Nets Slowly Making Their Way to Brooklyn

With the collapse of support from financiers, the Atlantic Yards community, and NJ Nets fans, one wonders if this story will end in anything other than hubris: For Nets, Barriers to Brooklyn Fall Slowly.
After the hundreds of millions of dollars lost, and final completion for the arena now set for as late as 2011, the break-even point for this project has to be in the late 20-teens. I think a lot of people would love to see this project fail and the Nets come to Newark.

But, not all is lost: the Nets will play two pre-season games here in Newark in October. Who’s coming with me?

But Forest City must break ground by Dec. 31 to meet the Internal Revenue Service’s deadline to sell tax-exempt bonds. If the developer misses the deadline, financing costs will leap. “Bruce and I have never talked about missing that deadline,” Yormark said.

The same deadline appears to loom for the 20-year, $400 million naming-rights deal between the Nets and Barclays. Barclays extended the sponsorship beyond last year because of continued construction delays, but a spokesman refused to say if it would do so again.

Daniel Goldstein, a leader and spokesman of Develop Don’t Destroy, said he did not believe Forest City would meet the deadline, not with his group’s appeal of the eminent domain decision and intention to file more lawsuits to delay the project until its death.

“They’re not going to get financing this year or control of the land this year,” Goldstein said during an interview in his condominium on Pacific Street, which would be about midcourt of the proposed arena. He, his wife and baby daughter are the only occupants of the nine-story building, the other 30 unit owners having long ago accepted Ratner’s buyout offers.

“I don’t even think they know what will make them give up,” he said.

One also wonders if this guy was living where center ice at the Prudential Center is now whether Newark’s arena ever would have been built.

Daughters of Deborah Celebrate Freedom from Addiction

Great story from the Ledger about a rehabilitation program in Newark that focuses on women: Women celebrate rehab and rebirth with a gala event in Newark.

The 17 women, all recovering drug addicts, walked into a crowded ballroom in the city tonight as if dressed for a wedding, from the orchid corsages on their wrists to their elegant gowns.

But they were not getting married. The women were at the Robert Treat Hotel celebrating the milestone of being the first graduating class from Daughters of Deborah, a special workshop program on jobs, personal finance, legal issues, entrepreneurship, health, confidence, manners and communications, according to organizers.

Prospects for Lincoln Park

Joan Whitlow for NJ Voices: Newark’s past and future are at Symphony Hall
Joanie opines on possible solutions to revive the Lincoln Park area. Funny she didn’t talk to these people, who have been at it for at least a few years now.

The elements to help do that successfully exist in nearby Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park has been designated as the city’s “arts district,” which is legitimate if you count Symphony Hall and its neighbor, the Newark Boys Chorus and School, on Broad Street, The Newark School for the Arts on the south side of Lincoln Park and the City Without Walls Gallery on Crawford Street, behind the other side of Lincoln Park — let’s link ‘em all up for the kind of experience that can draw visitors.

Riverbank Park Festival

These guys might win the award for least publicized event this year — thank goodness for Glocally Newark: Riverbank Park: Music and Art Festival This Weekend!

If you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids this weekend, and your ideal ticket price is FREE, head on over to Riverbank Park for the annual Music and Art in the Park Festival on Saturday, May 30th.

Riverbank Park is located in the Ironbound, and if you haven’t been there, it’s great for its biking and jogging trails. It’s also known for hosting several neighborhood events throughout the year, including this annual neighborhood arts festival, which truly brings out the neighborhood pride.

Grand-Family Center Opens in Newark

By way of City Hall: in partnership Newark opens NJ’s first grand-family resource center. Over 10,000 families in Essex County, 4,000 of which are in Newark, have grandparents raising grandchildren. These centers provide a single source for services like Social Security, disability, and legal consultation.

Full press release after the jump.
Continue reading “Grand-Family Center Opens in Newark”

Newark Attorney Arrested for Blackmail

Another city employee has been arrested as a result of the work o the Inspector General’s office.  The attorney worked for city General Counsel Julien X. Neals, and demanded cash and a promotion in exchange for staying quiet about an unspecified offense.  The employee was hired previous to the Booker administration.  Newark city attorney is arrested for alleged blackmail of boss.

A city municipal attorney was arrested at City Hall this afternoon after trying to blackmail his boss for $750,000 in cash and a promotion, authorities said.

Neil Braunstein, 40, of Fanwood in Union County, threatened last week to accuse Julien X. Neals, the city corporation counsel director, of an unspecified offense unless Neals gave him the money and a better job, Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, said today.

Braunstein threatened Neals on May 19 and returned the following day naming the exact amount of cash he wanted, Loriquet said. An assistant corporate counsel, Braunstein was seeking advancement within the city’s law department, he added.

Why he allegedly chose that particular figure is unknown. Other details, including what charges Braunstein allegedly threatened to bring against Neals, were not available last night.

