In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Newark, N.J., is reeling. Already a victim of challenging economic times, the city took a direct hit from the storm, leaving 94 percent of its residents without power. And while most mayors are at command centers and press conferences, with brief forays into especially hard-hit areas, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is in the thick of it, out on the streets, acting more like a first responder than an elected official.
At first thought, you’d expect an Ivy League mayor to be a bit more … executive. With diplomas from Stanford University, Yale Law School, Booker has an intellectual pedigree that belies his gonzo governing style.
But there he is. He staged a 10-day outdoor hunger strike to bring awareness to the dangers of open-air drug dealing, he once shoveled the driveway of a constituent based on a Twitter request, he ran into a blazing building to save a woman, and his innovative mayorship was the centerpiece of "Brick City," the Sundance Channel's Peabody Award-winning television series.
In the wake of Sandy, his efforts have been no less energetic. With his mobile phone in hand, and his Twitter feed on fire, the mayor has been dashing around the city handing out supplies to those in need and giving an extraordinary boost of morale where it’s needed most. Of all of his heroic exploits, perhaps nothing speaks more of the man than news that he opened his home to a dozen neighbors stranded without power.
"I'm having lunch delivered for the 12 or so of you hanging at my place," Booker tweeted. Staff members verified that the mayor was actually hosting people at the apartment house he rents in the city's South Ward. One woman told the New York Times, she was relaxing at the mayor's home watching the movie "Happy Feet."
Later, Booker explained: "I have a completed space on the 1st floor that I did up a while ago," Booker said. "It is where my parents stay when they visit. My neighbors from Homestead Court have no power ... this is a time of crisis and I'm glad they could use the space. I'm about to go see if folks want dinner before I start our 7pm command meeting."
Words hardly do his spirit justice, so watch below as NBC's Tom Brokaw reports on the best mayor ever:
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