Newark, New Jersey. The home of the individual who should have been the 1st Black president, Mayor Cory Booker. A city renowned for high rates of crime (though a major celebration accompanied the first murder free month in 44-years back in April), is now forced to entertain drastic cuts to a bloated budget that can't be maintained.
The moves proposed by Booker would see the privatization of sanitation workers, a move that all Libertarians would applaud, but one that shows just how problematic Tea Party ideas will be when instituted in the real-world (and not merely discussed in pot-filled, theory espousing sessions):
Newark Mayor Cory Booker plans to gut the city’s sanitation department as part of a radical downsizing of municipal government, but the hundreds of workers losing their jobs are not going quietly.Newark (which still has a crime problem, as does any city in America which is comprised of 20 percent or more of a certain 'unmentionable' segment of society) could of course utilize Booker's connections and handlers to come up with a cash infusion to help fix the budget hole, but this wouldn't provide the proper kickbacks New Jersey is so famous for providing 'made men'.
In his 2010 budget, Booker calls for eliminating 220 of the 251 sanitation workers, saving the city $1.1 million this year. More than 100 workers, who were on a mandated furlough day Wednesday, marched in front of City Hall, shutting down traffic and demanding that Booker reconsider the cuts."At some point we’ve got to say enough is enough," said Rahaman Muhammad, president of the SEIU local 617, which represents the sanitation workers.
"Cory Booker is going to sell our city brick by brick," Muhammad said shortly before being carted away in handcuffs by Newark Police.
Newark is looking to cut the ballooning costs of personnel by relying more on private companies to provide city services. Critics say Booker is depriving Newarkers of jobs at a time when the city is facing soaring unemployment, plummeting tax revenues and a foreclosure crisis.
"These people live in the city of Newark — these are our people. Privatizing will do nothing for us," said At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana, who joined the protest Wednesday. Quintana accused the mayor of hiding his layoff plans when campaigning for re-election. "Why didn’t he say anything about this during the election? These are the people who vote."
Sanitation workers make an average of $35,000 a year and, unlike police and fire personnel, are required to live in Newark. Workers have been at odds with the administration since furlough days began last year and they had to work overtime to pick up the city’s trash, neutralizing any savings from the sanitation furloughs.
Problem is, though, these Black sanitation employees haven't exactly provided the city with excellent trash procuring services:
So, these Black employees of the sanitation department have performed poorly in their duty of relieving Newark citizens and taxpayers of their unwanted trash. And Newark citizens, despite all of the positive press Booker receives, apparently enjoy living in a city overwhelmed by trash.
Some areas of Newark are dirtier, thanks to fewer sanitation workers and an aging garbage truck fleet that has been cut by almost a third in the last three years, city administration officials said.Officials blame the city's tight budget for dwindling resources that have made it more difficult to tackle litter and garbage, often ditched around town by illegal dumpers.
Melvin Waldrop, the city's director of Neighborhood and Recreational Services, which oversees sanitation, said he has prioritized the department's resources to focus on maintaining garbage pickups and cleaning the city's 25 gateways, or entrances, considered Newark's most visible areas.
Recently, trash littered Mc-Carter Highway and side streets downtown. Bags of discarded garbage were dumped behind a fenced-off section of Camfield Court, an alley off Washington Street, and a strong stench hung in the air nearby.
"It's nasty," said Ros Bowman, owner of Above and Beyond hair salon, which has its back door on the tiny street.
Trash sometimes floated on the surface of deep puddles of rain water that collected at street corners with drainage problems.
"It's disgusting. It's full of trash. There's water about two feet deep," said Carl Jackson, who complained about the intersection of North 14th and Orange streets, which he has to cross to get from his home in East Orange to a bus stop in Newark.
Several residents said the streets didn't seem dirtier, but they said there was clearly a need to make the city cleaner.
"They can do better. Some streets are very disgusting" said Ana Sousa, a housewife and mother of two teenagers in the city's Ironbound, where last week she said Ferry Street was kept cleaner than its residential side streets.
Waldrop's department has 251 sanitation workers, down 34 employees since 2006, the same year Mayor Cory Booker took office and Waldrop was hired.
Employees were lost through an early retirement program, in order to meet budget targets, Waldrop said. The department's budget, he said, dropped from almost $42 million in 2008 to $39 million in 2009.
The department also had about 37 working garbage trucks in 2006, but decommissions and mechanical problems have dropped the fleet's numbers to 25, Waldrop said.
Despite the reductions in staff and equipment, Waldrop said the department has not scaled back its garbage pickup schedule, or bulk pickup days.
Waldrop said the department has had support from civic groups and corporations that supply volunteers to clean up neighborhoods on weekends. City officials said in October, 500 employees from companies such as Budweiser, Bank of America, and Covanta, where the city incinerates its garbage, volunteered to help clean up Newark. The city, which provides cleaning tools and garbage bags, so far has supported 42 community cleanups this year...
The "Pitch In for a Beautiful Newark" reminds residents that unswept trash, illegal dumping, and graffiti create unsightly conditions and an unhealthy city. The "Scoop the poop" campaign used fliers earlier this month to remind residents to clean up after their dogs. The promotion was followed up with enforcement and ticketing in areas where the issue was identified as a problem, Waldrop said.
The city already has beefed up enforcement to crack down on improper trash disposal and recycling, which has resulted in about 5,000 summonses this year.
In addition, tickets were issued for properties overgrown by weeds, Waldrop said. He added that the city has 1,000 to 1,200 litter baskets on the street, including almost 250 baskets that were purchased since 2007. The city, Waldrop said, also has aggressively cleaned vacant lots and used a special task force since November to crack down on illegal dumpers. The task force made its 15th arrest for illegal dumping on Thursday, city officials said.
"I think that we're making improvement," said Waldrop, referring to how well the city was tackling its trash woes.
Not everyone agrees.
"This city is dirtier than I've ever seen," said Emma Herron, who has lived in Newark's South Ward since 1967.
Newark Now - a nonprofit Booker started - and other nonprofits that people from across the country donate too ( to the tune of more than $100 million) could also be the source of funding to help out these sanitation workers, if they decided to do their jobs and actually pick up trash.
It should be obvious though, that to Mr. Booker, these Black sanitation workers are merely trash that can be replaced through the glory of capitalism. Similar to the fate of one DeFarra Gaymon, who was shot and killed while cruising for a male prostitute in late July, these 250+ sanitation workers are about to see their refuse collecting careers bite the dust.
Tea Party members who desire a return to fiscal responsibility take notice: a desire to return to sane governmental budgets will require similar actions and a replication of what Newark is proposing. The implosion of Black Run America (BRA) is underway, and those who are paid to do nothing will protest their firing nonetheless.
As BRA begins to fall apart, expect to hear "We Shall Overcome" as a new staple on the news. Cory Booker, who comprises what WEB DuBois called "The Talented Tenth" will stand in solidarity with these singers, but laugh all the way to the bank once they have been removed from their jobs.
Even though the evidence shows they perform poorly at picking up the trash, probably their primary duties as a sanitation worker, these sanitation workers do have the same general hue as Cory Booker and those who run the town of Newark.
What does it tell you when the Black people who run Newark are forced to eliminate the jobs of sanitation workers (the great majority of whom are Black), because of their inability to perform the simple task of trash removal?