Grist for the Mill – 4th Ward Conspiracy Edition

Although some good citizens brought the transparency issue front and center last Monday night during the battle over the 4th ward council appointment, the real scuttlebutt was the behind the scenes maneuvering.  If you really believe the arguments on behalf of the fourth ward appointment’s delay came from sincere caring or concern, let Da Horsey dispel you of such naive notions.

The skirmish over the critical swing vote on the City Council was nothing short of an all out Cold War with more skullduggery than a Soviet Union-US spy game.  Legal brainstorming mapped out earlier than most knew surfaced on the city’s audio feed with Corporation Counsel Steve Kleinman heard saying on the break right after the swearing in of Councilman Mike Lenz, “Nino, all I can do.  I thought about this for the last four hours.  (Unintelligible)  Face it, what can you do?” The consolation was extended to Councilman Nino Giacchi who played his part charmingly well, consistently advocating a carpe diem version of “seize delay.”  To his credit Nino did offer a grudging congratulatory handshake to the new councilman as Mike Lenz walked by, far better than the limp effort Kleinman extended.  

The hours long 4th ward saga had a kindergarten dance of the flowers recital quality about it. The truth is the legal strategy had been earlier plotted and peddled no later than that weekend.  Some leakage of a hazy Russo clan-Mason strategy devised to prevent any candidate from getting the coveted appointment reached us but without coherence.  With the 30 day clock almost half evaporated since the swearing in of the new mayor, the idea was to have it eclipse entirely and force a February 2010 4th ward election.  Then back to a full court four on four press in the City Council, blocking any significant advance of Mayor Zimmer’s agenda and taking the war to the streets of the 4th ward.

The eventual dissenting vote was actually quite the Machiavellian strategy. The legal question: what technically constitutes a tie permitting the mayor to make a decisive vote. Is a 4-4 vote the same legally as 4-3-1 vote with the “1” being present/abstention?  Right after the vote, everyone immediately looked stage right as Peter Cunningham called on the temporary but more experienced counsel Mr. Ed Buzak to render an opinion.  The result was his declaration the abstention was legally a 5-3 result in the affirmative. Councilwoman Beth Mason, the Obama imitator voting “present,” vehemently shook her head no and Counsel Ed Buzak continued to offer the second opinion stating alternatively the mayor could vote and break the tie. Steve Kleinman assented only offering a vague hope of a legal challenge.  Will Ricky Mason’s checkbook please report to the Russo Association courtesy desk?

Naming a successor to Dawn Zimmer’s fourth ward seat and maintaining her coalition against the obstructionist forces was also far from a slam dunk. The mayor’s nature of seeking consensus was once again in play.  Candidates on the short list were given ample time to individually make a case and the coalition itself had a strong role in the decision.  When push came to shove, the importance of the selection remained with the mayor.  After all, this was a seat she had fought rough battles over on the streets of the fourth ward.  To this day, her opponents talk with disdain of her eliminating Chris Campos in some of the most heated contests in memory.

The idea that the pick was made long in advance with everyone else on the short list a sideshow is erroneous.  Ask yourself who to believe, Da Horsey who broke the Judy Tripodi taxes are going down story, or the uptown sleaze merchant who refused to admit, let alone mention that truth even after Hoboken Now and the Hudson Reporter did follow up stories confirming same. Hobo411 feeds readers more propaganda than a typical edition of Pravda before the Berlin Wall came down. The hatred of all things Zimmer has cast such paranoid delusions, he’s still spinning away in his own self-made cannibalistic stew.  Go on Oscar, enjoy.  Good boy.

If you thought the drama was over after Councilman Mike Lenz was sworn in, well not quite.  After the vote, Mayor Zimmer was seen in the lobby trying to calmly explain to Tony Soares that he like other candidates were provided ample time to make their case for the 4th Ward appointment.  Apparently, the former city councilman did not take the finality well yelling with plenty of people nearby, “I was with you from the beginning.  You owe me!” Only in Hoboken folks, only in Hoboken.

Update: Monday 8:40 – In an email exchange Tony Soares offered a clarification.  To the question of whether the mayor had given him opportunity to present himself and his strengths for the appointment, Tony stated, “I did not yell at her, nor did I say ‘you owe me’ the rest I am not denying.  For the record: since that encounter the Mayor and I have talked and there is no conflict.  I remain a supporter of her administration and policies.  Mike Lenz is has been an ally, friend and close advisor of mine for nearly 20 years, I know he will serve this city well.”

Related:  The Hudson Reporter is reporting that “Some old Hoboken people are considering backing Soares against Lenz in November instead.”  For the record, we also heard this but did not have sufficient verification even for our rumor series, “Grist for the Mill.”  As America’s most beloved pony, we have to answer to an even higher standard.  

Update: 5:45  In a brief conversation, Steve Kleinman, the corporation counsel answered our questions on the process and role he and Counsel Ed Buzak played leading into the vote for the 4th ward appointment.  Steve had spent time researching any number of possible outcomes through the afternoon and also during part of the meeting itself.  Although he had not spoken to Councilman Nino Giacchi at all leading up to the time a legal opinion was offered, he did consult with various council members during the day on all sides of the issue(s).  The offhand remark in our piece was incomplete and not illustrative of those efforts.  Mile Square View wishes to thank Mr. Kleinman for his time in providing a complete picture and also being a self-described avid reader.

Sam Briggs, Man of the Hour

Break Maiden No More

Sam Briggs, Campaign Manger for the Zimmer Campaign both in the first and second election leaves with a blowout victory in hand. Sam’s efforts have played a significant part in the success of the Kids First school board, a Democratic committee, city council and mayoral election.  Well three out of four ain’t bad. Until he takes the true party back from George Soros, we refuse to declare him a genius.    The John F. Kennedy saying applies, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”  Sam leaves Hoboken a proud papa.

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