Chicago, NJ

The Newark Star Ledger has a piece on Chicago’s debut at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. The review is mostly positive, though its frequent asides on cheaper ticket prices and occasional production eccentricities might be a subtle cue to wait for something more interesting at NJPAC.
Tickets are available directly from NJPAC, and they’ve got their own publication about the show at their site.


Reactions to the reality of a new mayor in Newark are setting in around the web. Newark Confidential sees Deputy Mayor Ronald Rice’s strategy for this election as too little, too late, and too dated. Even if Rice comes up with a message that actually has wide appeal among Newarkers, how’s he going to come up with the cash and the time to get it public?
The Newark Star Ledger notes that Booker’s campaign headquarters is practically bubbling over with excitment at the news of James’ drop-out, though Booker himself is staying focused:

“There are still 42 days left,” he said. “Elections in Newark have to be earned.” … One man shook Booker’s hand and congratulated him. Booker shot him a stern look and said, “May 9 is when you congratulate me.”

Meanwhile, the Star Ledger also reports that a lot of city employees — whose positions are the direct result of James appointments over his previous five terms — are concerned about their jobs. Booker again:

“We have a city hall with good people, but the institution itself is not working to serve the people,” Booker told a group of residents earlier this month. “If you call City Hall, you might not get an answer. We’re going to transfer City Hall. We’re going to create a professional institution.”

The New York Times is also reporting on the anxiety city workers are experiencing. I would certainly expect a city-wide shakeup over the course of the next four years, and it’s interesting to wonder where Booker will start his regime change. I don’t think most city employees should be concerned about their jobs — but maybe their managers should. It would certainly be nice to have somebody pick up the phone when I’m reporting a broken stoplight on McCarter Highway.

Damien & Josh: What Existential Crisis?

New York Times Newark06 Blog: Onward to Plan B.

Well, don’t expect to see us wearing black berets and scribbling treatises in our moleskine notebooks at the local cafe. A desperately poor, vibrant and fascinating city is on the verge of its first leadership change in a generation, and that deserves our full attention.

I agree: Newark is on the verge of a lot of change. Some of the interesting discussion will be around how this election shakes out. Will Rice prove as a strong contender? Will Booker be able to get his council installed?

But, I think there’s a lot more to be said about what happens to the city once the new leaders are in place. What changes to city hall can we expect after the election? How will the new mayor’s approach to governing the city immediately affect its citizens? Will the new mayor’s presence continue to draw interest in in living, working and studying in Newark? Or, will the changes be perceived as higher risk for the city? How will the new arena and other development be affected?

With all of these questions on the table, I’m more curious about what the Times will do with their blog experiment after the election. 🙂

James is Out

Citing concerns about holding a “dual office” (that of mayor and state senator), Mayor James has told The Star Ledger that he’s out of the race. Things have gotten interesting, indeed.
Update: The New York Times Newark 2006 blog has a bit more detail about James’ announcement today.

Update II: And, Wonkette pretty much hits the nail on the head:

Here are some consequences of James’s withdrawal from the race:

  • Cory Booker has raised millions of dollars from a gaggle of celebrity supporters, for no apparent reason.
  • The New York Times’ Newark 06 blog is plunged into a state of existential crisis.
  • DVD sales prospects for the Oscar-nominated Street Fight have dimmed considerably.
  • Booker can now blog his heart out at the Huffington Post, without worrying that said “blogging” will cause him to be tagged as an effete, rich white boy.

Still Maybe

The update from this weeks’ mayoral campaign news is that Sharpe James may or may not run in the May 9 election. Haven’t we been through this already? Either way, do we really care anymore? At this point, James has two options.
In one scenario, he will drop out of the race and Booker will sweep the vote against the city’s other minor contenders. In the other, James will slap together a ramshackle 5-week-long campaign in which he will spend most of his energy fending off a reputation as a flip-flopper who has lost his vision for the city.

Wally Edge notes that Booker is still willing to bring James supporters to his team. Damien Cave points out that the ballot deadline is 4:30 PM this evening.

Hard Realities of the City

While the upcoming Newark elections continue to make headlines, the difficult realities of the city continue to haunt its citizens.
ABC News: Deadly gunfire erupts in Newark. Two shootings in Newark—one in a neighborhood involving a family and another as part of an apparent convenience store robbery. It’s these very things that bring about the critical need for real debate about the future of our city.

Newark has to move beyond Sharpe James

Wow. In the last week, the amount of Newark stories in my newsreader has quadrupled, with blogs coming online almost daily to speculate on the outcome of our mayoral election in May. I’ve updated the links in the sidebar in case you want to check them out. There’s been a lot to blog, so I’ll just tick through these stories to try to get caught up to today.
Newark Star Ledger: Payne Jr. quits James’ slate in council race. A major player in James’ ticket strikes out on his own. His reason? Even he’s not convinced that James is really running for mayor. Love this quote:

“We are witnessing the unraveling of the James political machinery,” said Walter Fields, a political consultant and former state political director for the New Jersey NAACP. “We are seeing the fragmenting of the alliance he’s been able to hold intact for so long.”

It’s a common theme now: James’ antics is doing more to hurt the city than it is to help his career.

“We should be having a rigorous debate about Newark’s future and what will the Newark of the 21st century look like,” he said. “If he does not want to seek another term, he should come to that determination quickly. Newark has to move beyond Sharpe James.”

Meanwhile, Booker has taken the endorsement of the Newark Firefighter’s Union—not a surprise given he also got the endorsement in 2002. The New York Times bloggers were there, and detailed the pseudo-debate. Nice to know it’s happening among the serious contenders.

The Battle for Newark blog has a good recap of the events so far and notes that the candidates will be meeting up at city hall for a ballot draw. There’s been some murmuring that this is one of the milestones where James could drop out of the race—we’ll see at 11.

Newark Politics in the Blogosphere

Newark political news is making the rounds over the last couple of days with Mayor James’ splash into the mayoral campaign. Wally Edge of Inside Edge wonders if James is really, really running this time around, or if he might still just flake out of the race. His observation about Booker’s campaign strategy is sound:

Booker’s strategy over the last four years was similar to the one used by Rudy Giuliani after losing the 1989 race for New York City Mayor. Giuliani never stopped campaigning, won over key backers of his old rival, and by the time he ran again in 1993 his campaign was more of a coronation.

Booker doesn’t need to get into a battle of wits and rhetoric with James. His record just speaks for itself. The Newark Star Ledger would seem to confirm Edge’s suspicions about James’ true intent with this race, by noting:

Even though James filed petitions, its unclear how much of a campaign he will mount. James has no signs, no campaign headquarters or literature. He can still withdraw his name before the March 24 ballot position drawing and could pull out as late as April 26 and have his name locked out of the voting machines.

A fellow Ironbounder sent me a link the other day to the New York Times Newark 2006 blog. Thanks again, Peter. Whatever the outcome of this race, I think this is a bit of confirmation that people want to tell and hear the story of this city around the web. That, and Mayor James antics certainly make for good blog fodder. They checked with third mayoral hopeful, Ron Rice, for an opinion on James quasi-commitment to run. His take:

“With Sharpe, you can never tell what he’s going to do,” Mr. Rice said about the commotion on the third floor. “What it means is that the mayor has not made a decision yet.”

Whether the outcome of the race is another street fight or a coronation, these next few weeks should prove interesting.