Sunday, June 8, 2014

Kingpin: Analysis of Hoboken's political scene today and tomorrow

The ramblings of a professional observer...

Every election has winners, losers, and consequences—and the June 3rd results were no different.

Incumbent Freeholder, Anthony Romano, who was snubbed from the Democratic “Line” by Mayor Zimmer, defeated Phil Cohen in the Democratic Party primary race for the District 5 Freeholder seat. It’s been pretty quiet from reform since the results came in, but not before we heard a lot of excuses—from the bad weather to the complacency and lack of interest in primaries... yet Romano’s voting bloc had to deal with the same weather and circumstances. If the margin of victory was less than the Vote-By-Mail ballots, this would be a different narrative, but a decisive victory by Romano takes the VBM out of play. Stop the presses!!! Old Guard may have paid for votes...couldn’t have seen that one coming.

What’s lost in the aftermath are two key points. First off, someone off the “Line” won. Although usually, that spot is where reform is on the ballot, this time it was Romano who was left off the line, but still managed to win. People voted for Booker and Sires, but then moved right one column and chose Romano. That is encouraging for future candidates who don’t get the mainstream nod. It bothers me that the top line can usually carry an election.
The second is the role Unions play in Elections. In last year’s Mayoral election, Zimmer had the support of Romano—with that he brought the Unions to Mayor Zimmer’s side. When Zimmer chose Cohen over Zimmer, the Unions went back to Romano and I feel strongly that their votes were the decisive number, more than any other voting bloc. Unions vote, and this time they voted for Romano who has been very good to the trade unions since he has been freeholder. I am not sure who in the Zimmer camp believed the Union support for Zimmer in 2013 came from anywhere other than Romano, but there was a miscalculation there that obviously had consequences.

And now for my Winners and Losers:


Anthony “Stick” Romano—Obviously, since he won. It would now seem that Romano is the Old Guard frontrunner for the next Hoboken Mayoral election. Stick is not a bad guy. He has taken advantage of a system that is set up to be exploited, but he does care about Hoboken.
Russo Clan- If Cohen was elected, I would believe he would have found a lot of ways to cut the budget, and it wouldn’t have surprised me if more than a few of them negatively effected the Russo family and friends.
Beth Mason- She won something. Hopefully it is the last. It’s time for someone in the 2nd Ward to start being a community leader, NOW, not next year during election season.
There are many more, but each name makes me more sick to my stomach, so I won’t go any further.


Phil Cohen- Again, obviously, since he lost—but the bigger picture here is it essentially eliminated Phil from being anointed the future of reform. Phil is a pioneer for Hoboken reform, but he could not inspire people to vote for him. Leaders are inspiring.
Mayor Zimmer- She was given the line by the Democratic Party and could not get her guy through. In my opinion, the largest factor for the low voter turnout by reform is not complacency, but something much worse, apathy. So many reform minded individuals in town have been shunned by her administration. Too many people are upset by the Hoboken Parking Utility, the potholes on Washington and Observer and recent actions by Zoning Board of Adjustments, they just couldn’t vote for Stan’s buddy.
Steve Fulop- He needed the Freeholders to make his vision come to life. This may hurt his changes of being the next Governor, mainly because he will not have the Freeholders rubber-stamping his agenda. Stick may side with Steve, but it’s not a forgone conclusion.
Ruben Ramos- Is now in political purgatory. Although he did not endorse Cohen, per se, he was seen at Cohen fundraisers and posed for a photo with Phil that was all over social media. I can’t imagine that sits well with Russo and Raia, and that complicates Ramos’ chances of winning the 4th Ward council seat. Speaking of that 4th Ward Council Seat...
Dana Wefer- With the HHA, she has taken on the role of bringing down Carmelo Garcia. I hope she succeeds and I will use every resource I have to help her with that initiative. If her next step was to run for the 4th Ward Council Seat next year and believed it was a shoe-in with the endorsement of Zimmer, well that’s obviously not the case, and Dana may have a lot of work in front of her.
James Sanford- The focus of this story has been on the Democratic side. James lost in his Republican election bid to a write-in candidate. There is no way that the glass is half full after that...spin away but I call bs.

