, were closed," said Frank Baraff, public information officer for Mayor Ras Baraka. "The city was assisting the state (NJDOT) in clearing the entrances and exits. A bunch of our police were assisting the state."
“I better not hear that this administration took any kind of pay day from the state over using those assets to aid residents in Newark, whose tax dollars - not the state - pay their salaries,” said one resident.
"Local Talk" eventually came in from the South by way of Clinton Avenue and Washington Street at 8:40 p.m. The crew spent the next 40 minutes in stop and go traffic - mostly stop - before reaching the intersection of Court Street.
Those who tried taking buses home were not spared. NJTransit began reporting up to 60 minute delays system-wide by 5 p.m.
Many of the delays at Newark Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal were due to ramps feeding the New York City facility being untreated, compounding the delays.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey soon faced spill back of passengers waiting for their arriving and departing buses on all three floors. They closed the terminal at the height of rush hour to stem the volume, leaving riders standing outside for several blocks.
NJTransit, as of that midafternoon, allowed cross-honoring of bus passes and tickets on its commuter and light rail lines - which became a Hobson's choice. There were 60-min. delays, for starters, system-wide.
There was also an indefinite suspension on the Morris & Essex Line's Gladstone Branch when Train No. 432, bound for Hoboken at 5:42, struck a car at a New Providence grade crossing at about 6 p.m.
Responding police and fire found the 2015 Nissan Altima pinned between the train and the railroad crossing sign pole. Witnesses said that the Nissan had slid onto the grade crossing just west of the Murray Hill station and stalled.
Susan Brown, 61, of New Providence, was extricated but was declared dead at Morristown Memorial Hospital at 6:48 p.m. None of the 100 passengers and crew - some of whom were headed for "Local Talk" town stops - were injured.
Service on the Gladstone Branch was suspended through Nov. 16 - as was the entire North Jersey Coast Line due to fallen power lines at Middletown.
NJTransit cancelled some of their train and bus runs Friday due to drivers and crew working well into their federally-mandated rest time. DeCamp, citing the same federal rest rules, did not have their buses leaving their Montclair garage until 9:30 a.m.
When "Local Talk" turned west onto Court Street and parked at 10 p.m. it noticed two teachers standing inside the doorway of North Star Academy's flagship charter school at 355-77 Washington St.
They, like some other schools across "Local Talk" territory, were staying late until the last student in their care either made it home safely or was sheltered there into Friday.
Officials at Montclair, South Orange-Maplewood and West Orange public school districts had ordered their school buses to turn back from their afternoon drop-offs. Parents found themselves having to pick up their children from school.
The West Orange Board of Education, given its hills and the circumstance, found it an order easier said than done. While some buses were able to go back to school, others found themselves stuck with the other traffic on 280 and elsewhere.
One parent, for example, said she saw students of one minibus stuck on Eagle Rock Avenue get off to walk home.
Owners of the Chit-Chat Diner, formerly the Eagle Rock Diner, welcomed in 11 bus loads of students who were otherwise stuck on Eagle Rock Avenue atop the First Orange Mountain. Gov. Murphy, on Nov. 16, personally thanked them and the staff for opening their doors for the night.
Administrators, teachers, staff and Sodexo cafeteria workers at Liberty Middle School stayed with around 100 students overnight. Both Mayor Robert Parisi and Board of Education President Ron Charles thanked them, Chit-Chat and others who helped the students.
Parisi added that many township police officers worked 24 hours straight, alongside their firefighting colleagues, in rescuing stranded motorists on 280 and other major roads. Where and how many drivers got stuck reminded those of a similar result of March 8's snowstorm.
Yeheskel Leboic, rabbi of Maplewood's Cong. Ahavath Zion, said that he and wife Pearl had to stay overnight at Morristown Hospital's chapel. The hospital's chaplain said he waited three hours to get onto Interstate-287 three hours until a police officer informed them that their entrance will be closed.
