Between the lines Steel pen, golden heart

People do not yet know how much they are going to miss longtime Jersey Journal political columnist Peter Weiss.

This is not a matter of how great a guy he was – and to hear all the accolades, he was great – but his untimely death at age 60 was equally untimely for Hudson County political circles.

“He had a pen of steel and a heart of gold,” said his close friend, former county official Joe Lauro.

But more importantly, Peter Weiss had a memory.

“He knew where all the political bones were buried,” said political consultant Paul J. Byrne, another close friend. “Fortunately for most of us, he rarely broke out his shovel.”

Another mentor and friend, who did not wish to be named, said, “Peter Weiss is the most honest man I ever met in this business. He never took a dishonest dime for what he did. He just loved what he did.”

And what he did was keep other people honest, and that, in a time like this, is the greatest loss.

Former County Executive Robert Janiszewski, when testifying at a political corruption trial this year, talked about why he was so nervous about his illegal dealings. He said that one of the reasons was that the press was reporting on the subject. One of those watch dogs for the public good was Peter Weiss. The fact that he knew so much about how things worked made corrupt people nervous, and may have indeed kept some corruption from occurring at all.

His loss is a loss of an important set of eyes in a community in which the more eyes focused on a subject, the better. And for the rest of us, seeking to keep the order and protect the taxpayer, we are going to have to work harder and learn more in order to make up for the loss Peter Weiss’ death created.

More than his grin, his sardonic humor and his powerful presence, we will miss his mind and his memory, and a living history written in no column and no book.

Why she wants to be county clerk

At 45, Brooklyn-born Theresa De Leon has already run twice for Congress, facing off against Republican challenger Rep. Robert Menendez in the 13th District. But she is not facing off against Menendez in this November’s election. In fact, she isn’t seeking a congressional seat.

Instead, she is seeking to take advantage of the growing division in the Democratic party to become the county clerk.

The daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants and a resident of Jersey City for almost 20 years, DeLeon currently serves as chief financial officer for the Legal Aid Society in New York. She has previously been controller for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and before that served as vice president for Bankers Trust Company and vice president and chief financial officer for West State Empire Group.

“I think I’m very qualified for the position,” she said.

With a BA in Economics from Yale University, a master’s degree from New York University, and a law degree from New York Law School, she may well be right.

She is running against Guttenberg Councilman and Hudson County Democratic Organization Chairman Javier Incan for the seat.

During an interview conducted this week, DeLeon said one of the key reasons for her running for county clerk was to clean up the election process that she claims is out of date. Indeed, the freeholders were expected this week to pass a multimillion dollar package that would purchase a new voting system in order to meet with new federal guidelines. But DeLeon said machines are not enough, and if elected, she would examine how the clerk’s office operates in order to make voting in Hudson County more accessible. She also said she wants to see the clerk’s office become more “user friendly” to the public, allowing ordinary people to get the record they need in the most efficient manner possible.

Normally, DeLeon would have had an uphill battle. But a divided Democratic party may allow her to slip into the seat, despite her party label.

“People should not elect parties,” she said. “The days of the big party machine should be over. People should vote for the individual. Is that person qualified and capable? I feel I am, and I’m also eager, enthusiastic and honest.”

She said she believes a new person can take a look at the office and bring to it new ideas.

A letter from your county executive?

“Dear neighbors and fellow homeowners,” the recent letter from County Executive Tom DeGise read, and then proceeded to bash Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham for two solid single-spaced pages. The letter, which was apparently sent to homeowners throughout Jersey City, sought to undo some of the Cunningham propaganda that has blamed the county administration for the rise in taxes.

The letter used such phases as “controlled cronies from Cunningham’s inner circle” and blamed “the Cunningham crew” for making a mess of welfare, not making headway in protecting against bio-terrorism, and so on and so on.

DeGise went on to to list his accomplishments. Of course, most people have seen such letters just before election time. Unfortunately for county taxpayers, this letter was on official county letterhead, and apparently paid for not by the DeGise election committee, since there was no indication of that, but by the county taxpayer.

In defending the letter, Jim Kennelly, in his role as communications director, said the letter was in response to a city-paid mailing in July that came with Jersey City tax bills and attacked DeGise.

Despite this tit for tat, some residents want answers….

Behind the scenes, DeGise followers may be doing more than just shoveling out rhetoric. Is the DeGise camp quietly seeking to seduce Freeholder Bill O’Dea to their side with an offer of support for a mayoral bid in 2005?…

Conspiracy-minded Secaucus Board of Education member Tom Troyer believes the recent hiring of Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto’s sister as assistant Secaucus town clerk is part of a political deal. Roxanne Paciga, who also serves as a paid aide to the assemblyman, was once rumored to be a possible choice for town clerk, as well as a possible police chief. Her $33,000 salary has become the talk of a town where numerous members of the Impreveduto family hold municipal or school jobs. The most prominent of these is the assemblyman, who is a teacher, and his brother, Patrick Impreveduto, who is the high school principal. Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, however, said Paciga would add to the efficiency of the clerk’s office….

Hoboken Mayor Dave Roberts won another victory last week when the state Division of Local Government approved his refinancing package. Speaking out against the proposal were council members Carol Marsh and Terry Castellano, along with Michele Russo reading a statement from her husband, Anthony, and Michael Lenz, the former business administrator in Hoboken whom Roberts terminated.


© 2000, Newspaper Media Group