Is Garcia’s time up?
Aug 03, 2014 | 1674 views | 4 4 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Hoboken Housing Authority is expected to fire Carmelo Garcia as its executive director this Monday. At least, this is what they put on the agenda.

It’s the next step, but certainly not the last, in an ongoing political war between Garcia and the administration of Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

Garcia has accused the Zimmer administration of opposing plans that would help upgrade housing for some of the poorest people in Hoboken – many of whom are of color. Meanwhile the newly-constituted board, mostly allied with Zimmer, has been looking into Garcia’s business practices.

The back and forth behind the scenes has had serious political ramifications as Garcia seeks allies in his fight against Zimmer. Garcia opposed Zimmer’s reelection, and has since requested the Hoboken Democratic organization to push out Zimmer committee people.

Ultimately, the matter will end up being settled in a court room, since Garcia is bound to file suit if the board moves ahead with its plans to remove him.

The right person for the job?

Opponents of newly elected Bayonne Mayor James Davis got to snicker and say “I told you so” last week.

Davis ran a campaign condemning former Mayor Mark Smith of nepotism for the number of relatives on the public payroll in Bayonne. Then, when it was his turn to hire someone for chief of staff, Davis hired a relative, a 23-year-old from out of town.

This has given still-bitter Smith supporters the opportunity to call Davis a hypocrite and to question how 23-year-old Andrew Casais can possibly handle the awesome responsibility associated with the key position.

Defenders of the appointment point out that Casais is actually related to Davis’ ex-wife, and also has significant political experience even at 23, working on several successful campaigns in Union County before becoming the youngest elected official in Union County when he was elected a councilman in Roselle Park as a Republican.

“He is a 40-year-old man in a 12-year-old’s body,” said one person associated with Davis.

Casais also served as registered municipal clerk for the Borough of Allendale, which means that he was responsible for many of the day-to-day operations of the municipality, from preparing council agendas and resolutions to issuing various licenses and dealing with basic operations.

In a political back stabbing world like Hudson County, blood is thicker than political affiliation, and if Davis needed someone to watch his back, this is actually a brilliant choice. It’s like having a relative who is an attorney, someone utterly loyal to you for reasons other than a paycheck.

What do the bigwigs want with Davis?

Davis has become so popular a figure with state and federal politicos you have to wonder which aftershave he uses. A gathering of political eagles was scheduled to take place at the Liberty House on July 31, a $500-a-head fundraiser featuring Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Rep. Albio Sires. The event is being co-hosted by State Sen. Sandra Cunningham, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak and Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason.

So what makes Davis such a popular character these days?

Behind the scenes, intense negotiations are apparently underway to try and take back the deal that sold a good portion of the former Military Ocean Terminal (MOTBY) to the Port Authority. Recently, The New York Times revealed that the deal was designed to bolster the Bayonne municipal budget so as to avoid a state takeover of the city.

Prior to the deal done in 2010, MOTBY had been considered the next step in residential waterfront development on the Hudson County Gold Coast. The deal, if it takes place, would have a private developer purchase the property from the Port Authority and move ahead with redevelopment as originally envisioned. The redevelopment plan calls for the development of a whole city from residential to commercial office space. With a new terminal planned for Royal Caribbean Cruise line – which operates out of Port Liberty – the adjacent land would become some of the most lucrative in the state.

For the Davis Administration, this would be the financial miracle that would allow the city to get out from under much of its current fiscal issues. For others, it is a huge expansion development – especially now that Jersey City’s Gold Coast is rapidly filling up.

Meanwhile, some speculation suggests that Freeholder Jeff Dublin will team up with Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell to run for state Assembly next year. Dublin lost his bid to retain the Democratic nod for freeholder, while O’Donnell will likely lose the Democrat line for reelection in next year’s primary.

Jersey City first campaign stop for governor?

Fulop, meanwhile, held a huge press conference at the shopping center on Martin Luther King Drive on July 28 that included Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Paterson Mayor Jose Torres. While couched as an announcement for a cooperative agreement to include everything from public safety to the purchase of rock salt, in truth, Fulop appears to have been sending a message to his Democratic rivals for governor.

With the state’s three biggest Democratic cities in his pocket, Fulop is well on his way to winning the Democratic nomination for governor in 2017.

Whether or not Fulop can actually get elected governor (something three other previous Jersey City mayors were unable to do) is beside the point. He will win the nomination.

Both Baraka and Torres owe political debts to Fulop, who helped them win their elections earlier this year.

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

Comments
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profrjfc
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August 03, 2014
One can only hope that, if the Housing Board is going to move forward on removing Mr. Garcia, its members and legal advisors have done the appropriate due diligence. As Mr. Sullivan notes above, Mr. Garcia will not go down easily. Whatever one might think about the Director's judgment and character (not much, is a good place to begin), "unethical" does not necessarily mean "illegal." The last thing the Board, and the City for that matter, needs is a protracted, public and expensive legal battle resulting in a "wrist slap" that allows Mr. Garcia to hold on to his position.
VoteHoboken
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August 03, 2014
Doesn't the Executive Director serve at the discretion of the HHA Board of Directors ?

If so all that would be needed is a vote for termination.

assilem
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August 04, 2014
Merely a charade, but one paid at large cost to the residents of Hoboken.
profrjfc
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August 06, 2014
As noted below, this "charade" will likely cost taxpayers a good deal of money. To that point, I would also ask that the public be made aware of how much Mr. Garcia's "no bid" contracts will cost us relative to those granted on a competitive basis. In addition, what happens to the money he received from these "no bid" vendors for an Assembly campaign that probably required very little money once he was endorsed by the Hudson County political apparatus? Did he spend it? Does he keep what he didn't spend? Much is being made about the public's right to an open meeting (fair, true - and Monday night was apparently a debacle), but what about its right to know how our taxes are being squandered?