Share the love: Newark council says mayor should have told them about Valentine's Day $1,000 lot sale

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on February 10, 2015

Newark city council members questioned today Newark Mayor Ras Baraka's administration about the city's new program to sell vacant lots to couple on Valentines Day.

 

NEWARK — It's not that Newark's city council was opposed to the city's new program to sell vacant lots to couples on Valentine's Day.

They just wanted to know about it.

Some city council members unleashed fierce criticism today of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka's administration for not consulting them about the details of the city's new effort to sell 100 lots at $1,000 each to any couple who is willing to build and live in a home on the land before announcing it the public.

Any land sale would have to be approved by the city council.

During a special meeting of the city council today, Newark legislators questioned Economic Development Director Baye Adofo-Wilson for more details on the program and why they didn't know about it sooner.

Adofo-Wilson said the council members' chiefs of staff were sent emails, but that didn't reassure the council.

"My door on my office does not have my staff members' names. It has my name," said at-large councilman Luis Quintana. "There should have been an emergency meeting."

East Ward councilman Augusto Amador echoed similar sentiments.

"I suggest that when the time comes for the city council to vote for it you contact the chiefs of staff" to vote for it, he said. "I will not be here."

Adofo-Wilson said the lots being put up for sale were deemed challenging to sell and represent a small share of the all the properties in the city's possession.

But it wasn't long before Baraka popped into the meeting himself to address the council. The mayor said not voting for the land sales because the council was not informed of the program beforehand was "petty and immature."

Baraka continued to say that the council should been made aware of the program but said sometimes his administration will have to move quickly to respond to opportunities without telling the council.

"Sometimes it's better to ask for your forgiveness than your permission," he said.

Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins said the council was committed to doing what's best for the city under the Baraka administration but council members need to be kept informed.

"What we're asking for is respect," she said. "The votes have indicated that politics have long been put aside. Now what needs to happen is communication."

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