Thursday, April 14, 2016

When did Michael Russo become a "fiscal conservative?"

A story on NJ.com on possibly weighing changes in funding for Hoboken's Hop bus system featured an odd declaration on third ward councilman Michael Russo.

Early in the article, at the first mention of the Old Guard faction head, Russo is described as "one of the council's most vocal fiscal conservatives."

It certainly was an odd declaration especially for those familiar with watching Russos's consistent support for municipal wage increases and housing subsidies for PILOTs and workforce housing programs over the last decade.

One of the most questionable PILOT programs in Hoboken is one where Russo and his family and in-laws benefit: Church Towers.

Previously re-approved back in 2009 without any examination of resident incomes, many are highly critical Michael Russo lives in subsidized housing at the expense of Hoboken taxpayers while he and his family own property both inside and outside of Hoboken.

Russo lists himself as an owner in the family Belmar shore home in his disclosure forms.

Third ward councilman Michael Russo questioned the cost of the City's HOP Bus program.
An article on NJ.com described him as a "fiscal conservative" raising many an eyebrow.

The workforce housing program designed to help municipal employees become owners in Hoboken at lower costs, saw a major blip when one of its beneficiaries, Patrick Ricciardi was pointed out by dozens of his neighbors last fall as being a serious problematic resident at the Metro Stop building. 

Ricciardi was the former Hoboken IT Manager who illicitly automated collections of tens of thousands of private emails from the mayor and her office which led to information during union negotiations finding their way into the hands of Hoboken public safety personnel. He was terminated in May 2011 later receiving five years probation in federal court.

In 2015, Ricciardi testified as a witness for Lane Bajardi in the Bajardi v Pincus defamation trial but was dismissed by the court after refusing to reveal who he gave emails to, and specifically, Perry Klaussen of Hoboken411.

After his 2011 arrest, comments on local websites including NJ.com by Ricciardi's estranged wife described him as involved in unknown activities with Michael Russo on the weekends. 

Apparently, once Patrick Ricciardi moved into MetroStop under the City's workforce program, almost immediately he stopped paying maintenance fees running up a tab in the thousands of dollars estimated at $65,000.

Worse, Ricciardi's unit occupants were accused of much unneighborly behaivor, letting in unsavory characters believed connected to using and/or selling drugs.

Metro Stop finally was unblocked from taking action against Ricciardi when the City Council approved a change to how the subsidized workforce housing program is regulated. The process seeking his eviction is ongoing.

The most public philosophical comment on spending by Michael Russo in recent years was on the topic of subsidies. "That's what government does, it subsidizes things."

In the numerous examples of fiscal conservative sayings, that one is not going to make the list.


Talking Ed Note: The story now shows it's been updated as of 11:34. The editorial comment on the "fiscal conservative" Michael Russo has vanished.