Newark and the paltry poultry show

There is a fowl stench emanating from the local media’s coverage of the Newark Mayoral race. There are no shortages of substantive issues that Newark’s next mayor must tackle, not the least among them are crime, joblessness, affordable housing, substandard schools and a sinkhole of a city budget. The next mayor, whoever he turns out to be, must be a deft politician, an efficient and nimble administrator, a decisive leader… and, if you go by the local news outlets, an adroit food handler.

In Newark, and many of America’s decaying urban centers, crime, poverty and unemployment are sideshows and the local politicians are smooth talking carnival barkers. They’re not expected to solve problems, but rather, interact with them – use them as props and photo ops.

In the past few weeks, the political scuttlebutt has been that the Anibal Ramos campaign is faltering. The ubiquitous, “they” have whispered that the man aspiring to become Newark’s first Latino mayor is long on cash and short on leadership. His opponents say that he lacks the charisma and intestinal fortitude to lead Brick City. In the face of whispers and innuendos and even outright assertions, the inquiring minds of the Newark mediarazzi want to know… how many turkey’s each candidate has given away this November. 

I can’t help but feel like the reply to questions about the issues that affect New Jersey’s largest city is a middle finger with a fresh turkey giblet on top. 

“If you feed ‘em, you can lead ‘em.” That’s the mantra of urban politics. And it’s a cynical axiom that seemingly carries weight with the opinion makers of the city. The campaigns of all of the candidates have received calls of inquiry from the press asking that most pertinent of questions: “How many turkeys have you given away this holiday season?” That became the leading question on the docket after Ramos, Newark’s North Ward councilman, sent out a press release announcing that he had given away 4000 turkeys to potential voters and their families.

Who knows, maybe that is the most pertinent question of the campaign. After all, in a politickernj.com story (http://www.politickernj.com/69818/poultry-politics-ramos-talks-tough-turkey-newark), Kevin Brown, a 50-year-old resident and employee of the Newark Housing Authority said, “You'll have some people who eat the turkey and vote for somebody else, but I was always taught, you stick with the one who's feeding you."

Ramos may have some valid ideas on how to address Newark’s myriad issues; he also may have a great explanation as to why he didn’t attend two mayoral debates. But, he wasn’t asked those questions even though in that same article, it was noted that:

“The long lines of residents outside of Ramos' campaign headquarters in the Central and South Wards seeking free turkeys were a testament to Newark's endemic poverty, underscored by the city's 14 percent unemployment rate.”

I don’t recall reporters ever asking candidates in Montclair, Scotch Plains, Roselle or West Orange how many of their poor, out-of-work constituents copped free poultry during their mayoral contests.

However, In Newark, the fowl’s the thing. As far as the media is concerned, issues are merely the backdrop to some inane political theater and the residents are nothing more than jive turkeys who aren’t engaged enough to see when the whole process is flipping them the bird.

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commented 2013-11-25 09:34:02 -0800
Shavar Jefferies Embellishments? Fabrications? or Cory and T-Bone Story? Many Questions: Why would someone claimed to have been an ASSISTANT State Attorney General, when they were in fact; merely the COUNSEL to the State Attorney General Ann Milgram? According to the OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL WEBSITE: The COUNSEL to the State Attorney General is an ADVISORY POSITION; and is not clear as to whether it is an actual LAW ENFORCEMENT POSITION (i.e. with a fire arm and a badge etc.). According to Newark Mayoral candidate Shavar Jefferies Website , he claims to have held both position as COUNSEL and as an ASSISTANT Attorney General. However, on the state’s website , I can’t seem to find any reference to him ever being an ASSISTANT Attorney General as he has so often claimed; I only can find reference to him being COUNSEL to the Attorney General. Does being a COUNSEL to the Attorney General mean the exact same thing as being an ASSISTANT Attorney General? WELL IF IT DOES? Why would Shavar Jefferies list both positions, as if they were separate job positions on his website? Could someone please explain to me the difference: whether he was the COUNSEL, the ASSISTANT or both. IF BOTH, THEN WHEN? Otherwise, I have no choice but to believe that this is some sort of fabrication or at the very least an embellishment on Mr. Jefferies Part? Eric Adams