Zimmer Expands City Payroll

8/14/2009:

411 Note: If you want the version of this story that was spoon-fed from City Hall, look elsewhere. If you want to go deeper with some real insight into business as usual in Hoboken, read on.

Bryan hired to assist Acting Mayor

After running on a platform of “cutting government spending” and “ending cronyism” at City Hall, Interim Mayor Dawn Zimmer is increasing employee headcount by giving a friend a job.

dawn-zimmer-confidential-aide-daniel-bryan-nepotism-favoritism-nj-hoboken-politics-cronyism

Zimmer made her first Mayoral hire this week for a position that was never publicly advertised. There was no equal opportunity job posting, invitation for applications and resumes or other open process before the hire. The Acting Mayor simply awarded it to a person who worked hard on her campaign. In a move eerily similar to appointments made by former Mayor David Roberts, Acting Mayor Zimmer hired Daniel J. Bryan to the title of “Confidential Aide To The Mayor.”

Find out what this “Confidential Aide” does and MORE after the jump…

(Dawn Zimmer un-advertised appointments, continued…)

What is a “Confidential Aide?”

Good question! It’s a government job classification that allows the Mayor to hire pretty much anyone for any reason as long as the City Council approves a budget to pay for it. Suzanne Hetman was a “Confidential Aide” to Mayor Roberts, hired in 2001 at a salary of $70,000 a year. Hetman was widely believed to be installed as the “eyes and ears at City Hall” for former State Senator Bernie Kenny. As Roberts began to wind down his time in office he transferred Hetman to run the Rent Control Office, which you may have heard is the subject of great controversy and legal wrangling lately. Hetman now makes over $96,000 a year. That’s more than the veteran she replaced, whose trained successor was passed over by Roberts to ensure Hetman would still have a job at City Hall after he and Kenny exited the political stage.

So this is a patronage thing then?

You might say that. Others are saying it’s also a job protection move for the Acting Mayor. Bryan will serve at the behest of Zimmer as she mounts her campaign for the November 3rd election. His duties are said to include improving the city website (which just before Roberts left had already received a substantial overhaul), working with the media and coordinating meetings with constituents. It’s the “working with the media” part that has some shaking their heads, since the city already has TWO Public Information Officers, and Zimmer has ordered advertising to hire a third. Just after Labor Day Zimmer will be in full-on campaign mode ahead of the November election. Having a former full-time campaign worker like Bryan with her can help her cause.

Who is Daniel J. Bryan?

I asked around. Dan is 25 years old and by all accounts a really nice guy and hard worker. He got his start in local politics by volunteering for the Beth Mason for Mayor campaign.

“One day Dan just walked in the door of (Mason) headquarters and offered to volunteer. Nobody knew him. He was apparently not working at the time and was a fixture throughout the campaign. He would blow up balloons, answer calls and man the desk… the usual duties. He was always around and a big help, but never said very much. Some joked Dan might have been sent in by the Cammarano or Zimmer campaigns to spy on us because he hardly said a word but always seemed to be listening!”

– A former Mason for Mayor volunteer

After Mason endorsed Zimmer in the runoff, Bryan became a fixture down the street at Zimmer headquarters…

“Dan is an energetic young guy who was a great asset to the campaign. He would run around and get things done, and seemed to really gel with Ravi (Bhalla). Last I heard he was assisting Ravi with some of his council duties.”

– A former (and probably future) Zimmer for Mayor Volunteer

But should the only qualification for a Mayor’s Confidential Aide be that he’s a great campaign volunteer? The answer in Hudson County politics is, “Of course! What else do you need?” The Acting Mayor is well within her rights to hire someone like this without posting the job, but more than one person is grumbling that is doesn’t jibe with Zimmer’s rhetoric regarding open appointments, smaller government and transparent process.

$35k plus benefits now, but after the election?

One of the time honored moves of the Hoboken patronage playbook is to make a potentially unpopular or impolitic hire at a low salary with a promise to jack it up later if things go well (or when people aren’t paying attention). The classic example involves the hiring of Parking Utility Monitor John Corea. Roberts hired Corea at a salary of $24,500 at a time when the City Council was trying to put a lid on payroll. Roberts just raised the salary once the political coast was clear. Last year Corea made $116,548. Critics say if Zimmer is elected in November Bryan’s $35,000 salary will most certainly rise — if not double – if she wins a full term.

Bryan vs. Garcia

Acting Mayor Zimmer’s internet response team is trying to compare the $35,000 salary to the $125,000 that Joe Garcia was to be paid as “Chief of Staff.” The job classification under state guidelines may be similar, but that is where the comparison ends. Garcia quit his job at a big NYC law firm and took a pay cut to help improve his hometown. He was far more qualified to aid in the running of the government than the young Mr. Bryan, who will not be given day-to-day management responsibilities the Chief of Staff would have been responsible for.

So what do you think? – Is adding a new job to the payroll as the first order of business for an Acting Mayor the right move, or does it fly in the face of the campaign rhetoric? Is it much ado about nothing, or another sign that the names have changed but the game is the same? Share your view below in the most read comment section in Hoboken.

Leave a Reply

121 Comments on "Zimmer Expands City Payroll"

Red Haven
Member
Red Haven

CalGard, here is merely a sample of DA’s errors in fact, which appear to be politically motivated and quite deliberate, since even when corrected she will repeat the errors over and over again.

There have been other examples since that was written, but you’ll get the idea.

CalGard
Member
CalGard

Thank you Red Haven. The data represented in the link supports my contention that in a perfect world and in the long run only those with competence succeed. I don’t know enough about Antonucci’s true objectives for changing Hoboken. From what I do know, I’d say I probably support many of them. But I’d never align myself with her stated positions because they are not well stated.

In response to Red Haven who said:
CalGard, here is merely a sample of DA’s errors in fact, which appear to be politically motivated and quite deliberate, since even when corrected she will repeat the errors over and over again.

There have been other examples since that was written, but you’ll get the idea.

Red Haven
Member
Red Haven

Y.W.C., I can take no issue with your analysis. I’m also relieved you’ve chosen to discuss issues instead of sinking to the low of mocking a political opponent’s choice of attire. That’s refreshing.

However, we should hold all self-appointed “watchdogs” to the same standard you hold TBurns to. You neglected to respond to my criticsm of Donna A., who is hurting KF with her error-filled commentary. DA handed Phil DeFalco an issue he never should have been able to toss back at tke KF team.

So — to paraphrase the end of your well written and thought out post — DA also has to raise the bar on what passes for criticism. Either that or KF needs to tell her to knock it off before she can do any more damage. Good luck with that.

Yes.We.Can.
Member
Yes.We.Can.
Red Haven, I would like to apologize for hurting your feelings (or offending them) by “sinking to the low of mocking a political opponent’s choice of attire”. I am not a mean person, and am sincerely asking for your forgiveness. I mean it. Which post, may I ask, are you referring to: when I called you the ‘Keebler Elf” for wearing a green and purple suit? Or when I ribbed Beth Mason for being the best-dressed at a tragic scene of death (the helicopter crash site)? Those are the only 2 which come to mind. Anyway, you are right: I do stoop to mockery and satire quite often, and yes: the victims are mainly political opponents. But since you’ve raised the subject of (my) humor, I would just like to clarify that a bit. I ridicule political opponents for the things they DO (jumping on trampolines in business suits, dressing up for fatal accidents, taking big envelopes of cash between bites of hamburger at the Malibu), and not for the things they ARE (very, very fat or very, very short). It boils down to making fun of people for their ACTIONS (things they have chosen) vs. making fun them for their looks, their physical attributes (things they were dealt). So, whatever a public person chooses to wear, say, or do, in my view is fair game for mockery. Now, if a public person has a physical condition like obesity or dwarfism, I don’t accept that as fodder for laughs, even… Read more »
CalGard
Member
CalGard
I met Donna A once. She seemed very sincere about trying to help reduce city costs and her suggestions were presented in a straightforward way. I haven’t seen any evidence that errors in her facts are intentionally dishonest – more likely she misspoke? I recall the ‘debate’ she had with city council around the beginning of this year. Particulary Terry LaBruno’s reaction to cutting back on Police and Fire Expenses. The famous “Lives are not MUMBERS” video here: Where does Hoboken stand today? As the media currently shows videos of ruckuses at health care town hall meetings – boy, Hoboken could certainly show the world a thing or two about citizen involvment in government. In response to Red Haven who said: Y.W.C., I can take no issue with your analysis. I’m also relieved you’ve chosen to discuss issues instead of sinking to the low of mocking a political opponent’s choice of attire. That’s refreshing. However, we should hold all self-appointed “watchdogs” to the same standard you hold TBurns to. You neglected to respond to my criticsm of Donna A., who is hurting KF with her error-filled commentary. DA handed Phil DeFalco an issue he never should have been able to toss back at tke KF team. So — to paraphrase the end of your well written and thought out post — DA also has to raise the bar on what passes for criticism. Either that or KF needs to tell her to knock it off before she can do any… Read more »
estevens
Member

I saw Bowden’s film. I can’t imagine that anyone who gives half a damn could watch this film and not walk away infuriated at the current state of our educational system.

Very well done.

