Letter: Nino Giacchi and Terry Castellano just refuse to ‘get it’ on corruption
Anyone who thinks that Councilman Mike Russo has done anything but embarrass Hoboken and its residents is blatantly ignoring reality. Agreeing to break the law by pocketing a $5,000 bribe and rushing through development deals with the same man who brought down ex-mayor Peter Cammaranno has thrown Hoboken’s name through the mud once again. But what makes the situation even worse is elected officials like Councilwoman Theresa Castellano and Councilman Nino Giacchi who are not outraged at the corrupt behavior displayed by Councilman Russo, but instead act like Russo’s actions were a simple lapse in judgment.
Castellano and Giacchi’s display of ambivalence at the April 6 city council meeting towards Councilman Russo’s meeting with undercover FBI informant Soloman Dwek is inexcusable. Giacchi must not understand the higher moral standard to which elected officials are held and the subsequent effects of their negative behavior when he referred to the outrage against Councilman Russo just as “political theater.” Does he not realize that, because of Councilman Russo’s actions, residents of Hoboken and colleagues of Councilman Russo can’t even trust him to abide by the rules he helps regulate? He also stated that he was ready to get back to the business of improving Hoboken. I’ve got news for you, Councilman Giacchi – residents can’t rely on public officials like Councilman Russo to improve Hoboken if they’re ready to sell out our city to developers while lining their pockets with thousand dollar bills.
Similarly, Councilwoman Castellano shamelessly defended Councilman Russo, her cousin, stating several times that he “did not commit a crime.” No, Councilwoman, your cousin did not technically break the law; his actions, however, were just as bad if not worse – he erased every ounce of credibility and trust with the residents of Hoboken that he had left as an elected official. Simply calling his behavior “irresponsible” is ignoring the fact that Councilman Russo did not just display arrogance and boastfulness – he was ready to throw Hoboken residents under the bus for his own personal gain.
You can’t tell me that any upstanding Hoboken resident can look Councilman Russo in the eye and believe a word that comes out of his mouth or trust him to do the job for which he was elected. I’m embarrassed for Hoboken that people like Councilman Russo who not only refuse to take responsibility for their actions, but also for elected officials who allow this to occur – especially those who refused to ask Russo to step down from all posts of authority on the city council and instead let him pass with a small slap on the wrist.
It makes me think that certain council members have learned nothing from the mistakes of elected officials-turned-criminals like ex-mayors Peter Cammaranno and Anthony Russo.
1st Ward Committeeman
This letter first appeared in the weekend edition of the Hudson Reporter.
For reference, brief video of the complete remarks at the City Council meeting portion on Mike Russo’s bribe videos by Councilman Nino Giacchi and Councilwoman Terry Castellano follow: