Monday, June 26, 2017

Sources: City Council President Jen Giattino to toss hat in and run for Hoboken mayor

City Council President Jen Giattino to announce decision to run for mayor tomorrow night

Hoboken councilwoman Jen Giattino, a three time and current City Council President will be making an announcement tomorrow night near fourth and Bloomfield St. at 7:30 pm.

Sources say she will throw her hat in the ring and vie to become Hoboken's second female mayor.

City Council President
Jen Giattino
Giattino, the current City Council President learned early last week Mayor Dawn Zimmer reversed her decision in choosing not to pursue a third term. The mayor simultaneously offered her endorsement to Councilman Ravi Bhalla. Many in Hoboken were taken aback by the simultaneous announcements and to learn no consultative conversations took place with the Reform team members on the City Council.

The suddenness of both decisions led to long time local reform activists asking who would be the most effective candidate to carry the mantle of Reform. Discussion began and continued through last weekend showing broad citywide support for the City Council President.

In 2011, Giattino won her first term on the City Council and immediately made an impact voting to approve updated pay-to-play laws and later that year, a crucial fifth vote to back the plan to save Hoboken University Medical Center, the local hospital, in a sale. She's played an important leadership role in other votes crucial to Hoboken's flood pumps and fiscal responsibility holding the line on taxes.

In 2015, Giattino won her second term to the council defeating the controversial Carmelo Garcia who filed a civil lawsuit in 2013 against Mayor Dawn Zimmer, her husband and the Hoboken Housing Authority after the remainder of his contract at the agency was terminated in August 2014.

The three other major declared mayoral candidates Giattino will face include Freeholder Anthony Romano who is announcing tomorrow morning, Mike DeFusco and Councilman Ravi Bhalla.

A Giattino entry in the mayoral sweepstakes means there will be four major candidates vying to succeed Mayor Dawn Zimmer as Hoboken mayor come November. She is a resident of Hoboken since 1998 and is married with three sons.

Years before becoming a candidate for the City Council in 2011, Giattino worked aiding the Hoboken Homeless Shelter.

HCV Sunday whispers: Stick announces mayoral run on Tuesday

Monday Update: Freeholder Anthony Romano makes his announcement to run for Hoboken mayor official Tuesday morning.

Sources suggest the announcement will take place outside Romano's office on Washington St.

Romano will enter the race for Hoboken mayor with Councilman Mike DeFusco, Councilman Ravi Bhalla, local businesswoman Karen Nason and local activist Ronald Bautista previously announced.


According to a Sunday report on the Hudson County View, Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano will make it official on Tuesday he's a candidate for Hoboken mayor.

Perhaps those negotiations reportedly taking place with Councilman Michael Russo sorted out, or maybe not. Either way, it's Tuesday for Stick's much anticipated announcement.

For the full report, please see:

Anthony "Stick" Romano dives into the Hoboken mayoral race on Tuesday.

The Giant Ambition Tour

The following is a guest piece submitted by long time Hoboken reformer Kurt Gardiner. 

Giant Ambition brings a reformer into the race 

Ambition - if there is a word that describes the Hoboken 2017 election that is it. 

Dawn Zimmer after two terms as Hoboken Mayor decided to move on up and fight global warming. That is ambition. 

Mike Defusco after only a year and a half as an at times petulant, uninformed and unprofessional City Council person with little name recognition decided to run for Mayor because anything Dawn could do he could do faster without displaying the executive function necessary to do the job. That is ambition. 

Also taking money from FBW phoney Jim Vance and being against the flood wall after voting for it takes a special brand of person. Bipolar is not just a trendy Arctic sexual preference, it is a state of mind for Defusco. Saying anything to get elected is ambition Cammarano style. 

Anthony Romano wants to run for two jobs at once. He wants to Stick it to the Hoboken taxpayer twice. Once is not good enough; he wants to screw us in more ways than one. That is ambition Hudson County style. 

It has been reported that Mike Russo will not run only if his numerous demands are met. Not sure if that is more of a shakedown but that could be a form of ambition. 

My good neighbor Ravi Bhalla, known more as a Zimmer loyalist than a true reformer bided his time, got the passing of the baton from the dearly departing and before the campaign literature is even dry was out campaigning. That is both a super Sikh political cock block and ambition rolled into one. 

Karen Nason appeared to run to critique the now departing Mayor. Now that the Mayor is gone, where is the impetus to continue to run? Maybe her only ambition now is to make a point to stay in race to take votes away from Defusco. 

Jen Giattino may or may not run but will talk it over with family and friends before deciding. It won't just be ambition for her if she decides yes. It will be to continue the reform movement in her opinion. Having a goal to a cause is a form of collective ambition. 

I Kurt Gardiner am a job seeking job seeker and have a limited base and not much money but feel I can add a lot to the continued progress of Hoboken and my platform is simply one word: Ambition. 

I have more ambition than any of these other candidates so I am throwing my hat in the ring for Hoboken Mayor in 2017. I would announce a slate but they can't handle my ambition. Look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail. I will ambitiously be pursuing your vote, if I don't cut a deal first.

