NEWARK – When Garry McCarthy bid farewell to Newark this morning, he hardly mustered Pericles’ funeral oration – and certainly sounded no MacArthur-like notes about returning.
“Thank you, good luck,” said the Chicago-bound chief, barely giving reporters a chance to right their pencils before he backed away from the lectern and yielded to Mayor Cory Booker.
Booker buoyantly referred to an accompanying city council as he radiated unity.
But just three of the city council people were present for McCarthy’s going away presser: East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador, Central Ward Councilman Darrin Sharif and North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos.
Among the missing were a majority: Crump, Rice, Quintana, Baraka, Payne, Gonzalez (a likely aye vote for Booker’s police chief choice, his wife’s a deputy mayor, but Sharif is no inevitable affirmation for what the mayor wants, though he made the press conference today).
A question crumbled ever so slightly the mayor’s unified force projection as he acknowledged that it’s an issue.
“If we can’t unify around a safe summer, then for shame,” he said.
The storyline that dogged the gritty McCarthy throughout his tenure was the same brand the opposition tries to affix to Booker: the outsider brand, and so now, a day before Gov. Chris Christie is scheduled to land here in Newark to unveil a new schools superintendent, Booker went for the warm body with the most Brick City resonance: Deputy Chief Samuel DeMaio, thereby blunting any upswell a day before there’s sure to be plenty.
“He came up through the ranks and will be a big morale boost to the police department,” said former Councilwoman Gayle Cheneyfield-Jenkins, referring to McCarthy’s interim replacement. “Sam has great rapport with all ages and races.”
It was a significant comment coming from a Booker antagonist as the mayor bounded out of the room with just enough time bought before tomorrow’s press conference.
Insiders say Cami Anderson – former NYC Department of Ed. superintendent – has the inside track to end up behind that winning door tomorrow when Christie and Booker announce the new superintendent. Sources later Tuesday evening confirmed Christie’s choice of Anderson to PolitickerNJ.com.
Operative words: New York. Translation: not Newark.
New York is also where McCarthy was from, and the hale hearty former professional home of Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf.
While Cheneyfield Jenkins and others praised Booker’s DeMaio pick as solid local politics, at least one City Hall insider said the council won’t let the mayor select his own replacement for McCarthy, as the majority of local African American electeds jockey for political survival by scrambling away from Booker.
Council President Donald Payne, Jr. has a working list, according to a source, and his faves include Captain Coley and Captain Saltim.
The conflagration plays out as the Newark Schools Advisory Board plans to meet tonight less than a week after elections to elect a leader. Although African American electeds in three wards endorsed candidates who took two out of three seats, their numbers were hardly concussive, as Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson squeaked out a 44-vote win over North Warder Tave Padilla and the contest’s individual top vote-getter proved to be incumbent Eliana Pintor Marin, a resident of the city’s smallest ward and a member of the losing ticket.