Friday, Nov. 16 was the slow return to normality. Several schools - from Rutgers-Newark and Essex County College to Montclair, Newark, Orange, South Orange-Maplewood and West Orange either delayed their openings or cancelled for the day.
Orange Public Schools called, at 7:30 a.m. Friday, for a 10:30 a.m. opening. The problem, however, was that some 100 students and parents had already arrived at their schools.
Explanations, or excuses depending on one’s pint of view, then followed the ordeal and recovery.
"Part of it was that the forecasts were lousy and I'm not letting the (weather) forecasters off the hook," said Murphy at the New Jersey Turnpike Headquarters in Woodbridge Friday. "Second, this was a regional storm - the Northeast got clobbered. Thirdly, we could've done better - and we will do better."
Murphy said that he would convene "a storm cabinet" to analyze what went wrong with the forecast and preparation - and make future precautions.
"We relied on several different weather forecasts, all of which grossly underestimated the amount of snow we received," said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo (D-Roseland). "The arrival of the storm couldn't have come at a worse time. As businesses and schools closed mid-afternoon, the traffic pouring onto the streets made it impossible for the salt trucks to move."
Murphy's vow to act "aggressively" in anticipation of future storms may have been seen on the state's major roads Nov. 18.
NJDOT trucks were seen Sunday afternoon putting brine and salt on the Interstates, Parkway and Turnpike in anticipation of an overnight storm that, instead, stayed north.
Several NJDOT and/or contracted salt trucks were parked before the Rt. 78/24 hill Sunday night.
By Lev D. Zilbermints
NEWARK - The snowstorm that hit New Jersey on November 15 was so intense that it caught city, county and state authorities completely off-guard. Despite advance preparation, no one could have foreseen the consequences of the snowstorm.
Snow accumulation in New Jersey varied. According to the New Jersey Weather Service, while Atlantic County received a meager 0.4 inches, Bergen County received 7.0 inches in the average. Maplewood and Bloomfield received 6.5 inches each. This was because temperatures in northern New Jersey were lower than in the southern part of the state. Thus, the northern part of the state got more snow, while the southern part, which had warmer temperatures, received rain.
In Newark, which got between 6-8 inches of snow, traffic was backed up for miles in both directions. Roads became impassable as snow, sleet and rain pelted hapless commuters and drivers stuck in their cars and buses. On West Market Street, right in front of Essex County College’s Clara Dasher Center, three New Jersey Transit buses were incapacitated by the snowstorm. One bus, a #34, stood next to the sidewalk. Two other buses stood some yards away, but they were not moving.
On Springfield Avenue, traffic was so clogged up that cars were bumper-to-bumper as far as the eye could see in both directions. As it turned out, only the city subway and the railroads were operating at something close to normal. New Jersey Transit announced that buses were subject to 75-minute delays because of inclement weather, while trains were subject to 60-minute delays.
Local Talk Content Editor Kristopher Seals reported that South Orange Avenue was virtually inaccessible. According to Seals, the county road - which runs next to UMNDJ - had traffic at a standstill, as well as a bus disabled on the side. When traffic did move, cars were sliding up and down the hill, and one car was smoking due to revving the engine in an attempt to navigate the ice.
Newark Penn Station saw hundreds of people stranded by the snowstorm. The first floor of the station was filled with a huge crowd of desperate people trying to catch trains out of Newark. It was so crowded that a Local Talk reporter had to use a second exit to get around the crowd.
McDonalds at Penn Station was packed with people buying food, just sitting and waiting, or trying to kill time. In the Penn Station waiting area, all the benches were packed with passengers awaiting trains that would take then to safety out of Newark. Both the Customer Service and Information Center were surrounded by people anxious to find out information on the best way to travel.
Even the light rail service was affected by the gridlock. While the Branch Brook Park route operated normally, the Broad Street route was not. A light rail train had to stop at Atlantic Avenue station due to cars blocking further travel along the way. Passengers then had to get off and walk through the snow to Broad Street train station.
