Attending the debate Wednesday was an eye opening experience. But not in the normal way one expects in going to see candidates go mano a mano in a group press conference. That’s what this really is, a group press conference where each side tells the viewer their position or the semblance of one to the audience and cameras.
This “debate” did not even include a 30 second rebuttal option. On background the Occhipinti camp says the format was sent to them that way. It may have been more helpful for Tim Occhipinti in retrospect if that was the case. But in the end, none of that mattered. This was about as big a mismatch of a “debate” as one might ever see.
Let’s break down the elements of the debate: delivery, substance and impact with a final overall performance score. You can measure these “discussions” in any number of ways but that’s the approach here.
Overall Performance: scored on a 0-100 scale.
Mike Lenz gets an overall grade of 91
Tim Occhipinti’s overall score was 25 but…
There’s actually one more item to score:
Tim Occhipinti’s binder – which earns a solid 60
Now why is Occhipinti’s binder getting a score? Well outside of the complete lack of coherence to Occhipinti’s presentation, and it was pretty awful on numerous levels: pitch, tone, pace, content, authenticity – the binder thought to be just notes was actually far more than that.
Here’s a better look for those of you who just won’t believe it without seeing it:
Occhipinti’s binder included tabs for many topics and was a spoon fed word for word recitation for a speech like in a City Council meeting. Who would type up something like this? Who would have time to?
Occhipinti’s binder must have been a couple of dozen pages. From the photo above, you can see all the tabs and the typed words on the page even had bolded sections for him to recite the prepackaged lines easier than others. MSV blew the page up and could read almost the all of it.
Here’s some segments of the spoon fed lines:
Top of the page, in bold: Mike Lenz you are the budget and finance chairman. We have a huge surplus…
Middle in bold: My opponent doesn’t cut taxes, he cuts deals to get him on the public payroll. It’s time for an independent….
Bottom portion of page: We’ve got a huge tax increase from Hudson County. (Unclear) says nothing because he can’t.
Headline: “Taxes are not going down.” Now this one is interesting and what in poker you can call a tell, a tip off in the game. This is a sensitive subject but not in the way Tim Occhipinti thinks. For those who followed the November mayoral election, the last week leading in was a roller coaster. MSV had interviewed the fiscal state monitor, Judy Tripodi before the election. In her first ever interview in Hoboken on policy, she requested the truth be told of a tax decrease budgeted and asked MSV to do so. Surprised at this good fortune (unbeknownst to us, the fiscal state monitor was an MSV reader), our impormptu interview and exclusive story was quickly followed by others: and the Hudson Reporter and Hoboken Now confirmed the basic fact of the MSV story – a scheduled tax reduction was in the budget for 2010.
Just as the truth was getting out, Councilwoman Beth Mason had already committed to a media plan telling voters then Acting Mayor, Dawn Zimmer was in fact planning a 15% tax increase. What 15% tax increase you ask? Hey this is Beth Mason we’re talking about.
The results of the Tripodi interview and the other publications that followed created a zeitgeist of truth Beth Mason’s halfway to a million spending to obtain a job paying $115K couldn’t overcome. Hoboken411 who targeted the fiscal state monitor earlier in their typical hatchet job fashion toed the line in complete lockstep the Mason party line and avoided mentioning the truth to no avail leading into the election. The result: Mason came in a distant second vying with Frank Raia in a battle for second and third.
So even though the Occhipinti campaign will probably deny it, there’s too much of the Mason party line coming out of that binder, word for word to be incidental, let alone “independent.” Hoboken political observers know the pathology of that voice well. It actually doesn’t suit Tim, but his coach could care less and he was sitting right in the front row in front of his plebe. Hey, here’s the flotsam and jetsam Tim, just parrot what coach writes…
Lane Bajardi, ubermensch Beth Mason confidant sets his sights on Mike Lenz at the debate. His video efforts the last two times out, (the police press conference being the other) have all come to naught as the “news” doesn’t fit the propaganda requirements at Hoboken411. Occhipinti is his latest pet project when not ghostwriting for Hoboken411.
The typed pages in the binder were textbook positions chock full of the usual venom and hatred from Lane Bajardi and the Beth Mason party line of other worldly Hoboken reality. From the $20 million surplus lie to the false accusation of Hoboken Zoning Board seats being available for a $1,000 political donation, Occhipinti dutifully rattled off numerous positions Lane Bajardi has previously mouthed in his relentless monotone of conspiracies in City Council meetings.
The problem is, to the uninitiated Bajardi can make them sound plausible, if in nothing but his legato rate of enunciating half-truths, distortions and out and out lies. But unfortunately his hatred for all things Zimmer is almost always over the top. He’s been overheard in City Council recently muttering them to himself, the hatred oozing from his pores. But where do his revenge fantasies originate?
Some who have crossed paths earlier with the notorious Hoboken411 minion point to his and other Masonite supporters approach to then Council candidate Dawn Zimmer in 2007. She was asked to let them run her campaign and play junior supporter to a Beth Mason dynasty. After Zimmer declined, funding and defining her own policy objectives, the jihad has been in overdrive ever since. Zimmer’s battles against former councilman Chris Campos are now the stuff of legend, but when Councilwoman Zimmer finally took her seat, she found a hostile Beth Mason awaiting with an invitation to have her third and final winning election “investigated.” Beth Mason’s stated self-investigation of street money in her mayoral bid last year as told to the Hudson Reporter is still unknown. (Why doesn’t the Hudson Reporter follow up on their own story?)
