Special to Bayonne Local
By Scott Marlow
Mayor Jimmy Davis has just completed his first 100 days in office. Any Bayonne citizen who dared to point out any city problems or issues during these past three months was summarily browbeaten by the Davis Cheerleaders who were quick to offer the excuse that “Jimmy was just elected” and “He’s only been in office a few weeks.” That’s fair enough, heck, I’m sure it took him that long to find the restroom. But if it’s okay to blame the dead guy for all the problems, why should the new guy get to take credit for all of the good things already in the pipeline when he took office. Come on guys, what’s fair is fair.
Apparently Jimmy doesn’t see it that way. In his Mayor’s column in the BCN, Jimmy Davis shamelessly took credit for all sorts of the former Mayor’s initiatives. Jimmy is paving Avenue B, Jimmy is refurbishing Veterans’ Stadium, Jimmy settled the Fidelco Lawsuit—Unfortunately for Jimmy, its pretty clear that the credit for these projects and many more belongs to Mark Smith. Smith laid the groundwork, secured the funding and had the vision to tackle these projects and Davis has no bones about taking credit.
So what has Jimmy really accomplished?
It’s a generally accepted principle that most aspirants for public office embellish things a bit; many of them actually stretch the truth and some even outright lie to get elected. Jimmy Davis clearly holds the record for reneging on his campaign promises. In what can only be described as breathtaking, Davis has systematically done a 180 on each and everyone of his campaign promises.
Nepotism becomes Nephewtism
Y’all remember Jimmy’s attacks on Smitty for allegedly hiring family members in government positions. So what does Mr. Anti-Nepotism do the first chance he has? That’s right he hires a relative to fill a top spot in his administration. And to make matters worse, he doesn’t even hire a relative who at least lives in Bayonne, he gets one from out of town. You can’t make this stuff up. I’m not surprised though, since virtually every one of his top hires live out of town thumbing their noses at Bayonne’s residency ordinance. DeMarco, Wondlowski, Coffey, Casais, Leonard – they all live out of town. Jimmy didn’t even try to hire Bayonne People.
True to his Police Department handle, Jimmy continues to be a “Ghost” while serving as Mayor. More than one source reports that he spent the summer at his home in Tuckerton phoning it in.
As Transparent as Mud
Another of Jimmy’s promises to go quickly by the wayside is his pledge to be “Transparent”. Jimmy promised that he’d “open up the books” at City Hall and the Board of Education, That he’d have the “State Auditors” combing through the books to find waste, fraud and abuse. Surely that’s something he could have done during his first hundred days – Crickets. Inquiries about new hires and their salaries go unanswered. Agendas are sent for council approval with blanks where the names of the connected firms and the amounts of the contracts should be. Everyone is being kept in the dark. Jobs are being created out of thin air and unqualified people are filling them. Case in point is the hiring of Thomas Solari as Bayonne Recycling Coordinator. I’m Sorry, did I say Thomas Solari? I meant John Budnik. Solari was supposed to get the job but in an eleventh hour switcheroo, Budnik was substituted. Solari wasn’t qualified and Budnik is even less qualified. So the council tells the public they’re getting a needed Recycling Coordinator but they really hired Budnik as a Recycling Aide. But nobody needs to know that. Sweep it under the rug.
Jimmy announced at his recreation summit that Bayonne would be getting a hotel. Whoa there, hold on, did I miss something? Were proposals solicited? Did the Planning Board conduct their review? Was there an opportunity for public input? Did the council approve this is some secret meeting? What’s going on and why don’t the people know about it?
A bridge too far
Jimmy Davis promised to provide some relief to the people enduring the construction at the Bayonne Bridge. Then he promptly gave the bridge contractor carte blanche to do anything they want. Work 24/7, close down as many streets as you like, I’ve got you covered.
Abatements are everywhere
Jimmy and his council promised to end the practice of giving out abatements to “millionaire developers” while the little guy has to pay full taxes. It sounded good during the campaign but its been forgotten in his administration. Jimmy’s handling out abatements like there’s no tomorrow. Everyone who asks gets one. This week’s council meeting already has three abatements up for approval.
Due to the fact that Bayonne is home to an extraordinary number of Union households, The Smith administration had a policy of negotiating the use of union labor in exchange for reasonable abatements. Davis has made no such attempt to get Bayonne people back to work whilst doling out our money.
Harbor Station and Beyond
After an extensive process, a number of qualified developers were identified to build a vibrant, mixed use community including retail outlets, several hotels, restaurants and entertainment places, recreation space and other public amenities. Word on the street is that Jimmy has scrapped all that in favor of intense residential use for both Harbor Station South and Harbor Station North. Abatement, you bet. Union Labor, uh, no. The only job for Bayonne residents are for the Lawyer who represents the developer. No employment here.
The Davis administration will go down in history as the least durable administration we ever saw. We all know that it’s much easier to run for office then to actually govern. Loose coalitions that come together to overthrow the empire eventually dissolve into chaos. Usually it takes about a year but in this case it only took a few weeks.
On the one side you have Joe DeMarco and his band of outsiders versus former City Business Administrator Peter Cresci and his minions. Cresci is looking in from the outside since he has been unable to land a spot in the administration. All of his work and all of his money spent printing newspapers trying to get Davis elected have gone unrewarded. The slighted Cresci has mounted a guerilla war using proxies to lob hand grenades at DeMarco at council meetings while the council looks on.
What began as a day full of hope and promise for Bayonne citizens on inauguration day has turned into politics as usual. In fact, it’s worse. Jimmy Davis has proven himself to be about as relevant as the Queen of England. He’s a figurehead with a smiley face while the people that put him there are calling the shots about development and contracts and jobs. Jimmy’s cool with that. He’s cool with everything.