Ras Baraka

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Ras Baraka
Official Portrait of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.jpg
40th Mayor of Newark
Incumbent
Assumed office
July 1, 2014
Preceded by Luis A. Quintana
Member of the Municipal Council of Newark
from the South Ward
In office
July 1, 2010 – July 1, 2014
Preceded by Oscar James Jr
Succeeded by John Sharpe James
At-Large Member of the Municipal Council of Newark
In office
November 2, 2005 – July 1, 2006
Preceded by Donald Kofi Tucker
Succeeded by Mildred C. Crump
Personal details
Born (1970-04-09) April 9, 1970 (age 44)
Newark
Political party Democratic
Residence Newark
Alma mater Howard University
Saint Peter's University
Website http://rasjbaraka.com

Ras Baraka (born April 9, 1970)[1] is the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He was previously a member of the Municipal Council of Newark and the principal of the city's Central High School[2] until he took an indefinite leave of absence to run for the 2014 Newark mayoral election, which he won on May 13, 2014.[3] Baraka sworn in as the city's 40th mayor at ceremonies at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on July 1, 2014 for a four-year term.[4]

Background[edit]

A Newark native, Baraka is son of poet and activist Amiri Baraka and his wife Amina.[2] Ras J. Baraka was educated in the Newark Public Schools and subsequently earned a BA in Political Science from Howard University in Washington, DC, and an MA in Education Supervision from St. Peter's University in Jersey City.[1] He was principal of Central High School from 2007 until 2013.[1]

Poet and spoken word[edit]

Baraka is editor of In the tradition: an anthology of young Black writers (1992).

Baraka was featured on singer Lauryn Hill's 1998 The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, as the narrator of several interludes on the album.[5] He also recorded the intro to The Score, The Fugees' second album. Baraka and Hill recorded an unreleased single together entitled "Hot Beverage in the Winter", which later featured on his spoken-word album Shorty for Mayor.[6]

Baraka dedicated his collection of poems Black Girls Learn Love Hard to the life of his late sister, Shani Baraka.[1][7] who had been fatally shot in 2003.[8] He has read as part of the city's Dodge Poetry Festival.[9]

Since its inception in 2004 Baraka has participated in the National Political Hip-Hop Convention.[10]

Political career[edit]

Newark Municipal Council[edit]

Between 2002 and 2006 Baraka was Newark Municipal Council member and in 2002 was appointed deputy mayor, serving in that post until 2005. In November 2005, Baraka was voted to complete the term vacated by the deceased Councilmember-at-Large Donald Kofi Tucker.[2]

In May 2010 he defeated then-councilman Oscar James II in a highly contested election, on a platform critical of Mayor Cory Booker.[11] The election was documented on the Sundance reality television series Brick City, which stars Booker, Baraka and other Newark political and residential figures.[12]

Newark mayoral elections[edit]

Baraka ran his first campaign for mayor when he was 24 years old, in 1994.[13]

Baraka ran in the 2014 Newark mayoral election against former Assistant State Attorney General Shavar Jeffries,[14][15] after fellow council members Anibal Ramos, Jr. and Darrin S. Sharif dropped out of the race.[16] In August 2013, fellow council members Mildred C. Crump and Ronald C. Rice issued statements formally backing Baraka's candidacy.[17][18] Baraka's slate for the municipal council included John Sharpe James (council member-at-large running for South Ward), Mildred C. Crump (council member at-large incumbent), Alturrick Kenney (at-large candidate), Patrick Council (at-large candidate) and Joe McCallum (West Ward candidate).[19]

In December 2013, Communication Workers of America, a trade union which counts 2000 members living and thousands more working in Newark, endorsed Baraka.[20] In February 2014 he received the endorsement of former New Jersey governor Richard Codey and Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop.[21] In March he was endorsed by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.[22][23]

On May 13, 2014, Baraka was elected mayor of Newark. Official results show that of 44,951 ballots cast, he received 24,358 to Jeffries' 20,593. He succeeds Luis A. Quintana, who is completed the term of Cory Booker who had resigned after being elected to the United States Senate in October 2013. Baraka was sworn in as the city's 40th mayor by former Governor of New Jersey Richard Codey at ceremonies at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on July 1, 2014 for a four-year term.[24]

