Interview with Former Camden,NJ City Councilman Israel Nieves

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Former Camden City Councilman Israel Nieves served as Camden City Councilman from 1994-2005 rising through the ranks to become an influential leader in politics. Israel retired from politics in 2005. I was able to catch up with Israel Nieves.

***(Leadership series will be a series of interviews that I will do with leaders to discuss their being a leader and getting their perspective on being a leader)***

1) Which is tougher running for election or running for reelection?

It’s more tougher running for an election for first time, than running for re-election, because a first time’s newcomer candidate  does not has name recognition;For an independent candidate to be successful in his first attempt, is necessary to have two things in his side, Organisation and Resources. If the newcomer is being back up by the “Political Machine” it’s a complete different scenario.
2) As a city councilman you served under three different mayors being a member of City Council was that difficult or easy?
Serving under different mayors, could be easy or not depending the political Agenda that the Mayor in charge has in mind; If the incumbent shows an open collaboration& honest disposition to work diligently with all constituents in fair manners,by sharing job opportunities & public resources is easy to run business; but if the mayor’s  agenda is only to serve and benefits his own ethnic people interests, that spark troubles and deep political conflicts, that was my sour experiences with two Camden’s mayors.

3)What was your proudest accomplishment as a city councilman?

My accomplishment was more relevant as a Political leader & mentor than as City Councilman itself; It was to bring a fair representation and balance in the Political and the Administrative Structure in the City as the County as well.

4)Is there anything you wish you had been able to accomplish before you left office?

My intentions before left The City Council, was to Help Nilsa Cruz-Perez to get elected mayor, and step up with her as a Administrative Councellor to run the City Business in a more efficient structured financial Platform,  for the City day to day operation, and for the creation of the City  Business Development & Entreprenuership Creation Center.

5) What was your toughest challenge as a City Councilman?

My toughest challenge as Councilman was to fight corrupted attempts to exploit Camden resources by special interest, and federal indicted very known politician.

6) Who are your favorite leaders?

My favorite leader are those intellectual& very pragmatic individuals that has a clear concept of mission, cause, discipline and action, who work hard for unity of purpose.
I love those leaders who are not selfish, and always procure to assist each one who are part of the team as One.

7) Having been retired from politics now do you ever get the urge to want to come back to politics at a certain capacity?

I would like at some point, to be engaged, into a New Trasformative Alliance Youth organisation to promote a new young  political leadership generation.
8) What advice would you give to young leaders?
My best advise to young leaders, is never surrender theirs dreams & aspiration, work diligently and well organised,make sounded plans and never, never be a proscrastinator.
Entrevista Con Israel Nieves
1) ¿Qué es más resistente a las elecciones o correr a la reelección?

Es más dura en marcha para una elección de primera vez, que correr a la reelección, porque el candidato recién llegado de una primera vez no tiene el reconocimiento del nombre; para un candidato independiente para tener éxito en su primer intento, es necesario tener dos cosas en su lado, Organización y Recursos. Si el recién llegado es ser una copia de seguridad por la “maquinaria política” es un escenario completamente diferente.

2) Como concejal de la ciudad que sirvió bajo tres alcaldes diferentes de ser un miembro del Consejo de la Ciudad fue tan difícil o fácil?

Sirviendo bajo diferentes alcaldes, podría ser fácil o no dependiendo de la Agenda de política que el alcalde encargado tiene en mente; Si el titular demuestra una colaboración abierta y sincera disposición a trabajar diligentemente con todos los componentes de maneras justas, mediante el intercambio de oportunidades de trabajo y los recursos públicos es fácil de llevar el negocio; pero si la agenda del alcalde es sólo para servir y beneficia a su propio pueblo los intereses étnicos, que los problemas de encendido y los conflictos políticos profundos, que era mis experiencias amargas con dos alcaldes de Camden.
3) ¿Cuál fue su mayor logro como un concejal de la ciudad?