So in listening to Tim Occhipinti feign mock anger in his best Lame voice, the audience hearing him for the first time had to wonder, how is this going over? Well not too well. Reviewing the video feed sent out live over the internet has proven to be a worse disaster than watching the performance live. But this is a fourth ward election and nothing is conclusive when it’s issues versus the machine’s political syndicate.
If it was any other ward in Hoboken, Occhipinti could start emptying the office and save a few dollars for some of his backers, but there’s a confidence among his campaign supporters that the Peter Cammarano locked in vote will stick with Occhipinti no matter what, issues and his competence at the debate be damned. Heck when Cammarano comes out of jail, they will happily pull the lever for him too, as long as the wheels are greased.
The biggest problem for Occhipinti: his poor anger management imitation just wasn’t credible. Now in Bajardi’s case, it’s 100% absolutely genuine and no lie goes too far or is over the top if it feeds his revenge fantasies against Mayor Zimmer who dared spurn his purple pillowless queen without a crown, Beth Mason. Even worse, Zimmer resoundingly delivered a thumping not once but twice in the span of last year’s mayoral races while even being outspent five to one!
At the recent special council meeting, when the subject of how much is the current cost to the city on the Municipal Garage arose, going from the lease amount of $100,000 to a low cost bonded ownership (now estimated at $20,000 monthly) Bajardi muttered aloud: $25.5 million to no one in particular. Hoboken411 just published that lie yet again yesterday as a freebie attached to their never ending series of we hate Mike Lenz historical tributes.
Unfortunately for Tim Occhipinti, only true hatred communicates authentically via camera. If you want to practice Tim, here’s the true face of hate you’re after:
Face of hate: Lane Bajardi at a recent City Council meeting. Although unemployed, he’s adopted a revenge fantasy against Mayor Zimmer as a full time job. The Occhipinti campaign being the latest means to that end would hand the mayor’s council majority to Councilman Mike Russo who backs Tim Occhipinti.
So if you take the final score in the debate last Wednesday, Mike Lenz comes in at 91 and Tim Occhipinti a 60 since we’re sure he’d prefer his Bajardi binder score over his own performance of 25.
Here’s some highs and lows for each of the candidates:
Mike Lenz – High point: answering a question on middle income housing. Tore the roof off with this one saying there should be an income means test at Church Towers and Marine View in order to encourage openings for new, eligible members like young officers on the Hoboken Police Force. It pointedly highlighted the Russo-Mason alliance and its corruptive, corrosive affect on middle income housing. Low point: not clearly detailing his choice on accepting the city’s health benefits versus his full time job. (All City Council members have the option to do so.)
Tim Occhipinti:High point: declining the option to take health benefits if he gets elected as fourth ward councilman. (He missed a better opportunity in not saying he would present a resolution eliminating health benefits to ALL Council members if elected. But then again, his supporter Councilman Mike Russo wouldn’t like that. That would however be at least one independent position.) Low point: his overall vindictive barbs. The one where he accused Mile Lenz of selling Hoboken Zoning seats for $1,000 each even made his own supporters groan out loud. Sitting in the audience was one Zoning Board member and she’s not given a nickel in donations to anyone.
Being that Occhipinti was recruited to speak on behalf of ex-mayor Peter Cammarano on his centralized powers to appoint Hoboken Zoning Board members right before his arrest, one would expect he’d handle this area with radioactive gloves. No doubt the vitriol lessons from coach Bajardi infected him.In the end however, the candidate is always responsible for the choices made in his name, whether it’s a debate or in expenditures, re: street money.
Occhipinti didn’t exhibit even a bare understanding of local issues. Even on the newly introduced Western Edge plan, although he appeared before the City Counil on that very topic, he declined to even try. Would it be a farfetched guess to say there was a tab missing on the subject in his spoon fed binder of typed Bajardi style fabricated speeches? Occhipinti said he would prefer to discuss a redevelopment plan in the fourth ward.
Did anyone tell this guy Council members vote on issue across the city?
Talking Ed Note: For those who didn’t see it, the debate video will be left up on the right side of the website until the election. Hoboken411 had led readers to believe it would do similarly but Perry Klaussen pulled the plug and voila, the debate now doesn’t exist. He must have gotten the heads up from the minion things didn’t go well.
Nothing is more telling in Occhipinti’s performance than the fact they can’t even edit something to mislead readers, a Hoboken411 specialty. Instead it’s been an onslaught of we hate Mike Lenz and the progress of Hoboken under Mayor Zimmer 24×7.
Typical Mason propaganda – Hoboken411 mentioned the debate going in but has ignored its existence since. Instead, the Hoboken411 minion has come up with some old manufactured items to replace the reality of the present. There’s no examination of the voting record of Mike Lenz vs Beth Mason on the council. Tim Occhipinti’s positions would better reflect that examination.
Lane Bajardi has rejected the reform movement entirely for new loves: Michellle five bucks-a-tow Russo along with an unquenchable anger and unrelenting quest for power. His colleague in hate, Perry Klaussen was seen recently in an embrace with Councilman Mike Russo in a rare public appearance. And that’s how the boys of hate at Hoboken411 roll.
For Tim Occhipinti, the descent has come even quicker than dismissing local good government folks and going whole hog with the old corrupt guard. After a true solo run for Council last year, he set himself up with a local volunteer website clearing house and returned for this special election as a protege of Maurice Fitzgibbons. The debate shows he didn’t have far to fall. He’s pretty much at rock bottom and is clearly over his head. Well at least he has company.
For better or worse depending on where you sit, this election isn’t over. This is after all the fourth ward, where the Machine never says die.