West New York Mayor Felix Roque appears to be poised to get out of his legal troubles as political opposition to him crumbles. Roque’s trial has been delayed until September. Roque and his son have been accused of hacking into the website of a political opponent.
Although many people interpret the delay in his trial as a sign that he will cop a plea, those who know best believe the delay is actually a positive sign, and that his bringing experts on the internet and hacking to his defense team will result in winning the case.
Even better news for Roque is the apparent faltering of the recall movement – which seems to have run out of steam.
Savvy Roque and his advisors apparently made good use of the political war in North Hudson. By seeking the blessing of State Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco and making amends to many of those Roque previously offended, he appears to have eliminated support for those who want to cast him out of office. Some of the supporters who abandoned Roque last appear to be easing back or at least shying away from those most openly seeking to dethrone him.
Apparently, any strategy for removing Roque will have to rely on the ballot box in two years, rather than a court conviction or even a recall. And two years might be more than enough time for Roque to win back the heart of the public that put him in office in the first place.
Roque appears to have gone from a man making all the wrong choices to a mayor making all the right ones.
Stack may need Ramos to win in Hoboken
All this West New York news bodes ill for State Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, who had relied on Roque as his last ally in a county where his arch enemy, Sacco, is gaining strength. This also makes the Hoboken mayoral election much more important. If Assemblyman Ruben Ramos can win over Mayor Dawn Zimmer in November, then Stack regains some strength and is less isolated.
But things aren’t looking up for Ramos. If two years is a long time in West New York, a year in Hoboken is a lifetime.
Last year, when Frank Raia held his annual summer shindig, nearly everybody who was opposed to Zimmer showed up – even Ramos. Even some people who supported Zimmer came to break bread. This year, Ramos and those close to his campaign did not make an appearance, but Zimmer did, stunning some observers with how gracious she seemed.
Some potential mayoral challengers did appear, such as Councilwoman Terry Castellano, who may run for mayor on a ticket backed by Raia now that Freeholder Anthony Romano appears to have decided not to run.
Councilwoman Beth Mason also appeared, and though she may be leaning towards supporting Ramos’ bid against Zimmer, she appears to also be open to backing a third ticket with Raia.
Along with many of the usual suspects, an unusual trio from Bayonne also came to partake of Raia’s party favors: Mayor Mark Smith, Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell, and Mickey McCabe.
They apparently came to Hoboken seeking support for Smith’s reelection bid next May – if indeed, Smith is running.
While newly-elected Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop could not attend, Freeholder Bill O’Dea did, further leading to speculation that he will challenge Tom DeGise for County Executive.
NAACP not ready to endorse Hoboken Housing Authority plan Gene Drayton, president of the local chapter of the NAACP and a former deputy mayor in Jersey City, said he still has unresolved questions concerned the proposed Vision 20/20 project in Hoboken – such as where all the existing residents will go if the project reduces the number of units.
The proposal being considered by the Hoboken Housing Authority would replace the traditional high rise style housing with low rise buildings.
Drayton said he needs to find out more about the project and make sure that the proposal doesn’t leave needy people homeless as a result of reducing the density during the various phases of the development.
The project has become a political football and the focus of controversy, with some residents of the existing housing development showing their support of it and protesting those who oppose it. HHA Director Carmelo Garcia has been pushing the plan, but allies of Mayor Dawn Zimmer say they don’t have enough information to support it.
Very connected in Jersey City
Mayor Fulop has his hands full these days, not with political enemies, but rather because of all the former enemies that seem to want to be his friend.
Fulop’s political clout has never been greater, but his real ability to reach beyond the boundaries of Jersey City may well have to do with former state Sen. Bernard Kenny, who has become a mentor to both Fulop and Hoboken Mayor Zimmer.
Although critics are very skeptical of Kenny’s role in helping Zimmer, many believe Kenny is seeing his own rebirth of political power after a downturn a few years ago when he retired from the state Senate ahead of a challenge by then-Union City Mayor Brian Stack.
Kenny’s power has always been his association with other powerful people, and his ability to develop governmental strategies. Many of the successes of former Hoboken Mayor Dave Roberts can be laid at Kenny’s door step.
At the recent meeting of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, Kenny shared the limelight with newly installed HCDO Chairman Vincent Prieto.
For Fulop – as well as Zimmer – Kenny provides links to state power brokers, people Kenny has hobnobbed with for more than a decade.
Kenny is not the only political expatriate that Fulop seems to have restored to glory. The recent appointment of former Gov. Jim McGreevey to head workforce development may set the stage for a new political power base that will extend Fulop’s reach even more, and ties Fulop solidly into U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, with whom Kenny and McGreevey have traditionally been aligned.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.