Newark Mayor Booker delivers FIFTH STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS
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Newark Mayor Booker delivers FIFTH STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS

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March 2, 2011, 6:17 pm
Newark
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Speech advocates need for education and school reform
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Newark, NJ – March 2, 2011– Mayor Cory A. Booker presented his fifth annual State of the City address to local and state dignitaries, administration members, community leaders and Newark residents on Tuesday, March 1, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, located at 1 Center Street in Newark. The speech was broadcast live on News 12, the City of Newark’s Government Access TV Station (Channel 78), and streamed live on the City of Newark’s website at www.ci.newark.nj.us. This was the fourth time the annual address was delivered from a site outside City Hall.

Mayor Booker’s speech highlighted substantial achievements in the fields of public safety, education, economic development, and quality of life despite a global economic crisis. “Newark was founded in faith and forged by the faithful. We remain steadfast and determined, with an indomitable will and unyielding love. 2010 was a challenging year for our city's financial well-being. Through difficult choices and tremendous sacrifice, my administration has reigned in our city's structural budget deficit - bringing it down from over 150 million dollars to below forty million. We have come a long way, but we are not out of the woods yet because of rising costs of goods and services, pension and health care, the pressures on our budgets increase.  Newark is not alone in facing harsh budget challenges," said Mayor Booker.

A majority of the Mayor’s speech advocated the need for bold education reform. The Mayor underscored his commitment to pursuing reforms that will put the interests of children first, and announced his goals to continue to raise philanthropic donations to support city initiatives to fulfill the Zuckerberg challenge grant to Newark PublicSchools. To date, Mayor Booker has raised $43 million to match this grant. Mayor Booker also announced he would hold an event on March 28 to raise philanthropic donations to support the Newark Public Library. 

“As we move forward with specific reform efforts, it is even more critical that NPS leaders, our State Commissioner, and myself continue our community engagement efforts. Engagement, inclusion, and transparency are necessary if we are to be successful, but not sufficient. We must move forward with bold reform efforts now, especially if we are going to get many of them in place for the start of our next school year in September. This must be our agenda to not compromise again when it comes to what is best for our kids.  All eyes of our nation are watching and waiting to see what Newark will do with the opportunity to bring real reform to our schools.  Our City, now more than ever represents not only the hope of every school child in our district, but the hope of our country rides with what we do – this nation needs our leadership. The fight for our schools starts now,” the Mayor said.

Mayor Booker added, “In a time of diminishing dollars for education in this country, I am grateful that Newark, NJ is able to attract philanthropy driven by the belief that Newark, by doing the difficult work and taking bold steps, can become a national model of educational success demonstrated by one central accomplishment: high student achievement.”

Mayor Booker announced that several corporate relocations and major project groundbreakings will occur in 2011.  These include the attraction of minority-owned Bartlett Dairy to the South Ward Industrial Park, which will result in 400 new jobs in Newark over the next five years; and the attraction of Wakefern, which will build a 180,000 square foot distribution facility that will create 90 jobs.  Construction will also begin in 2011 for the 150-room Courtyard by Marriott at the Prudential Center, which would be the City’s first new downtown hotel in 40 years.  Manischewitz will also make Newark its global headquarters by building upon its Avenue K manufacturing operation. 

Mayor Booker said, “2011 is the year when, after all of our planning, pushing, and promoting, we truly begin digging, drilling, and dazzling. This is our groundbreaking year.”

During his speech, Mayor Booker also highlighted the achievements of Brick City Development Corporation in supporting small business development in Newark. This year, BCDC is helping to create two new restaurants, LOFT47 and the Edison Ale House, which will be located right next to the Prudential Center.

Mayor Booker said, “The opportunity we must create in our city must be opportunity for all. My goal in 2011 is to empower even more Newark entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. We will start a new, multifaceted effort to help small, minority contractors break into the construction industry.” BCDC’s 2011 Business and Technical Assistance Program will aim to empower entrepreneurs by providing specialized assistance, funding, and support for small, women, and minority-owned business enterprises.

Public safety was also a theme in this year's State of the City address. Mayor Booker commended the leadership of Newark, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies for forming an unprecedented coalition to attack the significant increase in carjackings which affected the city in late 2010. This coalition resulted in dozens of arrests leading to the elimination of the carjacking spike and most notably a decrease in violent crime during the first quarter of 2011. Mayor Booker also announced a new initiative with Rutgers University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which will meet with gang members throughout Newark to work with them to show them alternatives to illegal activity and turn them away from violence and towards positive, healthy, lifestyles and life choices.

