Mister Carmelo busts a move for another public gig: Sixth ward council!


An exclusive comprehensive feature on the recent dare doings of Mister Carmelo

Hoboken’s Carmelo Garcia, counted by many as among the most controversial of Mile Square City residents is mounting a campaign to take on sixth ward councilwoman Jen Giattino in the sixth ward.

Before continuing on, a word of warning. Hoboken election politics are not for the faint of heart. When one walks the Mile Square thinking of how the gilded bird sings so lovely, underneath is a rusted “On the Waterfront” ruin exploited at every turn by an at-the-ready Old Guard.

Foolishly walking into a Hoboken street interfering with a truck laden with parking meters quarters heading to a south Jersey mob connected arcade company may lead you into far more trouble than merely being sideswiped in the intersection.

Far worse, you could find yourself named in an “ethnic cleansing” civil lawsuit, as one example.

The ever controversial Carmelo “the Wire” Garcia (c) is set to formally announce his run for the sixth ward  council seat early next month taking on incumbent Jen Giattino. Ruben Ramo (r) is expected to similarly announce a run for the fourth ward as part of a possible citywide Carmelo Garcia Ticket.

For those of you brave enough to suffer the slings and arrows of public participation in the Mile Square daring to raise questions or corruption scrutiny toward current and wannabe Old Guard public officials, the warning “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” applies.

Now that some of you have been forewarned; here’s the crux of what lies ahead in the Hoboken sixth ward council seat election.

Carmelo Garcia is launching a bid to be the sixth ward councilman looking to unseat popular incumbent Jen Giattino. Expect lots of fantasy political chatter, finger pointing and dirt from the bowels of the fourth ward rolling right over the entirety of the sixth ward like a toxic fog.

Mister Carmelo’s campaign will be formally announced early next month at the Hoboken Public Library; under controversy as is the typical umbrella over Garcia on any given day whether it rains, snows, sleets or perfectly clear and sunny.

The Hoboken Library is a taxpayer supported entity but Mister Carmelo is apparently circumventing a loophole, some would say obnoxiously so misusing a public institution for a no cost political event.

Par for the course in the universe of the Old Guard Hoboken style governance. Mister Carmelo has a special love for loopholes. They are however, in his mind not always required. Under those circumstances, explanations are at the ready. Long, breathy and of the forked tongue variety looking the observer re: victim dead in the eye, sometimes with a wry, knowing smile.

If there’s one thing Garcia is historically fond; it’s being on the receiving end of public institutional largess. He’s found his way on to another public payroll, this time in Newark while exiting one on the NJ Assembly. He had been listed as a county aide to Freeholder Anthony “Stick” Romano for a number of years at $5,000 annually. This, at the low end of his taxpayer paid livelihood.

Reportedly, like the Assembly seat, he’s been “expunged” from that role but no one can tell you what taxpayers benefited on that relatively paltry amount. It came in like clockwork for many years. Some say it was earned during election time when the Hoboken Housing Authority sees a swarm set upon it like a biblical plague of locusts.

Before his termination as HHA Executive Director last August, Garcia allegedly pocketed thousands of dollars from its agency vendors who in turn were issued millions in contracts from the public agency during his watch.

Unfortunately, many if not all of those contracts well into seven figures were not approved as legally required by the HHA board of commissioners. Garcia called that an unfortunate but trifling oversight.

He blamed much of his unapproved actions on Hurricane Sandy, wrote off his expenditures as part of an “emergency” anointing himself with broader powers than a US governor in a federally declared disaster area.

Also to blame Garcia said was the seven member HHA board chaired by Dana Wefer in what he declared to his “Wire” as “his board.” He called their oversight actions many names. Some will find their way on to the streets of the fourth ward this November.

Of the thousands of dollars Garcia pocketed into his non-existent Assembly re-election campaign war chest, his supporters describe it as maybe unethical but not illegal. Some will join the Carmelo Ticket and run together, officially or unofficially depending on who you talk to across the city for six of the nine City Council seats up for election this November.