Councilman Ravi Bhalla 'Join us Wednesday at the Turtle Club'

Hi MSV readers,
This Wednesday evening, please join me at the Turtle Club as we host an event to thank Mayor Dawn Zimmer for her years of service to Hoboken, and celebrate 8 years of good government. 
What: Thank you celebration for Mayor Zimmer and good government
When: Wednesday, June 28, 7:00 pm
Where: Turtle Club, 936 Park Avenue
Who: All members of the Hoboken community
Please click here to RSVP on Facebook.  The event is free of charge, we look forward to seeing you Wednesday!
Ravi Bhalla

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Horse Sense: Desperation or data, that is the question

We're not a week from the post apocalypse Zimmer-Hoboken universe and the real campaign pushing and shoving has started. 

Would you be surprised to hear the pushing is happening among the potential reform oriented candidate campaigns? Suddenly and without warning, a Zimmer poll taken last winter has materialized and all kinds of fanciful conclusions are being drawn.

Again from a Hoboken poll, last winter, when no one even knows who will be on the ballot this November. Take that poll and all the succeeding self-serving arguments and throw it in the garbage. 

Old, dead white guy knew something about bad data applications.
So does a Horse. 

The real intent of course in releasing the winter poll now is to see shoved aside a potential Jen Giattino mayoral candidacy. Kill it before a campaign gets started. The campaign most fearful of such an entry which at the time of this writing is uncertain is the Ravi Bhalla for Mayor campaign.

In poker we call this a tell. But what are they trying not to tell us? They want to tell Jen Giattino to stand down and any and all people who think she might be the best candidate in November: go away. We've decided. Didn't you see the press conference last Tuesday? Might I remind you many people did not walk away from that City Hall event singing kumbaya. Hoboken voters are fiercely independent. Telling them you've anointed a successor minutes after withdrawing from an election four months out without any consultative conversation ahead of time isn't going over too well. Oh, you wish to double down with the real politik/fait accompli plans as originally mapped out? Well, alrighty then. 

Let's address some of the talking points being propagated fast and furious.

Polls, approval ratings and political interpretations of same

Approval ratings for Mayor Zimmer are overblown and were similarly lauded in 2013. Great numbers! She's untouchable! Months later Mayor Zimmer won that race but boosted her percentage from only around 43% in November 2009 to 47% in her win. She didn't crack 50%. Her best chance may have been this November. It's not your earlier Hoboken polled approval rating that matters most but how many people you get to the polls on Election Day. 

This speaks to all kinds of issues in this mayoral race for ANY candidate this November but putting that aside for the moment; having five or six major candidates potentially on the ballot in November means someone can mathematically win everything with just over 20% of the vote. Don't think Michael Russo isn't licking his chops at the thought. He is. He'll be ready after Labor Day too.

As for Mayor Zimmer, outstanding job on many fronts, others less so and ability to tackle issues in the future irrelevant now. If she wants to dance around campfires to a pagan moon goddess, that's up to her. If she thinks global warming is the "biggest" problem in the face of the data not showing the polar caps melting as direly predicted over the last 20 years, her prerogative too. But if she really thinks that's the reality, she should be taking Chinese lessons pronto and booking a ticket on a boat there. Getting a climate change gig in NJ won't accomplish anything other than vacuuming NJ taxpayer dollars into oblivion. For more on this vapidity, see the Paris Accords. First person to tell everyone two things that agreement does for the US other than vacuum up a billion US dollars for export wins a free gulf jet ride to any favorite Hollywood actor's climate change conference around the globe.

Jen Giattino's popular appeal and crossover votes

Let's make this analysis plain. She has it, others don't. You don't have to like it or quantify it as that's much harder but avoiding the harsh truth won't make it go away. Electability is a different matter and sorry; that's not code. Speak to all your friends and you'll hear it come up too.

City Council President Jen Giattino
MSV wrote earlier Jen Giattino is on par in popularity as the mayor citywide within the smaller subset of the reform community not the 54,000 total Hoboken population. This has gotten under some people's skin. Well, that's why third terms often turn out so badly or in this case are suddenly grounded and done quite badly. Let's move on.

Data in a Hoboken poll collected last winter isn't deciding this race coming up in November. Didn't Hillary have the big endorsement (Obama), the lion's share of the money ($1.2 Billion - that's right with a B) and the data/polling on her side? Yet she got blown away 304 to 227 when the electoral votes were finally tallied.

They don't call election campaigns a CAMPAIGN for nothing. 

On the question of electability and crossover appeal, to say it appears one has an advantage over another is of course speculative until after the an election is tabulated, analysis and public opinion weighted afterwards. Last November's 2016 presidential race will be analyzed and talked about for years. Years later, some still won't have a clue but I digress, "Muh Russia Russia!"

Does anyone think Jen Giattino doesn't have crossover appeal? Her entire political career is about crossover appeal beginning with her work for the Hoboken Homeless Shelter years prior to her considering a run for elected office. Her entire political experience speaks to her calm demeanor, smarts and ability to get things done for the city of Hoboken. She like her colleague Councilman Ravi Bhalla haven't been two time council presidents by accident.