Position on issues[edit]

Transition team and municipal council compostion[edit]

Soon after wining the election Baraka initiated meetings meetings with Cory Booker on May 19[25] with Governor Chris Christie and Essex Execitive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. on May 21. Christie has described Baraka as a "hostile guy".[26]

On May 28, 2014 Baraka announced his transition team, headed by former mayor Kenneth Gibson, comprising sixteen committees that will report to him before his inauguration.[27]

In the 2014 local elections four of the municipal council candidates Baraka supported won their races, leading the expectation that the elected body, in which he needs five votes on the nine-member council to get any proposal passed, will be cooperative to his agenda. His preferred candidates who won seats on the council last month include: At-large Councilwoman Mildred C. Crump, and union leader Eddie Osborne in the at-large race and At-large Councilman John Sharpe James in the South Ward race and Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins in the Central Ward race. Incumbents East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. and At-large Councilman Carlos Gonzalez were also re-elected on Shavar Jeffries' ticket. Mayor Luis A. Quintana, who was elected to be an at-large councilman, ran as an independent.

Baraka appointed his brother, Amiri "Middy" Baraka, Jr. as his chief of staff.[28]

Newark Schools[edit]

The Newark Public Schools system (serving approximately 40,000 students)[29])system was placed under state control in 1994.[30][31][32] Newark Public Schools are underfunded.[33] Newark is one of 31 "Abbott", or "SDA district" which requires the state to cover all costs for school building and renovation projects in these districts under the supervision of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.[34]

In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook donated $100 million of his personal fortune through his foundation StartUp Education to the Newark school system.[35][36][37] Release of the funds required matching funds, which was mostly raised through the Foundation for Newark’s Future and has largely been spent though funds remain.[38][39] The foundation was short-term philanthropic “shot in the arm,” By 2015, FNF and its partners will have spent $200 million. The donation precipitated a effort to reform and restructure the system.

Teams of consultants have suggested numerous management reforms from the top down, but according to Ras Baraka, echoing concerns of many residents, they have ignored the community and the needs of chlldren and wishes of families in the neighborhoods. A restructing program called One Newark calls for the closure of some public schools and the opening of more charters schools (some in public school buildings).[40] The reorganization spearheaded by state-appointed Superintendent Cami Anderson, would relocate consolidate or close one quarter of the district’s schools that she has determined are underutilized. The plan has met with stiff resistance from large segments of Newark’s population, with critics saying there’s no evidence it will increase student performance.[41][42][43][44][45][46] The plan would also include teacher lay-offs.[47] While there is some agreement with many of the policies being implemented in the program, the disregard for community input and the pace of change has drawn criticism.[48][49] The plan will require some students to leave the neighbourhood and travel across the city, with many parents fearing for their safety.[50][51][52][53][54]

Baraka ran for election with a campaign to take back local control of the schools.[55] In May 2014, Newark, which already had control of operations (includes student transportation and other support services), was granted local powers over budget and finance, giving the local advisory board its first formal vote on the district’s nearly $1 billion in annual spending. The state retains the right to veto any action of the local board and has the final say in appointing the superintendent of the district. Baraka as an outspoken advocate of returning control of the Newark's school to local authority has called for the ouster of state-appointed Superintendent Anderson.[56] Anderson's contract was renewed in June 2014.[57]

A discrimination complaint filed on behalf of Newark parents and the Newark branch of New Jersey’s Parents Unified for Local School Education, or PULSE claims that 86 percent of the students affected by “One Newark” changes are African American, while African-American students make up 51 percent of the entire district. The allegation is being investigated by the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.[58]

Crime and gang violence[edit]

In October 2013 Baraka introduced his program to deal with crime and gang violence in the city, the Ras Baraka Blueprint to Redce Crime and Violence in Newark[59] It includes "Project Chill", which incorporates elements similar to Boston's Operation Ceasefire and other engagement with gang members and intervention programs.[60][61][62][63][64][65] As of June 30 there had been 43 homocides in 2014. In 2013 through June 30, the city recorded 41 homicides. A surge of violence in the second half of 2013 pushed the homicide total to 111, the most since 1990.[66]

