Mayor berates Priest, stuns witnesses!
Letter: Mayor Zimmer a no-show for public safety mass on 9/11
Hoboken411 received emails from residents wondering why Mayor Dawn Zimmer didn’t attend Mass here in Hoboken for the police & fire personnel this past weekend – including Sasha, who wrote:
“The Mass at OLG was just as significant as honoring those that perished on Sept 11. The first responders in Hoboken and every community are there every single day of the year. Including emergencies like hurricanes and flooding, or heat waves and blizzards (like the one where Zimmer was nowhere to be found this past Christmas).
Those are the individuals that we all depend on. Showing strong support for them on 9/11 even though Hoboken wasn’t directly attacked is an essential sign of unity and respect.
Sadly, the first responders didn’t get as much respect as they deserved, even at ground zero. Zimmer had no business being in NYC, when Hoboken has its own memorial. Honestly, former Mayor Roberts had more of a reason to attend since he was the one in office in 2001.
It’s clear how our current Mayor feels about those who we rely on the most in Hoboken.”
Maybe the feud between Zimmer & Father Fortunato continues?
Zimmer tirade news spreads; meeting planned with Priest
With every day that goes by, it gets harder and harder for Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s internet attack dogs to claim she did nothing wrong at last Sunday’s Blue Mass.
Every day more news outlets pick up on the story broken by Hoboken411, and every day it gets harder for Zimmer to deny she was out of line publicly berating Father Vinny Fortunato.
Story changing; apology still not issued
The “defend-Dawn-at-all-costs” squad better listen up, because the Mayor is beginning to change her story. Zimmer’s original “I’m not going to comment on 411 accusations” line is evolving as more and more reporters demand answers, and smell guilt wafting from the Mayor’s office. The not-quite-daily newspaper out of Jersey City updates the story with this quote:
“Since the (Hoboken411) post was put up, Zimmer has not outright denied the allegations, but acknowledged that she did speak to the priest following the service and plans to meet with him again on Thursday. “I thought Father Vinny gave an excellent sermon,” said Zimmer in a brief phone interview… “It was extremely thought-provoking.” Fortunato has declined to comment.”– Jersey Journal
PolitickerNJ reporter Tim Carroll – who wrote the excellent follow-up to Hoboken411’s Deconstructing Michael Lenz expose – picks up on the buzz surrounding Zimmer’s bad behavior. In a story originally titled “Zimmer simmering after sermon,” Tim wrote:
“Zimmer took it personally and told Father Vinnie after the mass that she was offended at his tying city affairs into a homily. But he was giving a template sermon used by the Catholic Church, in part, to address their sex scandals.“I thought it was an excellent sermon,” Zimmer said. “It had a profound effect on me.” But, “I did speak to (Father Vinnie) emotionally after the (mass) and I regret that,” Zimmer said.– PolitickerNJ
Eyewitnesses say “speaking emotionally” is only the tip of the iceberg of what Zimmer did to cause her husband to physically drag her away from Father Vinny before things could get even worse. More telling is how Lenz himself is no longer able to hide from the storm, admitting he saw more than his internet response team would like him to admit:
“Fourth Ward Councilman Michael Lenz, a public Zimmer supporter, said he was also nearby when the mayor spoke to Fortunato. “There were some people expressing their opinion. Words may have been exchanged,” he said.– JJ
Even as Zimmer and Lenz come closer to admitting that no, reporting this news was NOT some “anti-Semitic conspiracy against the Mayor” as one Zimmer zealot claimed, don’t expect a Mayoral mea culpa any time soon. In fact, the latest spin from City Hall attempts to place an equal amount of blame for the incident on Father Vinny, hence the “words may have been exchanged” line from Lenz, as well as this attempt by Zimmer to share any blame with the priest on PolitickerNJ:
“On Thursday, the two are meeting to “heal” the wounds, Zimmer said, the “destructive divisions” in Hoboken.”
Apparently, Zimmer still thinks Father Vinny wounded her in some way through his homily. As for the destructive divisions, many agree there has been no more divisive administration in Hoboken’s history than this one.
There’s still no apology, so the clock in the left hand margin counts on…
Zimmer: not denying eyewitness accounts
Mayor won’t publicly apologize to Father Vinny for her tirade, or offer her own version.
That’s the word from Mayor Dawn Zimmer to reporters who’ve been asking about the post-mass tirade she unleashed on Father Vinny Fortunato Sunday. A local reporter cornered Zimmer at one of her photo-ops and asked her about the story everyone is talking about. This was her response:
“I’m not going to respond to any accusations 411 is making about me.”
Rather than be caught in a lie by denying the incident occurred exactly as reported, Zimmer is allowing her online spin team to call the story a lie and refusing to respond directly to questions about it. For the record, no “accusations” have been made by “411,” but by several eyewitnesses who heard and saw what went down outside the Church of St. Ann.
