Vincent Capuana

In Passaic and Bayonne: the Scarinci factor

In at least two special elections for mayor on Nov. 4th – in Passaic and Bayonne - attroney and big money Democratic Party donor Donald Scarinci stands to lose money if the other side wins.

In Passaic, Scarinci’s powerful firm, Scarinci and Hollenbeck, has the lucrative city attorney contract, with a base salary as high as $600,000 annually, not including add-ons.

City supervisor Vincent Capuana says if elected mayor he would look at trimming the firm from the payroll.

Countering that claim on the day he endorsed former School Board President Alex Blanco, Acting Mayor Gary Schaer said Capuana’s designs on in-house legal work likely wouldn’t save the city money.

In Bayonne, Scarinci represents Fidelco-Roseland Property, a residential developer of the Bayonne peninsula, site of the former Military Ocean Terminal.

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In a tough political landscape, Schaer bets on Blanco - and Lucianin

Acting Mayor Gary Schaer: Politicker file photoActing Mayor Gary Schaer: Politicker file photo

PASSAIC - With his career at the state level apparently in ascendency, a handful of Trenton allies didn’t think Assemblyman Gary Schaer(D-Passaic), the new chairman of the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, should get in the middle of this ground-level, five-man mayor’s contest.

Other factors are already at work, none of them good, including a jailed former mayor, two busted former councilmen who are still visible in city politics, a third councilman defiantly digging in on the governing body against federal corruption charges, and an impaneled grand jury, which each day threatens to intrude on the campaign process by toppling yet another public official.

Moreover, some of the candidates competing - seemingly nice guys - in any event seemed too close to the man everyone still refers to around here as "Sammy," as in Sammy Rivera, the former mayor who had a good run for about five years before corruption caught up with him in his second term and the feds bagged him on bribery charges.

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Blanco denies involvement in Soto-Rivera scheme

Blanco denies involvement in Soto-Rivera scheme

Former School Board President Alex Blanco: Politicker photoFormer School Board President Alex Blanco: Politicker photo

Passaic mayoral candidate Alex Blanco says he is not the high-ranking public official implicated in a new indictment of former Councilman Jonathan Soto.  

Federal prosecutors added to Soto’s indictment yesterday, alleging the former councilman received cash payments from undercover agents posing as health insurance contractors. The government says Soto received money in exchange for exercising his official authority to secure business with the City of Passaic, including the Board of Education.

Blanco, who served as school board president during the time, insisted he never played any role in the case.

"I absolutely deny any involvement in that, and I unequivocally deny that Mr. Soto solicited any payments on my behalf," said Blanco, who called Wednesday’s news regarding Soto "shocking."

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Sandoval self-funding mayoral campaign in Passaic

Jose Sandoval is self funding his bid for Mayor of PassaicJose Sandoval is self funding his bid for Mayor of Passaic
In his filing this week with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), Passaic real estate developer Jose Sandoval showed the richest mayoral campaign, although he slightly trails city supervisor/School Board President Vincent Capuana in cash on-hand. Sandoval lent his campaign $47,830, which is entirely how he’s funded his run. He reported a closing balance of $1,007.85.

Capuana has raised $10,633, and reported a closing balance of $2,116.58. City Councilman/landlord Joe Garcia reported $18,800 raised, which includes a self-loan to his campaign in the amount of $7,500. He closed this period with $539.45 in the bank.

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Only in New Jersey

Marcellus Jackson, who resigned his seat as a Passaic City Councilman after admitting that he took $26,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent, remains involved in politics as a he awaits sentencing.  According to a report by's Max Pizarro, Passaic mayoral candidate Vincent Capuana has ackowledged that Jackson has been volunteering on his campaign.  Last night, he worked the door at a Capuana fundraiser collecting money from donors. “Twenty years of friendship are 20 years of friendship,” said Capuana campaign manager Jose Alex Ybarra told Pizarro.   “Loyalty is very big with many of us.” 

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Challenged by rival in Passaic mayor's race, Ellen stands by his story

Mayoral candidate Carl Ellen: Politicker photoMayoral candidate Carl Ellen: Politicker photoPASSAIC - One candidate’s revelation that someone offered him a bribe to get out of the mayor’s race has touched off a battle of words between the campaigns of two old friends, who grew up in the same neighborhood here.

Carl Ellen, a candidate for mayor in the City of Passaic, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office today postponed until next Thursday what Ellen described as his scheduled Grand Jury appearance.

"I was told to appear at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Trenton at 10 a.m.," said the candidate.

Ellen yesterday said he received a subpoena from U.S. Attorney Chris Christie’s office to answer questions about a $25,000 bribe the local businessman said someone offered him as a reward for getting out of the mayor’s race.

