Judge dismisses ‘ethnic cleansing’ lawsuit against Zimmer; could be re-filed
A Superior Court judge recently dismissed a lawsuit against Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her husband, Stan Grossbard, filed by the city’s public housing director and state Assemblyman-elect Carmelo Garcia last year alleging an agenda of “ethnic cleansing” which allegedly impeded Garcia from properly doing his job.
The lawsuit, which was filed in July, alleged that Zimmer, Grossbard, and former HHA board chair Jake Stuiver (a staunch Zimmer ally) interfered improperly in Housing Authority affairs and engaged in what the lawsuit says is “an ambitious political quest to transform Hoboken politically and ethnically.”
On Dec. 20, Judge Lawrence Maron dismissed Garcia’s suit without prejudice on the grounds that there was insufficient legal basis to support his claims, though the manner in which the suit was thrown out allows Garcia 30 days to file a new suit with more evidence to substantiate his claims.
Garcia’s lawyer, Louis Zayas, said that he is planning on filing a new suit with more substantial evidence.
“We’re pressing forward with the suit because there is a clear violation of the law,” he said. “This is an unexpected delay, but not a delay that we cannot overcome.”
The suit alleged that throughout Zimmer’s administration, she and Grossbard “sought to promote individuals to government positions who were mostly white or who, directly or indirectly, endorsed her political views and policies, including construction projects in Hoboken that would encourage the migration of white, affluent residents while replacing Hoboken’s minorities.”
At the time it was filed, the suit was largely seen as politically motivated, as Garcia and Zimmer have been at odds over the future of Hoboken’s public housing since she took office in 2009. The Hoboken Housing Authority Board, which consists of seven members and is tasked with overseeing Garcia’s work as executive director, has been at the center of a power struggle between those loyal to Zimmer and Garcia, respectively.
Furthermore, the suit was filed just before a recording made by Garcia of a lunch meeting between Garcia and Grossbard became public. A transcript of the meeting showed discussion between the pair and former state Sen. Bernard Kenny over the future of the housing authority. When it became public, Grossbard said he felt the recording was meant to incriminate him and Zimmer, while Garcia, who was running for election to statewide office at the time, said that he made it with the intention of using it as evidence in his lawsuit.
Zimmer did not comment on the lawsuit at the time, but did say she thought Garcia’s alleged attempt to entrap her husband spoke of his character.
“The bottom line is that [Garcia] invited my husband to lunch,” she said. “My husband is an honest and honorable man and Mr. Garcia is not, so the only person incriminated in that transcript is Mr. Garcia.” – Dean DeChiaro
Christie apologizes for Bridgegate, says he fired Bridget Kelly
In a press conference at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Gov. Christopher Christie apologized to the people of New Jersey for inappropriate actions related to lane closures near the George Washington Bridge in September, in what is being referred to as the “Bridgegate” scandal.
Christie also said he has terminated the employment of a senior staffer in his office, Bridget Kelly, over her behavior, which was revealed on Wednesday after newspapers got hold of emails and texts related to the scandal.
“There’s no justification for that behavior. There’s no justification for ever lying,” he said.
Christie said that he had specifically talked to everyone in his office to determine if anyone else was involved in an inappropriate decision to close the lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge in September, causing a traffic jam in Fort Lee that made it difficult for public safety vehicles to get through. Texts and emails that were revealed last week suggested that the decision was retribution for the Fort Lee mayor’s failure to endorse Christie in the November governor’s race.
“I am heartbroken,” over Kelly’s betrayal of trust to him, Christie said.
He also said, “I would never have come out here and made a joke about these lane closures” if he’d had an inkling of what went on.
Christie said he took responsibility for the situation.
“I was blindsided yesterday morning” when the news came out, he said. He said he had just finished his workout when his staff called him to inform him of the Bergen Record story.
Christie noted that there are ongoing law enforcement investigations into the matter. He also said he would personally apologize to the mayor of Fort Lee.
“This is not the tone that I’ve set over the last four years,” he said. “It’s not the environment I’ve worked so hard to achieve.” He said he has encouraged Democrats and Republicans to work together. “And so I’m extraordinarily disappointed by this,” he said. “But this is the exception. It’s not the rule.”
He reiterated that he had no knowledge of the actions, and was “stunned by the abject stupidity of what was done here...this was handled in a callous and indifferent way and is not the way this administration has conducted itself.”
Not everyone was buying the explanations last week.
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop told the media that after he refused to endorse Christie for governor last year, slews of meetings with state officials had been canceled without explanation, among other examples of possible retributive behavior.
City to hold community meeting on flood prevention
Representatives from a Dutch engineering firm currently designing a plan to protect the city of Hoboken from future Hurricane Sandy-type weather events will present their plans to the public at a community meeting on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Multiservice Center, 124 Grand St.
