Flickr Friday: Ariel View of Newark

Today’s Flickr Friday photo comes from Flickr user paytonc, who blogs at West North. This photo has a number of notes on it to indicate places of interest, like Newark Penn Station and Branch Brook Park. Click the photo to get to the Flickr page and hold your mouse cursor over the photo to see the notes.

For more of an, ahem, overview of Newark, check out its Wikipedia page. 😉

Booker’s Swanky Fundraiser on Saturday

Newark Star Ledger: A mighty splashy Saturday for Newark.
The Star Ledger has an critical opinion piece on Cory’s Inaugural Ball on Saturday. Apparently, you can’t attend the main event unless you’re making some sweet moolah (or were a volunteer for the campaign). Anyone planning to go to the “FREE” events? 🙂

If Jon Corzine could get by charging $250 a ticket for his gubernatorial inauguration, does it matter that Newark’s mayor-elect Cory Booker is charging $500 and up for his inaugural ball this Saturday at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium?

On the one hand, Newark cannot keep thinking of itself as a two-dollar town. A city that wants to be prosperous must act the part, strike the pose that attracts swanky visitors. If the new mayor can do that, bring’em on! This town will soon have a hockey arena to fill.

Yet the median household income in Newark is just a bit over $500 a week. It’s a place where for years city employees bought tickets to pricey mayoral events convinced that they had to, in order to keep a job or get a promotion. A $500 ticket? That’s happened before.

The $30,000 price for a luxury box at Booker’s shindig? That’s a record.

On the one hand, I appreciate what Booker is doing here: he’s trying to bring in outside interest (read: investment) on day one of his administration. Given the possible impression he’s given that Newark isn’t interested in honoring previous commitments, this could be a good approach.

On the other, though, this does create a bifurcation in the city: those with money (and influence), and those without. The only folks attending that wouldn’t normally be able to afford tickets are the Booker faithful that were hanging banners and handing out flyers on Election Day.

I think, on the whole, Booker is critically aware that the city needs money. If he wields his fundraising powerhouse to start drawing cash in and directing it towards the needs of its citizens, then I’m all for it. But he could have done a better job with the PR.

For more discussion, check out the Newark Speaks topic.

Bill Cosby in Newark

Bill Cosby came back to Newark to discuss stemming the violence the city has experienced in the past six months. He essentially stuck to his script of criticizing disengaged parents and political leaders that have failed to attach the city’s problems effectively. 7Online and the Ledger have the story:
7Online: Bill Cosby discusses violence in Newark

Comedian Bill Cosby appearing in Newark on Tuesday night, but he was not there as entertainment.

Instead, he is speaking out about the alarming rate of violence in that community, especially among young people.

So far, 50 people have been murdered in Newark this year.

Live from the Ledger: Comedian Bill Cosby urges Newark to get serious

Cosby, 68, has been on a bit of a crusade lately, traveling the country to talk about many problems plaguing inner-city America, particularly poor and lower middle-class African-Americans. He has hosted “A Call Out with Bill Cosby” events in more than 20 cities, taking testimonials from residents on ways to curb violence, dropout rates, and teenage motherhood.

But tonight, Cosby came at the invitation of a city council committee examining Newark’s violence problem. He arrived two days after a string of shootings Sunday that left two people dead and 11 injured, illustrating the city’s rising rate of gun violence.

Cosby, who has visited the Newark area often, didn’t mention the shootings. The committee was taking testimony about youth violence and the underlying causes, and Cosby largely stuck to his usual script. He railed against parents who ignore their children, kids who learn English from gangsta rap and the failure of churches and city officials do anything about it.

Analysis: Arena Politics

The New York Sun: Newark Takes a Hard Lesson In the Pro Stadium Game.

It seems Newark Mayor-elect Cory Booker never did make it to those sports business management classes during his days as a Rhodes scholar or at Yale’s law school. It might have saved him some aggravation in dealing with major league sports owners.

Booker, who takes office on Saturday, is thinking about backing out of the agreement that outgoing Mayor Sharpe James cut with New Jersey Devils owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek to build a Newark arena for the hockey team. Why not welcome the Devils to Newark with open arms? Because James bought the city a major league franchise that won’t have the word Newark in its name or on its arena, and he did it for a questionable price.

Vanderbeek is putting up $100 million for the stadium, which will cost at least $300 million in total, but Booker isn’t sure that’s enough to relieve Newark of the financial burden that comes with building an arena for a private business. Booker is probably right that Newark has been saddled with a bad deal, but pulling the plug on the construction of a building that broke ground last fall sends a bad message to captains of industry like Vanderbeek: Newark simply doesn’t want their business.

Mompou Reviews Well

Newark Star Ledger: Tempting bite-size delicacies at Mompou. The Newark Star Ledger positively reviewed Mompou, the tapas & wine bar up on Ferry street in the Ironbound. I agree with them — my wife and I were there back in March, after they’d been open for about eight months, and had a great time.
The exposed brick and copper ceiling makes this restaurant look as though it was plucked from Chelsea or Tribeca. Mompou has prime real estate two blocks from Penn Station and, during the summer, Mompou opens its doors out to the sidewalk so patrons can enjoy the culture of nearby Iberia.

Find out more at their website: Mompou Tapas.

Mompou is a tapas and wine bar in Newark’s historic Ironbound district. Its distinctive atmosphere and superior Spanish cuisine make the eight-month-old storefront a standout.

