11/29/2010 Update:

Hoboken Rabbi speaks out on the Pincus affair

Rabbi Robert Scheinberg of the United Synagogue of Hoboken is weighing in on Zoning Board Member Nancy Pincus’ use of Nazi imagery to attack council members Beth Mason and Tim Occhipinti.

“Like many, I was distressed by controversial artwork that introduced an unnecessary and painful resonance of Nazi-era politics into local Hoboken politics. Such imagery and rhetoric implicitly compares people today, in the relatively minor struggles of Hoboken politics, to an ultimate example of evil of our times, thereby trivializing the suffering of the Nazis’ victims. I am glad that the artist has apologized for her poor judgment. Now it is time to move on.

The most sensitive events of the last century are entirely irrelevant to the critical issues that face Hoboken today. It is unwise and hurtful to invoke them, or the reaction to them, for rhetorical purposes or political gain. Hoboken is better off when the conversation stays focused on the substance of issues, rather than on issues of rhetoric.”

– Rabbi Scheinberg

Rabbi Scheinberg asked that his comment be reprinted only in its entirety. Hoboken411 respectfully complies with that request. Rabbi Scheinberg released his statement on the Synagogue website on the eve of Thanksgiving, several days after widespread coverage of the Pincus outrage caused reaction from major organizations including the Anti-Defamation League and National Jewish Democratic Council.

See the Nazi-themed graphic that started this latest firestorm created by one of Mayor Zimmer’s most rabid supporters, after the jump.

11/19/2010 Update:

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

When is an apology not an apology? When it comes from embattled Zoning Board member Nancy Pincus.

The National Jewish Democratic Council condemned her, and other major Jewish and anti-Hate Speech organizations were reviewing the Pincus affair. Pincus claimed there was a conspiracy behind the NJDC statement and refused to apologize for anything. People who didn’t get her “art” were just too stupid for her to respond to with anything less than her usual vitriol.

Then the Anti Defamation League started knocking on her door, and the door of Mayor Dawn Zimmer. The ADL was prepared to denounce Pincus for her Nazi-themed attack on Hoboken’s first Jewish councilwoman. This would have brought in a throng of New York City reporters who have been sniffing around the story for days. Zimmer couldn’t have that, and the pressure grew on Pincus to “make this go away.”

Zimmer wants the issue gone before she gets back

Mayor Dawn Zimmer has conveniently avoided comment on the Pincus matter because she’s been down in Atlantic City all week for the League of Municipalities convention hiding from local reporters. That ends tomorrow, and Hoboken411 has learned at least two NYC TV reporters plan to be in Hoboken covering the Pincus story. A letter of condemnation from the ADL would have brought a lot more to town. Pincus did just enough to keep the ADL at bay, for now.

Pincus negotiates with ADL to avoid condemnation

To avoid being denounced again, Pincus had to offer some act of contrition to New Jersey ADL Regional Director Etzion Neuer. Hoboken411 has not spoken with Neuer, but the-not-quite-daily paper out of Jersey City reports after Neuer spoke with Pincus (and apparently informed her of the consequences should she fail to apologize) she agreed to offer a half-hearted statement.

The rub? The apology she gives doesn’t apply to Beth Mason and Tim Occhipinti, the two people she assigned Nazi imagery to.

Pincus is bragging about the fact that she offers no apology to Mason in particular, or Lane Bajardi, who first brought the Nazi-themed attack to the city council’s attention on Monday. Instead, she continues to peddle a “conspiracy theory” that Bajardi wants her seat on the Zoning Board.

“I don’t want her seat, or any seat on the Zoning Board,” says Bajardi, who adds, “This was about calling out a public official for a pattern of vile acts. The high level of sheer hatred that comes from Pincus and her associated bloggers is terribly destructive to the community.” He went on to say, “Good people can disagree with each other about government affairs without stooping to the level of placing faces on Nazi propaganda posters or in punch bowls of human excrement. Not only is it conduct unbecoming of a public official. It’s unbecoming of a human being.”