On social media, frustrated commuters vented their fury on Governor Phil Murphy and his administration.
A user named Anthony wrote on Twitter, “You (Murphy) have a lot of audacity to say that the storm was not properly forecasted when everybody with an iPhone was well aware of the forecast. Be (a) man and at least take responsibility instead of shifting blame. We pay such a ridiculous amount of taxes to hear this nonsense from you.”
In Newark, many schools dismissed classes early. However, some other municipalities made the decisions not to have early dismissal. As a result, when the snowstorm hit, kids got stuck on buses for hours.
Lisa Gimelli wrote on Twitter, “This is what I find truly horrifying, Forget the 5 hours it took to get from Summit to Montclair (I left at 2!). You put OUR CHILDREN at risk. And calling an early dismissal would’ve kept a ton more folks at home.”
Other posters said that the intensity of the snowstorm caught everyone by surprise.
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - Building projects within the MX-3 zone, a half-mile radius around Newark Penn Station, have been frozen while Mayor Ras Baraka's administrators figure out how to respond to a New Jersey Superior Court judge's Oct. 12 ruling which overturns the master plan overlay.
Superior Court Judge Patrick Bartels, in his Friday ruling, declared the MX-3 zone "null and void." That nullification also voided any Central Planning Board and/or Zoning Board of Adjustment approvals of projects using that zone.
The MX-3 Zone, which the Municipal Council approved Oct. 4, 2017 in a 7-1 split vote, permitted increasing the height of housing and/or mixed use buildings a half-mile of Penn Station. MX-3. which replaced the Zone in Newark's Master Plan, increased the three story maximum building height to eight. Lots with five-story heights could now rise to 12.
MX-3, after five months' presentation, debate and amendment before the council and CPB, was a scale-back of what the Baraka Administration had introduced June 20, 2017.
The original MX-3 called for buildings and lots with three story maximum heights would have topped out at 12 stories. Those with five-story heights would have gone to 18.
The half-mile radius would fall within Newark's East Ward - and particularly in the low-density Ironbound neighborhood to Penn Station's north, east and south.
East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador, drawing from CPB's study recommendations, lobbied his council colleagues to add a list of amenities onto the MX-3 ordinance Sept. 20. Those features included wider building setbacks, LEED energy efficiency criteria plus provisions for bike racks, electric vehicle charging stations and pocket parks.
Amador, even with those add-ons, was MX-3's sole dissenting vote Oct. 4, 2017. Then-Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins was absent that session.
MX-3 proponents cited the ordinance's density as qualifying Newark Penn Station's quarter-mile radius for an NJDOT-recognized "Transit Village" designation. Transit Village citations, where denser projects are counterbalanced by proximity to commuter railroad stations, have been awarded to Orange (Main Street Center), Orange/West Orange (Highland Avenue-Valley) East Orange (Brick Church and City Hall) and Bloomfield Centre.
MX-3 was also passed in part because of a stipulation that building with 30 or more residential units have to set aside 20 percent of said units for low and moderate income residents.
Opponents' concerns, then and now, were that the taller buildings would wall off The Ironbound from the Passaic River waterfront and Minish Park. That neighborhood's character would be adversely changed.
PLANewark, which brought the suit to Judge Bartels, also asserted that residents were not given proper notice of the proposed zoning changes and were not allowed to comment thereof at a public hearing.
Bartels, Friday, agreed with PLANewark that MX-3's zoning proposal should have had a more open and transparent process.
PLANewark, in order to get Judge Bartels' attention, had to sue the CPB, developer 28 McWhorter Street LLC and J&L Companies. That board, under MX-3, had approved J&L's site plan application for a 12-story building to go up on a parking lot at 28-50 McWhorter St., 51-57 Union St. and 108 Hamilton St.
The three addresses are currently for a 1.25-acre, 158-space gated parking lot operated by J&L. J&L and 28 McWhorter LLC, as of May 1, 2017, shared the same Roseland address.
