The political war that many people expected to rip the Hudson County landscape apart in 2014 could come a year early, according several observers. They commented about a recent rash of negative hype aimed at State Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack. Some claimed that the badmouthing of the Union City mayor is not political as much as a local affair manufactured by police, fire, and teacher unions, who all have their own reasons for wanting to discredit him.
One theory says that Stack is bent on putting together a countywide legislative ticket to oppose the Hudson County Democratic Organization ticket supported by his North Hudson rival, State Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco.
There are plenty of grounds for war between Sacco and Stack, especially regarding obligations Stack apparently failed to meet regarding payments to the North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue Department, whose operation costs are divided among five North Hudson municipalities.
Also, the public relations contract for the sewerage authority serving several North Hudson communities has gone to a firm politically favored by Sacco, one that ran several very nasty political campaigns against Stack in a state Senate race a few years ago and against West New York Mayor Felix Roque more recently.
“Stack may not like the idea that he is helping to pay for a firm that said such terrible things about him during the campaign,” one source said, referring to the campaign information that alleged that Stack was corrupt.
The similarity to current rumors has some observers believing Stack is being badmouthed in order to keep other powerful political people from associating with him.
“If they isolate him, then he won’t be able to put together a ticket next spring to oppose the HCDO,” one source claimed.
But reports from other sources say HCDO Chairman and Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith – a close ally of Sacco – is doing everything possible to avert a war in 2013, even giving Stack the Democratic line.
Sacco people are saying they are not behind the current rash of rumors and suggest that Stack has irritated unions in Union City to the point where they are spreading rumors in order to generate anti-Stack sentiment, even going so far as to make the same unsubstantiated claims of corruption – perhaps with the mistaken belief they can generate a recall election similar to the one that is gathering strength in West New York.
“The unions are really angry at Stack,” one source. “The police are about to lose 24 officers and two captains. The Fire Department is angry that Stack didn’t pay the city’s share and the teachers are angry over a rumored upcoming departure of the superintendent of schools. (The superintendent has denied the rumor.)
Healy may be rolling the dice
Stack, however, continues to be a popular draw for political figures outside Union City. He reportedly met with mayoral candidate and Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop in early September, refuting the belief that Stack is going to back Mayor Jeramiah Healy for reelection in May.
Healy, who got a lot of endorsements for mayor over the last few weeks, is apparently trying to win the support of various unions, all of whom are waiting until the Oct. 15 filing deadline to see what kind of financing Healy already has in place before committing themselves. Despite getting the support of Smith, County Executive Tom DeGise, and Jersey City Democratic Chairman Jeff Dublin, Healy has yet to get a public endorsement from Sacco, who is also apparently waiting to see if Healy has enough money for a serious campaign against Fulop.
Fulop has about $500,000 towards what is expected to be a $2 million race, but coming out of the summer, Healy apparently has nearly nothing, and is relying on unions and other big funders to supply him with what he needs. But funders, unions, and Sacco are going to want to be sure they are backing a horse that can win. Healy is hoping to entice someone into giving him a grub stake before that.
Has anyone seen Roman Brice?
Like Elvis, Roman Brice – a blogger better known by his on line moniker, The Hoboken Horse – has been seen around Hoboken over the last week, after being out of state for several weeks. One of the targets of a defamation suit brought by Lane Bajardi and his wife, Brice has not yet been served with the legal paperwork, partly because he was in Queens for a while, and supposedly also took a trip to the Hamptons, where process servers can’t legally serve him.
The court case that includes Brice, blogger Nancy Pincus (aka the Grafix Avenger), and about 10 John Does is moving ahead, with the 35-day comment period for response from the defendants coming to a close at the end of September. After that the case could go to discovery phase, followed by several other stages before a possible trial set for next summer at the soonest. At some point, the Bajardis may file a motion with the court to claim that Brice has deliberately avoided being served, at which time a judge could order him into the courtroom to be served (the most likely scenario) or simply rule in favor of the Bajardis – a possible $2 million settlement.
No mayoral challengers in Hoboken yet
“Hoboken is still a mess,” said one political opponent to Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Zimmer’s opposition still can’t come up with the name of the one person from their ranks who will run against her.
But another observer said Zimmer opponents may be waiting for the outcome of the November referendum on whether the election will be moved from May 2013 to November 2013.
While some have questioned the legality of an accompanying referendum that would do away with a runoff election, apparently state Sen. Ray Lesniak, whose private law firm does legal work for the city of Hoboken, pushed through legislation that allows Hoboken to do so as a special exemption. This is not the first time Lesniak has used his Senate office to finagle a change of election status. More than a decade ago, he pushed through legislation that changed the term of office in Secaucus from two to four years in the same year that then-Mayor Dennis Elwell was running unopposed.
Meanwhile, Zimmer’s opponents seem to be gearing up for the Board of Education election this November, using a recent negative Wall Street Journal evaluation of the schools as a political tool against the Zimmer-backed Kids First ticket.