The Vanquished

Last night's event  at DeBaun Hall tells you everything you need to know about how Hoboken's political landscape has shifted in one year. 

One year ago...

The November 2, 2010 purchase of  Timmy O. in the 4th Ward special election (570 'workers' and 1200 votes) took the Council majority from Zimmer.  Within 24 hours 'someone' leaked the plan to replace  Carol Marsh with Beth Mason to the Hoboken Reporter. And on January 5, Mason and Russo were sworn in as City Council President and Vice President.

Those were heady times for the new City Council majority.  They were ready to flex their muscle on a number of crises: a crumbling waterfront,  a cash surplus battle, the taxpayers on a $52 million dollar hook and facing the loss of our hospital...

That was the backdrop for the mayor's SOTC last February 22nd.

GA was there, one row back from Mason and Timmy; they sat 3rd row center with an entourage, nearly filling the whole row like a human wall opposing the skinny woman on stage. Here's what I wrote:
Curiously, Mason and Timmy sat side-by-side in the 3rd row, center (Giacchi sat apart)... and as I watched their interaction from one row back I couldn't help but think how the graphic I was much pilloried for had indeed come true. Because Timmy looked all the wardrobe-accessory to Mason; getting his cues on when to clap, when not to, from her. He actually started to clap when the Mayor addressed 'wheeling'- then stopped abruptly perhaps noticing how stonily Mason sat beside him. Ah, well. Should I stop picking on him?

Neither Mike Russo nor Terry Castellano showed up. But wouldn't you know, Russo had a rebuttal on Hoboken411 the next morning; it was published later in the Jersey Journal.

Those were the days.

Fast forward to last night's SOTC.

The mayor's City Council opponents- now a minority,  had a busy year.

They tried to wreck our City's finances with a $52 million dollar hospital bond default and for spite  blew a $4.5 million hole in our budget by rejecting a simple garage bond refinance, gave away our budget surplus ,  stopped our BA from moving budget line items around triggering a DCA warning they were violating NJ state LAW, and this scolding from NJ Governor Christie:
“It is completely unacceptable that the city council placed local politics ahead of the 1300 employees at the Hoboken University Medical Center and the people in the community who rely on the critical services provided by this hospital..."
He was referring to Beth Mason, Mike Russo, Terry Castellano and Tim Occhipinti. (They'd rejected $5 million in emergency funding to keep the hospital open forcing the State's assistance.)

And, then something which no one could have imagined:  last May, Mayor Zimmer turned over the City's entire data banks (39 hard drives) to the F.B.I. after discovering her email account was hacked.

This unprecedented access to the City's communications has sprung open a Pandora's box of Hoboken political corruption; EVERYONE is waiting for more shoes to drop.  And shock waves have reverberated through all levels of city government straight up to the City Council.

From the Jersey Journal, November 10, 2011:
All four of the Hoboken City Council's minority members say they were not involved in a suspended IT officer's alleged hacking of city officials' emails.

Yesterday, suspended IT officer to the mayor's office Patrick Ricciardi was charged with intercepting emails intended for Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and others and forwarding them to at least three unintended recipients, officials said.

While some believed that council members Beth Mason, Tim Occhipinti, Michael Russo and Theresa Castellano - all Zimmer opponents - were involved in the incident, they have all denied wrongdoing.

Castellano, Russo and Occhipinti each said they did not receive any emails from Ricciardi.

Castellano and Occhipinti said they knew nothing about the incident. Occhipinti added that he hopes the details come into light.
Where there's smoke, there's... email.  Notice whose names are missing from the last paragraph above.

