I’m to blame…or: why I must support “Kids First”

Dear Editor:

My father passed away in April after a long battle with cancer and I think about him all the time. Despite my profound sadness, I find comfort in the many lessons he taught me. He always told me to stand up for myself because I shouldn’t expect someone else will on my behalf. I reflect on that little nugget as I look at the Hoboken political landscape.

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I wrote most of the below text following January’s special election. When I’m annoyed, and addressed to no one in particular, I write. I end up filing these open letters deep in my personal folder never intending to revisit the words. “We (the people) won by a 2:1 margin, let’s move on.” I only dug the body of my unsent open letter when I saw a remarkable, in the sense that it’s so unremarkable, attack ad on the Kids First slate by Leaders That Listen.

I fully declare, I don’t know all the issues at play or all the nuances between Kids First and Leaders That Listen. But I have a good sense of right and wrong. To the voters of Hoboken, I share my very simple viewpoint – anyone affiliated with the backing of January’s special election, from the incumbent board of education members that proposed high school plan, as well as any city council member, including our mayor, who endorsed it, is unworthy of your vote.

Why is that? I cannot get past the contempt shown to the citizens of Hoboken when members of our elected bodies – the Hoboken BOE, our city council – and our mayor pursued or endorsed such a brazen path to intentionally bypass voters to achieve their goals. The Hoboken elected elites felt that their extravagant vanity project wasn’t worth the time, energy, or adequate presentation to the people on last November’s campaign trail. Instead a strategy of “let’s try to sneak it through while no one is paying attention” is pursed. Rightfully, we responded in masses. How can anyone affiliated with that debacle (Alex De La Torre) have the gall to run for re-election, let alone win? How can anyone running on the same slate as De La Torre (Leslie Norwood, Antonio Grana), which in my view is tantamount to endorsing these subversive actions, earn your vote? For me, they cannot. It’s that simple.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It’s my favorite quote. We all witness the corruption that runs deep in Hoboken. Political favors and conflicts of interest are widespread, starting with our mayor and an unabashedly partisan city council proudly boasting a voting record that would make our federally elected officials blush. We’ve replaced old school monetary corruption, with the soft corruption associated with power hungry bodies operating with the moral authority of broad mandates, despite garnering fractional support, as in the case of our mayor earning 33 percent of votes in 2017 and running unopposed in 2021.

Why am I to blame? Well, I’ve never stood up over my 10 years as a resident. After a decade of getting more and more annoyed at the state of our town I’m finally willing to say something aloud. With my name attached. Enough is enough of this brand of partisan, dirty, garbage politics.

Why are we to blame? Because we, the citizens of Hoboken, don’t challenge this unacceptable status quo. We don’t remove these officials from office when we have the opportunity. We don’t force change on elected bodies who end up serving themselves and act as if they are above reproach. Importantly in this instance, we vote for candidates who are unable to stand on their own merits and resort to sleazy personal attacks. This is what unqualified candidates do. When unable to run on your record, turn a real and serious situation (how to serve the educational needs of all of the children in Hoboken) into a culture war issue against your opponents. As much as I despise his antics, Donald Trump has ZERO to do with the Hoboken Board of Education. Trying to force linkage to him and the boogie men of the far right to Hoboken city politics is laughable and insulting to you the voter. Anyone needing to stoop to that level has invalidated themselves and is unworthy of your vote.

Again, a very simple premise. De La Torre is a Hoboken BOE incumbent. Over the past year, he has demonstrated that he is disconnected to the wishes of Hoboken residents. Anyone affiliated with him, the other members of the Leaders That Listen slate (Norwood and Grana), must hold the same bogus views and endorse underhanded means to achieve their objectives. None of these candidates deserve your vote.

As we did in January, let November 8th serve as another wakeup call to all of our elected officials: you work for us, the citizens of Hoboken. If you seek to profiteer – economically, socially, politically – we will remove you at the ballot box at first opportunity. There is power in our numbers while you are but a few.

Joseph Palombini
Hoboken Resident


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