Category Archives: Newark NJ

>Ray Stever: America Still Needs Unions

>Ray Stever is the President for the New Jersey chapter of the Industrial Union Council (IUC). In this interview, recorded on April 4th at the huge UMWA We Are One rally in Newark, Ray Stever talks to GRITtv‘s Laura Flanders about the history and plight of labor unions in this country. Ray Stever argues that even though manufacturing in the US is nearly gone, we need unions now more than ever.

Stever makes a compelling argument while connecting the dots between the old Congress of Industrial Organizations, the 29 mine workers at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine, killed one year ago, and the current attacks on public workers in New Jersey and beyond.

The interview runs 17 minutes but it’s worth every minute, especially when he talks about his hard working republican neighbor who is struggling to make ends meet but continues to support policies that are detrimental to himself and family.

“People don’t realize that by not belonging to the union, the only right they have on the job is the right to die. People don’t understand that the collective bargaining agreements and the right to organize protects them”

Hat tip goes to Monmouth County Green Party

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Filed under coal miners, Gov. Chris Christie, GRITtv, Industrial Union Council, labor unions, Laura Flanders, Manufacturing, Newark NJ, Ray Stever

>NJPP Monday Minute 10/4/10: ‘Friending’ schools in Newark


There are those in New Jersey, among them Governor Christie, who argue that the state spends too much money on too many things – including its public schools. But in order to have an honest, informed debate about that public investment, it’s important to compare the rhetoric with the actual numbers to see if they match up.

Sometimes they don’t.

Take for example state spending on Newark’s public schools. Compare the numbers discussed publicly in recent weeks and the actual numbers reported by the state. And then contrast those figures with the pledge of $100 million of Facebook stock to the Newark schools that was announced September 24.

A day before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made his announcement, alongside Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Governor Christie, on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” the governor decried the deplorable and wasteful state of education in Newark, telling the Star-Ledger that New Jersey spends a whopping $24,000 per student in the Newark school system.

That figure is incorrect, according to data from the governor’s own administration. The New Jersey Department of Education’s Office of Fiscal Policy and Planning puts per student spending in Newark at $16,911 in the 2009-2010 school year budget (down from $19,756 the previous year.) The 2009-2010 state average for per student spending is $13,860, according to DOE.

The Education Law Center, a non-profit legal advocacy group that focuses on public school finance, says even that overstates the true cost per student, which varies widely by district. ELC argues a “weighted” calculation is a more accurate measure than simply dividing the total school budget by the number of students because it factors in the higher cost of educating students who might be impoverished or have special learning needs or limited English proficiency. The ELC’s weighted calculations from its March 2010 analysis, which is based on state figures, puts spending per student in Newark at $10,517 for 2009-2010.

Both the Department of Education’s and the Education Law Center’s figures are substantially lower than the figure cited by Governor Christie. The Governor’s Office of Communications referred a question for clarification to the DOE’s Office of Communications. A DOE spokesman said Newark’s per student cost of $23,600 – rounded up to $24,000 by the governor – covers all expenses in Newark, including transportation and “other” costs. The spokesman did not respond to a follow-up inquiry about what “other costs” are included in that more expansive calculation.

Per student spending is one thing, but how much does New Jersey spend in total on Newark’s public schools?

“For context, we spend $900 million plus or minus in the City of Newark school system right now in state funds,” Governor Christie told reporters at a news conference in Newark the day after the Oprah announcement.

The actual figure is $815 million — $85 million less than the figure given by the governor, according to state Department of Education documents. The Education Law Center also cites the $815 million total as the state’s contribution to Newark.

To give the governor his due, he did say $900 million “plus or minus,” but rounding up from $815 million amounts to almost all of Zuckerberg’s donation. It’s unlikely the governor would want to equate the Facebook CEO’s gift with a rounding error. A Department of Education spokesman did not respond to inquiries about the difference.

The state has cut total state aid to all school districts by $1.2 billion since January (which amounts to 10 percent of the yearly total in a state that already ranks near the bottom in state spending on schools). In Newark, to date, the Christie administration has cut $56.3 million in public school aid — $13.7 million in mid-year FY2010 cuts and $42.6 million in FY2011, according to both DOE and ELC.