With gangs and recidivism consuming too many young Newark lives, Mayor Booker declared, “We will be raising private dollars to offer numerous social services and economic opportunity to these young men and women, which will enable them to make different choices. Policing needs to evolve and our department will continue to do so.”

Additional highlights from Mayor Booker’s State of the City Address are summarized below:

Education:

·        Newark will remain committed to fundamental and hard changes that elevate the interests of the students. Newark will be an advocate for our kids, and will put them first

·        $100 million matching grant received from Mark Zuckerberg Foundation. $43 million to match has been raised so far.

·        Announcement of the Foundation for Newark’s Future. This fund will have a community advisory board made up of notable Newarkers who will not only have access to the important information of the fund’s governance, but it will serve as a group who will help with grant-making strategies and oversight.

·        Finally, the Foundation’s grant recipients will be made public as well as its general strategy and reasoning for making grants. Every donor to the Fund for Newark’s Future will be disclosed. http://www.foundationfornewarksfuture.org/

·        Formation of the Newark Education Advisory Task Force, which will consist of a group of leaders representing every sector of Newark – parents, educators, clergy, community activists, and other notable leaders from the community to join. This group will meet regularly with the commissioner, the superintendent, and other NPS leaders. Their first mission is to help interview superintendent candidates and advise on the selection of the superintendent. They will start immediately and be in place over the coming months.

·        The Mayor is tasking the Newark Public Schools staff to meet with the School Advisory Board more regularly, to inform them of policy decisions before they are fully formed and seek their input and guidance on major education actions. The SAB will also continue to play a critical role in interviewing and selecting our new Superintendent. During and after this process, Deputy Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks, Interim Superintendent Deborah Terrell, NPS staff, and the Mayor will be out in the community, holding meetings with stakeholders and residents to engage them in the process. Engagement, inclusion, and transparency are necessary as we move forward.

·        Plans to extend the school day at Newark schools beginning next year with a pilot at 5-10 schools.

·        Give principals greater autonomy and higher accountability.

·        Take steps to hire the best quality teachers, while removing those who do not perform.

·        Hold schools, teachers, principals, parents, and students accountable for the success of our schools.

·        Stop pitting school models against each other – support schools that work, whether they are public, magnet, or charter schools.

·        Provide parents with greater choice in schools, while demanding higher responsibility and accountability from parents, who bear the highest responsibility in raising a child.

·        Create great public schools for all children.

Economic Development:

·         In 2011, the groundbreaking for the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel at the Prudential Center will announce the arrival of Newark’s first new downtown hotel in nearly 40 years.  The site will be built under a labor agreement that includes Newarkers in the construction process and that makes Newark residents the first source for positions at the completed hotel.

·         In 2011, Bartlett Dairy, a minority-owned dairy product distribution center that services Starbucks throughout the region, will open a 105,000 square foot distribution center in the South Ward.  Bartlett’s presence will start at 175 jobs and expand to over 400 over the next five years. Bartlett has agreed to a first source hiring agreement, ensuring that opportunities are made available to Newarkers first.

·        Wakefern, the supplier for ShopRite supermarkets from Baltimore to Buffalo, will break ground in 2011 on a 180,000 square foot distribution center that will bring 90 jobs to Newark. This plant will be built under a labor agreement and the company has committed to making local residents the first source for the 90 permanent jobs created when the facility is up and running.

·        Manischewitz, the nation’s leading producer of kosher foods, will make Newark its official worldwide home, and build upon operations at its Avenue K plant to include space for its corporate headquarters.

·        Standard Chartered Bank, which brought 300 jobs to downtown Newark in 2008, will expand its Newark footprint by 12,000 square feet and over 100 more jobs in 2011.

·        Audible.com, which the Booker administration helped attract to Newark in 2007, is the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment on the internet.  In 2011, the company will expand its presence by 25,000 square feet and to grow its Newark workforce.  

·        Teachers Village will break ground in 2011, an array of three charter schools, a day care center, 224 residences for Newark teachers, and new retail. 

·        Continuing to expand Newark’s role as a “destination City,” with the WNBA Liberty calling the Prudential Center home for the 2011-2013 seasons, the NBA Draft in June, NCAA March Madness, and the Newark Peace Education Summit in May.

