By Scott Marlow
The Davis Administration has been in office for one year. Some of the continuing mantra has been “blame the previous administration (and other administrations) for things that are going badly, and take credit from the previous administration for things that are going well.” Some campaign promises were met, and some simply were ignored. Explore the Davis Administration’s first year in office.
City Union Bias?
As many of you remember, upon taking office, Mayor Davis blamed the Teachers’ Union president Alan D’Angelo of having too big an “ego” to get the deal done. Many BBOED Union sources suggest the press release linked in the previous sentence was code for the fact that Davis had backed out of a long-term deal he had promised the teachers during a closed meeting during the election. None the less, D’Angelo changed his tune pretty quickly and ended up taking the same deal offered to the teachers by the Smith Administration, which expires next month. Meanwhile, the Bayonne City Employees have been without a contract for a year, and negotiations boiled over into last month’s City Council meeting. Union member Stacie Percella expressed her concern at the council meeting: “Remember those signs during the election?” she asked. “City Workers for Davis. We had his back, now he needs to have ours” Percella said to a large applause.
Davis ran on a promise to bring fiscal responsibility and “state auditors” into City Hall and the BBOED. Instead, some of Davis’ first acts of office were to hire his nephew to a high paying city job, buy himself a $60,000 SUV, refurnish and refloor the Mayor’s Office and appoint high-raking officials, all of whom aren’t Bayonne residents, to key posts against a long-standing city ordinance. Along with a hiring frenzy and a few attempts to raise his own salary (seen below), Bayonne is now looking at a 2.9% tax increase. According to City Business Administrator Joe DeMarco, the City’s spending habits have nothing to do with the tax increase. He blames previous administrations. Also: We’re still waiting to hear from those auditors.
Resurfacing of Veterans Stadium
Back in 2013, the Smith Administration secured funding to resurface Don Ahern Veterans Memorial Stadium. Davis was quick to take credit for doing so in his one year update to the news media. But, as you can see from the link posted above, this was a done deal before Davis even announced he was running for Mayor.
The Jimmy Davis Bill
Another move that sparked controversy was Davis’ attempt to give himself a huge raise, with the help of a few friends in Trenton of course. According to sources in City Hall, Davis had no idea he couldn’t collect his $120,000 per year pension while he was collecting his $68,000 Mayor’s salary. The solution was simple: The Mayor could have forfeited his $68,000 Mayor’s salary and collect his earned $120,000 pension. However, instead, Davis enlisted his friends in the State Senate to change the law, so he could collect both. The bill failed, but don’t be surprised if an Assembly version of the bill is sponsored by Davis’ hand-picked Assembly Candidate Nicholas Chiaravalloti, if he is elected.
Mayor Davis has also accused the Bayonne Board of Education of not paying the City back some $11 million. But, Bayonne Local has not been able to find out if there has been any resolution on this issue. Phone calls to the Board of Education have not been returned. After calling an initial press conference regarding this money in February, the City of Bayonne has not mentioned this issue since.
Another one of Davis key campaign promises was to bring more transparency to City Hall. But, a recent investigation into the Davis Administration by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission raises some questions about just how transparent the Davis Administration is.
TRAFFIC AND CONSTRUCTION!!!
Traffic has always been a problem in Bayonne, but this year seems to be the one that took the cake. Davis’s eagerness to “fast track” the 14A construction project while the bridge was being raised was a “rookie move” according to one Bayonne political observer.
Rachele Demobowski, a resident who lives by the Bayonne Bridge, has some issues with Davis handling of the Bayonne Bridge and city construction projects. “The Davis administration hasn’t put enough pressure on the Port Authority to give residents an upfront payout for the inconveniences they’ve suffered” she told the Jersey Journal.
At the end of the day, the Davis Administration paved a swath of land at the MOT for some sort of tented “entertainment” venue. The Davis Administration also sold a large piece of the MOT after criticizing the Smith Administration for doing the same. With a multi-million dollar structural deficit and no sign of an end to the Davis spending spree, options are running low for the City of Bayonne and many in City Hall say to expect huge tax increases over the next 3 years.
The Davis Administration HAS brought back a watered-down version of The Home Town Fair. “It was depressing. The Home Town Fair was set against a backdrop of vacant storefronts from 22nd to 24th streets — nothing like it used to be” said a Broadway business owner. The Davis Administration has also cut back on Mayor’s Office Hours. The Smith Administration held them 2 times a month, Davis holds them once a month. “They (Davis Administration) really haven’t done anything at all” said a former elected official who sought to remain anonymous. It looks like we will have to wait and see if the Davis Administration can really get things going in their second year.