Normally sleepy Newark is awakening. Engaged, informed, and often impassioned citizens enlivened the Newark City Council meeting on Thursday. As expected, the big issues were the hundreds of luxury houses and the golf course the City hopes to build, mostly on wetlands near the Bay.
Despite objections to the costs, returns, and feasibility of these projects, and despite the fact that they would likely degrade the quality of life in Newark, the City has doggedly pushed on.
In response, increasing numbers of residents, many organized around the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, had done thorough research, informed themselves, and prepared to speak out about the down sides to the City’s General Plan.
While several speakers addressed the City’s dubious economics or its inattention to environmental consequences, one touched a nerve when she spoke about a lack of transparency—especially when it comes to projects favored the City but not by the public.
Lee Marsullo revealed that developers are never mentioned by name, only as “Newark Partners,” keeping the names of the Big Players from the public— making it harder to follow the money. Then she named the names and noted that, if the plans for development were approved, the billionaire land speculators would get several hundred million dollars richer.
These disclosures were too much for Newark Mayor Al Nagy, who interrupted Ms. Marsullo. Citing the Fair Politics Commission, the mayor implied that nothing secretive or shady has gone on in Newark. Few in the chambers, however, had any doubts that big money doesn’t just talk, it swears.