Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hoboken Revolt demands Mike Russo's resignation, calls for protest outside City Hall tomorrow at 6:00

Hoboken Revolt announces:

The Hoboken Tax Reform Coalition

A message to all members of Hoboken Revolt

Hoboken Revolt is calling for the immediate resignation of Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo.  Yesterday’s release of videos filmed by the FBI showing Russo’s meeting with informant Soloman Dwek revealed conduct unacceptable of an elected official.  While Councilman Russo was not formally charged with criminal conduct, the court of public opinion finds his behavior to be a brazen misuse of power that violates the trust of every Hoboken citizen.  As residents, taxpayers and voters we deserve more from our elected officials.  
In July of 2009 the residents of Hoboken were subjected to a Mayor who was convicted of criminal actions in connection with what appears to be the same federal investigation.  He disrespected the integrity and sacred trust of his constituency.  Former Mayor Peter Cammarano infamously said something like " Those who are not with me will.... be ground into powder".  Now we have a sitting Councilman who openly acknowledges his influence peddling and general lack of respect for Hoboken residents who aren't in his "family".
Councilman Russo spoke of conversations he had with Council President Beth Mason where she agreed to Russo’s request for picking her three council seats in the last mayoral election, in return for his involvement in her campaign.  He bragged about having a six vote majority, “I have a supermajority, a veto proof majority.  At the end of the day I am going to have total control of the City Council.”  Russo spoke of his “friends to help move things along” for Dwek when he inquired about development in Hoboken.  He went as far as saying, “Once we get all those people in place we will expedite.”  Russo also admitted to getting Hector Claveria appointed to the Housing Authority and providing him with an apartment covering four months back rent.  When Hector said he would not campaign with Russo, Russo said, “Hector let me explain to you how this works.  I do for you, you do for me.”  In another part of the conversation Russo stated “the world is losing common sense with all this nonsense pay to play stuff.”  These statements are deplorable and show the Councilman’s blatant arrogance and disrespect for his office and the residents of Hoboken.    

Hoboken Revolt asks Council President Beth Mason and the entire City Council to denounce this behavior and publicly demand the resignation of Councilman Russo.  We need to send a message that corruption will no longer be tolerated in Hoboken!     

Revolt encourages all Hoboken residents to attend a rally calling for the resignation of Councilman Michael Russo at City Hall tomorrow night at 6pm before the City Council Meeting.   
Visit Hoboken Revolt at: http://www.hobokenrevolt.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

Council candidates Greg Lincoln, Eric Kurta and Rami Pinchevsky lay down the pipe on Russo Corruption

This is a news clip recorded earlier this morning of 3rd ward candidate Greg Lincoln, 1st ward candidate Eric Kurta and 4th ward candidate Rami Pinchevsky on News 12.  They really lay down the pipe on 3rd ward Councilman Mike Russo's clear unfiltered, unbridled corruption.

They are facing the Mike Russo allies 1st ward Councilwoman Terry Castellano (Russo's cousin) and current 4th ward council seat occupant Tim Occhipinti.

Mike Russo's statement in the feature is not simply his typical politrickin, it's out of this world Twilight Zone material.  Enjoy!

2nd ward candidate Tom Greaney to Beth Mason: Time to put up, not write up

Tom Greaney for 2nd ward City Council announces:


Second Ward Council candidate Tom Greaney today lambasted Council President Beth Mason for her lack of resolve in responding to the growing scandal involving Councilman Michael Russo and the "Dwek" tapes that have recently surfaced.

"The statement that Beth Mason issued on this matter is a crash course on cover-up, and a seminar on the use of smoke and mirrors in politics," Greaney said. "Beth Mason is the Council President.  She has it in her power to act immediately and decisively to remove Michael Russo from the Chairmanship of the Committee on Revenue and Finance.  It is time for Mason to put her constituents and the City of Hoboken first, rather than her questionable and sullied political allies."

