Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A park named Maurice? - UPDATE

UPDATE-

It's a go!

Last night Resolution #9 passed on consent. The item wasn't pulled for long-winded speeches and/or grandstanding; a pleasant change from dark days of yore. If anyone on the Reform side dissented they stayed mum; apparently he/she did not feel it was 'worth' opposing, that the optics would suck.  

Well, GA must acknowledge the mad political skillz of Councilman Mike DeFusco, sponsor of Resolution #9,   During 'New Business' DeFusco read a letter of endorsement for his resolution from former NJ Governor James Florio (1990-1994).

Did the letter fall out of a tree?  Nope. 


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Original post:


Should the Hoboken City Council "urge the County" to name the new 14th Street Viaduct Park after former Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons?  

That question will be put up for a vote tonight, on a resolution introduced by 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco and co-sponsored by 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos. 

As accomplished as Maurice was in his life (Wikipedia bio below), he was, in GA's memory, a hyper-partisan political strategist/operative who worked his tail off to elect the folks who handed out plum contracts like the one Fitz Media, Inc., got from the Hoboken Board of Education  in 2005-2006. 

The 2005-2006 Hoboken Board of Education Trustees (the year BoE coffers were tapped like a beer keg) were: 

Frank Raia,  President
Carmelo Garcia  * VP
Frances Kearns *
John Raslowsky
Theresa Burns
James Farina
Magdelena Porrata
Ron Rosenberg
Wanda Alicea

It is the 2005-2006 KPMG Board of Education audit which shows hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in highly questionable  ways; GA detailed some in 2012, in a series of articles which inluded: $48,000 spent for cell phones and cell phone accounts, hundreds of dollars for steak dinners, trips to Atlantic City for friends (plus stipends), 1050 names on the payroll, etc.    

One of the "excessive" contracts awarded in 2005 was $60K  for "marketing" and "PR services"  to Maurice Fitzgibons' firm, FitzMedia, Inc.  

In the comments for the FitzMedia contract, it is noted that $15,000 was paid for "services rendered prior to awarding the contract to the vendor." Ooops.  

An old-timer told GA that FitzMedia produced "two newsletters" that year for the BoE.  

You do the math.  

KPMG audit Hoboken Board of Education: 2005-2006- page 103
So...

While Maurice was much-loved and respected by his political faction, what was his legacy to the rest of us?    

Yes, Maurice was the smartest political strategist among his peers, and when he died there was a scramble to fill the void. No one has, and  the 'dark side' has been adrift ever since.    

And I understand Councilmen Mike Defusco and Ruben Ramos had a special closeness with Maurice. But, I want to hear why the admiration of two Councilmen allied with Maurice merits naming a Hoboken park after him.   GA is not convinced that it does.  

How about a naming the park after a Hoboken teacher, author, artist, philosopher, or poet?  I would love to see a teacher (or principal) honored.  

Just because politicians have the power to name public assets after their friends, it doesn't mean they SHOULD.

Fitzgibbons, a native of Hoboken, was the son of Michael Fitzgibbons, a Hoboken Firefighters Union official. He graduated from Jersey City State College (now New Jersey City University), majoring in English and theater. He participated in an internship at the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City and studied acting with the actress and acting coach Julie Bovasso.

Fitzgibbons was elected to the Ward 5 Democratic Committee in Hudson County in 1981. He was an early supporter of James Florio as Governor of New Jersey and became the state commissioner of ethnic affairs after Florio's election in 1989. He also served as a special assistant to the governor for constituent affairs and as administrator of the Cultural and Heritage Affairs Commission in Hudson County.

In 1993, Fitzgibbons was first elected as freeholder. As chair of the Board of Freeholders in 1997, Maurice Fitzgibbons spearheaded the planning of the Hudson County High School for the Performing Arts, which was proposed to be housed in the A.J. Demarest School in Hoboken (where Frank Sinatra attended high school).

In 2003, Fitzgibbons was appointed as Chairman of the Tourism and Cultural Affairs Committee, as the Representative of the Board on the New Jersey Association of Counties (NJAC), as an Alternate on the Workforce Investment Board, and as a Member of the Hudson County Board of School Estimate.

Fitzgibbons was not supported by the Hudson County Democratic Organization in 2008 and declined to run again for freeholder in order to pursue business interests. He died on December 18, 2011 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York at the age of 57
.

27 comments:

  1. This didn't make it into his Wikipedia bio, but he was recognized by ELEC for his work as a candidate. http://www.nj.com/hobokennow/index.ssf/2009/08/former_hudson_county_freeholde.html

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    1. Quite an article! Fitzgibbons was fined $2,100 for 2005 Freeholder campaign ELEC violations, investigation started in 2006.

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    2. Super OG strategist Maurice, the man who brought you Peter Cammarano was slammed for ELEC violations.

