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Color Bars - WNET30
Title Slate: The Eleventh Hour #291. Newark. Rec: 1/24/90. Dir: Andrew Wilk
Funding by Announcer. Charitable orgs overlay The Eleventh Hour graphic.
Program opens, Host Robert Lipsyte in the studio standing next to 4 tv screens with images of the City of Newark, and the title City of Newark. He talks about Newark, New Jersey, as a "City in Renaissance".
Host Lipsyte welcomes viewers to the program and introduces himself.
Lipsyte announces Mayor of New Jersey, Sharpe James coming up soon and cuts away to an off-site segment narrated by Stanley Terrell, editorial editor for the Newark Star Ledger.
wide shot cluster of modern city high rise buildings and pan down to Stanley Morrell, host for the segment, standing in large empty parking lot.
Archival b&w footage of a thriving downtown Newark - vintage cars parked on cobblestone streets, many peds, hustle bustle on the streets
B&W footage with narration by Torrell - July 1967 racial riots in Newark, police officers in helmets dragging black man down same (as above) cobblestone streets; police with rifles marching down the street; buildings aflame, sirens; Black people seen looting.
Aerial Newark modern times, wide shots of wide avenue, tall modern buildings
Bright pink vertical banner hanging from pole outside glass building "Newark and its People Growing Together Forever".
Back with Terrell outside reporting enthusiastically about Newark's potential - a major waterfront complex anchored by a $200 million arts center. Pan over to the tall buildings surrounding Torrell.
Pan out from Ghetto neighborhood, Terrell standing in vacant lot in front of abandoned boarded up buildings telling the other side of the story. He explains that Newark still suffers from the same social issues from 30 years ago.
School bus (shot from rear) parked in front of city school
Old abandoned brick apartment buildings side by side with windows either boarded up or with broken glass
Wide shot cloudy day, large red fire hydrant in foreground with several large brick apartment buildings in bkgd. yellow fire truck driving by
Downtown Newark busy street, city bus, traffic, policemen on motorcycles in middle of street, peds in front of F,W Woolworth Co. building.
Streets crowded with peds in Newark. Stanley Terrell (unseen) narrates about a positive change since 1967 being the decrease in racial tensions.
Back with Stanley Terrell reporting as he's walking through an abandoned lot in front of old brick abandoned buildings.
Host Robert Lipsyte at his desk in the studio introduces and welcomes Newark Mayor Sharpe James via satellite from Washington D.C
Split Screen Mayor James and Robert Lipsyte overlays The Eleventh Hour graphic.
is that there are two Newarks one shiny with promise, and the other as desperate, if not more so than it was in 67. During the riots. And the question people have asked is, which city are you Mayor of?
Sharpe James 6:18
Well, I think when I ran for office, I was the first to coin that phrase about a tale of two cities. And I think since I've been mayor, I said the downtown was booming, and our neighborhoods were dooming. And I since I became mayor July 1 1986. We've been fighting both of those fronts. Number one, we've been trying to strengthen our downtown development because the spin off will be in jobs and ratables and income into the city. And then of course, I think the challenge is to take those dollars and go into our neighborhoods and make a difference. So I believe that right now, we are strengthening our neighborhoods, our development, the city of Newark is not concentrated, simply downtown anymore. It's throughout the entire city of Newark, when you come to the city of New York, and walk up South Orange avenue into the central Ward, the heart of the riots, and you see beautiful K, Hovnanian housing 1100 units being built, that's not downtown, that's in the neighborhood, the first movie theater be built in the city of New York, we're not going to build it downtown. But at Bergen and Springfield Avenue in the heart of the riots. And of course, we look at a new shopping mall in Irvine and Turner Avenue, not downtown, but in a neighborhood, a new community shopping mall at South Orange Avenue in Bergen street again and enable it. So we've accept that challenge. And we believe that the real renaissance of a city, it's not what happens at broad market or the four corners, but it is what happens in a neighborhood where people live. We accept that challenge. And we're proud to say that we have a combined private public partnership working to eradicate of the ills of the past and to improve the quality of life of our neighborhoods.
Robert Lipsyte 8:05
Mr. Mayor, when you first accepted the challenge, when you became mayor, you promised a sharp change. Has has political reality stopped any of those those visions of three and a half years ago?
Sharpe James 8:18
No, I think one of the most pleasant surprises that I've found since I've been mayor, is the cooperation of the members of the city council. I was a councilman for 16 years and and I knew that the best way for our Councilman to survive is to have a press release, attacking a mayor disagree with the mayor and have confrontation all the time. I'm pleased to say that since I've been mayor, I think there has been a new spirit of cooperation between the members of the Newark municipal Council and the office of Mayor for the betterment of our city.
