Eric Dawson, a new blogger at The Newark Report (and host of the internet radio show Real Talk Radio) has managed in one short week to thoroughly irritate Mayor Ras Baraka. How thoroughly? The Mayor has posted a two-part vlog on YouTube that attempts to rebut Dawson’s accusations that Baraka is ineffectively managing city violence (there were 105 murders in Newark in 2015) and that Baraka is undermining school choice.
In the first clip Mayor Baraka says that “a guy named Eric Dawson...hasn’t stopped campaigning” (Dawson supported Baraka’s opponent Shavar Jeffries, who is now Director of Democrats for Education Reform) and has “tried to defame my name." Dawson, he says, "has a “personal vendetta” against him, and is “creating damage” because “the kids won’t be saved as long as we’re divided.” Dawson’s reporting, including this recent post in which he describes how a Baraka supporter put Abdul Muhammad in a chokehold during an anti-crime press conference, is “salacious" and designed to “aggravate and divide the people of Newark.” Dawson's late father, Newark politician Carl Sharif, “ intones the Mayor, wouldn’t approve.”
In the second video clip, Mayor Baraka defends his Dec. 17th letter to Education Commissioner David Hespe requesting that the D.O.E. freeze all charter school expansion. (Dawson broke the story last week. The Newark City Council responded by sending its own letter to Comm. Hespe explaining the need in Newark for charter school expansion.)
Towards the beginning of the video, Baraka reads the letter in its entirety, including the passage where he says, “I am writing to request that, at this time, your Office not approve any further expansion of enrollment in these or any other Newark Charter Schools…”
Then Baraka says that it is “an outright lie that I want to close charter schools and we don’t want to expand.”
Confused? Me too. Maybe the Mayor will clarify his stance in his next YouTube installment.