Published on December 16th, 20120
Promise vs. Reality in Newark on Mayor’s Watch
Kate Zernike’s latest article in the New York Times holds no punches as she describes the faltering perception of many Newark residents under Cory Booker’s leadership.
A Stanford- and Yale-educated son of the suburbs, Mr. Booker arrived to suspicion when he moved into the Newark projects and made his unsuccessful first run for mayor. Lately, though, criticism has come even from those he won over: people working on the education projects he supports, council members who ran on his reform slate, business leaders and families who believed in his promise to bring “a renaissance for the rest of us” to a city plagued by self-dealing and mismanagement.
They say Mr. Booker’s frequent Twitter posts to his 1.3 million followers, his appearances on television and at gatherings of moguls and celebrities — he was out of town nearly a quarter of the time between January 2011 and June 2012, according to The Star-Ledger — have distracted him from the local trench work needed to push his agenda. Business leaders say he dazzles at news conferences, but flags on the follow-through. Residents have wearied of the outside fascination for the mayor whom Oprah Winfrey called “a rock star” and Jon Stewart on Wednesday referred to as “the superhero mayor of Newark.”
Taxes have risen more than 20 percent over the past three years, even after the city laid off about 1,100 workers, including more than 160 police officers. Crime has risen, and unemployment is up. Schools remain under state control, and the city’s finances remain so troubled that it cannot borrow to fix its antiquated water system. While new restaurants have risen near the Prudential Center downtown, those in the outer wards were placed under a curfew this year because of shootings and drug dealing.
Source: The New York Times. Read full article. (link)