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Can St. Louis Learn From Newark NJ & Cory Booker?

July 18, 2011 Crime, Economy, Politics/Policy 17 Comments

I’ve seen Cory Booker  on TV and in the news. Booker is the young mayor of Newark NJ. To some of you, 42 may not be young, but anything younger than me (44) is young in my book.

ABOVE: The Manhattan skyline as seen from the NJ Turnpike on January 15, 2008

I’ve been to Newark once.  More accurately, I saw the highway exit as I was driving to Rhode Island in January 2008. I wanted to stop and visit, but my schedule didn’t permit.

Troubled cities are attractive to me for some reason, perhaps the challenge of reversing negative trends? Newark, like Detroit and St. Louis, has serious issues.  I knew in 2008 that Newark had this new mayor, 37 when he was elected mayor. Booker’s lost to 4-term incumbent Sharpe James in 2002 but when James didn’t seek a 6th term in 2006 Booker won the non-partisan election.

As I watched Street Fight, the documentary of the 2002 race, I couldn’t help think of parallels to St. Louis:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8jtAASYdLw

Old urban city with a large African-American population, poor performing public schools, poverty & high crime, entrenched machine politics and the dirty tricks that go along with that to discourage challengers.

Famed urban engineer Harland Bartholomew worked for Newark before coming to St. Louis.  We’d have been better off had he stayed there.

Newark does have some differences from St. Louis. Their elections are non-partisan, their municipal council has only 9 members – five from wards and four at-large. Corruption in Newark is so bad “where every mayor since 1962 (except the current one, Cory Booker) has been indicted for crimes committed while in office.” (Newsweek)

I plan to learn more about Newark’s efforts to reduce violent crime, improve schools and attract jobs. I’ve started watching episodes of Sundance Channel’s Brick City series.

– Steve Patterson

 

 

Currently there are "17 comments" on this Article:

  1. After watching both Street Fight and Brick City several months ago, it seems Newark’s biggest obstacle (IMO) is its residents.  While some are welcoming the change that Booker is trying to bring to the city, there are many citizens that would be much more comfortable with the status quo.  When positive change does come to Newark, many residents are quick to point out the negatives and get on their high horse to complain and point out how the city officials are bringing them down.  Unfortunately, there is just a lot of negativity in Newark (or so it appeared from Brick City).  While St Louis does possess many of the same challenges as Newark, I think the mindset of St Louisans is a little more optimistic than one from Newark.  Regional attitudes are different (northeast vs midwest), St Louis doesn’t suffer from the same kind of corruption as Newark, and St Louis is the big boy in Missouri – we’re not in the shadow of America’s most prosperous city across the river (harbor).

     
  2. After watching both Street Fight and Brick City several months ago, it seems Newark’s biggest obstacle (IMO) is its residents.  While some are welcoming the change that Booker is trying to bring to the city, there are many citizens that would be much more comfortable with the status quo.  When positive change does come to Newark, many residents are quick to point out the negatives and get on their high horse to complain and point out how the city officials are bringing them down.  Unfortunately, there is just a lot of negativity in Newark (or so it appeared from Brick City).  While St Louis does possess many of the same challenges as Newark, I think the mindset of St Louisans is a little more optimistic than one from Newark.  Regional attitudes are different (northeast vs midwest), St Louis doesn’t suffer from the same kind of corruption as Newark, and St Louis is the big boy in Missouri – we’re not in the shadow of America’s most prosperous city across the river (harbor).

     
    • You are right about Newark being in the shadow of NYC, but it is the biggest city in NJ. Those supporting the status quo was certainly a problem in 2002 but Booker was reelected to a second term in 2010. St. Louis suffers from those just willing to accept the status quo.

       
      • You’re right about St Louis still having plenty of complacent citizens who are resistant to change – you’re going to find that in most cities.  Unfortunately, a lot of the forward-thinking issues that you discuss on your site (i.e. reducing ward #s) will get the most opposition from those in said category.

        In any case, I really enjoyed the Newark programs and hope St. Louis can one day elect its own Cory Booker – someone (most) all residents can rally around for big, positive changes in the city.

