Michael Lenz – Hudson County Dept. Managed by Lenz Charged with Racism and Discrimination

Quest for Michael Lenz to Return as Business Administrator Hits the Skids…
2012 Update:

After publishing the latest update, Michael Lenz is apparently disputing some of the aspects of this story. In the interest of fairness, Hoboken411 has included counterpoints from Lenz to the story as well as reaching out to other sources with knowledge of the events that led up to this story. We wish to thank Mr. Lenz for his input.

When Hoboken Business Administrator Arch Liston resigned, many observers felt it was a matter of when, not if, Michael Lenz would be named as Liston’s replacement.

In fact, Council Woman at-large Carol Marsh is said to be pushing Mayor Dawn Zimmer very hard to let Lenz back aboard City Hall’s Gravy Train. However, Hoboken411 has learned that two major obstacles have been placed in Lenz’s path.

Tom DeGise says no way!

One source says Lenz approached Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise about taking a leave of absence from Lenz’s county patronage job to become to Business Administrator. The sourced added that DeGise reportedly refused to grant this request, instead informing Lenz that he must resign if he chooses to take the Business Administrator position.

Lenz denies ever having such conversations with DeGise directly or through an intermediary. In addition, Hoboken411 contacted a source close to Tom DeGise, who confirmed DeGise never had such conversations with Lenz directly. However, the source could not confirm if Lenz had conversations with any other members of county government. This same source confirmed that the DeGise Administration does not grant leaves of absence and that if Lenz were awarded the job as Hoboken Business Administrator he would have to resign and his position would be filled by someone else.

It is likely that Lenz would want to hedge his bet in case Zimmer and/or her Council-at-Large running mates are unsuccessful when running for re-election next year. In addition, reports say that many Zimmer zealots are still bitter with Lenz for breaking ranks with the then Council Majority to give Tony Soares a spot on the North Hudson Sewerage Authority.

Some Zimmer supporters felt that Lenz, Marsh, and Peter Cunningham cut a deal with Councilwoman Theresa Castellano and Councilman Michael Russo in order to get Soares a part-time position that comes complete with health-care that is largely paid for by taxpayers.

Lenz claims that a deal was never cut “by or for him.” However a source close to the situation who served as a go between for Lenz and the Russo camp claims that a deal was absolutely cut before the vote was taken to have Russo and Castellano cast their votes in Soares’ favor. The source pointed out that while nothing illegal occurred the dealings didn’t exactly practice governmental transparency that Lenz, Marsh, and Cunningham preach.

It is understandable why Lenz wants to put his county job on ice if he were hired as the Business Administrator. However, after learning the policy the DeGise Administration has on granting leaves of absence it seems highly unlikely.

Charges of Racism and Discrimination

In the latest bombshell Hoboken411 has learned that one of Lenz’s subordinates has filed a complaint against Lenz’s department alleging racism and discrimination. This complaint was filed by an employee who we’ll call “Derrick.”

While “Derrick” has not even been on the job for 90 days, the powers that be are taking his complaint serious enough that the County Law Department will review it. Sources also say that in the interim “Derrick” has been reassigned to another department while the complaint is reviewed.

Lenz claims no such complaint has been filed against him personally. However, the complaint was filed against the department which he oversees as the “Property Manager for the Meadowview Complex.” As the person in charge of day-to-day operations doesn’t the buck stop with Lenz?

Lenz also states that he is no longer a public official and that he is not subject to public scrutiny and that reporting on his job performance is meant to defame his character. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Lenz manages a complex that includes 15 buildings all paid for with county tax dollars. Hoboken is second only to Jersey City when it comes to county taxes. Hoboken taxpayers have a great financial stake in how county government is run. Lenz himself discussed his county position on The Weekly Show hosted by Pat O’Melia long before he was appointed to the City Council. Yet, now Lenz believes his public job is private. This is quite the contrast from the man who served as a Board of Education trustee, City Councilman, and political operative while claiming to stand for transparent and honest government every step of the way.

While Marsh has been successful at “stomping her feet to get her way” for Lenz in the past, it appears that may not work this time. Even with Zimmer’s situational ethics it will be hard for her to place Lenz in the most powerful position in City Hall with this black cloud over him.

So if you see Lenz milling around city hall, and he looks utterly deflated – now you know why: the Gravy Train is leaving the station without him… CHOO CHOO!

Hoboken411 will keep you posted as more details arise…

PolitickerNJ expands on Hoboken411 Lenz expose!

8/25/2010 Update:

Statewide political website PolitickerNJ has published a must-read piece on Michael Lenz’s quest to trade his political activism for personal gain and employment.

