Signed in as:
The combination of record-breaking heat and drought, lightning strikes, conditions in the Indian Ocean, and possible arson have produced the first natural disaster of 2020 and the new decade.
As of this writing, half of the country and continent of Australia is on fire, with 24 civilian casualties, three firefighters, and one billion dead animals (as of Jan. 10).
“Our country is facing devastating and widespread national bushfires. They have been burning throughout the country for months now but today is shaping up as our most challenging day, with a state of emergency declared in NSW and Victoria while Tasmania and South Australia also face significant threats,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.
“We are well prepared, well organized and well resourced, but we are also realistic: These fire conditions are unprecedented, and the challenge is formidable. If fierce conditions prevail, today could be a dark day for our country.
“The rapidly escalating damage and the heart-breaking human cost calls for nothing less than an all-out response. The task in front of our country today and in the weeks ahead requires us to do whatever it takes; to not only fight the fires and protect lives, but ensure our fire-affected communities are well-resourced and functioning, and evacuations can be affected quickly and effectively. And when the fire threat has finally diminished, that we have the tools and personnel to reopen and rebuild.”
Meanwhile, the raging bushfires wreaking havoc across Australia have prompted the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, to offer its support to the Australian Government and its partners which are battling the “unprecedented disaster.”
While acknowledging “the selflessness, professionalism and dedication” of first responders and all organizations working on the ground, UNICEF issued a statement on Monday extending its condolences to the children and families affected by the fires that continue to devastate the country.
Flagging its experience in providing crucial long-term support to children across the world through the three stages of relief, recovery and rehabilitation, UNICEF expressed it “very real desire” to assist Australia.
“UNICEF has significant expertise and experience globally in responding to emergencies, including natural disasters,” the statement said. “From decades of work with millions of people around the world, we know that children are always among the most vulnerable in circumstances such as these.”
In many situations, UNICEF added that climate change is making scenarios “worse and more enduring.”
Ladies and gentlemen, here are the stories and people that made 2019…
NATIONAL – Impeachment Proceedings Against President Donald Trump
LOCAL / STATE – The Newark Water Crisis
EDUCATION – The College Admissions Scandal
BUSINESS – Disney Buys Fox
ENTERTAINMENT – Everything Disney (Box Office Gross, Disney+, etc.)
SPORTS – The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team winning the FIFA World Cup
WRESTLING – The introduction of All Elite Wrestling / WrestleMania 35 at MetLife Stadium: Headlined by women for the first time ever, along with Kofi Kingston winning the WWE Championship
MOST RIDICULOUS – People fighting to the death over a chicken sandwich / The Jussie Smollett Scandal / Whatever Rudy Giuliani is doing “in support” of Donald Trump
MOST ANNOYING – Baby Shark
NOTABLE DEATHS – Ken Gibson, Calvin West, Sandra Jones, David Lyons, Nipsey Hussle, John Singleton, Toni Morrison, John Witherspoon, Diahann Carroll, Doris Day, Tim Conway, Danny Aiello, Luke Perry, Cameron Boyce, Elijah Cummings, John Conyers, Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker, Frank Robinson, Don Newcombe
PERSON – Teenage Climate Activist Greta Thunberg
SONG – Old Town Road by Lil Nas X
MUSIC ARTIST – Lizzo / Billie Eilish
BEST MOVIE – Avengers: Endgame
MOST DISAPPOINTING MOVIE – X-Men: Dark Phoenix
BEST ACTOR / ACTRESS – Mahershala Ali / Regina King
MOST UNDERRATED – Alita: Battle Angel, Booksmart, Queen & Slim, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, Female Directors
By Local Talk Staff
NEWARK - On Nov. 26, the Enough Is Enough Coalition, an Anti-Guns and Violence Grassroots organization, held its 26th Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Memorial Dinner for families who have lost a loved one to guns and violence.
This year, the Dinner was held at St. Matthews UMC on the corner of South Orange and Littleton Aves, and it was an overwhelming success. Several family members attended as well as people from the community.
The dinner is a way that Enough Is Enough Coalition brings families and friends of gun violence victims together for healing, comfort, prayer, music, and a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Minister Thomas Ellis, President of Enough Is Enough, stated, “We understand the pain, the hurt, and the loss that a family goes through if they have lost a loved one to guns and violence. The family may not be up to cooking a Thanksgiving dinner or having family members over for the beginning of the holidays, so this dinner serves as a way of helping the family members through their tough times.”
The dinner was started in Atlanta, GA back in 1993 after the death of 13-year-old Tiffany Harderson who was shot and killed by a stray bullet. Over the past 27 years, Ellis has held the Pre-Thanksgiving Memorial Dinner.
Each year, several people are honored at the event. This year, honorees included Mr. Douglass Bell, President of the Ivy Hill Neighborhood Association, and their community-based group, Dr. Ralph Bunch Terrell, Pastor of St. Matthews UMC, Ms. Vonda of Vonda's Kitchen, Mr. James Carey of Elizabeth, and Ms. Sheila Epps Williams. All of them received the EIEC Honorary Medal for their support and commitment to Enough Is Enough Coalition.
There was also a bake off contest called “A Taste of Peace.” Ms. Sheba Jordan won 1st place with her Sheba Sweet Potato Pie. The runner-up was Mrs. Keziah Clottey, who baked a lovely three layer cake.
Enough Is Enough Coalition would like to personally thank the Newark Council members, Colosseum Gym, UVSO, Local Talk Newspaper, St. Matthews UMC, Vonda's, the Omega Psi Phi Upsilon chapter, and Deep Blue Seafood for their support this year, and is looking forward to gaining support next year for its 27th Annual Memorial Dinner.
On Dec. 21, EIEC will be having its 28th Annual Christmas Toy Giveaway to surviving siblings of gun violence. You can drop off wrapped or unwrapped toys at the Colosseum Gym on Irvington Ave. in Newark.
By Dhiren Shah
About a month ago, activist Munirah Bomani was forcibly removed from a Newark council meeting. I spoke with her Oct. 9 to get her take as to why, and what else is going on in the city.
Dhiren Shah: Welcome Ms. Bomani to this interview. You were suspended for 60 days from council meetings based on a pre-council meeting. What was the reason behind it?
Munirah Bomani: The reason they are stating in their statement is that I am being banned for 60 days for malicious and defamatory and disruptive behavior, that’s what they wrote. There was a video of that pre-council meeting on the 17th (of September) that I was able to do an OPRA request, and I got a copy from the OPRA office. Based on the information back from ACLU, with video not of really good quality. So the ACLU representative was unable to hear what went down. All they knew is that they heard me on the background, commenting when someone was addressing me about an issue while was in there. Basically, the information was unclear in the video.
DS: Did you ask the city to provide another video?
MB: At this point, I have to actually go back and find out if that was the only quality of the tape. I will make it my business to do that. The thing is that I don’t understand how they could rule on what was happening and suspend me for 60 days, when the information was unclear.
DS: The suspension may not be by video tape, concerning the councilpersons present who ruled that way. This is my presumption. When did you hear that you were suspended for 60 days?
MB: I was scheduled to speak at the council meeting (September 18th), It was time to speak, I was given an envelope and they were saying I was banned from speaking. How come from 10 AM all the way up to 6:30, when I was schedule to speak at the council meeting, you hand me a letter at 7 pm at night, when it happened in the AM on the day before.
DS: How do they usually inform someone - is it a letter to the house and how do they know that you are there at the council meeting?
MB: If the court is evicting someone out of their home, they have a certain amount of time to serve the person, before they are evicted from their apartment. They hand deliver it, and they put an eviction notice on the person’s door, and also they mail it to you. None of that happened. The incident happened on the 17th at the pre-council meeting and I was hand delivered a letter when I was scheduled to speak at 7 PM (18th). They gave me no time, no notice, no warning. They just outright took my right to speak without any kind of protocol.
