More on the “Jersey Sting”

Jersey Sting authors defend Michael Russo,

call Pay-to-Play law a “well-intentioned failure.”

The authors of The Jersey Sting were back in Hoboken Saturday afternoon to discuss their book at the library on 5th and Park. By request of the Mayor (and to promote publicity for their book) writers Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin released the videotape of Russo’s meeting with FBI informant Solomon Dwek. Russo said some stupid things he has since apologized for, but nothing seen on the videotape was illegal, and there were never any charges filed against him.

The Q&A session was designed to give Zimmer’s supporters another shot at headlines attacking Russo. It backfired when Margolin took the opportunity to clear the record and lay out a very different take on Russo’s actions:

“Whatever you want to say about Councilman Russo and what he said or did not say on the tape or what he said or did not say about that meeting afterwards, lets understand he did not take any money. We were surprised there were not more people like that on the surveillance tapes… Regardless of the spiel at the diner, he didn’t come back for the cash. He was a good guy because he didn’t come back for the cash.”

– Jersey Sting co-author Josh Margolin

Margolin also went on to personally support Russo’s videotaped claims that the Pay-to-Play laws had not been the effective deterrents their authors hoped they to be.

“I personally believe that we need to throw out all campaign finance regulations and start from scratch. I think that Pay to Play Reform has been a well-intentioned failure because I can tell you as somebody that spent a considerable amount of time in front of a computer screen trying to figure out who is giving money to whom, Pay-to-Play reform has made it that much more difficult.”

– Josh Margolin

Sherman backed Margolin up, saying, “It’s just murkied the waters so much. People find ways around… you put up a roadblock someplace and the money flows someplace else.” He noted it’s now harder for truth-seekers and reporters to find out who is actually funding certain campaigns than it was before Pay-to-Play laws were enacted in New Jersey.

Authors don’t take the bait…

…Zimmer supporters offer politically loaded questions

The audience was predominantly made up of supporters of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, including appointees to the Zoning, Planning, Housing Authority and Library boards along with her husband (aka The Shadow Mayor) and candidates for City Council. They were hoping for more bombshells to drop on their opponents. Instead, they were handed a big dose of reality.

Authors clear the air on how they got the non-public videos

Margolin and Sherman also made it clear that the videotapes were leaked to them by their sources and were not obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark (then staffed with loyalists to now-Governor Chris Christie) has been accused of using Operation Bid Rig for maximum political impact against Christie’s enemies during the gubernatorial election.

Zimmer attempted to do the same with the release of the Russo video. Though her minions claim the video was originally given to the authors through official channels, Sherman and Margolin laid that lie to rest with their statement that the tapes were in fact given to them by sources.

These sources later allowed them to be released, and ultimately used for political gain by the Mayor and her choice for 3rd ward council. That candidate – Greg “lincolnlogger” Lincoln, has called Hoboken411 “a site for neo-Nazis” because it doesn’t tow the Mayor’s party line. Ironically, inviting Margolin and Sherman back to Hoboken for political gain backfired on Zimmer.

See the original Russo/Dwek videotapes, and the councilman’s apology below…

Russo’s repentance follows weak “protest” from usual political players

April 7, 2011

At last night’s regular Hoboken City Council meeting, 3rd Ward representative Michael Russo listened as speakers criticized his words on a just-released FBI surveillance tape.

His comments came at the end of debate of a resolution to denounce his actions and call for the release of video and audio tapes of other Hoboken political figures who spoke with and/or met with Solomon Dwek. Russo resigned his post as Vice President of the City Council, and Council President Beth Mason – who unleashed a stinging rebuke of Russo’s actions this week – personally removed him as Chairman of the Revenue and Finance committee when he declined to resign that role. Here are Russo’s comments at the meeting:

Staged “Rally”

A pre-meeting “rally” in front of city hall was little more than a staged event by (a few dozen) political appointees of Dawn Zimmer and wanna-be council people running with Zimmer’s endorsement in the May elections.

Many people commented the rally was a pathetic joke compared with the much larger community turnout against former Mayor Peter Cammarano who – unlike Russo – actually took illegal bribes from Dwek.

Meanwhile, there were calls for the public to see ALL of the videotaped meetings with Dwek, including those reported involving Zimmer Public Safety Director Angel Alicea (who ran on Peter Cammarano’s ticket for City Council in 2009) as well as Hoboken Housing Authority board member Jake Stuiver and Council President Beth Mason.

There were also calls to release the recorded phone calls of Solomon Dwek and Hoboken Shadow Mayor Stan Grossbard. The Mayor’s diamond-dealing husband wanted Zimmer to meet with Dwek, and tried to schedule a meeting to make it happen.

