Pool-itics- UPDATED

Folks, that's quite a show playing on Cablevision's Channel 77; GA urges you to watch it if you can.

What you will see is a baptism of the uninitiated in the unholy waters of Hoboken politics- which for  this discussion I'll call pool-itics.

What do I mean?

Two prominent, apolitical parent-activists were 'played' by a seasoned politician and an aspiring one.  The dads were unwittingly duped into a performance at the April 17th School Board meeting in which they have embarrassed themselves, the fine organizations they represent, and provided a 'campaign issue' for the political duo.

GA does not blame the parents here. But they are not entirely off the hook, as you will see. 

Now, if anyone is reading GA for the first time, here is what I am: a mom of a Wallace school 4th-grader, die-hard supporter of public education and activist for good government.   All the stuff I blog about.

And I too am on a jihad for a Hoboken community pool- see here and here and here and here and here and here.  In fact, here is one suggestion I made with respect to converting a giant sinkhole on Sinatra Drive into our long-awaited community pool:

What do you think?

The City didn't care for my plan and the hole's been since been filled.

Well, you know what they say: one man's road is another's magnificent swimming hole with a panoramic view of Manhattan plus a   water slide.

So you see that this issue is near and dear to my heart. 

Just like those two dads who came to the BoE on April 17th with that third one and waded unknowingly into the ugly waters of Hoboken pool-itics.

Here's the story.

Part 1- The Duped Dads

Hoboken businessman Joe Branco is currently running for Hoboken Housing Authority (HHA) Commissioner- an appointment to be determined by a vote of the City Council at their next meeting.  As an HHA Commissioner, Branco will essentially be Board Member Carmelo Garcia's 'boss' because, Carmelo is also the Executive Director of the HHA.

And guess what?

Branco and Garcia are best friends. 

Carmelo Garcia and Joe Branco helping HHA residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

Nice, right?

Joe's done good things with his buddy Carmelo for our community- but what occurred on April 17 wasn't one of them.

On April 17, Branco came to the School Board meeting with the aforementioned dads- I'll call them Dad No.1 and Dad No. 2. 

Dad No. 1 runs an online dad's group, which Branco belongs to.   

Dad No. 2 represented himself as the husband of the founder of a new Hoboken mommy-site.

So why did these 2 Dads come to the BoE meeting spittin' mad?

Back in January, Dad No. 1 had contacted Marty Shannon,  HHS Athletic Director  to arrange a date for a group of kids to use the HHS swimming pool.  Here is the online Use-of-Facilities application that Dad No.1 was provided with in January:

See that?  The applicant is required to read and comply with all terms specified by the BoE's Use of Facilities Guidelines.   Which state:

Clear enough?  Insurance is required for "all outside users".  Further, Shannon instructed Dad No.1 that insurance for any outside group was required.

What SHOULD have happened next?

Dad No. 1 obtains his insurance and submits the form to Shannon.  The matter then goes to the BoE Finance Committee because this matter is under the purview of the Business Administrator.  The Finance Committee then puts the request on the School Board agenda.  Lastly, the pool request could have been discussed and voted on at a January or February School Board meeting.

But that didn't happen.

Then what DID?

Dad No. 1 advertised the event on Dad No. 2's mommy-blog- without BoE review or approval.    Dad No.1  never obtained  insurance to use the pool nor was the Use-of-Facilities application returned. Thus, the BoE was never notified about the effort to book the HHS pool.  Consequently, the matter was never introduced in the Finance Committee  to put the Dads' on the Agenda for approval.

NONE of the Board members even knew about the Dads' efforts to swim in the HHS-- except Carmelo Garcia. Apparently through off-line discussions.  One assumes with his friend, Branco.
 Pool-itics.  And so the Dads get duped.  Because either they were given inaccurate information- that their insurance would be covered by the Brandt PTO- or appropriate advice was withheld- that they needed to obtain insurance.

Dad No. 1 claimed that he was 'told' he would be covered under the 'Brandt PTO's insurance'.

WHO the hell told him this?

The Brandt PTO HAS NO INSURANCE.  Carmelo must know that.  Carmelo who has been on the BoE for 12 years and has to know that ANY GROUP that uses the HHS pool requires insurance. And that PTO's don't carry insurance for the HHS pool.

Instead of being helpful, he chose pool-itics. 

