Tag Archive: Jerry Speziale

Passaic: Full text of letter requesting investigation into political motivations in Speziale hiring

We have the full letter that Assemblyman Gary Schaer sent yesterday to NJ Attorney General Paula Dow and US Attorney Paul Fishman, requesting they launch a full investigation into the hiring of former Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Speziale was a key player in Passaic Democratic politics and his sudden exit is raising questions that Speziale was a beneficiary of a politically-motivated deal orchestrated by Passaic GOP Chair Scott Rumana – and with cooperation from Gov. Chris Christie – set up to excise a key Democratic pillar in Passaic and boost the GOP’s election chances there in the November election. This follows a Sept. 14 Passaic Freeholder Board resolution urging “appropriate law enforcement agencies” investigate circumstances behind Speziale’s appointment.

Read the entire letter, on Assembly letterhead, here.

Speziale was heading into a fall re-election for his fourth 3-year term, and had amassed a $1 million warchest, a very likely re-elect. His exit was abrupt and sent Passaic Democrats into chaos. No doubt that Speziale, who got a high-paying new job, landed soft. The question for Schaer and others is what, if anything, did GOP players including the Governor do to engineer that exit, and whether it was engineered for political opportunism. In his letter, Schaer cites a Sept. 15 article in The Record quoting Rumana saying he helped arrange Speziale’s Port Authority job, with the Christie administration.  

Kicking Off the General Election Campaign

After a hard fought primary campaign, the Democratic Party is united and energized for the general election.  The progress we made in Haledon is visible throughout the town-on our streets, in our parks, and with our quality of life. And, together, we need to continue that progress for four more years.  The final two-month sprint starts today, and we need to work at every level to elect Democrats this November.  

Passaic County Democrats were hit with a bombshell when Sheriff Jerry Speziale resigned to take a job with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Although this was disappointing news, as Sheriff Speziale was a strong partner and an asset for Haledon, I am excited about our new Sheriff candidate and the unique skills he brings to the table.  Clifton Lt. Richard Berdnik is a strong candidate who will keep Passaic County families safe, efficiently manage the Sheriff Department’s budget, and bring an outside perspective to reforming our prison system.  Our Passaic County Democratic Committee meeting to ratify Berdnik was a monumental event – you can read my tweets to see how it all played out that night in Paterson.  

Up-and-down the Row B bracket the Passaic County Democratic Committee has strong candidates to serve our families and our community.  Congressman Bill Pascrell has a track record of delivering for the 8th Congressional District and Haledon specifically, bringing in stimulus dollars to renovate our infrastructure. When we needed assistance upgrading the Roe Street Park, Freeholders Terry Duffy and Pat Lepore were there for us.  Together, we worked to earmark the funds through the county open space grant program and now our children are benefiting from the upgrades and improvements.    

It’s about the process

promoted by Rosi

I want to preface this entire diary by thanking Senator Loretta Weinberg for pushing so hard to pass the Party Democracy Act.  Last night’s transparent process would not have occurred without this very important law.

Last night the Passaic County Democratic Committee convened in Paterson to nominate a replacement candidate for Sheriff, following the sudden and abrupt departure of Jerry Speziale who accepted a position with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  

After a lengthy process of checking in members of the County Committee – verifying addresses and identities – the meeting was started with a speech from Chairman John Currie on how the process was to be conducted.  First, the floor was opened for nominations to Chair the meeting.  Bill Pascrell III was nominated, seconded, and unanimously elected (by voice vote) to chair the meeting.  

Next, the floor was opened for nominations for Sheriff.  County committee members nominating candidates for consideration were each given two minutes to speak on behalf of their candidate.  Former Paterson Police Chief Larry Spagnola was nominated and seconded, and chose to address the committee on his own behalf.  Clifton Police Lieutenant Richard Berdnik, the choice of Chairman Currie, was then nominated and seconded as a candidate.  Both Congressman Bill Pascrell and Chairman Currie spoke on his behalf.  

Following the speeches there was a motion to close the nominations – which was passed – and voting began via secret ballot.  Members filed into a backroom in alphabetical order according to municipality.  Each person was given a note card (stamped with an official logo to prevent any fraud), and lawyers from both sides monitored as members dropped their secret ballot into a box.  After voting concluded, the meeting was reconvened and each ballot was read one-by-one. As Rosi reported last night, Mr. Berdnik won the contest in convincing fashion.  

Frankly, neither candidate excited me.  Both are recent converts to the Democratic Party – Spagnola only registering twelve days ago, and Berdnik switching affiliations in 2005. I was most interested in the process, and I will say, it was very transparent and fair.  Chairman Currie did a fine job in following the parameters of the Party Democracy Act and for that he should be applauded. People around Passaic County and New Jersey should realize how much this law empowers rank-and-file members to exert their influence on the political process. If we want better candidates, more accountable representatives, and a better democracy, this law is the best weapon anyone could ask.  

Passaic County Municipal Races: Woodland Park

From the diaries: Keep these local updates coming. I sure hope Hawthorne doesn’t have to change its name to finally flip from red to blue. Our slate will be announced tonight. -JG

Woodland Park (formerly known as West Paterson) is another Passaic County example of a Republican controlled town that was taken over by Democrats who worked hard and had a plan in place.   In 2001 the Council was 7-1 Republican, with a recently elected Republican Mayor.  Currently, the control is 8-0 Democratic with a Democratic Mayor; this did not happen accidentally.  A relatively small group of dedicated individuals were able to bring more people into the process, develop new political strategies, and use resources outside of their town to create a winning formula.  

Before 2000, the only Democrat elected to the Council was Ruth Patterson (who as Wally Edge noted, is retiring after several terms).  During the 2000 election, WP Democrats used the enthusiasm from a presidential year, an aggressive door-to-door campaign, and a newly concentrated absentee ballot program.  Additionally, they capitalized on a community issue, in this case, Republican elected officials with several family members working within the municipal government.  This effort resulted in the election of school board member Dominick DiDomenico and then Recreation Commission Chairwoman Tina Gatti.