The facts will be familiar to you if you read the original Hoboken411 “Deconstructing Michael Lenz” report from August 2008 (seen below after the jump). Reporter Timothy J. Carroll (who recently escaped from the weekly fishwrap) goes the extra mile to dig into Lenz’s history of self-serving political wheeling and dealing. He fills in the blanks with juicy statements from the players Lenz worked with (and against) in his quest for power:

“In 2001, Lenz was campaign manager for David Roberts’s mayoral run. Shortly following Roberts’ election win… Lenz was bartering for a job and threatening to run in the 4th, according to one eyewitness. It’s a storyline that Lenz disputes and condemns as backtracking into a political ghostland as the campaign accelerates with typical Hoboken viciousness toward Election Day.”

– PolitickerNJ

Carroll spoke with several sources, then doubles back to get the un-elected councilman on the record. Lenz isn’t used to this kind of due diligence by reporters and is clearly caught flat-footed by it, just as he was in 2008 when Hoboken411 first put his story on the record. Perry Belfiore worked side-by-side with Lenz to promote Dave Roberts over Anthony Russo, and he described the 2001 scene:

“Lenz made this very clear early on that he wanted to be the director of the parking authority,” the councilman’s political friend turned foe remembers. “He told me. He made no bones about it.” Other sources not as close to the 4th Ward race this year also confirmed these allegations against Lenz. “(Lenz) lobbied Dave,” Belfiore said… Lenz wrote back in an email, “I think it is good government to appoint folks who are well qualified, and in tune with a Mayor’s vision. Having been a supporter shouldn’t get you a job, but it shouldn’t keep you out of one either.”

– PolitickerNJ

Ahhh, classic Lenz double-speak. It’s bad when insiders are given jobs through political patronage unless he and his friends (like Tony Soares) are the ones getting the jobs.

Lenz demands Quid Pro Quo from Roberts

Carroll goes on to describe Lenz’s threat to run in a special election if Roberts can’t deliver the six-figure Parking Authority job. PolitickerNJ recounts a meeting of Lenz, Roberts, Belfiore, councilman-turned-Assemblyman Ruben Ramos and former State Senator Bernie Kenny:

“Lenz said, “I’m tired of this. Either I get that job or I’m running against (Roberts’ candidate) Chris Campos in the 4th.” Roberts said, “Well now I can’t give you the job because that’s a quid pro quo,” Belfiore recalled. “All of the sudden you have a member of your own team trying to hijack you with a quid pro quo,” said Belfiore, who pulled Lenz aside and tried to calm him down.

– PolitickerNJ

Soares attacked when Lenz made his candidacy official. Here’s how it was reported in 2001:

“Councilman Soares said he believes that once Lenz didn’t get the job he wanted, he pulled his name from consideration and decided to run against the mayor’s candidate in the 4th Ward. Soares said that when it became evident that (Alan) Cohen was not going to support an attempt to replace or demote (Executive Director) JoAnne Serrano at the Sept. 10 HPA meeting, Lenz jumped ship – using his 4th Ward campaign as political leverage. “If dog catcher became an elected position, [Lenz] would probably run for that if it gave him leverage,” Soares said.

– Tom Jenneman, Hoboken Reporter, Sept. 24, 2001

Soares, Roberts, Belfiore and Kenny supported Campos, who defeated Lenz by an over 4-to-1 margin. Soares recently did his own Lenzian horse-trading. After failing to be appointed to the 4th ward seat after Dawn Zimmer was elected Mayor, Soares used the threat of a run against Lenz to secure his new positions of Zoning Board Chairman and North Hudson Sewerage Authority Commissioner. The latter comes with a $5000 stipend and health benefits. Lenz joined with Councilman Mike Russo to secure the second public gig for Soares over Zimmer’s objections.

Lenz runs, gets trounced, re-emerges when a job is offered

PolitickerNJ also picks up on how Lenz got back in bed with Roberts and Kenny in exchange for the Chief Financial Officer job in 2002:

According to Belfiore, it was State Sen. Bernie Kenny who called for Lenz to be pulled back into the gang to minimize the political foes the team was dealing with, a conversation Kenny says he does not recall. Lenz called Belfiore and told him, “I need help with the Latin Kings,” meaning councilmen Ramos and Campos and Health and Human Services Director Carmelo Garcia.

