Ex-Christie Aides Seek Immunity in Deal for Bridge Scandal Documents

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Newark's Payne-Baraka feud: a "bloodletting" is to come, sources say

By Mark Bonamo | March 21st, 2014


 the sidelines of the Tuesday press conference where U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-10) endorsed Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries was a striking visual. 

Amiri "Middy" Baraka Jr., the namesake of his famed poet father as well as Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka's brother and campaign manager, stood just in view of Payne Jr., the namesake to his own Newark power family dynasty. Baraka Jr. wore the 1930s-style cloth cap favored by many in the Baraka camp. He also wore a steely, staring expression directed unblinkingly at Payne, who wore a red-white-and-blue gingham bow tie. 

This sideline tension between the two prominent families who have dominated the politics and culture of Newark's South Ward for decades will soon hit center stage. 

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Newark ballot positions are set for May election

By David Giambusso/The Star-Ledger
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on March 19, 2014

The City Clerk's Office conducted a ballot drawing for Newark's 2014 election


NEWARK — The signatures are in, the wrangling is over and the ballots are set for Newark's citywide, May 13 election.

A total of 50 candidates will run to lead Newark in its post-Cory Booker era. Today, City Clerk Robert Marasco and Deputy Clerk Kenneth Louis conducted the drawings to determine where the candidates will appear on the ballot.

The breakdown of each office, candidate and ballot position is below. The two mayoral candidates, Ras Baraka and Shavar Jeffries, each have a slate of eight council candidates running with them. The slates are indicated in parentheses. Incumbents are indicated with an asterisk.

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In Newark's Central Ward council race, Arce stands alone, looks to Latino vote

By Mark Bonamo | March 19th, 2014


NEWARK - Miguel Arce sat in the basement of a Summer Avenue house in Newark's Central Ward, a place that could only be described as a campaign war room. 

The concrete walls are festooned with Newark ward maps, breaking down districts for better targeting. One Central Ward map is color coded in a way that underscores an underlying demographic tension in this critical ward of approximately 57,000 residents: black, Latino and mixed. 

Under a naked light bulb, Arce, 44, who is running as an independent candidate for Cental Ward councilman, said what he sees when he emerges from his bunker into the street.

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Seeking showdown with Booker, U.S. Senate hopeful Sabrin prompts Lonegan comparisons

By Max Pizarro | March 18th, 2014


Murray Sabrin’s early aggressive offensive game against U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has insiders already anticipating a reenactment of 2013 if Sabrin wins the GOP Primary, with the flame-throwing libertarian playing the role of fearless kitchen sink gunslinger that Steve Lonegan fulfilled last year in an establishment Republican vacuum.  

“A dereliction of duty” is how the Ramapo College Finance professor describes Booker’s freshman year in the U.S. Senate since vanquishing Lonegan in last year’s special election.

“Cory Booker is a nice, smooth talking individual whose command of the issues sounds like syrup being poured,” Sabrin told PolitickerNJ as he heads into tomorrow’s Ocean County GOP Convention looking to make a statement in a field that also includes former U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Bell, former FBI agent Robert Turkevage, and businessmen Brian Goldberg and Rich Pezzullo.

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How Cities Change

By David Brooks

Op-Ed Columnist

The New York Times

March 17, 2014

Shavar Jeffries was born in Newark in 1975, the son of a 19-year-old mother who was unprepared to take care of him. He spent the first nine years of his life shuttling between different relatives. Then his mother came back into his life and moved him to California.

Shortly after they moved to Los Angeles, there was a problem with the lock to their apartment door. Jeffries’ mom called the locksmith and soon began a relationship with him. One evening the locksmith was looking over her phone bill and found a number he didn’t like. He smacked her in the head and sent her hurtling across the room. The beatings continued from then on.

Once his mother picked up Jeffries from Little League wearing big sunglasses, her eyes blackened underneath. Another day she tried to bar the locksmith from their apartment, but he kicked through the door. She moved to Burbank and got restraining orders, but on Nov. 25, 1985, the locksmith stalked her workplace and killed her with a sawed-off shotgun.

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Newark mayor's race: Payne endorsement boosts Jeffries' local legitimacy, while Baraka-Payne feud fueled

By Mark Bonamo | March 18th, 2014


NEWARK - The Newark mayoral race took what could be a decisive turn on Tuesday when U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-10) endorsed former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries in the Newark mayoral race. 

"After months of consideration, discussions and thinking about the future of the city of Newark, I'm here today to endorse Shavar Jeffries for Mayor," said Payne Jr. "Being born and raised in the City of Newark, I have to follow my conscience. This is not about politics. This is about what I think is best for the City of Newark at this time. As a former city council member, council president, Essex County freeholder and now a member of Congress, I have a deep understanding of what kind of leader Newark needs and its residents deserve."

Payne expounded on Jeffries' deep roots in Newark, including his family's five generations living in the city, as well the tragedy of the murder of Jeffries' mother when he was a boy. He also lauded Jeffries' law enforcement work with the state Attorney General's office, overseeing a team that produced a 26 percent reduction in recidivism of ex-offenders, as well as his work as a member of Newark's School Advisory Board.

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Baraka's new Newark order

By Mark Bonamo | March 17th, 2014


NEWARK - Ras Baraka's speeches in the 2014 Newark mayoral race can sound incendiary at times, giving off a kind of heat that is strangely familiar. 

"We love Newark, and we believe in Newark, and we're not going to let anybody from the outside take your city," Baraka said earlier this month to a crowd of more than 300 people screaming their support. "We're not going to let them take our city! We're not going to let them have it! No! They can't have it!" 

Baraka's revolutionary rhetoric is similar to that used by his father, the famed, late poet Amiri Baraka, in 1967. In that year, Newark was forever changed by a riot, or a rebellion, depending on your point of view. 

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Newark 2014: The Game beyond the Game

By Max Pizarro | March 17th, 2014


Mark Bonamo’s piece today posits the possibility of anti-establishment candidate Ras Baraka winning the Newark Mayor’s race, and underscores what would be Baraka’s – or anyone’s - challenge in governing the crime-ridden, financially caved-in city.

But, in the event that he wins, what would a Baraka political universe look like if he and the county and state powers – including powerful Executive Joe DiVincenzo and his allies in Trenton – fail to forge a mode of good governance?

Newark is in such disrepair, Baraka will have to work with the county and governor’s office just to keep from plunging Newark into deeper ruin, Bonamo reports.

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Teachers, Administrators Give Mixed Reviews to New Evaluations after Test Run

John Mooney | March 18, 2014



For all the debate going on outside classroom walls, New Jersey schoolteachers who actually have been through the new state-mandated evaluation system have not found it to be as nerve-wracking as everyone thinks.

In a survey conducted by a team of Rutgers researchers, teachers and administrators who took part in the two-year pilot rollout of the evaluation system had mixed reactions to the new rules and the potential consequences for their careers.

On one hand, there was a wide range of opinion regarding whether the system was entirely fair and accurate, with administrators expressing much more faith than teachers -- by a more than 2-to-1 margin.

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