Wednesday, June 20, 2012

State removed HHA commissioner: "I'll wring that gavel around your neck"

In a showdown of NJ law versus the Old Guard on an open HHA seat created with the involuntary resignation of former commissioner Marianne Camporeale, every device known to Hoboken's old, dark ways was used to stave off a vote on a replacement.

Before the eventual vote appointing 2011 3rd ward council candidate Greg Lincoln, Councilman Michael Russo leveled a number of charges in a desperate bid to stop the eventual vote - even going as far as nominating former councilman Michael Lenz who already sits on another board to forestall the inevitable.

Marianne Camporeale spoke (video below) joining in leveling personal charges against her fellow HHA commissioner Jake Stuiver.  She said she was being discriminated against by Stuiver and the mayor and the City Council did not have the right to remove her as she was a disabled person.

Councilman David Mello interjected during her remarks he did not appreciate the use of the word mensch directed by Camporeale to commissioner Stuiver.  Her response was a denial the remark was anti-Semitic and told her newest HHA commissioner colleague "shut your damn mouth."

Later while sitting in the audience, Camporeale had to be threatened with removal as she was yelling out continuously but her biggest outburst was in response to Council President Ravi Bhalla.  To his gaveling for order she screamed, "I'll wring that gavel around your neck."



Did anyone know there was a letter from the NJ Department of Consumer Affairs saying Camporeale was considered resigned back to January?  Based on the comments by the public including Perry Belfiore, you'd think not.  Belfiore claimed the City Council had the means to keep Camporeale on the board but the Council President Ravi Bhalla would remind everyone by reading key segments from the state letter.  In doing so, both he and the Corporation Counsel would state that's not the case at all.

Councilman Michael Russo proposed the novel idea of leaving the position open until Camporeale could finish her courses but it was unclear how it would be possible within a thirty day deadline.

Things degenerated.

Old Guard claims of attacks on seniors, the disabled, grandstanding on everything under the sun with Tim Occhipinti even throwing out a conspiracy theory Gov. Christie was behind the state action.  (The same circumstances occurred with Ruben Ramos as noted in the earlier MSV story linked to the Hudson Reporter article but Russo would deny that was the case.)

At one point, Russo was challenged over his remarks about the HHA and the process for removal by Councilman Dave Mello who noted if the council had the power to do so last year it would have after Russo's confession about trading power in the HHA with FBI informant Solomon Dwek came out in their surveillance video.

Russo grew indignant to having this brought up and stated several times, "I've never done anything wrong," adding  "And never will."  Mello reminded him he was on FBI video agreeing to bribes and trading on the office for both the City Council's zoning powers and an HHA seat.

Russo would retaliate, attacking Greg Lincoln personally saying of his 2011 opponent, "He was forced to move out."  Lincoln has moved into the fourth ward with his family.

Occhipiti ignored all references to the law saying of the vacated board position, "It's a well coordinated attack," by the mayor adding the mayor had no right... and blah blah blah.  During the nomination vote for Greg Lincoln he would walk out but not before trying another desperation attempt to stop a vote saying the time to re-appoint had expired.

To that, acting Corporation Counsel flatly stated, "Your assertion is completely wrong."

Joseph Branco was nominated and received the same four votes from Council members Castellano, Russo, Mason and Occhipinti as he had for his previous HHA nomination.  

On Greg Lincoln's nomination and eventual appointment: Cunningham, Giattino, Mello, Marsh and Bhalla provided the five winning vote margin with three: Mason, Castellano and Russo voting no.

Both candidates have personally lived in housing authorities earlier in their lives.

Enter HHA Commissioner Greg Lincoln


Talking Ed Note: So why all the desperation?  Well the Old Guard views the HHA as its territory where they can go "safari" for votes and the voter fraud coming out of there is a retched smell in recent elections, the worst the record setting 500 absentee ballots submitted installing Tim Occhipinti into the 4th ward seat.

Councilwoman Beth Mason who was quiet during some of the most low brow arguments tried to find out how and when the resolution was written and asked the Corporation Counsel to answer what role she had in the State's action.  Melissa Longo who sits as the current Corporation Counsel grew exasperated with trying to answer as she was interrupted by both Beth Mason and Tim Occhipinti.  She would explain she had been involved a day later when the State's letter arrived.

If you think the stakes were over a disabled, senior citizen on the HHA, well you'd be wrong.  This is about a battleground: accountability in the HHA for ALL its residents.

The Old Guard continued to vote against progress for Hoboken voting down a bond for new HOP buses even with the demonstrated heavy increases in usage by both seniors and residents.  (A bond requires six votes and not one member of MORTe would vote to do so.)

You can't make up this kind of hypocrisy on the same night appearing on the same agenda.

More to come...

Greg Lincoln graphic courtesy of Grafix Avenger