Belfiore said he called Ramos himself to try to convince him that Lenz should be hired as CFO. “Are you out of your [expletive] mind?” Ramos asked him, according to Belfiore.
“I said wait a minute,” Belfiore told PolitickerNJ, “This is a guy who has railed against political patronage. You’re showing him out to be the whore that he is.” That was all Ramos needed to hear; he voted for Lenz’s appointment.

– PolitickerNJ

Lenz’s brief time as CFO ended in a lawsuit where Lenz accepted a $180,000 settlement from the City before Roberts could be put under oath. Some called it hush money.

Tim Carroll stops here, but he should keep digging

The PolitickerNJ story ends there, but Carroll should continue to dig into the double-dealing. His work begs for a sequel focusing on how Lenz leveraged his political activism to get his now-nearly $70,000 a year patronage job with Hudson County. Lenz and Carol Marsh agreed to jump on board the disastrous HCDO campaign against Union City Mayor/State Senator Brian Stack. Here’s how 411 reported on this two years ago:

Marsh was trounced in Hoboken and throughout the district, which also included West New York and Union City. Still, the HCDO as a group in control of the county, survived the challenge and Lenz was given a $65,000 a year job (plus juicy county employee benefits) at a Hudson County facility in Secaucus. Marsh’s running mate Nicole Garcia was also given a $65,000 a year county job after the election.

– Hoboken411

It would be very interesting to see certain people in Hudson County be put on the spot about Lenz’s hiring so soon after working on the HCDO campaign. Hudson County has a legendary political patronage mill, and Lenz is apparently right at home in it.

There is much more to read in the PolitickerNJ article, as well as below in the original Deconstruction of Michael Lenz.

No Surprise Here: Lenz Appointed

11/21/2009 Update:

michael-lenz-city-thief-sworn-in-as-hoboken-4th-ward-councilman-november-17-2009-nj

Some of you may have noticed that your humble host here at Hoboken411 didn’t waste any of your time with monotonous daily updates on who was supposedly “in the running” to be appointed to represent the Fourth Ward on the City Council.

Why? Well, for starters 98.7% of Hoboken is burned out on election talk and 411 strives to serve the majority, not the tiny minority of obsessed political crazies. Second, because the so-called “competition” for the seat never really existed. It was all a diversion. The decision was made at a diner table days before the election. The seat was going to longtime Hoboken political player and wannabe HCDO operative Michael Lenz from moment one. Everything else you saw was smoke, mirrors and deception.

These are things Dawn Zimmer is very good at, as nearly all of Hoboken will be finding out over the next four years.

But wait, Zimmer said Lenz doesn’t control her?

michael-lenz-puppet-master-over-hoboken-mayor-dawn-zimmer-njYep, and she also said she wouldn’t take money from the HCDO (she did) and would serve a full term as 4th ward Councilwoman (she didn’t).

There are many Dawn Zimmer supporters scratching their heads about the non-tie breaking vote she took at this week’s council meeting to install Lenz as her successor.

They believed her when Dawn and her busiest green-shirted beavers on the streets and on the web told people that Lenz “was not running the show” and “would not have a significant role” if she were elected Mayor.

Some took it a step further and claimed Zimmer was only “tolerating” Lenz because she didn’t want him against her, but “would never put him in a position of power.” So much for that…

You can’t say you weren’t warned!

Hoboken411 was in on the ground floor of Zimmer’s race against Chris Campos, so who knows her better than most people who voted for her? Everything else you read is “post-brainwashed” fluff and propaganda!

You were also warned about Mike Lenz, and told you why he should be avoided over a year ago (see that original story after the jump). Hoboken411 isn’t the only place on the web you can find criticism of Mike Lenz. Others have been far more critical and specific about why Lenz should not return to a position of political power, but yet the only people Lenz has ever sued for defamation of character are the taxpayers of the City of Hoboken.

Lenz assumes a position he can exploit

Jersey City government is a giant patronage mill in part because the HCDO machine-backed city council members often also end up on the County Payroll. They do what they’re told because it’s in their best interests. Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega was scooped up in the same corruption sting that brought Peter Cammarano down, yet Vega remains on the council and in his job as Hudson County Director of Parks, Engineering and Planning. Mike Lenz is also on the county payroll, and answers to the HCDO bosses who gave him his job. Who will Lenz represent on the council, the people of the 4th ward or his Hudson County bosses? (There is only one answer to that…)

