Mayor Roque gets reprieve
Oct 06, 2013 | 2808 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print

They say God helps animals and small children. But who does the national Tea Party help? Recently, it seems that it did its part by accident to help besieged West New York Mayor Felix Roque.

Not only did the mayor get a brief two-hour breather to allow jurors to consider his case during the shutdown of the federal government, the jury eventually decided he was not guilty and his son guilty of only a misdemeanor.

Faced with charges that he and his son allegedly conspired to hack into the website of political opponents, Roque and his family have been largely alone in the last few days of the trial, waiting to see what the jury will decide.

On the second day of deliberation, federal GOP legislators associated with the Tea Party faction decided to shut down the government by not passing a routine government funding bill. The government had to decide who were essential and non-essential workers.

Not an easy task in itself, the issue reared its ugly head prior to the third day of deliberations so the jury had to wait until all the workers were sorted out to be allowed to continue.

Had these delays continued into a week, Roque could have received a true gift from the gods, since jurors cannot be allowed to wander around for a week or more carrying that heavy load of evidence. The court could have called a mistrial, giving Roque more time to make his case.

As Shakespeare once pointed out, all’s well that end’s well – at least from Mayor Roque’s point of view. Everything is back to business for the previous preoccupied mayor, and now that he has made peace with many of the most powerful people in North Hudson, he could be sitting pretty for another two years and possibly longer.

As he pointed out at the start of his political career, “God is good.”

Feud heats up in Hoboken

The closer we get to the November mayor/council election in Hoboken, the unhappier everybody on every side seems to become.

This isn’t merely nervousness about the outcome. Those living in the real world believe Dawn Zimmer will retain her seat at mayor.

This isn’t even about whether or not those two candidates opposing Zimmer – Assemblyman Ruben Ramos and Councilman Tim Occhipinti – can sneak one the candidates on their slate onto the City Council.

This election is about settling old scores. Bad feelings going back years from real or perceived slights are surfacing wearing the mask of campaign issues.

And if the current campaigning going on behind the scenes is any indication, these won’t get settled in this election and will likely rival the Hatfield and McCoy feud and last for a long as the principal players do.

Ramos people seem to be enraged at Occhipinti for daring to lead a third ticket that will most likely steal a percentage of the anti-Zimmer votes from Ramos.

In some ways, the fight is between Ramos and Occhipinti’s running mate, Frank Raia, who bear grudges that even they may not completely understand, bad feelings and resents from prior conflicts that have either been distorted or made up as excuses used to hate each other.

While Ramos and Occhipinti bolster their troops with claims that each of them is neck and neck with Zimmer, most believe the real goal of Ramos and Raia is to make sure their candidate finished second, not third, behind Zimmer.

While no one has yet to prove the claims of dirty tricks that these campaigns have allegedly waged against each other, these two camps are so busy focusing on each other they may not be able to capitalize on any weakness Zimmer might have.

The contemporary conception is that Zimmer’s council ticket is weak. Yet, in the last election, two of the three received nearly as many votes as Zimmer did, with Dave Mello finishing several hundred votes behind her. While – as investment advertisements remind us – past performance is no guarantee of future results, this does suggest that Zimmer voters tend to vote in a block. She may well benefit from a higher turnout of Zimmer voters thanks to the fact that Gov. Christopher Christie is running for reelection and the school board election will draw out parents and others.

If Ramos and Occhipinti (and their associated council candidates) hope to beat Zimmer or her slate, they would be wise to stop attacking each other and work on getting their own voters to the polls.

Can you say ‘President Christie?’

Governor Christie’s visit to Bayonne last week may well be his first campaign stop of his run for president in 2016.

He needs to rack up the numbers in this year’s gubernatorial election to show that he can win in a Democratic dominated area.

This may be part of the reason why Christie insisted on a special election to fill the vacated seat of U.S. senator. With Cory Booker leading so widely, it is clear that Christie might have lost democratic votes if Booker and Christie were on the same ballot.

This way, Democrats who want to cross the line won’t get districted.

Of course, taxpayers footing the bill of the special election and its primary may well make the argument that the special election should be listed on Christie’s ELEC report as a political contribution.

More than in Secaucus, Christie’s visit to Bayonne struck at the heart of the Democratic machine since Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith only recently lost his seat at the head of the Hudson County Democratic Chairmanship.

While local Democratic officials were not invited to the two-hour gubernatorial visit, many lower ranking Democrats joined the throng of people who came out to cheer on Christie, along with the long-besieged Hudson County Republicans, who find in Christie a leader who might help pump new life into a party that has lived under the shadow of Democrat rule since before Boss Frank Hague.

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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