Between the lines The gentleman freeholder

Tilo Rivas was elected by Democratic Committee members of the 6th Freeholder District to replace exiting Brian Stack, who was sworn into the state Assembly earlier this month.

“Tilo was elected by a unanimous vote,” said Javier Inclan. “He is a real gentleman.”

Rivas was among three people considered for the job, although Union City Commissioner Christopher Irizzary declined the job because of a newly acquired position as administrator with the Union City Board of Education. Also considered was Union City Community Development Agency Director Kennedy Ng.

Rivas, a Dominican, is known as a very low-key person, and is in one source’s view, “a respectful and respectable fellow.”

Before his appointment to the Union City School Board in May 2001, Rivas worked for Nabisco-Kraft companies and had served on the city’s Redevelopment Agency before joining the Stack Administration as a commission in 2002.

Rivas was to be sworn in before the regular freeholder meeting on Thursday.

Getting history right

Matthew Amato, who has long been associated with the politics of Hudson County, gave everybody a history lesson in providing correct information about who served how many offices. Stack, early in his political career, actually helped Amato with the campaign efforts of Union City Mayor William Musto in the early 1980s. “I’m very proud of Brian,” Amato said.

Because Stack technically held three offices at one time – Union City mayor, freeholder and the recently acquired state Assembly seat – he was mistakenly compared with one-time Harrison Mayor Frank Rodgers, who allegedly also held the three seats of mayor, Hudson County clerk, and state senator. But as Amato points out, Rodgers actually had resigned from the Senate three days prior to his taking over as clerk…

Javier Inclan, who was elected as county clerk in November, said he is very happy with that position. Though he survived the political division in the Democratic Party to get the position, he said he hopes to do a good job.

“First you have to get the job,” he said. “But you have to do the job once you get it. That’s what I intend to do.”

Will the civil war end soon?

Stack may soon have to make some hard political choices concerning which side of the Democratic political divide he will reside on.

Reliable reports claim Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham is willing to support Stack for the post of Democratic county chairman. Stack, who was raised in the North Hudson political environment under Musto and former Union City Mayor Bruce Walter, might have to sever ties with Rep.Robert Menendez – if state Senator Raymond Lesniak of Union County can’t bring the party together. Lesniak has told people he will end the Hudson County Democratic Civil War within six months.

This will be a hard chore since Menendez snubbed Cunningham by not attending the Trenton swearing-in ceremony. Reports suggested that Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and his chief of staff, Bill Gaughan would be willing to make peace provided Cunningham discontinues support for a pro-Cunningham newspaper based in Jersey City that has slammed them over the last two years.

Meanwhile Cunningham and his wife received hardy applause from the 1,000 people who showed up to the Scheutzen Park swearing in of state senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco. Is this a new power elite forming? If so, will this include Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner and Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, who were also at the affair?

Although former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler has not publicly declared his intention to run for governor or mayor of Jersey City, inside sources claim the deal is already in the works for a Schundler run for mayor. Whether nor not Menendez openly supports Schundler is the question. Can the third most powerful Democratic congressman afford to support a Republican and still retain his credibility as the alternative voice against a Republican administration?

Of course, history is an important lesson here. Schundler started out as a Democrat and during the early 1990s backed a group of reform Democrats against Union City’s Bruce Walter, Robert Janiszewski and the Hudson County Democratic Organization. Perhaps Schundler will become a Democrat again.

Perhaps Schundler will take up an old Janiszewski routine and give away refrigerator magnets. One source claimed to have kept the collection of the junk Janiszewski dumped onto the unsuspecting public, perhaps thinking of starting a Janiszewski museum.

“He was known for giving odd things away from shoe shine kits to sewing kits,” the source said. “I have a bag full of that stuff in my basement.”

Meanwhile Gaughan, in his role as councilman of Jersey City, and his fellow Councilman Junior Maldonado are up in arms about the fact that Cunningham issued details of the upcoming Jersey City budget to the newspapers before sharing them with the City Council. This includes a $15 million hike for the hiring of public safety personnel.

“I’m not against hiring police,” Maldonado said. “But I would like a chance to look at the budget before the press gets it, and if taxpayers have to pay more in taxes to cover it, maybe we can put it off a year or use some of the $21 million we have in surplus.”

Even without President George W. Bush mentioning his mission to Mars to search out Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, Menendez and fellow Congressman Rep. Steve Rothman were critical of the State of the Union speech. With recent polls showing New Jersey in Bush’s camp for the 2004 election, Hudson County Democrats may have to get out the vote despite their feuding.

This will be the first presidential election since 1984 without Janiszewski in the lead of the presidential drive? Can Hudson County do it without him?


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