J&L assembled the lot in part from when the former Central of New Jersey Railroad's Newark Branch embankment and right-of-way, last used in 1967, was removed through The Ironbound in the early 2000s.
The City of Newark had temporarily closed the lot's McWhorter Street with concrete blocks Nov. 9. It was enforcing a Superior Court Appellate panel's August 2016 ruling that the Newark zoning board should not have approved the 2013 variance.
J&L had meanwhile demolished a one-story industrial building, which it had rented out to a church for several years, for more spaces. It had originally wanted to replace that structure with a seven-story mixed-use residential/retail/commercial building plus a parking garage in 2006.
A man who was at the forefront of churches in New York, Washington, and even in Newark, was kicked out after allegations of assaulting a teenager.
On June 20, a report alleging abuse from almost 45 years ago surfaced against retired Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was a priest in the Archdiocese of New York. According to the NY Archdiocese, it was the first such report of a violation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People ever made against him of which the archdiocese was aware. Upon the discovery, McCarrick was removed from his position.
“Carefully following the process detailed by the Charter of the American bishops, this allegation was turned over to law enforcement officials, and was then thoroughly investigated by an independent forensic agency,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, in a statement.
“Cardinal McCarrick was advised of the charge, and, while maintaining his innocence, fully cooperated in the investigation. The Holy See was alerted as well, and encouraged us to continue the process.
“Again according to our public protocol, the results of the investigation were then given to the Archdiocesan Review Board, a seasoned group of professionals including jurists, law enforcement experts, parents, psychologists, a priest, and a religious sister.
“The review board found the allegations credible and substantiated.
“The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the direction of Pope Francis, has instructed Cardinal McCarrick that he is no longer to exercise publicly his priestly ministry.
“Cardinal McCarrick, while maintaining his innocence, has accepted the decision.
“This archdiocese, while saddened and shocked, asks prayers for all involved, and renews its apology to all victims abused by priests. We also thank the victim for courage in coming forward and participating in our Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, as we hope this can bring a sense of resolution and fairness.”
Meanwhile, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, released this statement: “I recognize that the people of our Archdiocese meet the announcement by the Archdiocese of New York of a credible and substantiated claim of abuse of a minor by Cardinal McCarrick with a range of emotions. I am thinking particularly of those who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy - whose lives have been impacted tragically by abuse. To those survivors, their families and loved ones, I offer my sincere apologies and my commitment of prayer and action to support you in your healing.
“The Archdiocese of Newark has never received an accusation that Cardinal McCarrick abused a minor. In the past, there have been allegations that he engaged in sexual behavior with adults. This Archdiocese and the Diocese of Metuchen received three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago; two of these allegations resulted in settlements.
“Cardinal McCarrick served this Archdiocese for almost fifteen years. No doubt many of you developed strong relationships with him and appreciate the impact of his service. Those feelings are likely hard to reconcile with the news of a credible and substantiated claim of abuse of a minor. While Cardinal McCarrick maintains his innocence and the canonical process continues, we must put first the serious nature of this matter with respect and support for the process aimed at hearing victims and finding truth.
“The abuse crisis in our Church has been devastating. We cannot undo the actions of the past, but we must continue to act with vigilance today. I renew my commitment to seek forgiveness and healing, while ensuring a safe environment for children in this Archdiocese. I will continue to report immediately to civil authorities any accusation of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy and will cooperate fully in the investigation and adjudication. I continue to urge anyone who was abused by clergy to come forward, as brave survivors before you have done. To the priests, religious and all other members of this community, I join you in continued prayer that God carry us together in his love with commitment to our faith and each other.”
“I was very saddened to be advised by the Archbishop of New York that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick - who served as the Bishop of Metuchen from 1982 to 1986 - is alleged to have sexually abused a minor forty-seven years ago when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of New York,” said Most Reverend James F. Checchio, Bishop of Metuchen in a statement. “I have also been advised that Cardinal McCarrick himself has disputed this allegation and is appealing this matter through the canonical process.