Most Hoboken voters won't pull the municipal lever in a non-partisan election this November

The majority of Hoboken's eligible voters won't vote in this municipal election this November. This is a simple fact. Which partly means a Horse has been writing to millions and millions of visitors here in almost eight years but never the entire city of Hoboken. To cast the number of people who don't know Jen Giattino or Ravi Bhalla or any other candidate on the ballot in November without this important statistic is meaningless.

Again in a five or six person race of major candidates; it's winner take all. The partisan rhetoric unfitting to Hoboken aside, mathematically taking just over 20% of the vote may win the prize.

When you trot out a poll taken last winter before candidates are not even in the race, in this case determined after Labor Day, is it data your touting or desperation? 

Talking Ed Note: This Horse Sense weekend editorial is dedicated to all democratic voices in Hoboken. Let them be heard.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mayor Zimmer's departure and Councilwoman Jen Giattino's possible candidacy for mayor

From the desk of Second Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher:

Dear Hoboken friends and neighbors – 

What a week this has been for us…

It’s been a bit of a scramble the last few days as our entire community, myself included, reacts to the sudden and unexpected news that our Mayor Dawn Zimmer will not run for re-election this fall.  I met with her shortly before her announcement and I have no doubt that she loves this city and that this decision was incredibly personal to her and a difficult one to make.  I only wish her the best and equally great success on her new path. Personally, I believe she’s done an enormous amount of good for Hoboken as mayor and we all should thank her.

Looking ahead, the unintended consequence of her surprising announcement leaves many in our community, including me, to ask who is best equipped to lead Hoboken and take on its challenges while building on the foundation we’ve achieved in recent years?

And my threshold questions, in order of priority are: 
  • How do we ensure that we do not lose ground and go backward to the old corrupt practices of the past when two of our prior three mayors went to jail?
  •  Who is best positioned to be our CEO and be the leader we need to take Hoboken to the next level?

Although at the moment, it feels more like a burden, each hour that passes feels more like an opportunity of getting to take a fresh look at what Hoboken can and should look like in the future under new leadership and who that leader should be.  I personally want to ensure that we continue the efforts championed by our current mayor for parks and open space, against corruption, ending flooding and ensuring safer streets, among others, but that we also take the opportunity to expand this vision and choose a leader who can take us further in the right direction. 

Like myself, Councilman Peter Cunningham and City Council President Jen Giattino learned of the mayor’s decision late. On Thursday, Jen issued a statement in response to an outpouring of support asking she consider becoming a candidate for mayor. As a councilwoman, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Jen on complex issues and I have witnessed firsthand her leadership, competence and straightforward professionalism.  I applaud her willingness to consider entering this race to be our next leader.

Although the Mayor announced her selection with her withdrawal last Tuesday, our choice in deciding who is best equipped to lead Hoboken in the future is a monumental one and deserves, as in the past from the grassroots, to have our voices heard.  So I’d ask you consider the issues that matter to you and the leadership Hoboken needs for its future. Please feel free to reach out to me and let me know your thoughts and concerns on how we as a community should best take these critical steps.  

This is our time to ENGAGE, ADVOCATE for ourselves, and stay INFORMED.  And as always, remember that more voices are always better.  

Please make your voice heard.

Thank you,

Friday, June 23, 2017

Councilman Peter Cunningham: 'Considering November's mayoral election'

From the desk of Fifth Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham:

Dear Family, Friends and Neighbors, 

I wanted to reach out to you on the major news that broke this week about Mayor Zimmer deciding not to seek a third term.  As a reminder to many of you, Dawn and I were elected to the City Council together in 2007.  We have managed to achieve a great deal for Hoboken with our current council colleagues Ravi Bhalla, Jim Doyle, Tiffanie Fisher, Dave Mello and Council President Jen Giattino.

Unlike the trying times of 2007, we are a growing community facing an entirely new set of challenges.  The first one of course is to avoid seeing the "clock turned back" and allow old political elements to get their hands on the wheel of government again.  In those times, abuses and corruption were rampant.  

The second is our challenge to identify the best candidate to win in November.  It should be as in the past, a collaborative process which is not only a core tenet of reform.  Many of the goals achieved in the last 8 years have been achieved by consensus and collaboration.  And in fact today, many of the nine councilmembers are working collaboratively.

While Mayor Zimmer decided to endorse our friend and colleague Councilman Bhalla on Monday, a collaborative conversation among her team did not take place.  I, for one, think that process is warranted.  

Based on these factors, I've decided at this time not to join the Mayor in endorsing Ravi.  

Yesterday, Council President Jen Giattino issued a statement saying she is considering entering the mayoral race.  While some are feeling a sense of trepidation if that happens, I feel there is an opportunity here that can lead to victory in November.

As we make this evaluation, I am asking you to keep an open mind and allow the voices of our community a chance to be heard.  We deserve it. 

I  look forward to hearing from you on any aspect of this message and trust we'll come to a decision together that's best for Hoboken.  Thanks, Peter  

Peter Cunningham

Talking Ed Note: As a matter of policy, editorial notes don't follow official releases but the Hudson County View has a story including a response by Ravi Bhalla's spokesman to Peter Cunningham's letter to the Hoboken community yesterday.

