Free Press community empowerment event in Hackensack Wed June 7 – all welcome!

FreePress - freedomWhat: Our Voices, Our Future: What Residents and Civic Leaders Want in Local Media
When: Wed., June 7th, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Where: Johnson Public Library, 274 Main St, Hackensack NJ

Here’s what you can expect at the event: Free Press members, residents, journalists, and community leaders will be gathering to share ideas on how local media can better serve the public. You’ll get a chance to meet others like you, take action to address New Jersey’s local news crisis, and brainstorm about the steps we can take together to improve coverage in your community.

Hundreds of Jews break the sanctity of the Sabbath to save a life – that couldn’t be saved

Deborah Stubin missing flyer
Source: Passaic Police Department

The Daily Mail covers the discovery of Devorah Stubin’s car and body: a 22 year old woman who suffered from occasional seizures and became lost in Maywood, NJ last Thursday night after exiting the Garden State Parkway. reports on the community turn-out to search for Devorah and bring her home:

Hundreds of members of the Orthodox Jewish community from around the tri-state area flocked to Passaic Friday as news surfaced of the missing 22-year-old.

“It’s amazing how many people gave up their Sabbath to come help in the search,” said Leat Kuzinar, a family friend. “There were 200 to 300 people, more than what we needed.”

On Saturday Wallington police said a car found submerged in the water matched the description and license plate of Stubin’s, who was driving a gray, four-door 1998 Mitsubishi Galant.

On Sunday, authorities confirmed the body had been identified as Stubin.

Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman of Congregation Ahavas Israel in Passaic, NJ writes:

Today is Motzei Shabbos the 6th of Shevat 5776 and January 16, 2016

True Chessed

Shocked, stunned, numbed, and speechless; these are just a few of the words which describe our feelings this Motzei Shabbos.

As Shabbos came to a close all of us were informed that the massive search for the safe return of Devorah bas Shoshanah Rus and the Tefillos which were being said on her behalf have been halted.

As Shabbos ended the news travelled quickly that Devorah Stubin was not coming home.

Our hopes for her safe return were dashed as news of her demise was quickly disseminated in the Jewish world and beyond.

Plans for a celebration when she would be found were now replaced with arraignments for a funeral.

I did not know Devorah bas Shoshanah Rus; many who did tell me she was indeed a special Neshama.

I did not know her; however, I do know many of those who sacrificed Shabbos with their families to spend Shabbos in Maywood, New Jersey in the cold and in the rain.

Jews from Brooklyn, Lakewood, Monsey, Teaneck, Elizabeth, Passaic, Clifton and other places all joined together through their hearts and hands left the comfort of their homes and their families to search and attempt to find a young woman whom they never had met.

They survived on an hour of sleep here and there and on high energy caffeinated beverages throughout the day.

They did not care about hot Chulent or warm beds; they did not think about what Shul they should go to or not go to; their focus was singularly on the finding of Devorah bas Shoshanah Rus.

No one cared if you were Chassidish or Litvish, Modern or Open Orthodox; if you wear a hat or if you wife wears a Shaitel or a Tichel, all they cared about was Devorah bas Shoshanah Rus.

Dozens and dozens and volunteers left their warm beds this Shabbos to help find a young woman whose name most had never heard of before Thursday evening.

The togetherness and the unity allow me to feel consoled and that is good.

The outcome was not what he davened or hoped for; however, the display of unity is what we daven for.

I was privileged to count among the many volunteers who gave up their Shabbos for Devorah’s sake two of my own sons.

Both of them spent hours and hours searching and looking for Devorah bas Shoshanah Rus.

This morning at 7 o’clock my son and I left the house together.

He was on his to search for Devorah and I was on my way to search for Hashem.

Before I headed to Shul I walked him to his car.

I proudly stood by as he entered the car and gave him a brocha for success.

As I watched him pull away from the curb, I thanked Hashem for giving me children who care enough about His children to know that sometimes serving Him means even driving on Shabbos.

As Shaya turned the corner, I turned to Shul.

As I walked I wondered which one of us was the one to emulate: the rabbi on his way to Shul or the rabbi’s son on his way to find a lost Jew.