"Once again, Council President Mason has demonstrated her lack of ability to back up her words with appropriate action.  In light of the financial gist of the conversation recorded on those tapes, Mason should immediately remove Russo of his Chairmanship of such an important Council Committee that deals with the fiscal underpinnings of our community and the economic vitality of Hoboken's future," explained Greaney.

"Mr. Russo was caught on tape bragging about selecting Mason's three Council running mates in her 2009 campaign for Mayor, and announcing that he, Russo, will "have total control" of the Council through working with Ms. Mason.   The implication is clear, and is at variance with the statement issued today by the Council President.  The make-up of Mason's ticket in 2009 fully supports the statements that were uttered by Councilman Russo to an FBI informant on this tape.  Furthermore, her inaction today in refusing to remove Russo from his post as Chairman goes a long way to confirm her true colors in regard to this sorry situation," concluded Greaney, adding "The residents of the Second Ward deserve a Councilman who is focused on serving the people of the Second Ward, and not someone who is distracted by on-going allegations of a nefarious nature."


All day word has been spreading among different Hoboken groups planning to get behind a protest against the corruption shown in the Mike Russo FBI surveillance video.

A reader submitted this earlier today:

WHAT: A protest to call on Councilman Michael Russo to resign his City Council seat (details below)
WHEN: This Wednesday night, 6pm (City Council Meeting begins at 7pm)
WHERE: The steps in front of City Hall
WHO: You, and everyone you know that cares about bringing change to Hoboken!

Dear Friends,

We've read the reports. We've heard the denials. Now, we've seen the tapes.

Almost two years after Peter Cammarano's brief stint as mayor came crumbling down with his arrest for accepting bribes from an FBI informant posing as a real estate developer seeking expedited building approvals, it has come to light that City Council Vice President Michael Russo, who's father was another Hoboken mayor who served prison time for taking bribes, met with the same developer and agreed to the same money-for-expedited-approvals arrangement. Since this information surfaced last week, Councilman Russo has insisted that because he never followed through and accepted the money, he has done nothing wrong.

Now, the FBI's own video surveillance tapes are available for all to see. For those who haven't yet seen these highly incriminating videos, you can watch them here:

Councilman Russo can be clearly seen not only explicitly agreeing to accept campaign contributions in exchange for expedited building approvals, but actually specifying for the check to be made out to his PAC, "Russo for Hoboken," and boastfully dishing out various other unsavory activities and quid-pro-quo arrangements. For years, Mr. Russo has claimed to be the victim of persecution for the sins of his father, and taken umbrage at the suggestion that the apple lies anywhere near the tree. Today, we know the truth, and we need to make our voices heard.


MSV endorses the protest and will be there to both cover it and participate!
Anticipate there will be several organizations joining in shortly. 

Reform members on Council: Enough of Michael Russo, it's time for action! Calls for Censure!

Council members Marsh, Cunningham, Bhalla and Mello announce:


Council members Marsh, Cunningham, Bhalla, and Mello call on the City Council to take action regarding revelations concerning Councilman Michael Russo. "We plan to present this resolution to the council at the beginning of the Wednesday's council meeting" Marsh said. "Councilman Russo's statements on the FBI surveillance tapes are appalling and we need to take steps to ensure that the Council takes immediate action to restore the public's confidence in its governmental institutions."

Resolution calling for censure and other actions concerning councilman Michael Russo:

Whereas a recent book entitled, "The Jersey Sting," including the following disclosure with respect to Councilman Russo's previously unknown meeting with Solomon Dwek:

"You need something? Boom,” continued Khalil. “Call him tomorrow: “I need five, ten grand for my campaign.” Boom.”

As intended, Russo was impressed. “Always nice to have friends like that.”

Then they got down to business. “Whatever I do, I’ll do through Maher…I don’t want to do anything in my name. I don’t want to have any conflicts,” Dwek said.

“You’re a smart man,” Russo observed.

“I’ll give him five thousand next week and you’ll work it out…and after the election, I’ll do the same. It’ll be more.”