Pincus is only apologizing to people who are `genuine`

Instead of apologizing to everyone offended by her actions, Pincus has chosen to say – quote – “I did not mean to hurt anyone who’s genuine. I’m not talking about the political operatives.” To Pincus, anyone in Hoboken who does not agree with Mayor Zimmer is a “political operative” open to her ridicule and vicious attacks.

Here’s a look at the non-apology letter that got the ADL to back off.

The short version: “I’ll apologize to the ADL to get them off my back, but no apologies to the people I’ve hurt in this process, because they deserve it for daring to disagree with her lordship, Dawn Zimmer.” Keep in mind Pincus actually ratcheted up her rhetoric until the ADL came calling. That was enough for certain people close to the Mayor to say, “Enough is enough, make this go away before Dawn gets back.”

But is it enough? Hoboken411 hears there are more shoes yet to drop. See the original story and comment on the latest developments below.

11/17/2010 Update:

National Jewish Democratic Council condemns Pincus

Nazi Imagery wrong, period.

The National Jewish Democratic Council condemns Hoboken, NJ Zoning Board Member Nancy Pincus (D-NJ) for her graphic that compares Hoboken City Councilmember Beth Mason (D-NJ) to the Nazis.

Sadly, this is another example of an office holder invoking the Holocaust to attack their political opponent. While the vast majority of such examples have stemmed from today’s conservative movement and from Republican candidates, elected officials and activists, it is always wrong to engage in such rhetoric. As we have said repeatedly, comparing elected officials to the Nazis, whether perpetrated by a Republican or a Democrat, elected official or activist, is never acceptable.

Particularly striking though, is that Pincus does not seem to understand the significance of her actions:

Pincus, in a phone interview on Tuesday morning, said that the anger … expressed on Monday night wasn’t sincere, but merely politics:

“I know there’s a political operation underway to get me off the Zoning Board,” said Pincus, whose term is up in 2013.

Pincus appears to not consider Nazi comparisons offensive:

“It’s satire,” said Pincus. “The only people who are offended, are those who want to be offended.”

Pincus’ graphic is not mere satire, and such comparisons are always wrong. Period.

11/16/2010:

Nazi graphic from Zoning Board Member goes too far

Embattled Hoboken Zoning Board member Nancy Pincus was criticized by her own city council allies last night for using Nazi imagery to attack council members Beth Mason and Tim Occhipinti. Pincus has her own little-read blog where she attacks people who criticize Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her allies. She also contributes Photoshopped political attacks to other blogs set up to parrot the Zimmer Administration party line. You may recall how Pincus placed candidates who opposed Kids First in a punch bowl full of human excrement last spring.

Pincus: fecal soup first, fascist imagery next

Pincus churns out daily doses of offensive material, but none more disturbing then her effort to take the 1934 Nazi propaganda film poster for “Triumph of the Will” (starring Adolf Hitler) and conform it to modern day Hoboken with images of Mason and Occhipinti.

Pincus has close connections to Mayor Dawn Zimmer. She designed some of Mike Lenz’s recent campaign fliers, and has done the same for Zimmer and Kids First. She’s also the webmaster/designer for Councilman Peter Cunningham’s re-election website. Local resident Lane Bajardi approached the council last night to express his objections to the Nazi imagery Pincus used to attack her political enemies:

In the video, each of Zimmer’s four allies on the council is called on to denounce Pincus, and does so in their own way.

Councilman Mike Russo then asks Corporation Counsel Mark Tabakin what the council’s options are regarding removal of Pincus from the Zoning Board. Tabakin called Pincus’ use of fascist imagery against the first elected Jewish councilwoman in Hoboken history “clearly something disturbing on many, many levels,” adding he will look into seeing whether the council has a legal remedy to remove her.

What if Cammarano had done this to Zimmer?

Where this will go next is anyone’s guess. If supporters of Peter Cammarano had used this kind of attack on Dawn Zimmer, there would have been rallies in the streets. To their credit, Zimmer’s council allies denounced Pincus last night, but others say those who denied they ever saw these graphics when they were first published on multiple pro-Zimmer sites may be stretching the truth.

How far is too far for Hoboken’s political discourse? Should Pincus lose her seat over her continued bad behavior?

Share your outrage or apathy below in Hoboken’s most-read comments section.