GA has no doubt that these Dads were used for a political stunt to make ONE Board member look like a hero, with his "WIN-WIN" proposal to CHANGE THE FACILITIES INSURANCE REQUIREMENT on the fly AT the April 17th meeting.   
And it worked. 

Because in the words of Dad No.1:  
"It seems there's just one Board member, Carmelo Garcia that puts Kids First."

Yup, he said that.  Pool-itics, baby.

Yes, Dads 1 and 2 you were DUPED.   

GA is sorry, because I am a parent- like you, would do anything for my child- like you, and want my kid to be able to swim in a nice pool- like you. But here's what you need to own up to:

Dad No. 1: a minimum of due diligence would have cleared up any question about whose responsibility it was to obtain insurance in January.  Superintendent Toback's telephone number is 2 clicks within reach. No excuses.  Repeatedly accusing the Board of mean-spirited behavior and not providing you with answers for "11 weeks"?  C'mon.  GA would have found out the answer in 11 minutes.  Read my blog.

Dad No. 2: you spoke incredibly disrespectfully to the Board.  You threatened to replace a good and decent member of the School Board after introducing yourself as representing your wife's (apolitical) mommy-site.  Bad idea- I hear your wife is  lovely woman who's working hard on what appears to be a terrific resource for Hoboken families.  To say a childless Board member or any other childless person out there can't understand what not having use of a pool means has hurt many people.  That was truly inappropriate.

Part 2- Pool-itics

GA was told by a reliable source:
Joe Branco has said if he is not appointed to the HHA, he's taking Kids First down.
Well, well.   If that's the case, the first salvo has been fired.   Branco brought two prominent Dads to bash the (Kids First) School Board and create a scenario under which his best friend ON the School Board is a HERO with a 'win-win' solution.

Mind you, Carmelo's win-win solution would have resulted in our insurance company dropping us like a rock.

But you know, that doesn't matter.

And that's Hoboken Pool-itics101.

(Updated, 4:30 pm)
Hmmm... more information coming in about whether Dad #1 was in fact duped or is a political partisan who was on board with the STUNT.

Stay tuned.


  1. Wow...I am very surprised and disappointed in Joe Branco. Nothing Carmello does surprises me because he's a real self-promoting sleeze. I thought Joe Branco had great Reform credentials and would therefore be a supporter of Kids First...just goes to show you how two-faced Hoboken politics are. Does anyone know why Branco's got such a bug up his ass about Kids First???

  2. what does hha have to do with kids first? how does this help branco, why take it out on them? also, how does branco have the ability to "take down" kids first?

    1. Nothing at all. But Carmelo is the opposition and he's Joe's best friend.

      I was very disappointed and surprised to hear this, believe me. Joe's done a lot of good in town, and I've even given him a Mensch award.

      Watch it on Channel 77 (in the public comment section near the end of the meeting) and tell me what you think.

  3. SO basically, Branco & the dads are blaming KF for the fact that they neglected to get insurance and it is their fault they failed to abide by the terms of use for the pool? Waaaaaaaahhhhhh.

  4. It doesn't look like they neglected to obtain insurance, but sought out loopholes to avoid paying for it. So they tried to change their hats from a private Daddy's club to the Brandt PTO. Let the taxpayers cover their pool party. Daddy #2 said he had a 10 month old child. Part of the Brandt PTO? Really? Yes, attack Kids First with Carmelo and bff Branco leading the charge. Pathetic. Moving forward with their logic, all requests for pool parties will be channeled through the Brandt PTO. Got it.

    1. I'll say that sitting on the insurance obligation for 11 weeks then yelling at Board members like a petulant brat was what my people call CHUTZPAH.

      I am hearing that Dad #2 was kept in the dark... he got played.

    2. Well that is just scummy. Joe definitely is unfit for public service if he thinks it is the BOE's responsibility to subsidize pool parties for private clubs by providing them w/ insurance free of charge. It is not the government's job to subsidize things just b/c they don't feel like paying for it.

  5. Who are the morally bankrupt dads that have so generously passed on their DNA so that another generation can learn how to game the system?

  6. Grafix: Yelling at Board members like a petulant brat is what my people call a douchebag. The douchiest player was Carmelo and his phony performance to the dupee(s).

  7. Wow! All set to reply and *POOF* the last three comments got pulled. Oh well...

    They contained references to the upstanding character of the dads and Branco. It is possible that all of those good things, including what has been posted on this thread, are true.

