Fricchione was among the unholy four released from the county's employ with the takeover by newly elected County Executive Tom DeGise.
Fricchione, Willie Flood, Anthony Grazioso, and Luis Jurado complained they had been released for political reasons, echoing the complaint six county employees had made before the 2002 Democratic Primary when then-County Executive Bernard Hartnett fired them.
Hartnett admitted his firings were political and faced the wrath of the freeholders and the Superior Court. DeGise claimed he fired his four for economic reasons.
The rehiring of Fricchione (which was worked out over dinner at a bar near Grove Street) at first glance seemed like a coup, since Fricchione has long been an ally of Freeholder Bill O'Dea and former Freeholder Lou Manzo. His gratitude toward DeGise would break up that political alliance in anticipation of an O'Dea/Manzo challenge to the DeGise candidates in the 31st legislative district for state senate and assembly. Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham would back the O'Dea/Manzo challenge to DeGise-backed Jersey City Councilman Harvey Smith for senate and another candidate for assembly. But stayed tuned, folks, Fricchione may not be the last.
While viewed as a tireless campaigner, Fricchione's value may be overrated, bringing very few if any votes to DeGise as well as little influence over O'Dea and Manzo people. But the transition gives evidence to a court case, and tarnishes DeGise's image as someone beyond the pale of ordinary political retribution.
This move may have handed Cunningham an unexpected public relations victory previously unlooked for, since Fricchione jumps out of his camp with little more than a historic name.
One Jersey City cop at Flamingo Restaurant put it succinctly: "DeGise flirted with reform. Thank God he came to his senses."
Last week, this column, in an effort to make note of the misperceptions created by some DeGise decisions, may have inadvertently disparaged his sister, Lois Shaw. Far from being a political hack, Shaw has been and continues on as one of the most competent people in DeGise's personal regiment.
The DeGise administration, however, does suffer from miscommunication, often leaving its members open to accusations they don't deserve such, as Jodi Drennen, the county scheduler, who set up a fundraiser for battered women that went on at the same time as a political fundraiser for DeGise. The administration also seemed to have a conflictover who should be in charge of upgrading the county's web site. DeGise's spokesperson, Jim Kennelly, was apparently working on the upgrade when the freeholders issued a $6,000 contract to Tony Amabile. This issue, however, may have been resolved.
While no one is expecting DeGise's administration to fall in on itself, conflicts among his supporters are evident. The Jersey City Council was ordered not to attend the Hudson Democratic leadership meeting last week, and struck back by threatening to approve Maureen Corcoran, a Cunningham candidate, to the ABC board. Was this a message to Jersey City Councilman and County Executive Chief of Staff Bill Gaughan not to take the council for granted? Corcoran ran against Gaughan for his seat on the council. Certainly the 7 to 1 vote on Wednesday to keep Alexander Booth as the corporation counsel, however, could be seen as a blow to Cunningham. But is it really?
A letter signed by Cunningham proposing that Suzanne Mack might be the subject of a federal investigation as the result of her various jobs in the county or Jersey City government may wind him up in court. While rumors that Mack has already filed a complaint in federal court are not true, she said she intends to file a suit of some kind.
Cunningham has had time to admit he made an error. A simple letter stating he had based the letter on mistaken information might be a step in the right direction.
Russo's in the running?
The Hoboken Council meeting saw a rare guest appearance of former Mayor Anthony Russo on Wednesday. This was only the second time Russo has come to a council meeting since his re-election bid failed in 2001. Russo said he was 99 percent certain that he will be running for the 3rd Ward council seat in this spring's municipal election, and would likely run on a partial ticket with Theresa Castellano, his cousin, who will run in the 1st Ward.
Rumors that Hoboken Councilman Tony Soares has found a new friend in Jersey City's Gene Drayton apparently have been grossly exaggerated. Soares and Drayton apparently passed each other on the street at one point, prompting rumors of an association.
"I met him at Mt. Olive Baptist Church on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day," Soares said. "I shook his hand in the vestibule of the church."
Soares took on Hoboken Councilman Chris Campos at Wednesday's council meeting, claiming Campos was "addicted to the public payroll."
This statement was prompted by rumors that Campos was to get a job with the Hudson County Improvement Authority and had made a political alliance with Jersey City Councilman Junior Maldonado.
"I can't believe the rumors," Campos said during an interview. "I've talked about getting a job, but we hadn't come to any agreement and certainly not the $70,000-a-year salary that people are saying I'm to get."
Campos and Maldonado have a personal relationship, but not an alliance.
"Chris and I talk about things," Maldonado said. "We're friends and we hang out together."
Meanwhile, Roberts said last week that the resignation of Beth Mason from the Hoboken Planning Board (she was Roberts' designee) seemed particularly political because, he said, she never complained about his appointments to him at all until her resignation. Mason now may run in the 2nd Ward against Roberts' candidate.
Ups and downs
The up and downs of political fortunes cannot be better illustrated than by two rising stars in the Democratic Party. Joe Waks, son of the mayor of Wayne, jumped ship from Rep. Bill Pascrell in 2001 to join the staff of state Assemblyman and Bayonne Mayor Joe Doria. This was a career move based on the presumption that Doria would be speaker of the state assembly. When Albio Sires was named to the post, Waks' political fortunes faded slightly.
Young Michael Harper, one-time campaign manager for former Secaucus Mayor Anthony Just, took a chance in 2000 by taking on a job with Assemblyman and West New York Mayor Sires. Harper agreed political success is often based on being in the right place at the right time.
"Joe [Waks] is very good at what he does," Harper said. "But sometimes it's better to be lucky than to be good."
The political division between Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell and his former ally Councilman Bob Kickey seems to have taken new strides with a battle over leadership in the Secaucus Board of Adjustment. Kickey supporting Raymond Leonard's retention as chairman was undercut by Elwell's efforts to replace him. Elwell's victory may have been a demonstration of political power, showing the deviating councilman who is boss in Secaucus.