“This very disturbing report has prompted me to direct that the records of our Diocese be re-examined, and I can report to you that there has never been any report or allegation that Cardinal McCarrick ever abused any minor during his time here in Metuchen.
“The abuse of anyone who is vulnerable is both shameful and horrific. The abuse of a minor by a priest - as is being reported in this case from New York - is an abomination and sickens and saddens us all.
“The work of building the Kingdom of God in this diocese is much more than its bishops, and I thank you for all of your help here in the Diocese of Metuchen in supporting our common mission. In particular, I am grateful for the substantial work of our training programs, background checks and zero-tolerance policies which are carefully designed both to protect those entrusted to our care and to prevent harm to our children in the future.
“I offer my sincere apologies to anyone who has ever been victimized, and I ask anyone who has been abused by any clergy to report it directly to law enforcement. I want all victims to know that they are always in my prayers, and I ask everyone in the Diocese to join with me in praying that the Lord will bring them courage, healing and consolation.”
By Dhiren Shah
On June 4, 2018 a ribbon cutting opened the state of the art Essex County Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology for students. It is not a regular public school, but a technology school.
As we all know, some students may not bright as we see in exams, but they might be gifted for technology. They may not be successful at a regular high school, but they might still be successful in the practical world. One might be an expert auto mechanic, and another might be an expert at computer technology. If they have trouble passing the test in high school, an alternative school is the way to go.
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo always wants to improve the tech schools. We have heard many times about new public schools being built. It is easy to convince the federal and state government partners to build public schools, but it is harder to convince them to build a technology school. Joe D. convinced former governor Chris Christie and got the funds to build a brand-new Donald Payne Sr. School of Technology, replacing the United Hospital property which was closed for years.
In March 2016, they had the ground breaking and in just over two years, the school is complete and will be operating in September. Their 1,200 students will be from Essex County.
The school is named after late Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr. (1934-2012) who was the first African American to hold that position in New Jersey. He served 23 years in Congress. His legacy as a peacemaker, advocate for human rights and passion for helping young people will be remembered for decades to come.
Donald M. Payne, Sr. was first elected to Congress in 1988. Since then, he was reelected eight times, receiving more than 75% of the vote. Many dignitaries came to his funeral, including President Bill Clinton in February 2012. He is also known for his work not only in Essex County or New Jersey, but throughout the world and especially in Africa.
US Senator Robert Menendez said, “Donald Payne was the lion of the United States Congress.” The school’s athletic teams will be known as the Payne Tech Lions.
Former Governor Chris Christie said, “Joe D. asked for a meeting, but he did not tell me what the meeting was about. They came down and I knew I am in trouble. They walked in with poster boards.”
He added that it was Joe’s vision. He wanted to build a technology school in place of United Hospital. He also praised Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver and said that when she was speaker of the house, it could not have been done without the three of them (himself, Sheila Oliver, and Joseph DiVincenzo).
Joseph DiVincenzo praised Reverend Mamie Lee for her support and being a partner for past 16 years. Rev. Lee is 94 years old.
Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver praised Governor Christie and County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo. She said that Christie supported construction of the vocational school like any other public school.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, County Sherriff Armando Fontoura, Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin, Newark West Ward Councilman Joseph McCallum, Freeholder President Brendon Gill, State Senator Teresa Ruiz, Congressman Donald Payne, Jr., Assemblyman William Payne, State Senate President Stephan Sweeney, State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Rev. Mamie Lee and many other dignitaries were present to support a great movement towards education, which is what Congressman Donald M. Payne Sr. fought for in his life.
NEWARK - An Essex County man admitted embezzling over $220,000 in campaign funds while serving as the treasurer for a Newark mayoral campaign, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced May 29.
Frederick Murphy Jr., 56, of Bloomfield, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares in Newark federal court to Counts One, Two, and Five of an information charging him with wire fraud, bank fraud, and tax evasion.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court: Between January 2014 and March 2017, Murphy served as the treasurer for election campaign accounts associated with a Newark mayoral candidate. Murphy admitted that during that time, he embezzled over $220,000 from those accounts by writing phony checks in the names of various consultants and vendors for services that were never performed.
