Blood feuds seem to lie behind the recent political silliness going on in West New York as Commissioner FiorD’Aliza Frias, a close ally of Mayor Felix Roque – and the presumed heir to his mayoral throne – was rumored to be considering filing charges against fellow Commissioner Count Wiley, citing harassment.
The angry political wrangling has been going on for two months, since the FBI arrested Mayor Roque and his son over alleged hacking into an opposition website. Roque has not resigned, and Wiley has been vocal about wanting to recall Roque and then replace him as mayor.
In an series of events that reads like a James Bond novel full of backroom intrigue, Wiley was accused of allegedly making threats against Commissioner Frias, a Roque ally who replaced him at a June 21 Board of Commissioners’ meeting as commissioner of the Department of Public Works.
At the core of these charges is the alleged assault upon David Rivera – a young West New York town employee who was terminated on Tuesday for allegedly conducting a media interview during working hours. He claims he did the interview while on his lunch hour. He also says he found himself the victim of a physical alternation in Donnelly Park two days earlier, on July 29.
Rivera, who is a supporter of Wiley, apparently was handing out Wiley’s business card at a public event at the park when he was told to stop. He claims he was then threatened and nearly assaulted with a metal chair.
Wiley, who was not in the park at the time, said Rivera was not intoxicated, as a police report claimed. Frias was in the park, and Wiley said he called her afterward to complain.
Now, some say Frias is going to file a complaint against Wiley related to the call.
“I was angry, but I never threatened her,” Wiley said. “But she was in the park at the time and she could have stopped this. No one answered. So I told her that she should call me and that it was in her best interest. It really bothered me. But I wasn’t nasty.”
Wiley said the incident in the park may have been prompted by rumors and feuds that have been allowed to fester among various factions in the city, and that he had met the daughter of a prominent former political figure in an attempt to end the feud, which led to Rivera’s alleged assault in Donnelly Park.
Frias’ charges, which Wiley said he expects to face shortly, also apparently involve two other encounters, one in front of Frias’ home where she apparently saw him driving home two city workers the night of the Rivera conflict in the Donnelly Park.
“My car pulled up next to her car. She was seated inside. She looked distraught, and then she saw me,” he said.
The charges, which may include a restraining order, he said, may also involve an incident that occurred back in June when he confronted her and other commissioners individually over the changes that Roque was planning, including replacing Wiley as DPW Commissioner.
“I wanted to get into all their faces to see if they supported this,” Wiley said. “But it was a discussion. If she had a complaint about what happened on June 18, why did she wait until Aug. 1 to file a charge?”
Some speculate that the June 21 reorganization meeting had more to do with transition of power if Roque is forced to step down.
By positioning Frias in the Department of Public Works, she would supposedly be in a good position to take over as mayor.
“But if he steps down, he won’t have a say in who replaces him,” Wiley said. “Roque won’t even be allowed to talk to any of us.”
Contenders for the mayoral chair include Frias, Wiley, and Commissioner Caridad Rodriquez (who is said to have the support of prominent North Hudson political figures – such as Rep. Albio Sires and Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner). But not to be excluded, street talk claims that former West New York Mayor Sal Vega has been making the rounds and intends to throw his hat into the race, and that former Commissioner Gerald Lange may also run for mayor if Roque steps down.
Meanwhile, Wiley said he will announce his intended recall campaign against Roque at an event at the Knights of Columbus on Sept. 13.
To read more about the Rivera issue, pick up the West New York Reporter or scroll to the bottom of hudsonreporter.com starting Sunday to read the West New York stories.
Desperate to beat Zimmer
Although it’s still weeks until the fistfights start to determine who will get beaten up by Mayor Dawn Zimmer in next May’s election, some people are wondering if Zimmer can be beaten at all, now that the issue of the hospital sale is settled.
This comes at a time when a least two efforts are being made to postpone municipal elections until next November that would give Zimmer and the Zimmer-controlled City Council a one-time extension of their elected offices, and line up Zimmer with the reelection effort of her ally Republican Gov. Christopher Christie.
While you might disagree with some of Zimmer’s agenda, it is hard to argue with how well she has galvanized power, and how fractured her opposition seems to be.
Although there are a number of names being brought forth, many believe the best candidate to oppose Zimmer will be Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, and that much of the arm-twisting next month will involve trying to convince former school trustee Frank Raia that he can’t win – regardless of how much money he can bring to a campaign.
Meanwhile, opposition to Zimmer are searching for cracks they can exploit in what appears to be a very solid Zimmer reelection effort.
One such crack may be the fact that Zimmer has employed her political ally, former Council President Ravi Bhalla, as an attorney, in what appears to be a conflict of interest since Bhalla was deciding how to vote on the mayor’s initiatives before the City Council. State law is pretty specific and suggests that the legal arrangement between mayor and councilman violates the spirit if not the letter of conflict of interest laws.
But is it enough of a crack to exploit for an election? Not likely. And it will take a lot more than what may be an accidental violation to shake the immense faith Zimmer’s followers have in her.
An imaginary ticket in Secaucus
Secaucus is coming to life, too, as it gets ready for its own municipal election.
Rumor has it that recently defeated School Trustee Tom Troyer is to be part of a ticket for council that includes board member Dora Marra and former mayoral candidate Peter Weiner.
Troyer denied this.
“I’m running for the Board of Education next year,” he said. “I do want to see someone run against Gonnelli, but I’m not running on any ticket.”
He called Marra and Weiner political novices.