Former Union City Deputy Police Chief Joe Blaettler has the right idea in going after legislative aide Mark Albiez in an effort to bring down U.S. Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack. Albiez in some ways is more the mayor of Union City than Stack is, at least when it comes to responding to the press.
The problem for Blaettler, who seems to have made a career out of investigating Stack, is that he has yet to uncover Stack doing anything wrong.
Blaettler did successfully uncover Stack’s ex-wife, Katia, apparently misusing government property last year, and she was forced to reimburse the city for gasoline she used in conjunction with her day care center. This netted the city $700.
Albiez is perhaps the most important person on Stack’s staff, the go-to guy not only for Stack’s office as state senator, but often the only person who will respond from the mayor’s office over routine things. Taxpayers should be grateful that he only gets one paycheck from the state rather than the routine Hudson County habit of collecting something for every job possible.
Blaettler tried to claim that Stack’s use of Albiez was a misappropriation of state funds. On this point, however, it’s really a stretch.
Zimmer’s good friend in Trenton
The big bucks aren’t in Stack’s office, though. Political lobbyists have been raking in a reported $350,000 from the owners of Bayonne Medical Center in order to clear the way for their purchase of Hoboken University Medical Center.
Rosemount Associates, which employs former U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli, got a hefty piece of change from the ownership of BMC to make sure the state gives its support to the purchase of the Hoboken hospital.
This isn’t the first effort to smooth the way for this deal. BMC gave contributions to a political action committee that supported Gov. Christopher Christie last year – which may explain why Christie recently stepped in to offer $5 million after the anti-Zimmer members of the Hoboken City Council would not vote to authorize a bond issue for the same amount in order to secure the deal.
Stack’s Assembly running mate Ruben Ramos got caught in the middle of an $11 million shortfall earlier this year when other state legislators refused to author a bill to provide funds to pay off debt service on the city’s $52 million bond underwriting the hospital’s operations. Torricelli’s office apparently sent over two campaign contributions to Ramos’ office, and soon got Ramos on board. This managed to save Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s political hide, at the same time raising future doubts about Ramos as a mayoral candidate against her. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
For Zimmer, it helps to have friends in high places, even though the question still remains whether or not the Hoboken hospital is needed for anything other than a patronage mill supplying local jobs. Think of what Zimmer could accomplish if Christie finally stops singing Bruce Springsteen songs long enough to run for president of the United States. Perhaps he’ll name Zimmer to a committee to dismantle Obamacare, considering what a great job she did dumping the Hoboken hospital.
No show job, really?
Stack, of course, may indeed face some serious problems if it is true the state attorney general’s office has issued subpoenas regarding Union City Police Chief Charles Everett, looking into the charge that he was paid for work at the Board of Education that he allegedly did not perform.
This fits the classic definition of a no-show job.
In August, a local news station claimed that Everett was being paid for security work at Union City schools but allegedly failed to work the full shift.
The results of an investigation by the city have yet to be released, but again Blaettler was the driving force behind the matter coming to light, relentless in the pursuit of justice, and rumored to be starring at Spiderman in the next Spiderman movie.
No welcome mat for friend of Castro
A visit to Union City by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa raised a lot of protest last week. Stack announced that the city didn’t want to welcome Correa to a part of the state where there are many Cuban exiles and their descendents.
In a rare show of political unity, North Hudson political officials came out to oppose the visit.
“This is an insult to the Cuban community,” said Freeholder Jose Munoz. “Correa is someone who was once closely associated with Fidel Castro.”
Along with Stack at the press conference opposing the visit were West New York Mayor Dr. Felix Roque and Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner.
Will DeGise even be here next year?
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the political wars heat up, with accusations by County Executive Tom DeGise against Stack, claiming he bosses around the Union City Board of Commissioners.
In a no-longer very secret meeting that included state Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith, and DeGise, Hudson County Democrats read Turner the riot act – and through Turner, others connected with Stack – about staying loyal to the party.
Meanwhile, DeGise appears to be looking for a way out of the political mess, and perhaps to secure a political job that would allow him to step down as county executive early next year and allow Smith to take his place.
This would start a series of musical chairs, allowing current Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell to fill Smith’s shoes as mayor and then someone else to fill O’Donnell’s slot as assemblyman until a special election in November 2012.
The only problem is that the man they offered O’Donnell’s seat refused and the HCDO is scrambling to find someone else.
This should feed well into the Republican campaign this year that Daniel Edward Beckelman and Michael Alonzo are running against O’Donnell and incumbent Assemblyman Charles Mainor. Republicans have every right to ask why people should vote for a Democrat who may or may not be in that seat next year.