Mi logro fue más relevante como líder y mentor político que como concejal de la ciudad en sí; Era para traer una representación justa y equilibrio en la política y la Estructura Administrativa en la ciudad como el Condado también.
4) ¿Hay algo que te gustaría haber podido lograr antes de salir de la oficina?

Mis intenciones antes abandonaron el Ayuntamiento, era ayudar a Nilsa Cruz-Perez para conseguir alcalde electo, y reforzar con ella como Consejero Administrativo para ejecutar el negocio de la ciudad en una plataforma financiera estructurada más eficiente, para el día de la ciudad a la operación día, y para la creación de la Ciudad de Desarrollo de Negocios y Empresariado Centro de Creación.
5) ¿Cuál fue su mayor desafío como un concejal de la ciudad?

Mi reto más difícil como concejal era luchar intentos corruptos para explotar los recursos de Camden por el interés especial, y acusados político federal muy conocido.
6) ¿Quiénes son sus líderes favoritos?

Mi líder favoritos son aquellos individuos intelectuales y muy pragmáticos que tiene un concepto claro de la misión, la causa, la disciplina y la acción, que trabajan duro para la unidad de propósito.
Me encantan esos líderes que no son egoístas, y siempre procuran ayudar a cada uno de ellos que son parte del equipo como Uno.
7) Después de haber sido retirado de la política ahora es lo que alguna vez la tentación de querer volver a la política a una cierta capacidad?

Me gustaría en algún momento, a realizar, en una organización de Nueva Trasformative Alianza de la Juventud para promover una nueva generación de jóvenes líderes políticos.

8) ¿Qué consejo le darías a los jóvenes líderes?

Mi mejor consejo para los jóvenes líderes, nunca rendirse suyos los sueños y aspiraciones, el trabajo diligente y bien organizado, hacer planes sonado y nunca, nunca será un proscrastinator.
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Camden Waterfront 2014 season a success, Thank you for making that happen

I have been waiting 8 months to write this blog. Back in January I read the dumbest thing I have ever read on the internet about Camden Waterfront. This person was going back to an old story in 2012. This is 2014. 2013 was a successful year. We were determined to make 2014 a successful year and we did. This was the year were years of hard work came together. It was a complete team effort. I am Chairman of the Camden Parking Authority. I am passionate about Camden Waterfront. I want all of the events to do well. We had 3 million visitors, we had the most concerts in 5 years. All of the concerts were a success. There was no major problems. The Camden Riversharks attendance was up this year. Adventure Aquarium, Battleship New Jersey, Camden Children’s Garden all did well this season. The free Jazz festival series another major success. The freedom festival.  The fact is what was in the past is in the past. As I said on Latino Motion with Bert Lopez as a leader we want to see an immediate impact on the work that we are doing, sometimes it takes time to see the result. This year we did. It helps that we all worked as a team. I thank our staff at Camden Parking Authority for giving great customer service and all of the hard work that they did. We know it takes one bad incident to get us on the news. This year we had no negative press. We have reason to celebrate for a moment and enjoy this success. Then in 2015 we have to do it all over again. I hate losing. I like proving the critics wrong. To the 3 million visitors who came to the Camden Waterfront THANK YOU for coming to Camden Waterfront. We appreciate that you came to spend your hard earned money with us because we know you could have gone someplace else.

Market Street Pizzeria Camden, NJ

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When I am at the Camden waterfront which is often during the summertime, My favorite place to eat is Market Street Pizzeria. What can I say about Market Street Pizzeria located at 1 Market Street, Camden, NJ 08102. They have friendly customer service. Every time I walk into that place always a friendly smile. The food is great. The prices are great. From my personal experience the burger is awesome. The cheesesteak is delicious, the pizza is great. They have great food specials. The owner is there most of the time. He always greets customers and makes sure the food and the service is great. They have chairs and tables outside and on a summer day or night always nice to sit outside and enjoy a meal. They are open everyday 11am to 9pm. Its close to all of the waterfront attractions. When you are in town to enjoy a Camden Riversharks game, concert, adventure aquarium or the NJ battleship it is worth stopping by to grab something to eat and relax and enjoy more time.

