Thursday, February 11, 2016

Zisas attempt a political comeback, upstaging Christie

Former Hackensack Mayor Jack Zisa speaking to an overflow crowd of loyalists on Wednesday night at the inaugural meeting of Team Hackensack, a new "community organization" that will back candidates in school board and municipal elections.

A banner displayed in a room at the Crow's Nest Restaurant &  Pub in Hackensack on Wednesday night, where chicken, pasta, rice and salad were served. The motto -- "One city. One future" -- wasn't explained.


The big political news in Hackensack on Wednesday had nothing to do with Governor Christie's unsurprising decision to end his presidential bid.

Instead, all eyes were on the Zisa family hosting the first meeting of Team Hackensack, a so-called community group that will back candidates in April's non-partisan school board election and next year's council race.

The Zisas ruled Hackensack for more than 30 years, beginning with the election of Frank Zisa as mayor in 1977.

Through the years, their influence was so pervasive, the city soon was cursed with the label of "Zisaville."

Zisa troika

On Wednesday night at the Crow's Nest Restaurant & Pub, supporters were greeted at the door of a meeting room by:

Former four-term Mayor Jack Zisa, former City Attorney Joseph Zisa; and disgraced former Police Chief Ken Zisa, a Democrat who once also served as a state assemblyman.

Ken Zisa, who was suspended without pay in May 2010, still faces an official misconduct charge relating to when he was police chief.

Jack Zisa told the crowd the new group, Team Hackensack, "is going to move the city forward."

No one choked on their food.


Hackensack elections are called non-partisan and candidates run under such banners as Citizens for Change, not party labels.

But party politics simmer just below the surface, and the city's Democratic Party machine was always the power behind the Zisa family political dynasty.

In 2011, 45.1% of the 19,123 registered voters were listed as Democrats, 10.4% were Republicans and 44.4% were unaffiliated.

'Real change'

After a slate of mostly Republican reformers was elected to the City Council in May 2013, they moved to eliminate past Zisa family influence by refusing to reappoint Joseph Zisa as city attorney, Richard Salkin as municipal prosecutor and the Scirocco Insurance Group as the city's insurance broker. 

Jack Zisa was a Scirocco insurance agent at the time.

At the July 1, 2013, meeting where 19 changes in municipal government were made, supporters held up signs reading, "Real change begins today!"

In the crowd

Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson, the Democrat from Englewood, was the most prominent official in the standing-room-only crowd of more than 150 people on Wednesday night at the Crow's Nest.

Also in attendance were former Councilman Jason Some, former City Manager Andrew Rottino and Board of Education member Timothy J. Hoffman.

Fat guy sings

No one is going to read all of The Record's coverage today on Christie's anticlimactic decision to return to his duties as governor of New Jersey (A-1, A-4, A-5, A-6, A-18 and L-1).

On A-6, a full-page text-and-photo graphic labeled "It's Over" makes no mention of Christie's failure to deliver on his 2009 campaign promise to lower local property taxes, among the highest in the nation.

Despite his 2% cap, taxes have continued to rise in Hackensack, and just about every other town in the state. 

State residents are relieved Christie is returning, but also bracing themselves for bitter partisan warfare in Trenton in the nearly two years the GOP bully still has in office.

More than six years after he took over, the state continues to struggle with providing basic services, including expanded mass transit, affordable housing, a fully funded state public workers' pension system and a cleaner environment.

And Christie surely has set a record by executing more than 500 vetoes, cementing his reputation as New Jersey's worst governor ever.

Bimbo, bimba

If Christie is the state's official bimbo, then reality TV "star" Teresa Giudice is the unofficial bimba, closely followed by Columnist Virginia Rohan and Editor Deirdre Sykes.

Sykes made a ridiculous choice in running Rohan's Page 1 column on Giudice signing a new book, especially when a so-called news story on the same event appears on the Local front (L-1).

Today's local-news section continues the embargo on Hackensack news.

1 comment:

  1. A reader in Hackensack found an error on A-6:

    Victor - Among all of the pages and pages of Christie reporting in today's paper, I found an error in the reporting about Christie. There is a whole page of Christie's accomplishments or lack thereof. There is a note that he headed the Republic governor's association and that the Republicans took two seats in Democratic states -- presumably Mass and Md. and did not loose any. That is not factually true. The GOP netted three governors winning open seats in Mass, Md and Arkansas and defeating an incumbent in Illinois, while loosing a seat in Pennsylvania. Pa. borders New Jersey, but The Record completely ignored that.


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