Sharif opens Newark mayoral campaign HQ; scoffs at idea of dividing black vote

By Mark Bonamo | January 5th, 2014

NEWARK - Central Ward councilman and Newark mayoral candidate Darrin Sharif opened his campaign headquarters on South Orange Avenue on Saturday, declaring his candidacy to be neither quixotic nor a compromise.

"I'm running for mayor because I'm the most qualified person to move our city forward, plain and simple," said Sharif to a crowd of more than 50 supporters in the city's Vailsburg section. "You don't see the big political bosses and developers in this room - all the people who make the deals behind the scenes in the dimly-lit restaurants where you and I are never invited. I have all in the respect in the world for my opponents, but when you hold my resume of accomplishment and achievement next to theirs, it's not even close."

Sharif, 52, who scored an upset victory in 2010 when he defeated incumbent Charles Bell, backed by then-Mayor Cory Booker, by 11 votes in a runoff, pointed to the Central Ward as a place where he believes Newark's fortunes have risen in recent years.

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A Tale of Two Deeply Divided New Jersey Public School Systems

Paul Tractenberg | December 31, 2013

NJSpotlighht

In October, a report was released about racial segregation in New Jersey schools, jointly written by the Institute on Law and Policy at Rutgers-Newark and the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. The findings were sobering, even for a state that has long been home to some of the most segregated schools in the country.

As we near the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board desegregation ruling, one of the chief authors of the report, Rutgers Law School professor Paul Tractenberg, discusses some of its findings and some possible remedies as New Jersey moves into 2014.

Despite a well-funded and politically influential campaign to label New Jersey public schools as expensive failures, on average they actually perform very well in comparison to other states’ systems. The deep and distressing problems become apparent only when one goes beneath the averages. Then, what emerge are two fundamentally different educational systems.

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Newark mayoral candidate Ramos reacts to Baraka letters on behalf of gang leader

By Mark Bonamo | December 31st, 2013

 

NEWARK - North Ward councilman and Newark mayoral candidate Anibal Ramos, Jr. denounced South Ward councilman and mayoral candidate Ras Baraka for writing letters used to request leniency for one the city's most infamous gang leaders.

Court papers indicate that Baraka wrote the letters on behalf of convicted gang leader Al-Tariq Gumbs at his sentencing in 2010, according to previously published reports. 

Baraka wrote that Gumbs could serve as "an asset to our community" in resolving gang-related conflicts that result in homicides and shootings in New Jersey's largest city. Baraka also claims that he was unaware that the letters would be included in motions requesting leniency for Gumbs, the alleged founder of the Brick City Brims set of the Bloods street gang.

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Newark mayoral hopeful wrote letters on behalf of notorious city gang boss, records show

By James Queally/The Star-Ledger
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on December 31, 2013

South Ward Councilman and Newark mayoral hopeful Ras Baraka wrote several letters on behalf of the founder of one of the city's most violent gang factions in 2010 and 2012, according to records obtained by The Star-Ledger. Baraka says he didn't know the letters would be used in a petition for leniency on behalf of alleged Brick City Brims founder Al-Tariq Gumbs. (Saed Hindash/The Star-Ledger)

 

NEWARK — A councilman vying to replace Cory Booker as mayor of New Jersey’s largest city has written letters used in motions requesting leniency for one of Newark’s most notorious gang leaders, The Star-Ledger has learned.

South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka wrote the letters on behalf of convicted gang lord Al-Tariq Gumbs at his sentencing in 2010, the same year Gumbs was accused of plotting murders from a federal prison cell in Arizona, court papers obtained by the newspaper show.

That first letter was dated Nov. 10, 2010 — 10 months after Gumbs was indicted on the murder conspiracy charges. Baraka’s letter was filed in support of a motion to reduce Gumbs’ bail.