Robert Lipsyte 8:49
But one of the things that hasn't happened. Even that spirit of cooperation which Stanley Terrell brought up is enough, as he put it safe and affordable housing for the people of Newark even though changes have been made. Why has this not happened?
Sharpe James 9:04
I think that our biggest drive has been in the area of housing rebuilt housing for all people, not just low income, although that's our primary focus to have safe, decent and affordable low income housing. But we must never forget that Newark has a shrinking population base. We must never forget that there are many living in the city of Newark who do want to improve their housing stock. Newark is a third oldest major city in America behind Boston in New York City. And we have an older stock of housing there many people do not want to let leave No, but they want to a new house. They want to share the American dream. And so we build housing for all people but we've concentrated on safe decent affordable housing. And I think the one misnomer that that stanley Terrell fails to inform the public and and I think you'd be the first to correct himself. When Mayor Gibson was the mayor he control the New York housing authority which is the only agency in the city of Newark, charged with responsibility for building low income housing. And Mayor Gibson for 12 years, appointed every member of the school board. So he had virtually total control of the city control the Board of Education. And the President was an aide to the mayor, he controlled the housing authority, and its chairman was an aide to a to a mayor or an employee in the city, Miss Pearl Beatty. I, when I became mayor in July 1 1986, the laws have been changed, and I did not appoint the members of the housing authority. And we now have an appointment, a school board, people fail to realize that the school board budget is larger than a municipal budget $450 million to educate our school children 54,000 When in 1970, we had 80,000 students, and the budget was only about $190 million dollars.
Robert Lipsyte 10:54
I can see the change, mayor. But one thing I don't understand here is how would your control over the school board your ability to pick these people make a difference?
Sharpe James 11:03
Well, I It's very easy, because right now come April 24. In the city of Newark, we will have a school board election where it's on a rotating basis, three members will run to run you need money to run you have to campaign you have to become political, those who contribute money to you, when you become a school board member, they have a relationship. A school board member have to become political in order to become elected. So
Robert Lipsyte 11:29
Sir mayor has to become political in order to become elected
Sharpe James 11:33
and then he's and then he's accountable to the majority of citizens in that city because in a municipal election, you have to win with more than 51% of the votes. So you have wide participation across this nation. And certainly in Newark the number to vote in a school board election on the average is 9%. And we've had elections in the city of Newark, where only 6% of the people vote to determine how to spend $450 million. When that is larger than municipal budget where we have 60% participation. I think that's wrong.
Robert Lipsyte 12:09
do I hear you saying that the school board members are then not accountable to their constituents,
Sharpe James 12:16
they are accountable to those who help them get elected,
Robert Lipsyte 12:18
which is a very small percentage
Sharpe James 12:24
less than 9%. And this is then let's go to the housing authority. I'm pleased to say that on the other former Governor Thomas Kean, he signed a bill and a state legislature has now changed the law that in 30 days will give the mayors of Jersey City Newark And Elizabeth, I believe Patterson also the right to select the commissioners of the New York Housing Authority. I'm waiting to exercise that during the month of February. And I can state publicly and emphatically that we will bring about a tremendous change in the New York housing authority when I'm able to appoint two commissioners.
Robert Lipsyte 12:58
But when you're saying is you're asking for more power within the city of Newark in two critical areas, housing and education. And with that more power, you think that you are going to be able to afford more change is that what
Sharpe James 13:11
I don't want to call it power. I want to say this that the public holds the mayor accountable for the quality of education that our children receive, and hold me accountable for fiscal stability of the city. If the school budget spends $450 million, and I'm being held accountable for the fiscal stability of our city, I believe I should appoint those school board members. Now let's switch to the housing authority. That's the third largest budget in the city. I believe if I'm going to be held accountable for safe, decent, affordable housing that Mr. Terrell speaks about, and the only agency in the city, mandated charged by state statute with responsibility for building low income housing is the Newark housing authority. And in prior years, I'm not talking about in recent years, but in prior years, they have squandered millions and millions of dollars, they fail to build that that the number of low income housing that we need. We have empty and abandoned apartments that people walk by every day. So I'm saying we need a change. Now there has been some reform in recent years since I became mayor in 1986, by a cooperative agreement of just working together, but I'm looking for where I'm being held accountable for the quality of housing in the city of New York. And I want the opportunity to appoint commissioners who will share my philosophy my goal, that there should not be a tale of two cities that this agency should build a significant number of quality, low income housing.
Robert Lipsyte 14:42
Mr. Mayor, these are very strong statements for what you want. But one aspect of the housing picture you do have to take responsibility for and that's the adjective safe. I mean, you do have control over the police department and there is an image at least, that there has not been safety in this kind of low income housing and that Newark, Newark itself has been rattled with crime.
