This would be a remarkable circumstance since McCann has close political ties to Assemblyman Louis Manzo, whom Chiappone is seeking to unseat in the June Democratic Primary.
However, McCann said he was not acting in the capacity as a personal advisor, but rather as a conduit for negotiations among councilmen.
Be that as it may, the perception of a McCann-Chiappone union may explain the chilly reception McCann got at a Bayonne City Council public hearing for a $25 million bond. McCann, who has had ties to one of the development companies negotiating a deal for part of the former Military Ocean Terminal, was shouted down before he could spout any of his theories of why the bond was potentially illegal.
While city attorneys defended the bond later, saying nothing improper had been done, McCann was eventually banned from speaking at a public hearing, savagely attacked as "an out of towner" by Councilman Ted Connolly, and drowned out by the rhythmic clapping of city workers in what appears to be an orchestrated move to keep what he had to say from being broadcast on the local cable access television network.
However, letters exchanged between Chiappone and city attorneys over the bond indicated Chiappone was using McCann as an advisor on the bond.
McCann said he was not acting as a financial advisor, but as a possible conduit to find some common ground between Chiappone and fellow Councilman Gary LaPelusa with the rest of the council in order to pass a bond upon which balancing the city budget somewhat depends.
McCann said he met with Bayonne Mayor Joseph Doria prior to actually meeting with Chiappone on the bond. Connolly as well as numerous other city staff members do not believe this, and see McCann has taking a side in a race that will pit Chiappone on a ticket led by Sandra Cunningham for state Senate against Doria.
Numerous people see the incumbent Doria as an underdog in this conflict, so in support of his candidacy, they have already taken off the gloves, taking the first hard shots at Chiappone with the hope of an early knockout.
Their argument runs something like this: How can Chiappone, who has been running his legislative campaign partly on anti-public corruption platform, take advice from McCann, who was convicted of illegal financial dealings in the early 1990s (unrelated to the office of mayor), and how could Chiappone rely on McCann's advice concerning the legality of a city bond?
McCann, of course, has always contended that charges filed against him in 1991 were politically contrived, and came at a time when he was in the middle of a wrestling match with then County Executive Robert Janiszewski for control of Hudson County's political machine. McCann also insists that his motives for commenting on the bond have nothing to do with politics.
This has been echoed by Chiappone, who said his own opposition to passing the bond is not tied to his race for the state Assembly. He said he simply believes the city has not done enough to cut costs and wants the bond trimmed. But he said he has looked closely as some of McCann's data on the legality of the bond, and has asked the state to investigate.
Doria faces an uphill battle
Meanwhile, the Doria ticket appears to have finally come together after poll numbers indicate that the Doria would do best against Cunningham by running with Manzo and former Jersey City Council President L. Harvey Smith.
This poll indicated that Smith would draw more votes over all for the Doria ticket than Freeholder Jeff Dublin, although some local experts dispute this saying that Dublin's lower numbers are a bit deceptive.
In this case, Smith looks good until the campaign starts, at which time the Cunningham camp is expected to launch a deluge on Smith like the one he faced in 2003 when he opposed Cunningham's husband, deceased state Sen. and Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham. In that race, Cunningham beat Smith and Chiappone beat Doria.
This year, Cunningham and Chiappone are still one candidate short for their ticket, although most experts expected Jersey City Councilwoman Viola Richardson to be picked.
Although Cunningham, an African-American, is expected to get strong support from the African-American community in Jersey City, Richardson is seen as militant enough to stir up the community enough to come out to vote. Since two thirds of the 31st District is in Jersey City, Doria may face an uphill battle.
School board races are next
Candidates for various school districts were unveiled last week, and could prove testing ground for political parties, especially in Hoboken where reformers have divided into at least two camps, giving Mayor Dave Roberts perhaps an edge up in upcoming municipal elections.
In Hoboken, incumbents Theresa Burns, James Farina, and Wanda Santana-Alicea will try to fend of a half dozen challengers for three-year terms, while Magdalena Porrata and Tricia Snyder duke it out for a one-year term.
Although reformers may be divided, Roberts may also be hampered by the fact that five of the candidates for school board believe they have his blessing when only three candidates can win.
Meanwhile, the reformers, divided by issues plaguing May's council elections in Hoboken, will have to get together to support their own candidates for school board as a way of paving the way towards a larger peace treaty in May.
Dublin, once rumored as a candidate for state Assemblyman in the 31st District, leads a pack of 17 candidates in the race for Jersey City School Board.
Dublin, Anthony Cruz, and Angel Valentin are incumbents facing Moses Ballon, Jenny Campbell, Sebastian D'Amico, Terry Dehere, Michael Esposito, William Frasca, Jenny Garcia, Ben Lopez, Gerry McCann, Israel Nieves, Aida Sanchez, and Arnold Williams.
Unlike in Hoboken, the Secaucus Board of Education election may reflect the aftermath the municipal election last November. Some believe incumbent Tom Troyer may be in trouble because he chose to run as an independent for Town Council last November and was soundly defeated by Michael Gonnelli and the Take Back Secaucus party.
Some Gonnelli supporters claim Troyer had made a deal with Mayor Dennis Elwell's party in an attempt to cut into Gonnelli's vote and allow the Elwell-backed candidate to win the council seat. Although Troyer has denied this strongly, he may face a backlash as Gonnelli backs other candidates against him - in particular Arlene Broemmer, who had a strong showing in last year's school board race. Making a comeback in this election will be former Councilman Robert Campanella, who was dumped out of the Town Council in a political coup by Elwell in 1999. Anthony Gerbasio is the other incumbent in the Secaucus board race, with John McStowe, Frank Trombetta, and Edilberto Aguilera also running.
Of the four candidates running in North Bergen are three incumbents, Charlotte DiGennaro, Miquel Heck, and Edward LaTour, with Kanaiyalal Patel seeking to unseat one as the lone challenger.
In Weehawken, the three incumbents, Patricia Sullivan, Francis Pizzuta and Susan Jennings are all running unopposed.
Guttenberg, however, has six candidates to fill three seats of three years, and two candidates running to fill a one-year term.
The race has David Hepperle and Sari Zuckerman as the incumbents, with Ana Costello, Melanie Henry, Ivan Dominquez, and Elsa Schwarz as challengers. Maria Gonzalez is facing off against Ocaris Ortiz for the one year term.