HOBOKEN AND BEYOND – Whenever the April 6 City Council meeting eventually adjourns, there may be some changes in Hoboken’s political scene.
The council minority, composed of four consistent supporters of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, is prepared the introduce a resolution to censure Councilman Michael Russo after video of him meeting with FBI informant Solomon Dwek from 2009 surfaced on Monday. Russo, who was not charged with any crime stemming from the 2009 investigation Operation Bid Rig, which took down now imprisoned former Mayor Peter Cammarano, said Dwek’s demeanor made him feel “uncomfortable” and that this is why he never met with the informant again. However, on the tapes, Russo tells Dwek, who was posing as a New York based developer, that he would try to help expedite potential projects for his friends. Russo also entertains the idea of accepting a $5,000 payment from Dwek, but no payment was ever made to Russo.
The proposed resolution calls for Russo to resign as council vice president, be removed as the head of the finance and budget committee, and also be removed as a commissioner on the Hoboken Housing Authority. Council President Beth Mason released a statement on Tuesday denouncing Russo, meaning she may be the fifth vote on the resolution. Mason had previously been a close ally of Russo, and in fact, Russo speaks well of Mason in the tape.
It is also election season, as all six ward seats, including Russo’s, are in contention on May 10.
In addition to the drama inside the council chambers, members of the public, including the organization Hoboken Revolt, have planned a protest against Russo, calling on him to resign, for 6 p.m.
Russo is not the only Hoboken politician to meet with Dwek, but only his and Cammarano’s tapes have been made public thus far. The authors of The Jersey Sting, a book about Operation Bid Rig, released the tapes of Russo on Monday. For previous coverage, click HERE.
Budget public hearing scheduled
The council will also hold the public hearing and final vote on the city’s 2011 municipal budget. The council voted to introduce the city’s $101.7 million budget on March 2. The budget calls for a $5.1 million “surplus balance for bond rating,” which, according to Zimmer, is on the low end of the recommended 5 – 10 percent budget surplus. Others contend that more tax relief is necessary.
Hand over the e-mails?
Mason is also proposing a resolution calling for “the production of city information and communication” relating to Zimmer’s public relations and communications staff.
Mason has asked for all of the e-mails sent to and from Hoboken’s communication manager Juan Melli and her confidential aide Dan Bryan since January 2010.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at 94 Washington St., at City Hall. Watch the meetings live by clicking HERE. -- Ray Smith