Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hoboken Journal Prepared Remarks for City Hall Protest April 6, 2011

In case I don't get a chance to speak at tonight's rally here is my take on the Mike Russo situation.....

Hoboken City Hall Protest April 6, 2011
Speech by Kurt Gardiner
The Sleeping Giant Awakes

The reason that we are gathered here today at Hoboken City Hall yet again, is that the stench of political corruption has once again been revealed to us the public with the release of the FBI Surveillance tapes between Mike Russo and informant Solomon Dwek and their meeting at Light Horse Tavern back in 2009. While 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo has not been charged to this point with criminal misconduct … YET …the attitudes and statements made by Mike Russo and captured on video I believe have eroded the trust between him and his role as a public servant and the public he was elected to serve.

We the Citizenry of Hoboken should expect the following from our local leaders in municipal government:

• That they respect the election laws when seeking to be elected to public office.
• That they respect Hoboken’s pay-to-play laws and follow them as they were intended both in conduct and spirit.
• That they respect the Master Plan and Zoning Regulations and understand that limits on property ownership were put in place for the community for a reason; that is to protect the citizens of Hoboken from unbalanced development.
• That they are honest and when they make mistakes that they own up to them rather than call well respected journalists liars when in fact it turns out the evidence shows otherwise.
• That they put the concerns of Hoboken residents first and not kowtow to outside developer and political interests just for the sake of personal political advancement.
• That they don’t resort to budget gimmickry which puts Hoboken at risk for hasty decisions such as selling assets like the Municipal Garage to plug operating expense deficits and/or sell our water rights at bargain basement prices. Such behavior is reckless and still costs our citizens today in terms of lost municipal revenue.
• That don’t remain silent when their relatives are illegally collecting Health Insurance that they are entitled to or remain silent when their friend, formerly a director at the Parking Utility is allegedly and criminally responsible for over $600K in missing HPU parking revenue.
• That they don’t play the citizenry against each other as was done with the potential Pino site that was considered with many others for the municipal garage site.

• That they totally account for infrastructure support when approving any development that is on the table. In the past developers have not contributed for their fair share and Hoboken has suffered as a result.
• That all public housing that is subsidized by taxpayers is given out by merit or means testing and not exclusive membership in a private club.
• That our rules and regulations apply to everyone equally and not have favorites where the rules don’t apply like jumping the wait list at Church Towers.

In all of these measurements of local public official conduct, in some way or the other Mike Russo has failed the electorate. He has been conditioning the electorate for years by saying that he is not his father when it comes to political corruption but these tapes show incontrovertible evidence that a quid quo pro situation was in play and in violation of the spirit and letter of election and pay-to-play laws. The only thing he didn’t do was collect the money and that is the sole reason why perhaps he isn’t sharing a prison bunk with one-time pal Peter Cammarano who also sold out Hoboken 2 years ago for developer payola.

As such I feel that…

We the Citizenry of Hoboken should demand the following remedies, outcomes and perspectives going forward as Hoboken continue to evolve away from the stench of its corrupt past:

• Mike Russo issue of full apology to all citizens of Hoboken for putting his political ambition ahead of the people he was elected to serve.
• That Mike Russo step down as City Council Vice President as punishment for his transgressions.
• That Mike Russo step down from the Finance Chair since by many citizen’s accounts he can’t be trusted with money.
• That he step down as Housing Commissioner since he fully admitted to setting up a friend via the vehicle of patronage with an apartment.
• That we demand of all of our leaders that we will not tolerate corruption even if those that are corrupt take care of us first. It is a matter of what is best for all of Hoboken and not the plutocrats of privilege.
• That the rule of law is respected and if the law doesn’t work change it via the appropriate measures.
• That we don’t tolerate obstructionism to the extent it has been displayed by the new City Council Majority. Police payouts were at stake with the latest debacle and many other instances has jeopardized projects that would move this City in the right direction.
• That we they taxpaying electorate and renters participate and get more informed and cut off the corruption at its core by voting it out when it has been revealed.

Now I in no way have any personal animosity to Councilman Mike Russo as a human being and recent father. As they say in some circles, this isn’t personal its business and it is high time our elected leaders put Hoboken first.

Beware when the sleeping giant awakes. You don’t want to be near my beanstalk when that happens. I am mad as hell and I can’t take it any more!

Join me in this chant and vote this bum out on May 10th :

Russo did everything but take the dough!
Vote him out! It’s his time to go! X8