Underwater mortgages and eminent domain[edit]

Between 2008 and mid 2013, 6,810 homes were foreclosed in Newark, and citywide, and homeowners in the city and lost roughly $1.8 billion in home values. At that time about 9,000 Newark residents were “underwater”, where payment balances are higher than the fair market value of the property.[67] In May 2014, Baraka introduced a resolution adopted by the municipal council that would affect and estimated one thousand Newark homeowners threatened with foreclosure, giving the city legal authority to purchase home with underwater mortgages through eminent domain and refinancing them.[68] it is estimated that more than 50% of Newark homes are financed by underwater mortgages, partially as a result of the 2010 United States foreclosure crisis.[69]

Newark Watershed[edit]

The Newark Watershed comprises 35,000 acres of reservoirs and water treatment and supply systems for more than 500,000 customers in northern New Jersey including Newark and neighboring Belleville, Elizabeth, Bloomfield and Nutley. It is considered one of the city's greatest assets. A New Jersey State Comptroller report issued in February 2014 revealed irregularities and corruption within the Newark Watershed and Development Corporation, which is the process of being dismantled after being taken over the city.[70][71][72] In March 2014, Baraka called for a forensic audit of the agency.[73] Despite protestations from the city council, in April 2014 a Superior Court judge has ruled that the city must continue to fund the agency during the process.[74]

Budget deficit and state oversight[edit]

