January 14, 2019
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Trump,
I am writing to express my deep concern that you are seriously thinking of declaring a national emergency to fund a proposed $5 billion border wall. I want to bring your attention to a true emergency that puts millions of our citizens at risk: The decaying infrastructure of our water systems which has created a crisis in Newark, the State of New Jersey and across America. Dangerously high levels of lead are entering homes and our children's blood through lead service lines despite the fact that any level of lead can damage the developing brains of young children.
Besides Newark, more than 20 other New Jersey cities and towns have elevated levels of lead in their tap water, and so do thousands of municipalities in our nation. This crisis, mainly, affects older black and brown cities with limited resources and serious health issues that are systemically overlooked by every level of government. In prioritizing environmental justice, saving children and their families within these cities is a must. Although the situation in Newark is very different from that of Flint, our need to replace lead service lines is equally urgent. I join in solidarity with the I I-year-old girl known as Little Miss Flint who told you that spending $5 billion to make water safe is a much better way to protect Americans than building the wall.
In the short term, we are distributing 40,000 water filters and cartridges to affected homes in Newark. We are also changing our corrosion control system. But, the only real solution to save this and future generations of children is to replace lead service lines. It will cost an estimated $70 million to replace the lead service lines in Newark, hundreds of millions more to replace them in New Jersey, and an estimated $35 billion to replace all of the lead service lines in America. Achieving this is possible only with financial help from the federal government.
You have been saying that a border wall will save thousands of American lives, but that's simply not true, instead of wasting billions of dollars to keep an ill-conceived campaign promise, I urge you to use our resources in a way that will truly save American lives - help repair our nation's deteriorated water infrastructure.
Ras J. Baraka
Residents asked to be mindful of no parking on snow-covered roads with signs.
Ras J. Baraka is the 40th Mayor of the City of Newark.
A native of Newark, whose family has lived in the City for more than 70 years, Mayor Baraka’s progressive approach to governing has won him accolades from grassroots organizations to the White House. With a forward-thinking agenda that reduced crime to its lowest levels in five decades, addressed affordability while maintaining steady growth, lowered unemployment, and returned local control of schools after more than two decades, Baraka defied expectations during his first term in office.
As a part of his commitment to strengthen Newark’s position in the expanding technology space, Mayor Baraka has partnered with corporate stakeholders and institutions, such as NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology) on efforts that will capitalize on the 26 miles of dark fiber which lie beneath the City’s main corridors. Consequently, Newark is the host city for VOICE, a three-day summit hosted by Amazon Alexa, which is at the forefront of natural language processing. Additionally, in 4Q of 2018, the City will also launch LinkNWK (pronounced Link Newark), a new communications network of sidewalk kiosks that will provide residents of and visitors to Newark with free, gigabit Wi-Fi, mobile device charging, phone calls to anywhere in the U.S., access to municipal services, maps and directions, and real-time local information on city streets at no cost to taxpayers or users.
Mayor Baraka’s futurist agenda includes the implementation of a groundbreaking partnership called Hire. Buy. Live. Newark, a program that marks the first time that any US city has sought to transform its economy by combining employment, procurement, and residential strategies. These types of initiatives caught the attention of Amazon, which named Newark as a finalist city in its search to establish its second global headquarters.
He is considered nationally as a thought leader in the space of urban revitalization and his defiance of a hostile Presidential directive targeting the immigrant community with an executive order designating Newark as a sanctuary city solidified his status as one of the country’s most progressive elected officials.
Mayor Baraka was educated in the Newark Public Schools. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and a Master’s Degree in Education Supervision from St. Peter’s University in Jersey City. His father, the late Amiri Baraka, was a legendary poet and playwright. His mother, Amina Baraka, is herself a renowned poet. The father of three daughters, Mayor Baraka is a published author and well-regarded in the entertainment industry for his appearance on the Grammy-award winning album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” in his authentic role as an educator.