Zimmer useless without Lenz, the shadow Mayor

As 411 predicted and said repeatedly in the past, Zimmer depends on Mike Lenz to tell her what to do on budget and operational issues, and appointing him to the 4th ward seat is the perfect cover that will allow Lenz to be in the Mayor’s office as often as he likes. Unlike Zimmer’s supposedly “clean slate,” Lenz brings his decades long list of enemies to settle scores with into City Hall. As you’ve been told in the past, it’s not beneath Lenz to lie about people who see things differently than him, including spreading false information about who’s who on the Internet. As a former Hoboken CFO under Dave Roberts and one-time Board of Education President, Lenz has a lot of political baggage.

dawn-zimmer-has-a-mike-lenz-batphone-in-her-corner-office-in-hoboken-nj

There ya go! Lenz and Zimmer control it all

Make no mistake about it. Barring a successful legal challenge to the Lenz appointment, Mayor Dawn Zimmer will have absolute power at least through November. In addition to the public honeymoon period, she has a reliable five-vote majority to push her initiatives through. There are no excuses to be made. It’s in their hands.

So far they’ve already made a mockery of their “open applications/transparency” campaign promises with their fixed appointments. Hoboken411 will be watching to see what other promises are broken, because power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, especially when the county bosses are just a stone’s throw away. As usual, you read it here first.

Continue reading the original “Deconstructing Michael Lenz” post from 2008 below!!!

8/25/2008:

It’s rare that I find a letter to the editor in the weekly paper that says so many things that need to be said that I take the time to bring it to the much larger Hoboken411 audience.

Jake Stuiver has written such a letter.

In it, he takes on one of Hoboken’s best-known political opportunists, Michael Lenz. The kind of guy who thrives on the saying “you can fool some of the people some of the time” in the way he sucks in new residents looking to do good, only to fool them into thinking he has Hoboken’s best interests at heart. More on that later, but first a few words from Jake:

Dear Editor:

The real reason Lenz is against Mason

hoboken411-email-icon.jpgAfter reading last week’s article on prospective mayoral candidates, I felt compelled to respond to county employee and Hudson County Democratic Organization ally Michael Lenz’s regrettably sexist and derisive remarks about Councilwoman Mason’s bona fides as a reformer.

Having been heavily involved in Carol Marsh’s mayoral campaign four years ago, I proudly worked alongside Lenz and a united Hoboken reform movement toward attaining change in Hoboken. By the time the movement splintered, I had enrolled in an intensive grad-school program, which I saw as an ideal opportunity to stay out of politics and above the fray for the time being. I valued the chance to maintain good relations with a wide range of people who were no longer on good terms with one another, and perhaps even help to eventually get people back on the same page.

michael-lenz-hoboken-sm.jpgWatching and listening to events over the past year, however, I have felt myself coming down off that fence and no longer able to give Mr. Lenz the benefit of the doubt. I truly am sad to say this because Michael is someone whose company I once sincerely enjoyed. Unfortunately, he is also someone who has repeatedly proven that any grandiose talk of a “greater good” he stands for appears to be mere cover for what he’s really out for – himself.

Lenz, who four years ago created a textbook example of how to lose a perfectly winnable election, did one thing extremely well during the Marsh campaign – he chased out the door numerous people with strong talent and desire to help us. I am not referring exclusively to one incident in particular, but rather a steady string of volunteers who came into the campaign office eager and able to help and left jaded and turned off. I would even count myself among people who came off that debacle feeling used, abused, under-appreciated and in no hurry to get back into politics anytime soon. Observing Lenz’s behavior in many of these instances, I came to suspect that he would rather lose an election than win without getting full credit for it.

Now, Councilwoman Mason is making waves in Hoboken, making a difference and making a name for herself, quite deservedly. She is bringing a level of commitment to public service I have not seen in this city in the seven years I’ve lived in the area. She is not aware that I am writing this letter. Because she’s gotten to where she is without Michael Lenz running the show, he appears to be resorting to spewing envious bile when he should be lauding her for accomplishing things he once claimed to stand for.

Instead, all he seems to stand for these days is old-boys-network jobs, sexist “Roberts in a dress” jabs and hypocritical accusations of machine alliances. I find it curious that Lenz would invoke Mayor Roberts as a negative point of reference being that he managed his first campaign, inadvertently (if not intentionally) helped re-elect him in 2005 and now works for the organization that backs him.

Jake Stuiver

Burn!

Hoboken411 and many readers have had our own run-ins with Mr. Lenz over the past few years. At first he ignored the site. Then when he saw how many people were reading, he and a few minions attempted to take control of all political discourse. When told to lay off, they just kicked it into a higher gear. When told they were breaking the site rules, they persisted until they were no longer welcome.