The plan, which was formulated in conjunction with Mayor Dawn Zimmer, was entered last year in the Rebuild by Design competition, an initiative by the administration of President Barack Obama to federally fund resiliency and infrastructure projects throughout the tri-state area in Sandy’s wake.
The project for Hoboken is a finalist in the competition, and community support is a major component of the rubric for the winning design. For more information on the contest and Hoboken’s design, read an article that appeared in the Reporter last month at http://bit.ly/1eKELIi.
Hoboken High School teacher named Latino Educator of the Year
Christopher Munoz, a social studies teacher at Hoboken High School, was named Latino Educator of the Year by the Hoboken Puerto Rican Cultural Committee last week. Munoz also received commendations from the United States Senate and House of Representatives and the New Jersey Legislature, as well as the Hudson County Freeholders in recognition of his commitment to the students of Hoboken.
In addition to teaching Social Studies, Munoz serves as adviser to the Hispanic Culture Club and to the Class of 2014.
Born in Manhattan, but raised in Bayonne, Munoz attended local public schools and graduated from Bayonne High School. He attended New Jersey City University where he earned a B.A. in history and a minor in political science and later earned a M.A. in special education. He earned his teaching certificate from St. Peters University.
As adviser to the Hispanic Culture Club, he has rebuilt the club from five members the year before he took over to a membership of over 50. The Hispanic Culture Club is the largest club at Hoboken High School. He has created a lecture series called, “Hispanics in our Community lecture series.” The lecture series has had many participants to dates such as: U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, and freestyle rapper Judy Torres.
The club has raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer awareness, the victims of Hurricane Sandy, the American Heart Association, Pennies for Patients, and Hispanics Hug Hoboken, a street and shoreline cleanup that removes hundreds of pounds of garbage from Hoboken streets.
National Alliance on Mental Illness meeting
Are you close to someone with mental health issues? NAMI Hudson County (National Alliance on Mental Illness) will hold their next meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. on Jan. 14 at the Hoboken Community Mental Health Center. A representative from Jersey City Medical Center Mobile Crisis Unit will be the guest speaker.
The Hoboken Community Mental Health Center is located at 506 Third St. in Hoboken. Parking is available on Madison Avenue between Third and Fourth streets.
For more information or in case of inclement weather contact Martha Silva at (201) 861-0614 or (201) 320-0484.
Hoboken Shelter to host Wines of Italy tasting
The Hoboken Homeless Shelter will hold a wine tasting fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 8 from 1:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Court Street Restaurant & Bar, 61 Sixth St.
The tasting will feature 10 wines in a sit-down, educational format. Whether you’re new to wine, or, an experienced wine drinker, here’s a chance to learn about, and try, some new wines. All of the proceeds benefit the Hoboken Shelter.
A selection of cheese and crackers is served during the tasting, though it is recommended that participants eat lunch beforehand, as the restaurant does not serve lunch.
The cost of the tasting is $60 per person. Attendees can pay by credit card using PayPal, for which you do not need a PayPal account. Registration for the tasting is not complete until your payment is accepted by PayPal. Upon payment, PayPal will send you an email confirming your payment. If you do not make your payment through PayPal you will not be registered for the tasting.
If you have any difficulty registering, please call (201) 795-4515. If the registration is closed, call the number listed above and you will be added to a waitlist.
Countywide group will hold event featuring survivor of ‘Miracle on the Hudson’
The Hudson County Chamber of Commerce will hold its first event of 2014 on Wednesday, Jan. 15, which is also the fifth anniversary of the “Miracle on the Hudson.” The business networking event will be held at The Waterside Restaurant in North Bergen from 6 to 8 p.m. Featured guest speaker, Dave Sanderson, is a survivor of United Airlines Flight 1549, which landed in the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009, and safely evacuated by all 155 occupants on board.
Sanderson has shared his experience of that day and lessons learned with businesses and groups all over the country. His message focuses on positive thinking, teamwork and leadership. In addition to his speaking engagements, Mr. Sanderson continues to work as a Sales Manager for Oracle. Maria Nieves, the chamber’s president, believes this is a great way to start a new year of networking at the chamber. “As we continue to align events with our mission, our first event of 2014 is an opportunity for the business community and our members to network with an inspiring leader. Mr. Sanderson provides tangible proof from his own experience that positive thinking is a key asset even in the most challenging of situations,” she said. “We’re very pleased that Mr. Sanderson will join us and share his insights with our members.”
Founded in 1888, the chamber has steadily grown over the last few years. The organization currently represents 350 members, has facilitated forums with local, state and federal officials, and provides a platform for business networking and partnerships. The organization will present more than 25 events in 2014.
The event is sponsored by the Palisades Medical Center. To register and for additional information, please call (201) 386-0699 x 27 or visit the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce website: www.hudsonchamber.org.