I was extremely disappointed that my councilman, Tim Occhipinti, voted against the plan put forth to advance a southwest park for our neighborhood. However, after his numerous deflections and subject changes over the past several weeks when confronted by local activist Jake Stuiver about having improperly gone to bat for campaign contributors who want to build in the park area, I can’t say I was the least bit surprised.
Occhipinti campaigned largely on the promise of a southwest park. But then he recently tried worming his way into a Zoning Board hearing in which local developer Danny Tattoli was seeking retroactive variances for a construction he’d completed near the planned southwest park site without city approval. Because the City Council is the appeals authority for Zoning Board decisions, and this application will likely wind up before the council, the board attorney told Occhipinti he could not speak or it would taint the proceedings and the appeals process. Occhipinti reportedly became quite irate. It turned out the applicant had given thousands of dollars to Occhipinti’s campaign, which creates the appearance of impropriety that one would have to be slow indeed not to recognize.
These actions are the wrongdoings of a hypocritical councilman who constantly claims to be delivering on campaign promises when in reality he’s doing anything but. It's easy to connect the dots and see why Occhipinti reneged on his central campaign promise of delivering a southwest park. Why would he support a park when his campaign contributors want to build there? We all know how it works. Money talks, and the public interest walks.
What I find fascinating is how desperate Occhipinti is to change the subject every time his misconduct with his contributor’s zoning application rears its head. First, he responded with a flailing tantrum debating the semantical nuances of the issue without addressing the obvious conflict of interest. Then, there was a letter in the June 3 newspaper from Joel Mazmanian, suggesting Mr. Stuiver is anti-development and does not “welcome commercial enterprise to the 4th Ward, especially a business that it seems could attract patrons and additional commerce to our area of Hoboken.” Ironically, Mr. Stuiver was quoted in a news article in the very same paper advocating a Fourth Ward vision of managed development balancing the needs of the business community and the general public. I saw nothing in either of Mr. Stuiver’s letters on this matter suggesting he holds a knee-jerk anti-development view, and to imply otherwise shows how desperate Occhipinti and his friends are to deflect the issue and change the subject.
That’s because they know Occhipinti was caught red-handed putting campaign donors ahead of campaign promises, which is exactly why he voted against the southwest park plan.
Fourth Ward Resident