'Why I'm supporting Ravi Bhalla'

Hi MSV readers,

I want to tell you a little bit about my friend, Councilman Ravi Bhalla, and why I'm supporting his candidacy for Mayor of Hoboken.

Two years ago, along with other local moms, I helped create the Hoboken Public Education Foundation (HobokenPEF), a non-profit organization to benefit our local district public schools. The founding team established multiple goals, and my vision was for the foundation to be a resource to help support important education programs for our children, including my two daughters. However, I didn't know exactly how to help HobokenPEF engage and connect with key community members, and become better known and supported by Hoboken residents and  businesses. Ravi was the first person I turned to for guidance, and not surprisingly, he immediately pledged his help. 

Ravi set up meetings with key stakeholders and educated them on the importance of supporting our public schools.  At a time when our organization was just a couple moms looking to make a difference, Ravi believed in us and our work. He gave the HobokenPEF a voice, when not many others gave us much of a chance. 

A few months ago, at our second annual HobokenPEF Gala, we sold out of tickets within weeks and raised over $120,000 for the public school system.  Needless to say, I believe our organization would not be where it is today without Ravi's support. 

Ravi shares the same goal and vision as me and so many other parents of supporting and improving our public schools so more families stay in Hoboken. As Mayor, I know that Ravi will work hand in hand with our parents, teachers and educators to keep moving our education system in the right direction.

I'm thrilled to join Mayor Dawn Zimmer and many others in offering my unwavering support to Ravi, and look forward to doing all that I can to help him through Election Day on November 7.

Shirael Pollack
Hoboken Mom

Talking Ed Note: MSV's longstanding policy is candidates and elected officials may submit for publication letters and/or campaign releases and are invited to do so via email to:

Reform pow wow into the night


Two meetings among friends and potential campaign rivals for mayor go quietly into the night

Last night, a second evening meeting followed an earlier midday meeting between friends and potential mayoral rivals in Councilman Ravi Bhalla and Council President Jen Giattino.

The daytime meeting didn't resolve the friction where one campaign was launched in concert with Mayor Dawn Zimmer's simultaneous announced departure and endorsement for Bhalla and any opportunity to present an alternative negated for Giattino.

City Council President Jen Giattino,: broadest and most
crossover appeal to Hoboken voters? That's one question.
With Jen Giattino's statement issued last night she is weighing a run for mayor, much is changed in the Hoboken mayoral landscape and much remains the same, at least for the time being.

Late yesterday, a second evening meeting saw a sit down with council members Tiffanie Fisher and Peter Cunningham joining Jen Giattino with Ravi Bhalla and former Mayor Zimmer's chief of staff according to sources close to the attending parties.

Efforts at resolving the issues between the two developing campaigns came up well short leading to the end of day statement Jen Giattino will continue to weigh options and hear out Hoboken supporters and residents this weekend.

The concept of a split between both the Old Guard and Reform camps is a misnomer. Each of the likely four major candidates for Hoboken mayor will not start or end with 25% of the vote. Some campaigns will rise, others will fall, some precipitously as the slings and arrows of campaigning begin to take shape and impacts the electorate.

A Giattino movement initially began this week with similar calls among some residents for the independent policy wonk and new Hoboken Democratic Chair Tiffanie Fisher. Those groups now appear coalescing in favor of Jen Giattino for numerous reasons: electability to the voter perception on who captures the broadest appeal to Hoboken voters.

There's another major question on who who holds the biggest crossover appeal for both new and Old Hoboken voters. The advantage there would appear to go to Jen Giattino. The advantage for Councilman Bhalla who has voted closer in the council to Mayor Zimmer means he will gain votes from those who are most likely to follow her lead.

Councilman Ravi Bhalla has the endorsement of Mayor
Dawn Zimmer seen here at a February fundraiser.
How much can it help in November is another question.
A united front of long time councilman Peter Cunningham in the fifth ward and councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher in the second ward however creates another formidable base of support. Mayor Dawn Zimmer's endorsement will give a kick to Ravi Bhalla but its staying power in November will be uncertain as her lame duck status diminishes some of its impact with the onset of Zimmer fatigue after eight years as mayor.

Anthony "Stick" Romano is anticipated to announce his mayoral candidacy next week as an unexpected delay with HudCo sees no dash into Hoboken for a photo-op. This is in fear of triggering a volcanic response from heavyweight State Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack. Romano's grounded for the moment but will make his move next week.

If the November ballot does come down to a four way race of major mayoral campaigns: Mike DeFusco, Anthony Stick Romano, Ravi Bhalla and Jen Giattino the negativity and slurs won't be coming from any of the  core reform people or their respective campaigns. That's the hope although no one can control the rogue and often ugly anonymous vs. anonymous battle a mostly select handful online between DeFusco backers and hyper partisans.