Russo agreed and then the foursome broke up. After that, however, Russo would not take calls from Dwek’s middlemen…

WHEREAS, in response to this disclosure and assertions by the public that Councilman Russo's conduct was improper, Councilman Russo defended his conduct to the Hoboken Reporter insisting that he "made it very clear to Mr. Dwek that [he] would not except cash contributions", that there was to be "no quid pro quo" and "told him what the legalities are"; and

WHEREAS on April 4, 2011 the full tape of the meeting between Councilman Russo and Solomon Dwek was made public and the tape confirmed the accuracy of the account provided in the book and did not contain any of the exculpatory statements claimed by Councilman Russo; and

WHEREAS it is clear from the surveillance tape that Councilman Russo agreed to provide expedited treatment for development projects in the same conversation in which he agreed to accept a $5,000 payment to be laundered through a third party, including the following exchanges, as reported by Hoboken Patch:

Dwek asked if his zoning variances would be heard within 30 or 60 days, rather than the procedural six months to a year. At first Russo answered that he couldn't answer that right away. After Dwek specified that he means after the elections and after Russo’s “people are in place,” the councilman responded that “once we get those people in place, we’ll most certainly expedite all those applications.”

The “people in place,” Russo explained moments earlier on the tape, were the three council-at-large candidates who’d run on Councilwoman Beth Mason’s mayoral ticket. In return for his supporting her campaign, Russo explained to Dwek and the other two men at the table, he would be allowed to handpick the candidates on her slate.”

“I’m an investor, developer … I don’t want to be left on the bottom of the pile,” Dwek said to Russo. “That’s why I do what I gotta do with the right people.”

“Absolutely,” Russo answered again."

WHEREAS far from supporting Councilman Russo's claim that his actions were proper, the tape raises other serious questions beyond bribery, and solicitation and acceptance of illegal campaign contributions, including a specific example of trading housing and a position on the HHA board for political gain; and

WHEREAS the initial printed disclosures, Councilman Russo's demonstrably false response, and the contents of the subsequently released tape taken as a whole, demonstrate Councilman Russo's unfitness to represent the City of Hoboken as Council Vice President, Revenue and Finance committee chair, on any committee, or as Commissioner of the Hoboken Housing Authority;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Hoboken calls upon Councilman Russo to resign as Vice President and if he does not, calls an immediate vote of no confidence to remove him; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council calls on Council President Mason to immediately remove Councilman Russo as Chair of the Revenue and Finance committee and from all committee; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Hoboken calls upon Councilman Russo to resign his position as Hoboken Housing Authority commissioner and if he does not, directs Corporation Council to determine if sufficient evidence exists to support his removal for cause as Hoboken Housing Authority commissioner and in the event that he determines that sufficient cause exists, take all further steps to present to the council at its next meeting, the set of procedures required to accomplish this removal as quickly as possible; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in light of Councilman Russo's actions taken as a whole, the Council hereby censures Councilman Russo for his actions and for the discredit they have brought on the City of Hoboken.

Mayor Zimmer on Russo bribe tape: 'Let's get it all out'

Office of the Mayor announces:


I am deeply disturbed by the content of the recently released FBI surveillance tapes of Councilman Russo’s meeting with FBI informant Solomon Dwek. I have watched portions of the tapes, and if reports of what was said throughout are true, then it is of significant concern to the residents of Hoboken and the integrity of our City. 

Given the very serious nature of this matter, my Administration has arranged for the tapes to be transcribed on an expedited basis. The videos, together with transcribed text of the tapes, will ensure a full and fair understanding of the matters that were discussed by the Councilman with the informant.

As Mayor, it is my obligation to address possible wrongdoing and unethical actions that may cause the public to lose trust in the institution that is meant to serve the citizens of Hoboken. Given the possible content of the tapes, which at times is difficult to hear, I believe it is my obligation to ensure a clear understanding of the facts. The transcribed tapes will be released in their entirety when they are completed, and I will be making further comment when I have had a chance to review the full transcriptions.

Thank you.

Mayor Zimmer

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Beth Mason scrambles from Mike Russo but calls for NO ACTION!

