500 of the Camden Faith Community meet with Governor Corzine; sights now set for Mayoral Forum: Press Release
September 16, 2009
36 Churches; 500+ people; 12 Public officials (representing State, County, and the City); and 17 local non-profits, organizations, neighborhood groups, community development corporations, and public institutions met last night in the church of St. Joseph's Pro-Cathedral in a meeting between CCOP and Governor Jon Corzine. (photos here)
The purpose of the meeting, as stated by Rev. Anderson was:
- To share our dissatisfaction and frustration that recovery leaders have not focused enough on improving the basic neighborhood services
- To share our offense that recovery leaders have not adequately engaged residents in shaping the recovery - instead, too often, resident participation has been seen as a nuisance
- To ask the Governor for leadership NOW
- To ask that all 19 Camden neighborhoods and their needed services be made the focus of the recovery (service areas of Policing, housing, schools, and jobs)
- To ask the Governor and all officials to develop with the community short and long term goals for improvements.
- To ask the Governor and all officials to make these goals public and to assess them regularly for public input
- Lastly to share our abiding hope the CAMDEN can and will RECOVER
Bishop Barbara Farmer, Reverend Heyward Wiggins, and Father Pedro Guzman delivered commanding prayers and faith reflections.
Marian Jones presented a powerful and thought provoking research report (if you want a copy we have copies).
We heard frustration, pain, and anger in the testimonies of Shelly McCargo, Dr. Bernadette Anderson, and Rosa Ramirez (we will also have copies of these real soon).
And the up front team, Monsignor Robert McDermott, Reverend Willie Anderson, Reverend Margaret Herz-Lane, and Father Jud Weiksnar, provided the leadership, guidance, and support for a professional meeting.
Lastly, after seeing the entire church stand-up due to experiencing violence, housing abandonment, broken city services, frustration with city leadership, and a dissatisfaction with the status quo, the CCOP team on behalf of all our churches and members asked Governor Corzine what he was going to do starting tomorrow to get all of Camden's neighborhoods back on the road to success.
In short, Governor Corzine pointed to the fact that a commitment has and will continue to be made to Camden and that from this commitment resources have come to our city. On this same note however the Governor acknowledged that the residents are not happy with "the delivery of these resources and the execution of plans."
Governor Corzine added at the end of the meeting that what was made clear to him is that the State "is not paying attention to the details that would give people tangible feelings of hope."
At the close of the meeting Rev. Anderson then turned focus to the people gathered and to the residents of Camden and NJ, "We've heard the Governor's words, so what do we do now?...We get to work." In short it was a call to arms; it was a call to reinvigorate the residents to take back their power by exercising their voice. "In a way we are making their jobs too easy, the count on us not to vote, they count on us not to talk, they count on us not to meet with them in the hundreds, they count on us not to stand together."
He closed the meeting by then asking the residents present to commit to coming out to CCOP's following event Monday September 28th. That night at 7PM in St. Anthony of Padua's Church, CCOP will host a Camden Mayoral Forum.
State Senator Dana Redd, Mujiba SalaamParker, Roberto Warren Feliz, and Angel Cordero have all verbally committed to attend.