Tag Archive: Michael Wildes

One Good Turn Deserves Another: An Open Letter to Frank Lautenberg

Dear Senator Lautenberg:

I am writing to ask you to endorse your good friend and political ally, Congressman Steve Rothman, whose political career is on the line this Tuesday, June 5, when he faces Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. in the primary election in New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District.

You more than anyone should know what it means to have your career be on the line in a primary election.  After victoriously returning to the United States Senate as the replacement candidate for disgraced former Senator Robert “When did we become such an unforgiving people?” Torricelli (who Pascrell supported when Torricelli was considering a gubernatorial run in 2000-2001) in 2002, you were challenged in 2008 by Congressman Rob Andrews, a minion of Norcrossippi party boss, George Norcross, and in an attempt to flex his political muscles outside of his Norcrossippi fiefdom, Norcross reached out to the other party bosses.

One of these bosses was Bergen County Bossman Joe Ferriero, who for some time had been embroiled in a feud with the progressive State Senator Loretta Weinberg and was looking for allies who could help him defeat her once and for all.  Ferriero and Norcross were on the verge of striking a deal that would provide Ferriero with the help that he was seeking in return for him delivering the BCDO’s party line to Rob Andrews, which would have likely produced a domino effect that would have also resulted in Andrews getting the lines in other Democratic strongholds in North and Central Jersey, almost guaranteeing him victory in the primary election.

How ConVENient!

The state of NJ, even though they haven’t a clue about how to get COAH workable at the moment, made darn sure that municipalities had to submit their COAH plans by Dec 31, dammit.  Or else.  

Well, in Englewood, a Planning Board assembled by the Mayor himself, Michael Wildes, made sure the City found out what the “Or Else” meant.  You see, the City Council made sure they sent their COAH plan to the Planning Board in time to meet the deadline. ( In Tenafly we realized our plan wouldn’t be perfect either, but we had to meet the unrealistic deadline – we would definitely have to revise and amend the plan later due to the extremely unreasonable pressure placed on us by the incompetent Keystone Cops of COAH in Trenton.) Well, because the Planning Board decided not to hurry, the City missed the COAH deadline.  And so, guess who was waiting in the wings to profit from the “apparent” oversight and late filing?

Hekemian.  Business partner of one Mike Kasparian former President of the company.

http://www.northjersey.com/new…  

Before you could blink, they hit Englewood with a lawsuit – a builder’s remedy lawsuit, about not having a COAH plan.  Now remember, TRENTON dictated the unrealistic deadline and Englewood missed it by mere days. “How ConVENient!” the church lady would say.

The reason why this is SO infuriating to Englewood Dems and the reason they voted to REJECT the election of Kasparian to the BCDO Chairman is that they have a history with these guys. HKT attempted to take over downtown with emininent domain.  The K in HKT stands for Kasparian.

Here is a little story about Englewood and emminent domain from 1999, just ten years ago:

Englewood

In 1999, the City of Englewood designated a 60-acre redevelopment zone, and began working with developer Hekemian Kasparian Troast LLC (HKT) on a plan to replace an industrial area with an office/retail/residential development. Under the $500-million proposal, HKT would cover all of the City’s costs in condemning properties and relocating the displaced businesses. Also, the developer would own and manage the development. In order to accommodate HKT, City officials claimed that the properties targeted for condemnation were blighted and had caused a steady erosion of Englewood’s tax base. However, the City’s own study of the area found that active businesses occupied, or had plans to develop in the near future, more than 97 percent of the properties within the redevelopment area. The study also determined that only three of the 37 properties were poorly maintained, and only one building was not occupied and productive. Furthermore, most of the disputed land was located within one single office-industrial park that generated 1.2 million per year in property taxes. In June 2001, 19 of the targeted property owners sued Englewood, seeking to reverse its 1999 designation and stop HKT’s attempt to steal their land. The owners argued that the City’s own findings contradicted the claim that there was ‘lack of proper utilization of land, which was necessary to justify eminent domain.  Those issues never got decided, however, because the owners discovered that the City had failed to publish a proper notice of its 1999 hearings. The lack of notice was a “fatal defect,” ruled Judge Jonathan N. Harris, a New Jersey Superior Court judge. The judge dismissed the condemnation actions.

At first, City officials retaliated with a smear campaign in which they distributed fliers portraying the challenging property owners as greedy individuals willing to use “scare tactics” to preserve their “tax haven.” David Ulrich, one of the owners, explained why he brought the lawsuit: “I don’t think anybody down here is against the concept of redevelopment. Our concern from the beginning is, “Do not threaten to take away our properties.”  City leaders implied that they would simply approve another plan, without making any technical mistakes this time. In the end, however, HKT came up with a modified development proposal, one that won’t require condemning property. This project features 350 apartments, an 11-story office building, three retail structures and a parking garage, and can be accomplished without the City resorting to eminent domain.

