Born and raised in Jersey City, Catrillo was a graduate of Saint Peter's Prep, Seton Hall University and the Seton Hall University School of Law. Catrillo began his legal career as special counsel for the Jersey City Department of Finance, and later became the administrator of the Jersey City Municipal Court. Over his life, he served as judge, assemblyman, professor, economic development director, and was the Republican candidate for county executive in Hudson County last year.
And though he ran a hard campaign against corruption, he managed to avoid getting too caught up in the petty feuds plaguing the county's political scene. For the most part, party affiliation didn't matter to him as long as he was involved in the process. At times, he was a Republican, at other times, a Democrat. This fact allowed him to talk to nearly everyone. Some local politicians called him one of the last "colorful" political figures left in a county thick with bad feelings.
His wake and funeral brought out people from a variety of political factions, with people like former Mayor Gerry McCann and Republican Chairman Jose Arango to pay their respects. Maria Toro told some at the wake that she kept calling Catrillo's answering machine just to hear his voice. Others who came to pay last respects included Karen DeSoto, Jimmy King, Charles Ebbs and a contingent of Union City Republicans.
Those who knew him best knew he was a remarkable cook, a gourmet chef in his own right, who often held dinners at his home, sharing the limelight with yet other chefs whose specialty they enjoyed. Invitations to these events were well sought-after and, at times, featured guests as politically diverse as those who attended his wake and funeral such as Bob Cotter, Jack Shaw and Mark Munley.
"Political sides didn't matter to him," one source said. "He pretty much liked everybody and everybody liked him."
West Side political activist Richard McCormack had several fond memories of taking a college course Catrillo taught to driving Catrillo's car during a campaign.
"He was a great guy, easy to get along with," McCormack said.
Rudy pleads Bill Gaughan's case
Rudy Garcia responded to last week's Between the Lines, claiming that his attending the 2004 Super Bowl with Bill Gaughan was nothing new.
"We've been going to the Super Bowl together for the last five or six years," he said.
Some readers had the mistaken notion that Between the Lines believed Gaughan had sold his vote on the City Council for tickets to the Super Bowl. This column always presumed the popular councilman, who also serves as the chief of staff for the county executive, had the connections and could afford to pay for his own tickets. Although an old friend of Garcia's, Gaughan had previously managed to avoid balancing his friendship with political support from Rep. Bob Menendez, whose feud with Garcia was laid out in last week's column. Garcia described Gaughan as a loyal friend, even at times when it was not politically favorable to do so. This was a shared trail, Garcia said, noting that at a time when Gaughan was shunned by many Democrats for a supposed close political relationship to Republican Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler, Garcia brought Gaughan to Trenton. "I told the Democrats he's my friend, he goes where I go," Garcia said. "When Beth Janiszewski went after him, I stood up for him. Now he's leading the party in Jersey City, Queen of the Ball, but when he was not invited to the dance, I brought him."
Garcia said Gaughan has done the same for him, never relinquishing their friendship, even though it was not a popular thing to do. As last week's column correctly pointed out, Garcia and Menendez hardly get along.
Of course, any public dealings with Garcia would prompt instant speculation among the political, especially when Gaughan seemed to reverse his position on critical city issues, priming himself for possible confrontation with Menendez. Garcia, who has turned lobbyist, has been accused of representing two controversial interests: Promoting a tax abatement with the Jersey City council for a downtown project, and prompting a lobbying firm for the light rail with the Hudson County freeholders.
Garcia isn't promoting Xanadu
In an interview this week, Garcia refused to take credit for the light rail lobbying, claiming political forces previously opposed to him had moved the agenda of linking the Hudson Bergen Light Rail line to the Meadowlands Sports Complex to benefit the proposed Xanadu project.
Three weeks ago, Hudson County Freeholders Bill O'Dea and Maurice Fitzgibbons blasted an effort to award a lobbying contract to an ex-NJ Transit official (who had served under the previous Republican governor) to lobby for a light rail link to Meadowlands. Fitzgibbons later voted for the lobbyist after getting concessions that included promotion for Hudson County business districts.
County Executive Tom DeGise, in seeking a consensus for the light rail, did not appoint a pro-Xanadu committee to look into the light rail link, a committee that included Bayonne Mayor Joe Doria, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner and Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto. Although Doria owes much to Menendez for federal funding of the massive redevelopment in Bayonne, Elwell has hardly been a Menendez supporter in the past, and had little reason to support a light rail link to the Meadowlands just to benefit Xanadu. Of all Hudson County's business districts likely to suffer, Secaucus' will suffer the most.
Impreveduto is an even bigger critic of the Xanadu project, and publicly opposes it. And Turner being Turner, it is impossible to imagine him standing on any legal slippery slope. And yet this committee also agreed the light rail link was necessary.
A telephone poll likely sponsored by the Hudson County Democratic Organization has been asking voters about who they might like in the 2005 election for mayor of Jersey City. Interviewers mentioned six names of possible candidates, and these included current Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, Jersey City Councilmen Gaughan, Mariano Vega and Junior Maldonado, Freeholder Bill O'Dea and William Netchert. Glenn should win this one hands down....
The Hoboken Democratic fund-raiser at Frankie and Johnny's on Feb. 22 was a rousing success. This was the annual Lincoln's Birthday celebration that brought out DeGise and Gaughan, Menendez and his former chief of staff Kay LiCausi, Assemblyman Brian Stack, and state Senator and Democratic Majority Leader Bernard Kenny and Fitzgibbons, among others. An honored guest was one of Hoboken's most prominent citizens, U.S. Senator Jon Corzine. Donald Scarinci, Garcia and Tony Soares were not at the event...
John Gibson, the national anchor for Fox Network news and a Jersey City resident, is expected to go one on one with Gov. Jim McGreevey in the upcoming week, discussing the newly proposed stem cell research funding the governor has proposed for the state budget.