(by Matthew Smith) NJ’s schoolyard bully Chris Christie dubs Mayor-elect Ras Baraka, a “kind of hostile guy” after their first official sit down meeting. “I think he expressed hostility about a lot of things and people during that campaign,” the governor continued. Those “things and people” were summed up neatly in Amandla News (Global African Community Newpaper) in reporting on Baraka’s “mega blue-print for the City of Newark” before the election: “In it the affable Baraka maps out a plan to stem violence in the city, facilitate excellence in education and a strategy to create more employment for…Newarkers.”
Considered hostile by some, affable by others, the difference may come down to whose agenda Mayor-elect Baraka has pledged to carry out. For his part at the meeting, Koch-sponsored Gov. Christie conceded control of the city budget, which the state had threatened to take over on the eve of the election. According to the Star Ledger, NJ’s largest newspaper, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo—a Christie devotee present at the meeting who’s mayoral candidate lost handily to Baraka—“Christie believes Newark's mayor-elect should take the lead role in handling the city's budget problems. [Baraka] believes he just got elected by the people ... He should be able to have the opportunity to move the city forward," DiVincenzo said.
Get that? Mayor-elect Ras Baraka believes he just got elected by the people! Well, the people of Newark also believe they elected him to manifest their burning desire to control not just their city budget but their public school system, which the state seized control of two decades ago while eliminating the locally elected board of education.
Yet Christie later went on to say this: "I also made very clear to [Baraka] that it is the state government that runs the school system in Newark, and that while I will talk with him and hear his ideas, that we are the deciders on what happens in the school system.” We are the deciders! A shade better than George W. Bush’s “I’m the decider,” but not much.
So, while the affable Baraka was attempting basic civility with the next would-be Republican presidential candidate, members of the Newark Student Union were practicing basic civics in occupying a Newark Board of Education meeting to demand Christie’s autocratic, appointed schools superintendent Cami Anderson resign immediately.
According to WABC-7, “The students say this is a fight for their future. They oppose [Cami Anderson’s] One Newark plan, which includes more charter schools and closing under-performing public schools. The kids want a better option. ‘This is not a business,’ student Hector Maldonade said. ‘This is our education and our future, and we're fighting for it.’” The word on the street is that Mayor-elect Baraka brought the students pizza as their sit-in turned into an all-nighter.
So there you have the lay of the Newark landscape: School privatization rammed into the city by Koch-sponsored NJ Gov. Christie’s appointed autocrat Cami Anderson in direct opposition to the expressed will of the people now being carried out by their newly elected and highly regarded champion Ras Baraka to preserve and improve their neighborhood based public schooling.
Advocates of peoples’ democracy everywhere should be paying very close attention to what is taking place in Newark, NJ right now.
Read more articles by Matthew Smith on the aftermath of Newark's historic mayoral election at: https://www.thomhartmann.com/user/74933/public