Casino brings misery to Queens

In Queens, a Casino Bet Gone Bad
Noting for future reference.

Something unfortunate had happened in the neighborhood, and now there seemed to be no turning back, people said: the opening nearly two years ago of Resorts World Casino on Rockaway Boulevard, adjacent to the Aqueduct Racetrack.

As Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pushes for the authorization of three Las Vegas-style casinos in upstate New York, and as the possibility of additional casinos in the city looms in the years ahead, there are certainly lessons to be absorbed from what Resorts World has wrought.

Match made in IKEA: Newark couple marries in furniture store

Newark couple marry in the same IKEA department they met eight years ago
Very sweet.

For nearly an hour, mom and daughter skulked through the departments the man was in, trying to figure out if he was single. Unafraid, Jashirele introduced herself and asked for his number.

“I panicked,” said Shirley Stewart, who works at AAA.

On Saturday morning, Shirley Stewart, and Berkeley “Rashid” Smith, who now live together in Newark, returned to that fateful spot in the IKEA’s frame department. He wore a tux; she wore a white wedding dress.

Potential Booker exit previews bare-knuckle 2014 mayoral race

Questions, suspicion dominate debate over Booker’s replacement in Newark
If this is a preview of the 2014 Mayoral race, then bare-knuckle politics appears to be alive and well in Newark.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s decision to run for the U.S. Senate in a special election this year has raised questions and opened old wounds in the city he will leave behind if he wins.

The Newark City Council, already fractured from a brutal political fight in November over a council vacancy, now has to choose a president amid a seeming stalemate among the eight sitting council members.

That newly named council president could become interim mayor.

WNYC: Booker’s Senate Bid Sees Support in the Suburbs, Skepticism in Newark

Booker’s Senate Bid Sees Support in the Suburbs, Skepticism in Newark
It would have been interesting to hear more from Newarkers about their skepticism in this brief piece from WNYC, but the headline is, I think, a fair assessment.

But the upcoming election was on the minds of his diehard fans in the progressive enclave of Maplewood. Before and after he took the stage, Booker was surrounded by crowds asking for photos and autographs and offering to volunteer and host fundraisers.

Ellen DeCaro got teary-eyed as she shook Booker’s hand and introduced her wife and son. She lives in Hampton Township and is thrilled to be able to vote for him for the first time.

In Newark on Sunday, Booker’s bid for Senate was met with some skepticism from residents like Joyce Henderson, who is unmoved by the starpower the Democratic mayor has gained from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey.

#PortugalDayNwk draws thousands to the Ironbound

Portugal Day in Newark draws a big crowd
Good times. (But here’s hoping the organizers can also organize a cleanup, too.)

Ferry Street was once again adorned in red, green, and yellow with blaring traditional music as people crowded the streets lined with roughly 50 vendors selling everything from barbecued foods to soccer jerseys to celebrate the annual Portugal Day festival in the Ironbound.

Booker officially announces his senate campaign

Booker announces U.S. Senate run, creating blockbuster primary race
And so, it begins.

It’s not what Cory Booker was expecting. It’s not the marathon campaign that would have given the Newark mayor a year and then some to criss-cross New Jersey, meeting voters in every nook and cranny, using his trademark charisma to win them over.

It’s the complete opposite: A two-month sprint to a special Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, one with an increasingly crowded field of big names who could split the vote and stop — or slow — his rise to national power.

With that as a backdrop, and the death of U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg as its grim cause, Booker ended months of speculation this morning and officially announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate.

Christie announces special election for Senate seat, mad scramble ensues

Christie outlines special election for Lautenberg’s U.S. Senate seat
This was one of three options available to Christie: an early special election, a special ballot on Election Day in November when the gubernatorial race will take place, or a special appointment.

The announcement is expected to catalyze the Democratic race for the seat, in which Mayor Booker is widely expected to announce his candidacy.

Gov. Chris Christie today called for a special election in October to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Frank Lautenberg, setting in motion an all-out sprint for the office but immediately drawing criticism from Democrats.

Christie said the Democratic and Republican primaries will be held on Aug. 13, and the general election on Oct. 16. The winner of the general election will serve out the remainder of Lautenberg’s term, and the next election will be held, on schedule, in November 2014.

In response to the news, West Ward Councilman Ron C. Rice tweeted:

By placing Special Election ahead of November, our Gov not only serves his personal ambition but also sets off political intrique in Newark

Boy, did I ever choose an interesting time to start blogging again.

Infuriating: Ironbound school uses playground for teacher parking lot

Newark children share school playground with teachers’ parking lot
A couple of parents quoted in this piece are friends, but any parent should find this practice infuriating. The school facilities paid for by Newark taxpayers should support the needs of children in the community, not the convenience of staff and administration.

The principal, Maria Merlo, continues a long-standing practice of turning the Ironbound grammar school’s playground into a parking lot for teachers and staff. With the cars there, about 34 of them, students get shortchanged because their play area is cut in half and they can’t stretch out and run as they should for recess and gym outdoors.

It’s been this way for reasons that don’t make sense to parents, who’ve been trying since last year to stop the practice of turning a playground into a parking lot.

“The cars don’t belong there — no ifs, ands or buts,” said Madeline Ruiz. “There’s no reason that can satisfy taking away this privilege from children.”

Panasonic Hearts Newark

How Panasonic learned to love Newark
Not the most ambitious aesthetic design, but Panasonic’s new downtown building boasts LEED environmental certification and shifting employee commutes from cars to public transit. A welcome presence.

There was also criticism that the state was paying too much to keep Panasonic from leaving, which Taylor says isn’t true when you consider the benefits. “Even after the $102.4 million tax break, the state would net a total of $223 million,” he says.

“Just moving 1000 people into the city overnight could create delicatessens, dry cleaners and a whole infrastructure that would convince other companies to take a chance on this place as well.”

(At the very least, I bet Don Pepe’s is happy.)