DS: It happened on the 17th of September. Did you receive any kind of any letter from the city by mail?
DS: Who is the one who served you?
MB: It was the City Clerk Ken Louis. I think I was number 7 (to speak) and he gave it to me just before my time to speak. First of all, that is not a professional way of doing things. They should have sent me a certified letter, making sure I received that notice. The city has my email. They have my address.
DS: Do you recall the date on the letter?
MB: It was the 17th.
DS: What was your topic to address to the council on the 18th?
MB: I was addressing the council in regard to the mayor being on Open Line on WBLS, where he was addressing the water. I called in and I spoke about a letter from the administration to the former water and sewer director, who passed away, Ms. Andrea Hall Adebowale. The letter stated that it was an emergency declaration sent to the administration, stating that the levels of lead was excessively high. 285,000 residents were in danger. The city had to immediately give out water filters to the residents. I asked the question that this letter about 285,000 residents being in danger of excessive levels of lead, why was the administration providing only 40,000 filters? Can the council explain that to me? I am asking for the council to explain, because right at this point, the mayor claimed on Open Line (radio station) that he never saw the letter as such.
DS: When you state 285,000 residents, it is not 285,000 houses. It maybe an average of 2.1 or 2.2 persons per household, which means that it is about 105, 110, 120 thousand houses. Do you think that is the reason that they are trying to ban you?
MB: This is basically what lead to the suspension, the ban. The BA (Business Administration) first got up to address the issue I was talking about. I wanted the council to address the issue. They didn’t want to speak about it. The first thing that came out from the BA’s mouth is that this young lady is passing out misinformation. I said, “Excuse me, you said misinformation? There is a letter I have in my hand that I forwarded to this administration and to Open Line in black and white stating what I am asking today. So how can you say I am misinforming?” Then Quintana jumped in and said that I was out of line. I said he (the BA) is addressing to me and telling me that I am misinforming the residents, with the people who are watching. Basically, he is calling me a liar, but I have it in black and white. That was the back and forth in the pre-council meeting, and he ended up calling the police force to remove me form the council chambers.
DS: Did they remove you?
MB: First I said that I wasn’t leaving until they call a superior. When the superior came, I had a conversation with the superior about what transpired at the meeting.
DS: Did you raise your voice in the pre-council meeting?
MB: I was responding to the allegation about misinforming the public. You are calling me a liar when I got the evidence in black and white. I sent the evidence to Open Line and they read it on WBLS. All of a sudden, the mayor wants to discuss the letter.
We have no trust, we have no confidence and why should I sit and believe anything that the BA is covering while he’s saying people are misinforming about something written by their administration. Why am I being banned form telling the truth?
DS: How many years have you been an activist?
MB: I have been an activist almost like 25 years.
DS: In those 25 years, were you cooperative or formed an alliance with any elected officials?
MB: I’ve always been cooperative. I’ve never been thrown out of any council meeting. I am speaking up on behalf of my rights. Every mayor from Sharpe James’ administration, we address every politician on issues that matter. Never in the history of advocating have I been banned from speaking up for my rights.
DS: Before the interview you mentioned that you were issued a summons for evicting you. What happened?
MB: The following day after the council meeting, they came with a warrant of removal for a case that was already adjudicated. I was like what the heck is going on? I have to immediately, take off work and find out what was going on. The court said that this is something stemming from August 5th, in which the case was already adjudicated in court with my property manager, who said I did not put my money in my mailbox, and my rent payment was late, which was all fabricated. I don’t know how a case that was adjudicated, the judge vacated the warrant of removal, ends up slapping me in my face the day after the incident at city hall on September 18th. The same judge said the case was adjudicated and the case if over. Now from that incident, I have to pay my money to the court because the landlord is saying they are not receiving my payments. The payments are dated at the time my rents are due. I won the case because the payment was dated when my rent is due. By rule of law, the judge had to do what was right. Personally, I think they’re coming for me because number one, to go to court, I have to take off from work. That is messing with my livelihood, because I cannot take off all the time for frivolous cases. For me, it is a kind of political retribution, personally.
DS: Who is your landlord?
MB: My landlord is Help USA. Mind you, Help USA is an agency that is supposed to end homelessness. So here you got a company, a nonprofit, that is in the business of providing of housing and providing social programs for the residents. Help USA came in under Booker’s administration, with Bon Jovi. Also, Ramos served as the council when the agency started building special housing for the residents of the city. They have a relationship with these people. I am also a tenants’ rights advocate. We have been fighting the city against higher rent and housing for residents. This is something well known that they do to advocates. Banning me for speaking up at the council meeting, now I am facing harsh treatment from somewhere I’ve lived for a long time, eight years. Now, you are trying to evict me under frivolous complaints or issues.
DS: Thank you very much for your time Ms. Bomani.
By Dhiren Shah
The Newark water problem is an issue everyone is talking about now. Mayor Ras Baraka, along with Governor Phil Murphy, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, and State EPA Commissioner Catherine McCabe announced preliminary test results which look promising. Also, they have announced that at each and every affected house, the pipelines will be changed. However, it was not known to residents as to what they are going to change. What is the effectiveness, and who will monitor the program?
I interviewed Kevin Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of Roman E&G Corp. water division on Sept. 25, 2019. They have been in business for over 15 years. It is very important to hear from Taylor how and what will happen with the change in pipelines.
Dhiren Shah: Welcome Mr. Taylor to this interview. How can you figure out when a particular pipeline is problematic or a lead pipeline?
Kevin Taylor: What happens is that in your house, the piping that was done is over 100 years old. They put a lot of lead in the pipes. Because of that, there is contamination. So, that has to be changed to copper. What we are doing is the main to the curb and from the curb to the house. Water comes in from the main directly to the house. We have to check if the pipe is copper or lead from the main to the curb and from the curb to the house. So, that’s our job. We have to mark it out. There are a lot of wires under the ground, telephone wires, PSE&G wires, so we have to make sure that we are not disturbing those wires and pipes in the ground.
We have to make sure that we understand where the pipes are coming from. We understand from the house whether or not the pipes are lead or copper. Once we identify it, if both are copper, we close it up as a test site and keep moving. If one side is lead and the other side is copper, then we repair that as half a job. If (the pipe) is lead on both sides, we take the pipes out and replace them with copper. From the main to the curb and from the curb to the house.
DS: Are pipelines concealed inside the house? How do you take them out?
KT: We take it out from the outside. We don’t take it out from in the house. We identify it in the house to see whether it is a copper or lead pipe.
DS: Do you replace what’s inside the house?
KT: No. There is always some pipe in the house. For example, if it is two feet in the house, and the rest goes to the curb, we take all that out, and then replace it.
DS: What about inside the whole house, going from the first floor to the second and third floor?
KT: We don’t need to change that, because that’s not lead. We are not touching pipes in the house. We are not touching the structure at all.
DS: What about what they have inside the house?
KT: That’s in their home. That does not belong to the City. The City’s responsibility is pipe coming from the curb to the house.
DS: So that’s what has been changed in the number of houses completed so far. Do you have to break any walls, because you mentioned that some pipe can be in the house?
KT: No. It is very seldom. Whatever we do, we replace. We take care of it.
DS: How many houses have you done so far?
KT: With Roman, we’ve been in the forefront. In the first phase, it was 1,000 houses. Out of 1,000 houses, only 800 were done to date; so far it is climbing. We have done about 640 of those houses. We’ve done the lion’s share. We know that we have a good system in place.
Now the City got such an influx of money, it will be done quickly. We just received a contract for 5,000 houses, which requires 25 houses per day. We have four crews out there right now. Within 6 or 7 days, we have done 70 homes already. So, we are moving very rapidly. We are far more advanced than another company called Montana, which received a contract also. I don’t know how many they have done. Maybe 4, 5, 6 or 7, but we have done 70 already. We are moving every day. Right now, we are doing 18 to 19 houses a day, but we will be moving towards 30 houses a day.
