MILE SQUARE VIEW HOBOKEN EXCLUSIVE
GARCIA NAMED BY MAYOR IN ATTEMPTED "EXTORTION" TAPING CONVERSATIONS AS HE LAUNCHES "ETHNIC CLEANSING" LAWSUIT OVER CITY OPPOSITION TO HIS VISION 20/20 PLAN
Hoboken Housing Executive Director Carmelo Garcia alleged to have been the person discussed in recent weeks as taping public officials launched a bizarre counter to that emerging story with a lawsuit filed in Superior Court against Mayor Zimmer, her husband and the former HHA Chair charging among other allegations planned "ethnic cleansing" of minorities.
The breaking story first appeared late today on Politicker NJ, "Assembly candidate charges Hoboken Mayor Zimmer with 'ethnic cleansing' in lawsuit."
Garcia alleges he has been the subject of a 'hostile work environment' according to a statement from his lawyer where he claims he is the victim of the mayor, her husband Stan Grossbard, and former HHA Chairman Jake Stuiver.
Garcia makes numerous charges among them claiming Mayor Zimmer proposed a version of Vision 20/20 counter to his. "Mayor Zimmer's version of the Vision 20/20 project was essentially an ethnic cleansing initiative in which Mayor Zimmer.... sought to replace Hoboken's minorities with white affluent voters," the suit says.
Mayor Zimmer has however never proposed an alternative Vision 20/20 plan but exchanged letters of concern with Garcia on his proposal with strong reservations.
Mayor Zimmer who had not seen the Garcia lawsuit countered the "ethnic cleansing" charge blowing the whistle on Garcia's taping of others widely known in Hudson County political circles for weeks saying in a statement, "Sadly, the fact is, Mr. Garcia invited my husband to lunch, taped him, and tried to trick him into saying something that he could then use to try and extort me in my capacity as mayor. Since my husband is an honest and honorable man, and Mr. Garcia is not, the only person incriminated on the tape is Mr. Garcia."
The mayor in her statement described Garcia as "focused on playing the race card in order to cover up his own wrongdoing."
The other person taped at the Garcia invited lunch is thought to be a prominent former State Senator unavailable at the time of this story.
Garcia's numerous charges include coercion, intimidation, harassment and political corruption in regards to the appointment of the HHA legal counsel. Garcia says he was pushed to approve a HHA lawyer aligned with Zimmer. Last month Garcia stated to Hoboken Patch he would continue to push his choice Charles Daglian in the HHA contract for the sixth time even as another bidding process was not complete.
Earlier today MSV spoke to residents in the HHA who said Garcia has been telling residents "the mayor wants to tear down the projects" but according to those residents, they don't believe or trust Garcia.
A HHA tenant group calling itself "Save the Projects" has been the center of alleged attacks and intimidation, with members saying they were asked to sign their own eviction notices last week. Garcia denied the allegation and said in the weekend paper he didn't understand why racist allegations weren't being lodged against anti-Vision 20/20 opponents.
One STP member, Jessica Coco has been outspoken on alleged harassment and intimidation tactics she says she and others have faced. The tenant group expressed no trust in Garcia and believes it's a scheme to eject them for money and bring in wealthier non-minority residents.
At least one other Hoboken official told MSV for this story, Carmelo Garcia threatened them with taking tapes he made of their conversations public.
According to sources within the HHA, Garcia has been known to be taping others "for a long time." One resident in the HHA who declined to go on record for fear of retaliation by Garcia said, "It's not exactly news here. We've known Garcia has been taping people for a long time."
This week MSV commenters noted Carmelo Garcia's photos have oddly disappeared from the Ruben Ramos campaign website, Facebook and campaign office windows. Ramos along with HHA commissioner and slate council candidate Eduardo Gonzalez have been vocal supporters of the undocumented Vision 20/20 plan.
In the photo below posted publicly by the Ramos for mayor event last April, Ruben Ramos is pictured with Carmelo Garcia in attendance along with Laura Miani also a council candidate in the Hoboken November election.
MSV requested comment from The Ruben Ramos campaign spokesman but hasn't received a reply.
Talking Ed Note: Louis Zayas the lawyer of record for Garcia is himself linked to the case he's representing. He's rumored to have used Garcia's tape(s) and transcript in an unrelated case. That usage directly led to the exposure of the Hoboken Watergate Garcia story.
MSV is looking to obtain Garcia's civil suit, the Garcia tape(s) and transcript.
Vision 20/20, a massive redevelopment scheme in downtown Hoboken has been extensively panned by critics for not making any redevelopment plan available to local officials or the public.
Can you sue people into handing you a massive undocumented redevelopment of public housing?