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School Vote Reflects Big Shifts In Hoboken

Michael Lenz does not have children yet, but when he does, he said, he wants to send them to public school. In Hoboken, this is novel; the school system has long been considered one of the worst in the state. Parents who can avoid it usually do.

And Mr. Lenz, who works in the financial department of a Woodbridge real-estate firm, could afford to send his children to private school. Instead, he ran for the Board of Education. After getting elected last year to a fill an open seat for one year, he won a three-year term on Tuesday. Moreover, his slate, "Choice for Change," unseated an incumbent with 37 years on the board and won two out of the three seats up for grabs this year.

Mr. Lenz and his allies, who had been on the short end of a 5-to-4 split on the nine-member board, now hold the majority.

School board elections may seem like small-potato politics, but in Hoboken, Tuesday's vote was a sea change. For the first time since young, upwardly mobile professionals discovered the charms of this port city in the 1970's, they control the direction of -- and the money and jobs dispensed by -- one of Hoboken's most powerful bodies. And the election came only a week after a referendum in which voters defeated a waterfront redevelopment plan that had divided the city, with some exceptions, into bitter camps of newcomers and natives.

A Mobile Police Unit Takes On Drug Trade

WHAT is 36 1/2 feet long, 8 feet wide and 12 feet high, weighs 20,000 pounds and moves on wheels? It is ORCA, the latest addition to Hoboken's police force.

ORCA, an acronym for Operation Remove Crack Attack, is the city's mobile police unit, a customized bus that the police have used since April to fight crime in the city's highest crime area.

Thomas Vezzetti, Colorful Mayor of Hoboken, N.J., Dies

Mayor Thomas Vezzetti, the bootlegger's son who took to the streets with a bullhorn to win elections and fight the gentrification of this Hudson River city, died early Wednesday. He was 59.

Vezzetti, a lifelong bachelor, was said to have been angered by the outcome of a special election Tuesday in the 5th Ward. A councilman who frequently criticized Vezzetti's policies won a special election over a candidate Vezzetti had supported.


HOBOKEN FOR MOST people who live on the clean, tree-lined streets of Hoboken's brownstone revival neighborhoods, life is comfortable. The homes are well kept and an air of a community is on the rise.

But for many residents of the city's less-fashionable tenements, fear, not comfort, is their constant companion. Standing outside the five-story tenement in which she lives, Brigita Rodriguez said: ''I have three children, and I'm afraid for them. Me and my husband, I don't care so much, but our children -they're afraid.'' And with good reason. On Oct. 24, the building next door, at 1202 12th Street, caught fire at 4 A.M. Within two hours, 11 of its 21 tenants, including seven children who once played with Mrs. Rodriguez's youngsters, were dead.

That blaze was the second fatal fire here in three weeks. The first, in the early hours of Columbus Day, killed two brothers 7 and 2 years old.