Arch rivals share legal firm

Secaucus-based Ralph Lamparello has been hired as the insurance attorney for the City of Passaic, raising a few political eyebrows, since the same firm serves as city counsel for Secaucus.
This is no doubt a move by Passaic City Administrator Anthony Iacono, who was largely vilified when he served as Town Administrator in Secaucus.
When still in Secaucus, Iacono became the target of the Take Back Secaucus movement which later propelled Michael Gonnelli into the city council and later elected him mayor.
A committee set up by Gonnelli selected Lamparello – although behind the scenes reports suggested that a political deal had been struck between Gonnelli and State Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco to have Lamparello named. Gonnelli has persistently denied this report.
Some political observers are curious about this strange political marriage that would have Lamprello’s firm representing Gonnelli and Iacono at the same time.
Iacono has ruffled feathers before – casting out the powerful Bergen County firm of Scarinci Hollenbeck to replace it with the equally powerful Hoboken-based Kenny Florio firm.
Donald Scarinci, of course, is a close associate of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, and the last time Iacono fired Scarinci, Menendez put pressure on then-Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell to have Iacono removed and Scarinci restored. Iacono and Elwell, however, had Sacco to protect them, and went unscathed.
It is uncertain what political fate Iacono risks by this latest move.

Tim Occhipinti on the attack

Perhaps smelling blood in the water, the campaign for Tim Occhipinti has stepped up its attacks on Incumbent Michael Lenz.
Behind the scenes, Occhipinti advisers have been pushing him to “go negative,” and once they got the go-ahead, they launched an unrelenting attack.
The object, of course, is to raise enough doubt about Lenz to keep his voters from coming out.
For Lenz, this will be the great challenge. Can his base – in the second district of the fourth ward – come out as strong for him as it did for Dawn Zimmer when she ran for mayor?
While Occhipinti appears to be level-headed and not taking the election for granted, his recent reception as the Elks Club shows a kind of frenzy among followers, who may think they have the election already won. That’s the path to certain defeat.
The strategy from the Lenz camp appears to be designed to connect Occhipinti with former Mayor Peter Cammarano – who coincidentally went to jail this week. After resisting the urge to fight his case, Cammarano eventually plead guilty to accepting a bribe in a federal sting operation.
Lenz appears to be pinning his hope on the concept of “guilt by association,” by claiming that many of the people who are running the Occhipinti campaign also were part of the Cammarano campaign last year.
This strategy won’t reverberate long. Voters will need something stronger to come out, and Lenz’s “good government” campaign might not excite the voters as much as airing some new bit of dirty laundry.

Everything is new again

Three times is the charm. At least, in regards to Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s search for a replacement to fill the vacated seat of former Councilman Mariano Vega. After three tries, Healy hit a soft single to right field when he named former Freeholder Radames “Ray” Velazquez, the first openly gay councilman.
Although Velazquez came out of the closet during the aftermath of Gov. Jim McGreevey’s resignation in 2004, the former Freeholder did not become a political outcast because of his sexual identity, but rather because he had offended the political powers by voting against a bill or two the county administration was pushing through the Freeholder board.
All these years later, he appears to have been forgiven, and we may see a rebirth of a man once considered a rising star in Hudson County politics.

Democratic Congressional candidates seen as safe

A Rutgers-Eagleton Poll said that New Jersey voters seem to be moving toward Democrats in a statewide test of generic congressional candidates. Among registered voters, 45 percent say they would vote for a Democrat for Congress, up from 38 percent in August and 33 percent in February. Republican support has stayed consistent, at 33 percent now, compared to 29 percent in August and 31 percent in February. At the same time, voters have become more certain of their choices, with only 14 percent “don’t know,” down from 25 percent in August.
“When we test by party, eight of 10 voters support their own party, and there are simply more Democrats than Republicans in New Jersey,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Independents continue to lean Republican as they have all year, but the margin has dropped from 11 points in August to five points. And in any case, independents are much more likely to stay home in an off-year election.”
Democrats say they see only one seat that is at risk in New Jersey.
Meanwhile another poll showed an over whelming majority of New Jerseyans polled would prefer Republican Gov. Christopher Christie stay in New Jersey rather than romp around the nation campaigning for Republican candidates elsewhere. Almost two-of-three New Jerseyans (64 percent) want Christie here, while one-in-four (24 percent) support his travels.

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