With several federal subpoenas believed already issued to the HHA since Garcia’s departure, the November ballot can’t be described as final just yet. This is Hoboken but the feds have not shown anywhere the same Hudson County love as West New York or Union City.

Then there’s the lingering controversy of repeated break-ins and car vandalism of one HHA resident: Jessica Coco. After numerous media stories picked up on the details of her allegations, Garcia quickly denounced them as imaginary – all without lifting a finger to investigate her claims.

Garcia’s ouster at the HHA simultaneously ended all the illicit “activity” Coco was reporting over months. She alleged a document was shoved held through a dark hallway door asking for her signature. She claims it was an eviction notice and refused.

The reason for Coco’s alleged intimidation and harassment? She along with a small group of HHA residents voiced skepticism about the controversial redevelopment plan urged by Garcia called Vision 20/20. Some critics, MSV among them, lampooned the undocumented plan being force fed on the HHA residents and the City of Hoboken.

Mayor Zimmer reviewed an “emergency” approval thrown at her last minute. She issued a detailed letter and rejected the request. Garcia upped the ante and led a series of protests by his followers, the Carmelitos, who vocally demanded a vote approving his undocumented plan.

Reform oriented council members listened to all the yelling and held firm refusing each time as the mayhem grew louder heading into the November 2013 mayoral and council at-large election.

Garcia visibly frustrated and angry at his inability to successfully apply Rev. Al Sharpton tactics to see doubled the size (and density) of the downtown HHA campus enlisted others. His Old Guard allies on the City Council all echoed his talking points demanding approval of a plan not documented anywhere for public review.

Terry Castellano, Timmy Occhipinti, Michael Russo and Beth Mason all demanded their opposing reform oriented colleagues on the City Council join them and vote yes. Racism charges and KKK references ensued directed at Council members Peter Cunningham, Ravi Bhalla, Dave Mello and Jen Giattino.

Reform based council members refused to give in to the intimidation. Successive Carmelitos council visits dwindled to a handful of hard core Garcia acolytes. The reform council led by Mayor Dawn Zimmer swept the November 2013 elections. Vision 20/20 disappeared into the ethers whence it came.

Another chapter in the Mister Carmelo history, Garcia’s mano-a-mano battle to the death when an earlier HHA board thought it prudent to rotate the legal counsel. Garcia took on the request as their insubordination not his. Seven attempts to shove the approval down the board’s throat followed. Former HHA chair Jake Stuiver publicly challenged number five. Mister Carmelo kept trying while deploying another less visible method.

Garcia retaliated with a complaint to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office against Stuiver. The complaint went nowhere but a questionable resolution by Michael Russo and Timmy Occhipinti surfaced briefly voicing similar allegations at Stuiver.

Echoes of Judge Macias in Union City’s words ring familiar, “This is Hudson County dirty politics.”

Yet more to the Garcia saga. A HHA audit saw the writing on the wall and didn’t pull its punches, another story exclusive (sadly) on MSV. More telling revelations piled up under the “leadership” of Mister Carmelo. Other local media conveniently slept through the audit’s damning and alarming findings. (You’ve never seen a word mentioned about any of it in the Hudson Reporter.)

Last but not least, Carmelo Garcia infamously filed an “ethnic cleansing” lawsuit against Mayor Zimmer, her husband and various members of the HHA board of commissioners. It’s been filed repeatedly, thrown out of court, refiled and amended.

More HHA board members individually and collectively added to the defendants list. Mr. Louis Zayas is Mr. Carmelo’s counsel of record.

Dana Wefer being sworn-in as a Hoboken Housing Authority commissioner as other members including Eduardo Gonzalez (rear center) and then HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia look on. All are mounting council runs for the Hoboken City Council ward seats: fourth, fifth and sixth wards respectively. 

Talking Ed Note: How someone runs to hold public office representing the Mile Square City while simultaneously suing it for ethnic cleansing (among other frivolous allegations) is a question deserving an answer.

Undoubtedly, Carmelo Garcia will have one. He always does.

You can safely return to enjoying your summer ice cream now Hoboken. The rest of you, be afraid, very afraid.

Leave a Reply