This website reported the facts, and Zimmer has a chance to deny them, but hasn’t and won’t.
Father Vinny hesitant to speak about the incident
When pressed (very softly, apparently) by former newsroom intern Claire Moses on the incident, Zimmer said, “I attended the service on Sunday to show appreciation for all the hard work,” of the police officers she is laying off and demoting. For his part – Father Vinny is downplaying the incident, which would be typical of a man more concerned about forgiveness and compassion than yet another Hoboken political drama.
Since the facts were first reported, additional eyewitnesses have come forward to corroborate and expand on the original report, adding that Zimmer was visibly upset in the church throughout the service.
Parents: Conduct of Zimmer in front of children a no-no
In addition to the special Blue Mass for Police and Firefighters, special blessings were offered for the people who are beginning the new year of CCD classes, including teachers and students. It was the first day of instruction and many children were there to see Zimmer’s erratic behavior.
Some parents had to explain to their kids why the Mayor would yell at a priest outside of church.
Zimmer takes out frustrations on a man of the cloth
Hoboken is abuzz with accounts of Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s disrespectful attack on Father Vinny Fortunato following the annual Blue Mass for Police and Firefighters.
The special mass has been held at one of Hoboken’s churches to bless those who place themselves in harm’s way for public safety for decades. It was held Sunday morning at the Church of St. Ann, and as always was followed by a breakfast. Witnesses say this year’s event was marred by a stunning display of rudeness by Hoboken’s top elected official.
Eyewitnesses describe difficult and stunning scene
Over 120 members of service attended the mass along with family members, parishioners who normally make the 9am and others attending because mass was said for their loved ones. Father Vinny is a Capuchin Friar who made many friends and admirers during his relatively short time in Hoboken. Originally from Long Island, Father Vinny is a diehard Jets fan who occasional serves as Team Chaplain for the Giants. He’s known as non-political (unlike the occasionally controversial Father Alex Santora at Our Lady of Grace) and approachable.
A homily about Integrity, and an introduction missed
Catholics know a homily is a commentary that follows a reading of scripture. Father Vinny is known for sharing homilies that are relatable and understandable to anyone attending mass, no matter their faith. Yesterday’s homily focused on the importance of integrity.
Father Vinny spoke first of how priests must maintain integrity, and how one priest’s actions can reflect on the entire group (such as in sex abuse cases). In line with the theme, he also spoke of police and firefighters maintaining integrity, and noted politicians should do so as well. No one politician was singled out for this message, and several were in attendance to hear it (including Russo, Lenz, Zimmer).
Zimmer confronts Father Vinny in front of shocked onlookers
After the mass ended, Father Vinny made his way to the steps of St. Ann’s to speak with people who attended the service. According to witnesses, Mayor Zimmer angrily confronted him, saying she was offended by his sermon, making it loud and clear she was not happy with his choice of subject in her presence. She also complained of not being immediately recognized and announced to the congregation earlier in the mass. (Zimmer was noted toward the end, but it was apparently not soon enough for her liking). Witnesses say Father Vinny appeared stunned by Zimmer’s anger, and had no idea why she was so enraged with him.
Hubby pulls Mayor away; others call her disrespectful
Before she could be pulled away, Zimmer was heard telling Father Vinny that “Maybe you should just go and campaign for the police!”
One witness says Zimmer referenced the PBA rallies at City Hall. Enough people saw this display continue long enough for some to take issue with the way Zimmer was treating their priest. This is apparently when Zimmer’s husband Stan Grossbard stepped in to get her away from the church before the cell phone cameras started breaking out. Un-elected councilman Michael Lenz was left to do damage control with those left behind. Zimmer never showed up to the breakfast that followed the mass, though Lenz did and received much less than a hero’s welcome.
A truly bizarre story, to be sure
The buzz on this story started almost immediately after it occurred, and as you can imagine Hoboken411 spent a lot of time on the phone and online yesterday trying to nail it down. The witnesses in this story are not yet prepared to go public, but if Zimmer’s supporters continue to claim that she did nothing wrong and has nothing to apologize to Father Vinny for, don’t be surprised to see them get angry enough to call out the Mayor under their own names. This is how offended they were about how the erratic Mayor disrespected their church.
For the record, Zimmer was raised Unitarian Christian. She later told friends she converted to Judaism for family reasons after the death of her Father-in-Law and as her sons were growing old enough to begin religious instruction. Unable to defend their Mayor on the merits, some of Zimmer’s die-hard minions are claiming what happened is part of some sort of “anti-Semitic conspiracy.” That alone should tell you how bankrupt their argument is.
What do you think? Should Mayor Zimmer issue an immediate apology to Father Vinny for confronting him and criticizing his homily, or is it OK for politicians to tell religious leaders what they can and cannot say in their presence? Comment below!