Sunday, June 7, 2009

Break the Machine ... and make Hoboken better

I’m spending my Sunday sharing information with neighbors about the upcoming election. I have printed 500 fliers and will be handing them out in key areas around the city.

I encourage HobokenLocal readers to do the same (Follow this link for a pdf of the flier which you should feel free to use). Then follow me on Twitter to join the discussion.

Canvassing is a proud American tradition that dates back to Thomas Paine and the 18th century pamphleteers. Imagine what Paine could have done with access to the Internet!

Here’s the copy of my flier:

Who Am I?

I am a non-aligned Hoboken resident who has devoted this day to do what I can to improve life in our community.

I supported Barack Obama in 2008, but this is the first time I have become involved in local politics.

It cost me about $12 to print 500 of these fliers, and a day away from family to pass them out to people like you. In exchange I ask you to take five minutes today to read this, and additional time on Tuesday to Vote.

If you want, you can do more. Please print out a stack of these fliers (or craft your own) and hand them to the people in your neighborhood. And then tell me about it!

Why Do I Care?

On June 9, Hoboken faces an important choice. We can choose candidates who represent a break from the patronage system that is sucking our city dry. Or we can elect the status quo by voting for Peter Cammarano and his crony slate.

Cammarano presents himself as a force for “real change,” but don't believe it. His political pedigree is a textbook case of the machine in action. He has ascended by seeking favor from behind-the-scene power brokers – including property developers, real estate and insurance companies, career politicians, and city employee unions.

This is not speculation. It is written into the financial reporting required of all candidates. It is also reflected in the back-slapping endorsements that Cammarano has received -- all people who expect a return on favors if he is elected.

Patronage machines use these types of insider networks to hold our democratic process captive. Over time, the machine breaks faith with the public and seeks only to serve itself. Hoboken's political machine has elected nearly every mayor over the past 75 years. Look what it has gotten us:
  • A crony entitlement system where 80% of the operating budget pays for personnel costs -- at salary levels far out of proportion with other U.S. cities.
  • Fiscal mismanagement so severe that in 2008 the state had to step in to take over the city’s budgeting.
  • Lack of transparency in decision making and governance that has spawned dozens of law suits against the city.
  • Short-sighted urban planning, which favors extravagant "luxury" developments that inject short-term cash into a corrupt system, over any longer-term vision for a better city.
  • Neglect of infrastructure that has darkened our drinking water, flooded our basements and streets, and short-circuited our electrical grid.
Hoboken simply cannot afford more of the same. We Cannot Afford Peter Cammarano.

We can break the machine and build a better Hoboken by voting on Tuesday, June 9. It doesn’t matter if you were born in Hoboken or are a recent arrival. All votes count the same. Please choose wisely.


  1. Great site and your other sites are great but I just want to say that the so called machine really is just people voting their self interest; jobs, contracts, housing, taxes, rent control and so forth. The reason the machine wins and the reformers lose, as they will on Tuesday, is that the reformers only represent a small but vocal minority based on on a belief that moneyed interests are bad. But money moves people. Of course the ironic part is that most of so called reformers are only living in Hoboken because the machine allowed all the thousand of condos to be built in the first place. Seriously can you see the folly of a park in the back end of Hoboken when we have wonderful parks on the waterfront. I don't mean to be antagonistic but practical, the machine is democracy in action.

  2. Not the sort of democracy that I want. The machine is a byproduct of a failed democracy -- one where a few special interests can capture the voting process because not enough non-aligned people turn out. If MORE people voted we wouldn't see a succession of leaders who were put in power only to serve the interests of an "entitled" few.

    Yes. it sounds idealistic, but we're at an important juncture in the history of Hoboken -- one where the right sort of organizing around the right policies and issues can turn more people out to vote and "break" the political machinery that has served the public so poorly.

  3. Well whatever the final outcome today, it will a wild and fun day in Hoboken, My guess is 53 % 47% with Peter winning but with absentie votes the final tally will be 58/42, Keep up the great work on those other sites, I have bookmarked them love what they are about. ps I have been very wrong before !!!