It was just a technicality that saved Englewood property owners temporarily from condemnation of their properties for the private gain of Mr. Kasparian.  Some Democrat.

You also may remember why Hekemian was in the news recently in Englewood:

http://www.northjersey.com/new…

Michael Wildes got to help dispense “gifts” from Hekemian to his favorite charities in Englewood just a month or two before these same “humanitarians” slapped the very same city with a COAH builder’s remedy lawsuit they apparently had in the works BEFORE the City even missed the Dec 31 deadline. For land located in a COMMERCIAL zone.

Like I said – “How ConVENient!”

So, how is Joe Ferriero related to this story?  He was HKT’s land use attorney.

What is really sad and infuriating about this whole saga for Englewood is that they have actually built affordable housing there.  They were acting in good faith to submit their plan on time.  But the Mayor’s minions saw fit to leave the door wide open for the fox to get into the henhouse.

I don’t care if Kasparian supported Obama.  I hardly think Obama, who was a community organizer in Chicago, would approve of the way, Mr. Kasparian and his friends treat a City’s residents and business owners so cavilierly for profit. It shows to me a willingness to profit off of others backs, to twist government for that aim and to take from those who have less than you.  That is not a Democrat, my friend.  THAT is a Republican.  

If the Rs were in control right now, how much would you bet, Kasparian would be one?

Defending Pay-to-Play in Englewood

Uber-ambitious empty-suit Michael Wildes, currently “serving” as mayor of Englewood, has invented a new reason to oppose pay-to-play disclosure laws – everyone in the world is not required to file a disclosure.  The Bergen News reports:

[Wildes] continued, “There are other grounds for objection to this provision.  The Planning Board acts as a quasi-judicial body when it hears an application.  The proposed ordinance requires that only “applicants” make disclosures of political contributions to various persons.  The disclosure requirements, if deemed necessary, must also be applied to persons who object to applications before this Planning Board.

If disclosure is proper for an ‘applicant’, disclosure is equally proper for persons who object to proposals.  If the aim is to maximize disclosure then an objector, or his lawyer or other representative should reveal if he has made contributions to any City official or candidate for public office.  The treatment of both sides of a case under consideration must be even handed,” Mayor Wildes reasoned.

Yes, if Michael Wildes has his way, a common ordinary citizen will be prevented from opposing over-development because they did not file the financial disclosure paperwork.  If you didn’t know better, you’d think that random home-owners are buying the Planning Board off to defeat development.  Of course, the problem is that Wildes has stacked the Planning Board full of friends who have conflicts of interest with some of the developers that come before them – which has heretofore gone unnoted.  This is nothing more than Michael Wildes defending his pay-to-play income under the guise of protecting the public.  

But who protects us from Michael Wildes?

All in the Family – Starring: Michael Wildes

The Bergen Record (hat tip to Maya Kremen) has the all-too familiar news:

Mayor Michael Wildes has stocked Englewood’s Planning Board with campaign contributors and personal friends who have, in turn, voted for projects presented by other friends and donors.

Wildes, a Planning Board member himself, also has voted to approve some of those projects.

At the same time, board members, applicants, their employees and family members have donated a combined $50,775 to Wildes since he took office four years ago.

There’s no connection between contributions and appointments, the mayor said in an interview. News flash: The mayor appoints people he respects who bring professionalism to the board, and an angle that was not there before. Every mayor across the state does it.

Newsflash: I wasn’t born yesterday – and if I had been born yesterday; then I didn’t live all day for nothing.  It would seem that the Mayor – to use his words – only “respects” people after they give him money.

Six people who donated $21,225 to the mayor were appointed to the Planning Board following their initial contributions. Two are lawyers who have received business referrals from Wildes, who is also an attorney. A third is a close family friend who vacations with and was endorsed by the mayor for a council run.

Those appointees have voted as a bloc to approve projects by other Wildes donors and friends almost without exception. The mayor has recused himself on donors’ plans at least nine times.

Three times, Wildes voted to approve a project presented by a donor who contributed before or after the approval. Two of those times, he voted for plans represented by attorney Nicholas Sekas, a donor who rents Manhattan office space from the mayor and is a “very close personal friend,” Wildes said.

Sekas and another lawyer, Nicholas Doria, their family members and staff have donated a combined $17,900 to the mayor’s campaigns. Doria is Wildes’ campaign treasurer and has also received a business referral from Wildes, the mayor said.

Each of the nine applications over the past four years where Doria or Sekas was identified as the attorney were approved. The proposals sought everything from setback variances to an office building.

