NEWARK – Sitting in King’s Restaurant on Clinton Avenue, South Ward Councilman Pat Council told InsiderNJ that Gov. Phil Murphy made a mistake when he selected non-Newarkers to sit on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, considering Murphy’s skin-of-the-teeth 2021 victory over Republican Jack Ciattarelli, which required significant voter output from Newark.
If Newark and Essex (29,000 M to 3,140 C; and 132,520 M to 45,542 C, respectively) hadn’t shown up for the Democratic incumbent, Murphy would have lost.
And yet, when it came time for Murphy to select appointments to the powerful Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, he selected staffers Joe Kelly and George Helmy (in addition to Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage), supplying the necessary bodies to re-up the chairmanship of Kevin O’Toole, a former Republican state senator.
It didn’t sit well with Council, South Ward Democratic chairman and a key ally of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka; and he said so.
“We have to speak to the narrative of the respect of the city,” Council (pictured above, left, with King’s owner Younis Moheisen) said amid the clanging sounds of plates arriving and departing in the busy neighborhood diner on one of the city’s main arteries. “This is a city that has always stood up in times of crisis and in times of tribulation ensured victory for others [including Murphy],” said the councilman.
“It weighs a lot on the state’s responsibility to look at the City of Newark,” he added. “It’s been said many times: as the City of Newark goes so goes the State of New Jersey. At some point reciprocity has its place. We need to look at individuals we know who are qualified; individuals who have labored in the vineyard and who can serve the interests of the people of this urban metropolis.”
It riled him, especially now.
Here it is, Black History Month, a time when we celebrate the contributions of African-American people throughout the diaspora and the continent and how far we have come to even where we are now part of the 94% and it still feels like we are stranded as our ancestors were in Galveston, Texas in 1865.
“Newark matters,” said Council. “This is a city that has grown even since the Census. And yet, individuals who have been recommended to these boards and authorities are not getting respect. It’s not just the Port Authority. The North Jersey Water Supply Commission hasn’t had representation for over 15 years. Newark owns 50% of the supply and is a founding member.”
Yet Terry Duffy received a seat and his town (West Milford) isn’t a member, the councilman noted.
“The director of our water department was recommended – this is someone who led us through the lead line crisis in Newark, and he is still waiting. This is the equivalent of the Puritans saying they helped move us through discord. It has to be more at the end of the day. Every time someone asked Newark to stand up, we stood up.
“What happens if the City of Newark decides to sit down?”
He pointed out that Newark has not had a seat on the Port Authority for 60 years.
“This is about our fair share,” Council said. “We’re not allowing people to think the largest city wants to be greedy. No. We just want fair representation. We think Newark should have representation when it comes to our airport and seaport and PATH Train, and yet we have no appointments.”
We noted others, nominated and not appointed:
Kareen Adeem nominated in 2020 to the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission
Mary Bennet, nominated without effect to the State Board of Education
Wynne Fred Hinds, nominated without effect to the Highlands Commission
Lakeesha Eure, nominated without effect to the Victims of Crime and Compensation Board
Charles Hall Taskforce on Wages and Health Benefits
Diane Johnson New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency
Suffiyah Webb Public Health Council
Eric Pennington NJ Sports and Exposition Authority
Annett Smith State Council on Developmental Disabilities
“We’re not here to be barbaric but to make sure our voice is heard in a respectful way,” Council added.