DS: Why do you need the permission of the landlord or the tenant, when you are only doing work from the outside?
KT: We need the permission because we have to come into your home. You have to sign off. We have to schedule you. Constantly, people are there knocking on the doors and scheduling every day. We have to take care of the entire street. If it’s all the houses on the same street, it is easier. If it is spread out, it takes more time.
DS: You are doing 5,000 houses. You said the contract is for $39 million. That means each house cost about an average $7,800. How will you get paid? Is it in installments, or upfront?
KT: We submit our bill, and the city makes sure that they pay right in time. They have been pretty good. We make sure that they pay in timely manner, so we keep on moving. We had to come up with a $40 million bond, to participate in this. We are satisfied with the city so far.
DS: Who will be the supervising authority, to determine whether you are doing a good job or not?
KT: They have an engineering company that the City hired. That company is monitoring the entire job. On each job is an inspector, who makes sure the job is done right.
DS: Is this the first job you did it for the City or other jobs too?
KT: Roman has done quite a few jobs. Also, we are doing a lot of work for PSE&G.
DS: Did you do any emergency work also?
KT: A lot of emergency work. Also, for PSE&G. We have a ton of experience, over 15 years. The City of Newark is extremely satisfied with Roman. The City brought in 6 contractors to get this job done. But all the other contractors clearly felt that Roman has an unfair advantage, because we are so experienced in getting this job done.
DS: If you are doing 25 per day over 6 days a week. You can do 4,500 houses. Can you finish the job with obstacles like snow, rain and storms?
KT: Yes, we have anticipated that. We will surpass 5,000 houses. We are working with Mr. Muhammad with the affirmative action department and we are making sure that we bring in a lot of workers from the community. and we will be making sure that a lot of minority contractors are participating.
DS: You have 4 crews right now. Are you hiring more?
KT: We have 4 crews right now. We will probably have 8 to 10 crews. This is an emergency contract, not a bid contract. We are taking it very seriously and are making sure we have as many people on this project as possible to be able to finish it. There is another work after that. There are 7,000 more homes after this to be done.
DS: There are said to be as many as 18,000 houses in total. What are those 7,000 houses you were talking about?
KT: Right now, the city has contracted 10,000 houses. There are more coming.
DS: If the landlord or tenant does not sign up, do you have a right to enter the house, as the council was about to pass the resolution allowing that?
KT: No. Only if the house is abandoned. I don’t believe that the resolution has passed. Everybody wants this done. We want to do it in an effective way and faster way. We are trying not to skip houses. It is cost effective and faster.
DS: Thank you very much Mr. Taylor for your time.
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - Sept. 14th's Bethesda Church of God in Christ's 10th Annual Community Health Fair demonstrated more than one meaning to the word "revival."
"Revival," is usually meant in the spiritual sense when it comes to a house of worship like Bethesda COGIC. Whether that had happened during Saturday's health fair may be left for the estimated 200 individual visitors to say.
Revival Saturday at Bethesda, given its health fair offerings and demonstrations, may more likely have been along the lines of betterment or improvement.
Those who came away from the fair at 546 Clinton Ave. may have improved themselves by "Knowing Their Numbers" in terms of body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and/or glucose/blood pressure readings.
Those who came to the Clinton Hill church fair may have well been enlightened by the exhibitors' information - from ClearCaption telephone services and Senior Medical Patrol to Newark Emergency Services for Families and Children Aid and Family Services.
Some may have been stimulated to action by the demonstrations by masters and students of Irvington's Ninja University Martial Arts.
There were school children who benefitted from the 180 backpacks laden with back-to-school supplies given out.
Bethesda fair organizer Bishop Ahmed M. Screven appeared pleased with this year's presentation and turnout while the five hour fair wound down Saturday afternoon.
"The community greatly appreciated our service," said Screven to "Local Talk" afterwards. "We're pleased to know that Bethesda Church of God in Christ continues to provide its outreach and community initiatives to serve Newark and greater New Jersey."
Those outreaches and initiatives take varied forms at Bethesda COGIC.
Bethesda's Evangelical Bible Institute's fall semester, for example, is underway. It had hosted "The Kingdom Must Grow" Pastors and Leaders Conference here Aug. 2-3.
Coming attractions include Sept. 29 Women and Men's Day Service and Oct. 13's annual Bishop's Appreciation Service.
The women and men are to take turns "Being Led by the Spirit" Noon and 3 p.m. Sept. 29.
Bishop Screven's Oct. 13 service is themed, "Love is the Greatest Gift," based on I Corinthians 13:13.
Visit Bethesda's Facebook page for details.
By Dhiren Shah
Local 108 is protecting their members as well as industrywide caregivers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Local 108 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) held a solidarity rally in support of workers who are fighting for key contract provisions at the River Front Rehabilitation nursing home in Pennsauken Township.
Workers are seeking fair sick leave and healthcare benefits. When ownership of the facility changed recently, workers were stripped of their earned time off, healthcare benefits and were forced to choose between compromising their own wellbeing or that of their patients. New management has been putting patient care in jeopardy, and on Aug. 1 workers will rally to send a clear message that patient care is their number one priority.
We talked to Local 108 President Charles Hall when they gave a 10-day notice, before they go on strike, to two nursing homes at River Front Rehabilitation Center in NJ and Mountain View Nursing Home in PA.
We asked Mr. Hall about the decision of a strike. He said, “We should find out what’s going on in the industry, which is…”
“These are big issues. This fight is bigger than just the nursing homes Local 108 represents. We are making this stand for ALL caregivers.
Caregivers who have dedicated their lives to this field should be valued. It is very difficult to get people to work in this field in the first place.”
Hall further said, “The Union will do everything it can to avoid a Strike, we will continue to meet and discuss the issues. The Union has already agreed to the following…
Small or large money power companies buying nursing homes, businesses, and buildings is a problem that has been going on for a long time. However, lately it is happening more often. In Newark many buildings are bought by smaller corporations which may be a part of a larger group. A large group of developers make separate LLCs (Limited Liability Corporations) for each building or unit.
With their money power, they are hurting smaller businesses and employees. The city council and city administration are helping them in a big way, which many have said before.
Local 108 is fighting against two nursing homes, but the same thing is happening right here in Newark and the surrounding areas. Union leaders are trying to protect the benefits of their members, when the owners strip workers of those benefits.
By Thomas Ellis II
June Is Gun Violence Awareness Month. Originally, Gun Violence Awareness Month was created in an effort to raise awareness surrounding the issue of needless and senseless gun violence in New York's communities.
The focus of this effort is to lead a bipartisan charge to concentrate annual heightened attention to gun violence and gun safety each June.
Within that month, June 7 marks National Gun Violence Awareness Day. On that day, everyone is asked to do more to save American lives from gun violence. People who support the cause are asked to wear the color Orange, which is a symbol to honor victims of gun violence.
As a victim of gun violence myself - shot multiple times and left for dead on the streets of Atlanta, New Year’s Eve 1997 going into ’98 - I clearly understand the dangers of guns in the hands of the wrong people, and the dangers it causes in the community, I'm just thankful to God that I'm still alive. I could have died from the many bullets that hit me, or I could be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life, like several other gunshot victims.
What is needed in communities across this country, where there are a high number of shootings or gun deaths, is more education around gun violence. There should be seminars and workshops, weekly or monthly, as a prevention tool to help reduce gun violence in the neighborhoods. Just this week, three people were shot near Lincoln Park early in the morning. This month alone, there have been several shootings in the city of Newark, with a few of them ending in a fatality. What are the people going to do about this?
Let me be clear: gun violence is not only in Newark, as there have been quite a few shootings and murders in Jersey City, Patterson, Trenton, Camden, Irvington, Orange, West Orange, South Orange, Willingboro, Atlantic City, Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, Atlanta, and many more.
