A story that had been trickling around other news sites last week has now been picked up by a larger one -- CNN -- attempting to point out "contradictions" from Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, and including some new information.
Zimmer spoke out publicly three weeks ago on MSNBC, accusing high-ranking officials in the administration of Gov. Chris Christie of allegedly making unethical comments to her improperly tying Hurricane Sandy aid to approval or help in expediting a crony's private development. Since then, the story has been covered in hundreds of media outlets.
Also on Monday, WNYC posted a story that may lend credence to Zimmer's claims.
Links to both stories are below. Feel free to leave comments at the end of this story,
CNN report takes aim at Zimmer
CNN notes in its story that Zimmer told them in an interview two weeks ago that she was unsure whether Christie retaliated against Hoboken for her lack of endorsement of Christie last November. Zimmer made similar comments to the Hoboken Reporter during the week and a half in which MSNBC was in the process of researching a story based on information Zimmer provided about a different kind of retailiation. CNN noted Zimmer's comments in its new story on Monday, asking why Zimmer would have said she wasn't sure about retaliation.
CNN also discusses the lawsuit brought by the city's former public safety director, Angel Alicea, in which Alicea recently won a jury award of $1 million from the city of Hoboken for wrongful termination. Alicea's lawyer, Louis Zayas, who has represented many clients against Hoboken, has pointed to testimony in the Alicea case in which Zimmer said she doesn't take notes on meetings with directors. He has said that this proves that Mayor Zimmer doesn't keep a diary, as she has suggested in connection with the Christie matter. However, the question Zimmer responds to in the Alicea testimony is not about diaries and not about general everyday activities.
The CNN story notes that Zimmer kept adding Christie officials to the list of people who allegedly spoke of a quid pro quo between development and Sandy money, in various media interviews. Zimmer spokesman Juan Melli responds to CNN by saying that different reporters asked different questions.
The CNN story does have some new information. It notes:
Zimmer said on "Anderson Cooper 360˚" that when she asked for the administration's support of a flood mitigation project, Ferzan told her, "'Well, mayor, you need to let me know how much development you're willing to do.' That was the answer that I got back. So, I mean, that pressure is there."The story also makes reference to the lawsuit recently re-filed by Hoboken Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia against the Zimmer administration, with Garcia alleging that the administration's members pressured him in his role as the head of the Hoboken Housing Authority. (That story was extensively covered by the Reporter since last year, and can be read here.) Garcia and Zimmer's allies have long been in a power struggle over decisions for the HHA, which oversees the city's public housing projects (a source of contracts and, of course, votes at election time).
But, according to notes from the November 25 meeting taken by a source in the room, Zimmer spoke twice during the Sandy recovery briefing that included about 20 state and local officials. And neither time Ferzan addressed Zimmer's concerns did it appear he was pressuring her, according to the notes.
The Reporter will post a response to this story from the Zimmer administration if one is received.
Last week, stories noted here that were in the New York Times and other outlets were favorable toward Zimmer, but the CNN account takes a different tack. To read the CNN story, click here.
Did Hoboken get less Sandy aid?
Meanwhile, WNYC, an outlet that has been following Zimmer's revelations for several weeks, says that other media outlets' stories from two weeks ago (not to mention Christie's story) of Hoboken getting the proper Hurricane Sandy aid might not be accurate. Several news outlets, including MSNBC, reported over the last few days that there were problems and apparent irregularities with how Sandy aid was doled out and reported for certain projects.
The WNYC story notes: "An examination of the fund shows that despite a scoring system that awarded various towns and cities points for eligibility based on factors such as population size, population density, and previous FEMA claims, Hoboken has been awarded the same amount — $142,080 — as much smaller towns like Mt. Arlington and Old Tappan, neither of which experienced much damage from Sandy or previous storms. And Hoboken was awarded far less than Nutley, which was allocated $556,000, although it escaped the storm relatively unscathed."
The story also says that Jersey City did not get aid comparable to certain similar towns.
Read Monday's WNYC story here.
How do you feel about these stories? Leave comments below.