As part of a “novel” concept that the Hoboken Public Library has run for four years, hundreds of people visited private homes in Hoboken to discuss books recently as part of the annual Novel Night event.
One of the most popular gatherings was related to the 2011 nonfiction book “The Jersey Sting” by journalist Josh Margolin, who co-authored the tome on North Jersey corruption. Close to sixty people gathered in a Hoboken residence to discuss the book. Margolin was present to sign copies for guests.
The party was hosted by Laurie and Lawrence Katz who sit on the Board of Trustees for the Jubilee Center (a nonprofit center at 601 Jackson St. that provides activities for Hoboken kids) and the Hoboken Homeless Shelter, respectively.
Guests of the event included couples from the community with young children who regularly participate in reading programs at the library.
Overall, the Novel Night was a success, with over 200 guests spread out over the 20 homes.
Novel Night, which is sponsored by Friends of the Hoboken Public library and co-sponsored by the Hudson Reporter, allows 20 hosts to coordinate their homes and meals to different book themes. Attendees pick their experiences ahead of time, and are then invited to discuss the book and enjoy the dinner. While most dinners typically seat 10 to 12 guests, “The Jersey Sting” house was anything but typical.
The Jersey-inspired foods were catered in part by Leo’s, Augustino’s, Johnny Pepperoni’s, Vito’s, Georgio’s and Anthony David’s.
A sommelier from Bin 14 poured wines in order of lightest-bodied to heaviest-bodied and informed guests on each wine before they made selections. Peroni, an Italian beer, was served on tap in the backyard beer garden.
Perhaps the biggest hit of the night, aside from a book signing from the co-author, was a craps table rented from Funny Bonz Entertainment. Guests enthusiastically played with fake money to later win real prizes donated by Garrett Roberts of Go Row, Bin 14 and the Hoboken Man.
About Russo and Dwek
“The Jersey Sting” was co-authored by then investigative reporters for The Star-Ledger, Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin. It covered one of the biggest federal corruption stings in history, Operation Bid Rig. In 2009, real estate investor Solomon Dwek met with many local political candidates and officials to try to offer them donations in exchange for their promises to help him with future developments in their towns. The FBI sting ensnared more than 40 people.
“The Jersey Sting” is a book that has been referenced a lot through the years by the Reporter, due to its mentions of corruption in Hoboken politics. The sting took down Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano and associate Michael Schaffer. The sting also came back to haunt Councilman Michael Russo, since a tape emerged in 2011 of Russo meeting with Dwek and discussing a donation. However, Russo was never arrested in the sting and said he never met with Dwek again when he realized Dwek wasn’t following the rules.
Last month, Mayor Dawn Zimmer pointed to the book and the video tape of Russo meeting with Dwek, to defend questions from Russo and his allies regarding her own ethics. Zimmer noted that Russo had not posted his campaign finance reports from 2009, so there was no way of knowing if he really turned down Dwek’s money.
Recently, Russo turned in the reports, which did not show any new deposits.
Margolin had said in a 2011 talk about the book, “Whatever you want to say about Councilman Russo and what he said or did not say on the tape or what he said or did not say about that meeting afterwards, let’s understand, he did not take any money.”
When asked Saturday at the event if any new information was brought to light about the investigation, Margolin said, “When you write a book or newspaper story, you can only write what the facts are. Ted and I never changed our minds; nothing new developed. Despite speculation over that section, that is what the facts are.”
He also noted that for the book, “We tried to get comments [from Russo] and never got them.”
Margolin also said he thinks it is fair game for politicians to resurrect the blemishes of each other’s past. “All is fair in love and war. This is politics,” said Margolin. He added, “I think Solomon Dwek will be a fixture in the lives of people in politics for years to come.”
As far as the new rumor circulating that Solomon Dwek is claiming mental illness, particularly bi-polar disorder, Margolin said, “It is a remarkable turn of events in already unbelievable case. We’ll see how the U.S. Attorney’s Office deals with the issue given the potential this has to upend all the cases.”
Overall, the Novel Night was a success, with over 200 guests spread out over the 20 homes. While the total money raised has not yet been counted, tickets for the event were $100 each. All of the funds raised will be put toward replacing the front door of the Hoboken Public Library, in order to bring a more suitable entrance to the historic building. Efforts to replace the door are still continuing. To find out more or donate to the cause, readers are encouraged to take a brochure on the topic available at the Library or by visiting www.hobokenfol.org/NewDoor.html.
Amanda Palasciano may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.