After he was approached, Neals contacted the city inspector general’s office, which launched a joint investigation with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Corruption Unit, Loriquet said. Detectives from both agencies arrested Braunstein around 3:30 p.m. in his office.

Newark Repeals Anti-Loitering Law

Though having been found unenforceable by the state Supreme Court in 1982, the law was most recently used in 2007 against a homeless man who was “loitering” in Newark Penn Station. That case is now pending judgement in U.S. District Court: Newark repeals anti-loitering law.

The city council repealed the ordinance in a 9-0 vote on May 20, some 27 years after a state Supreme Court ruling made it unenforceable and various law enforcement agencies mistakenly used it.

The old ordinance, which had defined loitering as “spending time idly, loafing, or walking about aimlessly” was considered unenforceable, Neals said, because a Supreme Court decision, State vs. Crawley, in 1982 said the state’s criminal code supplanted it.

Neals also said the repeal of the law is not in reaction to a lawsuit against the city and NJ Transit police that was filed by Richard Kreimer. According to his suit, a transit police officer told Kreimer, who is homeless, to stop loitering in Newark Penn Station in October 2007. Kreimer was not issued a summons, according to the lawsuit.

Transit police officers used the city’s anti-loitering law to get him to leave, said George and Lydia Cotz, a Mahwah husband-and-wife law firm representing Kreimer in U.S. District Court in Newark. The case is before Judge Susan D. Wigenton.

Kreimer gained notoriety in 1991 after winning a $230,000 settlement from Morristown after he was barred from the library. Library officials asked Kreimer to leave the Joint Free Public Library because of his hygiene and his behavior. The library eventually settled the case.

Since then, Kreimer has run for the mayor of Morristown, sued the city of Woodbury in southern New Jersey and moved briefly to Colorado.

Scenes from Newark’s African-American Heritage Parade

Fantastic shots from Newark’s 43 African-American Heritage parade in downtown Newark, courtesy of the Star Ledger: 20,000 attend Newark’s African-American Heritage Parade.

An estimated 20,000 people turned out today for Newark’s 43rd annual African-American Heritage Parade, a happily pulsating procession that splashed a mile of Broad Street with songs, waves and bits of history.

Large white balloons bearing the names and faces of historical figures prompted enthusiastic tributes from Donald Bernard, the celebration’s master of ceremonies. Crowd members lining the streets offered their loudest cheers to images of President Obama and Malcolm X as they danced and blew whistles to dance music and marching bands — but not before they were issued a reminder.

“This isn’t just about hoopla,” said Bernard, who wore a green-and-gold Ghanaian outfit and was framed by American flags colored red, green and black. “It’s about a sense of purpose and direction.”

Newark Defense Attorney Indicted

I believe in Newark’s revival, but part of that process involves revealing some awful darkness that has long been hidden. This NY Times story about an indicted Newark attorney who is alleged to have revealed the names of witnesses to killers or used strong-arm tactics to keep them from speaking sent chills down my spine: Bergrin, a Lawyer and Ex-Prosecutor in Newark, Is Charged With Murder.

He spent a decade as a top prosecutor, trying murder cases in New Jersey, drug cases in federal court and a wide range of offenses in the military justice system.

He went on to become one of the state’s most prominent defense lawyers, representing clients as varied as Abu Ghraib defendants, the rap stars Lil’ Kim and Queen Latifah and members of Newark’s notorious street gangs.

But federal authorities charged Wednesday that the success their former colleague, Paul Bergrin, had in defending drug dealers and gang leaders was based on a brutal calculus that he had boiled down to a phrase he repeated like a slogan: No witnesses, no case.

Booker Takes His Message to the Universities

Booker has delivered at least seven commencement speeches in the last three weeks. The Ledger investigates why the Mayor is such a popular speaker for these kinds of events, and his speech-writing process: Mayor Cory Booker is popular choice as commencement speaker.
I think one other aspect of Booker’s strategy that wasn’t disussed in this piece is recruitment for Newark’s civic institutions. The Mayor may not specifically be asking people to come and invest themselves in our city — although I’ve heard him deliver that speech as well — but his appeal for students to reach for achievements in life that matter has, I think, a strong appeal to students who feel the weight of their own potential and are looking to really do something with it.

This city is a fantastic place to channel that energy, and I think having Booker speak at their commencement might give some young people pause as they take the next steps in their early career.

Like most successful politicians, Newark Mayor Cory Booker loves the bully pulpit. He has spoken fervently in his State of the City addresses and used his words to inspire civic pride and rake in political contributions.

And with graduation season drawing to a close, he has continued to dominate another of his favorite inspirational venues. In a frenetic three weeks, he has delivered seven college commencement addresses.

More info: see Booker’s Brandeis University Commencement 2009 speech.