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Passaic Jews host online mayoral forum

School Board President Vincent Capuana: Politicker photoSchool Board President Vincent Capuana: Politicker photoPASSAIC - If body language is one of those factors observers use to score debates, on Sunday evening they could at least imagine four mayoral candidates frantically typing answers to questions posed by a moderator at Passaic

"Arranging an online chat session with mayoral candidates is one of the crazier things I've done in my life," admitted debate organizer Moshe Feigin in an email written shortly after the conclusion of the two-hour forum.School Board member Dr. Alex Blanco: Politicker photoSchool Board member Dr. Alex Blanco: Politicker photo

The public could make judgements about the various candidate’s speed in response, as answer after answer appeared on screen, registered by physician Alex Blanco, School Board President Vincent Capuana, and real estate developer Jose Sandoval on a broad range of topics.

Citing a family emergency, bailbondsman Carl Ellen did not participate in the online debate.

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Garcia, the crowd, and the questions

Garcia, the crowd, and the questions

Councilman Jose "Joe" Garcia: Politicker file photoCouncilman Jose "Joe" Garcia: Politicker file photo 

PASSAIC - The streets throb with Mariachi rhythms as the floats and red, white and green-draped cars move slowly through Passaic and the public men and women wave to the crowds that spill finally into the yard of Public School Number 11 in the 2nd Ward: a confluence of food, flags, bodies and music.

All pay homage to Mexican independence.

The lead singer dances on stage and sing about Mexico and women, and arms in the crowd sway to the horns and guitars and in the background in the middle of supporters wearing red shirts with his name printed on them stands a subdued man in a gray suit.

Councilman Jose "Joe" Garcia shakes hands with a lot of people who pass. They know him. He has nine children, and has served on the School Board for 12 years, and as councilman for the last seven years.

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Fernandez defiant as rumors dog Garcia candidacy

Councilman Gerardo Fernandez: Politicker photoCouncilman Gerardo Fernandez: Politicker photo 

PASSAIC - The arrest last week of Passaic City Councilman Gerardo Fernandez on corruption charges dredged up the Sammy Rivera era again in the middle of a mayor’s election.

A candidate for mayor, Councilman Joe Garcia was on the governing body when the now disgraced and jailed Rivera told an FBI plant that he could deliver four votes on the City Council in favor of a dummy insurance contract.

Garcia defenders say Councilman/mayoral candidate Garcia was not one of Rivera’s four sure bet votes, but rumors persist.

An indictment already identified Councilman Marcellus Jackson as one of the council people implicated in the failed Rivera scheme. Former Councilman Jonathan Soto was also implicated.

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For Capuana and Ellen, the local roots run deep

School Board President Vincent Capuana: Politicker photoSchool Board President Vincent Capuana: Politicker photo 

PASSAIC - On Main Street, the tower looms over everything like the past.

Vincent Capuana and Carl Ellen grew up here together and now they’re running against each other for mayor in this immigrant city dominated by an old Art Deco building you can see all the way from the high ground in Paterson, which teemed with business 40 years ago, and now stands abandoned.

The Sicilian, and the African-American from Macon, Georgia came of age in the same Washington Place neighborhood, on the same block, right next door, in Passaic.

"I’m not going to say anything bad about anyone in this race," said Ellen, now 65, sitting in his bailbondsman’s office at the corner of State and Passaic streets. "All of the men I’m running against are caballeros y carinosos."

Gentlemen and affectionate.

They are, all told, Ellen and School Board President Capuana, physician Alex Blanco, real estate developer Jose Sandoval and Councilman Joe Garcia.

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The Back Room

Asbury Park Press corrects Williams error in Christie report

The Asbury Park Press last night mopped up after NBC anchor Brian Williams overreached when he said the feds had cleared Gov. Chris Christie of wrongdoing in a federal investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 19th

NBC News: Federal charges ruled out for Christie in Bridgegate scandal NBC News tonight is reporting that federal investigators say after nine months of investigating Bridgegate there is 'no evidence" that Gov. Chris Christie had advance knowledge about any politically motivated scheme around the bridge lane closures at the...


Legislation needed for publicly financed gubernatorial elections

By JEFF BRINDLE It is critical that the Legislature soon enact a pending bill that would ensure the state’s Gubernatorial Public Financing Program is available in the event of a special election for governor.  Not only is there no current legal... Read More >


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(Asbury Park, NJ) -- There's a word for someone who says one thing and does another: hypocrite.  There's no shortage of 'em in Trenton -- from ... more »
 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

“The fact is that they’ve been digging around for eight months now and have found absolutely nothing. Wrap up your work. Do your job." - Gov. Chris Christie

- PolitickerNJ


Should the Joint Legisaltive Committee investigating Bridgegate 'wrap it up?':


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