Thursday, October 29, 2009

Horse Sense: Handicapping the candidates

We're prepping our ponies for the starting gate.  The backside is ablaze with activity gearing up with a call to the post not far off.  With the biggest x factor being turnout, this horse race is not easily handicapped.  We believe there may be at least one, possibly two major surprises.  All odds are to win, since there is no payout for place and show.  It's winner take all!  Here's our editorial summation of the candidates as the voters prepare to head to the polls on Tuesday.

Everton Wilson.  Assured of at least three votes from the bartenders he knows and calls friends. A living example of the cultural values of Jamaica and turning hard work into the American dream.  Needs to translate that effort locally and has yet to do so. Instead he decided to join Patricia Waiters in the theater of the absurd by calling every person in city government a crook at the Stevens debate.  Even the usually austere Councilwoman Beth Mason couldn't control herself from laughing.   Impact: negligible or a natural catastrophe destroying all polling stations and absentee ballots at once.  In short: an act of God.  Odds: 14,997 - 1.  

Patricia Waiters: Other than a hundred or so voters who wish to make a statement, no traction.  Proven volatility and still could be a scratch and endorse someone else before the polls open.  Pleaded for votes with a suggestion we don't want to cry again like when Peter Cammarano was arrested.  (We didn't cry the first time at the news sorry.)  Wild accusations mirror same at City Council meetings.  We still don't know who she's talking about.  Neither does anyone else. Pictured holding an umbrella for Cammarano after his release from jail now a cult classic.  Odds: 14,800 - 1

Nathan Brinkman: For a novice to the Hoboken political scene, his arrival has been strongly felt in the debates.  Impact should substantially appear in an overlap of votes in his campaign and the statewide Governor's race.  Brought a consistent, principled message along with a ton of new ideas to the short election cycle.  Based his ideas on comparison to a real world example: New Brunswick.  Worth repeating, we've never seen anyone do anything remotely as smart in our local elections.  A strong personable personality who should play a future role in the local and statewide electoral scene.  Talented communicator, immensely likable who doesn't shy away from the difficult issues with real world proven solutions.  Could surprise with votes deep in the four figures or fall short as voters evaluate and decide to vote on anything but principle when entering the voting booth.  He's looking for a surprise like his endorser Bret Schundler who shocked Jersey City for mayor in 1993.  The dark horse house favorite could provide one of the night's biggest surprises.  Odds: 8 - 1

Kim Glatt: Emphasized her roots in the old world of Hoboken past, Frank Sinatra way and not her uptown Bloomfield St. or current W Hotel home.  Will the old Hoboken voters turn out for her as they did for Cammarano?  It doesn't look as likely with competition from Frank "Pupie" Raia and his strong field operations, website and commercials.  Appealing to the Cammarano supporters and the "bury and forget it" rubber stamp of former Mayor Robert's hidden accounting that brought Hoboken to its financial knees.  (Dave Roberts keeps her campaign sign in his window.)  Difficult to gain traction with a short race and a website staking out no detailed or breakout positions on issues. Still managed to raise the only real ones of substance in the short campaign: flood grant applications and parking meters at the new theater.  Queen of the status quo, she's in the middle of the pack without a clear means to break out.  Only budget idea is attrition and retiring more safety workers with 150K pensions sure to send Hoboken into Chapter 9 bankruptcy faster than the local hospital.  Husband's law firm partner an undeniable drag for a town exhausted by corruption questions.  Slimed by Hoboken411 on a family home didn't help either. Neither are her fault but it costs a fading operation. Odds: 7-1