Doria, by the way, doesn’t even live in Englewood.  I’m sure, however, that there is no one living in the city that could serve on the Planning Board.

Bad news day for FOJ (Friends of Joe Ferriero)

What a news cycle!  The Record alone was full of bad news for Joe Ferriero:

First Headline smack on Page 1:

http://www.northjersey.com/new…

A great story about how Michael Wildes  – Joe Ferriero’s pick for LD37 State Senator last year, stacked Englewood’s Planning Board with political donors.  One of the guys put on the Board by Wildes is Joe Ferriero’s handpicked BCDO Freeholder Vernon Walton.

It is such a good article, with charts and everything, I’m thinking about sending links to everyone on the Tenafly Council.  It appears that the only folks our Mayor wants on our Boards have enough money to wipe out the national debt.  Knowledge of planning is NOT required, being a YES man IS – and an EXTREMELY wealthy one at that.  I wonder who donated to his expensive re-election campaign……….

Then on page 1 of the Local section is an article about how Joe Ferriero may just lose his re-election at the BCDO if we elect enough Real Bergen Dems on Tuesday.:

http://www.northjersey.com/pol…  The print edition has a subtitle:

County Committee vote holds key.  

Boy do they have that right.  This is going to be a bare knuckled fight right down to the wire.  Tyrants never give up the throne easily and those County Committee seats are key to this Party Boss holding onto his power.  The key thing is that an official Primary is less likely to be tampered with than Joe’s re-election vote (that happens with flimsy cardboard boxes and glowering goons in the room and NO PRESS) only a week after the Primary. So getting out the vote and having Democrats vote our column instead of Joe’s is crucial for ending Pay to Play and Joe Ferriero’s reign of terror.  As we know from bitter experience, an election carried out by Ferriero’s people is NOT a democratic affair.

Thank you Karen for explaining why this Tuesday is so vital to our Party cleaning up corruption!

As if Joe could stand to turn a few more pages, Page 1 of the Opinion section (It was a true blue Triple Front Page Tri-Fecta!):

http://www.northjersey.com/opi…

This Mike Kelly column ( I love that man) reminds everyone that the FEDS had to serve those subpoenas, because, just like in the Sopranos episode where all the boys go to Italy together, Bergen County Prosecutor Molinelli, (whose appointment had been held up by Senator Loretta Weinberg – for damn good reasons) travels to Italy every year with best buds Dennis Oury (remember him?) and Joe Coniglio (disgraced former State Senator).  Molinelli is also best buds with Joe Ferriero himself.  The really sad part is that this guy – a prosecutor – couldn’t even tell it MIGHT BE a conflict of interest to go on vacation with the guys he should be INVESTIGATING.  

(Being from Tenafly, I need to acknowledge that the Prosecutor’s STAFF worked well and quickly with our Tenafly detectives to bring Mr. Choi to justice within 36 hours of the 9-11 call for the Tenafly Rd homicides.  However, our Tenafly Police Chief had to call Mr. Molinelli with the news the bad guy had been caught while Mr. Molinelli was already in Florida.  Probably on vacation with Mr. Oury at his asset-protected dwelling.   Molinelli wanted the spotlight that Friday night – which was fine – it kept him busy while the REAL cops were busy catching the bad guy.

For comic relief in the whole extremely sad story I need to tell you that the only elected official in our town who felt the need to duck under the Police tape was our Mayor – of course.  He went under the tape and was collared by an officer who asked what he was doing there.  He started with “I’m the Mayor…”  and was abruptly told to be the Mayor on the OTHER side of the tape.  (I love our Police dept.))

Molinelli DID drop the ball.  I doubt if he ever had it in his hands in the first place.  Too bad we could not get more information about him while folks were skewering Loretta Weinberg for using senatorial courtesy to prevent the travesty of justice in the appointment of this fox to guard the henhouse.  I think we all owe Senator Weinberg an apology.  She was right all along.  Molinelli is not going to clean up corruption in Bergen County.  How can he? He doesn’t even know it when he sees it.

so discuss…….

Rothman Raises, Ferriero Folds

Less than a year after BCDO Chair Joe Ferriero backed off primary challenges to the Weinberg team in the 37th Legislative District, it looks like Ferriero will once again fold under pressure, this time to Congressman Steve Rothman.

According to PolitickerNJ, on Tuesday morning, Ferriero was about to endorse Rob Andrews for US Senate against incumbent Frank Lautenberg. Congressman Rothman, who has made no secret of his desire to eventually ascend to Lautenberg’s seat, raised Ferriero’s bet big time. Rothman reportedly threatened to run for re-election to his House seat off of the county line and alongside Lautenberg, three reformer freeholder candidates, and a field of county committee candidates recruited by State Senator Loretta Weinberg. Needless to say, Ferriero did not follow through with an Andrews endorsement on Tuesday.