If Not Now, Then When? ~ Hillel

Indeed. It was clearly Rachel’s time to reunite with Hashem, but even many who did not have the chance to know her – like me – are feeling her loss. RIP, Miss Rachel … May your family and friends find comfort in the loving embrace of Our Creator and may you find eternal joy at Hashem’s right hand.

Meet with journalists in a free forum and get help telling YOUR story about life in Atlantic City

NJ News Voices in ACFree Press wants to help Atlantic City community members tell your stories to the press:

We’ve heard what outsiders have to say about Atlantic City. Now it’s your turn. Meet with journalists in a community forum and tell YOUR story about life in Atlantic City.

My Atlantic City – What’s Your AC Story?
Tues 08 Dec 2015 | 6–8:30 pm
(light refreshments will be served)
Noyes Arts Garage at Stockton University
200 Fairmount Ave
Atlantic City NJ
RSVP today

We hear from Creative New Jersey that some stories may get into a PBS documentary and that free training on media platforms will be offered to all participants.

Thousands join mayor’s Occupy the City rally on Saturday to support Newark, youth & to stamp out violence

Mayor Baraka and CommonLed by Rapper-activist-actor Common joined Mayor Ras J. Baraka, the Newark Municipal Council and actor-rapper-activist Common, thousands of Newark residents united to “Occupy the City” on Saturday, August 8, meeting at a designated location in each of Newark’s five wards at 3:30 pm and marching to the City’s historic downtown “Four Corners” at Broad and Market Streets for a huge anti-violence and community support rally.

Building on the success and support from Newark residents during his “Occupy the Block events, Mayor Baraka hosted the “Occupy the City” event to unite residents against despair, violence, and crime in Newark and to promote love, hope and empowerment. “Occupy the Block” is a community engagement tool modeled after the historic “Occupy” movement, which advocates the social disruption of harmful or ineffective social constructs. Marchers wore purple t-shirts specially made for the occasion.


The Mayor called upon residents to take action against violence in their neighborhoods by reporting incidents of crime to the police, organizing themselves and their neighbors as communities and providing hands-on nurturing and mentoring to children, beginning in their own homes and neighborhoods.

“We need peace in our community. We need it now. No more silence! Stop the violence,” the Mayor urged. “It’s not enough to be on Twitter and Facebook cursing people out. You have to get out into the street and stop blaming people. How many kids have you talked to? How many kids have you mentored? How many organizations have you joined? What are you doing? Have you gone into your schools? Have you joined the PTA? Have you gone to School Board meetings?”

Walking up Market St

“Our kids should not have Chinese-made assault rifles. It’s easier to get a Chinese-made assault rifle in our community than a decent loaf of bread. Our children should not lie on our streets, dying in pool of their own blood, from bullets from a foreign-made assault rifle. Our children should not have to lie on the floor to avoid the bullets. Our children deserve to live in a safe neighborhood and grow up to be surgeons and doctors and Supreme Court justices,” he asserted.

The Mayor also spoke directly to parents and guardians of children in attendance. “Do you talk to the child in your kitchen? Do you talk to the child in your living room? Do you talk to the child on your corner, wearing his pants down and a white t-shirt? You should be talking to him.

“These kids who are committing crimes are babies, 14 and 15 years old. They don’t pay taxes, they don’t vote, they don’t run this city, and they don’t bring jobs to community. They don’t decide who is the Superintendent of Schools or who the mayor is. So how are they in charge of your house, building, street, and block? You are the adults! You have to stand up straight.”

Mayor Baraka called upon parents to set examples by using culture as a positive force, noting that while many parents use social media to complain about conditions in Newark, their neglected children are misbehaving and listening to music that preaches violence and destruction.

Mayor Baraka speaks“Turn off that radio,” Mayor Baraka exhorted repeatedly. “They listen to songs that say ‘I got high last night’ and ‘murder, murder, murder.’ We need music that is positive. Teach your babies to sing positive songs at age 8, 9 and 10. We want them to sing at age 10, ‘I am beautiful on purpose and outstanding.’ Not, I’m going to shoot some dude on the corner. Put on songs that make babies love each other and make kids think they are big strong and powerful. Put on songs that say we can do anything we want to do and that we should love each other. If you don’t have one, I’ll give you my playlist. Listen to that in your house instead of complaining on Facebook about where are police at. They should be in your living room. Take responsibility. Culture is a weapon. It can be for us or against us. It is for us and kept us as a people from slave shouts to gospel, jazz to blues. The music that is going on is aiding in death and destruction of own children.”

