POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Newark mayor grades his administration’s handling of lead crisis

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

NJTV News Correspondent Michael Hill continues his conversation with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. In part two, Baraka refutes a New York Times report that his administration “played down” warnings about unsafe drinking water in Newark, defends his acting water department director, who has a criminal record, and addresses claims that he hasn’t been transparent with the public.

“First of all, I think we’ve been transparent, number one,” said Baraka. “Legally, we have to be transparent or we’d be out of compliance.”

Baraka also assigned grades to both the city’s water department and to his office’s handling of the lead crisis.

“I think the water department, the managing of it, staying ahead of it and doing what we need to do to make sure we fix this problem, I would be give them a ‘B,’ ‘B+’ — 10%. In terms of us engaging the public and making sure everybody was clear on what was actually happening, a ‘C,'” said Baraka.

He faults his office for not delivering a clear message to residents and concedes that the city’s efforts to prevent panic contributed to confusion over the issue.

Watch Part One: Why Newark’s mayor is pursuing a faster way to replace lead pipes