So, the long-anticipated media coverage of HHA Director Carmelo Garcia's taping hit this week's Hoboken Reporter with Garcia's scene-stealing lawsuit arriving just in time for the print edition.
I mean, why shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater when you can yell, "I've got Ebola, my eyes are oozing down my cheeks and I just sneezed!"
After all, there is nothing like a charge of "ethnic cleansing" to clear a room or trump an effort to entrap the husband of Mayor Dawn Zimmer into contract steering for a new HHA attorney.
GA was told by sources that a portion of that conversation was missing from the transcript, in it Grossbard warns Carmelo to be very careful because what he is suggesting is "illegal". According to the source, the other lunch attendee, Bernie Kenny had excused himself to the bathroom so there was no witness to that exchange. With a redacted transcript, that exchange is 'he said-he said'.
However, reporter Dean DeChiaro obtained the transcript, and while he stops short of any conclusion, but notes Garcia "all but offering the job to one lawyer- Joe Garcia..." while Grossbard repeatedly responds to "advertise widely".
In the transcript, Grossbard suggests posting multiple advertisements for a new counsel on statewide municipal service websites, and counsels Garcia as to why he thinks it's important that both Garcia and the board trust a new attorney.Further, DeChiaro tells conclusively that Garcia initiated the lunch meeting. Grossbard brought Kenny, a longtime mentor to Carmelo, with him.
“I think I probably said the same thing in a million different ways,” said Grossbard in an interview last week. “I kept saying that a board needs to believe that when a lawyer gives them legal advice, that they’re not getting the board’s answer or Carmelo’s answer, but the correct answer.”According to the transcript, Garcia then all but offers the job to one lawyer – Joe Garcia of the firm Chasan, Leyner & Lamparello – but Grossbard again advises him to advertise more widely. It is unclear why Garcia named that particular lawyer, though his firm signed contracts with City Hall in 2010 and 2011 worth upwards of $200,000.
Grossbard said that he thought being asked to lunch by Garcia was unusual.You get it, people?
“It was extremely unusual,” he said. “Carmelo just said, ‘We’ve never had lunch before, we should have lunch and get to know each other a little bit better,’ and I said sure. He didn’t tell me what the reason for the lunch was, and I didn’t ask.’”
The January lunch meeting took place among Grossbard, Garcia, and former state Sen. Bernard Kenny, whom Grossbard asked to bring along after Garcia invited Grossbard to lunch.
Kenny is an acquaintance of both men who acted as an intermediary third party. His law firm, Florio & Kenny, is under contract with Zimmer’s administration and he has given Zimmer political donations for the current election, but he is also a longtime acquaintance of Garcia.
The lunch took place on Jan. 16, at Jack Dempsey’s Restaurant and Bar in Manhattan, not far from Grossbard’s office. Despite nothing overtly illegal taking place, the lunch shows the interesting dynamic between Garcia, clearly desperate to improve his own working conditions, and Grossbard, who refuses to take a strong stand in replying to Garcia’s prodding about Housing Authority affairs.
Garcia invites Grossbard to lunch wearing a wire, and tries repeatedly to discuss the hiring of a particular attorney, Joe Garcia, with a more nuanced discussion of "how to call off the dogs" at the HHA- of course playing into that well-worn, idiotic 'Stawn' narrative that Grossbard negotiates on behalf of the mayor (he doesn't).
Again, Garcia wears a wire to capture every word. Why?
Some might say the tape would be used as 'leverage' (blackmail) to get the mayor to "call off the dogs" Zayas said that Garcia recorded the meeting in an effort to gain proof of Grossbard’s alleged role as Zimmer’s de facto political proxy, and to provide evidence for the lawsuit against Grossbard and Zimmer, which has apparently been planned for several months.
We said- he said.
What was happening in January that might have prompted Garcia to call this meeting?
GA thinks that is the key to why the meeting was arranged and why it was taped. The lunch took place on Wednesday, January 16, 2013.
Six days earlier, on Thursday, January 10, 2013...
....around noon, a resolution to hire a deputy executive director was added to that night's HHA meeting agenda.
GA had heard through sources back then that this had upset Garcia very much. He might have felt this deputy would be groomed as his replacement, rather than another pair of hands to share the massive task of HHA management. If so, he must have been frantic to "call off the dogs."
It's speculation, but this may explain the timing and taping of that lunch with Stan.
On Thursday night, the board of commissioners was scheduled to vote on the position. The resolution was added around noon on Thursday.
The deputy executive director — which essentially would be the number two — would be in charge when Carmelo Garcia, the current Executive Director of the HHA, is out of town or otherwise unavailable. The deputy would be hired as a consultant, rather than a full time employee.
Garcia said he was "suprised" by the proposal to hire a deputy on a consulting basis and called it "unfair and unjust."
"I don't need one," Garcia said. "I was surprised."