In a four way race of major mayoral candidates: Romano, Councilman Mike DeFusco, Ravi Bhalla and Jen Giattino, much remains uncertain but Hoboken's summer campaign fun is already underway.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Chris Campos convicted for bank and wire fraud in $7 Million Dollar Car Loan Scheme

Former Hoboken, New Jersey, City Council President Found Guilty After Trial For His Participation In A $7 Million Dollar Car Loan Scheme 

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that a federal jury today found former Hoboken, New Jersey, City Council President and attorney CHRISTOPHER CAMPOS guilty of bank and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. CAMPOS and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained millions of dollars in car loans by using at least 20 straw buyers to acquire more than 200 new automobiles based on false representations that, among other things, the straw buyers would use the cars for their personal use when, in truth and in fact, CAMPOS and his co-conspirators obtained the vehicles in order to lease as livery cabs. The week-long trial took place before U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni, who is scheduled to sentence CAMPOS on September 20, 2017.

CAMPOS’s co-defendant, Julio Alvarez, pled guilty to bank and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud on June 9, 2017. Alvarez is scheduled to be sentenced on September 8, 2017, before Judge Caproni. 

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim stated: “As a unanimous jury found, Christopher Campos, an attorney and former Hoboken City Council President, defrauded lenders out of millions of dollars. He recruited straw buyers to obtain loans for cars supposedly for ‘personal use,’ when in fact they made up a fleet of over 200 vehicles Campos and his co-conspirators leased to livery drivers. Campos now awaits sentencing for this massive fraud.”

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, Indictment, and the evidence presented in Court during the trial:

Between approximately October 2012 and September 2013, CAMPOS and Alvarez, among others, orchestrated a scheme to fraudulently obtain new automobiles that they intended to lease to livery cab drivers. In order to secure financing in connection with the purchase of these new cars, CAMPOS and other co-conspirators enlisted and aided individuals with good credit histories (“straw buyers”) to submit fraudulent car loan applications to numerous lenders. In order to obtain the new vehicles, CAMPOS and other co-conspirators sent straw buyers to several car dealerships located throughout the New York City area, where dealership employees helped straw buyers submit fraudulent loan applications. 

The auto loan applications submitted by the straw buyers falsely represented that the vehicles would be used for the buyers’ personal use, rather than as part of the defendants’ leasing business. In addition, in many cases, the car loan applications misrepresented personal information about the straw buyers, including their incomes and assets. CAMPOS also caused financing applications to be sent to multiple financial institutions at the same time so that the lenders would not know that the straw buyers were incurring obligations to other lenders in connection with the purchase of multiple new automobiles.

In total, the scheme carried out by CAMPOS, Alvarez, and others involved at least approximately 20 straw buyers, the purchase of more than approximately 200 new vehicles, and more than $7 million in fraudulently obtained loans from a variety of financial institutions. Most of the loans ultimately went into default. 

* * *

CAMPOS, 40, of Palisades Park, New Jersey, was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, bank fraud, and wire fraud. The conspiracy and bank fraud charges each carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and the wire fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. Mr. Kim also thanked the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the New York Automobile Insurance Plan, and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles for their substantial assistance in the investigation and trial.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Dina McLeod, Sagar K. Ravi, and Niketh Velamoor are in charge of the prosecution.

Chris Campos, former Hoboken City Councilman in better days
in this photo at the Elks Club

City Council President Jen Giattino on Hoboken's upcoming mayoral election

From the desk of City Council President Jen Giattino:

Like many, I was surprised with the series of events this week in Hoboken starting with our Mayor Dawn Zimmer opting not to run for a third term.  This week I have been humbled and honored by the outpouring of support from many friends, colleagues and people in our community who have expressed their support and encouraged me to run for Mayor.  I am passionate about the future of our town and giving this serious consideration.  

I plan to publicly respond soon.

Mike Russo: 'Get out of my way and behind ME for mayor!'

Third ward councilman Mike Russo, the formerly accepted de facto leader of the Old Guard is deciding the time to be de facto anything in the background is a time overdue.

According to a report on InsiderNJ, Russo is actively negotiating with the pending Anthony "Stick" Romano for mayor campaign his list of demands not to run for mayor.

Earlier, MSV described Russo the heir to the Russo Clan as nominally behind Councilman Mike DeFusco's bid for mayor.

Old Guard Russo magic however sees the fairy dust spreading out over the land and is thinking why wait four mayor years to rehabilitate his image on FBI surveillance tape.

Councilman Michael Russo strikes a pose during a City Council meeting in this vintage photo.
He's reportedly in negotiations with the pending Romano campaign whereby he either gets a big piece of pie
with council picks, director and municipal selections or he throws his own hat in for mayor.

Some aren't sure the negotiations will reach an acceptable conclusion for him as in 2009 when he told FBI informant Solomon Dwek on video he had selected all there of Beth Mason's council at-large slate in her doomed campaign for mayor and would hold a veto proof "super majority" as he called it.

If negotiations fail to produce what Michael Russo demands, i.e., council picks, director selections and municipal jobs, expect to see Mike Russo for Mayor signs to quickly spring up all over Church Towers.

From the report:

With Councilman Ravi Bhalla announcing he's running for mayor and receiving Mayor Dawn Zimmer's endorsement, most political observers including this one anticipated Stick Romano entering the race this week. Perhaps Romano will or he won't but Friday would seem to be a deadline for serious action. Lack of decisiveness is long past and Romano many believe must make his move with or without HudCo standing by his side.

