Interview: Diesel Siedel of United Initiatives for Peace

This weekend, Diesa Siedel’s organization, United Initiatives for Peace, will be hosting an open 3-on-3 girls basketball tournament called Scholars for Ballers to promote athletics and education. The tournament will take place Saturday at 10:00 AM at St. Peter’s Recreational Center on Lyons Ave (map below) and is open to the public. Girls interested in competing must be high-school students or 2008 graduates.
Players will be competing for scholarships and other prizes to be presented at the awards ceremony on Sunday. On the podcast, we discuss eligibility for competing in the tournament, what brought UIP to Newark for this event, and how a high school girl might potentially get a shot to challenge Mayor Booker to a little 1-on-1.

The podcast is about 15 minutes. Click the play button below to listen.


Adubato stepping down as Newark center head

Adubato stepping down as Newark center head
Adubato insists that the move is not intended to free up time for political maneuvering, but the timing is pretty provacative.

The mayoral elections are just around the corner for anyone interested in making a run at City Hall, and it will be interesting to see how the Audobato factor plays into the campaign.

“What it means now is I can concentrate on development. I’m involved with building a new institution that has to do with children with autism and other types of problems. Right now I’m burdened down with operations,” said Adubato, 75.

Adubato said the move is not designed to allow him to focus on politics. As head of the center, he also built a political machine powerful enough to oust incumbents and elevate neophytes.

“People see me as a politician and I am. I love politics. But the point is that I’m a community developer. Politics is part of what we do to accomplish our goal of serving the community,” Adubato said.

Newark schools chief says 30,000 elementary students will wear uniforms

Newark schools chief says 30,000 elementary students will wear uniforms
Promised as a part of a larger reform package, shiny new Newark schools Superintendent Clifford Janey will require 30k students to wear uniforms to class starting in the winter of 2009.

Some schools already require students wear uniforms so the new policy won’t come as a shock. After parents lobbied the Elliott Street School Principal Angel Juarbe to mandate uniforms, he implemented a policy in 2003.

“It unified the students, promoted pride, helped student resist peer pressure and saved parents money,” said Juarbe who is now an executive assistant to the superintendent. “That was the big thing, parents could buy one or two uniforms and it was much less expensive than an entire back to school wardrobe.”

The Ironbound Through My Father’s Eyes

The Ironbound Through My Father’s Eyes
BicycleMark — who recently covered the St. James Hospital closure — has podcasted an interview with his father about coming to Newark as a child. Great insight into the history of the Ironbound.

Before the Portuguese came to the Ironbound, before the uprisings of 1967, and before the manufacturing industry moved south, my father made a life for himself in Newark. In another of a series of podcasts that focus on my family, and the history they have lived through, this program focuses on the Ironbound through the eyes of a longtime educator and civic leader — my dad.


Newark and the Future of Crime Fighting

Newark and the Future of Crime Fighting
BusinessWeek picks up on the tech enforcement meme kicked off by TechCrunch editor Mike Arrington. This upbeat piece connects the dots between crime prevention and economic development. (Hat tip to Bill Chappel for the link)

Already though, the business community is beginning to throw its weight behind Booker’s plan. In August, Newark scored a big win when London-based Standard Chartered Bank (STAN.L) opened a new office downtown that will hold more than 500 employees. Inspired by the mayor’s vision, financial executives, such as New York hedge fund operator William Ackman, have financed some of the new technologies that the city can’t afford because of its $180 million budget deficit. And the Newark offices of big companies such as Verizon Communications (VZ), AT&T (T), Cablevision Systems (CVC), Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG), and Continental Airlines (CAL) are beginning to hire more residents from the city., a subsidiary of (AMZN), is one of the companies that has jumped on the Mayor’s bandwagon. Last March the company moved its headquarters and 165 employees out of Wayne, N.J., and into a 50,000-square-foot office in downtown Newark. Don Katz,’s founder and CEO, says the space is 50% cheaper than Manhattan real estate. And even though Katz expected Newark’s reputation to scare away some employees, not one worker has left since the move. “For a long time, I thought it would be great if we could serve our shareholders and be part of an urban renaissance,” says Katz. “All in all, it’s been a complete win.”

For more on the success of the police camera system in Newark, check out the TechCrunch interview with Mayor Booker.

Selling Cities Despite Bad Images

Selling Cities Despite Bad Images
The Times interviews Cogswell Realty Group about the success of Eleven80 and their future plans in Newark for a piece on regional urban real estate.

As the economy climbs out of the subprime mess, we’ll start to see this trend accelerate. Housing prices will decline, and job creation will pick up again in 2009, which means Newark will be poised to see a surge of investment.

We’re already seeing the real estate market percolate in Newark with the Collonnei apartments and Shaq Tower attempt to reproduce the success of Eleven80.

And, as it so happens, the Daily Newarker will be right there to help our new neighbors acclimate to city life in the Garden State. Watch this space.

They got through it by using every stigma-fading technique they could think of. One was to put cheery pro-Newark ads on thousands of coffee cup sleeves for commuters between the Pennsylvania Stations in Manhattan and Newark; another was to install $800,000 worth of safety-enhancing new lighting on the exterior of Eleven80, a converted Art Deco office structure.

