Cory Booker at Union

cory bookerCory Booker will be speaking at Union Wednesday night. The Newark, New Jersey mayor has become a star in political and media circles over the last decade. From a Time mag profile this past summer:

The Booker bio is irresistible -- and familiar: he arrived in Newark fresh out of Stanford, Oxford and Yale Law, passing up riches to save a poor city. He moved into a decrepit Newark public-housing project, which has since been torn down, and was elected to the Newark city council at age 29. In 2006, at 37, he became mayor. To his supporters, who include A+ listers like Oprah Winfrey, Bon Jovi and Brad Pitt, plus an élite cadre of Wall Street and Silicon Valley scions, Booker's self-sacrificial tale is heroic. To his critics, Booker is still a publicity-loving political opportunist, a permanent outsider using the citizens of Newark to jump-start bigger things for his career.

Booker recently got into a multimedia "fight" with Conan O'Brien after the TV host cracked that the city's health plan consisted of "a bus ticket out of Newark." Booker appeared with Conan on the Tonight Show last month to set things straight.

Booker's talk at Union is titled "How to Change the World with Your Bare Hands." It starts at 6:30 pm in the Nott Memorial.

photo: City of Newark


The snippet here, and opening pages of the article make Booker out to be the next great thing in politics. He's lowered the violent crime rate, his city is increasing affordable housing units. He turned down a job in Obama's aministration. The city has been "rediscovered by philanthropists."

Yet later pages in the Times article reveal increasing forclosure and jobless rates in the city, (among other concerns), and Booker's commitment to only one additional term. He may well know a move for more political power is through the Governor's post or Congress - not as head of an urban policy team for a first term president.

Newark may be undergoing a renaissance , but I wonder how much of it has to do with what was a red hot real estate market finally looking towards the city. Murder rates accross the country are dropping, so i don't think that alone is worth the press.

I do repsect his commitment to the city after the ivy league track for wall street. I think that's the most interesting aspect of the story. Skipping a pay-day to help your fellow man - definately commendable.

What do others think?

At Stanford, class president and varsity football player. At Yale law, co founded and ran legal clinics for low income residents of New Haven. As a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, became friends with Lubavitcher Rabbi Schmuley Boteach which led to leadership of the L'Chaim Society. And now Newark.

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