Star Ledger: Newark police director files defamation suit against three ‘Newark Choice’ candidates

Star Ledger: Newark police director files defamation suit against three ‘Newark Choice’ candidates

Newark Police director Garry McCarthy is suing the Newark’s Choice ticket for defamation of character, according to a lawsuit filed last week at Essex County Superior Court.

The suit, filed on Friday, alleges that mayoral candidate Clifford Minor, council candidates John Sharpe James and Ras Baraka, along with their election campaigns, issued disparaging fliers and made slanderous public statements about the police director, claiming that he had a history of domestic violence, that he was involved in a DWI violation, and that he “impregnated a number of Newark females” — charges which the suit claims are “outrageous.”

That Newark’s Choice ticket is running a real classy operation.

Wally Edge: If Booker gets less than 60%, is his star quality tarnished?

Wally Edge: If Booker gets less than 60%, is his star quality tarnished?

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has two opponents in the May 11 election: 67-year-old former judge and prosecutor Clifford Minor, and the expectations game.

The charismatic Booker, with a 17-1 fundraising advantage, is likely to win re-election to as second term against the quiet and reserved Minor, who has the backing of what is left of Sharpe James’ old machine. The problem for Booker is that he won with 75% of the vote four years ago (against a formidable opponent, State Sen. Ronald Rice) and then went on to become a national media sensation.

The defeat of Gov. Jon Corzine last fall makes Booker a leading candidate for the 2013 Democratic nomination for governor, if he wants it. But a lackluster victory against a bland, relatively unknown, underfinanced opponent – perhaps anything under 60% — might create the impression that local voters don’t think Booker is as good as his friends in Washington, Chicago and Hollywood think he is. That might make his front runner status in the next gubernatorial primary less automatic.

New York Times: First Trial in 2007 Triple Murder in Newark Opens

New York Times: First Trial in 2007 Triple Murder in Newark Opens

Nearly three years later, this city on Tuesday began to relive one of the most notorious crimes in its recent history, as the first of six defendants went on trial in the execution-style murders of three students in a schoolyard on a summer night.

Thomas McTigue, an assistant county prosecutor, called the defendant, 26-year-old Rodolfo Godinez, a recruiter for a violent street gang who actively participated in the crime — laying the groundwork for a charge that he committed murder whether or not he fired the gun.

Newark Straw poll: Booker detractors nurse hurt in Central and West, but Minor largely undefined as challenger | Politicker NJ

Politicker NJ: Newark Straw poll: Booker detractors nurse hurt in Central and West, but Minor largely undefined as challenger

Disappointed with Mayor Cory Booker, a random scattershot of voters in the Central and West wards don’t know enough about challenger Clifford Minor to feel confident he would do better and some question his campaign trail passion, according to a straw poll conducted Saturday.

Dismantling your opponent’s platform while failing to articulate your own is rarely a winning formula, and never sparks meaningful policy.

We received a 10-page pamphlet from the Minor camp lambasting the mayor for everything from his high-powered friends to the city’s long-running battle with crime.  Minor has failed to define his platform as anything but the anti-Booker campaign.

One is left to wonder how Minor would govern City Hall, if given the opportunity.

New York Times: Devils’ Move Paying Off for Team, and Newark –

New York TimesDevils’ Move Paying Off for Team, and Newark

The Devils ultimately fell to the Philadelphia Flyers a few days later, the third straight year they were bounced from the playoffs in the first round.

But off the ice, the team, which moved to Prudential Center in 2007 from the charmless Meadowlands, is starting to find its feet in Newark.

After a shaky start, attendance is up, more fans are traveling to games on mass transit and are spending more money in the growing number of restaurants and shops near the arena. Newark students walk out, protest at City Hall against school budget cuts Newark students walk out, protest at City Hall against school budget cuts

You could hear the protests from blocks around City Hall.

Interview: East Ward Council Candidate, Peter Pantoliano

With the municipal elections looming large next month, we’ll be making an effort to interview the prospective city council candidates.
This week, I’m pleased to present this podcast interview with Peter Pantoliano, candidate for the East Ward council seat.