Beth Mason: Another well funded family effort and going all out for the gold, the Councilwoman takes no prisoners.  Unfortunately, taking no prisoners leaves a lot of disapproving escapees who vow not to be taken alive.  Attempting to stake ground as a "moderate" between Old and New Hoboken can go either way earning uncommitted voters late, while surrendering permanently the passionate supporters who remember the old reformer.  It failed miserably the last time as the Russo alliance never delivered.  A see saw campaign operation going heavy negative early to knock down support for the Acting Mayor Dawn Zimmer and then selling hard on the resume.  Rinse, repeat.  The negative approach did not work; an online petition stunt spawned a rival hilarious imitator and added nothing in public support.  Sought to make some hay on the budget and taxes with wild baseless charges against the Acting Mayor, an issue undercut by the facts offered by state fiscal monitor Judy Tripodi's exclusive interview with Mile Square View.  Fading or gaining, but never leading (unlike in the spring according to her internal polls) depending on who you talk to on any given day. Someone sold her the old Swibinski a negative campaign would work in a short election cycle.  Even a novice pony knows that doesn't work.  Rule #1, don't go to the dance without the people who brought you.  Painful lesson to learn: twice makes it doubly hard.  Odds: 6-1

Frank Raia: picking up momentum and hitting all cylinders as the race has progressed.  Has continued to impress with his passion and a well funded and organized campaign.  Consistently running positive, like his personality, Pupie as he's affectionately called by friends and foe alike has a strong supportive base and may expand beyond it in ways the Mason campaign has only dreamed.  A real threat with a strong absentee ballot operation, he's determined to make a life long dream come true.  Downside in being a successful executive is belief in self over other voices or even voters as he views the Board of Education vote last spring a mistake.  Sensible in the reality of falling real estate values, and rejecting a reval.  His campaign people are true believers, admiring his business experience and his indomitable spirit.  Their sense of purpose comes in seeing a true rags to riches story and someone who still cares enough to do good for his community.  Pupie is taking no contributions which can't hurt his image and promises to accept a mayoral salary of $1 a year and put the rest toward interest on bond measures for the town's flooding hardware.  Will the strengths of his supporters and commitment to Hoboken enlist enough other votes and lead him to victory?  Odds: 2-1

Dawn Zimmer: resilient with an inner fortitude underestimated regularly by her opponents.  Bears a powerful bare bones grass roots campaign of true believers and a common touch with the people. Stakes out a unique claim no other leading candidate can make as the Founding Fathers intended: political office as a temporary role not a career. Doesn't seek higher office.  Lost the spring election technically to the soon arrested Peter Cammarano who got suspicious PAC support, Federal payoff money and absentee ballots approaching almost 10% of his total vote.  She could have pressed the issue but didn't which is often overlooked.  

Follows through on her principles with a strong appeal across political party lines.  Personable, approachable and professional, Zimmer delivered in changing the tone of government as Acting Mayor and has broadened her base showing an ability to reach out to people with her personal style emphasizing consensus. Hired and appointed solid competent professionals with actual relevant experience from among new and old Hoboken far more than recent administrations.  Advocates and practices transparency, but not sufficiently to earn sizable trust from Old Hoboken.  It's a strength and a hindrance as allies see a new Dawn ahead (pardon the pun) but doesn't forestall enemies from undermining and almost constant griping and grandstanding.  Followed through on decentralizing the power of the mayor's office unheard of in political circles.  As a result of fulfilling that promise, even her weaknesses are recast as virtues among her supporters.  She's grown immensely in her time from Councilwoman to Acting Mayor demonstrating an ability to listen.  Lacks the tin ear and transparent acts of self-interest of her opponents, even attempting to achieve consensus on the City Council while holding a majority coalition.  It appears this is her time and three times will indeed be the charm.  The class of the field.  Odds: 2 - 5 (Bet $2.00 to win $2.80)

Hobokenites craving the 21st century have waited for just this moment.  Live free or die.  This is it.

Acting Mayor Dawn Zimmer speaks with Hoboken residents after the Hudson River crash.

You really don't need a horse to tell you how to vote do you?  Didn't think so.  

Here's one!

One can guess with the election season drawing to the inevitable finish, endorsement season is in fashion, front and center.  And you'd be right.  Now we're not sure about the impact of Councilwoman's Beth Mason endorsement of Governor Corzine for reelection but we have something a bit more locally flavored.