The Mayor also addressed pain the community experiences as an underlying cause of violence. “We have to address the pain of hopelessness, poverty, unemployment, and death. We have to address the pain of destruction in community, of powerlessness and of inequality. We have to address the pain our kids feel – of having no money in pocket, having no clothes to wear to school for five days, and no food in the house when our kids get get home. We have to address the pain of having an older brother in jail or a youth being in jail at age 17 or having just got out of jail and not being able to get a job, or a driver’s license. We have to address the pain of being a crime victim. We have to address the pain of being 17 years old and can’t read.”

Mayor Baraka called on residents to organize outside their homes. “When we leave here, what are you going to do? We didn’t come here just to make you feel good. When you go home, become part of a block association. If you haven’t got one, start one. If you have one, join it. Start a block watch. Patrol your neighborhoods. We need people to question people who are on the block who don’t live there. If you live on the block and don’t know your neighbors, that’s a problem. Ring doorbells and introduce yourselves.”

The mayor also reminded attendees of the importance of speaking up, particularly when the criminals are known to community residents or are family members.

1000s rally

“People aren’t dropping these kids from helicopters or UFOs into neighborhoods. We know these kids. They’re related to you all. They are our sons and brothers. But instead of taking action, you hide them in your basement. You get them out of town. They cause havoc in the neighborhood in the neighborhood and you protect them. You don’t stop them. You don’t grab them up. You don’t tell on them. But then you’re on Twitter complaining about what the mayor should do when your son is out there creating havoc. You need to say something to hem. Pull them aside. Have a rally in your own living room and kitchen. Hold an ‘Occupy Your House’ rally,” he said.

“We have to open our mouths. No more silence. Tell. It’s over. When you tell, you’re not a snitch. It’s different. When you tell, you’re saying, ‘I’m not with you. I’m not part of what you’re doing. Being a snitch means ‘we’re together.’ Telling means you’re saying: ‘You don’t belong on my block – you’re causing problems in the community, I’m calling the police. We should all be telling. Then go to the next block, and make them tell, too.”

The Mayor also called upon state and federal agencies to replicate the Marshall Plan that rebuilt western Europe after World War II in America’s urban cities. “When we fought wars in other countries, we rebuilt their roads, gave money for police and built hospitals, schools, and the whole infrastructure. Our cities and infrastructure are crumbling. We need new schools, hospitals and roads. We need jobs. Not 100, or 1,000, but 5,000 and 10,000. We need this in Newark and every city in country. We need it now.

“We must end poverty. It is the number one enemy. It is the worst form of violence. It is killing us. That is why we are fighting. Violence is a public health issue. Violence is a disease that spreads everywhere. It kills people. We all know mothers who have lost children to prison and shootings. We must treat it as a disease. No more silence. Stop the violence. Say, ‘We are human beings. We don’t deserve to die on sidewalks at age 13 or 14 years old.'”

The rallying points and contact organizers for each ward were:

  • North Ward: Victoria Avenue and Cutler Street. Contact: Daniel Figueroa (201) 566- 6097
  • South Ward: Brunswick Street and Astor Street. Contact: Stacey Hillsman (973) 715-3629
  • East Ward: Pennington Court. Contact: Ligia DeFreitas (201) 566-3137
  • West Ward: 15th Street and 15th Avenue. Contact: Marques-Aquil Lewis (201) 566-5108
  • Central Ward: Central Avenue and 9th Street. Contact: Al’Tarik Onque (201) 463-6372

Many groups joined in led by city and community organizers and Municipal Council members led marchers from their wards to the rally. Chief of Staff Amiri Baraka, Jr. served as Master of Ceremonies.

Common speaks“From Chicago to Newark, we are one people. We must work to find peace within ourselves and to be at peace with each. Violence destroys the beauty inside of us and kills our communities. Let’s unite and do what is right,” Common told the crowd.

Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, co-founder and President of GrassROOTS Community Foundation and Assistant Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, served as the rally host. Speakers included Abyssinian Baptist Church pastor Reverend Perry Simmons; Nicole Paultre Bell, fiancée of police shooting victim Sean Bell; and representatives of clergy and community organizations.

Actor, director and Newark native John Amos“When I was growing up here and misbehaving, people would say, ‘Amos, if you keep doing that, you’ll wind up in Rahway State Prison,'” recounted Newark native and actor John Amos. “Well, I cleaned up my act, and I did wind up in Rahway, only I was making a movie with Sly Stallone! We need for our children to be able to achieve the same dreams – to be actors, lawyers, doctors or Supreme Court justices.”

During the rally, the Newark Fire Department provided information about their drive to recruit new firefighters, while the Mayor’s Read and Believe program gave out free children’s books.

Photo Credits: City of Newark Press Information Office

Learn more about the City of Newark:
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View the official City photo gallery

Thriving local economies means more health & resilience

walmart never respectsWalmart and Target say they help communities overcome health issues and the ill effects of poverty but the reverse is true.Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Stacey Mitchell writes about the difference between communities with thriving local economies and those dominated by Big Box retail giants:

study found that counties dominated by a few big firms have … less engaged citizens than those in which economic activity is dispersed across many locally owned businesses. “We find that residents of communities with highly concentrated economies (ed note: where big box stores predominate) tend to vote less and are less likely to keep up with local affairs, participate in associations, engage in reform efforts or participate in protest activities at the same levels as their counterparts in economically dispersed environments (ed note: where small businesses proliferate)…”.

Sociologists Stephan Goetz and Anil Rupasingha have linked this decline in civic participation to Walmart specifically. With each Walmart store that opens, social capital erodes, their research finds. Communities with more Walmart stores have lower voter turnout and fewer active nonprofit organizations. In their latest study, published in June, they’ve documented a correlation between Walmart and the presence of hate groups.

Still other research has linked the regional market share of large retail chains with higher rates of poverty, infant mortality, and crime.

Why is local ownership so nourishing to the social and civic fabric of communities? One (reason is) local business owners themselves. Their personal and financial interests are tied to the community’s well-being and, as a result, they are often active in various civic endeavors. While small business owners gain prestige and influence by contributing to community improvement, corporate managers garner status by advancing the company’s interest, even at the expense of the community.

Another reason is that cities with a strong entrepreneurial culture and local control of economic resources have more capacity to solve problems on their own and are more resilient and adaptable in times of distress. Those that are dependent on outside corporations have little ability to marshal resources to overcome challenges.

Attend info session for NJ’s non-violent fugitive Safe Surrender program

Fugitive_Surrender foto imgTwo information sessions for November’s Fugitive Safe Surrender program are being held 6:30-8:30pm on Thursday, Oct. 17 in Hackensack and Tuesday, Oct. 22 in Paterson, NJ. Faith workers, community and re-entry advocates, criminal justice students and attorney volunteers will want to attend a session to learn directly from experts handling the program, what it can do for non-violent offender law fugitives. Volunteer needs and opportunities will also be discussed. Law and criminal justice student volunteers will gain valuable insights into the legal system and CE credits will be issued to attorney volunteers.

Fugitive Safe Surrender is not an amnesty program. But, it is a chance for law fugitives to regain control over their lives; clear away outstanding warrants; and become eligible to renew driver’s licenses, apply for social service programs and arrange low dollar payment plans for back child support and court ordered fines. The program is administered by the New Jersey Attorney General, with the support of Bergen, Passaic and Hudson County and their partners, and it will be held November 6-9, 2013 at a Jersey City church.

New Jersey residents with outstanding arrest warrants for non-violent offenses, who are either US citizens or green card holders, can participate in this program and secure the opportunity to stop hiding from the law and get phenomenal help to positively transform their lives. 13,276K people received same-day clearing of arrest warrants when this program last ran in 2008, and this year’s program is expected to follow along similar lines. 99% of those who surrendered in 2008 were released the same day with their societal privileges fully restored and less than 1% of applicants were taken into custody because a history of serious offenses made them ineligible for participation.

