August 5, 2010

Newark's Celebrity Mayor: Wrong Again!

UPDATE: Friday, August 6, 12:30 AM— 
Additional information and corrections to yesterday's FotM blog

Picket line in front of Newark City Hall
Mayor Cory Booker, darling of New Jersey's suburban middle class, stands up against the interests and needs of Newark's citizenry once again!

This is getting to be old news, but apparently information that the news media can neither learn or even report on. Some months back Fire on the Mountain (FotM) reported on the water crisis in Newark in the blog entry Black New Jersey: The community fights "Hollywood" Booker over water rights …Newark Wins! We've also reported on Booker's anti-community stance on police brutality, street violence, and his personal aspirations that leave our community in a sorry second (or third) place to his political career.

After his backers' money-grubbing attempts to privatize Newark's world-renowned water supply failed to win City Council approval last October, "Hollywood" Booker is at it again! [editor's note: Those who doubt our statements about the pristine purity of Newark's water supply may not know or remember that the original breweries in the NY metropolitan area all used Newark water. Mostly they were located in town, but even Knickerbocker across the river transported Newark water to brew their beer. Before Milwaukee's water let it claim the title "Beer Capital of the World," before Shlitz billed itself as, "The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous," every US brewery wanted Newark water. And Newark still draws the same water supply from the same reservoirs, fed by the Pompton and Ramapo Rivers.]

Chants of "No M.U.A.!", "We Are Not for Sale!" and "Water is a Human Right!" rang out in front of Newark City Hall as upward to 75 demonstrators from the People's Organization for Progress, Newark Water Group, the New Black Panther Party and many unaffiliated concerned community members picketed the meeting of the City Council. Speaking for the Newark Water Group, Brenda Toyloy presented in-depth background, recounting the role of Andrea Hughie, chair of the People's Organization for Progress Youth Committee played in bringing the issue to light last fall. The Council was deliberating on the Booker Administration's proposed "Municipal Utility Authority" scheme to sell the City's water. The M.U.A., in the name of covering budget shortfalls, will also create 6-figure taxpayer funded "jobs" for Corys' loyal friends. 

POP friend, Councilman Ras Baraka, left the demonstration to join in Council discussion of the vicious proposal.
FotM regulars who've followed this story from the beginning will remember the leading role that students and young people have played in this fight from the first. It was a young nurse and community activist who first brought the issue to POP's attention when she went on a home visit to the apartment of a young mother with children and discovered that the rules of her employment would require the termination of assistance to this family because there was no running water. This struggling family was on public assistance (with rent paid by state agencies), so it was the landlord and not the mother who was responsible for the unpaid utility bill. Yet it would be the children forced to pay the price of the landlord's greed.
Our children will be forced to pay for elected officials' greed, aspirations, and their blindness
to community needs. 
The City Council tabled the Municipal Utilities Authority privatization plan at its meeting the day after the Water Coalition demonstration. "This is an important, if partial victory," according to Lawrence Hamm, Chairman of the People's Organization for Progress. "But we must also recognize the systemic roots of the urban crisis that forced Mayor Booker to promote this barbaric attack on Newark residents. 

"The crisis is real and would exist no matter who sat in City Hall. Cutbacks in funding of urban aid go back to the Reagan Administration, at least. For more than twenty years, the U.S. government has funded military adventures abroad at the expense of aid to the cities. While this has only become worse with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the gutting of community support to bailout banks and failing corporations has a long history," Hamm added.

Many organizations and individuals are working to protect our water, the very "life's blood" of our city. The Newark Water Group, the People's Organization for Progress, the Newark Chapter of the New Black Panther Party as well as  countless others all have a role to play in safeguarding our children's legacy and future. For additional information about this key fight please join us at the weekly POP General Assembly meeting, 6:30 PM every Thursday evening at Newark's Abyssinian Baptist, 224 West Kinney St., between Prince and Broome Streets, just below Irvine Turner Blvd.

(Special thanks to Ingrid Hill, POP's Corresponding Secretary, for the photographs in this Fire on the Mountain. Ingrid was gracious enough to make her shots available when FotM's usual Newark photographer couldn't attend the demonstration.)


Augie Bondi said...

As Aminifu Williams, a griot, teacher, and elder of the People's Organization for Progress noted at last night's General Assembly meeting, the struggle for water rights is the next major world-wide battle over resources. Mwalimu Aminifu pointed out that water is potentially the most valuable natural resource on earth, noting that while the dollar value of water may never equal that of oil, it's possible that it will because water is ubiquitius to life, while oil isn't.

In fact, battles over water rights have already been central to the struggle for self-determination in this country, particularly for Chicano people it Atzlan (the historic Chicano/Mexicano homeland within what we call Texas, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and California) and First Nations (indigenous peoples) in the entire deserts regions of the Southwest.

Anonymous said...

Vandana Shiva, the Indian physicist and activist, argues that water is sacred, that it is our life. She is among the leaders opposing the privatization of the Ganges River, which is a goddess in the Hindu religion.

See her book, India Divided, to see how this is tied in with multinational corporations preventing farmers from using seeds from their own crops to plant the next and how the fundamentalism of the market is destroying people's lives in South Asia.