Corey Booker and cronies attempt to steal seat on Newark city council

NEWARK, NJ—A major battle is in full swing for the soul of the City of Newark.
 
Th battle came to a head at the November 20, 2012 city council meeting when Corey Booker, the city’s mayor, attempted to steal the council seat that was left vacant by Donald Payne, Jr., who was elected to Congress to finish the term of his father, the late Donald Payne, Sr.
 
With one seat vacant, there are currently eight active council members, four of whom are Latino (Anibal Ramos, Luis Quintana, Carlos Gonzalez and Augusto Amador) and four of whom are African (Ronald Rice,Jr, Darren Sharif, Mildred Crump and Ras Baraka).  
 
On a board that doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with the mayor, Booker managed to find four in favor of subverting the entire democratic process to insert his ally, Shanique Davis Speight, on the council.  
 
And in one of the most vile and flagrant abuses of the political process that Newark has ever witnessed, the acting president of the council, Anibal Ramos, opened up the meeting by calling for an election for which there was no notice given, which wasn’t on the agenda and for which he refused to allow any debate! 
 
When he opened up the meeting with the surprise election, Ras Baraka immediately objected and asked to be recognized.
 
Ramos refused to acknowledge him and instead called on Gonzalez, who nominated Speight.  
 
In a maneuver that many feel was deliberately orchestrated to sow racial division in Newark among the black and Latino populations, Ramos refused to allow any of the African council people to speak.
 
Meanwhile, as all of them walked off the dais in protest, the remaining four took a page directly from the Jim Crow south and proceeded with the illegal vote as if their colleagues were invisible. 
 
Booker, who never shows up to council meetings, even when asked by the public and council, suddenly sprung forward to cast the fifth vote.  
 
Council regulations stipulate that in these kinds of proceedings there must be five “yes” votes in order for the motion/vote to carry.  
 
The rhetoric that Booker put forward was that when the council members walked off the dais, that created a lack of quorum and that in the absence of a quorum the mayor has a right to vote to fill a council seat. 
 
Other council members maintained that there was never an absence of a quorum, as their walking off the dais in protest to an illegal vote did not constitute walking away from the meeting.
 
Upon receiving intelligence about the illegal maneuver, Ronald Rice boycotted the meeting to thwart a tie, as a tie would have also given the mayor the authority to vote.
 
After witnessing this outrageous political heist and slap in the face to the African community of Newark, the people in attendance became enraged and chaos ensued. 
 
Arrests made, officer maces crowd
 
Upon attempting the illegal swearing in of Speight, SEIU Local 617 President Rahaman Muhammad rushed the podium to prevent the theft of the seat. 
 
Others came forward as well. As one of Booker’s people grabbed Muhammad, Speight was inadvertently knocked over.  
 
Although video footage clearly shows that it is hard to determine who caused her to fall, Muhammad was, incredibly, charged with assault and inciting a riot!  
 
Equally important, video also shows an overzealous high ranking officer assaulting people in the face with mace after the crowd had been subdued. 
 
Many who were assaulted were merely standing by. 
 
Muhammad was maced with his hands cuffed behind his back, and world renowned poet and activist Amina Baraka, mother to councilman Ras Baraka, was merely standing in the audience when she was maced in the face.
 
All the council members who objected to the charade immediately filed a lawsuit and Judge Carey called for the vote to be redone. 
 
On December 5 there was a do-over.   
 
And again, Booker and his cronies attempted to steal the vote with more outrageousness—in spite of the fact that all eight council members were present and that there were four yes votes,  two “no” votes and two abstentions.  
 
Booker tried to vote again by revising history and inverting logic on its head.  
 
This time he and his council cohorts claimed that the abstentions should be counted as “no” votes, thereby claiming that the mayor has the right to vote in the event of a tie.  
 
What makes this argument even more egregious is that under the presidency of councilwoman Mildred Crump, the city council in 2007 stipulated that abstentions were not “no” votes and that all of the council members, including the ones who were now siding with the mayor, signed onto this. 
 
Booker himself even signed onto it! 
 
On December 11, all sides appeared before Judge Cary again, and he reversed Booker’s vote, stating that as per the ordinance that the council signed earlier, abstentions were not “no” votes. 
 
Thus this ruling renders the council seat vacant and ensures that there will be a general election in November 2013 to fill it.
 
Many believe that the real reason behind Booker’s coup attempt of the city council lies in his his desire to privatize Newark’s water supply, something he has been trying to do since taking office, but has never been able to because he was always thwarted by city council, who, along with the community, expressed strong opposition to such a move.  
 
The installation of Speight to that seat by hook or crook would have increased his odds tenfold of gaining control of the council.  
 
The council people who opposed the mayor’s underhanded dealings continue to decry his actions. 
 
Rice called his actions and the actions of his supporters on the council a slap in the face to all the citizens of Newark. Sharif says that November 20 will go down in infamy. 
 
Councilwoman Crump laments having ever run on the Booker ticket after witnessing firsthand how he would use people to get elected and then ignore them when he no longer needed them, while Baraka says that those who will do anything for power deserve no power at all and likened what happened at the council meeting to an act of war.
 
The Newark chapter of the Black is Back Coalition promises to continue to monitor this issue and is more determined than ever to build a powerful force for the revolutionary advancement and empowerment of our people. 
 

To see the complete video of the November 20th Newark City Council Meeting, please go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DiFdjAZswg

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