Fugitive Safe Surrender NJ ImageThis year, once participants’ warrants have been cleared by volunteer judges who will be approving and filing agreements right on site, participants will meet with staff from social service agencies and the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission. They will have the chance to – right on the spot – renew driver’s licenses and get help filling out applications for LI-HEAP (assistance paying heat bills) and other aid. Volunteer lawyers will help participants prepare the paperwork to enter into probation programs or agreements for paying outstanding child support or court ordered fines. Participants will be given the chance to make small monthly payments they can afford.

The goal of Fugitive Safe Surrender is to relieve several thousand New Jersey residents from the stress and challenges of living in legal limbo due to outstanding arrest warrants by giving them an opportunity to clear away warrants, normalize their lives and increase their employment opportunities. Not only individuals, families and communities will benefit: law enforcement officers and courts will also gain more time to focus on serious criminal offenders once the records of people with minor offenses have been cleared from the system.

Hackensack Fugitive Safe Surrender Information Session
Thursday 17 Oct 2013 | 6:30-8:30pm
Ciarco Learning Center (of Bergen Community College)
355 Main Street – Room 134 – Hackensack, NJ
(Free Parking Behind Building)
Download flier

Paterson Fugitive Safe Surrender Information Session
Tuesday 22 Oct 2013 | 6:30-8:30pm
Rogers Conference Center
32 Spruce Street (rear) – 2nd Floor – Paterson, NJ
(Parking at 75 Spruce Street-enter on Grand Street side)
Download flier

For more information and to volunteer at the surrender event, contact Margaret Anastos:
973-504-6241 or 6317 or 6441 |

The surrender event itself will take place:
Wed/Mier Nov 6 2013 9am-4pm
Thurs/Jueves Nov 7 2013 9am-4pm
Fri/Vier Nov 8 2013 9am-4pm
Sat/Sáb Nov 9 2013 9am-4pm
At Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church
661 Montgomery St, Jersey City, New Jersey 07306

Fugitive Safe Surrender 2013 Fact Sheets
Fugitive Safe Surrender 2013 Program Facts
Fugitive Safe Surrender 2013 Q & A sheet
Acerca del Programa de Delincuente Entrega Protegida
Delincuente Entrega Protegida 2013 Preguntas y

Written by Kimi Wei Facebook @kimiwei

Sharpe James corrects NY Times reporter on Newark history

Branch Brook Park & cathedral
Branch Brook Park

Today I came across this letter from former Newark mayor Sharpe James to the author of a front page December 2012 New York Times article about Cory Booker: Promise vs. Reality in Newark on Mayor’s Watch. Written by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter author Kate Zernike, the article presents an unflattering view of Booker, but it also refers offhandedly to Mr. James as corrupt. In this statement, Mr. James rebuts that characterization and shares some history about Newark and its governmental accomplishments.

The letter is posted on the Newark Speaks forum posted by user J. Sharpe James, J.D.

Sharpe James
59 Wilbur Avenue
Newark, NJ 07112

December 15, 2012

Kate Zernike, Writer
New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, New York 10018-1405

Re: NY Times Article December 14, 2012
Promise vs. Reality in Newark on Mayor’s Watch

Dear Ms. Zernike:

It is always interesting that you, the Newark Star Ledger and other media outlets feel a need to bash Sharpe James, distort my legacy in office and to label me with “corruption” when writing about Mayor Cory Booker who has been in office for six years. The obvious aim is to soften, deflect and render him less vulnerable to the issues you raised, or more succinctly stated, “James was worse.” You are apologizing to Mr. Booker, strangely enough you have a fear of him.

It is totally disingenuous for you to write that, “And few people deny Mr. Booker’s accomplishments, particularly compared with those of his predecessor, Sharpe James, who went to federal prison for corruption. Mr. Booker has reduced the city’s structural deficit. Downtown has had a building boom, including the city’s first two hotels and first new supermarket in decades,” is all hogwash in being polite.