The time is now for churches to talk more about guns and violence to their members, because many of the victims are family members of their churches. or residents that live close to the church. Some of the anti-guns and violence workshops should be held in churches, recreation centers, or neighborhood centers. The people need to be made more aware of the dangers that come with not practicing gun safety.
The community needs to do more. It's really sad to see many blocks or corners in so many cities with shrines, memorials, and lit candles - RIP for someone who was shot and killed by a gun. On many occasions, by someone they know or the community knows.
Gun violence leaves families torn apart. The cost of burying a loved one, the pain of the loss, the hurt to the victims’ friends, the trauma it causes in one's life, not to mention the pain it causes family members of the shooters or killers. We need to find more proactive ways to deal with conflicts, anger, and in some cases, people with mental health issues.
Education, prevention, and awareness go hand in hand in creating a safe environment, a safe community, and a safer neighborhood. Positive projects need to be created as an alternative to the gun violence, and more people need to be involved in making right where they live safe.
Earlier this month, there was a Stop the Violence vs. Stop the Killing softball game held by Enough Is Enough Coalition and the Ivy Hill Little League for Gun Violence Awareness Month. Adults, young people, parents and others in the community participated as a way to send a positive message and alternative to gun violence. The game was played in Ivy Hill Park, and it was an overwhelming success. No matter which team won, the message was clear.
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - The Rutgers Day Festival 's 2019 that was held here 10 a.m.-8 p.m. April 27 was billed with one or the other two separate subtitles: "A full day of FREE family fun for all ages." or "Explore your hometown university."
Rutgers Day organizers, by "Local Talk" observation that Saturday, could consider this for its 2020 edition: "Come early to the plaza - stay late at the express."
The sound of recorded house music was already pulsing from Rutgers-Newark's Norman Samuels Plaza, also known as the school's quadrangle, when "Local Talk" came through the campus at 9 a.m. Employees, vendors and volunteers were putting finishing touches under the 14 temporary tents arranged about the plaza east of the Paul Robeson Student Center.
There were also 20 mph wind gusts, coming from the Northeast, throughout the day. It made "Local Talk" wonder if the wind will cause RD at the plaza to pack early or move indoors.
There was no need to worry, since RN Assistant Communications Director Jeff Billingsley, on May 1, announced that a record 6,000 people attended events at the plaza and/or the Hahne's Building Express Newark space.
People from all over came to the plaza to learn of Rutgers offerings and services into the outdoor's 3-4 p.m. golden hour. Organizations on display ranged from the communication, biodiversity, public health and graduate school offices to the school's public safety department.
Children had four inflatable bounce houses, face painting, corn hole tossing and hula-hoops to play with. Those of all ages can pick up samples or eat from several food vendors parked towards the plaza's southeast.
Volleyball matches were being held in an open dormitory court across Bleeker Street. the NHL New Jersey Devils brought over its mascot and a portable hockey rink.
Several costumed superheroes - including Batman, Black Panther, Wonder Woman and Superman - made appearances, which sort of leads one to the Express Newark half of RD two blocks east.
"Local Talk" arrived at Express Newark's lobby at 4 p.m. B.E.R., the band from the "Teen Titans Go!" has performed and left.
The Second Annual CultureCon, however, was still going strong. The floor was packed with people watching how a judges’ panel would pick the best of the cosplay crop who appeared here. (The costumed contestants tended to dress along the lines of Mario Brothers Saturday.)
Those tending to some 14 vendor and food tables along the walls were still able to do business. There were 20 men, women and children in the Hahne's second floor hall, waiting to get their orange wrist bands to get inside.
Reports from Rutgers' main campus in New Brunswick-Piscataway touted 94,000 visitors Saturday. Events were simultaneously held at Rutgers-Camden.
Billingsley and Project Coordinator Amanda Holmes explained that Rutgers Day started in 2010 in New Brunswick and branched out to Newark by 2017.
"Rutgers Day is held to let people in the community know what the university has to offer," said Billingsley. "Although we are under the RD umbrella, we're allowed to develop our own flavor."
RD at Newark was the second year where CultureCon was held in Express Newark.
"CultureCon is modeled after the ComicCons but with a focus on characters of color," said Holmes. "We had a conference on women science fiction writers there. It's also free; when I go to the 'Big ComicCon' (at New York's Javits Convention Center), I find myself spending $400 there."
Holmes, when asked of differences between last year's CultureCon debut and this year, pointed out more preparation this time around.
"We got our first grant from the (Rutgers) Chancellor's Office two months ahead of last year's date," said Holmes. "We had no time to spare. This year, we got the grant way ahead of time, so we could better prepare."
RD 2019's debuts included Jazz House Kids, of NJPAC and Montclair, actor J.W. Cortes, of "Gotham" - and the Newark Board of Education.
"The Newark BOE came aboard to make us one of their official events," said Billingsley. "They listed Rutgers Day on their activity list and sent notices to students throughout the Newark Public Schools district. It helps let students and parents in Newark know about one of their hometown universities."
By Thomas Ellis II
While I don't listen to much rap music, I grew up when rap was started back in the late 70s, early 80s. The music has changed, the lyrics have changed, the rap industry has changed, and even the performances have changed to me. It looks like rap has created a culture that many will never understand.
On Sunday March 31, 2019, L.A. rapper and Grammy nominee 33-year-old Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed in front of his store. He was shot multiple times, and from his autopsy by the L.A. coroner's office, the cause of death was a bullet to the head, and a bullet to the torso.
Nipsey Hussle was someone who was doing positive things in the L.A. Crenshaw community. A former member of the Rollin 60’s Crips, he was one of the rappers that was turning his life around, and giving back to the community; so you can see why this is so hard for his family, and the rap community to handle.
How does a well-known famous rapper, positive person, and role model for the community get gunned down in broad daylight?
It's being reported that there was a dispute between Nipsey, and 29-year-old Eric Holder, Holder, who ironically has the same name as the former U.S. Attorney General, has been arrested for the shooting and killing of Nipsey Hussle. There was also a female women getaway driver that turned herself in, but she is not talking for fear of retaliation, and it's also being reported that Eric Holder is a gang member, and that they both knew each other.
I have written several articles about guns and violence, but this murder has touched the lives of people all over the country. Several celebrities and rappers left R.I.P. messages on Nipsey's Facebook and Twitter pages, still trying to understand this senseless act of violence that took the life of their close friend.
NBA stars Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and others said that they were hurt by the news of his death. In tribute to Nipsey, Russell Westbrook put on a 20 point, 20 rebound, 21 assist performance against the LA Lakers and dedicated the game to him. It was the first time since Wilt Chamberlain that a player put up a 20-20-20 performance.
The L.A.P.D. is saying that this is not gang related, but they are also saying that suspect Eric Holder is a gang member so for those in the Hood, some are just not going with what the police are saying because they know what the streets are saying. It could be that the police are saying this is not gang related because they don't want a gang war to start because everyone loved Nipsey, and his killing could trigger some bad blood and retaliation.
There was a memorial set up outside of his store where was gunned down. Hundreds of people came to pay their respects. Actress Lauren London, who is the mother of his son Kross Asghedom, said that she was devastated and that this is hitting her pretty heavy because Nipsey was the love of her life, and he meant everything to her and her son.
Gun violence should have no place in the community; we are losing too many people to it. It's just a shame that whatever the dispute was over, it should not have cost a life, but too many times some feel that the way to settle an argument or dispute is to shoot or kill the other person, and that's just insane thinking if you ask me.
Some are saying that the rap music industry is having many of these rappers rap about a life that they are not living only to promote an image or lifestyle to garner more music sales. However, at the end of the day it’s up to the rapper to say I will not promote such violence and sex in my lyrics.
Parents, start monitoring what your children are watching and listening to on their phones, CD players or on their computers, because sometimes shooters and killers listen to certain Gangsta Rap music to get them pumped up to settle a beef, to handle their business or to just create havoc in the community.