Russo steps down as Council VP; Occhipinti sworn in to replace

Michael Russo steps down from VP job and Beth Mason removes him as Revenue and Finance committee chair.

Tim Occhipinti is the new City Council Vice President in a 7-2 vote, with Peter Cunningham and Carol Marsh voting against. Ravi Bhalla and Dave Mello voted for Occhipinti after a motion to elect Mello VP failed.

Russo meets with Dwek; accepts no money

4/5/2011:

The people that follow Hudson County Politics closely, most certainly have already seen the hidden camera footage of 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo having lunch with Solomon Dwek (who was the mole that got many polticians, Rabbi’s and more arrested as part of the 2009 FBI sting operation – which sent former Mayor Peter Cammarano to jail).

Click here to see the videos.

How would you ultimately judge Russo?

Here are some points to consider:

  • Russo wasn’t arrested, nor did he commit a crime.
  • When entertaining possible campaign donors – one might expect a candidate to “play along” with the potential contributor, to vet them out, see what their true intentions are. In this case – Russo claimed he felt uncomfortable by the end of the meeting, and never received money or met with Dwek and his friends again.
  • However, in the video – Russo did say things that should never come out of any politicians mouth – whether he intended to follow through or not. Bragging about governmental power & control, and shrugging off the importance of Pay to Play ethics are strong statements – and you certainly expect more from your councilman.
  • 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason issued this statement today regarding the videos that surfaced. She said she was “shocked and disturbed” about how Russo represented himself at the meeting, and re-confirmed her independence and support of strong pay-to-play laws.
  • For arguments sake, you can also draw comparisons if you want. Zimmer supporters aren’t holding her feet to the fire – despite bold public promises of a “detailed plan to cut taxes 25% in the first year alone” – and not following through. If the “public criticism” playing field was equal, her own supporters would be lambasting her for failed promises & spoken words. While Russo exhibited very poor character, his opponents are convicting him for actions he never took.
  • I guess in the end – it’s along the same lines as flirting at a bar. If he was out with his buddies after a softball game, and a conversation with a woman had suggestive innuendos, but he ended up going home to his wife & kid instead. While his bold words don’t speak well for integrity, he should have represented Hoboken with more respect and honor.

What do you think of this whole situation? Should Russo’s feet be held to the fire? Or was it his ultimate response all that counts?

Mike Russo Surveillance video 1 of 3

Mike Russo Surveillance video 2 of 3

Mike Russo Surveillance video 3 of 3

Leave a Reply

80 Comments on "More on the “Jersey Sting”"

adamc
Member
adamc

Russo did not take a bribe.

But what he did do was tell us exactly how those 3 random people got onto Beth Mason’s city council ticket when she ran for Mayor – Russo himself picked them. The fun in this town never ends!

HoneyDew
Member
HoneyDew

Don’t forget he also told us he could squeeze people because of his HHA appointment.

Don’t worry though. He was “young and brash” lo those many (2) years ago.[quote comment=”206655″]Russo did not take a bribe.But what he did do was tell us exactly how those 3 random people got onto Beth Mason’s city council ticket when she ran for Mayor – Russo himself picked them. The fun in this town never ends![/quote]

whineanddineinhob
Member
whineanddineinhob

……..and YOU should remember that NO ONE came forth and said they WERE squeezed by this appointment. Yes he was “young and brash” and you can include ignorant and stupid. But he never met with this informer again, and was NEVER convicted of any crime.[quote comment=”206661″]Don’t forget he also told us he could squeeze people because of his HHA appointment. Don’t worry though. He was “young and brash” lo those many (2) years ago.

[/quote]

HoneyDew
Member
HoneyDew

Not being convicted doesn’t mean he’s innocent.

2 years is not that long ago. He’s still that same guy. Come on. Do you really think he’s changed drastically in two years? Do you think he really grew up between 32 and 34? I don’t. I’ve watched him at meetings. The only 2 meetings he wasn’t full of swagger was the one after the tapes were released & last night. Last night I think his grandmother’s death (god rest her soul) weighed heavily upon him. Last month he had to look contrite, but I think he wasn’t.

Russo is one small misstep from jail in my opinion.[quote comment=”206673″]……..and YOU should remember that NO ONE came forth and said they WERE squeezed by this appointment. Yes he was “young and brash” and you can include ignorant and stupid. But he never met with this informer again, and was NEVER convicted of any crime.

