Jersey City judge in Facebook flap
JERSEY CITY – Radames “Ray” Velazquez didn’t have much to say last week moments after the Jersey City Council majority failed to approve his judicial appointment to the city’s municipal court. But he had plenty to say on Facebook over the weekend.
By a vote of 5 to 4, the Jersey City Council last week rejected two judicial appointments recommended by Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, who is up for re-election in May.
Healy had recommended Carlo Abad to be the chief judge for the Jersey City Municipal Court and Velazquez to be a full-time judge for the Municipal Court. Both men had also received the support of the Hudson County Assignment Judge, who agreed with Healy’s recommendations.
But City Council members Steven Fulop, David Donnelly, Diane Coleman, Nidia Lopez, and Rolando Lavarro Jr. all voted against Abad and Velazquez, arguing that they wanted more input in the judicial selection process and felt it was inappropriate for Healy to make these important appointments just three months before a municipal election.
Healy is being challenged in May by Fulop. City Council members Coleman, Lopez, and Lavarro are allied with Fulop and are also running for re-election on his slate.
(The assigning judge for Hudson County Superior Court has since appointed Abad to be the Jersey City municipal judge in an acting capacity. The next mayoral administration will make a recommendation on a permanent candidate for the post after the upcoming municipal elections in May. Adad becomes the first Filipino American to serve as Jersey City’s chief municipal judge.)
But Velazquez took to Facebook over the weekend and told of an interesting series of events.
In one post he wrote: “Truth be told Steve Fulop reached out to me within hours of my resigning as deputy mayor to seek out my support for his campaign. He and his campaign manager took me to lunch at the Brownstone where we discussed the campaign for mayor. I was courted for my endorsement and was actually considering it. He told me our historical issues were behind us and that my perspective was valued. When the vacancy on the Municipal Court came up, I called him for his support. He told me to wait until he was mayor. I told him that I would not do that. So he and his running mates have chosen to use their political office to malign and defame me. I think asking me to wait until he was mayor was tantamount to quid pro quo and illegal. Councilman Lavarro went so far to say during the council meeting that my appointment was a payoff by Healy to me. This defamatory statement will be the subject of my lawsuit to be filed in the coming days. Shame on all of them for attempting to destroy me and my reputation for not going along with their program. See you all in court.”
After Fulop responded, calling Velazquez a “liar,” Velazquez uploaded screen shots of Facebook messages the two exchanged back on December 19. The screen shots read as follows:
Velazquez: “Are we meeting tomorrow?”
Velazquez: “Just wondering, is this just us, or should I expect Junior and Anthony? Don’t get me wrong, I like Junior and Anthony, but it might be a little difficult for me to speak freely.”
Fulop: “Junior set it up and John Thieroff is point person on the campaign…i [sic] think Junior is the guy that facilitated it and Thieroff on my end important. I think we can move past historical issues there is ok with you.”
After the uploaded exchange a few negative comments regarding Fulop, the councilman responded with a post of his own.
“Ray. I think you are losing it,” Fulop wrote. “Our judges should be professional at all times and I think this highlights the point. Why don’t you post the entire thread of emails and exchanges that you wrote on fb pre and post lunch. I am happy to share.”
“Steve I’ll see you in court,” Velazquez responded. “I’ll see you in court.”
Chet Richey, a Velazquez Facebook friend, finally interjected the famous quote from Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along???”
The answer is no, apparently.
The Healy campaign is already prepared to make the flap over the judicial appointments a political issue in the campaign.
Over the weekend the mayor’s campaign made a series of robocalls to Filipino households in the city stating that Fulop and his allies blocked his appointment.
To read comments on this news item, go to hudsonreporter.com, where it was posted over the weekend. – E. Assata Wright
Hoboken Police to implement DWI checkpoint on Saturday
The Hoboken Police Department’s Traffic Bureau will be conducting a D.W.I. checkpoint on Saturday, Feb. 23. The location of the checkpoint will be on Willow Avenue (southbound) at Sixteenth Street. The approximate hours of operation will be from midnight to 4 a.m. The goal of the program is to reduce citizen injury due to D.W.I. related collisions.
Local Super Bowl skirmish makes national news
Secaucus and Mayor Michael Gonnelli made national headlines last week when Gonnelli along with four other Meadowlands-area mayors refused to offer municipal services during Super Bowl 2014.
According to a statement issued by the mayors, MetLife stadium, owned by the New York Jets and the New York Giants, has done little to help offset any costs for the surrounding communities when larger events occur at the stadium. Should the NFL teams ask for their police, fire, EMT or OEM services during Super Bowl 2014, their answer will be clear, "don't ask."
The news made headlines across major media outlets including the Washington Post and NBCsports.com. Gonnelli also appeared on NJTV and WPIX Evening News to discuss the matter.
The public statements have stirred up reactions. NJSEA President Wayne Hasenbalg and MetLife Stadium CEO Brad Mayne are in the process of arranging a meeting with the Meadowlands area mayors to discuss their concerns.
“The teams have never been good corporate neighbors to the region,” said Mayor William Roseman of Carlstadt in a written statement. “Every football game, every concert, is nothing more than a nightmare to the towns that are either next to the stadium or towns that endure the event day traffic congestion.” According to Roseman, each event requires overtime expenses for the Police Department, which is funded through taxpayers.
In the press statement, Gonnelli “made it clear that he would lead a concerted effort to make sure the region’s towns do not participate in any Super Bowl planning or activity that will require the towns to pick up any costs.” He called the lease signed between Acting Governor Dick Cody and the New York Jets and New York Giants “a slap in the face to each and every taxpayer in the state of New Jersey.”
According to the statement, the NFL teams reportedly receive $425 million, pay $6 million for 75 acres of property, and keep all parking revenue.
“How do you give away state assets and property without proper compensation?” asked Gonnelli.
According to the statement, the state was left with $230 million in stranded debt from the old stadium that is being paid for by tax dollars.
Bereavement group for widows under 60
A Bereavement Group for Widows under the age of 60 is open for registration. The group, offered by Jewish Family Service of MetroWest New Jersey, will meet on Mondays from 7:30 to 8:30 pm beginning March 4 and will run for eight weeks. The group will offer an opportunity for women who have suffered the loss of a spouse to share their experiences in a safe and confidential environment. It will be facilitated by Anne Mollen, LCSW and co-facilitated by Rabbi Shira Stern, a board certified Jewish Chaplain. The group is funded by a grant from the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey and is offered free of charge.
The sessions will be held at Jewish Family Service of MetroWest, 256 Columbia Turnpike, Florham Park. For information and to register, contact Ann Mollen at (973) 765-9050, ext. 1721 or firstname.lastname@example.org.