Nipsey Hussle will be missed, and the positive work that he started needs to be continued. Let’s just hope others in Crenshaw see what an impact he was having in the lives of the young people, and some adults who liked his music and step up to the plate, fill in the gap that's left behind, and continue to make a difference.
For the sake of this article, there is a huge difference between Rap and Gangsta Rap, but with that said we really don't need no one shooting and killing anyone, must less a rapper that was giving back to the community in a big way.
By Kristopher Seals OP/ED
For over a month now, several sectors of the government have been hampered by a shutdown due to an impasse between Democrats and President Donald Trump, as well as several Republicans.
The lack of funds has caused national parks and attractions to close, as well as leaving thousands of federal workers without work and thousands more forced to work despite not being paid. Many have called out sick, leading to slower services, as those who do come in have to do the work of maybe five other people. Also, the quality of the work goes down, as it is human nature to not give 100% effort when you are making 0% of your money. Last but not least, programs such as food stamps and even Section 8 may run out of funding. Fortunately, social security, Medicaid and Medicare are safe, as those programs receive mandatory funding.
By now, you likely know that the reason the shutdown has lasted so long is because President Trump insists that any new spending bill include at least $5.7 billion for physical barriers along the southern border, a.k.a. his campaign-promised “Border Wall.” However, not only have Democrats balked at the idea, but they have even stated that all talk of border security should be addressed after a funding bill is passed.
Forgetting whatever side of the wall you may be on, this is a classic case of an immovable object meeting another immovable object. I know there’s supposed to be an irresistible force in there, but nothing is moving.
So, therein lies the question, how do we end this shutdown, get people (and their bills) paid and/or back to work, and programs funded? Fortunately, I have some ideas, and both sides can actually win and save face.
Solution #1: Have a bunch of rich people pay for it.
ATTENTION BILLIONAIRES … DO YOU WANT TO HELP END THE FEDERAL SHUTDOWN? DO YOU WANT TO SHOW OFF YOUR PATRIOTISM TO THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH? DO YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF PAYING THE TAXES YOU’VE BEEN PAYING? THEN SEND A CHECK TO THE U.S. TREASURY AND PAY FOR THE SOUTHERN BORDER WALL!
Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, the Waltons of Wal-Mart, Larry Ellison, Sheldon Adelson…there are SO many who can contribute to this lovely cause. Sure, it would only take $5.7 billion to open the government, but why stop there? The wall has to be maintained, which will cost roughly $35 billion annually, but our President doesn’t have time for rational financial allocations!
How about the world’s richest man and founder of Amazon - which officials in Newark wanted SO badly - Jeff Bezos? (Well, maybe not, since wifey is about to make like Thanos and take half.) How about Mark Zuckerberg? If you can’t secure Facebook from potential terrorists, why not at least try to secure the border from potential terrorists?
Come on, guys. If James Dolan put the Knicks up for sale, the going rate right now is $5 billion. If Dolan said he’d sell the team for $6 billion, before he finished his sentence somebody would have signed a check.
You want to know who could REALLY use some good publicity right about now? Saudi Arabia! With that whole Jamal Khashoggi thing, they might be looking to buy some love right about now. I mean, since they run like 8% or more of our economy, they surely have $5.7 billion laying around.
Our rich coalition can even put their corporate logos on it. In fact, how about putting a tower on it, and let telecommunications king Carlos Slim pay for it? Imagine the business he’d rake in with cell service in a relative dead zone? Besides, if he fronts the money, then “Mexico” paid for it, am I right?
Don’t worry about the wall being effective. President Trump promised a wall, not an effective wall. If he gets the money, the shutdown ends, and these people still get out of paying taxes. Who cares about the rest, right? It’s the time honored tradition of throwing money at the problem - literally.
Now I know some people are saying, “If they get out of paying taxes, that money will be taken out of the tax pool!” But I ask, how much of their money was REALLY in the tax pool? There are rules on different taxation schedules for capital gains, losses on the balance sheet, etc. Hey, Trump himself said he marked off over $900 million as a loss at one time. Basically, YOU might be paying more than these people do when it comes to taxes!
Besides parting with the money to begin with, the main reason that rich people hate paying taxes is because they can’t direct where the money goes. They don’t like the thought of it going to welfare programs and stuff like that. In my scenario, they know EXACTLY where it’s going, and that is to a border wall, which echoes their wonderful gated communities that they like so much. The point is, building walls is a rich people’s thing, so why not let them do it?
Come to think of it, President Trump, you can join in too! You’re a billionaire, right? Hey, like with Trump Tower, you can put the name “TRUMP” on the wall in lights so bright, you can see it from space! (Well, maybe not. For a while, I always thought I was the only one who thought the reason that he didn’t want to show his tax returns was because they would show he wasn’t an actual billionaire. I put his net worth at around $800 million based upon depreciation and other things. Then I saw an episode of “Family Guy” and Seth MacFarlane has it at $700 million. He was the one who gave clues about Weinstein and Spacey long before anyone else did, so I’m inclined to agree with his estimate.)
The next thing is, who builds it? How about…illegal immigrants! That way, you put them to work and get a contribution to the nation since they’re not paying taxes. Plus, you know where they are and can monitor them, thus reducing crime. Now, you might be thinking, wouldn’t they do a shoddy job? To that I say, have you seen the US Army Corps of Engineers? They’re the ones behind the levees in New Orleans. Yeah, even at their worst, the illegals will likely do a better job.
With that, you might now be thinking, “Well, if they build it, they’ll let in more illegal immigrants!” To that I say, if the illegals building the wall have TRULY embraced the “American Spirit” of capitalism, then they’ll do everything in their power NOT to help others. If new illegals gain entry, it’ll be harder for the old ones to get food and housing, etc. So, as like other selfish Americans, they’ll make sure that they don’t have to share!
At present, illegals can’t complain about others illegally crossing because, if one gets robbed by another, they can’t exactly go to the cops. Otherwise, they’ll get deported too. Now that they’re working on the wall, they can selfishly keep things for themselves without others coming over and messing it up.
Lastly, if they don’t want to build it, maybe President Trump can get the Amish to do it. I mean, he did win the state of Pennsylvania in the last election, while Hillary Clinton was so busy campaigning in the “state” of Philadelphia.
Solution #2: Have a “WALL”
If the President can’t get a physical wall, then maybe he can get another “Wall.”
What’s one thing that Democrats and Republicans agree on? Blindly throwing money at the military. What’s another thing they agree on? Jobs. How about combining the two?
Allow me to introduce the “Western Auxiliary Longitudinal Legion” aka “The WALL.” You calculate the distance from one end of the border to the other, and you place a ton of personnel per square whatever, watching it and stopping anyone from gaining illegal entry. Where do we get the personnel from? Simple. Pull them away from whatever war we are fighting that we should not be fighting in the first place. This uses existing military funds, and does not add to the burden.
Also, you’ll need staff to handle administrative things, blue collar work, etc. Guess what? That means jobs for civilians as well, and jobs makes voters happy.
In this scenario, Democrats win, because they did not allocate $5.7 billion for a physical wall, while President Trump wins because he gets a “WALL” and successfully fulfilled his campaign promise.
Solution #3: Simple Math
Whatever the 2019 military budget the Senate agreed to - $5.7 billion = 99% of the budget still intact. (Seriously, why can’t they just do this instead? I find it odd that Democrats are holding the line on $5.7 billion, but have no qualms about spending a ton on the military.)
Or… whatever President Trump’s proposed increase to the military is (keep in mind, this is just the INCREASE - not the actual budget, but just the INCREASE) - $5.7 billion = 99% of the increase still intact.
By the way, the reason I’m not giving any numbers is because they are all over the place. You hear figures like $686 billion, $716 billion, $892 billion; the numbers keep trending toward a trillion dollars. It’s basically pencil politics; you know, when they fill in a number in pencil, and then erase it whenever they want more.