That lost aid makes Zuckerberg’s $100 million matching grant very important to Newark. Zuckerberg’s grant even dwarfs the $23.7 million that Newark received from the federal legislation signed by President Obama in August to help school districts rehire laid off teachers.

While Zuckerberg’s largesse might be welcome, it raises complicated issues.

The money is focused entirely on one city, to the exclusion of neighboring Irvington or other urban cities like Camden or Trenton. That raises questions of fairness and favoritism in a public school system established on the ideal of equal education for all students.

It is also an unprecedented injection of corporate money into a public school system, which raises questions of governance and democracy. Decisions in the public schools are supposed to be driven by the local voters through the school board and state Department of Education – not 26-year-old fledgling billionaires. In the words of ELC founder and Rutgers Law School Professor Paul Tractenberg to the Star-Ledger’s Bob Braun, “This is a very dangerous moment for public education. Instead of facing up to our responsibilities to support the schools, we are tearing them apart. We are destroying the very values that created the public school system.”

The least we could do, then, is get the numbers right.

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Filed under Cory Booker, Education Funding, Facebook, Gov. Chris Christie, Jeff Zuckerbg, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Newark NJ, public schools

Fair Haven’s Halfacre Sets Gerry Straight on Tax Info

It seems that Fair Haven’s Mayor Mike Halfacre may not be very happy with his Republican counter-part in Middeltown based on a comment that he left on another blog site that posted Gerry Scharfenbegerger “Middletown Tax Info” email.

In his attempt to make it seem that he was doing a good job at managing Middletown’s finances, Scharfenebrger as usual compared apples to oranges when he tried to compare Middeltown to Fair Haven by writing the following:

“Middletown has one of the lowest tax rates in the region. While we are currently at 35 cents, Fair Haven, for example, is almost 49 cents and Little Silver is over 50 cents.”

Halfacre picked up on this misnomer with the following comment:

“Fair Haven’s tax rate was 49.1 cents in 2007. Our rate is 45.8 in 2010. Over that same time frame state “aid” was cut nearly in half.

Comparing tax rates town to town does not give an idea of fiscal soundness, as every town is different. Middletown’s budget is ten times Fair Haven’s. They supply vastly different services. For example, FH does not have a swim club, housing authorities or facilities, etc. the list goes on and on”

Thanks Mayor Halfacre for pointing out to Gerry what many of us on the other side of the isle have been talking about for years now about him. That is, he likes to make broad and sweeping apples to oranges comparisions between Middletown and other towns such as Atlantic City, Newark, Camden and now Fair Haven, towns that have little in common with Middeltown, to make points about how well he and his friends have run Middletown.


Filed under Atlantic City, Camden NJ, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, Mike Halfacre, Newark NJ, tax increase

Monmouth & Ocean Counties for Councilman Ronald C. Rice and the Booker Team

I just returned from a reception in Spring Lake for Newark West Ward Councilman Ronald C. Rice. It was a nice affair, attended by about 50 people at the Spring Lake Manor. I got there just before 6:30 as the room began to fill and had the pleasure to be introduced to Councilman Rice before to many others came by.

The event was hosted by Ms. Sandra Salter, Ms. Stacy Lubrecht, Red Bank Councilwoman Juanita Lewis, Red Bank Councilman Edward Zipprich, Mr. John Amberg & Lacey Township Democratic Party Chairman Barry Bendar.

It was announced that just prior to arriving at the Spring Lake Manor, Councilman Rice sat down with Monmouth County Chairman Victor Scurdiery to discuss possible plans for a partnership between Councilman Rice, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Monmouth County Democrats which would possibly have them work together and campaign over the coming months in places like Asbury Park, Neptune and Long Branch in order to help get out the democratic vote come November.

It was my first time meeting Councilman Rice and I hope that it wont be my last, he was warm, courteous and engaging, very down to earth and seemed to be at ease.

