Monday, May 20, 2013

Ruben Ramos mayoral kickoff: you can take the operative out of the hood...

Kickoff events for political events are notoriously predictable affairs.  Supporters show up and hear a boilerplate of the campaign, a fundraising plea and hobnob with the insiders who gin up the crowd and convey a sense of confidence suggesting victory lies ahead.

The Ruben Ramos kickoff lacked the sizzle of a mayoral bid and looked more like a HOLA kids or youth soccer event.  That was what the upstairs of Teak appeared to be when MSV was asked to sign in.

Not even before sign in was done, who appeared but the former fourth ward political operative Nick Calicchio, a Bayonne resident better known by the Hoboken public for having Peter Cammarano in his wedding party last September, another in a line of exclusives never mentioned anywhere else.

Nick Calicchio performing enforcement duties at the Ruben Ramos mayoral kickoff.
"Ruben doesn't want you here," Calicchio barked.  "Tell him he can come and tell me himself," was the reply.  More orders and demands continued even though Calicchio was told to stop his harassment or any contact.

That exchange followed with Calicchio attempting to force MSV out but Hoboken nor a local restaurant hosting a political event is a corrections facility where he has any role.  Photos immediately commenced with the same replay of interference as in a City Council meeting where insightful photos of a post meeting clash between Michael Russo and Dave Mello emerged and Calicchio tried to block the effort with a zig-zagging effort ten feet in different directions were followed with plenty of body slams to disrupt photos on the way, followed by his threat to use his correction guard issued handcuffs.

Minutes into the series of mirrored pantomime blocking photos, Calicchio enlisted a young Teak employee to aid in more photo blocking creating a triple play of comedic dance moves. The employee left after MSV said go get the manager.  A brief discussion and the manager asked about the coverage.  The manager seemed surprised by the lack of acrimony in the discussion and Da Horsey told him there was no desire to add to his workload in a longer day departing.

As to who was there among the Old Guard, not many were seen in the curtailed visit.  The only Old Guard person observed was Perry Belfiore.  No Russo members were seen and at last week's meeting on the controversial Vision 20/20 plan, HHA commissioner Eduardo Gonzalez made an appearance ending the happy face of Councilwoman Terry Castellano who at one point could barely contain her laughter, she so enjoyed the HHA residents yelling for approval of the questionable project.  She looked rather morose watching Gonzalez speak in favor of Vision 20/20, a shared position.  (Gonzalez nor anyone on Ramos' ticket was chosen by the Russo clan according to sources unlike Beth Mason's 2009 spring ticket.)

Was Ramos concerned with the lack of visible support from the Old Guard?  Hard to know, but it's revealing for a decidedly low key affair with several dozen people in attendance that the outgoing Assemblyman found it necessary to "lock down" a kickoff.

Nick Calicchio shouldn't be confused with his better known infamous younger brother, Matt Calicchio, a paid political operative for Beth Mason.  About a year ago, MSV was interviewing a former member of the Hoboken Police Department.  At the end of the discussion he went off topic to ask, "Are those Calicchio's still causing trouble over there?"

Da Horsey could only chuckle in reply.

Former Ruben Ramos political aide Nick Calicchio
in action Saturday.

Talking Ed Note; This political event was a first as usually people want you to attend, see they have support and get publicity for a non-theatrical, no surprise political event. Ruben Ramos however is known for being testy as recounted in this 2011 story on Washington Street outside the local Democratic Committee vote.  Members of the Hoboken political class on both sides think he lowered the office of State Assemblyman in backing Tim Occhipinti in the 2010 fourth ward special election which produced inexplicable massive voter irregularities re: fraud. Occhipinti known to many among the Hoboken public and the Old Guard for his hubris and petulance had a falling out with Ramos long before he said "he'd love to" run for mayor at last week's council meeting.

As for Ruben Ramos' political ink to date, it has an uncanny similarity with positions coming out of the Old Guard council. He's strongly criticized the mayor for the council's action last week on the "emergency" demand to approve Vision 20/20.  His campaign calls that and other criticism a "Vision for Hoboken."

Ramos is friends with HHA ED Carmelo Garcia.  That he backs Vision 20/20 and the massive expansion of the HHA should come as no surprise.  The first building proposed, small compared to the more than a dozen others with 44 units nets a clean $1,000,000 fee for the developer, RPM.

If you think that kind of money on the table wouldn't find its way into the Old Guard's welcoming hands and campaign coffers in an election year, Da Horsey has a bridge to sell you.

Related: GA's take on the $20,000,000 HHA Vision 20/20 windfall explains all the screaming about a Ku Klux Klan hood and racist charges by Councilman Michael Russo.  As MSV's outlined earlier, the color in question is green.