Mr. Pantoliano has been a leader in the Ironbound community for years. He is currently serving as a representative for the 19th district in the city of Newark. He’s a prominent local business owner in the neighborhood, having started his first optometry office on Ferry Street nearly 30 years ago, and having moved to the East Ward about 10 years ago.

While considered by political prognosticators as the underdog in his race against the established three-term incumbent, Augusto Amador, Mr. Pantoliano’s grass-roots zeal and belief in the people of the Ironbound is palpable.

The podcast is about 30 minutes in length. Click the play button below to listen.


In the podcast, we discuss:

  • How Mr. Pantoliano came to live and work in the Ironbound and how he came to be interested in Newark politics
  • Plans for the upcoming election and his campaign kickoff
  • The major challenges and opportunities the Councilman sees facing the East Ward right now
  • What platforms Mr. Pantoliano has chosen to make the core message of his campaign (taxes, public safety, and healthcare)
  • What assets and experiences the challenger brings to the table for improving the Ironbound
  • How the recent economic challenges might affect the neighborhood and what opportunities Mr. Pantoliano sees to address them
  • How technology can position residents for the 21st century workforce

To find out more about Mr. Peter Pantoliano, check out his website or follow him on Twitter at @PeterEastWard.

Future Riverfront Park at Brill Street

Drivers pass by Brill Street without even a glance at this ragged post-industrial riverfront, perfect only for a Soprano’s episode.  Cars curve along Raymond Boulevard swiftly, so swiftly that five people died here a few years ago after their cars flew into Passaic River.  The city then settled with the families of Monique Hawkin (39), Nicole Floyd (34), and Gail Williams (43) for $5.8 million and another $3.1 million for the families of Ceneida Zapata (52) and David Torre (54).   Seemingly, there have been other curses at this sadly storied spot.  For instance, a 21-year-old Harry Ryan dove in for a summer swim in 1934 and disappeared forever.  The following year, Harry Keenan (40), a barge captain, was drowned while unloading stones.
On Wednesday, the Essex County police directed cars to a large white tent on the graveled riverbank to celebrate a new chapter of the place.  Last July, the Port Authority allocated $7 million through its Hudson-Raritan Estuary Resource Program to purchase 12.25 acres along the Passaic Riverfront for a future county park.  Now, in an election season, the check should be delivered.  The ceremony hostess State Senator Teresa Ruiz reminded people, mostly county and city officials, “With a vision of dream, we, come together as winners.”  Then, the Chief County Counsel James Paganelli talked about his “non-stop, roller-coaster, behind-the-scenes” funding effort.  Then, Bill Baroni, a Port Authority deputy director for just two months and a former Southern Jersey State Senator, happily announced, “I, bring greetings.  I, bring congratulations.  I, bring $7 million.”  The County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, who promised “the safest park in the land,” was all excited, “This is huge, Jo D!  This is huge, Jo D.”  Assemblyman Samuel Gonzalez, (Ruiz’ husband,) staged yet another round of thanking each individual politician’s vision.  The local Democratic Party boss Bonnie Watson proclaimed to preside over “the best Freeholder Board in New Jersey,  “We, did it!  We, did it!  Open space for the county!  Open the air to breath fresh air!”  Ah, fresh air, on this beautiful spring day without the familiar garbage incinerator odor.  Two hours flew by as quickly as the cars on Raymond Boulevard.  “That was brutal,” remarked my veteran journalist companion, relieved after ten politicians’ small talk.  To me, the best was Mayor Booker’s joke:  “The great park builder Divincenzo wishes those thousands of newly planted cherry trees can all vote, and I am going to do what politicians do in an election year, to claim credit for everything.”  He quietly disappeared with his staff soon after his joke.

