Mello, a staunch ally and longtime family friend of the mayor, told MSNBC that Zimmer told him over the summer about the alleged conversation with Guadagno, noting that he remembered the mayor saying that “the lieutenant governor said, 'If this came out, she would deny it.’ ”
At Wednesday night’s bimonthly Hoboken City Council meeting, after Mello’s name was mentioned in a media report on the internet, some members of the council were questioned by others as to whether anyone but Zimmer knew. Mello did not speak up because the city’s attorney, Mellissa Longo, had just advised the council that speaking out in public would be against the wishes of U.S. Attorney’s office, which has requested silence from city officials as they investigate Zimmer’s claims.
But following the meeting, Mello told the The Hoboken Reporter that he didn’t consider coming forward with what Zimmer told him at the time because he considered his knowledge of the situation to be “hearsay at best.”
“It wasn’t my place, but I do commend the mayor for her actions, it wasn’t an easy thing to do,” he said, noting that he would be limiting any further comments to the media at the request of federal prosecutors.
Some of Zimmer’s other allies on the council – President Jennifer Giattino, Vice President Ravi Bhalla and Sixth Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham – told The Reporter that they had no knowledge of the conversation between Guadagno and Zimmer. Bhalla said he received a courtesy call from Zimmer on Friday, the night before she appeared on MSNBC to make the accusations.
Giattino said she had no idea, and Cunningham (who was serving as council president at the time the meeting was said to have taken place) said he was only aware of pressure from the Rockefeller group, the development firm with ties to Christie that own the uptown property Guadagno apparently wanted Zimmer to approve.
Reports yesterday also said that Juan Melli, the city’s communications director, and Dan Bryan, Zimmer’s chief of staff, were aware of Guadagno’s alleged threats.
Guadagno has denied Zimmer’s claims, and a Christie spokesperson has passed the scandal off as partisan politics.
For more about residents’ comments at the City Council meeting, and related matters, keep reading the Hoboken Reporter at hudsonreporter.com and watch for a new story in the print edition this weekend. For questions, email email@example.com or editorial@Hudsonreporter.com. – Dean DeChiaro