He talked about how Newark has been changing over the past few years under the leadership of Mayor Cory Booker, about how parks and neighborhoods all through out the city have been revitalized and how under the leadership of Cory Booker the crime rate has fallen. Newark has gone some 44 days since its last recorded murder which has been the longest period since 1966.

Councilman Rice spoke of how he first met Barack Obama before he was President and how impressed he was with him, he said that he was the first elected official in NJ to officially endorse him.

Many in the room expect great things from Councilman Rice in the future, some were saying that he is next in line to succeed Cory Booker as Mayor of Newark while others expect him to make the move to Washington as a US Congressman or possibly as US Senator one day.

This having been my first time meeting Councilman Rice, I wont go that far by predicting such greatness for him but he did impress me and I wouldn’t be surprised if someday Ronald Rice found himself somewhere other than on the Newark City Council, either as Mayor or in some other higher elected office.

Here are a few pictures:

(Newark West Ward Councilman Ronald C. Rice)

(Councilman Ronald C.Rice with Redbank Council Reps Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich)

(myself and Newark West Ward Councilman Ronald C. Rice)

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Filed under Cory Booker, Newark NJ, Ronald C. Rice, Spring Lake, vic, West Ward

Video From The Obama – Corzine Rally In Newark: Obama’s Speech In 3 Parts

Yesterday, I attended the big campaign rally in Newark for Governor Corzine. The 3 videos below are of President Obama’s speech to all of those in attendance.

As I stated in a post last night, the crowd was loud and boisterous. Obama really whipped them up into a frenzy, you really needed to be there to get the true feel of the event. The energy in the Prudential Center was electric and Obama did not disappoint.
As you may be able to tell from the videos, I was seated in a luxury suite above and to the back of the President and all of the festivities and had a very good view of all the was around. When I tell you that the place was jumping, believe me it was!
On the way out of the building, I was also very impressed at how united and excited the crowd was to be fully behind the Governor’s re-election efforts. I overheard a few in the crowd expressing their desired to get out there and “knock down” doors in the neighborhoods to get out the vote tomorrow.
It seems that President Obama efforts on behalf of the Governor has paid off. Hopefully those efforts pay off at the polls tomorrow.

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Filed under campaign rally, Gov. Jon Corzine, Newark NJ, President Obama

Video From The Obama – Corzine Rally In Newark

I have the first two video clips that I have been able to put together so far from todays Corzine campaign rally at the Prudential Center in Newark. I hope to have the Presidents remarks ready in the morning.

The first video features Newark Mayor Cory Booker rocking the house, next to President Obama I can’t think of any other public speaker that can stir-up a crowd like Booker can, so it is a little unfortunate that I missed recording the first 30 -40 seconds of his address. I thought I had started to record but realized the camera was on stand-by:

This piece of video is of Governor Corzine’s speech to the crowd before he introduced President Obama. OverallI thought Corzine did a good job at addressing the crowd and making his case for 4 more years. It is up to the voters now however:

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Filed under campaign event, Cory Booker, Gov. Jon Corzine, Newark NJ, President Obama

Corzine Rally in Newark

I attended the big Obama/Corzine rally at the Prudential Center in Newark earlier today, It really was a sight to see. It topped the the rally held in Holmdel back in July.
The “Rock” was packed to the rafters with Corzine supporter and the build was rocked to its foundation once the President took the stage.
I am working on some video from the event which I hope to have up before the end of the night, If not than by tomorrow afternoon.
Max Pizzaro over at PolitickerNJ has put together a couple of good columns about what went on today in Newark.
Read about it >>> Here and Here

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Filed under Gov. Jon Corzine, Newark NJ, PolitickerNJ, President Obama

Booker Sits Down With Colbert And Talks About "Brick City"

Last night on the Colbert Report, Newark Mayor Cory Booker sat down with Stephen Colbert and talked the City of Newark and the new documentary ” Brick City” which will be presented on the Sundance Channel next Monday at 10 pm.

