In statements made to CNN and confirmed by sources close to Stack this week, Stack said he believed Christie knew nothing about the events surrounding the closure of lanes to the George Washington Bridge last September. Stack also said that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer must have been mistaken in her claims that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said Hurricane Sandy relief could be withheld unless Hoboken moved ahead with zoning changes that would benefit a developer with connections to Christie.
Stack said he believe Zimmer’s story was “farfetched.”
Some close to Stack believe that Zimmer’s perception of development has been tainted by Operation Bid Rig III convictions that netted former Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano as well as others from around Hudson County and the state.
“Cammarano’s conviction made normal discussions of development poison for her administration,” said one source close to Stack. “Any innocent comment about a project would be interpreted as corruption, when it’s not.”
Stack in the CNN account said he had never heard of Christie strongarm tactics in regards to Sandy, saying that his own relationship with Christie has always been good and that the governor’s office has always been “helpful.”
Stack’s town seems to have done exceptionally well under the Christie administration. As reported in previous Reporter stories, Union City was one of a handful of New Jersey towns receiving special state aid for two years in a row. Stack and his Board of Commissioners also got a state exemption allowing them to receive health benefits while receiving that aid. The town also received more than $2 million from the Port Authority for street repair near the Lincoln Tunnel last year.
Stack was among a handful of Democratic Hudson County mayors to endorse Christie’s reelection.
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli, an independent, said he also questioned claims of Christie withholding Sandy aid as political retribution.
“If Mayor Zimmer is right about what she said, it would be different,” Gonnelli said. “But I think she must have misinterpreted what was said.”
Gonnelli said many communities, including Secaucus, have not gotten the aid they requested.
“And we endorsed Christie here in Secaucus,” Gonnelli said. “Part of the reason we did it was all the help the governor gave us during Hurricane Sandy.”
Gonnelli also went on to say he does not believe Zimmer’s that Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Robert Constable was also connected Sandy aid approval to Hoboken clearing the way for the development project.
“I work with him a lot,” Gonnelli said. “He’s not like that.”
Others officials in Hudson County have also defended Constable.
But some have not been so quick to defend Christie. Another Hudson County mayor, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, said that Christie’s staff canceled slews of important meetings with him, which he implied could have been due to his lack of an endorsement of the mayor. – By Al Sullivan