·        For 2011: BCDC assistance assisting in the creation of two new restaurants, LOFT47 and Edison Ale House, next to the Prudential Center.

·        BCDC has proposed a new small business program with loans of up to $150,000 to small, female, and minority based businesses who seek to grow and expand economic opportunity in Newark.

·        Starting a new effort to help small, minority contractors break into the construction industry through access to capital, opportunities to work on City-sponsored development contracts, and compliance training.

·        The City Hall Office of Reentry – awarded a 2010 NJ League of Municipalities Innovation in Governance Award for its work – has a recidivism rate among program participants of less than 10 percent.

·        In 2011, BCDC will facilitate the creation of supermarkets in chronically underserved neighborhoods.

·        Site renovations of a new grocery store on Springfield Avenue in the South Ward have already begun.  A first phase will open this year, with a subsequent expansion to a full, 14,000 square foot supermarket to follow.  A new 26,000 square foot supermarket on First Street in the Central Ward will also break ground this spring, with an expected opening date next year.

Market-Rate and Affordable Housing

·        Since coming into office in 2006, the Booker administration has doubled the City’s rate of affordable housing production, creating more than 1,200 units for Newark residents.

·        Among the affordable housing milestones planned for 2011 are the following:

·        Project Live will begin construction on Ridgewood Avenue Apartments, which will provide 21 units for residents with mental illnesses.

·        The City, Help USA, and the Make It Right Foundation broke ground on Clinton Avenue homes in February 2011.  21 of the project’s 56 affordable apartments will be dedicated to veterans, who will receive an array of supportive services on site.

·        Episcopal Community Development’s Kinship project will produce 24 units of multigenerational housing.

·        Developers are also working with the City to create new loft apartments in Newark.  Studebaker Lofts will create 68 of these homes (50% of them at affordable rates). The historic Bowers building will undergo a renovation to create new lofts on Market Street.  And a former car dealership will soon blossom into Packard Lofts, with 30 new residences at the corner of Broad and East Kinney Streets.

Public Safety:

·        Newark has as many police officers working out of precincts as we had before the layoff.

·        Local, county and federal law enforcement agencies will continue to work together to ensure a safe summer in Newark.

·        Newark’s newest initiative, going forward with Rutgers University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, will meet with gang members throughout Newark to work with them to show them alternatives to illegal activity and turn them away from violence and towards positive, healthy, lifestyles and life choices.

Budget:

·        The city addressed a $150 million structural deficit for fiscal 2010, and is now addressing more than a $30 million deficit for 2011.

·        The city will present a budget to the Municipal Council that will ensure critical services to our residents will not be compromised to reduce the remaining structural deficit.

Deputy Mayor of Neighborhood Engagement Margarita Muñiz served as this year's Mistress of Ceremonies. The ceremony opened with the Newark Police Department Ceremonial Unit presenting the colors. Two Newark youth, Kyla Butler, aged 8, and Jordan DeHaarte, aged 5, recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

The invocation was delivered by Reverend Dr. Steven B. Davis, pastor of Calvary Gospel Church. A Newark native, Davis became the church’s second pastor in 1993, and serves as a chaplain to both the Newark Police and Fire Departments, and is a member of the Mayor’s Council of Religious Leaders.

Miss Newark 2011, Victoria Virgo, sang the National Anthem. She is a second-year student at Essex County College. Virgo is majoring in pre-medicine and aspires to be a neo-natologist. She is an active volunteer and the founder of Giving Grenada, an organization with a focus on donating clothes, toys, and books to at risk youth homes in Grenada. Through her organization, Victoria has also donated stuffed animals and books to the pediatric ward at the University of Medicine & Dentistry in Newark.

The benediction was offered by Imam Abdul Kareem Muhammad of Masjid Al-Haqq. He serves as Director of Education for the Clara MuhammadSchool and as the Principal for the Muhammad University of Islam, both in Newark.

The entire State of the City Address can be currently viewed on the City of Newark’s website at www.ci.newark.nj.us.

For more information about any City of Newark program or policy, contact the Non-Emergency Call Center at (973) 733-4311.

-NEWARK-

Contact:         Newark Press Information Office: (973) 733-8004

E-mail: Pressoffice@ci.newark.nj.us

Author: Joao Vianna
Website designer, programmer and database administrator, Web TV Producer, writer and commentator
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