Meanwhile, a blood feud erupted with a DeFusco fundraiser who once worked for Mayor Zimmer in a similar capacity and Romano earlier this week. The report says they were nose to nose at Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop's fundraiser in a war of words over who has bigger cohones or some such fighting words.

According to the report, the showdown materialized like this:

"Romano and DeFusco operative Ray Ferraioli found each other in the steakhouse crowd.
DeFusco wants the votes of those anti-Zimmer people.
So does Romano.
So Ferraioli and Romano had words.
Ferraioli buffaloed the former cop, and Romano got up in Ferraioli’s face, nose to nose, the hair going back on the neck of each and nostrils flaring, sources said.
Ferraioli told Romano that at least DeFusco ran against Zimmer.
The freeholder didn’t have the guts, he said – or words to that effect.
Romano hated that.
The allies of the Hoboken councilman say Stick, as he’s known, is not a serious candidate, and if he were serious the HCDO would have already issued one of its press releases embracing his candidacy.
The story doesn't end there. It also speaks about the Old Guard urging City Council President Jen Giattino to enter the race as she "sniffs out" the landscape, presumably as it's beneficial to one of more potential Old Guard candidacies.
Who's in, out getting in as discussed earlier is all in a state of flux. To date, those officially in the race are Councilman Mike DeFusco, Councilman Ravi Bhalla, local businesswoman Karen Nason and Hoboken activist Ronald Bautista.
The only sure thing other than death and taxes is that this lineup will change come September and definitely by November.

Ravi Bhalla for Hoboken mayor announces

Hi MSV readers,
As you may have heard, Mayor Dawn Zimmer announced that after 10 years of serving in public office, she will not be seeking re-election as Mayor.  During her time in office, Mayor Zimmer has made our amazing town an even better place. I am incredibly grateful for her tireless service to our community and thank her for all she has done for Hoboken. 
I want you to know that with Dawn’s encouragement and endorsement, I am running for Mayor of Hoboken. I intend to continue our reform movement, upholding the values of honesty and integrity, to keep our City moving in the right direction.  
When I first came to Hoboken seventeen years ago, I was a 26 year old bachelor starting my first job after completing law school. I eventually found the love of my life, my wife Bindya. Before long our family grew as well, as we were blessed with our daughter, Arza and our son, Shabegh and chose to raise them in Hoboken. Through it all, the one thing that has remained constant is our unconditional love for our City.
When I first came to Hoboken, I never expected to get involved in local government, much less run for office. But, as I saw our city government raise municipal taxes 70% and the state appoint a fiscal monitor in 2008, I had enough. Rather than run to the suburbs, I decided to make a difference and run for office. 
Working together with Mayor Zimmer and the Council, I am proud we have set the City in the right direction. We restored fiscal responsibility to City finances, kept our hospital in town when it was going under, created more open space, substantially addressed flooding, invested in our water mains, and more.
But we still have work to do. I pledge to work with my colleagues on the Council to put forward policies that are in the best interests of our residents, not the interests of developers or special interest groups.
I am humbled and honored that Mayor Zimmer has placed her trust in me and encouraged me to step forward and run for Mayor. With your support and our unity, Hoboken’s best days are yet to come. 
In the weeks ahead, I look forward to sharing with you my ideas for keeping Hoboken’s reform moving in the right direction.
Ravi Bhalla
PS - Please join me the evening of June 28 at the Turtle Club (7 pm) to thank Mayor Zimmer for her service to Hoboken. Click here for details.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sources: Reform Council members looking at Council President Jen Giattino mayoral bid


Movement to adopt City Council President Jen Giattino as a candidate for mayor lighting up Hoboken

Coming not a day after Councilman at-large Ravi Bhalla officially threw his hat in the ring for Hoboken mayor, a backlash in the City Council and the Reform Movement is weighing a bid seeking Council President Jen Giattino's entry into the Hoboken mayor's race.

Fears about the lack of enthusiasm to Bhalla's entry yesterday and his electability in November are tarnishing the luster of the endorsement he received from Mayor Zimmer only yesterday. Concerns by people on the City Council and others within the Reform Movement say the mayor's seat and the current council majority are both at risk further fueling desires to draft Jen Giattino atop a mayoral ticket.

City Council President
Jen Giattino
The up swell to back Council President Giattino for mayor began almost immediately in the wake of the late Monday night news Mayor Zimmer would be bowing out for a third term and Councilman Bhalla announcing in a story released  near midnight that he would be running for mayor. Reform council team members were not sought for consultations prior to the announcement. The friction and frustration quickly channeled into analysis by some to weigh options.

The upsurge is driven twofold. Council President Jen Giattino is the only elected official on par with Mayor Zimmer in popularity citywide with Reform and the community since she upset Nino Giacchi in 2011 for the sixth ward council seat. She's currently serving in her second one year term as Hoboken City Council President, attesting to the esteem she's held by her council colleagues.

The backlash is sandwiched by Reform core principles of transparency and fairness overlooked, something Mayor Zimmer admitted yesterday did not occur in her decision to endorse Bhalla for mayor. A number of sources pointed to the less than democratic process as presented in the clearly intended fait accompli of yesterday's hastily scheduled press conference outside City Hall on Tuesday morning.