An intense campaign led by Mason and Russo to obtain the mayors' staff's emails to prove claims of politicizing the communications office preceded by the Bill Campbell suit alleging the same preceded by by actual email theft 'ordered' by someone... has cast these Council members under a cloud of suspicion.  (see the timeline)

And all that was the backdrop for the Mayor's SOTC, where she spoke of an incredibly successful  year for Hoboken:
  • The hospital was saved along with our city's financial health
  • Municipal taxes declined 10%- the 6th largest decline of any city in NJ
  • Flooding reduced through new pump station
  • A number of park projects were completed or are in progress:  Pier C park was fully opened in 2011, and the City will soon begin construction on Sinatra Park and Castle Point Park, followed by 1600 Park and Hoboken Cove. With a $3 million County grant and a portion of the $20 million bond passed in 2011, the City will be purchasing property for a park in Southwest Hoboken. 
  • Recycling increased more than 50% since the City switched to a single stream recycling system in April, 2011.  
  • Total crime dropped by 16% since 2009, the lowest level in a generation. 
  • Pedestrian-car collisions are down nearly 30% since 2009.  
  • Bicycle-car collisions are down more than 60 percent since 2009. 
  • The corner cars program ha 2,000 members and 99 residents gave up their parking permits
Now, what elected official charged with governing Hoboken wouldn't want to hear this litany of success for our City?  Can you think of any?

What Hoboken elected official wouldn't celebrate the drop in taxes, drop in crime, drop in bike accidents, new parks, the rescue of our city's only hospital and the discharge of a $52 million albatross on the taxpayers' necks?  Can you think of any?

What Hoboken elected official would hold politics over the welfare of his/her constituents- the beneficiaries of these numerous quality-oft-life achievements?  Can you think of any?

I can.

Folks, one member of the City Council minority attended last night.

Beth Mason.  No entourage. Only Gumby, sans green vinyl sack. No front row, center.  She sat alone, near the rear.  GA was told she took notes.

And today, no Russo rebuttal on Hoboken411.  (Yet)

See what I mean about changed political landscape?  This wasn't simply a diss.

In their absence and the lone Mason's retreat to the back of the auditorium, the vanquished spoke volumes.

The Mayor, her administration and the City Council majority have had an extremely productive year. And because the Council minority translate this GOOD for Hoboken to their own political failure tells you all you need to know about their character and motivations.

To them it's about POWER, to 'our guys' it's about PARKS.

And that's why Reform will STAY popular.

Something Mason money can't buy.

On a personal front, the evening was a big disappoint for me. My plan to pounce on Dave Roberts for a pic was ruined when the elusive former mayor slipped out the door right after the speech.  No schmoozing for Dave, no future family heirloom for me.


  1. From all accounts last night at Stevens was quite a victory lap for the administration. Word is she really rocked the house beyond what is evident in the videotape. I guess H411 missed the memo that there was a SOTC address last night. Of particular note at the speech was the hospital committee venerated as the heroes they are, but there was plenty to be proud of. The lack of attendance of any of the council minority shows them for the "sour grapes" types they are. Too bad. I guess if they aren't calling the shots they aren't interested. Notable exception being Ms Mason who had the dignity to attend. If she was taking notes, and if they were in reference to the blowback plan for online today, the notes were "Screw talking about this speech. We in the council minority are not even treading water with our nefarious undermining schemes on 99 out of 100 issues. Certainly there is nothing for the Old Guard to crow about. Solely focus on only talking about the upcoming school board elections, we have nothing positive to add there either, so let's go into attack mode and as negative as possible and hope that election isn't our "last hurrah" (or more on point, "last Bronx cheer"). The Old Guard can't seem to buy a thrill anymore".
    Take a mental picture of this speech, as this is one of those times when the good guys are winning, Thank you all in the administration for a job well done.

  2. The Mayor's speech was truly impressive. She seemed relaxed and confident and "on a roll". As I exited the building after the speech, a pack of old guard members behind me were very loudly decrying the Mayor's remark that because of the multimeters, the theft of quarters is no longer possible. One of the women in the pack was complaining at the top of her lungs about that it wasn't at all necessary, how the Mayor should never have said it and how it was a cheap shot because everybody already knows about it. These old timers are simply amazing in their selective sensitivity. They just can't stand being reminded of how corrupt the people they once backed turned out to be. No...maybe they just can't stand to be reminded that the people they once backed got caught red-handed with their hands in the cookie jar.


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