Five things we’re thinking about: Week of October 7

This week, we’re 1) reading an examination of Cory Booker’s record, 2) trying to make sense of the politics behind the government shutdown, 3) contemplating the dangers of not allowing ex-offenders to vote, 4) exploring the new healthcare.gov website and figuring out how to sign up, and 5) getting ready to go to the Open Doors art festival events, which start on Thursday.

What else should we be thinking about? Tweet #fivethings @brickcitylive, or leave a comment below. Wondering about why the stories on Brick City Live look the way they do? Read this essay.

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Taking a close look at Booker’s legacy – The Star Ledger

David Giambusso of The Star Ledger examines Cooker Booker’s record, particularly in light of his claims about the success of his two terms. One area he zooms in on is crime and violence:

Starting from 2006, Booker and the police department made dramatic cuts in murders and violent crimes.

But State Police records show murders and robberies on the rise. The Star-Ledger examined 10 years of crime statistics and found that while some things have improved, others are little better off today than in 2003.

In 2003, under former Mayor Sharpe James, Newark logged 83 homicides, according to Uniform Crime Reports compiled by the State Police. There were 2,848 violent crimes including rapes, aggravated assaults and armed robberies.

In 2012 the city had 95 homicides and 3,220 violent crimes. In 2008 and 2009 crime dropped but has been creeping back up. So far this year there have been 73 homicides…

Read the full report at NJ.com, and watch the full debate between Booker and Republican candidate Steven Lonegan below.

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Boehner insists on healthcare, budget concessions before allowing government funding vote – ABC News

The New York Times summed up the situation this way:

With his hard line, Mr. Boehner reaffirmed that the stalemate with the White House over the six-day-old government shutdown was now compounded by an even more economically risky fight over raising the government’s borrowing limit by Oct. 17 to pay for bills already incurred. Most of the government remains shuttered with no end in sight, and markets and businesses were growing increasingly fretful over the chaos that could result from the first government default on its debt.

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The shame of not letting felons vote – The Atlantic Cities

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Ex-offender reentry has been one of the stated priorities of the Booker administration. In a recent report, The Atlantic Cities discusses the consequences of not letting felons vote. As shown in the map above, New Jersey has some of the harshest voting restrictions for felons and parolees. The question we’re asking: if we’re serious about meaningful re-entry, how does not giving ex-offenders this basic stake in democracy help reintegrate them into the community?

Be on the lookout for some possible movement and debate on this question. From the original article:

Later this month the United Nations Human Rights Committee will conduct a review to determine whether the U.S. is complying with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which we ratified (with conditions) in 1992. If past is prologue, we can expect the U.N. Human Rights Committee to chide the U.S. for failing to live up to the covenant. In particular, the committee will probably hammer us for voting restrictions placed on convicted felons.

Image credit: The Atlantic Cities

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The Affordable Health Care for America (AHCA) act’s online marketplace is open

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Although the government is still shut down, the online health insurance marketplace went live this past Tuesday, October 1. You can access the exchange at healthcare.gov, or dial a number for assistance: 1-800-318-2596. Some people have reported technical difficulties with the site due to high demand. These should theoretically smooth out over time. Open enrollment closes on March 31, 2014.

Image credit: healthcare.gov

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Open Doors starts this week

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The Newark Art Council’s annual Open Doors citywide art festival starts October 10. The current schedule:

Open Doors Kick-Off Party!   Thursday, October 10 from 6-9 pm at 85 Market Street
Annual Gallery Crawl   Friday, October 11 from 6-9:30 pm*
Saturday Stroll & Making the World’s Largest Monotype Mile Print   Saturday, October 12 from 11-5 pm*
Open Doors Studio Tour and City Murals Tour   Sunday, October 13 from 12 to 5 pm*
Creation Nation Art & Peace Parade Sunday, October 20 (time and starting location TBA)
Closing Party at Kilkenny Alehouse! Sunday, October 20 from 6-8 pm

*Complimentary shuttle service provided by Rutgers University–Newark

You can also find the Open Doors schedule on Brick City Live’s calendar at brickc.it/opendoors2013.

Image credit: Newark Arts Council

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