By simply calling me “corrupt” you then dismiss the Sharpe James record of building five new schools in Newark, brought Blue Cross/Blue Shield Insurance Company back to Newark after ten years, the award winning Society Hill at University Heights Housing, demolished every failed high rise in public housing and replaced them with state of the art townhouses, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), the Bears/Eagles Riverfront Stadium, new FBI Headquarters, Home Depot to Newark, Applebee’s, Starbuck and other restaurants, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. office building and federal courthouse, Branch Brook Park Roller Skating Rink, brought IDT and MBNA to Newark, 1 Washington Street restoration , Gateway 2 and 3, The Legal Center, The Newark Center, Newark International Airport billion dollar expansion, New Rutgers and Seton Hall Law Schools, new PSE&G Headquarters, Expansion of our Newark Museum and Library, new James/Gibson Aquatic Center.

From the train to the plane rail link, The Newark Theater, Hope V1 Project that changed the central ward (drive Prince Street), Berkeley College to Newark, 1180 Raymond Boulevard Townhouses, three to four new neighborhood supermarkets, 10,000 units of new and rehab housing throughout every ward and neighborhood and Prudential Center, just to name a few. Even the judge at my trial made note of my accomplishments (see later), which you ignore to buttress your flawed story.

In retrospect, the reality is that you never attended or read the transcript of my trial, never evaluated my record in office, never toured Newark, completely ignorant of my appeals before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (Count 5 dropped and refunded $20,000) and have no knowledge that my third appeal is pending before the same court and will be held on February 11, 2013.

If you did, there is no way under “God” could you write that I went to jail for corruption and that Booker’s alleged two hotels and a supermarket gave the citizens more than Sharpe James did in twenty years. The last person to make that false claim was Alfred C. Koeppe, CEO of the Newark Alliance (politically motivated) and I am still waiting for Al’s response to my letter (enclosed herein) of March 2, 2012.

Please let me set the record straight.

Firstly, who told you there was a structural budget deficit during the James Administration? Who did you talk too? For your correct information the James Administration balanced 20 annual budgets (1986-2006) without borrowing one dime from anyone, did not raise the municipal levy or lay off a single employee, nor change our budget timeline to conform to the state as requested by former governor Florio. Moreover, after our $1 billion settlement with the Port Authority of NY/NJ in 2005 and receiving $450 million in cash, we put Newark’s future first.

We provided property tax relief for the next four years, set aside $185 million to build Prudential Center (which Booker criticized and now calls “his arena”); and after Mr. Booker took us to court to stop us from creating a trust fund for the citizens to decide how to spend the money, we left $80 Million in cash on the table (July 1, 2006) for the incoming Booker Administration.

Secondly, I was arrested, charged, convicted and sent to prison for a crime I legally could not, nor did I commit, because Mayor Cory Booker and then U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie formed a cozy relationship to get rid of me. Mayor Booker purposely did not pay routine overlapping municipal bills during the transition from the James Administration to the Mayor Booker Administration in asking Christie to investigate (travel expenditures) which led to overzealous prosecutorial/political action (James was the poster boy in Christie becoming governor) as being examined by the BET (Black Entertainment Television) current documentary series entitled “VINDICATED.”

Here are the remarks of Federal District Court Judge the Honorable William J. Martini for your review, an official transcript can be obtained by calling Walter J. Perelli, C.S.R., Official Court Reporter at 973-????-????:

Judge Martini: “No, no, I’m fully aware that there was no evidence that suggested that defendant James provided a lower price for Tamika Riley for obtaining these properties.” (This was the whole false trial/theme before the jury) 7/28/08 p. 53 L 2-4

Judge Martini: “I think most of his conduct was conduct that was inherent in the very nature of his position as Mayor. There wasn’t much in this case that suggested that he asked anyone to do something, you know, to not even have her apply; not to do anything.” P 136 L 8-12

Judge Martini: To the government: “But don’t talk in terms the history of corruption unless you’ve proven that, you didn’t prove that in this courtroom as far as I was concerned. (NO CORRUPTION PROVEN ) 7/29/08 P-99-100, L-22-25; P-26 L-1

Judge Martini: “I don’t want to hear these generalizations (no proof of) about corrupt administration, all powerful, didn’t do anything good, I don’t want to hear it.” 7/29/08 P 100 L-1-5