[/quote]

whineanddineinhob
Member
whineanddineinhob

HoneyDew, innocent of what? No one is saying that he didn’t say the things he said. This sting operation convicted individuals of taking bribes, not talking about them. All I can say is I HOPE Russo has changed. As for Tim, I could care less where he reads from while at meetings. It’s the results in the 4th Ward that have people impressed. The Zimmer and Lenz years in the 4th have left that ward very very neglected. [quote comment=”206675″]Not being convicted doesn’t mean he’s innocent.2 years is not that long ago. He’s still that same guy. Come on. Do you really think he’s changed drastically in two years? Do you think he really grew up between 32 and 34? I don’t. I’ve watched him at meetings. The only 2 meetings he wasn’t full of swagger was the one after the tapes were released & last night. Last night I think his grandmother’s death (god rest her soul) weighed heavily upon him. Last month he had to look contrite, but I think he wasn’t.Russo is one small misstep from jail in my opinion.

[/quote]

homeworld
Member

He bragged that Mason is his pawn. Has she denied this?[quote comment=”206655″]Russo did not take a bribe.But what he did do was tell us exactly how those 3 random people got onto Beth Mason’s city council ticket when she ran for Mayor – Russo himself picked them. The fun in this town never ends![/quote]

4th Ward Guardian
Member
4th Ward Guardian

Homey, I guess you didn’t watch the first city council meeting after the tapes were made public. Not only did Mason deny it, she lit into him about his claims about picking her council slate. She was pretty pissed and didn’t pull any punches. Russo also admitted he lied about the Mason thing and was just trying to puff himself up in front of a campaign contributor and some leeches who operate in county political circles.

You see the classic Zimmer fan double standard at work here with Honeydoofus. Russo was 34 years old when he had his meeting with Dwek, and Honeydoofus wants you to reject his “I was young and brash” apology. The same Zimmer fans claim voters should ignore Tom Greaney’s bankruptcy because “he was young and it’s in the past” but guess what? Greaney was 35 when he ran up $43 grand in credit card debt.

I agree Russo was old enough to know better. So was Greaney.
[quote comment=”206659″]He bragged that Mason is his pawn. Has she denied this?

[/quote]

HoneyDew
Member
HoneyDew

I think Greaney’s bankruptcy is pertinent information that should have been disclosed. I don’t think 35 is young and stupid. I don’t think I said I did. The only reason I pick him over Beth is that I think Beth is an idiot. Do you not watch her struggle at council meetings? She is not what I’d consider intelligent.[quote comment=”206678″]Homey, I guess you didn’t watch the first city council meeting after the tapes were made public. Not only did Mason deny it, she lit into him about his claims about picking her council slate. She was pretty pissed and didn’t pull any punches. Russo also admitted he lied about the Mason thing and was just trying to puff himself up in front of a campaign contributor and some leeches who operate in county political circles. You see the classic Zimmer fan double standard at work here with Honeydoofus. Russo was 34 years old when he had his meeting with Dwek, and Honeydoofus wants you to reject his “I was young and brash” apology. The same Zimmer fans claim voters should ignore Tom Greaney’s bankruptcy because “he was young and it’s in the past” but guess what? Greaney was 35 when he ran up $43 grand in credit card debt. I agree Russo was old enough to know better. So was Greaney.

[/quote]

youme66
Member
youme66

Based on your assessment then you shouldn’t be supporting Dawn Zimmer or Rami Pinchesky. Zimmer has always struggled with public speaking. She ran for Mayor so she wouldn’t have to sit on the council anymore and endure public meeting and unprepared public speaking.

And how about Rami, the only worse marble mouthed mumbler than him is that Seigel guy.

Both Zimmer and Pinchesky sound like immature ignorant pandering idiots when they speak.

As for Greaney, he’s a major brown-noser like Rami. [quote comment=”206684″]I think Greaney’s bankruptcy is pertinent information that should have been disclosed. I don’t think 35 is young and stupid. I don’t think I said I did. The only reason I pick him over Beth is that I think Beth is an idiot. Do you not watch her struggle at council meetings? She is not what I’d consider intelligent.

[/quote]

spiffy
Member
spiffy

More alarming and disturbing that any potential corruption, why is Zimmer’s son a walking clone of of her husband Stan?

freewheelin
Member

What kind of loser thinks it’s acceptable to make negative comments about a child’s appearance? Do you also laugh at handicapped people, Spiffy? If you want to say mean-spirited things about a mayor’s child, Mike Russo should give you plenty to work with. [quote comment=”206478″]More alarming and disturbing that any potential corruption, why is Zimmer’s son a walking clone of of her husband Stan?[/quote]

youme66
Member
youme66

spiffy,

No reason to stoop to the slimy level of Dawn Zimmer’s inner circle. They regularly blog about the children of their opponents. It’s disgusting.

