Cory Booker: “After this budget, I will be right in Christie’s face every single day…”

Christie-Booker Alliance Could Put Newark Schools Front and Center

After this budget, I will be right in Christie’s face every single day saying, ‘You own these schools under state takeover, partner with me in making real reforms.’

Mayor Cory Booker, on the recent collaboration with Governor Chris Christie to take steps to reform Newark’s schools.

Mildred Crump: “What some people want to see me do is jump up and down and discredit the mayor.”

Top candidates for Newark council president seek support of Sharif, Baraka

What some people want to see me do is jump up and down and discredit the mayor. I do not believe in public name calling but when it was necessary I have spoken out against the mayor.

Councilwoman Mildred Crump, whose role as council president is up for grabs this week. Crump has been accused of running a “rubber stamp” council, who votes through the Mayor’s agenda.

NJ.com: Newark residents hope to replace demolished housing project with park, gardens

NJ.com: Newark residents hope to replace demolished housing project with park, gardens

On Monday, the infamous housing project, once a sign of economic growth and Newark’s burgeoning prosperity, will be demolished, ending decades of blight, political struggles and legal challenges.

“Today we are casting out the shadows which once darkened this neighborhood,” Newark Mayor Cory Booker said Friday, at a news conference officially announcing the demolition of the nearly 80-year-old complex. “Brick by brick we will let the light shine down on a new and improved green space,” Mayor Booker said.

Good news.

NJ.com: Newark hopes city attractions lure more visitors

NJ.com: Newark hopes city attractions lure more visitors

So where are the tourists on the streets below? To hear “insiders” at a forum titled “Greater Newark as a Destination” tell it, New Jersey’s largest city is on the cusp of becoming something of a mecca.

Cites growing interest in the Newark Museum, Prudential Center, and Harrison’s Red Bull Soccer Arena. It would be nice to see stories about the growing tax income as a result of these success stories. I don’t see any other way the city is going to sustainably plug the budget gap apart from more businesses moving to the city and paying their due.

Gamble, Indeed

NJ.com: Municipal Utility Authority could bring millions to Newark

The most immediate advantage of the authority will be its ability to bond, earning the city $50 million this year, $40 million next year, $10 million in 2012, and roughly $5 million every year after. Without the revenue, Booker said he will be forced to institute major property tax increases to slash an estimated $180 million deficit. According to critics, the move is a quick fix fraught with potential for corruption and rate hikes for residents. Booker and city officials are bracing for a major public outcry as the idea is presented and voted on this summer. If history is any indicator, the fight will not be easy.

Booker said the alternative to the MUA is a 30 percent property tax hike as opposed to a 2.5 percent increase. Without knowing what the increase in water rates will be, the mayor said he is hopeful residents will take the gamble.

It’s unclear from Giambusso’s reporting here if the Mayor actually used the word “gamble.” To extend the analogy, this isn’t unlike putting the deed to your house on black to avoid bank foreclosure—doing nothing means you lose your house, winning means you get to keep it.

Losing, though, is where the analogy gets muddier. Booker seems to have been referring solely to an increase in water rates (a downside that may not outweigh the upside). But lending concerns and poor governance could make the downside an even costlier proposition for city residents.

Of course, none of this happens in a vacuum. If you believe that the city is on its way to a bright and prosperous future, perhaps even this worst case could be offset by future businesses and corporations taking up shop here in Newark. Staring down the barrel of a slow-moving economic recovery and double-digit unemployment makes that a pretty big “if.”

Adding transparency to the process of drafting an MUA plan could mitigate the risks of implementation. But, with a yawning budget gap despite year after year of cuts and layoffs at City Hall, is it a gamble the city can afford not to take?

Local Talk Newark: Verizon Opens New FiOS Store in Newark’s Central Ward

Local Talk Newark: Verizon Opens New FiOS Store in Newark’s Central Ward

“We have about close to 100,000 households in Newark who will ultimately be served by our FiOS products but are served today by our phone and our high speed Internet products,” said Mary Yarbrough, Verizon vice president of marketing and sales for the Mid-Atlantic region.

She said Verizon plans to build FiOS out to all 93,000 households in the Newark area over the next five to six years.

Wow, Verizon, what’s the hurry?