Judge Martini: “I had the benefit of hearing this trial. “This is not a bribery offense, this is not an offense where a public official was taking money directly to be influenced to approve some land deal or to award some contracts. And in this Court’s opinion, that’s a more serious offense than what happened here.” 7/29/08 P 139, L1-11

Judge Martini: “The City of Newark did not lose any money in this. In fact, these properties were put back on the tax roll within the same amount of time-nobody alleged there was a delay in developing them-and they got back on the tax roll and the City did receive taxable funds from these properties.” (SA 1248)

Judge Martini: “There was no direct monetary benefit to defendant James.” 7/29/08 P 135, L 19-20

The district court detailed its knowledge of the history and characteristics of defendant Sharpe James:

Judge Martini: “Coming into court today, driving through Newark as I do everyday, I began at the north end of Newark and I came first upon the Bears Stadium. I then came upon the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. I then came upon the Gateway, Broadway—Broad Street, the new arena, which anybody who was ever in this state 20 years ago, no one ever existed. In fact, 20 years ago people thought that would have been a dream to imagine an art center in this City at that time, an arena, baseball stadium, not to mention a lot of the other things that all you have to do is somebody who comes into the City, look around and observe. ”All of this happened during the defendants tenure in office.”

Judge Martini: I know why we’re here, because I found last week, we’re here because there was a breach of honest services, and the failure of the Mayor to disclose his relationship while awarding contracts is a “deprivation of honest services”…..I know a little bit about public service and I know that that’s wrong .7/29/08 P 30, L8-14

Judge Martini was correct in stating that the United States argued all counts 1-5 as honest service crimes which were before the Supreme Court. Also the United States did not adduce sufficient evidence to underpin any conviction of the various forms of fraud alleged in counts one through five. Their false charges were refuted by the law, evidence and testimony of both government and defense witnesses and the trial judge himself. Not one witness accused me of committing any crime.

On June 24, 2010 the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling (a vote of 9-0) that limited the honest service fraud statue to cover only bribery and kickback schemes, which was not present in my case. They unanimously stated that the law against “honest services” fraud was too vague to constitute a crime unless a bribe or kickback.

I should have been a free man. Every other defendant in America had their honest services charges removed. Here in New Jersey Mayor Vas of Perth Amboy and former chairman of the Democratic Party in Bergen County, Joseph A. Ferriero, both had their honest services charges dropped.

My second appeal “currently pending” is on jury misconduct whereas Mayor Booker who called for my investigation and wanted me convicted, had two of his employees’ son served on the jury without disclosing this material information. My guilt verdict would be seen as
an act of loyalty for their job retention.

Finally, I wish to advise you that the Marriott Courtyard Hotel was part of the James’ Administration original arena plan and the new Panasonic building is being built due to our insight (visionary) to leave a surface steel foundation in place next to our legal center for such a construction.

Your other hotel credit (rehab bldg.) for Booker requires some strong imagination against the 10 Hotels built and two major supermarkets (Pathmarks on Ferry and Bergen Streets) built during the James Administration. For your information I am enclosing herein the “James Administration Report Card” for your review.

Please drive our once notorious Prince Street from Springfield Avenue to end and see for yourself our positive change in Newark’s landscape, or tell me what significance we made in Newark by demolishing all of Newark’s failed high rises (“reservations for the poor”) and turned them into state of the art townhouses, where citizens are now fighting to get into public housing and not out.
I would also like to believe that my two year fight and victory against the city council and the Newark Coalition for low income housing to institute “my NHA implosion program” with Federal Judge Dickinson Debevoise becoming the monitor and demanding a “one for one unit replacement,” changed the image, quality and quantity of life in Newark forever:
• No more Columbus Homes
• No more Archbishop Walsh
• No more Stella Wright
• No more Hayes Homes
• No more Otto E. Kretchmer Homes
• No more Scudder Homes
• No more Hill Manor

I have purposely and respectfully refrained from any public criticizing or commenting on the Booker Administration, it would be wrong and self serving. I love Newark too much to divide our city. However, I can not allow you to willy-nilly draw false comparisons of my record in office because of your lack of due diligence in writing your December 14, 2012 article entitled “Promise vs. Reality in Newark for High-Profile Mayor. The citizens of Newark deserve better.

