Making it up as they go along
Jul 15, 2018 | 1229 views | 0 0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bayonne Board of Education appears to be making up rules as they go along to fill vacancies on the board.

This became very evident at the June 27 meeting when the board voted to appoint Mikel Lawandy to fill the seat being vacated by outgoing Trustee Mary Jane Desmond.

In the past, the board of trustees operated under the principle that the next highest vote-getter in the previous election should get primary consideration – especially because voters, when they expressed a desire for the town to have an elected board, clearly indicated they wanted to follow a democratic process.

But Lawandy’s appointment – who returns after being appointed previously, but never elected – violates this concept. Worse, the board appeared not to closely consider the nearly dozen candidates who sought the seat, many of whom fared well in past elections. The board chose not to bother to interview any of them – despite this also being a past practice.

The guiding principle behind Lawandy’s appointment is his engineering and other background the board hopes to tap when dealing some of its future capital improvement projects.

But the move by the board and the apparent disregard for past practices has left bitter feelings among some of those who applied, including some who were previously politically aligned with current trustees. Many are asking why they should have an elected board if trustees are going to revert to the days when board members were arbitrarily appointed by those in political power.

What we need is another Zimmer?

Some Hoboken reformers – dissatisfied with choices they had in the last mayoral election – say they are looking for a new future candidate, possibly another Dawn Zimmer, who can redefine what it means to be a reformer.

Some believe that Emily Jabbour, elected as an at-large councilwoman last November, may be that candidate.

The decision by Zimmer not to seek reelection as mayor last summer left the reformers split. Although Ravi Bhalla appeared to win over many Zimmer supporters when he was elected mayor, his future coalition that includes Councilman Michael Russo and possibly former Councilwoman Theresa Castellano has raised eyebrows, and concerns about what it means to be a reformer in Hoboken, when the apparent reform mayor is seeking people reformers ran against.

Cirillo may not be the one

Replacing West New York Mayor Felix Roque in next year’s election may not be as simple as many thought.

It has been assumed that Commissioner Cosmo A. Cirillo had the inside track and the backing of the multiple political powers inside and outside West New York. But it appears that some see Commissioner Gabriel Rodriguez as a better option. This could mean that there will be a competitive election in 2019, pitting not only the already-declared opposition candidates, but causing infighting among current allies.

Roque could use this division to his advantage. But a Roque candidacy is the one thing that might reunite all the factions behind one candidate, all of whom have one thing in common: to get Roque out of office.

Menendez may have to use his Trump card

A representative for U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez corrected a statement made in this column last week.

The senator was not “censured” by the Senate Ethics Committee, as reported in this column.

“Admonishment and censure are two different things – they are not congruous nor interchangeable – with admonishment being the lowest form of action the committee can take, and censure being far more severe,” the statement said.

This means that action by the Ethics Committee falls somewhere between forcing Menendez to wear a dunce cap and being run out of town on a rail.

The distinction is important because Menendez is facing perhaps the toughest political battle of his life as GOP candidate Bob Hugin seeks to unseat him.

Menendez, however, has a trump card he can play – literally. You can expect him to associate Hugin with the locally unpopular President Donald Trump at every opportunity, leading up to the election in November.

Murphy for president? Really?

When this column suggested in January that newly-elected Gov. Phil Murphy appeared to be grooming himself to run for president in 2020, that was not an endorsement.

But it appears that other media have since picked up on the idea as national Democrats scramble to find a champion of liberalism to run against the conservative Trump.

In an almost breathless rush to get his agenda passed on the state level, Murphy has established himself as a significant voice involving issues that include LGTBQ and women’s rights, immigrant issues, and support for unions – all the trademarks he would need for a national run.

Fulop comes out to support House Democrats candidates

In a move that may help ingratiate him to state and national Democrats, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop hosted a meet-and-greet fundraiser for four key Democratic candidates running for the House of Representatives.

Fulop, who was on the wrong side in a fight for control of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, appears to be seeking to make himself relevant and to avoid becoming an isolated mayor in one of the state’s largest cities.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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