The Ironbound Community Corporation’s director Joseph Della Fave was the last to speak. “After all this, I ask for a little attention for the history of the park.”  He gently reminded the audience that people’s struggles could be traced back to spring, 1991.  An Ironbound lady in front of me whispered to her friend about a video that Nancy Zak showed her yesterday: “School children demonstrated for our park as early as 1983.”  Ruiz, Gonzalez, Coutinho, and even Mayor Booker were around the age of those Ironbound school children.  Fave’s subtle message was, Who really should be claiming credit?  On April 16, 1998, another beautiful spring day in an election year, on the same Brill Street spot, a park had already been celebrated after a huge public outcry against a planned conversion of the nearby River Bank Park to a baseball stadium.  The stadium was moved to the Broad Street Station and an additional park of 8.2 acre was promised with $4 million for soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts, and in-line hockey and roller skating space.

When Toni Griffin reviewed the city’s recent planning history, she found over 400 large and small development plans, almost all unexecuted.  I cannot help to mention about another cheered development on this very Brill Street location.  On November 15, 1977, the city revealed “the largest private industrial re-development project ever undertaken.”  The Ironbound Plaza by then-Newark’s J.I. Kislak Realty planned to invest $21.5 million for a shopping center of 85,000 square-feet, as well as various industrial and residential buildings.  The New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the First National Bank were all involved.  The celebration specifically discussed “symbols” of the past, incomplete demolition for projects even earlier, which created a painfully scarred appearance.

After the Morris Canal brought traffic in 1832, the New Jersey Zinc and Iron Company and Passaic Chemical Works settled along the river.  By 1872, the chemical factory on the very land for the proposed park became the largest sulphuric acid supplier for oil refiners and match factories all over America and Canada.  In the early last century, Christian Feigenspan brought his beer fortune to the Brill Street waterfront soon before World War I against his native Germany and then the disastrous Prohibitionist era against his business.  On October 1, 1927, he opened spigots of 26 huge vats to drain 303,552 gallons of pre-prohibition ale and beer into the Passaic River, the largest storage in the country worth $1 million.  The New York Times reported that the lathery fluid poured into the river, “diluted with the tears of old brewery employees” and the dirty river water.  Feigenspan’s misfortune did not end there.  In a cold November night in 1932, the bootleg gang sneaked into the boiler room to shoot five bullets into a potential witness, with a protecting police officer nearby.  In 1943, Robert Ballantine bought the brewery and operated it for a few more years before weeds swallowed the riverfront.

Mayor Booker told the crowd that he will meet with President Obama and Interior Department officials this Friday.  I think that he does not need to go as far as Washington D.C.  Next time when the Governor is in town, they should together call the Port Authority’s chairman Anthony Coscia.  People in Newark want to know why the agency can spend more than $100 million for the waterfront in Queens and millions in Brooklyn and Hoboken, but not enough here, where money is generated from the seaport and the airport.  For the next election year, all freeholders and senators can simply go to nearby Fleming Avenue, like they did on Wednesday, for a steak lunch at Fernadez’s even with our money.  Cory Booker alone is enough to cut the ribbon, “This is all Newarkers’ credit.  Enjoy the park!”

Star Ledger: Newark’s Garden Spires: Attacking, at last, a hotbed of drug trade in the city

Star Ledger: Newark’s Garden Spires: Attacking, at last, a hotbed of drug trade in the city

When Booker was a fledgling councilman, he camped out on the grounds of the complex, with promises he would help improve it. “He launched his career here,” said Bomani.

Now, three and a half years into his term as mayor, Booker was being asked what took him so long.

Joan Whitlow visits a community relations event where police announce the arrest of 149 individuals with ties to Newark’s drug trade.

Star Ledger: Newark residents get tax-preparation help from nonprofit group

Star Ledger: Newark residents get tax-preparation help from nonprofit group

“They got as much for me as I could have possibly gotten,” she said in comparing Newark Now with tax prep services that charge a fee. “The only difference was it didn’t cost me $39.95.”

While Merrill was getting her taxes prepared she noticed signs for financial aid counseling, also offered by the group.

“They were kind enough to walk me through the FAFSA process and give me some guidance,” Merrill said, referring to the form college students fill out to become eligible for low-interest federal loans and aid. “I went back yesterday and did my registration fee for Essex County College for the fall.”

So great. Those folks over at Newark Now just won’t quit changing the world.