Scott Stapp brings Proof of life tour to Philadelphia

           November 6, 2013 I bought Scott Stapp’s Proof of life album which is an amazing record from start to finish. It is his best solo record the best record his has done since Creed’s Weathered. There isn’t one bad song on this record 11 great songs each one has its own meaning. The record is truly the last chapter to his 2012 memoir Sinner’s creed. My personal favorites on the record are Slow suicide and hit me more.

             I was in awe and excitement to wait for the tour dates and to see he was coming to the TLA in Philadelphia, PA on Friday, Aptil 4, 2014. I bought Meet and greet and concert ticket November 23, 2013. It would be 132 days until the concert. A long, long, wait. The best thing to do is live, enjoy winter, and before I know it would be April 4, 2014.

            Finally, the day was here. I was already in line at 5:45pm talking to some of the other people there. It’s cool to share stories about Scott Stapp and his music in general. One of his fans brought up the topic of is it ok to say you like Scott Stapp’s music. I enjoyed hearing people’s stories of seeing some of his other concerts.   At 6pm his tour manager (nice guy) started giving out bracelets to those who purchased the meet and greet passes. At 6:30pm we were making our way into the TLA venue to meet Scott Stapp. It was a bit chilly outside but it was all worth it. Scott’s tour manager laid down the rule no more than two autographs and he takes the pictures. We were all cool with the rules we were just excited to finally see this moment. Scott Stapp came out and was super nice shook hands with everyone. He signed my proof of life CD and we shook hands. I told him I have been a fan and loved his record with Creed My own prison. I finally got my picture taken with Scott Stapp. I was star struck and thinking I have listened to his music for 17 years here I am face to face with him telling him how much I love his records.

           When you are this excited you are praying nothing goes wrong that day that you don’t get hit by a car or struck by lightning. I thank Scott Stapp for doing meet and greet for a lot of his fans this is a opportunity for picture autograph and a chance for small chat. Even at 35 I still get as excited about music as I did when I was an 11 year old kid who would watch rock videos on MTV all day and be in my room listening to music.

After two great opening acts the bands Dive and the terribles. At 10:20pm the stage was set for what would one of the best rock performances in Philadelphia. Scott Stapp hit the stage he had the eye of the tiger.  You knew he was ready to rock Philadelphia and take you higher. He started out with a great one two punch with slow suicide and what if. It’s the perfect way to start the show. Justify was the only song from his first solo album but one that represents what he may have been going through in 2005. Justify is one of those songs that you may not like at first but after you hear it live you do.  Scott Stapp took time to share a story about a nightmare he had in the past few weeks where he was facing himself and handcuffed himself and threw himself into a prison he went into the song my own prison. New day coming was a great sing along from the new album. The biggest surprise of the night came when Scott Stapp performed bullet from the creed album weathered. It was a surprise but the song fit in the set list well. Bullet is a heavy song the whole place was rocking to that song as if this was the final song of the night. Nobody was expecting to hear that song live because in that song slot in the past shows overcome was played. In the age of youtube and setlist.fm hearing bullets was a welcomed and rocking surprise.  Breakout was next another great song from the new album followed by higher. Scott Stapp told a story about hit me more. It is a song about taking hits and moving on. For me personally this was my highlight of the night. Hit me more is my favorite song off the new album. It is amazing as a fan to have heard the song over 100 times and then hear scott Stapp sing it live five feet away from me. One last breath, only one, and my sacrifice were next performed. The band was really rocking as if they have been playing together for a few years and not 10 shows.  Scott shared a story on how his daughter would ask him why did he always have to go.  He explained to his daughter that he has to go sing for people.  She asked on so you are a rock star. He said no Jesus was a rock star.  This was another great crowd sing along. Crash and with arms wide open were the next songs to be performed. Dying to live and proof of life ended the 17 song set one hour and 45 minute show. The story telling about the song dying to live was inspiring. He shared the story taking the fans to a dark place in a grave thinking of all of the people you love and all of the people you miss. Seeing the blue sky again having that chance to do it. Pieces of scott stapp died the night of his almost demise.

