“A historic day for Hoboken”

Tuesday Update: Russo Clan Street Fight Edition, Part Deux

The historic day didn’t end during daylight hours yesterday – it bled into sweet nothings uttered throughout the evening.  The Russo street fight some may have thought finished after all the absentee ballots were counted in the Hoboken Democratic Committee election hardly made last night’s vote anti-climatic.

A plan to subvert the will of the voter was in actuality well under way.  It turned into a Tammany Hall type back room war leading to a bitter saga of subterfuge gone wrong. The Russo clan entered with an army including political operatives from both sides of its Mason-Russo alliance.  They were trash talking and all smiles early at the meeting but it ended with them collectively walking out during the final voice vote for honorary chair.  In short, this was a crushing blow to the Russos.

First to the Auggie Torres, Hobo411s of the world and its bitter minions, a final push off the plank and into the drink.  Their predictions (re: dreams) will now be filled with wild spin and/or vitriol and if you think it’s just limited to them, there’s a sweet feature from the Jolly Green Giant at the Hoboken Journal who was there for all the festivities to give you even more insights into the events of the evening.

One attendee recounted their amazement at “Democratic” Committee man Ricky Mason raising his hand in unison with Michelle Russo as they sought early on to move the leadership vote to a secret ballot.  Gee, maybe next time they’ll propose the whole thing be done by absentee ballot.  Can’t you smell the transparency?

Ravi Bhalla easily won the role of Chair pulling away in a 38-27 vote.  But that doesn’t begin to tell the story.  Mayor Zimmer’s Column B actually had a maximum potential of 40 votes but two committee winners were outside the the country due to travel plans.  That left 38 and there was some skullduggery afoot by the Russo clan set it would lead to a flat out tie.  In fact they were proudly predicting as much leading in to the vote.

There were lots of knowing cheshire cat grins and some condescending smiles along with mucho trash talking by the Russo forces before the vote was about to go down.  (Even though Mikie isn’t an elected Democrat Committee person, he still managed to escape the “VIP” section and work his way into the brawl, I mean bar.)

Oddly there was excitement in a prediction for a tie.  Now who gets excited about a tie?  As everyone knows that’s like bragging you kissed your sister.  Assemblyman Reuben Ramos, the current committee Chairman was ready to hand the victory to the Association if such a misfortune would befall the mayor’s Column B team.  His vote was guaranteed along with kisses and hugs from Michelle Russo sure to follow.

That plan was hatched by the Russo family over at La Familia HQ over on Adams St. more than an hour earlier.  Nervous panic was in the air when Column B members arrived and saw Russo operatives all over the place setting the table for the how the evening’s events would unfold.  But the plan mapped out in the back room on Adams St. came apart as 100% of the mayor’s Column B ticket showed up ready and able to vote while the Russo clan saw several people fail to show up pushing their vote down into the twenties.

After Ravi Bhalla won his role as Chair over Ines Garcia Keim, he presented his entire slate and opened the floor to other nominations.  No one offered a counter slate or candidacy with the writing on the wall after the first vote.  That is except for Ines who had other ideas.  She interjected she had another candidate for Treasurer.  She then proceeded to nominate herself!

What followed was a vote for Treasurer but one of the Russo people erred and so Ines received less votes for Treasurer than she had for Chair with Gary Holtman earning the nod by one vote more than Ravi Bhalla’s victory.

When the vote then proceeded for the symbolic role of Honorary Chair, the Russos and their allies promptly got up and began trudging out right during the voice vote.  Their political operatives and new “friends” are already predicting they’ll be back next year with even more absentee ballots to ensure these results don’t occur again!

Several of the mayor’s Column B candidates embraced the challenge responding, “Bring it!”

Related: A first hand account from a participant – yes, it’s Grafix Avenger!  My Spanish is rusty, how do you say, “I’m not a Democrat but I’m very, very angry” in acceptable dialect south of the border?

Here’s more with a first hand report from that big green HCDO hack vegetable:

June 14th

The final “unofficial” tallies are official in the local party committee races and Mayor Zimmer’s endorsed slate of “Column B” candidates are the big winners for the Hoboken Democratic Committee!  With a tally likely 40-32,* her Column B Democratic Committee is firmly in position to select their choice of Chairperson at Monday night’s meeting.

Phil Cohen, a Hoboken activist and current member on the Hoboken Zoning Board described the importance of this win calling it “a historic day for Hoboken.”

Phil Cohen, speaking at the City Council last night

In formulating a ticket for the Democrat majority in Hoboken, Mayor Zimmer created a list of candidates who were clear supporters of her vision for moving Hoboken forward.  In limiting the Line B to candidates who shared her values, she further strengthens the local Democratic Committee organization.  She will now act to support her choice in the reorganization meeting Monday evening.  It’s expected she will throw her support to Councilman Ravi Bhalla who has asked for members support for the role of Chairman.  The Hoboken Journal reported over the weekend Ines Garcia Keim also was seeking the role.

Line C, a group of candidates put forward by a group named “Real Democrats” led by Michelle Russo, the wife of former mayor Anthony Russo, failed to deliver on an overall strategy to hold sway over the Democratic machinery in Hoboken, targeting several Column B individuals for defeat.  Absentee ballots played a central factor in achieving that end in two races, but failed to stop its third target: Phil Cohen, a member of the Hoboken Zoning Board.

“This is a new Democratic Party.  It’s a very exciting day,” Phil Cohen said adding this was a culmination of reform efforts over many years.  One well known political operative working for Michelle Russo remarked leading into the election that “Phil Cohen is dead” but even with a bullseye on his back, Phil won in a spirited battle over former Corporation Counsel Steve Kleinman.

One of the more intriguing aspects of the election was a quiet but effective write-in campaign by two residents, Larry Russ and Nathalie Waite who won the 6-2 district.  Michelle Russo erroneously counted them among the Column C winners for the Russo family in a Facebook communication.

As it turns out, the two winners are strong advocates of Mayor Zimmer’s reform agenda.  Their campaign was so low key no one knew who they supported even after their lead in the initial vote tally.  Both victors are affiliated with Stevens and described as never having considered backing the Russo family.  Some believed there were potential defectors among Column C leading into the weekend when word of their win began to get out.  Both intend to attend the Monday night meeting

Talking Ed Note:  In the latest in a string of election victories for reform in Hoboken going back to the initial Kids First victory in April of last year, the tenor of the politics and machine “powder” grinding in Hoboken has been turned on its head.  From the mayor’s seat, a working City Council coalition, the Planning Board, the Zoning Board, the Hospital Authority a new group of professionals working on behalf of Hoboken have replaced the expectations of favors, subsidized apartments, paid jobs, and old school politics.

Provisional ballots came in at 12 total, eight for the Democrats.  Ann Graham received two provisional votes but came up three votes short in her run.

Somewhere Sam Briggs is smiling.  Sam was the campaign manager for Mayor Zimmer in both her spring and fall campaign for mayor last year and had a hand in laying the ground work for the Democratic Committee.  Many people have worked hard not only in this latest reform victory but for years leading into the unofficial win.

* These numbers are unofficial.  The city, county and state do not do official election totals beyond notifying the winners.  Originally, the “Real Dems” total was listed as 33.  These latest figures may or may not be entirely accurate and are meant to be more of a benchmark.  Tonight’s reorg meeting is of critical importance in determining the Hoboken Democratic leadership.

Update: June 23rd – This thread has gone far off the topic.  After ample time for that, the thread is now closed.  The conversation can be taken up again in yesterday’s more appropriate thread with the little squirrel.  We’ll leave this “historic” one as is.  Da Horsey.


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