courtesy Rahim on the Docks
Newark mayor Cory Booker couldn’t wait a week. NJ Governor Jon Corzine was just voted out in an widely-reported odd-year race that was more about suburban control of the state than about taxes, Wall Street, corruption, or any of the issues that Republican challenger “Krispy Kreme” Christy pushed.
The media-hungry mayor hastened to disassociate himself from the fellow Democrat that he had supposedly been supporting–and also to throw his own hat into the ring for the next gubernatorial race. This is pretty clear evidence that he’s going to spend the next four years running instead of governing.
Cory “Hollywood” Booker has a lot of incentive to run for state-wide office. Not least is the fact that he’s reduced nearly all his bridges in Newark to smoking wrecks. He lies–repeatedly and blatantly–at every public appearance.
At this year’s Labor Day March in Newark, he represented himself as a “friend of labor” at the rally to the very unions he’s attempted to bust (while trying to upstage US Congressman Donald Payne–an actual “friend of labor”–who was the parade’s Grand Marshall). His most repeated claim is to be pro-education as he destroys city public schools in favor of charter schools owned by political contributors. He professes to support citizens against greedy and corrupt businesses, while turning off tenants’ water because their landlords had unpaid water-bills and taxes (see The Community Fights “Hollywood” Booker Over Right to Water… Newark Wins!).
And all the while, Cory Booker maintains that, as mayor, he has reduced street-crime.
This is, perhaps, the biggest lie of them all. Anyone who actually lives in Newark has witnessed the ever-increasing levels of street-violence. Booker has allowed his Giuliani-esque police force to run amok in the neighborhoods. The sharpest single example of the anti-community policies carried out by Police Director Gary McCarthy, an NYC transplant, is the police murder this past May of Bashire Farrell. Farrell was beaten to death by Newark police while in handcuffs.
Defenders of McCarthy’s police policies insist that neighborhood residents who’d witnessed the beat-down “had to be lying” because they claimed that the cops used tasers. “Stun guns are not standard issue in Newark.” As though they are not for sale to anyone with a badge at cop shops down on Williams Street or anywhere in the state.
Last Saturday saw a rain-soaked march to the 5th Precinct on Bigelow Street, called by Mr. Farrell’s aunt, Sharonda Smalls. It was far broader than simply a demand for justice for her nephew. Ms. Smalls reached out to families of other victims of police brutality, as well as the People’s Organization for Progress (of which she is a member) and other community-based groups.
“We’re all family,” Ms. Smalls said. “The moment you hear the horrifying news about a loved one, you become a member of my family.” She went on to talk about the many neighborhood residents who’ve suffered at the hand of the local police. But Smalls also broadened the issue beyond the precinct and even Newark, when she expanded the battle by talking about Amar McLean who was handcuffed and then “shot in the back, execution-style” by deputies of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.
“The 5th Precinct has a reputation for arrested suspects never making it to the station house,” Lawrence Hamm, POP’s chairman said. “This has got to stop! This is Newark, 2009 — not Montgomery in the 1950s.”
“We need to hold elected officials accountable for what happens on their watch,” New Black Panther Party spokesman Zayid Muhammad said. “And if Cory Booker can be reelected after this, the shame is on us!”
The broader lesson is very clear. Cory “Hollywood” Booker is interested in Newark as a stepping-stone to state-wide or even national office, and that’s all. His “tough love” policies are designed to polish his image at the expense of Newark residents. Because he’s young, photogenic and well-spoken, folks like Oprah Winfrey have taken to him and are promoting him as a kind of “America’s Mayor,” Rudy Giulani-style.
And we can’t forget the other thing besides name recognition that campaign for high office in this country requires. Money. Lots of money. And Cory Booker has the closest thing you can get to a public money-laundering scheme without winding up in jail. Here’s how it works: well-meaning out-of-towners, following Oprah’s example, donate money to help provide better schools for Newark. Booker takes their money and directs it to privately-owned, for-profit charter schools owned by campaign contributors. These folks turn around and make fat contributions to Booker’s electoral war-chest.
It is our responsibility in Newark to stop Cory “Hollywood” Booker’s climb to power–on our backs–right here and now. We have to expose his money-laundering schemes and the policies he promotes because they look good to well-meaning NJ suburbanites. And we have to fight for our own needs and interests, because he sure won’t be doing it.
Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain, where there are some nifty pix of POP in action.