Tragedy in Newark

Intransigence in the face of hard times produces nothing but heartache and further distress. That’s true in Washington, in Albany and in the long-suffering city of Newark.

Mayor Cory Booker recently found himself with little choice but to lay off 167 police officers after the city’s police union rejected Mr. Booker’s proposal to reduce overtime, implement temporary furloughs and defer pay raises in an attempt to save $7 million. It was a reasonable offer, but the union bosses turned it down.

Contrast the police union’s obstructionism with the city’s firefighters. They found a way to work with the mayor on spending cuts to avoid the prospective layoff of 100 firefighters. The police union, however, just said no.

Many New Yorkers have been watching Mr. Booker closely since he rose to national prominence after his election in 2006. They have cheered his many successes and supported his efforts to revitalize a city that became a national symbol of urban despair.

But political and geographic boundaries being what they are, New Yorkers can only watch and sympathize as Mr. Booker confronts the forces of status-quo-ante in Newark. Political opponents have gained traction in the City Council, taking advantage of hard times by asserting that things actually were better when crime was higher and corruption rampant. And now the city’s police union has refused to do its part for the public good.

Crime may very well increase in Newark as a result of police intransigence. If it does, Newarkers should remember who was willing to negotiate, and who wasn’t.