Bret Shundler, (above) the nationally famous former mayor of our neighbor Jersey City today endorsed Nathan Brinkman for mayor.  Having taken the victory for mayor in a similarly multi-candidate race back in 1992, Schundler was then reelected twice, overwhelmingly demonstrating that innovative solutions coupled with an approach of lower taxes, less regulation and reduced government can work in an urban area.

“In many ways, Nathan Brinkman reminds me of, well, me at that age — he’s not a member of anybody’s political machine, he doesn’t owe any party bosses any favors, he’s free to do what he thinks is best for the people who live in his community,” said Schundler. “He understands that the role of government is to serve its citizens, and not the other way around, and he understands that more often than not, the best answers come not from empowering government, but from empowering people.

“If I lived in Hoboken, rather than Jersey City, I’d be voting for Nathan Brinkman on Tuesday.”

“I’m honored to accept Bret Schundler’s endorsement,” said Brinkman. “The folks I’ve talked to who were living here in Hoboken when Bret was Mayor of Jersey City speak of him with fondness, and respect, and even a bit of envy that they were living in Hoboken while he was making such great strides in Jersey City.

“Bret showed during his time as Mayor of Jersey City that putting people ahead of government bureaucrats, and keeping property taxes down, create a formula for success. We need more of his kind of thinking in Hoboken City Hall, and that’s exactly what I intend to bring to the job as Hoboken’s Mayor.”

Bret Shundler originally took the reins of mayor in a similar heavily Democrat party environment.  His initial victory ended a 75 year Republican losing streak in Jersey City.

News Roundup

We'll be adding more to this today but for those who are interested in the debate held at Stevens yesterday Amy Sara Clark, at Hoboken Now did a live blog of the event.  She captures the essence quite well of the candidate's discussions.  But take a look as it's been broken down into three parts.  Hoboken Now also has their feature on Councilwoman Beth Mason in their candidate series available.

Although it was not groundbreaking in most respects, there was new areas covered and it's worth a look.  On the whole the event was somewhat lackluster as the big news was the Hudson Reporter reposting of a story on the budget's availability.  An earlier story indicated the budget was available but as it turns out that was corrected with Judy Tripodi stating the budget will be available soon.  

The headline in the story initially came out as
"Tripodi says: Taxes are down, but Zimmer should have released budget" 

Then when reposted the story was headlined: 
UPDATE -- Tripodi: Can't release budget! (Don't blame Zimmer)

It's created more of an eruption than the debate probably will. We find ourselves in a unique position as a result.  Since we initially broke the story, we've had several conversations with the Hudson Reporter on this, (both of us interviewed the fiscal monitor the same day) and the last was mere minutes before the candidates began the debate and before the story was reposted under the new headline.  As that conversation was not on the record similar to our recent impromptu meeting with Councilwoman Beth Mason, we want to be measured and fair about it.  It's blown white hot since it was initially published and then recast.  (We covered this earlier and it still remains valid.) Scroll down if you missed that piece, "Taxes are going down."

Can everyone take a step back and please breathe deeply for 30 seconds?  Okay, relax. It's mere days before the voters decide the matter.  

Kim Glatt handed a family smear
Can it possibly get any lower at the Hoboken411 cesspool?  You would think the dirty deed's done on behalf of one campaign is enough, but apparently no, one must pay homage to one's masters and take it to the next level of slime.  (Can we get a pump installed in time before it does us all in?)

The Hudson Reporter did a story on the matter from a different perspective: you know the family smeared.  That's not something you get at all when you descend into the depths at that other blog.  Is this their self-proclaimed "political truth" too?  

The Glatt Campaign responded with a statement from Kim herself, "The Internet smear intimates that foreclosure equates irresponsibility.  I wonder if the politicians behind it would be so bold as to say the same thing to anyone in our community who has lost their job, is caring for a sick and aging parent, and is behind on their mortgage because of the national economy and local taxes that are outside of their control....I will not be deterred by anonymous political attacks that distort the truth."