    Hoboken is full of these uncomfortable intersections. To wit, the charitable work of the Rotary, an organization with some unsavory characters amongst its members, holding a fundraiser in the "wrestling gym" leased by David Barry - yes, he of "The Monarch" project, which is above the car wash owned by John Corea, the disgraced parking director who robbed us blind.

    There are many more examples of these unholy alliances.

    1. It seems that their upstanding character was noticeably absent at the BOE meeting.

    2. And Beth is a POG founder. And has at last removed the rest of its teeth...

      I am once again very proud of my friend GA for not flinching when it would have been easier to just ignore harmful conduct when it comes from someone who is generally on the side of reform.

      GA was also the one who bore the slings and arrows when there was an over-the-top reaction to Tony being appointed to the sewerage authority.

      What we learned from Beth is that the ideas are more important than the personalities (Beth continues to struggle with the concept and probably always will.) Beth wanted us to accept that whatever she did = reform. The more we rejected the notion, the worse she got until completely jumping in bed with the old guard.

      So it is important in this moment - I think - to call it what it is. If we lose dad 1, dad 2, or even Joe over this it will be because they wanted to go in another direction. Not because we redefined reform so that it suited everyone's purposes. If we start doing that, it will cease to mean anything.

  8. Some of my facts were wrong, I will be re-posting
    Speaking of facts, Hoboken Car Wash is not nor ever was owned by Corea. Corea owned Coconut Grove across the street.

    The Barry's bought the car wash from dean geible when geible was selling it at a fire sale price.
    The PAL gets to use it for their wrestling program and it is in their variance that it must be donate for community use.

    1. Thanks for clarifying. Geible is another sleazebag.

  9. tony, the piece is about a stunt where Board members were attacked publicly and personally-- unfairly, as it turns out.

    Because the directive to get insurance and procedure to have the request approved were NOT followed. And only ONE Board member- who sits on the Facilities committee btw,KNEW about the dads' request before the meeting. Of course the entire thing was coordinated. Well, it was ham-handed and it backfired.

    Please watch it then make a judgement.

    Good people make bad choices.

    Joe's earned a GA Mensch Award for a menschy deed. He has certainly done menschy deeds, and I've acknowledged that.


    I've got a kid in public school and don't like such political GAMES.

  10. I just believe we need ALL well intended parties on the side of reform.
    Whether it be The Dad's, The Hola Parents or any other special group that wants the best for their family.

    These parents can go elsewhere when it comes to elections, then we lose a majority.

    Personally I like Kid's First members and call them friends, but Joe Branco is my friend as well. While his style might not be to everyone's liking, I think we all have to work together, if not, the consequences in November and 2013 could undo all the good of the past 4-6 years.

    1. What do you make of his statement that if he didn't get appointed to the housing authority, he'd take down Kids First?

    2. I agree tony.

      And when those who work tirelessly for reform in our schools (or anywhere else) are unfairly attacked as not caring about the health and wellness of kids, about not caring or responding to an issue they were NEVER INFORMED ABOUT I will call it what it is.

      Just as I stuck up for you when you were attacked and maligned- which didn't make me popular. If you remember I was called a "defender of patronage" by a prominent reformer and friend.

      Any person who takes a public position- in this case a strident attack on the school board- needs to understand the public will have something to say. I don't think that's a BAD thing, either.

      I've gotten plenty of criticism, some has been in the long-term helpful, though it never feels good when it comes.

      And for the record, I like Joe, too.

    3. GA- I always appreciated when you stood up for me last year.
      I was simply saying that I don't want us to lose supporters. I don't want reform to lose charter school parents anymore than I want it to lose public school parents.

      Joe is a big boy, he can take it.
      In the world of Hoboken Politics, the enemy loves watching public reform fights. Whether it's now or two years ago

    4. OK, honey. I agree with you, and don't believe that we will. IMO all of us are big-picture people that agree on the major themes- good, smart government, ethics, transparency.

      I don't think differences or occasional dust-ups are killers and sometimes they are unavoidable.

      IMO, we shouldn't worry about the Dark Side loving it. We get way more laughs at their expense (some right here)than they do at ours. Plus, they have Timmy.

      Can you imagine, having that dumb-ass on our team?


  11. @Oracle, I didn't hear that statement.
    However, If he did say it, I am not pleased, but, People do say things in the heat of the moment. I know I have said things I wished I could have taken back.

    1. Luv ya, tony.

      I have NEVER heard you say anything in a heated moment!


Post a Comment