Booker attempts to woo new-look Nets

Booker attempts to woo new-look Nets
After some initial jousting, it appears that Mayor Booker is getting more aggressive about keeping the New Jersey Nets in the garden state — and bringing some more nightlife to downtown Newark.

“I’m going to work very hard to make it happen,” Booker says. If the deal were to go through, the team would play at the Prudential Center, the newly built Devils’ home arena. Both teams played at the Izod Center, the former Continental Arena, in East Rutherford, N.J., before the Devils moved to the new facility in Newark last season.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a fight,” Mr. Booker said. “I think it’s going to be settled in an amicable way.”

He sees the Nets as a centerpiece to the continued revitalization of the city.

“The Nets were made for Newark,” he said. “It’s the comeback city. And I think the Nets will be the comeback team in the NBA, and they should do it here.”

We would love to see the Nets play in downtown Newark. It seems that it would be win-win for just about everyone. Except for maybe Ratner’s pride.

Bicycles, Trains, and Children

Early Saturday morning, my 11-year-old son and I rode our bicycles in the middle of Market Street, once the most automobile-congested street in the country. Of course, we could not do it without over a hundred fellow Newarkers, who joined the Brick City Bike Tour.

“That’s how it feels in a city without cars,” my son exclaimed. Most riders in the tour must have also shared this pleasure, in addition to another two overwhelming feelings.

Continue reading “Bicycles, Trains, and Children”

Newark superintendent boasts urban experience

Newark superintendent boasts urban experience

Arriving in a city with its own brand of bare-knuckle politics, Janey said he has no illusions. He’s heard rumors Mayor Cory Booker, a close friend of Fenty’s, wasn’t his biggest booster.

“Maybe that’s juicy speculation, but, frankly, we are going to have to do things together for the betterment of Newark,” he said. “Even if that’s true, it doesn’t matter now. We’re in the same boat.”

You Talkin’ to Me? Newark Taxis to Get Much Needed Upgrades

Newark taxis on the road to an upgrade

“Cabbies are the city’s ambassadors. They are the first people to greet people getting off the airplane or coming out of the train station,” said Sgt. Hector Corchado, head of Newark’s taxi division. “The ultimate goal is to satisfy the customer, and we have to do that by professionalizing the service we offer.”

The commission also wants a uniform graphic design for the city’s mishmash of yellow cabs, and by 2012, it wants most of its fleet to be composed of fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles. The makeover also includes making sure drivers have insurance. Hundreds were driving with expired insurance previously because no one was checking, Corchado said.

“There was a lack of accountability,” Corchado said.

My wife’s reply when I read the above quote, “They can start by running the meters.” Our experiences with Newark cabbies have always been weird, if not outright sketchy.

The most awful of them was coming back from a Broadway show with friends three years ago. It was late, and a homeless man held open the cab door for us outside of Penn Station. When he asked for a tip, I refused and he threatened to meet me in a dark alley with a baseball bat before slamming the door. The cabbie wanted to charge us $15 to go ten blocks, which we were able to negotiate down, but were treated to a meandering ride through the Ironbound — without the meter running, of course. It was an embarrassing and disheartening nightmare.

Since then, things have been markedly better — I haven’t had my life threatened again — but I’ve still found the occasional cabbie who can’t find his way to Broad Street Station from Penn Station (no tip for that one), or charges random rates for the same trip. It’s an open secret that the Gold Lincoln drivers on the Ironbound side of the station tend to be more reasonable and sane if you don’t mind practicing your Spanish.

The GPS is also an important feature for a job that can sometimes be very dangerous. Newark cab drivers have been the victims of numerous violent crimes, some of which have been fatal. Being able to pinpoint a location once they hit the panic button will be an important way to deter these sorts of crimes.

All that to say, I welcome the changes and am looking forward to climbing into one for a quick ride across the city without fearing for getting cheated or worse.

Continue reading “You Talkin’ to Me? Newark Taxis to Get Much Needed Upgrades”

Departing Newark school chief always put kids first

Departing Newark school chief always put kids first
The Ledger considers the legacy that Newark schools superintendent Marion Bolden will leave after her departure from the post later this year.

She also is proud of the district’s graduation rate, and decries critics who challenge its legitimacy. Nearly 52 percent of high school students received diplomas in 1999. That number jumped to nearly 80 percent during Bolden’s tenure.

She is the first to admit students are graduating with low grade-point averages, but the fact they remain in school is positive, she said. Unless the state changes graduation requirements, she said, students should not be stigmatized if they don’t pass the HSPA and need the SRA to get a diploma.

“I don’t want kids to be pushed through. Kids who need remediation after graduation, that’s a problem,” Bolden said. “But it’s still better than kids who were dropping out in 7th and 8th grade. You want them to graduate because it affords them an opportunity even if they need remedial classes.”

Mentor Recalled as an Award Is Given

Mentor Recalled as an Award Is Given

Mr. Stone, a dynamic educational presence who was revered at Weequahic and credited with turning the school around, died of a heart attack on Nov. 4, a Sunday; he had celebrated his 57th birthday the day before. Ms. Prophete spoke about her mentor when she accepted a medal and $500 award last week from Pathways to College, an organization based in Englewood that helps college-bound minority students.

Suspect in shooting death of Newark grad turns herself in

Suspect in shooting death of Newark grad turns herself in

Tonight, Guyette, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, showed up at the Christran Love Baptist Church in Irvington and said she wanted to turn herself in, according to Rev. Ron Christian.

“She was crying and expressed a great sense of remorse,” Christian said.

An even playing field for Newark

“An even playing field for Newark”:

A new $24 million sports complex will be built to replace the crumbling and partially condemned Schools Stadium, which has sat along Bloomfield Avenue since the early 1900s. Two baseball/softball fields, concession stands, locker rooms, and a football/soccer turf field will be built.

The project will be paid for with money from a $64 million bond, which was first approved by the Newark City Council in 2006. Thus far the bond has paid for recreational improvements at a number of city schools. The sports complex should be completed by early 2010.

Newark man is shot in South Ward

Newark man is shot in South Ward
Man receives a non-fatal wound from an assailant after a woman jumps into his car. Sounds like some date.

McClendon said the victim reported that he was on Seymour Avenue meeting a female friend when he saw her running towards his vehicle and then jumped in.”

A male then came and attempted to shoot the female, but hit him instead,” the spokesman said.

The bullet struck his arm and exited into his side. He drove himself to the hospital, McClendon said.

Two teenage girls are shot, one fatally, at Newark graduation party

Two teenage girls are shot, one fatally, at Newark graduation party

One teenage girl was killed and another was injured by a single bullet fired early today during a fight at a graduation party in Newark, authorities said.

Sujeiti Ocasio, 18, was shot through neck during the dispute outside a house in the North Ward at about 12:15 a.m., authorities said. The bullet continued, striking the second victim — an unidentified 15-year-old — in the chest.

The search continues for the shooter, who remains at large.

“It was so shocking and surprising, because I know what kind of young lady she was,” Ruiz said, wiping her eyes. “She had aspirations, she wanted her life to be something and I can’t believe this happened to her.”

Alicea said Ocasio was born in Newark and lived on Mount Prospect Avenue for most of her life. Two years ago, she moved to an apartment on Lincoln Avenue, a tree-lined, residential street dominated by Puerto Rican families. The first in her family to graduate from high school, according to Alicea, Ocasio was a tough and serious-minded person who lavished attention on her family, friends and boyfriend of a year.