NJ For Change

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sharpe James is Out

Sharpe James is dropping out of the race for a sixth term as mayor of Newark. This is the best thing James has done in his 35 years in New Jersey politics.

"Mr. James, who has also served as a state senator since 1999, said in the letter that he was stepping down because he was "an opponent of dual office holding" and wanted to focus on state issues. He emphasized that he thought he would have won the May 9 election if he remained in the race because Newark is better off now than when he was first elected in 1986."

The Times calls James the “last of the big-city mayors to come out of the civil rights movement” and the builder of a political machine that could “determine the outcome of statewide races.” The scandals James presided over are too numerous to mention, although a few were highlighted in the New York Times' article.
His police chief went to prison in 1996 after being convicted of embezzling $30,000 from city accounts. A year later, his chief of staff was convicted of taking kickbacks for contracts with the city after investigators found $157,000 under floorboards in his home. The Housing Authority, after a federal audit last year, was ranked as one of the most troubled in the nation.
However, the largest scandal is the personal fortune Sharpe James has amassed and his abysmal legacy.
“James leaves behind a city with failing schools and entrenched poverty. Though he was elected 20 years ago on a promise to improve living conditions for a city he then described as "two-thirds poor, one-third struggling to make a living," little has changed for many of the city's residents.

One-third of Newark's children still grow up in poor families, according to state figures. The unemployment rate of nearly 11 percent is still roughly twice the state average, and the median household income of $26,000 makes Newark poorer than Baltimore, Detroit, Biloxi, Miss., and every other major American city except Miami, according to 2004 census figures.
Sharpe James has sucked New Jersey’s taxpayers dry, helped to nearly bankrupt the state and made himself and his friends very wealth people. Our elected leaders in Trenton aided and abetted this crime through turning a blind eye or embracing James’ for political and economic profit. “Helping the poor” was code for helping politicians to billions and billions of taxpayer dollars and it has been nothing short of a disgrace.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that Cory Booker is not a smoother and better educated rip-off artist. Much is riding on Booker - the hope of Newark and the trust of the entire state of New Jersey. Don’t let us down Cory Booker!
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