So what’s next for Hoboken politics? I would be remiss to not mention the $230 million awarded to Hoboken and the surrounding region for the Rebuild By Design project. If that is completed, it is something that can be a legacy for Zimmer. I hope she succeeds with this initiative. But next up, is the Chief of Police. Although it is not a voted on or appointed position, whoever becomes the next Chief of Police will have a strong presence in Hoboken politics. I am pulling for Captain Tory Pasculli. After that, we have all 6 Ward Seats up for grabs in 2015.

My early thoughts:

1st Ward- Terry Castellano vs Lt. Ken Ferrante.
Castellano is the incumbent and very popular with old Hoboken and

especially the seniors. I have met with her many times and she is a fantastic listener. Ferrante could be in line for Chief of Police (although he is only a Lieutenant now) or maybe Public Safety Director, but at this point I see him leaning more towards politics and running for the 1st Ward Council Seat. He helped carry Marine View for Zimmer and her slate. This should be a great race to watch. I must mention I am not aware if an active member of the police force can be an elected official as well and I have not spoke with Ken about his future intentions.

2nd Ward- ANYBODY vs Beth Mason.
Please, reform-minded people, someone speak up, speak out and be a leader.

Start now, not during a campaign. All of Hoboken, and galaxies beyond, will benefit from her being removed.

3rd Ward- NOBODY vs Mike Russo
Not happening, sorry. Mike’s got this on lockdown.

4th Ward- Tim Occhipinti vs Dana Wefer vs Reuben Ramos
Tim will get Mason’s money, but he will battle Ramos for VBMs and the HHA
vote. Ramos will try to play spoiler as a revenge for the Mayor race. Reuben has a large voting block and they will show up at the polls. Hopefully that clears the way for Wefer to get the most votes. Dana is good for Hoboken.

5th Ward- Eduardo Gonzales vs Peter Cunningham
Eduardo will run and lose. Peter is well liked and the bar owners of the 5th
Ward will have Peter’s back. Joe Mindak lives in the 5th Ward as well but I am hoping Joe continues to do good work as a philanthropist and not run against Peter.

6th Ward- Jen Giattino vs Joe Branco vs Rory’s dog Louis
Go Jen Go!!! Joe is narcissistic enough to run and actually believes people like
him. Once he announces his candidacy he becomes fair game, whereas now as a bar owner he is just the punch line of a joke. Go Jen Go!!!

As always, I’d like to thank the Horsey for his dedication to honest government. The community of Hoboken is educated on the interworkings of our government because of you. Your endless pursuit of getting to the truth is journalism at it’s finest. For those of you who only know him on the blog, he is a good man. Good luck as always with the SLAPP suit. You will win, your Mets will not!

I also want to reiterate that I am a supporter of Mayor Zimmer and 80% of her initiatives. Her dedication to ridding Hoboken of corruption is second to none. If you take the body of work as a whole, she has been a good Mayor and still has some time to do more good. We don’t agree on everything, but who does. She still has my support and I hope she still calls me her friend.

I’m hoping this becomes a recurring contribution to MSV. This website is a fantastic resource for Hoboken politics and a place for voices to be heard. But let’s stop being reactionary. Let’s make our voices heard, some of whom who have been fighting this fight for many years of the past and some who will be for years to come.

Reform can have differing opinions about the issues of our complicated City, that do not have simple answers. If you are taking the time to read this, you care about our City...but exposing the issues of the past is only half the battle. We need solutions that better Hoboken as a whole. 

Hoboken Reform is very diverse and we share this wonderful place we call home with other reformers that may not necessarily be in the same place in life. It’s their home too, their businesses, their livelihood. We can not agree on everything, but we have to get past the point that if you disagree with anything of the current administration and create a voice of dissention, you must be a paid operative of Mason. Remember how we all felt when Zimmer, her slate and Kids First all swept. That was only 7 months ago. All over this website was the “Best is Yet To Come”... I have a flair for the dramatic and I can assure that will certainly be the case.

Spoiler Alert:
- Neumann Leather, a part of the soul of our City, who should lead the

rehabilitation, redevelopment or redesign?
- Can we have a St. Paddy’s Day it as simple as a new parade

committee with a new generation of Hoboken’s Irish community?
- How to create an outdoor music experience in Hoboken
- Has Zoning Board oversight gone too far...
- HPU parking enforcement... what is the goal creating revenue or freeing

up parking spaces?
- Bars with dogs...excessively barking dogs means time to go. 

Kingpin is a new MSV columnist. All analysis, opinion and prognostication are Kingpin's own.