It’s inappropriate to bring children into these political discussions. Keep the focus on Mayor Stan and his warped ego and his puppet, Dawn. There’s plenty of fodder there.[quote comment=”206478″]More alarming and disturbing that any potential corruption, why is Zimmer’s son a walking clone of of her husband Stan?[/quote]

whineanddineinhob
Member
whineanddineinhob

Leave her children alone.[quote comment=”206478″]More alarming and disturbing that any potential corruption, why is Zimmer’s son a walking clone of of her husband Stan?[/quote]

4th Ward Guardian
Member
4th Ward Guardian

Ditto. That was inappropriate.[quote comment=”206480″]Leave her children alone.

[/quote]

Mama Luke
Member

a quote from the movie The hangover which seems to fit city hall:

“Rainman took over a casino and he was a retard”, LOL

bmacqueens
Member

Meh – scratch that part about falsely denied. Make that, “wanted to hide”.

homeworld
Member

I assume when he went home and told his Dad about the encounter he told him it sounded fishy and was probably an FBI sting.

Hoboken1954A
Member
Hoboken1954A

We are ALL free to meet with anyone,
without being persecuted for bragging!
Embellishment, unless money is taken not a crime!
Michael Russo made a very stupid mistake mouthing off.
I want him to stay on board, why?
Easy answer, he is not in DENIAL & stands his ground.
Politics is a Dirty game & I want a Strong Leader. [quote comment=”205773″]I assume when he went home and told his Dad about the encounter he told him it sounded fishy and was probably an FBI sting.[/quote]

homeworld
Member

He bragged about doing unethical and illegal things. [quote comment=”205780″]We are ALL free to meet with anyone,
without being persecuted for bragging!
Embellishment, unless money is taken not a crime!
Michael Russo made a very stupid mistake mouthing off.
I want him to stay on board, why?
Easy answer, he is not in DENIAL & stands his ground.
Politics is a Dirty game & I want a Strong Leader.

[/quote]

Hoboken1954A
Member
Hoboken1954A

He sure did, and a former President of the USA denied he had sex in the oval office, but stood his ground too & did not Step Down.Just sayin..[quote comment=”205801″]He bragged about doing unethical and illegal things. [/quote]

HearditallB4
Member
HearditallB4

President Clinton did not step down, but was impeached. Sadly enough the economy was better then than it is now, depends on how you want to view what Mr. Clinton did. Morally unethical, not the first, but the first to be “outed” so to speak and publicly flogged on national televison, for having done so. 🙁 Just wonder how many people with “celebrity” have gotten away with such immoral behavior? JMO. :([quote comment=”205810″]He sure did, and a former President of the USA denied he had sex in the oval office, but stood his ground too & did not Step Down.Just sayin..[/quote]

Hoboken1954A
Member
Hoboken1954A

IMPO, Not just celebrities.
I Prefer a leader to face the mistake publically, take their medicine
& continue to work for constituents .
A Political leader who Deny’s mistakes, never accepts accountability
for actions will only create loss of Faith by the voters..
Anyone who has courage to face their mistakes has my vote,
Primarily because I DON’T Support Lynch Mobs..[quote comment=”205824″]President Clinton did not step down, but was impeached. Sadly enough the economy was better then than it is now, depends on how you want to view what Mr. Clinton did. Morally unethical, not the first, but the first to be “outed” so to speak and publicly flogged on national televison, for having done so. Just wonder how many people with “celebrity” have gotten away with such immoral behavior? JMO. [/quote]

bmacqueens
Member

That president falsely denied screwing one particular and voluntary bimbo. By contrast, Russo falsely denied screwing 50,000 people, most of whom are unwilling. You, however strange it appears to the rest of us, seem to have enjoyed the experience.[quote comment=”205810″]He sure did, and a former President of the USA denied he had sex in the oval office, but stood his ground too & did not Step Down.Just sayin..

[/quote]

Hoboken1954A
Member
Hoboken1954A

IMPO much like the Mayor and her administration,
You try (without success) to Blacken character of those who do
not support your False accusations.
Voters like myself have been disheartened by Political Actions
of Officials before.
Displeasure (mine or anyones) is shown by VOTING THEM OUT.
IMPO “Attacking sometimes results in Retribution,”
NOT a good way to Obtain Unity,in Government or anything! [quote comment=”205813″]That president falsely denied screwing one particular and voluntary bimbo. By contrast, Russo falsely denied screwing 50,000 people, most of whom are unwilling. You, however strange it appears to the rest of us, seem to have enjoyed the experience.[/quote]

Kaiser Sosay
Member
Kaiser Sosay

yes your right and i will not defend him on his unethical coments or attitude,but giving city counsel to ian,releasing a statement that hes was the victim and that he did nothing wrong. also he is still working while the other guy is suspended without pay…thats can also being defined as unethical. then a 3rd party investigation.y,she very muck dislikes the the PD and believes any investigation by them will be tainted..thats just paranoid[quote comment=”205801″]He bragged about doing unethical and illegal things. [/quote]

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