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|ONE year ago...|
The 2015 VBM effect on Hoboken School Board election outcomes may be the best predictor of what to expect in 2016.
One reason is that the "teams" behind each slate in 2015 are the same in 2016; each team represents the respective governing philosophy of Hoboken's two political factions, Reform and the Dark Side.
For Hoboken's uninitiated, here's a Reform and Dark Side primer.
Reform generally supports Mayor Zimmer, her Council allies (Jen Giattino, Ravi Bhalla, Peter Cunningham, Dave Mello, Tiffanie Fisher, and Mike DeFusco), her administration. The Dark Side generally supports Mike Russo, Frank Raia, Beth Mason, Ruben Ramos, Anthony Romano, Peter Biancamano, Anthony Petrosino, Joe Branco, and so on. The past couple of mayors that went to jail- Anthony Russo, Peter Cammarano- were Dark Siders. So was former Hoboken Parking Utility Director John Corea.
Reform embodies transparency in governing- honest, clean governing. For example, 2015's Reform's BoE slate, Reach Higher, filed all legally-mandated campaign financing reports, then closed out their campaign account with a zero balance.
In 2015, the Dark Side BoE slate, A Smarter Future, did not file a single campaign finance report. For breaking campaign finance law, the Dark Side rewards its friends. Campaign Treasurer Frank DeGrim was nominated for a seat on Hoboken's Zoning Board of Adjustment Mike Russo and Tim Occhipinti ( the Dark Side booted Tim once he stopped being their useful idiot).
When the lights go out, sticky fingers dip into BoE coffers.
When the lights go out, Mayor Zimmer's email are systematically stolen and distributed to the Dark Side.
When the lights go out, $5,000 "contributions" are accepted for zoning variances,
When the lights go out, vote farmers buy a harvest of VBMs.
The Dark Side backers of 2016's Parents United backed (and vote-farmed for) 2015's A Smarter Future (John Madigan, Britney Montgomery, Alana Kauffmann); Reform is supporting 2016's Forward Together and supported Reach Higher (Sheila Dallara, Addys Velez, Tom Kluepfel).
Only Dallara and Velez lost; Madigan and Montgomery won. The election results:
So... what are the lessons of 2015?
(1) Dark Side candidates averaged nearly 4 times more VBMs than their Reform opponents (as a proportion of their respective individual vote totals.)
(2) Dark Siders scored nearly 4 times the number of VBMs than did Reform candidates.
John Madigan received one-fourth of ALL VBMs cast in 2015 for BoE candidates.
(3) On the machines, Reformers cleaned the Dark Siders' clock.
Oh, and for the uninitiated in Hoboken's Dark Side vote-buying harvest, it happens every year.
In 2014, Peter Biancamano was washed on to the Hoboken School Board on a tsunami of VBMs. Fellow Dark Sider, "Bubbles" Rhodes Kearns, even with her 452 VBM harvest, could not surmount the machines.
Cheating is Dark Side-style democracy. Let Parents United tell you they are "not political" when their VBM totals wash in courtesy of an 'extra-legal' political farming operation.
Folks, honest government in Hoboken has an uphill battle. Reform votes at the machines. We need turnout. Of course, in a presidential year, perhaps volume will 'trump' the predictable paper harvest.
And GA cannot repeat this enough: the same people who presided over the pilfering and mismanagement of the Hoboken school budgets are backing Parents United.
And you know in politics, you dance with the ones who brung you.