Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How I got into Hoboken politics, a City Council love story

At the last City Council meeting, students from Stevens stopped by for a look at the evolving Hoboken political landscape on their way to more productive labors in engineering where the x's and o's don't get sullied by payoffs and taking "a little su'ttin" off the top.

Brought or perhaps dragged in by the ebullient Stevens political science and history professor Jonathan Wharton, public portion turned from its mostly orchestrated political hectoring for the intentionally obscured massive land deal called Vision 20/20 to what got current members involved in politics to run for legislative office.

Some may be offended we're not going to waste many pixels on the internets to tell you what all members said as they mostly went into polite political speak with discussion about parks and all politics being local with laughter and friendly exchanges instilling a pause to the proceedings.

Are the days over when a bad Timmy performance led to Russo and Mello going nose to nose, almost coming to blows after a meeting? One would think based on the nice introduction from Dr. Wharton who practically glowed talking about his resident interest in "political machines." Hudson County is certainly the right place as he well knows but Hoboken has cut an entirely different path under Mayor Zimmer who has driven the executive role from the inside out, leading from within on her core values, or as Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano more aptly described: "balls."

Da Horsey will preface the caveat of most interesting answer by saying we admire the fortitude of those reform oriented members who know more than anyone (other than a horse) what it means to stick your neck out on the chopping block and try to do the right thing for Hoboken on most occasions where decency and common sense too often has become distorted with entrenched battle lines not dissimilar to a West Side Story gang showdown.

As has been said here more than once, Councilman Ravi Bhalla was an outstanding council president bringing an obvious intellect with a unique sense of humor. Combined together, he deftly defused many battles effectively disarming the war before it began.

Councilman Peter Cunningham has served more than once as council president. He's the statesman of reform and been in the trenches since 2007, suffering more than not having to watch absolutely horrible things done to the City while lacking the votes to stop it. He sounded the alarm on money going out the back door when he faced not only lack of interest but absolute resistance on auditing the parking utility as four million quarters were rolling away. Let's not belabor who he took on doing so, we've been through this drill once too many times.

Councilman Dave Mello has grown in stature having taken time to find his voice and when he did there was no backing down, hectoring sidebars be damned. Proving that conflict management is only desirable when the voters want to see a compromise when getting jacked. Most don't and Mello may have discovered that lesson when he has on occasion exploded with indignation at the local brand of chutzpah corruption. It looks you in the face, smiles and says I'm doing this, "Whatta you gonna do about it?" Vision 20/20, the biggest land grab get rich scheme again comes to mind.

Councilman Jim Doyle, he of dry Irish wit is attempting to distill iron willed stoicism versus counte$$ abuse. Most of his time in council chambers having been from the audience, he's a work in progress balancing his own vision on decorum and dignity. A few more personal attacks on and off the dais from the Councilwoman Beth Mason Slander Machine and maybe we'll get to see some risible righteous Irish anger. No smoothing it over with a Budweiser Jim.

Which brings us to this nugget of a video take at the last Council meeting:




Choosing a short and sweet answer, the City Council President Jen Giattino explained her motivation for getting into local politics summing it up in one word: corruption.

Attagirl Jen.

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MSV would like to dedicate this feature to a tireless worker on behalf of Hoboken: Richard Tremitiedi. While he'll likely be caught off guard in this appearing on MSV, the former fire chief has remained active working on numerous fronts. From volunteering to help build the CERT team to rolling up his sleeves aiding through Hurricane Sandy in whatever capacity required, he's been leading by example.

As some may say, memorials are nice but you know, honoring service in the present - you just can't beat it.  Thank you Chief.