Ongoing power struggle at Hoboken housing board spills into court; State Assembly candidate Garcia files lawsuit claiming mayor is encouraging 'ethnic cleansing' (CLICK HERE)
Aug 15, 2013 | 10463 views | 18 18 comments | 140 140 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Housing Authority Director Carmelo Garcia
Housing Authority Director Carmelo Garcia
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HOBOKEN – An ongoing power struggle over the future of Hoboken’s public housing – a struggle between the Hoboken Housing Authority’s executive director and the allies of Mayor Dawn Zimmer – has reached new levels of animosity, spilling into court in two separate legal proceedings and resulting in extreme accusations.

Weeks ago, rumors began to surface about an audiotape secretly made by Hoboken Housing Authority Director Carmelo Garcia of a lunch conversation he had in January with the mayor's husband, Stan Grossbard.

On Tuesday, Garcia -- who is running for Assembly in November -- filed a lawsuit against Zimmer, Grossbard, and former housing board chairman Jake Stuiver alleging that they have interfered improperly in Hoboken Housing Authority affairs and engaged in what the lawsuit says is “an ambitious political quest to transform Hoboken politically and ethnically.”

Garcia is the director of Hoboken's low-income public housing, where thousands of families live (and vote). The projects have often been the scene of a power struggle among warring factions in town. Garcia is overseen by an unpaid seven-member board of commissioners, and since last summer, Mayor Dawn Zimmer's allies have held the majority on the board.

This has resulted in struggles between Garcia and Zimmer's allies over issues such as the future renovations of the projects (involving millions of dollars in contracts) and which lawyer to hire.

In January, Garcia had lunch in New York with Zimmer's husband, Stan Grossbard, and former State Sen. Bernard Kenny -- and apparently secretly taped it.

The transcript, obtained by the Reporter, came to light after it was cited in a July 18 deposition of Zimmer in a completely separate discrimination lawsuit brought by former Hoboken Public Safety Director Angel Alicea against the city. The transcript of the tape sheds a light on power relationships and attempts by both political sides to determine the direction of the public housing projects.

Louis Zayas, a North Bergen-based attorney with a history of working for clients opposed to City Hall, is representing Garcia in his lawsuit against Zimmer and also representing Angel Alicea, who is in an unrelated matter suing Zimmer due to his job loss.

Both Grossbard (the mayor's husband) and Garcia have different opinions as to what the contents of the recorded conversation represent, with the mayor’s husband arguing that the conversation was an unsuccessful attempt by Garcia to entrap him into making some sort of illegal agreement, and Zayas saying that Garcia recorded the meeting in an effort to gain evidence of Grossbard’s alleged role as Zimmer’s de facto political emissary, and to provide evidence for the lawsuit against Grossbard and Zimmer, which he says has been planned for several months. Garcia's suit attempts to paint the pair, as well as Stuivier, as improperly interfering in his job and trying to pressure him to make certain decisions about personnel and other matters.

The HHA is meant to be an autonomous agency from City Hall. It is also an important one in Hoboken -- a body entrusted with maintaining the quality of life of the city's most vulnerable residents. As a source of thousands of votes, it has also been a site for political machinations and mudslinging for decades.

Tape recording a conversation is legal both in the state of New York, where the lunch conversation took place, as well as in New Jersey. Zayas refused to say this week whether Garcia has taped conversations with any other officials.

Garcia referred all questions to Zayas.

In one of many interesting side notes, according to a transcript of the tape, Garcia tells Grossbard that he may be willing to support Mayor Zimmer for re-election this November if she allows him greater leeway to do what he wants to do. It is surprising because Zimmer is facing Assemblyman Ruben Ramos Jr. for mayor in November, and Garcia is thought to be supporting Ramos over ZImmer.

Zimmer said Thursday morning that she had not seen the lawsuit and thus could not comment on it yet.

The tape and lawsuit provide many more details that shed light on the types of machinations and accusations that inform politics in Hoboken, a mile square city with changing demographics and millions of dollars in contracts always hanging in the balance. Check hudsonreporter.com later for more details about this story, and watch for a longer story in this weekend's edition of the Hoboken Reporter. – Dean DeChiaro

Comments
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anonymous
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August 16, 2013
I think this whole lawsuit is a way to cover up an attempt to to blackmail the Mayor by Carmelo Garcia gone bad.

Once it came out that Garcia was making clandistine tapes he needed to find a way to explain his actions.

MileSquareEyes
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August 17, 2013
Dawn is just as guilty as every other politician in Hudson County. Hell, anyone can have groups blogging all day stretching stories about everything and anything. I think this lawsuit will reveal a lot more than is out there. To say dawn is an angel, is absurd. Word is out that the Naacp even filed a police report against these groups trying to protect HHA residents from Vision 20/20. Advise to these groups,save the paper and phony flyers we all get. Use your blogging energy and put towards a good cause that helps people.
EyeWideShut
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August 17, 2013
MileSquareEyes but everyone can see you are one of Carmelo's band ofbully bloggers.

You posted at what 2 on the morning.