Sharpe James 15:08
Well, I think every every American city in America, I mean, Atlanta, I just came from the US Conference of Mayors a conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The headlines say that Atlanta, I lead the nation crime, not New Jersey, but weathers Atlanta or any urban area crime is everywhere. No city, no living room, no house can divorce itself of crime and drug. But we've been highly innovative in the city of Newark, we brought back and reinstituted the Mounted Police, we brought back to one man patrol to bring about greater police visibility down the street, we opened up a kiosk that broad market supervised 24 hours a day, there is a new spirit of cooperation. In the police department in the city of Newark. It was a James administration that has introduced a highly innovative idea of having our firefighters to be out of the firehouse and between the hours of three to 8pm to give greater visibility and be on the streets and check fire hydrants. We have been easily
Robert Lipsyte 16:07
These are very innovative. But despite them, Newark still rates third among the most crime ridden cities in America, why?
Sharpe James 16:19
I have not I have not read those statistics that you are quoting me right now. But I'm not sitting here to suggest that an urban city, the largest city in the state of New Jersey, the third oldest city in America, is without crime. We know we have a problem, we accept that problem. And I'm so pleased that we have a private public cooperation addressing that problem. We've been highly innovative, very critical. And I have the statistics and reports that show a decrease in crime in the city of Newark decrease in auto theft. And although we believe that it's still not enough, we're doing the best we can what limited funds we have. And I think like when people talk about homelessness, they talk about AIDS, they talk about crime, and they talk about drugs. It's time we talk about a federal national priority to give the cities the dollars to do what we expect them to do on a municipal level. We cannot talk about crime in the city of Newark, or East Orange or Paterson or Atlanta, or New York City, when we're spending over a million dollars a day to support the army and El Salvador, who's killing men, women and children and shooting six priests. And then we talk about the quality of life in our urban city. That's a failed American policy. And I'm saying some of those dollars are wish to be invested in Foreign Affairs could be put into our city
Robert Lipsyte 17:43
Mr. Mayor there are people who would turn that around and say that the money that you want to pour into an art center in Newark could very well be turned into more police officers on the streets, and more of the kind of public safety presence that would make Newark safer.
Sharpe James 18:03
Nothing could be further from the truth because first of all, the $33 million being given by the private sector. This is not to say if the private sector, those commendable business, people who come together and believe that the New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts belongs in the largest city in New Jersey, because of an airport, a seaport, our rail network, second to none the infrastructure, they believe it should belong there. And they are willing to donate $33 million of their money to make this a reality. This is not to suggest that if we do not build an art center, they're going to turn around and go to broad market and say give it to the homeless. They're supporting the arts, they believe in the arts, and they see what you've said earlier in the program. The city cannot be a tale of two cities. You can't have urban cities, the house, all the jails, all the methadone centers, all of the social agencies and say now be a viable city. A city is more than mortar and bricks. And what about the people who are not on welfare? What about the people who are not homeless? who still believe in a city who live in a city? Should they have the opportunity to go to a movie theater? Should they have the opportunity to go bowling should they have the opportunity to go rollerskating all of which do not exist in a city should they have the opportunity to go see the arts and and the cultural things that improve the quality of their life? I think what we have done is always talk about what we should do just for one part of the population what a city is it is a ethnic mix, a social mix, an economic mix, and we also have to be concerned about the total population or city. There are many people who want to go see Bolero. At the same time we have to be concerned about the homeless. There are many people who want to go to see a Broadway show at the same time but be concerned about crime and AIDS. So if you do not have a quality city, the quality of life dies and that's City, people move out of the city. And what we have in years to come is a city's occupied by only the poor, the downtrodden, the forgotten, those who are trapped and cannot escape that city, you have improved the total quality of life in our city. While we addressed the social problems.
Robert Lipsyte 20:20
You're you're in Washington, DC now with many of your fellow mayors. What What are you talking about with them? Do you want more money from the federal government from your state governments? What are the the commonality of your problems right now?
Sharpe James 20:32
I think that's a very good question. And certainly, we're looking for national policies, where tax dollars flow to Washington, that will come back to the cities to do some of the things that you had made mention up, we need a national housing policy it was terminated at during the Reagan administration, we need to have dollars coming back to the city to deal with the question of drugs that we've talked about, we need dollars coming back to have treatment on demand. One of the most serious problems that we find in urban cities are those boys and girls, men and women who do fall victim to drugs. But now they want to come back to mainstream America. And all they need is a drug treatment program that will give them the strength to come back that will give them job trading skills, so they can join mainstream America. Unfortunately, you can't receive treatment on demand, you know, if you're a $2 million basketball player or a baseball player, you might receive that. But the average citizen who says I made a mistake, and now I want to join mainstream America help me they might have to wait three to four years to become eligible to get into a drug treatment program. That is wrong. What we're simply talking about is that we want said in America, that the threat to our national security is communism. So we will budget over $450 billion in a defense budget and say, We have to guard ourselves against the foreign invasion, we have to worry about communism. But we recognize that the principle of that statement, but what about the greatest threat to our internal security drugs, youngster selling crack? Families being destroyed? crime related to drugs, has reached epidemic proportions in America.
