Newark: Poisoned Water and Poisoned Politics

For many years, Newark NJ has had a big problem with lead in its drinking water. Lead is hazardous and most dangerous to children. It can cause brain damage and many other serious problems.

Two years ago, when Newark was about to be sued for exceeding federal standards for lead levels in the city water supply, Mayor Ras Baraka’s administration publicly made the following statements: “The quality of our water meets all federal and state standards;” and “the City’s water is NOT contaminated with lead.”

Then last year, the mayor and county executive, with their state governor’s support, rolled out a $120 million bond issue for the replacement of lead service lines in Newark. All of these politicians are Democrats. Since then, thousands of lead pipes have been replaced, and the politicians are promoting themselves as progressive heroes, saying that their initiative “sets a precedent across the country about how New Jersey is stepping up to the plate to address water infrastructure challenges for its residents.”

How could the water have been fine one year, according to the politicians, and need $120 million worth of fixing the next year? One thing about this is certain: banks and other investors who buy the bonds will make lots of money at taxpayers’ expense. What is not so certain is what effect this will have on Newark’s drinking water.

And in fall 2019, despite replacing lead service lines in a neighborhood, the administration denied that that neighborhood had even been affected by the crisis and said residents there should not be granted access to free bottled water!

The Democratic Party machine rarely looks out for the needs of working-class people. In Newark, they initially lied outright, only to slowly admit there was a problem, and finally closed ranks to find a strategy that benefits the wealthy.

Working people can choose to build something different. But we can’t do it by relying on the same people who’ve played us time and time again.