And there you have it. Three feasible solutions for such a feeble problem. One more thing. Whether you agree with a wall or not, I find it peculiar that when the banks ran the world’s economy into the ground a decade ago - not just America, but the world mind you - they got a bailout of over $700 billion. It’s like, spending $5.7 billion on an irresponsible wall…No. Spending well over 100 times that amount to bail out irresponsible banks…Viva la avarice.
Let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Two things. First, I do not support a border wall, because it is impractical and simply does not make sense on SO MANY levels. One key reason is that if you saw the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” the climax saw Americans fleeing to Mexico and asking for help as the effects of global warming ravaged the world. Secondly, with that said, I do feel that more needs to be done about illegal immigration, as for how often Democrats mention protecting illegal immigrants, they never mention protecting LEGAL immigrants for whatever reason. It is simply unfair for one group of people to follow the rules and pay taxes, etc., while another group does not have to follow the rules, pay taxes, etc.
Every year, Local Talk's editorial staff selects the stories of the year from Nov. 1 to Oct. 30. However, this is a list of what our readers thought made headlines in the past calendar year.
Local Story of the Year: Newark’s Ongoing Water Crisis.
(Notables: Newark’s Flirtation with Amazon, Newark Regaining School Control, Orange’s School Board, The Botched Response of Elected Officials to the November Snowstorm, The Adenovirus Outbreak, The Sussex Avenue Homeless Shelter, University Hospital, The NJSIAA Playoff Format, The Concerned 44 and Seton Hall, Sports Betting Legalized, NJ Transit, The Brick City Lions)
National Story of the Year: Christine Blasey Ford (and others) vs. Brett Kavanaugh.
(Notables: Immigrant Families Being Separated, The Parkland School Shooting, Hurricane Florence, The Russia Probe, Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels, The 2018 November Election, California Wildfires, The MAGA Bomber, The Death of George H.W. Bush, LeBron James signing with the Lakers)
World Story of the Year: The FIFA World Cup.
(Notables: The 2018 Winter Olympics, The Murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Russia’s Possible Involvement in Sergei Skripal’s Death and American Politics, Several Countries Locked in Trade Wars with Donald Trump, The Plight of Migrants, Jair Bolsonaro Elected as Brazil’s Next President
Local Person of the Year: East Orange Mayor Ted Green, who has kindled a new way of thinking in his city.
National Person / Woman of the Year: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated the political machine to usher in a new era of leadership in government.
Man of the Year: WWE Superstar Becky Lynch, who smashed stereotypes to show that it’s not about being a man or woman, but having the mentality to be the best.
Activists of the Year: Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, and the rest of the students who fought for gun control after several people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida were killed by a gunman.
Team of the Year: The Central Florida Knights, who went undefeated for the second straight season, despite not being allowed to play for the College Football National Championship.
Legend of the Year: Aretha Franklin, the undisputed greatest singer of all time.
(Notables: Stan Lee, Burt Reynolds, Barbara Bush, Penny Marshall, Bruno Sammartino, John McClain)
Movie of the Year: Black Panther, the superhero movie that presented minorities in a brilliant, brave, and noble light.
Meme of the Year: People turning to dust, like when Thanos performed “The Snap” in “Avengers: Infinity War.”
BONUS: “What the #$%! was that?!” Moment of the Year: Former St. Benedict’s star J.R. Smith not knowing the score in the NBA Finals.
(Notables: Titus O’Neil’s “World-slide” at the Greatest Royal Rumble, Serena Williams’ tantrum at the US Open)
By Local Talk Staff
On Tuesday November 20th, 2018, the Enough Is Enough Coalition, a Grassroots anti-guns and antiviolence organization, celebrated 25 years of hosting its Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Memorial Dinner for families who have lost a loved one to guns and violence.
The first Memorial Dinner was held in Atlanta, Georgia in 1993 at the West Hunter Street Baptist Church in memory of 13-year-old Tiffany Harderson who was shot and killed by a stray bullet in Decatur, Georgia. EIEC Founder Thomas Ellis II felt that it was a way to bring families together for healing, comfort, prayer, strength, and love. He thought that a Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner for the many families affected by guns and violence would be a great thing.
Minister Ellis has been holding the dinner ever since. The only year he did not hold a memorial dinner for families was in 1998. On New Year’s Eve 1997, Ellis was shot multiple times and left for dead on the streets of Atlanta, 3 1/2 years after he started Enough Is Enough. Throughout 1998, he was recovering from gunshot wounds himself, but the next year he picked right up where he left off, and began holding the memorial dinner throughout Essex County.
This year’s 25th Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Memorial Dinner was held at St. Matthew UMC Church in Newark. It was a success, and several other the people attending thanked Minister Ellis for his vision and continued effort.
One of the greatest parts of the dinner is the Hugs and Love session. That's when everyone goes up and hug someone they do not know, and just says a few words of encouragement to uplift the spirits of everybody in attendance.
Each year, the Enough Is Enough Coalition President gives away Honorary Member medals for those who have been supporting the group’s mission and standing up against guns and violence. This year’s Honorary members were Elizabeth Police Department Officer Williamson, Queen Hatari of Common Unity First, and several of their members. Pastor Ralph Bunch Terrell of St. Matthew UMC was also awardee of an Honorary Medal for his Outstanding work in and out of the community.
The theme of this year’s dinner was “Longevity,” and being able to last for years and still be effective; the race is not given to the swift, but he who endures until the end.
Ellis explained to the crowd, “If a person was arrested and locked up for 25 years. that's a long time. Some people have been married for 25 years, that's a long time. Others have been on their job for 25 years and looking to retire now, that's a long time. Giving back to the community, and holding the Pre-Thanksgiving Memorial Dinner for families who have lost a loved one to guns and violence for 25 years, now that's a long, long time. If you have a car and it's 25 years old, it's a classic. Enough Is Enough Coalition has been doing what we do for 25 years, so we are a classic example on what you can do if you just trust God.
Ellis also told the crowd that God is the “Is” in Enough Is Enough, and with him all things are possible, and we do not move until we hear a word from the Lord.
The Omega Psi Phi RO Lamda, Lamda, and the Omega Psi Phi Upsilon 5 Chapter were the servers at the event. For the past 8 years the Omega Brothers have been coming out and volunteering their time serving at the memorial dinner, and they do a wonderful job.
Another special part of the dinner is the “A Taste of Peace” project, which is a cook-off where several contestants can enter their favorite cooked dish into the contest. There’s a first, second, and third place prize awarded to the winners and their three judges.
This year’s 1st Place winner of “A Taste of Peace” was Ms. Tanya St. Ange. She made a curry goat and rice dish. The 2nd Place winner was Queen Hatari, who made a macaroni salad, Finally, the 3rd Place winner was Mr. Robert Lewis, who made a Veggie Lasagna. All the dishes were great, and everyone had a chance to enjoy some award winning dishes.
Special thanks were given to Vonda's Kitchen for cooking a turkey stuffed with apples, and Nubians Restaurant for cooking the other turkey, Local Talk Newspaper, Perry's Funeral Home, Bishop and Shanique Speight, Newark Council President Mildred Crump, West Ward Councilman Joe McCallum, Colosseum Gym, and St. Matthew UMC Church along with others for their overwhelming support.
By Dhiren Shah
About two years ago, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and the Newark CEDC announced the opening of a Newark Community Storefront in the South Ward with a bang.
With good intentions and grant money, they trained new entrepreneurs to start their own business. Slowly and gradually they opened Storefronts in all five wards under the banner Newark Shoppes. The first two still have the same name as Newark Community Store Front. That first store in the South Ward had 12 entrepreneurs, but now has only three.
The East Ward Newark Shoppes has already been closed. We received two complaints about wrongful dealings by the Newark CEDC. That’s the reason I visited all five stores, including the closed store in East Ward.
Even the Central Ward spot is not doing good. The image does not look like one combined store, and there is no traffic.
The North Ward has Hispanic entrepreneurs and only three are left at that place. They are barely surviving.