A Reform surge in Hoboken is looking to draft City Council President
Jen Giattino a candidate for Hoboken mayor.

Sources close to Reform City Council members say loyalty to Mayor Zimmer's bid for a third term was sacrosanct and Jen Giattino was already working like others on the Reform team toward her re-election. Mayor Zimmer's shocking announcement to not seek a third term and her immediate decision to endorse Bhalla without seeking consultation of her allies forced others to rethink the Reform Movement's future.

One decades long Reformer stated the displeasure among many with yesterday's surprising double announcement in front of City Hall saying, "We didn't suffer all those years to bring reform to Hoboken to have a successor decided behind closed doors. That's hardly democratic and more emblematic of Hudson County machine politics."

Councilwoman Jen Giattino is serving in her second term as a Hoboken City Councilwoman. Her initial run and victory in 2011 flipped the council majority from the Russo-Mason axis to Reform, one open to moving forward and passing Mayor Zimmer's agenda.

Councilman Ravi Bhalla is serving in his second term and ran on the mayor's 2009 ticket with Dave Mello and Carol Marsh. In 2011, Bhalla made a bid to win a NJ Assembly seat but failed to catch fire against State Senator Brian Stack's candidate Ruben Ramos.

Hoboken's political backwaters are already aflame with word Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano is about to make official his entry into the mayoral race later this week.

Similarly, word spreading like wildfire in Reform and Old Guard circles of the surge to get behind Jen Giattino for mayor is underway.

Jen Giattino was not immediately available for comment. Mayor Zimmer and Councilman Ravi Bhalla did not respond to a request for comment but this story anticipates updates with responses.

A mayor, a burka and third term prognostication

Last April Fool's Day, MSV announced there would be no third term for Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

Really, who saw that coming? Well no one, not even Mayor Zimmer who took the joke wrapped in an enigma of a forward looking time machine authored by a Horse with her fine sense of humor. In almost eight years at the helm of the City of Hoboken, the mayor took far worse.

Hoboken's indomitable mayor, Dawn Zimmer
If there's one thing learned over two terms, Mayor Zimmer took the slings and arrows of Hoboken's vicious Old Guard well. She delivered some well-placed blows herself, typically on Election Day. Or for she who will not be deservedly named, when Mayor Zimmer announced the sale saving the local hospital with a herculean effort led by Toni Tomarazzo and the late Steve Rofsky against the forces of evil who sought its demise.

It was one of the finest moments for Hoboken in her two terms.

There would be other major if quiet victories for Hoboken along the way. The culture of corruption, a long time feature of Hoboken's "On the Waterfront" past and present were most often chapters discovered, closed and filed away. About those four million missing quarters from the parking meters, "it's been cleared up."

So too, Mayor Zimmer discovered a penchant for taking on hurricanes. Win some, lose some but what the mayor most intangibly succeeded in achieving for Hoboken was the expectation that corruption would no longer be acceptable or tolerated. There would be bumps along the road, different visions and policy ideas but the black hole of a Hoboken Soprano tax would no longer be a factor. The former terror of the construction office, Al Arezzo, will not be back next week. 

Some didn't take it well and went kicking and screaming the entire way.  Moving Hoboken to 21st century governance where professional minimums of behavior were expected became the norm.

Like a tide rolling in, there's a time for the wave to roll out. The mayor decided she had to elect an opportunity before a window closes. No one will get further details until after the governor's race in November. Others locally will understand and act similarly.

In the end, Mayor Zimmer kept a promise not to use Hoboken to elevate herself to higher political office. While many may have forgotten it, one of the reasons she was elected mayor was explicitly for that one. In doing so, she would remain one of us, a Mile Square City resident first and foremost. For the Reform Movement, it meant sovereignty of its citizens would not be taken for granted. Of course HudCo takes plenty of Mile Square City taxpayers cash and will continue to do so. There's been no headway to stop that larceny.

What to make of this tidbit last April Fool's Day, this Horse leaves it to you the reader to decide.
From the last paragraph of the column:

Another option for Zimmer is as Green Czar in a NJ Governor administration under Phil Murphy. Her staff would go door-to-door seizing inefficient light bulbs decreed morally unsuitable and declare them environmental offenses against the State. Penalties for six or more inefficient light bulbs per household will trigger the seizure of property to house illegal aliens in what will be designated sanctuary safe houses for new voters.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mayor Zimmer: 'I made the decision on endorsing Councilman Ravi Bhalla'

This video courtesy of the Hudson County View:

Opening comments by Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Councilman Ravi Bhalla this morning held on the steps of Hoboken City Hall.

To a question by John Heinis, HCV Editor as to the support of other Hoboken council members (outside of mayoral candidate Mike DeFusco) at 3:30 mark:

"...We've had a great team and I'm proud of what everyone has done together working together but ultimately I made the decision that Ravi is the right person for Hoboken right now to move our city ahead."
                - Dawn Zimmer

Horse Sense: Hoboken mayoral race will see more entries

The breathtaking some say shocking recusal of Mayor Dawn Zimmer from the election race this November absolutely, positively means there will be more surprises and more candidates coming to the fore.

