The shine is coming off the newly-minted Bayonne administration as insiders begin to bicker.
While supporters of former Mayor Mark Smith might be rubbing their hands in glee over the political turmoil, in truth, most sources point the finger at some factions that supported James Davis in the last election.
At the center of the storm is the newly-appointed business administrator, Joe DeMarco, who until recently was arguably the most powerful person in the Davis administration, and had the most influence over the new mayor.
This is in part because almost no one behind Davis had any real experience in running municipal government. This forced Davis to rely heavily on DeMarco, who came to Bayonne from a similar job in West New York.
DeMarco’s personal demeanor has been described as something close to a pet rock. He apparently doesn’t let most people get close to him, and so some have felt alienated by his approach.
City Council members have complained about being left in the dark about events and issues, such as the recent hiring of new firefighters.
DeMarco apparently doesn’t issue many memos, so even those with some right to know about things feel put off.
Insiders in West New York said this is typical of DeMarco’s style.
Factions inside the Davis camp appear to be extremely unhappy with DeMarco, blaming him for everything except the Kennedy assassination.
Recently, the downtown municipal offices – which DeMarco opened as a kind of outreach to the Bergen Point section of the city – closed its doors because it appears to have become a hot bed of conspirators, who met there to air their gripes, especially against DeMarco.
Part of this may be jealousy on the part of those who supported Davis in the June election, supporters who expected jobs.
This is very much like kids at a birthday party eyeing other kids at the table to see which ones got a bigger piece of cake.
In the first round, Davis has pushed only for two permanent full time positions: director of public safety, and business administrator. The rest of the jobs so far have an “acting” distinction.
More importantly, some of the supporters expected to be rewarded even with non-paying positions, such as appointments to various boards, and were disappointed.
A largely questionable report being circulated claimed DeMarco butted heads with some of the supporters in City Hall and that prompted Mayor Davis to toss a number of supporters out of the office. While this has been reported in other media, no one appears to be able to confirm the incident and a number of people are questioning whether it actually happened.
Some close to Davis blame former Smith people for spreading the rumor. This appears also to be unjustified. The conspiracy appears to involve a small number of people in the Davis camp and a move to force Davis into replacing DeMarco.
One informed source, however, said DeMarco won’t be forced out, noting that he has a good track record for stabilizing taxes and controlling the municipal budget in West New York.
“This is not the most personable guy,” one source said. “He knows what he’s doing.”
This is not to say that all is rosy in City Hall. It’s not. Sources say DeMarco is going to have to learn a new way to operate government in Bayonne, and the recent arrival of Jay Coffey as the town attorney will help.
Roque feels positive about reelection run
Mayor Felix Roque said he has a good feeling about his upcoming reelection bid.
“I feel strong and confident,” Roque said.
He has good reason to feel that way. A number of prominent public officials in North Hudson see Roque as unbeatable. Roque made a remarkable turnaround over the last year, and now has the public support of nearly every major public official in North Hudson.
Although he has two declared opponents, neither one has the strong backing Roque had when he was the underdog in 2011.
“He’s done a remarkable turnaround,” said Rep. Albio Sires.
It is not yet clear just who will be on Roque’s ticket.
Mason and Sweeney – perfect together?
The question of whether Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason is seeking to run with State Sen. and Senate President Steve Sweeney as his lieutenant governor has aggravated a number of supporters of Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
What role Mason may take in her jump from local politics to state politics remains unclear, but she has a close relationship with Sweeney and other South Jersey Democratic power brokers. Mason is a major Democratic contributor.
This week, she met Sweeney in Hoboken at Dino and Harry’s, taking a prominent window seat near 14th and Garden. Then the pair took off to attend a fundraiser for state Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack.
Better than being tarred and feathered
Everywhere people are dumping buckets of ice water on other people’s heads.
Hudson County is no different. Political figures on every level had taken the challenge to raise funds and awareness for ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This includes people like Rep. Sires, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Bayonne Mayor James Davis, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, and West New York Mayor Felix Roque.
The subject of this very cold shower then has the option to challenge someone else to follow suit.
Zimmer took on the press and named Hudson Reporter Editor-in-Chief Caren Matzner. Zimmer said this was in the interests of informing the public – and was apparently not in retaliation for any negative press. Roque also challenged Al Sullivan (author of this column) to take the plunge. Roque and company were waiting to do the ice deed themselves, but Sullivan opted to perform the act outside the newspaper’s Hoboken offices.
Roque, however, said this was a sign of respect for fair coverage provided by The Hudson Reporter over the last few years.
The challenge calls for the event to be posted on the internet, and the Matzner and Sullivan dunkings appear at www.hudsonreporter.com.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.