So, you might have heard about the little kerfuffle over at City Hall over a certain councilperson who attempted to wield some power that, turns out, she didn’t actually have.
In December 2007, councilwoman Dana Rone, the Booker-backed council person for the Central Ward, was convicted of interfering with a traffic stop involving her nephew and a Rutgers-Newark policeman. At the time, I posited (incorrectly).
An embarrassment to councilwoman Rone, but probably not career-ending.
Here we are, eight months later, and an Essex County judge has ordered the dismissal of Ms. Rone from the city council for improper use of her power.
“This is a sad day and I take no pleasure in doing this,” Costello said, reading from a written decision during a hearing to decide Rone’s fate. Videotape evidence showing Rone’s behavior at the traffic stop was “ devastating,” Costello said. “Your client sealed her fate on the street that night,” Costello told Rone’s lawyer, Ray Hamlin.
The verdict was a surprise to both defense and prosecution, since Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow had actually requested to reverse her initial removal request, an action which came under scrutiny, despite its legal precedent.
“Given the political context of which this came about this does not look good. It looks like her reversal is politically motivated because you have officials like the mayor saying they will try to get this reversed and then it does,” said Harrison. “When you come out in favor of something then reverse your stand after the mayor and other political leaders say they are going to work on it, what is the public supposed to think?”
The dismissal of councilwoman Rone has caused a stir among the politically invested in the Central Ward. A mild, disorganized protest was conducted in this week’s city council meeting.
Public reaction to Rone’s case included both chastising words for the Council and for the mayor.
“Remember the Newark workers you fired, the housing authority workers you fired,” resident Lewis Shockley told the remaining eight members of the council. “The chickens are coming home to roost.”
Political theoreticians are running war games, trying to figure out who’s up for the acting Central Ward council position until a special election can be held in November.
Steve Adubato, head of the North Ward Center, who recently helped [Central Ward Democratic Chairman Dwight] Brown win the Central Ward Democratic chairmanship, said if there is an election to replace Rone, it may be full of surprises.
“In my opinion there is no top person,” said Adubato, who plugged Brown as a “strong independent man. It’s also unpredictable because it will be a local nonpartisan election tied in to the national election,” Adubato said. “People are going to come together that have never come together before.”
Much has been made over Rone’s political departure from Booker — and I really hear more of this from back channels in City Hall than anything: Rone is one of Booker’s loudest opponents on the council.
Rone’s recent request for a stay of execution was denied today, signaling an assumed failed appeal on the part of the Appellate Division judge presiding over the request.
Appellate Division Judge Rudy Coleman denied Rone’s request for a stay on a ruling that called for her resignation after she was convicted of a disorderly person’s offense involving her office. Coleman, in a one page decision, cited a state statute that said a stay cannot be granted in a forfeiture proceeding unless the court believes an appeal will be successful.
Rone’s departure is compelling in its hubris and leaves a void in the city council that will be the focus of a political scramble for an untold number of weeks. In the wake of the press coverage, let’s not lose sight of the fact that these are, after all, civil servants with jobs to do. 5Reasons at NewarkSpeaks put it succinctly.
It’s time to move forward, Newark faces many challenges. The verdict is in and justice has been served. Now we have to move on to more important things, you know, things that don’t involve crying politicians lamenting the loss of, yep, ANOTHER politician. How can any of them get any work done in this kind of atmosphere? Tito, get me some tissue.