Robert Lipsyte 22:22
You're in Washington right now? Do you feel that the federal government doesn't care or doesn't see it?
Sharpe James 22:27
Well, I think they're spending. You know, I think what we you know, I, let me give you a simple answer. I think in local government, we put a cap on spending. I think in Washington, the priorities have to be reshaped, redirected. And, and we'll simply say, we can't send all of our tax dollars around the world, the solve all the problems around the world, when we have a crisis here in America, a crisis in Newark, Atlanta, New Orleans, East Orange, Paterson. We have to deal with the problems here in the city of Newark that you are making mention
Robert Lipsyte 23:00
crisis at the very, very top of the government of Washington, DC, the mayor of Washington, DC, has fallen victim to this as well.
Sharpe James 23:10
I've been reading the news account, as well as you and, and certainly, we're concerned about the individual himself, we're concerned about his family. And we hope that this problem in Washington will be resolved at address.
Robert Lipsyte 23:25
You don't see this as part of what you're talking about, or as part of the whole, one of our leaders,
Sharpe James 23:30
I don't see a personal problem being equated to a municipal problem, a county problem, a state problem, a nation's problem. All of us, as I stated earlier in my message, no one in America, no family, no community, no neighborhood, is safe from the evils of drugs and crime. So therefore, the challenge for all of us, mayors and elected officials, here in Washington, and the state of New Jersey and across this nation, is to come up with national policies that will read our cities of these evils, crime and drugs and what have you. I think if we can fly to the moon, walk in space, we can solve problems like a 10 year old stealing an automobile in the dark with a screwdriver. And I believe if we can walk in space and fly to the moon, we can solve the problems of homelessness here in Washington, DC, Newark, New Jersey and across this nation. I simply believe that we have a failed American policy, the treat these as a priority. I think it was only until the recent presidential election, when Reverend Jesse Jackson said what about drugs and people laughed at him. And then we had Michael Dukakis beginning to go into the schools across this nation and say no to drugs. Then we had then President Bush who first thought that crack was a sound. And then during the campaign, he got on the bandwagon and visit crack houses and became cause of that new priority. We have Mr. Bennett, who's been hired as the drug czar for this nation that's in the right step that's recognizing the problem. That's appointing someone who's looking at the problem who's studying the problem. Now we need to come up with the dollars and the program that will be funded at the local level in Newark
Robert Lipsyte 25:20
One place where they may come from, of course, is the state level. You do have a new governor, how do you feel about Governor Florio in New Jersey? How will that affect your job in Newark?
Sharpe James 25:32
I'm encouraged by Governor Jim Florio, I'm encouraged because he was a high school dropout. A man who served his country, a man who took a Graduate Record Exam and and achieved his high school diploma, a man who went on to Trenton state and graduated with arm with honors a man who went on and won a Woodrow Wilson scholar to Columbia University, a man who became a lawyer. A, Congressman, well, I think he's he's doing one thing already. He said, I made a promise that when I become governor, I'm going to call for insurance reform isn't a commendable, isn't didn't he keep us word of the day after taking the oath of office, he called a special session of the legislature on Monday, presented them with a plan to lower the terrible and significant costs of insurance in the state of New Jersey, that everyone has been offended by, that no solution had been forthcoming to, he seemingly saying is a man of his word. He's committed, he's dedicated. And I think he has many commendable programs to introduce to the state of New Jersey. And I think more important, it's incumbent upon all of us to work with him with these new ideas to form partnerships, and let's move New Jersey forward. I think it's gonna be an exciting new jersey on the Governor Jim Florio, He's a personable individual Robert Lipsyte 26:59
I thank you very much mayor sharpe. James, thanks so very much for being with us in your speech last night you said Newark is still troubled but heading towards the promised land. We wish you well.
Interview concludes. Lipsyte thanks Mayor Sharpe and wishes him well.
Lipsyte encourages viewers to write in their opinions
Talkback envelop with address and stamp
Lipsyte announces show and himself. Show ends.
Show credits ru over graphics.
Funding by Announcer. Charitable orgs overlay The Eleventh Hour graphic.
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