In a statement Beth Mason attempts to distance herself from her alliance since 2009 with Councilman Mike Russo. But unlike her call for the resignation of a colleague on a unanimous vote conferred prior with the Corporation Counsel, now she calls for NO ACTION ON MIKE RUSSO!

There's a weak deflection to others and other tapes but that's more subterfuge.

Most of Beth Mason's statement is nothing more than damage control in an attempt to salvage and save herself.

Statement from Council President Beth Mason

Yesterday an FBI surveillance video was released showing 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo meeting with Solomon Dwek, a federal informant posing as a developer. Like many residents I am shocked and disturbed by the brazen way Councilman Russo conducted himself.

Fortunately for the residents of the 3rd Ward this video was released before the upcoming City Council election. They can now judge Councilman Russo’s actions for themselves and cast their votes according to the totality of his service as 3rd Ward Councilman and the issues that their Ward and the city as a whole face today.

The behavior exhibited is completely counter productive to the open, transparent, and inclusive government that I and so many other residents have fought to create in Hoboken. There is never a place in government, Hoboken or elsewhere, for this type of conduct.

During the conversation Mr. Russo claims I allowed him to select my City Council running mates in exchange for his support during the May 2009 Mayoral Election. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This double talk is contrary to Mr. Russo’s statement that he made to Hoboken Now in May 2009 in which he called such assertions “absolutely ridiculous”. He further stated, “It's all nice for people to spread rumor and innuendo, but that's crazy." It is very upsetting to hear Councilman Russo himself helped spread those lies.

Councilman Russo knows I am completely independent and the only people I answer to are the hard working residents of the 2nd Ward. From the very beginning of my political involvement here in Hoboken I have been unbought and unbossed. I look forward to continuing to work with the residents of the 2nd Ward to increase good government and the rights of everyday people.
My former running mates would confirm that the decision to run together was made solely by us and that Michael Russo had absolutely no involvement whatsoever in selecting the members of our ticket. I encourage members of the media to contact them directly so they can set the record straight.

Councilman Russo also refers to pay‐to‐play laws as “nonsense”. I could not disagree more with that statement. The very essence of the meeting between him and Dwek is the exact reason that Hoboken needs such strong pay‐to‐play laws. There is no place for special interest money in Hoboken government. As a private citizen I helped found People for Open Government, which worked to enact the most stringent pay‐to‐play laws in the entire state. I was also honored by Common Cause for the statewide leadership role I played in ensuring Hoboken is at the forefront of transparency and good government reform.

In May 2009 I was approached by Solomon Dwek. During this meeting I did not hesitate to tell Mr. Dwek that Hoboken has very clear standards for the development process and that there is absolutely no special treatment for campaign contributors. I did not accept any campaign contributions from Solomon Dwek.

In the interest of fairness and transparency I call upon the U.S. Attorney’s Office to immediately release the recordings of my meeting with Dwek and all other recordings with Hoboken officials or political campaign representatives who met with Solomon Dwek.

It is time to shine the light on this situation and allow the people of Hoboken to judge all of the video and audio recordings for themselves.

This video, from an encounter that occurred two years ago, comes at a time that is critical for our city on the eve of budget hearings. I stand firm by my belief that the surplus should not remain in the hands of politicians, whether they are Michael Russo or anyone else. We need to provide tax relief to our residents. The people of the 2nd Ward elected me to cut taxes, be open and honest, and to continue to move our neighborhoods forward

Mike Russo officially a star: bribe video goes viral

MSV saw a big traffic bump this last week due to breaking the Mike Russo corruption story in Hoboken as described in the new book "The Jersey Sting."

But things exploded today and it was clear something bigger was going on.  (This in spite of Hoboken411 re: Beth Mason trying to keep a lid on it and not breathing a word on any of it.  So much for the "appearance of impropriety" Councilwoman.)

Well the story has gone national.  It was picked up on Fark.com and has been generating interest from all over North America.

