Between the lines

Up to their usual dirty tricks?

Hoboken bloggers have been posting misinformation in the weeks going into the school board elections.

This has a lot to do with character assassination rather than actual policies. It appears to serve multiple purposes, both to affect the election this year and to damage Freeholder Anthony Romano ahead of next year’s primary for freeholder.

The blogger attack dogs apparently were set loose in what appears to be a last-ditch effort to maintain control of the school board.

“They know the mayor’s slate is losing,” one source said.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer has endorsed the Forward Together slate, so naturally, the bloggers are going after the opposition, The Parents United slate, which has been endorsed by Romano.

The attack appears to be the start of a campaign to unseat Romano as freeholder. Speculation is that Zimmer will back another candidate against Romano, while meanwhile backing a possible third candidate behind the scenes to split the vote. This was a highly successful strategy employed to help Zimmer her win reelection in 2013.

The big question will be whether the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) will back her choice. Usually, the HCDO supports whatever candidate the mayor of a municipality picks. But last time this backfired on them, when Zimmer’s choice started attacking Hudson County government for Hoboken’s tax woes, basically stabbing the HCDO in the back, because all of the other county level legislators are HCDO people. Romano was able to win despite not having the HCDO endorsement.

Jersey City board race gets ugly

Jersey City school board elections may have seen a first. The Jersey City United slate has issued a press release defending Gina Verdibello, a member of an opposing ticket, Education Matters, after a third party attacked her.

The release said the attacks on Verdibello were unwarranted.

The board currently is rife with bad feelings, and often personal attacks. Some of this spilled over into a meeting a few days before one of the school candidate forums over comments that Board Vice President John Reichart posted on his Facebook page, which was critical of athletes refusing to stand during the national anthem at sports events.

During discussion at a restaurant on Grove Street, Sudhan Thomas, who is running with Education Matters, defended the post as “freedom of speech,” but several supporters from the opposing ticket called it racist and the matter escalated to spitting and throwing of fists. Thomas later said he found the tires of his car slashed.

Reichart eventually removed the offending post, but defended it as a legitimate comment on a national event.

Although mostly civil, the campaign has had racial undertones. Reichart had previously supported the naming of school No. 34 after Board Member Marylyn Roman, who is white, rather than President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president. Reichart, however, said he originally supported the naming of School No. 20 after Obama. He later reversed his vote and supported the renaming of No. 34 after Obama.

Bayonne political dirty trick or just a miscommunication?

A week before the school board election in Bayonne, a report went out that Mayor James Davis had endorsed candidates during the regular Sicilian Club meeting. This was apparently untrue, according two people who attended and stay for the whole meeting. But the report went viral and sent some candidates into a tizzy, partly because most people expected Davis to stay out of the race this year.

Mayors can endorse candidates or not at their own risk. In some towns like Hoboken and Jersey City, the mayor is often aligned with a particular ticket, where as in towns like Secaucus and Bayonne, they avoid making political enemies by endorsing one candidate over another.

The rumor apparently started after Assembly Nicholas Chiaravalloti introduced two of the candidates he is supporting.

Secaucus rumors stir hope among political outcasts

People driven out of the local Democratic Party in Secaucus in 2009 may see a ray of hope for next year’s municipal election for mayor and three council seats. Several municipal workers close to Mayor Michael Gonnelli have or will soon be taking jobs in Hudson County government. This has forced a shift in the political structure on the Gonnelli administration both on the town council and the Secaucus Board of Education.

Some are reading these changes as a possible sign that Gonnelli may not seek reelection next year. Gonnelli suffered a major stroke earlier this year and had what even he calls a miraculous recovery. Some believe he may decide step down when his term ends at the end of 2017.

Democrats fractured in 2009 when then Mayor Dennis Elwell was charged and later convicted in the Bid Rig III federal sting operation. Gonnelli, running on an independent ticket called “Take Back Secaucus” at the time was set to challenge Elwell in a one to one election for mayor. Gonnelli won unopposed, and the Democrats fell into disarray, some ejected from party leadership when the Democratic chairman supported Gonnelli.

“We already have a candidate set to run,” one of the old time Democrats said. “We’re trying to put together a ticket now.”

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com