Tuesday, May 7, 2013

BREAKING: Hoboken residents denied by NJSC in Garcia ballot case

Late this afternoon the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the decision to permit HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia to appear on the Hudson County Democratic Organization line for the 33rd legislative district Assembly seat.

The decision signed by Stuart Rabner, NJ Supreme Court Chief Justice means the Hoboken residents who challenged Garcia's eligibility have exhausted their legal avenues.

Rajiv Parikh, the attorney for Garcia wrote via email, "We are pleased with the (NJ) Supreme Court's affirmation of last week's Appellate Division decision.  I know Mr. Garcia is looking forward to addressing the issues and advocating for the people."

The attorney for the five Hoboken residents who took up the challenge had a decidedly different perspective.  Flavio Komuves called the decision "disappointing," but added he took pride in representing the five Hoboken residents who took on Hudson County and "business as usual."

Garcia's salary paid with federal monies was the bone of contention with Judge Peter Bariso referencing the guiding State Administrative Code and the appellate court siding with the 2012 updated Hatch Act.

With the HCDO line, Garcia is expected to win easily one of two Assembly seats in the June 4th primary.  Councilman Ravi Bhalla the strongest challenger among five candidates will have an uphill battle in trying to earn one of two Assembly seats.

Garcia is expected to follow through after a November general election and resign from his unpaid position on the Hoboken Board of Education, as required by state law.  Gov. Christie sought restrictions where no one can hold two elected positions in NJ.  Garcia retains paid positions in the HHA with a salary of $165,000 as of September and a $5,000 county stipend through Freeholder Anthony Romano.

The Assembly position pays $49,000 annually.

Garcia reportedly said he felt "vindicated" by the legal determination he could run for partisan office while holding the ED position of the the Hoboken Housing Authority, a subsidiary to a federal agency (HUD).

Carmelo Garcia seen here in the original Vision 20/20 plan brochure is cleared to appear on the ballot for Assembly.

Related: Hoboken Patch reports Hoboken Police have discovered 300 bags of heroin in an apartment in the Hoboken Housing Authority at 221 Jackson Street.  Patch reports the police cooperated with Carmelo Garcia in the investigation.