Without the threat of Republican domination of City Hall in Jersey City, Democrats seem unable to shoot at anything except each other.
Plots and counter plots continue to plague Jersey City like bad James Bond plots. In one scenario, Rev. Francis Schiller is seen as the powerful warlord behind the current county executive - pulling Bernard Hartnett's strings the way he might do to a puppet's. Legions of loyal followers - in this yarn - are constantly seeking an audience at Schiller's Jersey City law offices as if seeking an audience with the Pope. If so, can sainthood for Mayor Glenn Cunningham - Schiller's supposed chief follower - be far behind?
Those most loyal to Cunningham, however, have painted attorney Donald Scarinci as the Darth Vader of Congressman Bob Menendez's evil empire. If this tall tale is to be believed, Menendez forces inside the JCRDA are seeking to turn over the reins of Jersey City redevelopment to Scarinci. Under this theory, Scarinci - who has failed to collect on contracts promised to him by the Democratic regime in Trenton - is seeking to shore up his base in Hudson County while still extending his tentacles elsewhere in the state. Scarinci, who recently moved his offices into Bergen County, was also touted as the next New Jersey Supreme Court justice, slipping into the slot of the next justice to retire. Unfortunately, James H. Coleman of Scotch Plains seems to be the justice most likely to retire next. Since Coleman is the sole black justice on the court, Latino and black groups have already laid claim to the seat, leaving little room for an Italian American resident from Allendale like Scarinci.
Loading up the budget
It used to be that you could win great loyalty among Democratic legions by guaranteeing followers jobs. Now Democrats loosely aligned with Cunningham seem to be using county jobs as a weapon against the impending November election of Tom DeGise as county executive. The logic behind this is simple: Load up the county payroll to put DeGise in the untenable position of having to defend a bulging county budget in 2003 or conduct a purge involving a spate of political firings. Should DeGise take up the latter, he could face the same heavy retribution the current county executive, Hartnett, did before the 2002 Democratic primary.
DeGise, caught between bad choices, might wish he were the Republican nominee for county executive (although some already claim he is a closet Republican) instead of Ira Jersey. This continued Democratic infighting indeed enlivens Jersey's hopes. Should Jersey be elected as county executive in November, he might well find a place for his long-time Democratic friend Lou Manzo, who has been seeking a position somewhere - no, anywhere - in the county. Manzo's recent wish to run for Congress in the 13th Congressional District makes some wonder why he should stop there. With Manzo's background as former freeholder, he would be just as qualified to run for president as he would for Congress.
Doug Forrester, Republican candidate against Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli, swept through Hudson County during the last week of August, rallying troops to get out the vote. This visit became something of a social occasion for Democrats whose election motto this year might be "Better Torricelli than Republican," if Democrats can hold their noses long enough to vote. Yet Forrester's visit was designed to stir up dissident deep in enemy territory to lead a statewide Republican revolution.
Indeed, even some Democratic legislators have begun to wonder if taking control of the State House and its legislative bodies was such a good idea. Under Democratic Gov. Jim McGreevey, the state seems to have created whole new layers of bureaucracy, and Democratic-sponsored bills that sailed through the formerly Republican-dominated committee have recently become bogged down in new Democratic committees.
Odds and ends
Between the Lines is nominating North Bergen resident Bo Scannavino as Hudson County political gadfly of the year. This persistent critic of State Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco would not be silenced, and, in fact, achieved the distinction of getting a court to agree with him. Scannavino has irritated the powers in North Bergen with consistent diatribes at meetings, even going so far as to leave billboard-sized love notes to Sacco in the parking lot of Town Hall.
Union City Mayor Brian Stack could lose standing as "a man of the people" in his recent fight against local unions. Stack seems to believe supervisors should not be part of the union that includes municipal workers. Union officials - who might have agreed to oppose the state classification - now find they oppose the mayor because they were never consulted.
The council election in Secaucus took on an old twist as former employees at the Meadowview Hospital Nursing facility report calls from county election officials seeking the whereabouts of former voters. Because of shifts in the hospital population over the last year, people formerly registered to vote in the facility may no longer be available. Meadowview has been a regular vote farm in past elections. Does this indicate some nervousness over the possible outcome of the 1st Ward council race that pits Independent challenger Sal Barone against Democratic Incumbent Michael Grecco?