I’ve spoken to Bob about showing the film in Hoboken and he seems interested in doing so. As soon as he’s finished with the indie film circuit, we’ll try to put something together for Hoboken.

CalGard
Member
CalGard

My full support for this effort. I’m getting frustrated trying to find out anything about Peter Carter the interim Superintendent of Schools. Nothing negative – except sudden departure from both Plainfield and Ringwood in this capacity. But NOTHING really great anywhere I can see. What’s up – he’s had very public positions for 30+ years in education.

In response to estevens who said:
I saw Bowden’s film. I can’t imagine that anyone who gives half a damn could watch this film and not walk away infuriated at the current state of our educational system.

Very well done.

I’ve spoken to Bob about showing the film in Hoboken and he seems interested in doing so. As soon as he’s finished with the indie film circuit, we’ll try to put something together for Hoboken.

Yes.We.Can.
Member
Yes.We.Can.
CalGard, it’s a bit unfair to sum up a person’s career– hits and misses, based on an unproductive Google Search. So, you found “NOTHING great” about him. The fact that he was one of 11 interviewed for the position, probably grilled like a fish, records vetted, then won unanimous support (until Bubbles flipped) should count for something. Meetings are open to the public, so I say respectfully, you are always welcome to ask the Board these questions directly. Mr. Carter mentioned that when he took over Irvington, there was an $8M budget deficit which he turned into a $2M surplus… that doesn’t sound so bad to me. I have also heard that tackled the problem of out-of-town students attending Irvington schools, and was quite effective, which must be correlated with the budget savings there. The number of out-of-town students (I don’t mean those in the”School Choice” program), IMHO is a very huge problem HERE. I have my fingers crossed that he will. Mr. Carter is a pleasant chap, and I believe he would be very gracious to you if you called him– in 12 days. BTW, NJ3.org, the site you linked to, seems to be an advocacy group for “School Choice” a.k.a. vouchers. In response to CalGard who said: My full support for this effort. I’m getting frustrated trying to find out anything about Peter Carter the interim Superintendent of Schools. Nothing negative – except sudden departure from both Plainfield and Ringwood in this capacity. But NOTHING really great anywhere… Read more »
CalGard
Member
CalGard
Thank you Yes.We.Can. I haven’t stopped looking for more publicly reported information on Peter Carter. I’ve just started on the minutes of the Plainfield BOE while he worked there. I am trying to find out how he cut the Plainfield budget deficit from the time he took the job in June 2007 until his departure in Dec 2007. I wish the BOE would tell us what they learned in interviewing Peter Carter. I’d really like to read about this in the Hoboken Reporter or the Jersey Journal. I wish Peter Carter would give a substantive interview to a journalist. And perhaps he will. I want Peter Carter to be the most successful superintendent Hoboken has ever had. I want this BOE to be the most courageous, transparent and effective one we’ve ever had. I’d be very happy to talk with Peter Carter myself, on the record and report it in the media. There are many with better credentials than mine who already work for our local media and I hope they’ll get the information and publish what I believe would be a very useful report – hopefully of benefit to all concerned. In response to Yes.We.Can. who said: CalGard, it’s a bit unfair to sum up a person’s career– hits and misses, based on an unproductive Google Search. So, you found “NOTHING great” about him. The fact that he was one of 11 interviewed for the position, probably grilled like a fish, records vetted, then won unanimous support (until Bubbles… Read more »
CalGard
Member
CalGard

In May, there was some discussion of the award winning documentary about NJ schools ‘The Cartel’ by Hoboken’s own Bob Bowdon. It was in the Hoboken International Film Festival in June 2009 and shown after that at several venues. Did anyone see it and care to comment. hoboken411 – any way to interview Bob Bowdon or get material for an update to your story in May?

CalGard
Member
CalGard

It is time to find out as much as we can about Peter E Carter, Michael Dunow and Walter Rusak who come to the Hoboken School System as a team intact from their days in Plainfield NJ. There are striking parallels between their Plainfield situation and what we see now in Hoboken.

Carter became interim Superintendent in Plainfield days after the ‘sudden’ resignation of that city’s superintendent in June 2007. They did the same jobs in Plainfield at exactly the same pay – $850/day and $700/day. All three resigned suddenly in November 2007 because of a salary dispute. They are quoted in

“In the letter, obtained Thursday night by the Courier News, the district heads say they “agonized many hours and many days” following an Oct. 16 business meeting that “ended in an abrupt adjournment without the courtesy of at least recognition of our request for compensation for some of our plus forty work week hours.”

“The message sent to us by the Board was clear,” the letter states. “We are perplexed as to what may have caused such disrespect.”

wpDiscuz