Crazy. Democratic hero Cory Booker sparks near-riot over political shenanigans.
A behind-the-scenes political maneuver by Newark Mayor Cory Booker to fill a vacant council seat with his choice led to a near-riot in city hall tonight, with dozens of residents rushing the council stage and police responding with pepper-spray.
After weeks of jockeying for Rep. Donald Payne’s successor, Booker made an unprecedented personal appearance to cast the deciding vote with his council allies for Shanique Davis Speight, a longtime ally of power broker Stephen Adubato, over the angry objections of residents.
“In the absence of a quorum, I have an obligation to sit in,” Booker said, though he was barely audible over the din.
The packed city council chamber was gearing up for a showdown over the appointment as well known figures including former Mayor Sharpe James, Amiri and Amina Baraka, former Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins and former Council President Donald Bradley came to back their choices.
Councilman Ras Baraka attempted to speak but was not recognized by Councilman Anibal Ramos, who was serving as acting president. Instead Ramos proceeded with the nomination of Speight.
Baraka, Councilwoman Mildred Crump, and Councilman Darrin Sharif walked off the dais in protest, and Booker came in cast the decisive vote, as laid out in state statute.
The move was planned by Booker’s chief-of-staff, Modia Butler, to scuttle the appointment of James’ son John Sharpe James, an avowed Booker opponent, in favor of Speight. Butler had the mayor at the ready in case of a tie or if there was no quorum.
“We did our research. We abided by the rules and guidelines. We didn’t run afoul of anything,” Butler said.
After the vote, residents stood chanting “Cory’s gotta go!” as officials shouted over the confusion.
This was a showdown of the corrupt with the corrupt, apparently. This was obviously a shady move on Booker’s part, but the biggest opponents were the SEUI and old-school Civil Rights dudes like Amiri Baraka. Who knows which side was more righteous, if there was anything righteous on either side. All I know is that the Democratic Party is a case study in dirty irony these days.
This is an open thread.