In talking about his eight-plus years as the county's sheriff, Cassidy cast back into the past for those who he needed to thank for generating support of the HCDO.
He thanked former Democratic County Chairman Bruce Walter, who dominated the political landscape until his untimely death in the mid-1990s and then paused, and thanked the current Chairman Bernard Kenny.
In that pause, Cassidy must have recalled a whole sad chapter of Hudson County political history as he skipped over the one name he could never thank: Former County Executive Robert Janiszewski, who also played a role in Cassidy's long career, if a dubious one.
Three years ago, when Cassidy last ran for reelection, Janiszewski - while under the supervision of FBI - attempted to dump Cassidy from the ticket.
To this day, no one but Janiszewski knows why, although many have speculated. Some claim Beth Janiszewski - Bobby J's wife - wanted Jimmy King (a current aide to Mayor Glenn Cunningham) to take the spot. Janiszewski apparently took King around the county to meet various mayors in an attempt to drum up support. Others claim, Janiszewski, who was then cooperating with the FBI to ensnare other corrupt politicians, was seeking bribe offers while secretly recording interchanges with various public officials.
Former Freeholder Nidia Davila-Colon - in an interview before being sent off to federal prison on related charges - recalled the odd phone call she had received from Janiszewski on the eve of filing asking her to run against Barbara Donnelly for registrar - odd, since Janiszewski, Donnelly and her brother, Paul Byrne, had been friends since childhood. Cassidy had also been a good political soldier, taking on extra duties when Janiszewski needed to do away with the county police. Why was he suddenly targeted?
Unbeknownst to them, attorney Donald Scarinci, Janiszewski and Byrne met at Bryne's Portside Towers apartment to discuss the matter during the negotiations, and according to an NJN interview with Byrne last year, Janiszewski was desperate to retain his position as HCDO chairman.
In another interview, Byrne described the desperate Janiszewski pacing the living room floor, rattling the ice in his glass of Dewar's as he pleaded with Scarinci and Byrne. Fortunately for Cassidy, Bob Menendez - a Scarinci ally - stepped in to keep the Democratic Party from splintering.
"The consensus was, we wanted to keep the incumbents on the ticket," Byrne recalled. "Menendez played a positive role, insuring the mayors were supportive of the incumbents."
Standing in the New Jersey City Medical Center atrium last week with many of those people who had helped save his career, Cassidy looked honestly and eternally grateful. Donnelly would have attended as well but she was in Florida.
Rothman berates Bush's record
Rep. Steve Rothman pulled no punches when he spoke out against President George W. Bush this week, berating the Republican President's positions as radical and unfair.
Fired up, Rothman called Bush "an ideological radical" and his administration the most "destructive administration in the history of America."
For the usually mild-mannered Rothman, this speech gave a glimpse of the Superman costume hidden under his perfectly tailored suit, as he detailed what he called a dismal national record by Bush that included reversals on environmental issues, inadequate funding for educational and prescription programs, and massive tax breaks to the wealthiest people in the country.
While Rothman all but said voters should throw the bum out come the November general election, he seemed a bit puzzled during a later interview when questioned about the fiery speech.
"You really think it was powerful?" he asked.
Perhaps Clark Kent doesn't always know the impact Superman has when seeking to leap tall buildings in a single bound or fly faster than a speeding train, or in this case, lambaste the president of the United States.
Menendez takes the lead
If Rothman took the gloves off at the HDCO event, Menendez put them on, hiding his iron fist inside velvet gloves as he gave a speech equivalent to a state of the region, unveiling an aggressive agenda for economic redevelopment for the area, homeland security, healthcare reform, and environmental protection. In particular, he alluded to a Liberty Corridor proposal that could see the rebirth of industry for the region, by reshaping former industrial sites throughout North Jersey into a haven for invention and manufacture.
Menendez, local political observers claim, has taken on an elevated and more dignified approach to politics in Hudson County, perhaps as a realization that the ongoing feud with Cunningham could not continue.
"Once Cunningham got elected to the state senate, the feud had to end," one observer said. "Menendez can't keep the mayors in line against a sitting senator. These guys can't have a food fight while the rest of the county's mayors are sitting at the table looking to be fed."
Even state and federal elected officials such as Dick Codey and Jon Corzine have hinted of their discomfort at a divided Hudson Democratic family.
Oddly enough, almost all the players on both sides came together last week when Susan Bass-Levin, director of the state Department of Community Affairs paid a visit to Hudson County - with the Hatfields and the McCoys of Hudson County sitting in the same room without one verbal shot being fired. Yet the real key to a lasting peace between Menendez and Cunningham can be brokered through Kenny, whose miracle works may include a future Cunningham endorsement of Menendez for reelection.
Tidbits around the county
Who is top guy in Cunningham's inner circle?
Top staff to Mayor Cunningham seems to depend on the level of embarrassment each has caused or not caused the administration. Will Gene Drayton lose the mayor's ear because of the problems associated with Troy Washington and the Hoboken Housing Authority debacle? Does the mayor lose faith in the normally very sensible advice from Joe Cardwell because of close association with Mark Munley?
Two months ago, Joe Lauro's grant writing firm was the center of attention. The county administration proposed his contract, then withdrew it, but the Freeholders refused to allow the administration to take it back. But the administration had the last laugh since the Freeholder vote only authorized the County Executive or the County Administrator to sign the contract. Both could refuse to sign it, leaving the $70,000 in limbo. Lauro, a long-time figure on the Hudson scene, felt betrayed by people he helped over the years. But this week, Lauro's firm is back at work with the county, suggesting old wounds were healed.