The efforts seem to have paid off: 85 percent of the units, which rent for $1,650 to $3,895, were leased during the first year. About 80 percent of the tenants work in Manhattan, Mr. Stern said. And 35 percent are single women – which the developer called a strong showing from “a group that might have been expected to be wary.”

He quickly added that the battle against negative perceptions was continuing. Cogswell proposes to create 3,500 more apartments in Newark, starting with 300 more rentals and 300 condominiums in the Hahne Griffith building downtown, and he said his company would have to keep searching for new ways to “sell Newark, right along with our projects.”

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Walking Tour – October 5th

Hi, I’m posting to share the news that Newarkology has gotten permission to offer a walking tour of Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.
Mt. Pleasant and Fairmount cemeteries were the only two options for eternal rest for well-to-do 19th century Newarkers, with Mt. Pleasant being the choice for most of the Anglo-Protestant aristocracy. The Ballantines, Murphys, Kinneys, and Frelinghuysens who did business and socialization together in life all elected to spent eternity together as well. Learn about the lives and fortunes of the men and women who made Newark an industrial colossus and Victorian mourning customs.

Come learn about the great politicians, businessmen, inventors, and divines of Newark’s Golden Age on this exciting tour.

Date: Sunday, October 5th
Time: 12:15
Cost: $10 for those coming on their first Newarkology tour
Location: 375 Broadway, Newark, New Jersey

More information is available at my website.

A Native Son’s Plans for Newark

A Native Son’s Plans for Newark
The weekend Times covered the planned One Riverview tower, which is contracted out to a developer who is partnering with Newark-native and Phoenix Suns center, Shaquille O’Neal.

You realize, of course that we absolutely must call this building “Shaq Tower.” While some question the timing of the construction — occuring during one of the worst economic downturns in recent memory — I really applaud the developer’s boldness in their timing.

This is a turning point in Newark’s history, and as long as the crime trends continue the sharp downward turn and investment comes into the city, the Newark of two years from now will be a decidedly different place than the Newark of two years ago.

“Because the region is experiencing economic woes,” he added, “individuals and businesses alike are looking for cost savings in every decision they make. Residents are looking for easy commutes to job centers such as Manhattan from places that offer low-cost, high-quality housing. Businesses are looking for savings anywhere they can find it.”

They can all find those things in Newark, in a downtown with two commuter rail stations, light rail, extensive bus service, and a revitalized business and entertainment center. We have all that to offer and the economic pressure is on. Otherwise, the moves going on now would never have been contemplated.”

A Bullet Tears Through a Ceiling, and 2 Lives

A Bullet Tears Through a Ceiling, and 2 Lives
The Times shares the lives of the two teenagers who were involved in Thursday’s accidental fatal shooting. Bukhari Washington was slain by a bullet from an assault rifle owned by Terrance Perry in the downstairs apartment while Perry was toying with the weapon.

How the rifle came into Perry’s possession and his exact reason for obtaining it remain under investigation.

In the apartment upstairs, Bukhari Washington, 15, had just gone to sleep. At work at the local recreation center the previous day, he and four friends had practiced lip-synching New Edition’s “Candy Girl” for a coming talent show. After work, he and his best friend, Daquan Cuttino, shot hoops and went to see the latest Batman movie. Bukhari had stayed up all night, talking to friends.

He had a lot on his mind. Having overcome more than his share of family tragedy, he had made his way to a prestigious prep school. Now, though, he was considering leaving it for a public school, his friends said.

Downstairs, 19-year-old Terrance Perry was sitting in bed, playing with his rifle. He had spent the previous afternoon and evening delivering food at the Newark hospital where he worked. His grandmother picked him up after his shift – he had lived with her for years, and she worried about him on the streets – and dropped him off at his girlfriend’s apartment. At some point, he returned to his grandmother’s home, in the house where Bukhari and his mother lived in an apartment on the top floor.

The two knew each other but were not friends, and had been neighbors for about a year.

Newark man arrested in shooting of 15-year-old

Newark man arrested in shooting of 15-year-old
Tragic story about the apparent accidental shooting of a boy by a 19-year-old with a military rifle in the apartment below.

A 19-year-old man said he accidentally fired the military-style rifle that killed a Newark teenager in his bed this morning, Newark police announced this afternoon.

Bukhari Washington, 15, was pronounced dead after being found in his bed in a second-floor apartment with a gunshot wound to the head. Police said the bullet was fired from the apartment below, penetrating the ceiling of that apartment and the floor of Bukhari’s apartment before striking him.

Perry told police he’d obtained the gun on the street, but investigators are trying to corroborate his story and determine whether he indeed fired the gun by accident. He has been charged with aggravated manslaughter, along with illegal gun possession.

Mayor Booker issued a statement today on the shooting.

“The death of 15-year-old Bukhari Washington is tragic and unacceptable. Our prayers and condolences go out to this young man’s family. This violent incident is further proof of the work that still lies before us, and the importance of passing and enforcing legislation to curb access to illegal firearms on the streets of New Jersey’s cities. For now, in Newark, we will continue our uncompromising efforts to eliminate gun violence, and claim for our city the peace and security that our residents deserve.”