Fark posted the story among its hot picks: Red Alert: Mike Russo Bribe Video generating thousands of readers and listing the NJ Councilman under their category of "dumbass."

The Hudson Reporter is now reporting the latest Mike Russo ruse.  He's calling the money laundering operation discussed with the FBI informant a "fundraising meeting."

Mike Russo's corruption turns Hoboken on its ear

The release of the tapes showing the Peter Cammarano-ish depths of corruption depravity by Councilman Mike Russo is going to resonate long after its release.  The best characterization actually comes from Grafix Avenger's Russo machine insider who indicated no one saw it coming saying, "It's a f*(@$%& tsunami."

That about captures it.  The echoes of this are not bouncing into all the corners of Hoboken, it's now reverberating off every end of town like a lead guitar at a heavy metal concert.  The full impact on the May 10th elections isn't even clear to this point.  Media will be digesting what's transpired but the video will be chopped up and presented for evaluation for weeks to come among the council races.

There's some word now of a protest calling for Mike Russo to resign.  The only positive he has in his corner really is he is not likely to be arrested for selling out Hoboken as bad as his campaign manager Peter Cammarano, but it's only short of him taking the envelope.  He'll most likely hang his hat on that and hope his hard core support stays with him.  But that's not altogether likely either.

Outside of the third ward, the situation is more dire for the Mason-Russo 'majority.'  Tim Occhipinti may be out on an island and he's in a very vulnerable position against a surging Rami Pinchevsky who will need to further embrace the value of the corruption message.  Councilman Nino Giacchi was already in a struggle against Jen Giattino and may just decide to stick by Mike Russo and go down with the ship.  Councilman Peter Cunningham in the 5th ward who has been always consistent and a strong voice will see people rally around his long time fight against corruption in the Quarters Ripoff.  Councilwoman Terry Castellano will try to rally the old guard of her core support but will it be enough against long time corruption Russo nemesis Eric Kurta?

Then there's Beth Mason.  She's in deep trouble now and depicted as a lackey to Russo in the video handing him the City Council and allowing him to pick the slate when she ran with his support for mayor.  She can't pull out now, it's far too late.  She sat by for more than a week and said nothing about "The Jersey Sting" and Mike Russo's little sit down with Solomon Dwek agreeing to sell Hoboken out.  Now it's all there in black and white.

No one will be confused to the context of that meeting.

And so let us begin with the short takes.  Here's Mike Russo working out how to launder the money into his political action committee - "Russo for Hoboken".  He actually instructs the bagman where to write out the checks they plan before and after the spring 2009 mayoral election:

The details of the video are far worse than anyone anticipated.  MSV broke the story on the revelations in "The Jersey Sting" the previous Sunday and went back to the authors asking for comment on Mike Russo's claim anyone who says there was a bribe is lying.

That clash is what brought Hoboken to where it is today, not unlike the spring in 2009 with Peter Cammarano.  Word is spreading of a protest before the City Council meeting on Wednesday calling for Mike Russo's resignation.

The 'pro-development' marriage between Mike Russo and Beth Mason is in trouble now with citywide council elections May 10th.

Once again the voices of leadership are arising from the people.  MSV will be updating you on the developments.

Talking Ed Note: No words can express proper appreciation to the authors of "The Jersey Sting."  Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin have done a great service to Hoboken.  The only way to reward them is in person and at City Hall with a plaque.

The two authors return to Hudson County with an appearance at the Jersey City Greenville Library from 6:00 - 8:00 tonight.  They will be having a forum hosted by former mayor and education commissioner Bret Schundler.

The event will include a discussion, Q&A and book signing.

For more info, www.TheJerseySting.com or Facebook.com/TheJerseySting.

Gratitude gentleman.

Related: Reader Infotainme, a highly respected online voice in town has submitted a guest piece appearing on Grafix Avenger.

Hoboken Patch did an analysis of the tapes' content and captures many important moments.

The Hudson Reporter highlights the pro-develoment discussion and the carcass walking around town from the second ward in the person of Beth Mason.  It's illuminating to say the least.