As the media consultant who produced the document referred to in a story in the Hoboken Reporter concerning charges brought by Hoboken mayoral candidate and School Board President Frank Raia in a mailer produced by the Raia campaign, allow me to expand on the true facts of the case and clarify some misunderstandings.
In his mailer, Mr. Raia accuses Hoboken Mayor David Roberts of misusing school funds to pay postage charges on a “Cops in Schools” brochure and that mayor has “taken money from schoolchildren to use for blatant politics.” Those charges are wrong, false and misleading. At no time whatsoever were any school funds used, borrowed or reimbursed. In addition, there is absolutely nothing political contained in the brochure. In fact, the names of the entire municipal council, including three members currently running against the administration, are included.
The brochure was produced on behalf of the city and its police department to inform the residents of the re-institution of the city’s community policing program. It included a section on the “Cops in Schools” program and in both cases contained the photos of all the police officers involved. The entire production – printing, postage and mailing costs – are being paid for by the City of Hoboken.
Now, as to the use of the school board permit. Since the “Cops in Schools” program was part of the communication, and since the Board of Education has access to a non-profit mailing permit, the decision to use that permit was made in order to save approximately $1,000 in postage costs for the taxpayers of Hoboken. I personally made the phone call to Superintendent Patrick Gagliardi soliciting that permission. He told me he has no problems with the content of the brochure or the use of the school board permit.
That mailing permit was also used for an anti-drug mailer produced by the Hoboken Municipal Alliance, to which several Hoboken educators and the Superintendent of Schools belong. Surely, anti-drug messages are an integral part of the education system. Again, approximately another $1,000 was saved in postage and the entire costs borne by the Hoboken Municipal Alliance. Not one cent was either advanced, paid or came from the Board of Education.
It is unfortunate that two very worthy programs enhancing the quality of life for Hoboken residents – the Municipal Alliance and the reintroduction of Community Policing – should become embroiled in a municipal political race simply because one of the candidates is hungry for headlines and makes baseless charges before ascertaining the facts. I believe Mr. Raia has demonstrated his lack of leadership qualities. A competent leader would have first contacted all the parties involved to get the facts. Had he done that, it is doubtful he would have produced the mailer or made charges which cast aspersions on these very worthwhile programs.
Anthony A. Amabile
City of Hoboken