In August 2014 citing a $30 million deficit from the city's 2013 budget and an anticipated $60 million in 2014, Baraka said the that Newark would likely have to ask for emergency aid form the state, which if received, would require state oversight and involvement in the city's financial affairs.[75][76]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Baraka, Ras", Our Campaigns.
  2. ^ a b c "City of Newark, NJ: Ras J. Baraka". City of Newark, New Jersey. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  3. ^ Dawsey, Josh (May 13, 2014). "Ras Baraka Is Elected Mayor of Newark". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2014-05-14. 
  4. ^ Nix, Naomi (July 1, 2014). "Ras Baraka to be sworn in today as Newark's 40th mayor". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-06-28. 
  5. ^ Checkoway, Laura (August 26, 2008). "Inside 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'". The Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Ras Baraka". Moore Black Press. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 
  7. ^ Black Girls Learn Love Hard at Amazon.
  8. ^ Campbell, James (2008), Syncopations: Beats, New Yorkers, and Writers in the Dark, University of California Press 
  9. ^ "Ras Baraka". Dodge Poetry Festival. Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  10. ^ "Ras Baraka". NLLC. Retrieved 2014-05-28. 
  11. ^ Giambusso, David (May 12, 2010). "Newark residents vote in highly contested council elections in South, Central wards". The Star-Ledger. nj.com. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  12. ^ "COMING JANUARY 30 – ALL NEW SEASON OF BRICK CITY". SUNfiltered. Sundance Channel. December 17, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  13. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/CandidateDetail.html?CandidateID=307430
  14. ^ Giambusso, David (August 16, 2013). "Darrin Sharif announces run for mayor of Newark". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2013-11-26. "Much of the economic development in Newark and a large stake of its business community operates in Sharif's ward, but its residential neighborhoods are among the most troubled." 
  15. ^ Glover, Vivian (October 15, 2013). "Who will run Newark without Cory Booker?". The Grio. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  16. ^ Queally, James (February 12, 2014). "Newark mayoral race narrows to 2 as another candidate drops out". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  17. ^ Pizarro, Max (August 27, 2013). "Crump and Rice endorse Baraka in Newark mayor's race". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  18. ^ http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2013/12/baraka_ramos_pick_up_union_endorsements.html
  19. ^ Bonamo, Mark (January 7, 2014). "Newark mayoral slates start to coalesce". NJ.Politcker. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  20. ^ Isherwood, Daryl (December 2, 2013). "CWA set to endorse Baraka in Newark mayoral contest". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  21. ^ http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2014/02/newark_mayors_race_jc_mayor_steven_fulop_endorses_baraka.html
  22. ^ Giambusso, David (March 4, 2014). "Newark mayor's race: Baraka awash in labor union endorsements". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  23. ^ http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2014/02/newark_mayors_race_baraka_jeffries_hold_dueling_events_at_city_supermarkets.html#incart_river_default
  24. ^ Nix, Naomi (July 1, 2014). "Ras Baraka to be sworn in today as Newark's 40th mayor". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-06-28. 
  25. ^ Nix, Naomi (May 19, 2014). "Mayor-elect Baraka and Booker agree to work together to benefit Newark". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  26. ^ Nix, Naomi; Friedman, Matt (May 21, 2014). "Christie, Baraka, DiVincenzo discuss Newark's future". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  27. ^ http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2014/05/ras_baraka_transition_team.html
  28. ^ Bonamo, Mark (July 1, 2014). "Newark mayor's new chief of staff Amiri Baraka, Jr.: "I've got my brother's back"". NJ Politicker. Retrieved 2014-05-28. 
  29. ^ Augenstein, Seth. ratings "Newark’s kids’ conditions improving, but they still lag behind rest of NJ: report". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-02-06. 
  30. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/14/nyregion/judge-orders-a-state-takeover-of-the-newark-school-district.html
  31. ^ Sullivan, Joseph F. (April 15, 1994). "Suit Seeks to Halt Newark Schools Takeover". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  32. ^ (Facebook Inc) (2014-02-27). "Why Aren't Chris Christie, Mark Zuckerberg, and Cory Booker Defending Newark's School Chief?". Businessweek. Retrieved 2014-05-02. 
  33. ^ "STATE-OPERATED NEWARK SCHOOLS FACE STAGGERING $57 MILLION BUDGET DEFICIT". Education Law Center. April 4, 2013. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  34. ^ What are SDA Districts?, New Jersey Schools Development Authority. Accessed 2014-01-10
  35. ^ http://www.startupeducation.org
  36. ^ Richard Pérez-Peña (September 22, 2010). "Facebook Founder to Donate $100 Million to Help Remake Newark’s Schools". The New York Times. 
  37. ^ The Oprah Winfrey Show, September 24, 2010
  38. ^ Mooney, John (October 22, 2013). "EXPLAINER: WHAT'S BECOME OF ZUCKERBERG’S $100M GIFT TO NEWARK SCHOOLS". NJSpotlight. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  39. ^ Severns, Maggie (March 28, 2013). "Whatever Happened to the $100 Million Mark Zuckerberg Gave to Newark Schools?". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  40. ^ http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmarshallcrotty/2014/03/31/is-one-newark-reorganization-plan-good-for-newark-students/
  41. ^ Strauss, Valerie (April 19, 2014). "Clergy warn Christie: Your Newark school reform is a mess". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-05-28. 