The cosmopolitan spot is named for the Catalan composer Federico Mompou (1893-1987). French doors and amber-glass windows line the fa cade of the dining room that oc cupies the ground-floor of a renovated circa 1900 brick building. Exposed brick walls, wood and a suspended copper ceiling are awash in warm lighting. The room seats 55 at circular tables and a bar lit by a striking metal fixture of dangling incandescent light bulbs. A rear patio is ready for summer dining. A lower level is reserved for private parties.

Several Shootings on Sunday

Several shootings in the south and central wards of the city — one of them fatal — have been hitting the news outlets.
7Online: Can Newark’s streets be taken back?. Also with a 2-minute video of the report.

A violent night has become a busy day for police detectives in Newark. Authorities are investigating several shooting incidents that erupted last night only a few hours apart.
One of the victims was killed and eight others ended up in hospital emergency rooms.

It was a wild night on Newark’s south side. Police are still trying to figure out exactly what happened and why all these occurred a matter of blocks from one another in a matter of hours.

Roslyn Freeman, Victim’s Mother: “Something need to be done about this and whoever did this, I wish they’d turn themselves in for everybody that they doing it to.”

Live from the Ledger: 1 dead in six separate shootings in Newark.

Newark police this morning were continuing their investigation into a rash of shootings that left one dead and several critically injured yesterday.

From 7:30 to 11 last night, Newark police reported six shootings that claimed nine victims.

In some cases, police were kept busy pursuing at least two of the shooters in high-speed chases, and transporting another two victims in squad cars, said Lt. Derek Glenn, a police department spokesman.

New York Times: 1 Dead and 6 Hurt in 4 Newark Shootings

The violence began at 5:30 p.m., witnesses said, when three young men playing basketball on a court at Mapes Terrace and Huntington Terrace were gunned down in a drive-by shooting. One of the three was in critical condition early this morning.

James Williams, 13, said he saw four men wearing bandanas drive by in a black car with the 50 Cent song “I’m Going to Die Tonight” playing on the radio. He said that a man in the front passenger seat leaned out and fired seven or eight shots with a handgun, hitting three of the five youths who were playing basketball.

Officer Robbed in South Ward

Live from the Ledger: Off-duty female officer robbed at gunpoint in Newark
An off-duty female officer was robbed in the driveway of her home in the South Ward, but was not harmed. From the Star Ledger:

Detectives from the Newark Police Department are searching for a bandit who robbed an off-duty female city police officer at gunpoint around 2:45 p.m. today.

During the robbery, the suspect took the officer’s purse which contained her service weapon, her police identification card and other personal items. Authorities did not identify the officer, but she was not injured.

The incident started after the 44-year-old officer parked her car in the driveway of her Newark home.

Newark Construction Official Has License Revoked

Newark Star Ledger: Newark official stripped of license. If you’ve been thinking of buying up property in Newark on the verge of its resurgence, this article from the Star Ledger will likely give you pause, particularly the bit about how this official failed to inspect some essential facilities for new development in Newark. His lack of effectiveness allowed developers to put up housing using substandard lumber and construction techniques.

State officials have revoked the license of a former Newark construction official, charging that he profited from his position by getting a discounted price on a home he was inspecting.

The state Department of Community Affairs opened an investigation into Joseph Giordano, now an electric subcode official for the city, after The Star-Ledger detailed in October how he had issued a certificate of occupancy in 2000 for a three-family home four days after he bought it from a politically connected developer whose work he was inspecting.

In a June 9 order revoking his license, DCA Supervisor of Regulatory Affairs Louis Mraw said Giordano, who has worked for the city the past 16 years, paid $10,000 less than other buyers in the 11-unit development in the city’s Ironbound section. The money came in the form of a credit when Giordano and his wife closed on the $327,000 sale, Mraw said. The couple reaped a profit of more than $300,000 when they sold the Chestnut Street home last year, property records show.

Flickr Friday: Cherry Blossoms

Today’s gorgeous Flickr Friday photo comes from Flickr user drp, a graphic designer from Belleville, New Jersey — just north of the city. This photo was taken in Newark’s own Branch Brook Park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (who also designed New York’s Central Park). The park’s cherry trees rival Washington D.C. in variety and beauty.

Cherry Blossoms

More information about Branch Brook Park can be found on its Wikipedia page and the Branch Brook Park Alliance site. You can also view 9 other photos of the park in drp’s A Walk Through Cherry Blossom Land set on Flickr.

McCarter & English Considering Move from Newark

law.com: Could McCarter & English Be Moving out of Newark?. McCarter & English is a major law firm that, as was announced back in September, was planned to be a major tenant in a new riverfront development project planned at McCarter Highway and Raymond Boulevard. Delays in the project, though, have put M&E in the position of having to reconsider the move.

A builder’s delay has erased McCarter & English’s plan to move to a grandiose new office-residential complex on Newark, N.J.‘s waterfront in 2008 and is forcing the firm to weigh the drastic option of leaving the city.

Last September, the firm trumpeted plans to leave Gateway Center 4 near Newark’s Penn Station when its lease expires and move to larger quarters a block away in a 14-story tower planned by Matrix Development Group of Cranbury.

Now Matrix is saying the building will not be ready until 2010, requiring McCarter & English to negotiate for a lease extension with The Olnick Organization, the landlord at Gateway 4.