Why were public and some council members kept in dark about Housing Authority appointment?
Dec 18, 2007 | 290 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dear Editor:

I want to congratulate Councilman Russo on his appointment as a Commissioner to the Hoboken Housing Authority. Now that the battle for the 4th Ward has finally come to an end, I am looking forward to working with the Housing Authority Commissioners and my constituents in the Housing Authority to make certain that their issues are fully addressed.

While I recognize that Councilman Russo clearly had the Council's vote for this position, I was disappointed by the process under which he was chosen, which was quite different than the process used back in July when the City Council appointed Councilman Cammarano to the Planning Board. In that case, all Council members and the public knew that the matter would be on the July 1st agenda. At the meeting, nominations were publicly solicited, discussed and voted upon. Mr. Cammarano was selected, and, while I did not vote for him, the process was unquestionably fair.

In this case, the process was quite different. The position has been vacant since May 3, 2007. The appointment apparently had been put on hold until the election contest between me and former Councilman Campos was resolved, presumably so that Councilman Campos could retain the position had he been elected.

While informal discussions about the position have been ongoing since my election on November 6, it appears that some members of the City Council were aware that the matter would be taken up last Monday.

Others, myself included, were not.

I first learned of it when Councilman Russo called me on Friday, soliciting my support for something I didn't even know would be on the agenda. Councilman Russo advised me that he had the votes lined up before I, some of my Council colleagues, and the public even knew we would be voting.

The agenda did not involve a nominating process - it simply included a resolution appointing Councilman Russo to the position. Since a majority of the Council had already "selected" Councilman Russo privately, the public process would do nothing but ratify the choice that had already been made.

Appearances matter. The process that was followed in this case leaves much to be desired. Had we followed the same procedures that we used when Councilman Cammarano was selected as the Council's representative on the Planning Board, the outcome would almost certainly have been the same, but the public would not have been left feeling that the decision had been made in the proverbial "back room."

I hope that in the future Council President Castellano will be more sensitive to the need for an open public process when the City Council selects its representatives, particularly from within its own membership.

I look forward to working with Councilman Russo, all of the Housing Authority Commissioners and most importantly the residents of the 4th Ward to ensure that their concerns are confronted and addressed as quickly as possible. Thank you.

Dawn Zimmer
4th Ward Councilwoman
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet