Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer is getting fired at from every direction as her opponents seek to determine whether or not her administration is using public resources for political purposes.
This is part of the reason why Councilwoman Beth Mason is seeking to get copies of official emails to determine how much of the dialogue being done through official channels involves ways to frustrate political opponents.
The Zimmer administration has been criticized for using the official city website as a political vehicle, most notably reporting on the video tapes of Councilman Michael Russo, while not mentioning other people connected with her administration who might also have met with federal informant Solomon Dwek.
Separation of political from governmental functions is hugely important in keeping government honest.
What brought down former President Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal in the 1970s was that very thing – a misuse of government for political purposes.
No one really knows if this is the case with Zimmer, partly because she has slammed shut the door on open government with a gag order for city employees. Anyone who gives information out risks losing his or her job and thus, their pension.
Some sources say that the city’s communications director was falsely accused of leaking information out of city hall without prior authorization, and that the information involving two separate cases was actually leaked by a lawyer involved with one case and a police officer involved with the other, not the communication director.
Official emails – as proven in several cases including one involving former Gov. Jon Corzine – are public documents, and in most cases, they must be made available through a simple information request.
The utter secrecy around these emails leads many to wonder why they are so sensitive that they need to be kept from the public. Some believe that they will show a pattern of abuse behind the scenes, not crimes, but political manipulation done on city time at tax payers’ expense.
The use of a city attorney to remove candidates from the Democratic committee primary fight is one visible sign that the Zimmer administration doesn’t know where the line is between political and governmental function.
But whatever they contain, the emails harkens back to Watergate, where the cover-up tended to be worse than the events themselves.
What does the FBI want in Hoboken?
The other big item that has become the talk of Hoboken is the investigation by the FBI and the sealing of the information technology room.
Everybody seemed to have a theory, but on Thursday, the city said the investigation has to do with computer fraud.
DeFazio isn’t leaving yet
Prosecutor Ed DeFazio disputed some points in last week’s column, saying that he is not being forced to leave office this year.
“My term runs until 2012,” he said. “I might be reappointed.”
Last week’s mention came as part of speculation about who will run for mayor of Jersey City if incumbent Mayor Jerramiah Healy decides not to run for reelection. DeFazio is one of the names that come up, but he said this is not an issue this year since the election isn’t until 2013.
Healy meanwhile appears to be regrouping. When asked this week whether he was getting sick of the abuse, he shrugged.
“Actually, I’m starting to like it,” he joked.
Healy, however, seems to be concerned over losing control of the Democratic Committee in Jersey City and apparently has been holding meetings in each ward with committeepeople, going through them all ward by ward.
Jersey City committeepeople are elected for two-year terms, which means that they will be in place for the 2013 mayoral election. Whoever controls the committee after the June primary this year will have a huge advantage in the mayoral and council elections in May 2013.
Romano for mayor?
Meanwhile a poll done apparently at the behest of Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason is looking ahead toward the Hoboken mayoral election in 2013, asking potential voters which candidates they would prefer.
In truth the poll wasn’t so much about who people liked for mayor, but who they liked in general, and the poll was an odd union between Mason and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, who is apparently looking to get a feel for what his base is like ahead of next year’s election.
Menendez did well. He showed an approval rating in the upper 50 percent and negatives in the low 20s.
“It’s hard to dislike a sitting U.S. senator,” one source said.
The telephone poll asked about all of the usual suspects, including the current mayor and council, typical opponents, and even Assemblyman Ruben Ramos.
Oddly enough, Freeholder Anthony Romano wound up with the least negatives in the poll – meaning that fewer people had anything bad to say about him than other candidates. The question is: can he broker it into a legitimate run for mayor in 2013?
Bayonne mayor is not going to Port Authority
Rumors took on such fervor last week that many people were rubbing their hands in anticipation of a special election for mayor of Bayonne later this week.
Supposedly creditable sources churned out “reliable” reports that Mayor Mark Smith intended to step down at mayor in exchange for a seat on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
This was something of a surprise to Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell, who was named as Smith’s possible replacement.
“It’s not true,” O’Donnell said. “And I’m not going to be mayor.”
O’Donnell, who currently also serves as public safety director in Bayonne, said Smith is committed to his job as mayor and cutting the budget.
“Look, we’re all young and we’re all trying to change the cost of government, and that’s what Mark is trying to do,” he said.