Ex-Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano III Pleads Guilty to Corruption

He was not the one accused of human organ trafficking, nor the money-laundering rabbi. No, in the sprawling corruption sting that shook New Jersey last year, what marked Peter J. Cammarano III, then the mayor of Hoboken, was the spectacle of a promising career blown apart almost before it started.

His downfall became complete on Tuesday, in Federal District Court in Newark, where Mr. Cammarano, 32, pleaded guilty to accepting illegal campaign contributions in return for aiding proposed development projects. The youngest mayor in the city’s history, he served 23 days in that office last year before being arrested and charged, and eight more before resigning. He now faces a probable sentence of 24 to 30 months in prison.

Eminent Domain: When is enough, enough?

Dear Editor:
Does Councilman Cricco expect Hoboken residents to pick up the pom-poms and cheer along with him at the wonderful philanthropy being displayed by (surprise, surprise two of the mayor's biggest contributors) URSA/Tarragon? We finally have some developers giving back to the community that made them rich and now the city council wants us to believe that we are indebted to them? The band has been paid. Don't get me wrong, I applaud "givebacks" (not boondoggles) and consider them long overdue but how much money have the various developers made in our city? In addition, is this a display of pure altruism or just the mere fact that many residents are sick and tired of developers getting their way and giving back very little for the huge profits they make? Maybe URSA/Tarragon decided it would actually be cost effective to invest a small fraction of the money they have made back into the community. You know...good PR and all that. Oh, but let us all applaud and kowtow now along with the rest of the city council. Do they think us that inept?

Fighting pay-to-play by redevelopers

The Times, NJ

Until now, the focus of reformers attempting to curb New Jersey's notorious pay-to-play system has been on the purchase of goods and services. They have sought to win passage of laws that eliminate politicians' opportunities to bestow no-bid contracts and favored treatment on businesses that give generously to political campaigns. But another area in which political favoritism can flourish is the redevelopment process; this is all the more true in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision giving state and local governments major discretion in condemning private properties for redevelopment purposes. Among the more than 50 New Jersey local ordinances that bar campaign contributors from eligibility for municipal work, only Hightstown's goes the additional step and extends the ban to redevelopers.

Now a good-government group, the Citizens' Campaign, has launched a statewide effort to end pay-to-play in the awarding of redevelopment projects. Last week, the organization unveiled a model local redevelopment ordinance and promised to release a proposed state law on the subject in the near future. The components include a ban on contributions by redevelopers to local and county candidates, elected officials and political parties from the onset of the redevelopment process to the completion of the agreement; a requirement that developers seeking variances or waivers from a town's regulations file a contribution disclosure form, and expanded transparency and accountability in the process.

Pay-to-play has powerful friends in public office in New Jersey, and even the modest gains that have been made against it remain in jeopardy. But as long as the Citizens' Campaign and other advocates of clean government keep fighting, there's hope.