EyeWideShut
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August 17, 2013
Oh and nice try at keeping Carmelo's whole racist angle going.
EyeWideShut
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August 17, 2013
I see MS Eyes is taking shots the Mayor on PATCH too.

stanisnoangel
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August 16, 2013
It makes sense Stan would want there to be all white people. I attended the Rebuild fundraiser with my wife and a client of mine. A person made a remark that was next to me saying "I didn't know black people could play the piano so well. He is no Stevie Wonder though". In fairness to him, I laughed too which is wrong in itself. At the time of the comment I saw the person who made it but didn't recognize him until I saw him leave and hold hands with the Mayor. Upon reading this I would tend to lean towards this gentleman may indeed want to remove minorities from these living situations.
anonymous
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August 16, 2013
I seriously doubt that happened.
anonymous
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August 16, 2013
Word is Frank Raia and Beth Mason will run their own ticket in November effectively killing any chance Carmelo Garcia's buddy Ruben Ramos had at a win.

The word is:

Tim (Mason) Occhipinti in the mayor slot.

Frank (Pupie) Raia, Jamie (Russo) Cyan, and a woman to be named later (Castellano?) to fill the City Council slots.

Not exactly a old guard dream team but with Raia and Mason's cash it should be interesting.
stanstinks
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August 16, 2013
3 people in the news lately, one involved in a pay to play and a husband of the mayor talking back room deals. if there is incriminating or thought to be incriminating statements by Stan Grossbard then yes there is no need for him to be present at this shindig. As for Beth and her husband, yes it's wrong to fund her political ambitions and Mama Russo has and will always throw her weight around but they're very shady people, it's expected from them to play dirty. I like Dawn quite a bit. My wife works at the hospital that was saved. I'm trying to understand you people a little. Why is it every time something happens, regardless of who does it why do people always have to play the "well he did it too" game? When Beth gave too much money to school board I was vocal then and said it was wrong, when Mike Russo accepted a bribe I was angry and spoke of it then, and here I am angry at Dawn and everyone relates to something else. Like nobody is ever in the wrong in this town? There is a rationalization and justification for everything. This is a story about Stan, Bernard kenny and Carmelo Garcia. Stop bringing the past to the present.
Masonop#9
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August 16, 2013
Because when you make a political attack you need to make sense to influence voters, duh.

Accepting a lunch with people in Manhattan near your job doesn't sell any conspiracy for Carmelo Garcia who has been setting people up for extortion.

If that rat fink taped my boss and tries to extort her, he's in big trouble.

Do you know how much money her family has? She can sue Garcia's lights out!

No more Vision Money/Money for you!
hobokendave
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August 16, 2013
No one said "she did it too"

As for bringing the past to the present...there are plenty other more insidious "present" events than the husband of the mayor meeting with people. Ever think that Dawn purposely had her husband meet with them to see what they wanted before contaminating herself directly with their politicking?
SmartyPants13
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August 16, 2013
After 6 years of rumors, the truth is finally out....Stan is the unelected Mayor and powerbroker for the "reform" movement. The Culture of Corruption continues!

stanstinks
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August 16, 2013
Why is Stan Grossbard meeting with anyone is my question? He is in no way a public official, he is simply the mayor's husband. For him to agree to meet with anyone to speak of city issues is inappropriate, unethical and shameful. He is a diamond distributor only, a father and a husband. He has no official duty to meet with anyone about anything. The fact that Stan attended is enough to say that this reform thing is total crap. He should have declined this meeting and / or asked someone else to go. Him being at this meeting is further proof that games are being played at city hall .
Masonop#9
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August 16, 2013
Take it easy and take a breath there Ramos op#7.

Mayor's husband accepted a lunch invitation. He looks to have been smart enough to invite Bernie Kenny and avoided the entrapment Carmelo Garcia attempted in his extortion scheme.

There was no "official" meeting. The mayor's husband isn't an official; he accepted a lunch invitation near his job in Manhattan.

Garcia went out to "get him."

How's that working out?
hobokendave
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August 16, 2013
Why is Mr. Mason funding his wife's political ambitions?

Where were you when Michelle Russo was throwing her "first lady" weight all over town, including taking kickbacks (and getting indicted for it).

They hypocrites in this town that looked the other way for years over the nonsense in this town are desperate to hang something on Zimmer...so they can go back to looking the other way when their "person" is in the mayor's seat.
PAX07030
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August 15, 2013
This seems to be another act of a truly desperate man on that long fall from power.

Had Carmelo Garcia been open and honest in the first place he would not be in his On The Waterfront position.

You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender, I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it
greenshirt
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August 15, 2013
Wow, did Carmelo Garcia try to extort the mayor. This was on Politicker NJ and MSV:

Mayor Zimmer who had not seen the Garcia lawsuit countered the "ethnic cleansing" charge blowing the whistle on Garcia's taping of others widely known in Hudson County political circles for weeks saying in a statement, "Sadly, the fact is, Mr. Garcia invited my husband to lunch, taped him, and tried to trick him into saying something that he could then use to try and extort me in my capacity as mayor. Since my husband is an honest and honorable man, and Mr. Garcia is not, the only person incriminated on the tape is Mr. Garcia."

http://www.hobokenhorse.com/2013/08/breaking-carmelo-garcia-named-in.html#IDComment700757600

http://www.politickernj.com/67763/assembly-candidate-charges-hoboken-mayor-zimmer-ethnic-cleansing-lawsuit#ixzz2c59qqAZm

Masonop#9
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August 15, 2013
Beth, pick up, pick up! We have to scrub that tape again!