First Base

Well folks, now that 9 seats of an 11-member board, Hoboken's Zoning Board of Adjustment are about to be filled, we can reflect on what a difference a Reform majority Council will make on that board.

One only has to look back to a day in late April 2009, seated at a table in Jersey City's Lighthorse Tavern were Hoboken Councilman Michael Russo, an F.B.I. informant disguised as a real estate developer shopping for zoning variances- Solomon Dwek, and Dwek's 'bagman', Khalil Maher.  The chit chat was amiable, but no one was there for chit-chat.

Dwek was dispatched to entrap Russo into a) a videotaped agreement to take money in exchange for  expediting D variances and zone changes and, b) to close the deal by having Russo take the agreed-upon cash amount.

As you know, Dwek only got to 'first base' with Mikey- he got the agreement: $5,000 to be deposited in 'Russo for Hoboken', but Russo never followed up to arrange the deposit.  Hence, the 3rd Ward Councilman didn't get nailed on July 23, 2009, with the 43 alleged crooks arrested in New Jersey's biggest political corruption sting to-date, Bid-Rig 3.

While you shrug and say, "that was 5 years ago", GA reminds you, the two central enablers of Dwek's pitch to expedite variances and zone changes for him are still sitting Council members: Beth Mason and Mike Russo.

Wrap your head around that.  And around what that would have meant for our city had the "enablers" become the majority and filled our Zoning Board.

There's Beth Mason, who dealt her At-Large Council slate to Mike Russo in exchange for his support which, if victorious, would have given Russo the "veto-proof majority" he boasted about to Dwek.  Mason knew exactly who she was playing footsie with.

And Mike Russo?   See for yourself.

"Develop-or-Die!" Mason 
Let's Make a Deal
He's the man!
You won't have to go through all that nonsense!  
"we'll most certainly expedite those applications for you... ka-ching!"

Mike speaks French?
So, as our Council appoints new board members, the importance of today's memory-exercise is to never take for granted how close we are to yesterday.


  1. oh c'mon, GA. you're forgetting curiousgal's entirely plausible explanation for all of this: good-guy mikey suddenly realized he was in the company of some bad guys, and used his "street smarts" to play along and escape from this "potentially dangerous" situation.

    glad we straightened that out.


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