         
  3. You are right about Newark being in the shadow of NYC, but it is the biggest city in NJ. Those supporting the status quo was certainly a problem in 2002 but Booker was reelected to a second term in 2010. St. Louis suffers from those just willing to accept the status quo.

     
  4. You’re right about St Louis still having plenty of complacent citizens who are resistant to change – you’re going to find that in most cities.  Unfortunately, a lot of the forward-thinking issues that you discuss on your site (i.e. reducing ward #s) will get the most opposition from those in said category.

    In any case, I really enjoyed the Newark programs and hope St. Louis can one day elect its own Cory Booker – someone (most) all residents can rally around for big, positive changes in the city.

     
  5. Adam says:

    they stole our moniker! first “birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll” and now “brick city”! we can’t win!

     
  6. Adam says:

    they stole our moniker! first “birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll” and now “brick city”! we can’t win!

     
  7. Anonymous says:

    That could easily be Antonio French.

     
  8. Anonymous says:

    Newark benefitted from being in NYC’s shadow, both post-9/11 and because it was relatively more-affordable than the Big Apple.  The recession has hit it much like many other fringe areas, with stalled projects, increased unemployment and falling property values.  The better analogy for Newark would probably be East St. Louis, where Alvin Parks is much like Cory Booker, a bright politician fighting some really tough problems . . .

     
  9. JZ71 says:

    Newark benefitted from being in NYC’s shadow, both post-9/11 and because it was relatively more-affordable than the Big Apple.  The recession has hit it much like many other fringe areas, with stalled projects, increased unemployment and falling property values.  The better analogy for Newark would probably be East St. Louis, where Alvin Parks is much like Cory Booker, a bright politician fighting some really tough problems . . .

     
  10. Catching says:

    I’d like to know what they are doing to improve schools. Because there is a pattern among large urban school districts, especially in the South and Midwest, that suggests there is no viable solution.

    I have never seen sustained success in this field.

     
  11. Catching says:

    I’d like to know what they are doing to improve schools. Because there is a pattern among large urban school districts, especially in the South and Midwest, that suggests there is no viable solution.

    I have never seen sustained success in this field.

     
  12. youaredumb says:

    i dont think there is much to learn from newark. the greater majority of NJ state government is corrupt, seemingly beyond repair, and the local governments follow suit. in a state where the gov officials are as corrupt as the police and more so than private citizens, there are certainly larger issues at play, perhaps at the national level. maybe we should have spent some of those billions allocated to the ‘wars’ against drugs and terror on regulating our own governments and educating our youth.  

     
  13. youaredumb says:

    i dont think there is much to learn from newark. the greater majority of NJ state government is corrupt, seemingly beyond repair, and the local governments follow suit. in a state where the gov officials are as corrupt as the police and more so than private citizens, there are certainly larger issues at play, perhaps at the national level. maybe we should have spent some of those billions allocated to the ‘wars’ against drugs and terror on regulating our own governments and educating our youth.  

     
  14. Warner Trice II says:

    Warner Trice II

    I moved to Newark a few years ago.
    My observations confirm Newark still suffers from the few die hard remaining of the old guard and
    their resistance to positive changes brought by Booker as they lose status and influence
    long held.

    Thus I am in total agreement with
    Tim Blackwell when he states: “After watching both Street Fight and Brick City
    several months ago, it seems Newark’s biggest obstacle (IMO) is its
    residents.  While some are welcoming the
    change that Booker is trying to bring to the city, there are many citizens that
    would be much more comfortable with the status quo.  When positive change does come to Newark,
    many residents are quick to point out the negatives and get on their high horse
    to complain and point out how the city officials are bringing them down.  Unfortunately, there is just a lot of
    negativity in Newark (or so it appeared from Brick City).”

                Mr.
    Blackwell observation is right on the money.  However, the wheels of change are in motion
    and the ignorant, the crimminals, and the self serving are being rolled over and crushed as the only thing constant
    in the Universe is change, good, bad, or indifferent. 

     

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