Garcia refiles nearly identical lawsuit against Zimmer as one filed in summer; media reports on it in context of Christie matter
Jan 30, 2014 | 2707 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HOBOKEN – Newly elected State Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, who also serves as the executive director of the Hoboken Housing Authority, recently refiled a lawsuit against Mayor Dawn Zimmer, along with her husband and a political operative, alleging that the trio engaged in patronage practices which impeded Garcia’s job performance as they embarked on campaign to transform Hoboken.

The lawsuit was originally filed last summer and first reported in depth in this Hoboken Reporter story, and then in more detail in this story.

The lawsuit was an expected next move by Garcia. His original lawsuit, which alleged that Zimmer and her husband, Stan Grossbard, were planning a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” in Hoboken, was thrown out by a judge two weeks ago for failing to provide sufficient evidence to support its claims.

The suit quotes from a tape that Garcia made of a lunch he had with the mayor's husband a year ago. It did not appear to capture any overt illegal conversation. The original Hoboken Reporter story includes quotes from the tape.

At the heart of the tape, and the allegations, is a power struggle over the more than 3,000 units of low-income public housing in southwestern Hoboken, which are a safety net for the city's poorest residents, and also a source of votes for the politically powerful. The members of the seven-member volunteer Board of Commissioners tend to hold a lot of sway in that area. The suit reveals an ongoing tug of war among many powerful political entities in town, including the mayor and her allies on the board.

Last year, the mayor's allies achieved a majority on that board, and were frequently at odds with Garcia, and last year attempted to introduce resolutions to terminate him. Garcia has since won a seat on the state Assembly.

The new complaint foregoes any mention of ethnic cleansing, replacing much of that language with charges of political patronage. The suit restates Garcia’s original charges that Zimmer, Grossbard and Jake Stuiver, a former chairman of the housing board, allegedly “began to subject Director Garcia to an unlawful pattern of harassment, threats, intimidation and extortion."

“We’re pressing forward with the suit because there is a clear violation of the law,” said the attorney, Louis Zayas. “This is an unexpected delay, but not a delay that we cannot overcome.”

Gerald Krovatin, the attorney representing Zimmer, was not immediately available for comment. Krovatin is also representing the city in dealings with the investigation into Mayor Dawn Zimmer's recent claims that the administration of Gov. Chris Christie intimidated her.

Garcia's lawsuit is getting more play in the media in the context of those claims, as he is alleging that the mayor's administration is being hypocritical because it exerted pressure on him to do certain things.

However, some of the media reporting of the suit has gone to extremes, with one conservative website even falsely claiming that the mayor had been "found guilty" in connection with the suit.

Jake Stuiver, a housing commissioner allied with Zimmer, has since moved out of Hoboken and left the housing board. He has recently posted a supportive note on Zimmer's Facebook page regarding the Christie matter. – Dean DeChiaro

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