          Scott Stapp has taken many hits from the critics in the past and he still does today. You can’t argue with success. Scott Stapp in 2014 is a 40-year-old man who is a work in progress. His music, his story has inspired and motivated a lot of his fans. The love of God, his wife, and three children keep him moving forward. The most important thing is Scott Stapp is in a happy place. His fans are just as happy for him. Scott feels his life and career has been given a 2nd choice. He is taking advantage of another chance. Scott Stapp doesn’t need to justify or prove anything to his critics. He has made a successful album that connects with his fans on a very personal level. For some of his fans who are going through the same thing the record serves as an inspiration to others. His songs are his legacy. With this record he has made a record that shows that he can still make a record that is meaningful. Proof of life is another landmark album for Scott Stapp. I’m happy to see Scott Stapp live on stage because at the meet and greets he is hearing the stories about how much his record means to his fans. Scott Stapp plans on doing more touring for the rest of 2014. I hope everyone who wants to see him live gets the chance to see him live. This is a must see concert.

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Motley Crue self-titled album released 20 years ago today

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               I was 15 years old 20 years ago when Motley Crue released their self- titled album. This being their 6th studio album it was the follow-up to their highly successful album Dr. Feelgood. The music scene in 1994 in general was very interesting you had a lot of different genres of music, different bands that were successful and a lot bands from the 80’s music genre that were struggling and breaking up.
I was open to the new Motley Crue album with John Corabi. I love the early albums from Motley Crue but with their self-titled album the band just needed to do an album that would allow them to grow. They had a great singer who also played guitar and gave them a chance to become a heavier band and I really love the self-titled album from Motley Crue the same way that I love the solo album that Vince Neil did called exposed to which came out in 1993.
A great element to the album was that it was produced by Bob Rock who produced the Dr. feelgood record. Bob Rock is my favorite music producer I know the band took a little bit longer on the record I remember in 1993 they said the album would be titled til death do us part. They changed the title of the album to just Motley Crue and I think that was a great idea. Motley Crue is one best rock albums that came out 20 years ago it was to me a lot better than grunge music.
John Corabi has a heavy voice the first time I ever heard his voice was with Motley Crue and I just love how heavy his voice is. I think it’s a great record that Motley Crue can be proud of and I hope that the band today are still proud of the record that they made the band likes to sing about girls girls girls and getting laid and all that stuff. Every music artist has to make that album that lets them grow.
The same way Def Leppard did the album slang which allowed them to grow the same way  Bon Jovi did the Lost Highway album I think every band needs to make that record. Some bands are allowed to grow and Motley Crue they were not allowed to grow.

            It is the heaviest album they have done. The album on the Motley Crue catalog ranks up there in the top 3 Motley Crue albums. Vince Neil is the Motley Crue singer nobody will ever argue that. On this album we can make the best arguement that in 1994 Motley Crue was a great band with John Corabi. I still love listening to the album. I tell every rock band that I work with make an album that you still want to play and listen to 10 years from now. John Corabi still plays songs off the Motley Crue album as he should because those songs they hold up to anything that is released today. It doesn’t matter that the album didn’t sell 2 million albums like the other albums did. It matters that they made an album that still stands.

Camden,NJ childhood stories II: Vice-Principal’s word of wisdom

One of my favorite teachers at Cramer School was the Vice-Principal Mr. Horsley. He was a great Vice-Prinicpal whose heart was at Cramer School making sure that we were always doing the right thing. He was a great disciplinarian as well. He didn’t let anyone get away with anything. If you did something wrong you got detention no ands or ifs about it.  I remember the last day of school in 4th grade he had a talk with all of the safety patrol members. He always had something good or inspirational to say. On this day he had his heart on his sleeve because he knew he was meeting with us for the very last time. He said it himself this is the last time I meet with you. If there is one thing I want you to remember is to remember the word RESPONSIBILITY from this day forward you are responsible for getting your homework done on time. You are responsible for yourself. As you move on to middle school and high school you are responsible for making sure that you graduate. It is up to you. I never saw Mr. Horsley again that speech that he made June, 1990 has stayed with me to this day. You have a lot of teachers in Camden schools who are like Mr. Horsley. They are passionate about teaching.

