Where does Hoboken stand today?
1/23/2009 Video Update:
Here’s video documentation of the Terry LaBruno outburst from the City Council Meeting this week.
Two versions, the first being a shorter remixed “mashup,” and the second the full exchange with no editing. Thanks estevens!
LaBruno Outburst Remix:
LaBruno Outburst Lamer version:
SEE THE REST OF THE LUNACY AFTER THE JUMP…
Donna Antonucci sent Hoboken411 revised powerpoint slides correcting some mistakes that had been made: “Instead of using the Battalion Chief and Captain incomes when calculating saves, I used the Firefighter average of $41K a year which is less than 1/3 of the salary of a BC and almost exactly 1/3 of a Captains pay. The save to bring the HFD to a 1:5 ratio of management to non-management would be $5.5MM ongoing.
I sat next to Chief Blohm after I spoke and he also pointed out another line on the budget where I would find another $91K spent on the Safer grant. He also pointed out that the $10.3MM in healthcare costs would not only cover the 542 full time employees but retirees as well. I don’t have the number of retirees but note such on the document and will add that to the denominator when I get it.
Despite the outburst last night, this has started the dialogue on the detail as I had hoped.”
It’s time to take stock of where Hoboken is today, with just over 100 days to the Mayoral election.
Push comes to shove in Hoboken
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Others take that a step further to say if you let the sunshine in, the cockroaches will scatter. In Hoboken they don’t scatter, they mobilize for battle.
In Hoboken, things have been done a certain way for a certain group of people for a very long time. They like it this way, and will do anything in their power to keep things just as they are. Mayor Dave Roberts’ inability to maintain his string of sham budgets (rising from $52 million to $121 million since 2001) has placed sunshine on the city’s business like never before. (Thanks to “interwebs” and “bloggers!”)
Tempers flare, and things get ugly
Last night, a couple of tough Italian women went toe to toe at the City Council meeting. One was giving chapter and verse on her view of the bloat in Hoboken’s Fire Department ranks while the other was defending her very way of life.
Some might be surprised by the emotional outburst of councilwoman-at-large Terry LaBruno (pictured) against taxpayer activist Donna Antonucci. Neither is a shrinking violet, and each probably has more in common than either would probably like to admit. They are each – shall we say – “headstrong” in their views.
Antonucci has been raking the muck of the city budget following her layoff from Citigroup, where she worked in community reinvestment. She sees what would be obvious to more people if Roberts wasn’t so doggone able to hide his overspending and political dealing for so long by artificially suppressing the tax rate through one-shot revenue items and just plain not paying the bills until the coast was clear. That scheme eventually comes to bite you, and thanks to elections that led to the loss of an ironclad Roberts majority, it did.
Now, when someone like Antonucci hits the scene and brings facts and figures to a political arena dominated by deals and shams, the people who benefit from this machine system begin to mobilize to protect their turf. They start signing on to internet boards to slam and insult her, they send union heads to “refute” her numbers, and they hope they can crush her spirit and make all this taxpayer outrage go away before election time. If they can’t, the machine will just take someone who appears to be outraged by the mess but who is really OK with continuing the status quo if it means they get the power and prestige of the title of “Mayor.” That’s what happened in 2001 with Dave Roberts. It could happen again this year.
(State of Hoboken, continued…)
LaBruno vs. Antonucci
You can safely assume that Terry LaBruno has been hearing complaints from her constituents in the Public Safety Department about “that Antonucci woman” for weeks.
Should we be surprised that LaBruno went positively nuts on Antonucci when she called for management retirements and layoffs in the HFD? Not really.
LaBruno’s role on “The Roberts Team” has always been to be the old school Hoboken “attack dog” and to bring along the support of the Police and Fire Departments. She has long been a beneficiary of the system. Her husband is Hoboken Fire Department Battalion Chief Joseph LaBruno, who was paid $167,930 in 2007 (eclipsed by his brother the former Police Chief’s $221,512 that year). Her nephew is also in the Hoboken PD, and some say thanks to his father’s blessings has been able to quickly rise in rank to a salary of around $80k a year. Terry was hoping her husband would one day be Fire Chief. She probably wants it more than he does. To be fair, Joe LaBruno is well liked (unlike his brother Carmen, who was feared) and is first and foremost a dedicated fireman.
You can read Donna’s explanation HERE, and see a chart of her example HERE.
(FYI, for those that need “direction,” there are three ways you can read links like this on 411.
One – left click – read in browser. Two – right click, “open in new tab” – to read the PDF the old way, and Three – right click, “save as” to download to your computer and read later. If you need further help, I charge by the hour.)
It’s not just Donna
Of course, Donna is just one of the latest in a long line of thorns in the Hoboken political elite’s side.
They’re still trying to figure out how to deal with another tough Italian woman who likes to poke around in public documents by the name of Elizabeth Abruzese Mason. There have been others, but most have either given up and moved out, or capitulated to the political machine to get public jobs for their friends.
With the move-outs and sellouts, nature abhors a vacuum, and today a new wave of angry taxpayers is stepping up to take a stand. Will they stub some toes along the way? Sure. Are we going to get a better government elected this spring? It depends.
The signs are good that change is coming, but we have seen this before in Hoboken. It wouldn’t be the first time a groundswell of support for change just led to a sad defeat. Just ask Joe Della Fave or Ira Karasick who mounted strong reform campaigns that died at the feet of the machine. Their candidacies proved it doesn’t have to be “Born-and-Raised vs. Newcomer.”
Angry? Get active, get involved.
Is it really going to be different this year? The political machines in Jersey City and North Bergen are already revving their engines to make certain that real change does NOT come to Hoboken. That would be too costly for their billion-dollar-business of Hudson County government. Terry LaBruno’s screaming match last night with Donna Antonucci is just a sample of what’s to come this spring. How it all plays out depends a lot on YOU.
Something for you to think about from your friends at Hoboken411.
Share your thoughts in the comments section!