How can voters tell phonies from straight-shooters?

How can voters tell phonies from straight-shooters?
Oct 24, 2010  Letter to Editor - Hudson Reporter

Dear Editor:

In this political season, politicians are earning the contempt of citizen/voters, since they say only what they think constituents want to hear. For example, when I first met former Mayor Peter Cammarano, I suggested that repeated under-budgeting for employee health costs was responsible for Hoboken’s financial issues. His response: He wanted to end those benefits for the Mayor and the Council. He thought that idea would have made him seem unselfish (he was running for council at the time). Well, I know a phony when I meet one, and his remark showed only that he was not to be believed or trusted. Recently, as he was led off to the pen, his attorney announced that he had been abused as a child. As if that gave him license. As our current mayor wrote in a letter The Reporter published on Oct. 10, “the perversion of our government by unscrupulous developers and politicians did not start or end with Peter Cammarano.”

Another phony is 4th Ward councilman Michael Lenz. I first met this career politician in 2001, when he was managing Dave Roberts’ first mayoral campaign. At the time, Roberts’ predecessor was on his way to the slammer. At the campaign’s kickoff, I gave Lenz copies of Common Cause NJ’s draft ordinances to ban “pay-to-play” municipal contracts, suggesting that they serve as the basis of a squeaky-clean campaign. Lenz thanked me, but nothing happened after Roberts won, except that Lenz got a job at City Hall. When a public-spirited citizens’ group got an ordinance banning pay-to-play contracts adopted by referendum, Lenz did nothing to help the effort, but stood aside while suing the city for firing him.

Yet the mayor’s letter promises that she and Lenz will “keep fighting” to make sure that the era of corrupt practices “is truly over.” Ms. Zimmer was never active in the fight to end pay-to-play contracting, but now tries to claim credit for doing so. The new mayor has adopted Hoboken politicians’ secretive ways. Last year, when she announced her intention to run for mayor, she told me that in no way would she take advice or support from Mr. Lenz. Less than two weeks later, the irrepressible Mike showed up at her fundraiser! Later, she nominated Lenz to fill the vacant 4th Ward council seat. It seems she has absorbed the same phoniness that is so obvious in Cammarano, Lenz, and countless other local politicos. Is it something in our water supply? Her letter, supporting Lenz’s bid for re-election, darkly hints at Tim Occhipinti’s unfitness for the seat. Tim “has chosen to surround himself with the same discredited team that misled us about Mr. Cammarano,” it says. Ms. Zimmer might even be telling the truth about this. Maybe she’ll prove she’s not a liar by naming names. Is Mr. Lenz surrounded by his own “discredited team?” Voters need to be able to tell phonies from straight-shooters.

John Glasel

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