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Newark's Financial Trouble Inviting Comparisons to Detroit

Beset by a large budget deficit and overwhelming poverty, Newark's local government services director has warned that the city might require state supervision.
May 9, 2014, 12pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Siddhartha Mitter reports that Newark's financial situation has prompted Local Government Services Director Tom Neff to advise new mayor Luis Quintana that the city might need to be placed under state supervision.

The specter of Detroit's bankruptcy situation is influencing Newark's mayoral election (election day is May 13). Writes Mitter: "While fear of becoming another Detroit has become commonplace in urban political rhetoric, Newark loosely shares enough traits with the Michigan metropolis — the spiral of disinvestment, middle-class flight, violence, poverty, a majority African-American population under strain — for the possibility to carry weight. Views differ, however, on just what it means to become another Detroit, let alone how to prevent it."

Good news connected to recent state-subsidized development have been offset by lots of bad news, including a scandal involving Newark Watershed, the agency that oversees sewer and water, and a $40 million budget deficit. "These concerns come on top of Newark’s chronic problems, which a series of big-ticket downtown developments and state-subsidized corporate relocations have not managed to blunt. Nearly one-third of its population and more than 43 percent of its children live below the poverty line. Its high school graduation rate is 68 percent. There were 111 murders there in 2013 — the most since 1990 and a shocking number in a city of 280,000 people."

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Published on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 in Al Jazeera America
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