MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE
Council resolution appointing David Mello to HHA means ouster of Michael Russo
Just over a year ago, a jam packed City Council chambers filled minutes after dozens of people stood out in an intermittent rain to protest the corruption witnessed in an FBI surveillance video starring Councilman Michael Russo. The video came to light after a series of less than truthful denials about a meeting Russo claimed was old news.
On that night in early April the Russo clan rallied neighbors at Church Towers to cheer a nervous councilman who was wavering from the pressure of revelations about his conduct showing his true self and a protest against him holding office minutes before the meeting.
Going into the meeting, Russo held the role of councilman, Vice President of the body, chair of the finance committee and one seat of seven on the Hoboken Housing Authority. The agenda was suspended and people could line up to speak. Resident Scott Siegel kicked off the public speakers and promptly took the tension out of the air backing the concept of cannibals electing cannibal kings and if such a scenario would occur in council elections the next month, it was alright by him. Suddenly, Russo wasn't off to such a bad start.
There would be no equivocation from Da Horsey. The call was clear - resign. Councilman Michael Russo traded on his office, end of story although others including a toothless resolution from MORTe would place focus on anything but. The self-proclaimed "young man" on the video (this is 2009 mind you not the 1990's) was the true Michael Russo, a ruffian who was eager to obtain illegal campaign contributions even with no personal election in sight calling for the first of a series of illegal payments be made out to "Russo for Hoboken."
But on that night Russo sniveled his way with not much damage aided by his MORTe colleagues. Perry Belfiore spoke before MSV and provided a verbal slap on the knuckles. As the council went to a break, Russo went straight over to the left side of the room and vigorously shook hands in gratitude to Belfiore. The Church Towers contingent was all smiles and Ma Russo hugged her son who's behavior was akin to his father who had extorted far larger sums and shows no sign of cracking over $300,000 he owes the City of Hoboken to this day. (Worse, he's added another 100K to the ledger receiving health benefits when he and his wife were not performing any work for the City.)
Russo said a lot of things about his actions that night but claimed he would rebuild trust with the community he betrayed. A year later has he? There's a little matter of the hospital, and the millions squandered blocking the midtown garage refinance...
The most complete answer to that question is in a Newark office of the FBI.
Talking Ed Note: A measure of justice is served with Russo's removal from the Hoboken Housing Authority as a new five year term is made by the City Council. It's overdue but better late than never. Will anyone from MORTe join the council majority in doing so? Not likely but savor the moment.
Now up to bat for the Hoboken Housing Authority... David Mello - Mello for Hoboken.
No you don't have to make out a check. Dave will do for us, even if we don't do for him.
Appearing on the agenda at that same April council meeting was a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Beth Mason and co-sponsored by Councilman Michael Russo ordering the mayor's office to turn over hundreds of thousands of email communications going back to January 2010.
If there's one thing the Russo clan is known for other than looting the public coffers it's always going on the attack, even when you have them dead to rights. The email resolution appeared to be part of a major counteroffensive leading into the council elections the following month.
The time period covered in the Beth Russo resolution mirrors exactly the timeframe the FBI says IT Manager Patrick Ricciardi set up automated collection of all electronic communications coming and going of Mayor Dawn Zimmer and two members of the mayor's office: back to early 2010.
Those hundreds of thousands of emails became the focus of a power struggle even after the FBI came into Hoboken and carted away the email data and other City documentation. Mason and Russo repeatedly attempted right through July 1st to see tens of thousands of electronic communications with the mayor's office made public, even when told it would jeopardize the FBI's investigation.
Hey Beth Mason and Michael Russo - Got Coincidences?
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