The Newark CEDC, as per our first talk two years ago, got about $35,000 per entrepreneur as a grant. This is from my recollection, and may not be verbatim, but they are now not so transparent, so it is harder to find out the facts.
Karen Baldwin, owner of KayKay Jewels in the West Ward, was a businessperson beforem and her family is also in business. So, she knows how to manage and unite other cube owners in the storefront and work easily between the group. Their group kept the store in good shape, and it seemed like a walk-in business environment.
After two years, the West Ward lost about 9 business owners, but they are getting business now, as the community starts to know them.
Under the program, the first six months they received FREE rent, furniture, façade and setup. After six months, they pay reduced rent.
I would not call this program a success, as the majority of the owners went out of business. Put yourself in their shoes; what a dream they have seen, and what a nightmare they got in return. Also, having to sit for a whole day without any traffic is tougher on the new entrepreneurs.
Rather than failing at trying to sprout new entrepreneurs, those mom and pop stores that are currently out there need some boost. They are already entrepreneurs, but they do not get any help from the city or city agencies.
The Community Store fronts are: Closed - East Ward at 124 Polk Street, North Ward at 216 Bloomfield Avenue, Central Ward at 744 Broad Street, South Ward at 790 Clinton Ave., West Ward at 989 South Orange Avenue.
Mayor Baraka has announced many times and even in his mailer for the election as a success, but this is a false claim by Baraka. We have received two complaints, as they have compared being an entrepreneur living in Newark and working in New York. One was doing good in New York, but the Newark CEDC showed what turned out to be a broken dream, and she has more problems in her life now.
By Dhiren Shah
East Orange Mayor Ted Green was elected last November and took the oath of office on January 1, 2018. So far, he has maintained what he has promised to his constituents and Local Talk. Green is still easily accessible to his constituents and works with the employees like part of the family. So, I have decided to interview him before his 100 days in office on April 10, 2018.
Dhiren Shah: Welcome Mayor Green to this interview.
Ted Green: Thanks for interviewing me and always thinking about the city. We have been in office for 77 days. We are pushing hard and working hard, not just myself, but the employees and the city council. We had some snowstorms, but folks are very happy to see black tops on the streets. Those DPW workers did an outstanding job. Our police department and fire department, they joined hands with us and made sure that when folks woke up they could get around the city.
We are very eager in terms of redevelopment in the city of East Orange. I was part of the push up till now, but I can’t take all the credit for the redevelopment; there was a group of people that was consciously working on the redevelopment. Sussex Avenue was a blighted area for years, the place where I grew up at. I was able to have a role seeing that project come in, with a ground breaking coming pretty soon. We have another ground breaking on Walnut Street. All over the city you will see redevelopment, ground breakings, ribbon cuttings. We had a ribbon cutting at a restaurant today, Green Apple on Central Avenue. It gives us an opportunity to embrace businesses who want to come to city of East Orange. $700 million in private and public money is going through the city of East Orange. Our initiative is to push this even further.
DS: What are you doing to change the teen street area?
TG: Valerie has played a role in getting that jump started. Roger is the acting individual in that role. We are working with the council, we have developers now for the Greenwood Section and you will see development there, single family homes coming to that area. Although we are focused on the entire city, our main priority is that area. We feel that if we get that up and moving and develop that area, it’s an overall push throughout the city. The 4th ward and 5th ward for a long time were kind of isolated, and growing up in that section, friends I grew up with who have hung in there and stayed down there, we want to make sure that there are better living conditions and see the redevelopment blooming in the teen streets.
We are working with the city council to rename the streets instead of 17th or 18th streets. We’re going to come up with some different names. We believe that if we can change the image with the redevelopment, we can change the perception. We welcome anyone who wants to invest in the city of East Orange, want to come in with a plan, and the plan has to make sure that it coincides with what we are doing throughout the city.
DS: You are talking about the teen streets, but what about the 4th Avenue area, which is a mostly Muslim community?
TG: That is really included in the Greenwood development. All that ties in with the 4th ward, 5th ward. 4th Avenue will be a landmark also.
DS: Are you doing anything for the Ampere train station?
TG: We are going to set up a meeting with our governor and lieutenant governor. People are focusing around the transit village piece that is up by Shop-Rite. We want stops by 4th Avenue, by Main Street, the front of city hall, and the stop by Evergreen Place. We have money slated for transit village, but we are looking to get more money slated. We are here only for 77 days. We are going to look at what type of money out there. Torricelli even gave me a call and talked me how viable East Orange is going to be.
South Harrison Street is booming, with Blackstone and other developers who are investing in East Orange. Even single houses, people are investing in them. We have an auction coming up, that we are excited about. I can tell you, from day one, all of us rolled up our sleeves and started to get things done. I’m not saying we’re perfect, but people here love this city. The biggest challenge we have is trying to get major restaurants.
DS: On Main Street, are you making any façade improvements?
TG: We have a 90% occupancy rate on Central Avenue, but Main Street unfortunately is not the same. We went out to each and individual store and we are trying to bring it up to where Central Avenue is. We are trying to make sure that Main Street is one of the premier places in East Orange.
The whole thing behind Cicely Tyson performing arts school was for folks to come out, see a show, and go to Main Street and dine and eat with their families. I think after this Novus development piece goes in hand, we will see that. Even if they come from New York, they are able to eat, dine, go to a show, and guess what, the city profits from it.
DS: The main problem with the Cicely Tyson school is that they close that door on Winans Street.
TG: We always had, and we are continuing conversations with the school, school district, and the superintendent. But right now, we are not at par with main street yet. I believe that we have a partnership and always had a partnership with board of education. I don’t see no reason why they would refuse us having access of that entrance going forward. Once the Main Street corridor really blossoms, it will help businesses around there, and there will be no problem with the school opening the doors. Some of the teachers and the district can come out and eat during their lunch time.
DS: Connie Jackson told me that the crime went down by 19%. How many murders have you had in 77 days?
TG: We haven’t had a murder. I have to commend the East Orange police chief and the entire police department; they are the professionals. If there is any disturbance in the city of East Orange, they are investigating it and getting the job done.
DS: Murder, rape and assault are the main violent crimes.
TG: Yes. I tell you the truth, we’ve had some, but we found out they were not from East Orange, but from outside the city. We have addressed them.
DS: East Orange is a place where many artists were born. Are you planning to promote new artists?
TG: We already have MACFest, and that has been very successful. A lot of events took place prior to me coming in, and I look at those events and the programs that are very viable to the city. We want to enhance them. The other day, Cicely Tyson school had a jazz concert. We are embracing all those folks they are culturally based in the city. We are not pushing back on anything that’s positive.
DS: Mayor Green, I’d like to suggest having a contest between the areas for the best clean area award and we will publicize it in the newspaper, full page, with the photos of that area.
TG: We would love for Local Talk to partner with us. We have five wards, and we’ll pick groups from those wards, and give a certificate, plaque. That’s a good idea. We will work on it.
We are cleaning our city up on Earth Day, April 21st. I do believe that when your city is safe, and your city is clean, everything kind of borders around that. As I say from Day 1, I am rolling up my sleeves to help. I will be out that day. We do believe that with that initiative, when people drive through East Orange, they are seeing now. We are not there at 100% yet, but we are driving cleanliness and neatness and bringing folks together to be part of this initiative. If you live here, you love East Orange, then help us to keep East Orange clean.
DS: East Orange has very high taxes.
TG: East Orange is a bedroom community, but we are looking at it. Over the last five or four years, the council and the administration had taken a strong position. There only has been a 1.2 percent increase. The increase can come from the county, board of education, but we work really hard not to raise taxes. That’s why it is so important for all of us to bring in the tax ratables, to bring businesses to build houses. We want to relieve some of the pressure off our residents.
DS: If your ratable increases, do the taxes come down?
