THE RUNNER STUMBLES

HOW A SYMBOL OF HOPE FOR DOWNTRODDEN NEWARK BECAME SUSPECTED OF OLD-FASHIONED CORRUPTION

The friends and enemies of Newark mayor Sharpe James can agree on one thing about him: he knows how to toss a mean birthday party. The annual shindigs in honor of Hizzoner are renowned for the open bar, catered buffet and Vegas-caliber pizazz. On one occasion, the glad-handing Democratic politician glided dramatically into the darkened room at the wheel of a vintage sports car. Another time he motored across a bed of ice on a growling snowmobile. At $200 a seat, or $500 during re-election years, the admission price was considered cheap because it also bought a few private words with...

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