  42. ^ "No time for nostalgia: Cami Anderson's Newark school reforms should go foward: Editorial". The Star-Ledger. January 22, 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  43. ^ McGlone, Peggy (December 18, 2013). "Newark school restructuring includes plans to put charters in district buildings". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  44. ^ Mueller, Mark (February 25, 2014). lay-offs "Newark schools chief warns of massive teacher layoffs; wants pink slips tied to performance". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  45. ^ McGlone, Peggy (February 12, 2014). rebuilding funds "$100M for Newark school construction waits for approval". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  46. ^ Eidelson, Josh (February 18, 2014). "Christie’s ed reform scandal: Principals suspended after questioning charter scheme "Narcissism," "dictatorial" and "totalitarian" tactics by Christie appointee, Newark councilman charges to Salon". Salon. Retrieved 2014-03-13. 
  47. ^ Giambusso, David (February 22, 2014). "Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries hits superintendent, opponent in rollout of education plan". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  48. ^ Leonard, Devin (May 14, 2014). "Did Mark Zuckerberg Help Elect Newark's New Mayor?". Bloomberg Businesssweek. Retrieved 2014-05-17. 
  49. ^ Russakoff, Dale (May 17, 2014). "SCHOOLED Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg had a plan to reform Newark’s schools. They got an education.". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2014-05-17. 
  50. ^ McKnighrt, Matt (May 14, 2014). "POLITICAL SCENE: INEQUALITY AND EDUCATION IN NEWARK". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2014-05-20.  http://www.nj.com/education/2014/05/at_downtown_rally_critics_of_newark_school_plan_present_alternative.html
  51. ^ Goldstein, Dana. "Who Gets to Control Newark’s Schools? A rabble-rousing new mayor wants to undo the reforms that Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg brought to town.". Slate. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  52. ^ Russakoff, Dale (May 19, 2014). "Schooled Cory Booker, Chris Christie, and Mark Zuckerberg had a plan to reform Newark’s schools. They got an education.". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  53. ^ McClone, Peggy (May 20, 2014). "At downtown rally, critics of Newark school plan present alternative". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  54. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/14/newark-schools-ras-baraka_n_5319450.html
  55. ^ http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2014/05/newark_mayor_ras_baraka_tries_to_wrest_control_of_the_city_s_schools_from.html
  56. ^ "Newark, Paterson may have long roads to regaining full control of schools from state". NJ Spotlight. June 5, 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-28. 
  57. ^ Cruz, David (June 30, 2014). "Anderson to Remain at Helm of Newark Schools, Activists Vow Ouster". NJTVOnline. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  58. ^ McClone, Peggy (July 23, 2014). "Feds investigate claims of racial discrimination in Newark school reorganization". NJ Spotlight. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  59. ^ "The Ras Baraka Blueprint to Redce Crime and Violence in Newark". rasjbaraka.com. 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  60. ^ http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2013/10/newark_mayors_race_ras_baraka_rolls_out_public_safety_plan.html
  61. ^ http://rasjbaraka.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/BARAKA-BLUEPRINT-FOR-CRIME-Final-Copy.pdf
  62. ^ Giambusso, David (December 28, 2013). "Newark Councilman Ras Baraka calling for gang cease-fire, increased police presence in wake of killings". The Satr-Ledger. Retrieved 2013-12-31. 
  63. ^ Queally, James (December 31, 2013). "Newark mayoral hopeful wrote letters on behalf of notorious city gang boss, records show". The Satr-Ledger. Retrieved 2013-12-31. 
  64. ^ Strunsky, Steve (December 29, 2013). "Baraka calls for gang ceasefire in Newark; mom seeks justice for son killed on Christmas". The Satr-Ledger. Retrieved 2013-12-31. 
  65. ^ http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2014/01/post_20.html#incart_river_default
  66. ^ Augenstein, Seth (July 4, 2014). "Newark man gunned down before dawn is city's 44th homicide victim". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  67. ^ Dayen, David (May 8, 2013). "Newark's Terrible New Foreclosure Fix Idea Activists in the city think eminent domain can save their". The Nation. Retrieved 2014-05-28. 
  68. ^ Atlas, John (June 30, 2014). "Working With Grassroots Organizing Groups, Ras Baraka, Newark's Mayor-Elect, Takes Steps To Help Homeowners.". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-07-05. 
  69. ^ Tyrell, Joe (May 9, 2014). "NJ STILL DROWNING IN 'UNDERWATER' MORTGAGES, NEW STUDY REVEALS". NJ Spotlight. Retrieved 2014-07-05. 
  70. ^ Giambusso, David (February 19, 2014). "Newark Watershed: timeline of troubles". The Star-Ledger. 
  71. ^ Giambusso, David (February 20, 2014). "Newark, state leaders call for criminal investigation of Newark watershed". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  72. ^ Giambusso, David (March 26, 2013). "Newark Watershed dissolves, leaving city to manage water for 500,000 customers". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  73. ^ "Baraka calls for forensic audit of Newark Watershed". The Star-Ledger. March 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-08. 
  74. ^ Wichert, Bill (April 24, 2014). "Newark fights court order to fund shutdown of watershed agency". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  75. ^ http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2014/08/newark_mayor_ras_baraka_seeks_transitional_aid_state_oversight.html#incart_river
  76. ^ http://rlsmedia.com/breaking-news/article/newark-mayor-announces-strategy-reduce-93-million-budget-deficit

External links[edit]