Since then, Lenz and his small crew have tried in vain to damage Hoboken411 through a smear campaign on other boards, trying (and failing) to “out” those who post here and generally disrupt the course of business of the site. They have failed on all counts, as Hoboken411 continues to grow at a blistering pace.

michael-lenz-hoboken-avoid-him.jpg

Who is Michael Lenz?

Watching Lenz speak during a typical city council you may be fooled into thinking he is a typical Hoboken resident who is sick and tired of the status quo. Hardly. He is actually a big part of the problem. Following a brief but disastrous run on the Board of Education which set back the cause of “reform” politics for a decade, Lenz returned to the scene shortly before the 2001 Mayoral Campaign claiming he was going to run for Mayor under a “reform” banner against incumbent Anthony Russo. At first Lenz told people he didn’t think the likely challenger at the time – Sixth Ward Councilman David Roberts – would do enough to reform if elected. At the time Russo dismissed Lenz as a challenger, and said his race would be against Roberts. He was right.

Lenz sells out to Roberts

Around the time that Lenz “decided” not to run for Mayor and instead support Roberts, a deal was brokered to bring Lenz on as a paid employee of the Roberts campaign. It then became Lenz’s job (literally) to convince reform-minded Hobokenites that Dave Roberts was a great man that was going to do big things to reform Hoboken’s government. Many got on board, later saying it was against their better judgment but better than the alternative at the time. Unlike those volunteers, Lenz was paid.

Roberts elected, but no job for Lenz

Once the campaign was over Lenz needed a job. It became clear he wanted to run the Hoboken Parking Authority. This was not a job that Roberts and State Senator Bernie Kenny wanted to put in Lenz’s hands. When Lenz didn’t get what he wanted he tried to “get even” by running against newly appointed Fourth Ward Councilman Chris Campos in the November 2001 special election. The then little-known Campos pummeled Lenz by a 4-to-1 margin.

Lenz kisses and makes up with Roberts

roberts-and-lenz-make-up.jpgAlmost immediately, Lenz (with his tail between his legs) resumed kissing up to Roberts and Kenny, such as writing letters to the editor supporting their candidates for Board of Education, and – still in need of a job – trying to get on the city payroll.

His opportunity came when despite his lack of state certification as a Chief Financial Officer, Lenz was hired by Roberts to be the acting CFO of the city.

Lenz was later fired and sued the city for damages. Roberts settled the case for $183,000. People still wonder why Roberts settled out of court rather than go to trial with a non-tenured employee he could fire at will.

At odds again with Roberts and Kenny, or not?

By now Carol Marsh was also on the outs with Roberts (she was the very last to jump off the Roberts ship) and with the 2005 election fast approaching, Lenz ran the Marsh for Mayor campaign (see Jake Stuiver’s letter above for more on that debacle.) The joke afterward was that Lenz helped get Roberts elected in 2001, and helped get him reelected in 2005. That’s when he went back into “kiss and make up with the machine” mode again.

Lenz has dinners with Kenny, makes deals

Lenz and Kenny share a love of the history of the Civil War, and would have dinners on a near monthly basis to discuss it. They were also believed to be talking politics, and of the time they would once again work together in an election. Kenny knew that when his back was against the wall and his political machine was divided that he could get a lifeline from Lenz, who fancied himself “Leader of the Reformers.” That time came in 2007 when Lenz and Marsh joined with Kenny and his HCDO against Union City Mayor Brian Stack and his upstart Democrats For Hudson County. Just like in 2001, Lenz’s job was once again to corral up Hoboken’s “reform” vote for HCDO candidates like Roberts.

Lenz loses again, but wins a job

Endorsed by Dave Roberts (like in 2001), Marsh was trounced in Hoboken and throughout the district which also included West New York and Union City. Still, the HCDO as a group in control of the county, survived the challenge and Lenz was given a $65,000 a year job (plus juicy county employee benefits) at a Hudson County facility in Secaucus. Marsh’s running mate Nicole Garcia was also given a $65,000 a year county job after the election. Both Marsh and Garcia were made ceremonial (and powerless) co-vice chairs of the HCDO.

Now he needs to move up the HCDO ladder

$65k is a decent starting salary, but to move up the county payroll ladder Lenz needs to show his new benefactors that he can do their bidding. One way to do that is use what little “reform” credibility he has left to take down someone like Beth Mason who is a threat to the county machine’s control of Hoboken.

Most people who have seen Lenz in action over the last 8 years or more know what he is about, but he has an ability to fool many newcomers who want to believe him. Many reject him soon after meeting the guy, but others get pulled into his thrall and don’t do their due diligence.

Take it from me. Avoid Michael Lenz.

Hoboken NJ

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