Horse Sense: Carmelo Garcia goes to ground as pay to play comes to light

Carmelo Garcia’s self-proclaimed victimization terminally exposed with pay to play violations

Embattled Executive Director Carmelo Garcia has gone to ground, in hiding after the undisputed connection between his taking money from at least two vendors in the Hoboken Housing Authority was revealed in an MSV investigative report yesterday.

Key questions arise with at least two firms, Hauser Bros. Inc. and Haddad Electrical. Both firms gave money to Garcia in the form of political contributions last March as billings not authorized in advance by the HHA board skyrocketed well into six figures.

The whole affair has the familiar Old Guard taint of how business is done in Hoboken. That taint extends to a political operation conducted hand in hand with the pro Old Guard media; the Hudson Distorter where the publisher and its editors rolled out a coordinated attack against reform elements leading to a key council appointment using the lowest race baiting tactics in an attempt to forestall further scrutiny in the HHA.

While the Hudson Reporter has continued to defend its support of “benevolent race baiting” by itself and its Old Guard allies, unbearably so with its publishing numerous easily disproved racial remarks by Carmelo Garcia’s paid aide, it avoided basic, minimal due diligence in looking where the smoke has been billowing for over a year.

Carmelo Garcia has flouted HUD procurement policy, repeatedly showed a total disregard for the will of the HHA Board of Commissioners and exhibited a complete inability to work with others pushing a ridiculous massive redevelopment called Vision 20/20 with no public documentation or required Master Plan other than a non-binding glossy brochure.

The ugliest racist allegations were flouted in last week’s City Council meeting where the Old Guard council members attempted to apply one more rear guard action on behalf of an exposed Old Guard ally. Not merely an instinctive defense for one of their own, they knew the stakes for Garcia and their Vision Money Money dreams would go up in smoke with a Reform oriented HHA board firmly in place.

Unlike the financial and criminal improprieties uncovered at the BoE and City Hall, the reform efforts uncovering malfeasance in the HHA has been revealed at the speed of light – two meetings – led by the new HHA Chairwoman Dana Wefer.

Which leads us to the one upcoming question at hand among others. Are we looking at possible bribery or extortion charges?

Based on the timing, the latter is more likely as the monies given to Carmelo Garcia’s political committee, Garcia for Assembly mirror a quid pro quo to the hilt with the quid (vendor billings) coming before the quo (payments to Garcia), separated by mere months.

What becomes clearer is Garcia’s defense of the billings to the vendors in question is glaringly deficient and terminally so with the money he’s taken from both. This is the very definition of pay to play, Hoboken Soprano style.

Don’t expect much in the way of honor from Carmelo Garcia. His actions on a whole host of fronts steers far from that concept. From illicitly recording a former Hoboken Senate Majority Leader in the person of the esteemed Bernard Kenny to ruling out of hand the series of criminal actions against HHA residents especially Jessica Coco – the list of people victimized by his single minded megalomania is lengthy. The cynical civil lawsuits filed by both he and attorney Louis Zayas brought national disrepute on Hoboken.

Justice doesn’t arrive in Hoboken often. This may be one instance where it does.

Let’s hope it arrives sooner than later.

HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia has disgraced the public office he holds and the community
he is pledged to serve. Hoboken has seen enough with obvious pay to play abuses and is overdue
for a modicum of justice. Carmelo Garcia must relinquish his role as HHA Executive Director.

Talking Ed Note: This Horse Sense editorial is dedicated to my brother Dino.

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