It is amazing that I never forgot what he told me. It was a moment I will always remember for the fact that he made sure that we all remembered the word responsibility. The word of wisdom has stayed on my mind. He was 100% correct about the word responsibilty

Camden Waterfront (BB&T PAVILION)

In 1993 I was a volunteer at Cooper hospital. I would at times stare out the window from the 7th floor looking out to the Camden waterfront. I knew something was being built because from the window I can see the construction on the BB&T Pavilion going on. I did not know what was going on. I remember asking one of the doctors what are they building at the Camden waterfront. I was told it was an amphitheater where we could see concerts. For us it was a great thing that we can see major artists in Camden and not have to cross the bridge to go to the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia. Every month I would see the progress I would see the construction I would see how the Amphitheatre was coming along and I loved seeing it I really wish I would have taken pictures every month on the progress of the amphitheatre being built. It was something special to see. I was a teenager at the time I was 15 years old and seeing the progress going on at the Camden waterfront to me was wow it’s about time. It became personal to me. Even today it’s personal. I have seen it go through two name changes. It’s a very special place in my heart. At the time the New Jersey State Aquarium (now Adventure Aquarium) had only been open for a year. Now as chairman of the Camden Parking Authority I get to be involved in what is happening at the Camden waterfront.

You have sadly journalists and bloggers that like to write  negative things about the Camden waterfront and the BB&T Pavilion. That is fine which is why I love having my blog. I said in a radio interview this past week that what goes on before the concert also goes on in South Philadelphia when people go to a concert when I want to go see Metallica in 1997 people were drinking partying in the parking lot play music loud and proud but if you are doing it in Camden they want to write something negative about it.

This blog is coming from my heart this blog is coming from a man who was born, raised, and lives in Camden. I am still at times reminded of the 15 year old kid I was when the first concert was being played in June 1995 and thinking wow Bon Jovi is coming to Camden, NJ. That’s when I knew that I would be able to see my favorite artists in Camden, NJ. It saves time compared to going to South Philadelphia.
We get the negative press just based off of one or two concerts but hardly anybody maybe one journalist wanted to write about what happened last year. It is easy to read the negative things that people want to say and think it is bad to come to the Camden Waterfront and enjoy a concert. Last year the one concert that we always get bad press for was successful.  We all worked together the BB&T Pavilion, Camden Parking Authority, Camden County Metro Police and Cooper grant neighbors we all work together to ensure we didn’t have the same issues as in the past. This year we will continue to have the same success we had last year. This year I am more determined more passionate to make sure that we have a successful year to make sure that we don’t get some of the negative press. The negative press at times is a slap in the face at times at those who give 100% to make a successful season happen. Everyone from cashiers to head of the departments gives 100% at each and every event. I see it. I am out there at times to see for myself. I am proud of the work that is done. We are not going to make everybody happy. I would love to but it is not going to happen.

I have had the chance to speak to a lot of the concert goers for them coming to see Dave Matthews or Jimmy Buffett that’s a highlight of their summer what they do is come down enjoy a concert and just have a good time when you have 25,000 people coming you’re going to have a few bad apples but the rest of them are just going to come have a great time they’re going to tell people the next day when they go back to school they are going to say what a great time they had. To some of the concert goers it is a tradition and a way for them to have fun with their friends and families. To the people who are coming to the Camden Waterfront to see a concert this summer we welcome you and we thank you.

