Newark state Senator Ronald L. Rice can't help but dislike Cory Booker. He can't trust a mayor of Newark who is admired outside this concrete campus they call Brick City. To him, Cory Booker is an interloper. A kid with too much education and not enough years in The Machine.
Go on! the thinking goes. Spend a couple of years as a gear in The Machine. Spend a couple of decades! Get sufficiently ground down and greased up -- and then, THEN you will have learned the things that Cory Booker will never know.
Senator Rice did his hitch, all right. Studied with a man who had his Ph.D in how it's done: Sharpe James, Newark's former mayor/state senator. James could teach you a thing or two about how to run Newark the right way, but then you'd have to take the five and a half-hour drive on down to Petersburg, Virginia. James is there in federal prison camp for fraud and conspiracy. The same place he's been since approximately 9:12 a.m. on September 15, 2008.
OK, back to the point: Rice doesn't like Cory Booker, and he spent this week giving the mayor hell because, essentially, there are a whole lot of people who do like him. They are motivated by him. They like and are motivated by him so much that they are willing to pay thousands of dollars to have him come and speak to them.
And so, Cory Booker appears to do well on the lecture circuit, a job he performs in his spare time, which is somewhat amazing because who knew he had any free time? If you follow the work he does, it seems he barely takes an hour off. Why, just this morning, he was tweeting about jogging to the office and....
Oh yeah -- that thing.... Rice is not a fan of the Twitter. "You can't run a city government on tweeter and twitter and running on and off airplanes, not a city like Newark," he told Max Pizarro of PolitickerNJ.
It appears Rice is not only disconnected from the digital world; he's also disconnected from the real world.... The city he lives in is safer than it has been in years, thanks to the aggressive citizen patrolling Booker and other dedicated Newarkers have led night after night... Government offices are running more effectively than ever because the patronage machine is in the process of being dismantled. (Obviously some parts of it remain: how else would Rice still be in office?)... And Newark has a mayor admired by people throughout the state and nation, which is more than can be said for Rice's idol, Inmate No. 28791-050 -- oh, excuse me, the Honorable Sharpe James.
And as for not being able to run city government from Twitter: last night, a woman who had been in a car accident tweeted at her mayor:
@corybooker lets talk Police Response in the South Ward on Nye ave given da fact that i just got n an accident &been wait n for the cops
Mayor Booker tweeted back to say that he was personally on his way. It's unclear exactly how it turned out, but judging by his later Twitter activity, he connected with the woman and the situation was resolved. So in that instance, providing citizens a direct, real-time pipeline to the mayor enhanced government services.
I will give Rice this, though: he is absolutely right about not being able to run a city from "tweeter." It's hard to manage anything from something that doesn't exist.
Follow John R. Bohrer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JRBwrites