Three years ago this very week the State of NJ was turned on its ear with the biggest corruption case in its history. Hoboken became a late casualty relatively speaking when FBI informant Solomon Dwek visited Hudson County and netted a network of good ole boys between Hoboken and Jersey City.
The short lived term of less than a month of Peter Cammarano as Hoboken mayor hit like a tsunami but left almost as quickly as the receding waters. The Old Guard paused, smirked, and re-assembled for business as usual installing Tim Occhipinti as its rejoinder, running an incalculable amount of “campaign workers” producing 500 paper ballots for a ward election where less than 800 votes total would normally win the election outright.
That familiar scowl. Peter Cammarano is gone but his legacy lives on with Hoboken’s Old Guard.
Cynical? The Old Guard wasn’t done yet. Viewing Mayor Zimmer as illegitimate when she took the reins from day one, there’s been no respite, no detente, no objective but her and Hoboken’s destruction. A buyer for the local hospital, a miracle drawn out in a legitimate, legal and future standard for similar institutions became the target of sabotage, venal hatreds and closure.
Bankrupting the City of Hoboken considered a mere side political benefit in what Tim Occhipinti would so smugly declare of the hospital sale, “It’s not our deal.” Meaning of course the hospital’s demise was merely a side benefit to take down the mayor. Sabotaging the sale of a century old institution and putting 1,000 people out of work mere cannon fodder.
The Old Guard abhorred a legal process where the hospital authority board acted independently, not cutting them into a side deal where they and their cronies could benefit. Beth Mason saw the subterfuge of undermining the sale as a vindictive win for her dual defeats to Mayor Zimmer and went about bringing bankruptcy to Hoboken falling just short.
Progress in Hoboken has been fought at every turn, obstruction for its own sake the most basic weapon in a longer unseemly arsenal. Even the Hoboken Police Department became victims with overdue infrastructure improvements stonewalled for months. The Old Guard’s veneration of nepotism had to take a back seat with public safety and decent working conditions pushed aside.
A packed City Council chambers last October applauds Dr. Abby Jacobs of HUMC and Mayor Dawn Zimmer after the City Council finally stood down and allowed the hospital parking agreement to become effective and thus complete its sale. The Old Guard sabotage came within an eyelash of success and would have destroyed a century old institution, over 1,000 jobs and bankrupted Hoboken.
It’s been this way for three years. Reform needs every solider, every family, every citizen to remain vigilante. It stands against the tide of Hoboken’s On the Waterfront past, a local media at best indifferent but mostly hostile to Reform and sympathetic to an intractable, unrelenting corrupt Old Guard.
It’s why the past is prologue and why the war for the soul of this town goes on.