I will always think back to the 15 year old kid looking out the window at the Camden waterfront seeing the Camden Waterfront moving forward. It’s a 19 year journey with BB&T Pavilion. That is the point of view where I am coming from. That is the point of view that some people will get and others don’t.  Image

Camden,NJ childhood stories I

One of my favorite memories of growing up in Camden was a man who lived on my block. He was in his late 50s. He lived with his mother. Back then in 1989 I was an 11 year old kid who was into boxing. Me and my friends would go to Jeff’s GYM on Federal Street. Karate classes were too expensive. The guy who ran the gym would charge only $2 a week. Which was a price we could afford. Every few months or so the gym would host boxing matches. We didn’t know who we were going to fight. Everyone wanted to fight the boxer from Atlantic City nicknamed Pretty Boy. We laughed at his nickname but the guy could fight. My friend took the nickname hands of stone. I took the nickname Bad Boy. He was mad at me for a second for not giving him the nickname I chose. Bad Boy was a cool nickname for me. From 4pm-6pm we would practice. The man would always take the time to help me with me with boxing. I got one on one lessons with him. He always took the time teach me the basics about Boxing.  I had the worst jab he would help me improve on it. He did not have to help me. I remember one day he told me the story about growing up in Puerto Rico he told me that he had to fight to eat. They would set up fights. The winner would win a meal. He had a rough life. He was not able to finish school. He didn’t have the same opportunities we take for granted.  What stays with me is the kindness of his heart he mentored me. He was a kind trainer. He was also tough he made sure I was learning and not wasting time.

2014 Camden, NJ Mayor Inaguration

Mayor Dana Redd was sworn in for her 2nd term as Mayor. City Council Vice-President Curtis Jenkins was sworn in for her his 3rd term as City Councilman, Marilyn Torres for her 2nd term as Councilwoman and Aurthur Barclay to his first term as City Councilman. 

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The inaguration signifies a time for change, working together and moving Camden forward. Drop out is still 50%. It was when I was in high school 1994-1998. Crime is a major concern. Bringing jobs to Camden is a major priority for everyone who plays a role in Camden,NJ.

The mayor ended her speech with a question. “Camden are you with me”. In any situation you need to work with your leader and be united. Everyone plays a role in helping make their community better. At times it takes putting aside everyones personal egos and agendas to work together. On a football team you have one quarterback you could never have two quarterbacks or in a band two frontman. Being a leader myself I have all of the respect in the world for all of the Mayors in every city. Most of whom are really trying their best to make their cities better. Mayor Dana Redd is in the same situation. I want to see Mayor Redd succeed and move Camden forward. It’s going to take a team to get the job done. In the next four years its going to happen. I prefer to be have a positive optimistic outlook and do my part.

Response to Rolling Stone Article about Camden

I recently read an article by Rolling Stone Magazine Matt Taibbi about my hometown Camden, NJ. The article was very one sided and very dumb to say the least. The article shows a new low by Matt Taibbi desperate attempt for attention. T The editor Matt Taibbi it is hard to take a journalist seriously who acts more like a 1st grader than a man. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Taibbi#Controversy_and_confrontation to see how immature this guy really is. This is the same guy who got his editor at NY Press fired.
This guy felt the need to recycle an idea for writing a negative about Camden, NJ. Camden, NJ has its issues. As someone who was born, raised, & lives in Camden, NJ there are people and organizations who care about Camden, NJ. No mention was ever made of the positive things that are happening in Camden, NJ. I read this story I think what a child would think about their city. Growing up in Camden, we always heard about the negative things that went on. We were even told that only 50% of us would finish high school. The one thing that we were taught is to have pride in your city and make your city proud. Camden has always had people like the Late Coach Clarence Turner, Coach Martin Booker, and the many teachers, parents, and mentors who work tirelessly for the city of Camden.
The problems in Camden, NJ are plenty lack of jobs then again this is the case in every town in America. The gangs who pollute our neighborhoods and destroy families and people by selling drugs, robbing and killing people. Men who are making babies and not taking care of them or spending time with them. If you are not man enough to care of a child you should not make any children.  We could spend all day talking about them or work to fix them.
I am more than optimistic that in 2014 and beyond Camden, NJ will turn around for the better. It won’t because of someone writing bad things about Camden. It will be because people in the city want to work together to turn it around.