Murphy cashed the checks by presenting them to a bank in Essex County with the forged signature of the check payees as well as Murphy’s own signature as a double endorsement. Murphy then reported the fraudulent checks as legitimate campaign expenditures in quarterly filings with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. The false reports were uploaded by the Election Law Enforcement Commission onto its website for public reference.
Murphy also admitted under-reporting $102,954 in embezzled campaign funds on his personal income tax return for 2016.
The wire fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The bank fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Murphy also faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the tax evasion charge. Sentencing is currently scheduled for Sept. 11, 2018.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, and IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Bryant Jackson in Newark, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacques S. Pierre and Jihee G. Suh of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division.
By AAHPO Committee
NEWARK - The AAHPO committee is committed and dedicated to making sure the Heritage Parade and Festival continues to happen and get better and better each year. It is important we all understand our history, heritage and culture as a people.
It is important we see role models who have succeeded in their chosen fields, so our children will know anything is achievable with hard work. This is true of all cultures.
We should celebrate who we are in a prideful way. The 2018 Parade and Festival like last year started Friday night with a hip-hop dance party. The evening also included a variety of food vendors including Caribbean cuisine. Included in the festival was a spectacular carnival. The activities continued throughout the weekend to the evening of Memorial Day. The live entertainment on Saturday was R&B, jazz and house party. Sunday was gospel/inspirational. Monday was Caribbean world music. The entertainment was provided to the community at no cost. Saturday evening ended with a spectacular firework show.
The AAHPO Committee coordinates a Kids’ Zone during the weekend featuring fun games and activities at no cost. AAHPO partners with ShopRite to provide lunch and snacks for the children throughout the weekend. Water and juices are provided by Cream-O-Land and Pepsi.
It is important to our committee families who come to the park with limited resources can still enjoy the festival. We want our children to have some place to go during this holiday weekend. It should be noted the AAHPO committee of volunteers are committed to highlighting the mission of culture, heritage and education in the community.
As stated in our promotions, rain or shine, the heritage parade was going to happen. On Sunday, the AAHPO committee, Grand Marshall Michellene Davis, Mayor Ras Baraka, Senator Bob Menendez, Councilwoman Mildred Crump, Senator Teresa Ruiz, Councilman Anibal Ramos, Councilman Joe McCallum, Councilman Luis Quintana and other dignitaries braved the cool, damp and rainy day.
Thereafter, the contingents followed. Although some spectators were discouraged by the wet day, the 51st African Heritage Parade was upbeat and full of culture, pride and talent. It marks another great day in the City of Newark moving forward.
A great deal of work goes into putting on a weekend long festival that includes a parade. There are many partners involved with AAHPO. Mayor Baraka and his team assigned to the parade as well as other departments in the City. We work closely with the Newark African & Caribbean Commissions. Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Sheriff's Department make sure the community is able to enjoy beautiful Weequahic Park.
Michelle Morgan-Truvillion and Tiffany Harris work very closely with the AAHPO Board to make sure everything runs smoothly. Mr. Shah, Editor-in-Chief from Local Talk News, is a major sponsor and advisor on print and advertising. The sponsors and volunteers are key to making the weekend happen. RWJ Barnabas was a major partner in this year’s festivities. AAHPO continues its efforts to be a positive influence in the community. Our community service goes beyond Memorial Day weekend. We bring culture and education to schools and throughout the community in a variety of venues. We also recognize giving to those who have the least is necessary.
We would also like to extend a special thanks to our 2018 Grand Marshall Michellene Davis and the St. Barnabas organization. Ms. Davis is the first woman and first person of color to serve as an Executive Vice President at RWJBarnabas Health. We continue to seek support from sponsors and individuals.
The parade and festival were no less than a blessing. AAHPO will continue its mission. For more info, please visit www.aaparades.org.
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.