      Of course his violations were recently overshadowed by the massive craptastic campaign violations of Beth Mason and her treasurer husband, Richard Mason.

      Hey, we all can't have the ethics of your typical below sea level sewerage system. Reminds you of the good old days, doesn't it? When this kinda crap was the order of the day and putting it in our faces and shoving it down our throats with their pompous big fat smiles laughing all the way to the bank. Hoboken has seen some bad council government. We don't want to go back to that.

      What there's no good people in the history of Hoboken to name a park after other than a crappy Hudson County politician?

      In the infamous words of Nino Giacchi, "Is that right?"

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    3. Hoboken shouldn't name a park or anything after a hack.




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    4. * Add Tim Occhipinti to the list of bad boys in Fitzy's stable.

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  2. I'd like to see the park named after John Sacci, the Hoboken born HHS history teacher gunned down by a nut in 1998. There's a memorial in Columbus Park to him, but it would be a real honor to name the new park after him.

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  3. I would like it to be named after singer Jimmy Rosseli who was born in Hoboken.
    Then Hoboken could be known as the birth place of two famous Italian-American singers.

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  4. I would like to see the park named after Jimmy Rosseli who was born in Hoboken.
    Then Hoboken could be known as the birthplace of two great Italian-American singers.

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  5. How about named for the people who gave us Pier A park?

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  6. Anthony will get this done!

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    1. Even if he raises County taxes again to stick to Hoboken to do it.

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  7. The Hudson County Arts School never came to Hoboken.
    Hoboken was conistantly got short changed under Freeholder Fitzgibbons much the same way it gets the dirty end of the stick under Freeholder Romano.

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  8. With all my anonymouse strength: HELL NO!

    Great historical write-up here GA and compliments the red flag raised by Horsey too.
    Don't forget about the flushable contracts Fitz squeezed out of the port-john contracts at the Sewerage Authority.

    Oh yeah, he cashed in with tens of thousands for do nothing web services doing absolutely nothing but having some late teen update a comma or two on the NHSA website.

    In certain non-backward parts of the US, they call that kinda Soprano State contract award a crime.

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  9. Will council softies cave to the sentimentality of the moment?

    Probably.

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    Replies
    1. That would be disappointing, but not terribly surprising.

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  10. The area beneath the viaduct was the scene of a mob style hit in the 1940's in which a young couple was gunned down, a young man fell from the bridge in 2003 and there was a fatal accident in 2008. More recently, it's been used by local contractors to dump everything from heating oil to construction debris.

    County road 670, the viaduct, hovers over this park, if that's what you can call it. Let's name it "the shadow of the valley of death park", because that's what it is.

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  11. GA are you saying the letter didn't fall out of a tree and that Florio actually wrote the letter intentionally! Is this legal?

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    1. That's what I am saying!

      I don't recall the last time a Councilperson reached out to a NJ political heavyweight like a former gov. for an endorsement of a Hoboken resolution! All perfectly legal! I am in admiration of the newbie Councilman DeFusco's political skills! And he doesn't need a staff to think for him, minions to carry out orders and a Washington Street office either! Imagine that.

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    2. It's unlikely DeFusco secured the letter on his own. This maneuver means he either a) liked Fitzgibbons, in which case he didn't know all that much about his corrupt associations or didn't care about them, or b) is pandering to the old guard in his ward. Both cases are unsettling.

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    3. Perhaps you're confused by your political preferences but you should know that Fitzgibbons was popular with a lot of people and a very good networker, these are reasons he was so accomplished at herding the cats of the old guard.

      Fitzgibbons was on friendly with Florio and people knew this. Reaching out to Florio on something like this would be reasonably easy.

      This is not some orchestrated cabal, this is just a bunch of people who knew and liked Fitzgibbons honoring him. We can disagree on if this particular honor should be given but it's an understandable thing for people to do.

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    4. Anon @ 2:45 - My "political preferences", as you refer to them, were that elected officials be honest and ethical, not words that would be used to describe the folks Fitzgibbons helped get elected. Yes, many people liked him, but many more did not, and we would all cringe as he would groom yet another attractive young man in the nefarious ways of Hudson County politics.

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  12. Fitzgibbons was a self-centered egomaniac who was jealous of contracts held by other pr and political consultants. Most of them in Hudson County had an unwritten understanding not to raid each other's contracts but Maurice went after everyone else's business. The irony of it all is that he was the least qualified for most of them.

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    1. Is that with the HCDO pulled their support for his re-election as Freeholder and forced him out?

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  13. It's the "Troll under the Bridge Park".

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  14. When Maurice Fitzgibbons died Weehawken Mayor Turner was asked for a statement by the press.

    The always gracious Mayor Turner said Maurice was "unique" and he always brought bread or cookies to meetings.






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