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.
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 *
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|
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.
That said, here is Maurice Fitzgibbons' bio from Wikipedia:
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.