HOBOKEN -- At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Councilman Michael Russo again complained about what he perceives to be a conflict of interest because the City Council recently hired local Paul Condon to do legal work. Russo and Councilwoman Beth Mason have said that Condon has a personal relationship with at least two council members.
However, at the same meeting, Russo himself revealed a potential conflict that he said a former city attorney advised him was not one.
Other city conflicts also came to light.
At nearly 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Russo vocalized his displeasure with the meeting running so late because he was not given the chance to hear from the city attorney on matters pertaining to Condin's contract. While Russo was discussing the possible conflicts of interest, Councilman Michael Lenz complained that Russo had participated in police contract negotiation planning meetings in City Hall last November, even though Russo’s brother is a Hoboken police detective.
Russo said after the meeting that a former city attorney had told Russo he could participate in the contract negotiations on behalf of the city with the superior officers union (PSOA), since his brother is a member of the PBA, not the PSOA. But Russo admitted after the meeting that the discussions in November pertained to both the PBA and the PSOA.
Another conflict was discovered last week. Maser Consulting, the engineering firm that was slated two weeks ago to get at least two city contracts, was found to have donated to the election campaign of former Mayor Peter Cammarano, according to city sources. Even though Cammarano is no longer mayor, the firm still donated to a candidate seeking municipal office in the city. One city source accused a Maser official of not disclosing the donation.
Maser already has done pre-contract work on the crumbling piers; they were pulled from the agenda last week pending an investigation, Mayor Dawn Zimmer said in a press release.
Finally, Council President Peter Cunningham was accused by Councilman Beth Mason two weeks ago of having had a conflict with Condon. Mason and others noted that during a previous administration, Cunningham had received $750 in donations from Condon for his campaign.
But nNo violation occurred, according to several officials, because the council was not asked to vote on the contract in question under the former administration.
At the meeting, Cunningham addressed Councilwoman Beth Mason directly and asked for an apology for accusing him and for bringing his wife into the discussion. He said the accusation was “wasting everybody’s time,” and that Mason was “dipping into her repertoire of dirty tricks.”
Mason offered no response to his charge. -- TJC