So says this Hoboken Horse. For starters, word is you will see the formerly calculating mayoral candidate Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano jump into the race full throttle. Tomorrow.

Anthony "Stick" Romano seen here in this vintage 2010
photo is expected to jump in the mayoral race as soon as
tomorrow with the shocking announcement today of
Mayor Dawn Zimmer's departure.

That wasn't expected originally until more effort could be put into identifying a council slate. Now that activity will commence simultaneously as he tosses himself in and gathers support for a serious mayoral run.

He won't be alone. Additionally, Councilman Michael Russo is said to be rethinking his position. Why wait four years from now when the prize is wide open for the picking? Exit, the nominal support for Councilman Mike DeFusco and a dalliance with Stick Romano. Time to reclaim the crown and prize for the fallen Russo Clan.

Another previously failed candidate who may resurrect his earlier bids: Frank "Pupie" Raia. His health has improved and he's asking himself why be the kingmaker for the kid DeFusco when he can finally grasp the mantle of his lifetime dream: mayor of Hoboken.

Is that the end of it? Hardly. There's been no chance for the Reform Movement and its grass roots supporters and council leaders to decide what's what and if they will get on board with Mayor Zimmer's handoff of the baton. No one asked them apparently and it's not created consensus of heart, mind and action.

So this race remains fluid. Stay tuned.

This Horse Sense editorial is dedicated to everyone who made the Reform Movement a success since 2009. Hang on; it's going to be a rocky ride.

Mayor Zimmer 'Finishing my term and then pursue climate change' opportunities in NJ


Mayor Zimmer to finish term and endorse Councilman Ravi Bhalla for mayor

At a press conference late this morning Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer ended the speculation she was bowing out for a third term saying she was finishing her term and would pursue opportunities of personal interest in "climate change."

Translation: She's been offered a job to work in Trenton in a Phil Murphy administration for some leadership role involving the Department of Environmental Protection or similar and a deadline means she would need to be available to begin the job early next year.

Councilman Ravi Bhalla, who has served on the City Council with Mayor Zimmer since 2009 stood next to her and received the mayor's endorsement for the upcoming November election.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Councilman Ravi Bhalla outside City Hall late this morning with the big announcement.

Here is the official statement from Mayor Dawn Zimmer:

Mayor of Hoboken Dawn Zimmer Announces She is Not Running For Reelection
Endorses Councilman Ravi Bhalla for the Seat

Mayor Dawn Zimmer today announced that she will not run for a third term for Mayor, will focus her efforts following her term on the urgent fight against climate change, and endorses Councilman Ravi Bhalla in the race to replace her. 

"When I made the decision to run for City Council ten years ago and for mayor eight years ago, I wasn't looking to start a long career in politics - I wanted to help my community at a time when we were facing major challenges, and believe I have accomplished that task and am hopeful about Hoboken's future," said Mayor Zimmer. "We inherited a city government that had lost the people's trust and was under state fiscal supervision, where development decisions were made to benefit the big developers, and where infrastructure had been neglected for decades. We restored honest and open government where decisions are made in the best interests of our residents, reduced taxes and saved our hospital while securing a AA+ credit rating, and invested in a renovated Washington Street, built a second flood pump, created new parks, and for the first time in decades invested in our water main system. Hoboken is now on the right path and our future is bright.”

“This has been a very difficult decision," added Mayor Zimmer. "However, as many people know, I consider the issue of climate change and resiliency to be an extremely urgent challenge facing our city, our state and our nation. I am extremely proud that Hoboken is on track to be protected from the impacts of climate change with the Rebuild by Design project, our resiliency parks, a microgrid, and other initiatives. But while our city is on the right track, our country is not. With President Trump backing out of the Paris Accord, demonstrating the federal government's lack of commitment to addressing climate change, I have decided that it is the right time for me to take on a new role working more directly on this critical issue. Once I complete my mayoral term, I will decide on the best way I can devote my time and energy to the urgent fight against climate change.”

Mayor Zimmer cited some of her accomplishments, including securing 8 acres for new open space and upgrading existing parks, advancing Rebuild by Design, putting Hoboken on a sound long-term fiscal path with a greatly improved AA+ bond rating, holding the line on taxes, and saving the hospital, which avoided a fiscal disaster.

Mayor Zimmer endorsed Councilman Ravi Bhalla for Mayor, stating, “I know Ravi is ready to step up and lead our City forward. Councilman Bhalla and I have worked hand-in-hand to put our City back on the right track. Ravi’s leadership on the Council was essential to saving our hospital, to restoring fiscal responsibility, to moving Rebuild by Design forward to combat our flooding problem, and to securing new parks. He will get the job done for all of Hoboken."

Councilman Ravi Bhalla said, “Mayor Zimmer has raised the bar for what it means to be a great mayor and I am proud to have been with her every step of the way.”
Bhalla continued, “I pledge to build on our progress, holding the line on taxes, insisting on fiscal responsibility, ensuring the implementation of Rebuild by Design to solve our flooding problem, and repairing our aging infrastructure. I believe that with sound governance Hoboken’s best days are ahead.”

Bhalla noted that over the course of the campaign, he will be announcing specific plans and proposals-all designed to keep Hoboken moving forward.