Recently I submitted a letter to Council President Mason calling for the removal of Councilman Russo as the Chair of the Finance committee on the basis that he has serious personal conflicts of interest with this position and has failed to show he can handle these in a professional and honest manner. With the recent additional news that Councilman Russo met with Solomon Dwek and agreed to accept a bribe, I reiterate this call to the Council President.
The Council President’s duty to the city includes appointing chairs to committees who are knowledgeable, capable, and free from conflicts in doing their assigned duties. As of the submission of this letter to the editor, I have yet to receive a response from the Council President.
March 22, 2011
Dear Council President Mason:
Last week, Mayor Zimmer released audit findings revealing that former mayor and convicted felon Anthony Russo was receiving city health benefits that he was not qualified to receive following his conviction and imprisonment for taking bribes and illegal cash payments.
In response to questions, Councilman Russo has not denied prior knowledge of his father’s benefits; nor has the councilman denied covering up his father’s benefits during an investigation he personally conducted in 2008 into former employees illegally receiving city benefits. Instead of addressing these allegations, our councilman has attempted to shift blame to the business administrator and Mayor Zimmer for conducting an audit that saves the city money.
Councilman Russo’s evasiveness in this matter speaks volumes about the manner in which he conducts city business and manages our tax dollars. His actions show he is incapable of conducting himself with the objectivity and impartiality that the position of Chair of the Finance Committee demands. The residents and taxpayers of Hoboken expect the Chair of the Finance Committee to act first and foremost in the best interests of the city, to be beyond reproach, and to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
In view of his questionable behavior and the considerable indebtedness of the Russo family to the city, there is a blatant conflict of interest to have Councilman Russo remain as Chair of the Finance Committee.
It is incumbent upon you as Council President to immediately remove the councilman as Chair of the Finance Committee until the issue of his family’s health benefits and his father’s court ordered restitution debts to the city are resolved. To allow Councilman Russo to remain as Chair of Finance Committee is an affront to open and honest government, and will erode the confidence of the public in the City Council’s ability to conduct the business of the city.
3rd Ward City Council Candidate