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Thousands of unemployed N.J. residents brace for federal benefits to run out

By Brent Johnson/The Star-Ledger
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on December 28, 2013

TRENTON — Last December, Adaline Irizarry lost her job as a secretary because of budget cuts at her company. Since then, the 49-year-old single mother of two has struggled to find work.

"I have been trying," said Irizarry, who lives in Lawrence. "No one’s been calling back."

A year after being laid off, Irizarry and her family survive on child support and $360 a week in federal unemployment benefits. She’s terrified that’s about to change.

Beginning today, 1.3 million Americans will see their extended federal unemployment benefits expire.

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N.J. prepares to cope with minimum wage increase

By Bill Mooney | December 24th, 2013

TRENTON – The minimum wage hike does not kick in for another few days, but both sides in the debate are still weighing in with opinions about the consequences.

Maybe a year from now pundits will be able to look back and make clear-eyed assessments of how it played out. But for now, both sides are convinced of their respective points of view.

The folks at N.J. Policy Perspective, who admittedly take a more liberal view of such matters, believe that the boost from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour – with a cost of living provision constitutionally mandated – will help New Jersey’s economy in the long run.

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Accounts of Petty Retribution Reinforce Christie’s Bullying Image

The New York Times

 

In 2010, John F. McKeon, a New Jersey assemblyman, made what he thought was a mild comment on a radio program: Some of the public employees that Gov. Chris Christie was then vilifying had been some of the governor’s biggest supporters.

He was surprised to receive a handwritten note from Mr. Christie, telling him he had heard the comments, and that he didn’t like them.

“I thought it was a joke,” Mr. McKeon recalled. “What governor would take the time to write a personal note over a relatively innocuous comment?”

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The Politics of Bridge-gate: Christie Fires Back

Mark J. Magyar | December 20, 2013

NJSpotlight

 

For Gov. Chris Christie, as always, the best defense is the attack.

Facing the first real political scandal of his administration, Christie yesterday lashed out at the press and Democratic critics, dismissed the secret lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that snarled traffic in Fort Lee as inconsequential, and stood up for his political appointees who were forced to resign their high-paying Port Authority posts in the wake of Bridge-gate.

“I know you guys are obsessed with this,” Christie chided the assembled press corps at a Statehouse news conference. “I’m really not, it’s not that big of a deal. Just because the press runs around and writes about it both here and nationally, I know why that is and so do you, so let’s not pretend that it’s because of the gravity of the issue. It’s because I am a national figure.”

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Jeffries campaign sets up Newark ward HQs

By Mark Bonamo | December 21st, 2013

 

NEWARK - Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries officially opened up campaign headquarters throughout Brick City on Saturday, trying to transform significant campaign resources into street organizational ability.

"We're going to be engaged in aggressive, intelligence-based community policing," said Jeffries, the former state Assistant Attorney General, to a crowd of nearly 75 people gathered outside of his new West Ward headquarters on Sanford Avenue in the city's Vailsburg neighborhood. "We need to re-invest in more officers, and we need our officers to have a more organic relationship with our communities. We need to be walking these neighborhoods, knowing the clergy, knowing the community leaders, knowing the parents, and knowing the residents so we can really identify those folks who are up to no good in our community. And then we're going to target those people." 

Jeffries was clearly talking about public safely, a highly relevant topic in New Jersey's largest city. But Jeffries could have equally been talking about his need to target relevant voters as he seeks the mayor's seat.

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Christie Agrees to In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants

The New York Times

The New Jersey Legislature approved legislation on Thursday that would allow students without legal immigration status to pay in-state college tuition. Gov. Chris Christie planned to sign it on Friday, a spokesman said.

The bill’s passage was assured after Mr. Christie, a Republican, struck a deal with Democratic lawmakers, who agreed to a demand of his that they change the bill to remove a provision allowing undocumented immigrants access to state financial aid programs.

“This is what compromise looks like,” the governor said at a news conference in Trenton after the accord was revealed.

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