Carmelo Garcia and his important but controversial dual roles as HHA Executive Director and Assemblyman saw that issue arise this past week in both the HHA and last night's City Council meeting.
A question was posed to one of his staff members Patricia Waiters, when Councilman Ravi Bhalla asked if she was a paid staff member of Carmelo Garcia.
Waiters responded "no" and provided a long confusing dually confessed and obfuscated answer. She along with several others is in fact on the payroll of Assemblyman Garcia. Councilman Ravi Bhalla finished requesting a legal opinion if it's appropriate to vote someone on as a HHA commissioner who is also a paid staff member of Assemblyman Garcia.
It's discussed near the end of public portion:
In the video, Waiters also claims among other problematic issues surrounding antisemitic remarks alleged at the Thursday HHA meeting to being harassed and said MSV was "chasing us" and "that's why we had him removed out of the meeting." MSV categorically denies all the false allegations.
A complete transcript from the April HHA meeting will be made available to the public.
The following people are on the taxpayers payroll as paid aides to Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia:
Former Hoboken councilman and
former Hoboken resident Chris Campos - $40,000
Former Chief of Staff to former
Mayor Sal Vega of West New York Daniel Ortega - $38,000
Communications professional: Frank Rosner - $15,000
Hoboken resident Patricia Waiters - $10,000
Former Hoboken resident Nick Calicchio - $7,000
MSV is adding Patricia Waiters to the short list of public officials receiving taxpayer funds who will no longer be contacted on occasion for comment on issues of public concern. While she has called MSV a few months back seeking advice and she had been called once a month ago, there's been an obvious change in demeanor since her new job with Assemblyman Garcia.
After her appearance in City Council a month ago, a text conversation that evening ended with a question unanswered if she was being paid by Carmelo Garcia. A conversation followed the next day and she did admit she worked under him "for constituents." Told getting paid and doing work was no issue but that comments made outside of accepted political norms was problematic, Waiters would finally agree and the conversation ended on an up note.
None of that information however was reported until details could be verified.
It's not been an up note with the public remarks made before the HHA and City Council since. MSV will allow the public to draw its own conclusions and stands by its first person account of the last HHA meeting a week ago.
The other person who is on the "no questions" list is fourth ward Democratic Committeeman Matt Calicchio who filed false charges claiming he was being "followed" by MSV after a single phone call asking about his upcoming trial. He however continues to approach MSV (from behind) or on the street and makes less than savory remarks which won't be printed here.
Those false charges were later thrown out of court.
Carmelo Garcia even as a public figure holding dual taxpayer paid public positions is the other person who is not contacted in any private setting. While there's no concern about his recording a conversation, there's been too much of the "woe is me" cries to do so without witnesses as in a question on a single public matter last year he refused to comment and threatened to file a complaint he was being harassed.
Since then, Garcia's filed frivolous lawsuits and it appears the aim is more of the same.
Anyone in the public, resident, constituent or citizen journalist has every right to ask elected and appointed officials a question in person, by phone or text. Doing so does not constitute "harassment."
Of course anyone has the right to comment here or contact MSV on any concern of public policy. That's the accountability to the public owed. Too bad some elected and paid government officials believe they are exceptions to that obvious fact.
As many people know, the Old Guard is using the courts as a tool of real intimidation in their personal politics of destruction. It's what some do who can't muster a rational argument.
Correction: MSV has written Carmelo Garcia is on the public taxpayer roles in three positions: HHA Executive Director, NJ Assemblyman and as an aide to Freeholder Anthony Romano.
The last position is no longer true as Garcia no longer holds that $5,000 position as aide to the Freeholder effective last fall. The position of aide to the Freeholder was one Garcia originally obtained through appointment of the former Freeholder, the late Maurice Fitzgibbons.