Editor's note: This post has been updated and expanded.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
Steven V. Gelber worked tirelessly for the Citizens for Change slate in last May's Hackensack municipal election, and was most visible after the polls closed, quickly counting the votes that confirmed the reformers' victory.
But in recent months, Gelber has turned against members of the new City Council, accusing them of the same kind of cronyism and abuse of power that marked three decades of rule by the Zisa family and their defeated council allies.
At Monday night's council work session, Gelber, who writes the Hackensack Scoop.com blog, spoke passionately against making acting City Manager Anthony Rottino permanent.
Rottino was a key member of the Citizens for Change campaign, providing advice and introductions to donors.
But Gelber said Rottino had no municipal-management experience and even listed several monetary "judgments" against the official, who also is the city's economic development director with a total salary of $176,000 plus benefits.
The controversy is played out today on The Record's Local front, where Staff Writer Christopher Maag reports a majority of council members are engaged in "a power struggle" with the mayor and deputy mayor "for control of city government."
Maag incorrectly calls Citizens for Change the "Team for Change."
Three against two
Maag says three council members -- Leo Battiglia, David Sims and Rose Greenman -- may try to vote at tonight's public meeting to make Rottino permanent, against the wishes of Mayor John Labrosse and Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino.
Labrosse and Canestrino recently stopped using Thom Ammirato, their former campaign manager and now the city's chief spokesman, to write their press releases, but Ammirato held on to his full $78,000 salary.
Labrosse said when Ammirato was given a one-year city contract, he didn't tell the mayor he had a full-time job with Bergen County and other side jobs providing public relations to Republican officials, as revealed in Gelber's blog.
Gelber faulted the City Council for not launching a statewide or nationwide search for a city manager.
He ended his comments by telling council members, "Get rid of your cronies!"
|On Monday night, the City Council heard a presentation on a proposed Atlantic Street Park downtown, near the city's Cultural Arts Center and a 222-unit apartment building, both still under construction.|