Rothman’s aggressive move presents Ferriero with a dilemma. Ferriero can cautiously preserve his political power and patronage machine in Bergen County by folding to Rothman.  If Ferriero gives his line to Lautenberg and Rothman, he will almost surely stymie the challengers to his county committee members and freeholders. However, should Ferriero call Rothman’s raise, he will provoke a nine week civil war in the Bergen County party that he may not survive.

Ferriero’s history suggest that he will take the cautious route. In 2007, he tried to eliminate the progressive faction by supporting challengers to the Loretta Weinberg-led 37th district delegation in the Democratic primary. When a poll showed his slate of candidates running far behind the incumbents, he withdrew his support. Ferriero ultimately favored protecting his loyalists on the county committee, over eliminating a political rival.

Yesterday evening, the ambitious Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes tried to change the political calculus for Ferriero by offering to run for Congress against Rothman on an Andrews-led county line. But Wildes’s announcement simply reinforces Ferriero’s dilemma. Wildes merely offered Ferriero his allegiance and his money in any Ferriero-Rothman civil war.

I bet Ferriero still says no.

Campaign Roundup for Wednesday, April 2, 2008

NJ-Pres: Rasmussen poll

  • A Rasmussen poll released Monday found Republican John McCain leading both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama inside the margin of error in New Jersey.  McCain, who leads Obama 46-45 and Clinton 45-42, is boosted by his 61% favorability rating in the state.
  • NJ-Sen: The Republicans

  • An FDU poll finds that three in four Republicans don’t know who they will vote for in the upcoming US Senate primary.
  • NJ-Sen: The Democrats

  • Frank Lautenberg says he will pour $2 million of his own money into defending his seat from a Rob Andrews primary challenge.
  • Two two big New Jersey mayors, Newark’s Cory Booker and Jersey City’s Jerramiah Healy, who is also HCDO chair, are supporting Lautenberg.
  • All six New Jersey House Democrats who are running for re-election to the House this year have pledged to run on a line with Lautenberg in the primary. At least two of the six, Frank Pallone (NJ-06) and Steve Rothman (NJ-09), have senatorial ambitions of their own.
  • NJ-02: Van Drew staying out

  • Jeff Van Drew chickens out again and declines to challenge LoBiondo.
  • NJ-09: Wildes wants in

  • The power-hungry Michael Wildes wants to challenge Steve Rothman in the Democratic primary for his Congressional seat.
  • Atlantic City Mayor: Conflicts of interest?

  • Incumbent Mayor Scott Evans questioned Lorenzo Langford’s ability to serve the city that is trying to recover an $850,000 settlement from him. In return, Langford criticized the mayor for approving a $200,000 settlement for a former fire captain in the fire department where Evans served as battalion chief.
  • Wildes Star No Longer Rising

    The following is a piece by former Englewood Councilman Norm Davis from today’s Englewood Report.

    Until recently, Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes was seen as a rising star in Bergen County Democratic politics. However, a series of political setbacks in recent months has hurt his chances for political advancement. Following his reelection as Mayor last November, Wildes was announced as the Bergen County Democratic Organization’s official candidate for the District 37 State Senate seat held by Loretta Weinberg. However, as a result of a deal brokered by Governor Corzine, County Democratic Chair Joseph Ferriero withdrew his support from Wildes, leaving Weinberg unopposed in the June 5 primary.

    Real Bergen Democrats Sweep Bergenfield, Englewood

    The Real Bergen Democrats slate of candidates scored some key victories tonight. In Bergenfeld, Timothy Driscoll – who two years ago had his signature forged on a resignation letter in an attempt to disqualify him from voting in a tight special election – defeated Dolores Butler, the candidate of the same people who tried to disenfranchise him.

    His running mates – Barry Doll and Councilman Bruce Carlson – defeated BCDO candidates Carlos Aguasvivas and John Person.

    In Ward 2 of Englewood, Council President Charlotte Bennett Schoen defeated BCDO candidate Marvin Anault.

    In Fort Lee, Councilman Michael Villano – the Real Bergen Democrats mayoral candidate – lost to the current mayor Jack Alter.

    Bergen County Sheriff Leo McGuire (BCDO) held on to his seat by defeating Allen Gailes, Jr (RBD).

      Bergenfield
       

        Mayor
        Timothy Driscoll  (RBD)  623
        Dolores Butler    (BCDO) 529

        Council
        Bruce Carlson     (RBD)  644
        Barry Doll        (RBD)  588
        Carlos Aguasvivas (BCDO) 511
        John Person       (BCDO) 468

      Englewood, Ward 2

        Council
        Charlotte Bennett Schoen (RBD)  411
        Marvin Anault            (BCDO) 335