While Augie Torres, editor of the Jersey Journal is lamenting the loss of many of his closest and dearest sources, re: friends, MSV considers this a day both of celebration and liberation, if incomplete.
Two years ago today, the arrest and later intransigence of one arrested Peter Cammarano who refused to resign directly led to the birth of this website. But the thinking corruption left with him is sadly mistaken. Hoboken has been a corruption rich zone keeping MSV busy since.
What people have forgotten is the culture of corruption in the Soprano State and here in Hoboken didn't end with the departure of the 23 day Mayor Peter Cammarano. The pro-Cammarano forces got behind ex-Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbon's pick and then two year Hoboken resident, Tim Occhipinti who they catapulted to "victory" last November with a record setting onslaught of 500 paper ballots mostly harvested in the Hoboken Housing Authority.
The Old Guard rallied, joined by the accessory checkbook of the Mason family. Hoboken's "way of life" was under threat not just with the arrest of its new mayor, but with an incoming acting mayor who was speaking radically (for these parts) about bringing change to Hoboken: dramatically lowering taxes, organizing an efficient, leaner government and putting all of the residents on an equal and fair footing.
In short, Hoboken currently has a government not tied to any special interest and no ties to what we've often described as the old, dark ways. The "loyal opposition," has been flustered by the advances with taxes reduced nearly 10%, innovative programs such as Corner Cars exploding in popularity with over 1600 members, and a professionalism taking Hoboken's government into the 21st century. They've been kicking and screaming the whole way.
When an Administration audit uncovered ex-mayor and felon Anthony Russo's receiving taxpayer paid health benefits over years to the tune of $100,000, the Old Guard reaction was typical. A shrug of the shoulders and who cares attitude. Some who don't receive a tax bill could care less. It's a transfer of wealth from the invaders to the entitled.
Councilman Mike Russo who for years abhorred comparisons to his father's illegal behavior went on the record to complain about the audit ending the wrongfully paid benefits to his family in March going back to 2006.
Russo demanded not an accounting of how the benefits were issued, but why the mayor conducted the audit in the first place. Not two weeks later, MSV broke the story of his meeting two years earlier with FBI informant Solomon Dwek as told by the Pulitzer winning authors in "The Jersey Sting."
When the FBI surveillance video surfaced, Russo's indignant false claims about both the meeting and its substance proved the worst: his conspiring to accept a series of bribes beginning with a $5,000 payment. Mike Russo's direction on making out the check to "Russo for Hoboken," illustrated the true intent. The video evidenced an engaging and more than friendly elected official willing to trade on his office in a first time meeting with a total stranger who claimed to be a developer.
On the Hoboken City Council, Russo's allies led by Councilwoman Beth Mason protected him, giving him a slap on the wrist in a toothless resolution sponsored by Russo's godmother, Councilwoman Terry Castellano. There was no voices from the Beth Russo majority calling for accountability and resignation. No one asked how long this kind of behavior by Councilman Russo may have been going on and at what price to Hoboken?
While MSV has differed with the Administration on eminent domain this past week, Da Horsey readily acknowledges we are light years from where we stood just two years ago today. Seeing a professional and transparent Administration replace its thankfully short-lived predecessor is a gift this town lives every day. It's come at the hands of the US Attorney's Office in Newark and the long arm of the FBI.
Operation Bid Rig III took down dozens of people, the majority in Hudson, the most corrupt county on the East Coast. While one Hudson County mayor in Ridgefield broke a ten year Fed winning streak because he didn't deposit a check converted from cash passed along to him, most of the others have pled guilty or been convicted.
Time has moved on or has it? This heat wave in Hoboken has the feel of placing everything in suspended animation. That's not going to last forever.
To the Boys (and Girls) of Summer, Happy Anniversary and a big thank you!
Love and kisses from Da Horsey. Y'all come back soon, hear.