Hoboken: City for Sale (Part I)
[This is part of a series of article submissions by resident and 411 reader “estevens.”]
Hoboken: City for Sale
First in a series of articles about the back-room machinations of Hoboken.
The Sarlo Connection
In late April of 2007, a Little Ferry councilman and attorney by the name of Thomas Sarlo contributed $1000 to the re-election campaign of Fourth Ward Councilman Chris Campos.
District 36 Democratic Club, a political party committee from the 36th state legislative district covering southern Bergen County and Passaic County, contributed $2500 to Campos. In early November of that year, Paul Sarlo – State Senator for the 36th District, Mayor of Wood-Ridge, and brother of Thomas Sarlo, contributed $7200 to Voice For All Hoboken.
Why on earth would a couple of Bergen County politicians have any interest in local Hoboken politics?
Perhaps the answer can be found with yet another Sarlo brother.
Charles Sarlo serves as VP and General Counsel for DMR Architects of Hasbrouck Heights. Early in 2008, it was announced that DMR had been retained by Hoboken University Medical Center to provide design services in connection with the hospital’s renovation and expansion project, including a new maternity outpatient center.
Without sworn testimony from the individuals involved, it is impossible to prove a direct link between the contributions from the Sarlo brothers and the granting of the contract to DMR.
For now, we’ll just think of it as just another remarkable Hoboken coincidence.
More about Cammarano, Russo and others – AFTER THE JUMP…
(Hoboken: City for Sale – Part I, continued…)
Let’s delve a little deeper…
District 36 Democratic Club is chaired by William Eilert, former Wallington Councilman and father of Chris Eilert, who in turn is Chief of Staff to Sen. Paul Sarlo and was the initial campaign treasurer for Thomas Sarlo. The committee is evidently a vehicle for accepting contributions and moving monies around on behalf of the Sarlos.
Voice For All Hoboken is a local political committee that endorsed and promoted the candidacies of 1st Ward Councilwoman and candidate Theresa Castellano, 2nd ward candidate Richard Tremitiedi, 3rd Ward Councilman and candidate Michael Russo, 4th Ward Councilman and candidate Chris Campos, and 6th Ward Councilman and candidate Nino Giacchi. Voice For All Hoboken spent $2000 each on behalf of Castellano, Tremitiedi, and Giacchi, while Russo received $7000 and Campos received over $13,000 in total spending and contributions.
At-Large Councilman and Mayoral candidate Peter Cammarano served as campaign manager for Voice For All Hoboken and Michael Estevez, who had served as spokesperson for David Roberts and director of public affairs for the City of Hoboken before leaving for a position with Winning Strategies Public Relations, acted as committee chairperson.
Voice For All Hoboken received the $7200 contribution from Paul Sarlo on November 1, 2007. Five days later, the committee had contributed $5000 to Michael Russo and nearly $6000 to Chris Campos. Additional contributions made to the committee during that same week – and most likely passed through to Russo and Campos as well – will be the subject of a future article looking more closely at the committee.
Mum’s the word
Voice For All Hoboken was remarkably close-mouthed about its financial activities – it did not file reports of its financial activities until more than a year after the 2007 election activities had ceased. Voice For All Hoboken was the focus of a complaint by this author and a subsequent compliance review by the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
It is likely that Hoboken officials would have supported the city takeover of St. Mary’s Hospital anyway. However, the monies passed to them by those who benefit from such an enterprise call into question the purity of their motivations. To be sure, when Hoboken officials act, they occasionally do so in the interest of doing the right thing. More often, however, actions are undertaken with vote-getting and the accumulation of power in mind. More often still, decisions made that have significant impact on the city and its residents are often made with the promise of dollars flowing to those same officials.
More on that to come in future installments of Hoboken: City for Sale.