TG: We have to look at the budget and some of the services. Our police department, each year we have a bargaining union, and they have a certain percentage we have agreed on. Health benefits goes up, we have people who have retired. So, when we look at our budget, we have to anticipate certain things. But we look at all aspects of what we need to do.
My goal is to never increase taxes. I believe that we have relationships with state and at the county level. We’re looking to do shared service with other municipalities. We are trying to cut costs with street sweeping by getting it done in house. As a homeowner here, I feel what other people feel. Even tenants feel it because landlords have to go up on rent to meet their costs.
By Dhiren Shah
On March 7th and March 8th, a major nor’easter snowstorm handicapped the daily routine for New Jerseyans with blizzard like conditions. A few thousand people lost power. From 15” to 24” the snowstorm made life a little harder for everyone.
At this juncture, Governor Phil Murphy criticized JCP&L and other utility companies for not restoring the power in time. Coincidentally, I took the interview of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) President Joseph L. Fiordaliso, who has been an Essex County resident throughout his life. He was a native Newarker and is right now living in Livingston, and also a former mayor of the town.
Dhiren Shah: Welcome sir to this interview. What is the duties of the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and Commissioners?
Joseph Fiordaliso: The Board of Public Utilities’ mission is to provide safe reliable service to the consumers and the citizens of the State of New Jersey. We regulate all investor owned board of companies. We regulate the energy companies and distribution companies like public service JCP&L, Atlantic City Electric, Rockland Electric. We also regulate some telecommunications. Also, we regulate clean energy laws for the state of New Jersey.
DS: We heard many complaints that all the public utilities companies charge extra here and there. If you call, then obviously they give you credit, but why isn’t it systematic, that the consumer doesn’t have to worry about anything?
JF: They can only charge what we have approved. Some of these charges are some of the taxes involved and benefit charges to help provide funds for clean energy benefits. They cannot charge without our permission. That part of the regulatory process.
DS: Some of the audit companies on the large bills, they audit them and if they can save money for consumer from their bill, they take 50% of the savings.
JF: If they make mistakes, obviously they have to correct it. If a particular consumer has a specific problem, they should contact the board of public utilities.
DS: All the utility companies’ billing habits is to charge more and then give so many discounts and trying to confuse customers. How can they be made to give straight billing, or at least explain in detail where any phantom costs come from?
JF: We try to make over the years, make the bill as understandable as possible. Sometimes a bill is confusing, I admit that. We work with the energy companies, so your monthly bill is self-explanatory as possible. We have strived for that. If there are specific people who have these issues, we have to know about that. I can tell you I have a little trouble reading the bill. That’s why I pay what they ask me to pay.
DS: What kind of changes will you bring to improve the quality of public service?
JF: We will continue to abide by our statutory duties, regulating the industry. I think you will see Governor Murphy’s clean energy program.
DS: The utility industry is changing. Our honorable Governor Murphy brought changes to offshore wind energy the beginning of this month. The order directs the state Board of Public Utilities to write regulations governing how utility customers will subsidize an effort to develop 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind generation along the Jersey coast by 2030. The current plan is only 1,100 megawatts, why 3,500 megawatts now?
JF: We will work towards a goal of 3,500 megawatts. The advantage is that we are providing cleaner energy. The more megawatts we have, the cleaner the energy.
DS: How many megawatts is the state of New Jersey utilizing?
JF: I understand what you are saying. We are going to replace the energy that is dirtier. We are working to minimize the effects of climate change. In 2000 we have 6,000 units of solar energy; now we have 100,000 units. So, we work towards these goals to improve the quality of life and improve the economic development to the state of New Jersey. What scientists tell us tis hat climate change is real, and that will affect the way people live. We have a moral obligation. I am not going to be around to see the dramatic effect of climate change, but my grandchildren will be. So, it is important that we do whatever we possibly can to minimize the effects of that change.
DS: Governor Murphy talked about a “green” New Jersey. What is the difference between a green NJ and Garden State?
JF: “Garden State” is what we produce by all the vegetables and fruits. A green state means reducing the amount of carbon in the air. Greener means generating energy that does not pollute the air.
DS: What about the multiple buildings that are going up? Are you going to restrict that?
JF: Well, it depends on what kind of building you are making. What kind of light bulbs you are using, what kind of energy saving programs are you using. The cheapest energy is the energy you do not use, and thus you do not pollute the air. So, energy efficiency is extremely important.
DS: When you talk about lights, LED lights create a lot of rays and waves, which might impact the quality of life in our bodies. What is your opinion about it?
JF: I don’t know that anything is proven scientifically. Sometimes, we become conservative about it without knowing the full story. If it is proven scientifically, then it has to be visited.
DS: You talked about climate change. President Trump does not believe in global warming. What is your take on Global Warming?
JF: I think climate change is real.
DS: How people can contact BPU?
JF: Our general number is (800) 624-0241. (Cable TV: 800-624-0331, 609-341-9177)
DS: Thank you very much for your time.
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - The 2018 Mass in memory of Roberto Clemente here at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart Jan. 13 was different from its previous editions in at least two distinct ways.
First, the memorial mass honoring the late Major League Baseball Hall of Fame baseball player and humanitarian Saturday afternoon was where Councilman Luis Quintana and State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz announced that part of New Jersey Route 21 will be renamed the Roberto Clemente Memorial Highway.
Second, there was more security around and in the basilica. "Local Talk" counted 11 Essex County Sheriff's Officers and Newark Police officers - including a sheriff's officer staying within arm’s length of Mass Celebrant Bishop Manuel A. Cruz.
"There was an interruption last year," proclaimed Quintana among an estimated 200 celebrants, "but there is no stopping us now."
Quintana, in the last half of his sentence, was referring to more than Ruiz's announcement of Newark's part of Route 21 becoming the Clemente memorial highway. The dean of the Municipal Council and former interim mayor is hoping the highway naming will be the start for future honors for the late Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder.
"We are pressing for Major League Baseball to permanently retire Clemente's No. 21 like they had with Jackie Robinson's No. 42," said Quintana. "It makes sense: 21 times two equals 42."
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig retired Robinson's "42" from future wearing by any player April 15, 1997. Selig signed the order exactly 50 years to the day when Robinson (1919-72) took his first at-bat with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
When Robinson stepped up to the Dodgers' home plate at Ebbets Field that day, the former Montreal Royal and Kansas City Monarch broke a five-decade "gentlemen's agreement" among club owners that kept non-white ball players out of the MLB.
MLB and minor league players refrain from wearing No. 42 with one exception. Since 2004, every ball player on April 15 wears that number in tribute.
"42" has a permanent place in every ball park or stadium. That number can still be viewed at soon-to-be-demolished Newark Bears-Eagles Riverfront Stadium from Broad Street.
Route 21, which runs immediately east of the stadium's back wall, is to be renamed after Clemente pending warmer weather later this year.
"We're just waiting for the weather to break," said Quintana. "The funds have been raised, the honorary street signs have been paid for and printed."
Route 21's length in Newark - 5.68 miles from U.S. 1-9 South at Newark Liberty International Airport north to the Belleville border - will be renamed in Clemente's honor. The Clemente Highway name will be co-billed with "McCarter Highway" - the latter after attorney, New Jersey Attorney General and PSE&G founder Thomas McCarter (1867-1955).
Gov. Christopher Christie (R-Mendham) signed the joint State Legislature Resolution June 30, 2016. Bills S-1462 and A-3417, sponsored by Ruiz and Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (both D-Newark), were approved by their colleagues.
Quintana and Ruiz are among a group who want to nominate Clemente for a posthumous Alfred Nobel Peace Prize for the Norwegian Nobel Committee's consideration.
Such an awarding would be unprecedented for the Nobel Committee. They had considered a posthumous Peace Prize to the assassinated Mohandas Gandhi in 1948.
It and the Swedish Academy of Sciences have otherwise considered only living people as eligible in its 118 years. There were three individuals who died, the last in 2011, before awardees could notify them; they were still awarded.