At the meeting, Rhodes-Kearns was elected the new president of the board, and Garcia was chosen as vice president.
However, fights over election tactics were front and center.
Board members Theresa Minutillo, Rose Marie Markle, Carrie Gilliard all voted no for both Rhodes-Kearns and Garcia as president and vice president. But they did not make any other nominations as to whom they thought should lead the school board this year.
Minutillo, the outgoing board president, had supported the "Kids First" election slate that lost its bid for three seats this year.
Will seek bids for $75K PR contract
At the meeting, the board also voted unanimously to accept bids for a $75,000 public relations contract.
Minutillo expressed her hope that an offer of free assistance from freeholder and public relations professional Maurice Fitzgibbons would be submitted, along with any bids for the contract.
All nine board members voted in favor of accepting bids, but noted that accepting bids does not prevent them for looking for someone to do the job in-house in order to save costs.
Long-time board member Jim Farina said that a professional P.R. firm could be held accountable for any work done, unlike Fitzgibbons' free assistance.
"If something goes wrong," Farina noted, a volunteer might say, " 'Oh, I'm doing this for gratis.' "
Questions lingered about the origin of an election flyer calling all candidates other than those on Garcia's ticket "enemies of the Latino community" because they did not have Latino candidates as runningmates.
Former board member Dr. Tricia Snyder spoke during the public session about the flyer. She said that she expected an apology from the candidates for calling her a "racist."
Rhodes-Kearns interrupted Snyder mid-sentence to say that the campaign is over.
Nevertheless, Snyder continued, saying that by their own rationale, Garcia, Rhodes-Kearns, and DeFalco would be "enemies of the African-American community," since they chose not to run with an African-American candidate, as Snyder's ticket did.
She said, "That would be absurd, but that's what you stated in your mailer."
None of the candidates took responsibility for the flyer.
"I think the leaky boat just hit an iceberg."
- Jim Farina
Resident Lane Bajardi called out from the crowd, claiming that Belfiore indeed knew who created the flyer.
An argument ensued between the two, with Belfiore offering the microphone to Bajardi and saying, "Come on; you're good at backstabbing."
"I talked to [political consultant] Anthony Amabile, who vociferously denies that he authored that flyer," Belfiore said, which drew a laugh from Bajardi.
Amabile was in charge of advertisements for the slate that won, and is among those who could be considered for the PR contract. Amabile was reached by phone Friday, but said he would not comment.
Belfiore reiterated his personal apology to the "Kids First" candidates for the insinuation of racism in the flyer.
Board member Frank Raia said after the meeting that he did not approve of the campaign tactic.
"You have to be above all of that," he said. "Tricia Snyder is not a racist."
Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer asked the board during the public session to make an effort to rid future elections of such incendiary flyers.
Carmelo Garcia said last week that Kids First distributed unfair flyers as well, including one accusing Garcia's faction of firing teachers, even though the entire board would be responsible for looming teacher layoffs, and no teachers have been laid off as yet.
Although some board members have made promises to save teachers from being laid off, the situation is losing steam amidst the other concerns of the board.
"In 1989, I was on of the first group of teachers that might have been laid off in the city of Hoboken," said board member and police captain Anthony Romano during the meeting. "I know the pain that those teachers feel."
He said that the board should concentrate on working with Raslowsky to try to minimize the layoffs.
According to Superintendent Jack Raslowsky the deadline for teachers receiving "non-renewal" letters is May 15.
A board divided
Some board members tried to push for unity Thursday, but squabbles emerged.
Gilliard said that the board is "all in this leaky boat together."
Later, Raslowsky built upon that, saying that the board better start "patching up the holes and start rowing."
After a discussion started deteriorating into an argument, Farina said, "I think the leaky boat just hit an iceberg."
Many public speakers called for a truce between the factions so that the school district and its children would not suffer.
"It would have been nice to see a unanimous vote tonight," said resident Richard Tremitiedi, referring to the protest votes.
Councilman Michael Russo said, "The election is over. Make the system better for our children."
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