In closing, I would welcome the opportunity to give you a personal tour of the James Administration “Sharpe Change” in Newark.

With best wishes for the holiday season, I remain

Respectfully yours,
Sharpe James

Poverty creates poor school performance. Time to stop it.

Kennedy with kids

Kennedy with kidsBobby Kennedy made hunger and poverty relief a top priority with his Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, but 50 years later the United States has the 2nd highest rate of poverty among industrialized nations. And Dale Hansen of the Detroit News is asking, if poverty is the biggest problem education faces, why aren’t we more focused on relieving it? Dale supplies his own answer: Republicans are way too committed to their war on public education to allow positive change to get in their way.


History says that public education has been one of the leading mechanisms for lifting families out of poverty, so what statement is being made by Republicans and their allies who are systematically destroying public education in New Jersey Chicago, Philly, Michigan and other states? In New Jersey, for example, even though school districts directly controlled by the State are failing miserably, Christie just took over the Camden school district and has announced plans to facilitate privatization there as he has done in the three other State takeover school districts. Dale says,

… The reality is that the our-education-system-is-broken argument is .. fundamentally flawed. Republicans use it as an excuse to push their alternate agenda to corporatize our children’s education. Corporatization has been shown to be no better than the system they are working so hard to replace … Republicans … claim our education system is broken, insisting that teachers unions and bad teachers are the crux of the problem. Unfortunately, this is all based on anecdotal evidence as the data shows no such correlation.

And he shows another way private backers are scheming to get hold of public education funds: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s education project, “aims to take more money away from public schools and funnel it to private organizations using what smacks of a voucher program.”

Education advocates have learned that school privatization backers around the country are part of a well-oiled machine backed by ALEC and the Koch Brothers, who are intent on destroying public education in favor of charter schools. The charters they back are privately run organizations managed with public tax dollars but no accountability to the local residents who pay those taxes; and charter schools are being built in vulnerable urban hubs populated by families of color with a high incidence of poverty level incomes. The charters are hugely profitable to founders who build and run them and to the investors who finance their construction. In fact, investments are doubled in under 7 years through use of New Markets Tax Credits.

Instead of combat poverty, the privatization of school administration, food, janitorial, secretarial and even in-class aide staff is institutionalizing it. Earlier this month (April 2013), kids in Attleboro Massachusetts were denied lunch if they owed as little as 5¢ on their cafeteria cards. They were sent away from the food line to finish the rest of their school day hungry. The principal blamed the food service, whose spokesman blamed the cafeteria workers. But it seems highly unlikely that the food service workers would dare to make a policy decision in a matter such as this.

It’s highly unlikely that food workers would want to deny poor children their midday meal for another reason: the workers, themselves, are victims of poverty. Typically, these (mostly) ladies earn only minimum wage, may not be given full-time working hours and they receive few to none of the benefits enjoyed by personnel directly employed by schools. It’s an interesting side-note that the wellbeing of school food service workers who are underpaid by their employers ends up being yet another cost to taxpayers. The Rutgers University Center for Women and Work/School of Management,

… ascertained that 64 percent of NJ K-12 school districts contract their food service to an outside company and that those private sector cafeteria jobs are largely part-time and typical(ly offer) no affordable health benefits. As a result, most workers are uninsured or forced to turn to the state’s public health insurance programs – a result that contributes largely to the school food service industry acting as one of the biggest drains on New Jersey FamilyCare, as over 6,300 employees and their children (are) covered by the taxpayer-funded state health assistance plan.

The GOP backed war on public education is carried out through the vehicle of privatization, which creates wealth for investors, poverty for employees and is used to tear down quality of life in communities by replacing neighborhood public schools with charters that lack community accountability and are not accessible to all of the students who need a place to be educated after charter school invasions cause their own neighborhood schools to close. It’s time for us to stand up in support of public education and take a stand against unscrupulous charter school owners, investors and the politicians who help move the school privatization agenda forward. We need to support strong public education, community engagement in schools and neighborhoods, and make this the agenda we move determinedly forward – to the farthest point we can take it.