Colbert asks Booker why he is “docu-bait”, Brick City is the second documentary to feature Booker in the past few years. For those who do not know what “Brick City” refers to, Newark has long been call the “Brick City”.
The mayor of Newark answered by saying that Brick City wasn’t just about him, but about a number of unique, grassroots folks and characters that every day, who fight to make sure that the city reaches it’s full potential.
Mayor Booker also discusses the decreasing crime rate within the city and how the quality of life for residents has steadily increased.
At one point during the interview, Colbert points out that as a “Lefty Liberal” the ACLU has given Booker a grade of “C” and asks Booker to remind him, not to visit Newark on St. Patrick’s day because they have arrested individuals for public urination.
The mayor answers by giving Colbert permission to pee in Newark… as long as he uses a urinal!
Watch it:

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Filed under ACLU, Brick City, Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, Newark NJ, Stephen Colbert, Sundance Channel, The Colbert Report

Video: Cory Booker & Jon Corzine: Partners in Education

I received the following email from Newark Mayor Cory Booker tonight stressing what a good job Governor Corzine has done in leading and maintaining the high standards for education in the state. The video that accompanied the email I thought was excellent and a must watch:
Dear Friends.

It’s that time of year again — the summer is over and we’re sending our children back to school for another school year.

As I meet with teachers, administrators and students in Newark, I’ve been reflecting on the changes that I’ve witnessed in our schools over the last four years and Jon Corzine’s leadership when it comes to education in New Jersey.

Governor Corzine has increased funding for our schools by over $1 billion over the last four years, and here in Newark we’re making the most of it — we have three Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence and seen 4 new schools built to serve the children and families of our great City.

While we’ve made some important strides, there is much work to be done to ensure that every New Jersey child receives an excellent education. Jon Corzine is our partner in this critical mission.

Your help and support could make a real and lasting impact in the New Jersey Governor’s race, so please get involved today.

Thank you,
Mayor Cory Booker

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Filed under Cory Booker, Education, Gov. Jon Corzine, Mayor of Newark, Newark NJ

There Is Too Much Disagreement For Disagreement’s Sake.

I spend a lot of time preparing and looking for things to write about and/or post on this blog.  I found the following blog post from Newark’s Mayor Cory Booker extremely interesting and enlightening.
 It pays homage to Jack Kemp, the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development(HUD) and one time Vice-Presidential candidate,who passed away last week. 
It is well worth a once over. 
Booker talks about when he was a young man and how he was a fiercely committed Democrat until he had a change of heart when he had the opportunity to meet Jack Kemp.
Kemp at the time was the HUD secretarty under the 1st President Bush and  Booker was working with youth in East Palo Alto, California while attending college. It was a chance meeting that changed Booker’s outlook and the blog post pays homage to the late 

“In a time of persistent challenges that still call into question our most sacred aspirations as a country, we cannot afford shallow callous divisiveness in our public debate. We become distracted from productive labors by our perceived opponents; we become focused on them and not on our larger calling to advance our nation; our debate becomes more about scoring points against an adversary and less about advancing our common cause. And we DO have a common cause.

In college, I was a fiercely committed Democrat – a meeting Jack Kemp, then Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, challenged my blind partisanship. I met Secretary Kemp in East Palo Alto, California where I was working with youth. He was a Republican, I was a Democrat yet somehow he cut right through my then natural state of cynicism. I must confess that I almost regretted that I immediately liked this Bush appointed HUD Secretary. My mother has a saying, “who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say.” It wasn’t his gift for gab that struck me but the power of his ideas and his authentic spirit. Kemp was clearly passionate about urban spaces and the people of cities. He immediately engaged me (a college student) in a direct candid manner; he appealed to my compassion and my logic. And more than that, it was obvious that he was not in East Palo Alto looking for a photo op surrounded by people of color — he was there to listen, to share his ideas and hear concerns.

After that meeting, I sought out more about Jack Kemp. I ordered some of his speeches and read what I could. I found I disagreed with him on some matters of policy, but reading and listening to him, I found that he always challenged me in the most productive of ways. My study of Kemp encouraged me to learn more about subjects from tax policy to international trade and, on occasion, I had to yield to the strength of his ideas and change my views. “

Continue reading >>> Here

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Filed under Booker's blog, Cory Booker, Jack Kemp, Mayor of Newark, Newark NJ, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development