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Friday, March 25, 2005

Batter UP! Carol Marsh Fights for the Little Guy

In New Jersey, dirty politics is about as noteworthy as pollution. It’s a huge problem that effects all of us, but it simply happens too often to take much notice. Until, that is, someone steps up for the little guy and slaps the ball into the bleachers.
That someone is currently sitting on the Hoboken City Council and goes by the name of Carol Marsh. She was elected four years ago and charged with the public trust of making the City Council become a zealous guardian of the aggregate interest. She has struggled valiantly. Not only did she help keep taxes down, but she also fought to curb spending. Apparently she understands that you can’t hold down revenue and raise spending.
Unfortunately, Mayor David Roberts does not understand this. It isn’t that Mr. Roberts is a bad guy – there is a lot to like about the former firefighter. He just hasn’t been that good of a mayor. Since his election four years ago, spending has increased almost fifty percent to where his budget under proposal now reaches seventy-four million dollars. This is in a town that is spread out over only one square mile! By my calculations, Mayor Roberts is proposing to spend about three dollars per square foot of Hoboken.
The problem is that Hoboken simply doesn’t have the money to pay for this much government. Since New Jersey law bans municipalities from acting like the federal government and mandates that they have a balanced budget, you would think that this would mean that Mayor Roberts would have to cut some of the fat in his budget. You’d be wrong.
What his plan entails is simply selling off municipal facilities. If the facilities were not in use, this might be a good idea. However, the plan he now has before the City Council is to sell the parking garage where city vehicles are housed. The more than seven million dollars the sale will rake in will allow him to continue spending as if there is no tomorrow. Part of that spending, of course, is leasing back the same building he just sold. This is like taking out a second mortgage to pay your electric bill.
The only thing stopping him is the minority members on the City Council, including Carol Marsh, would have to vote to sell the garage – and she isn’t willing to do it. Instead, she is mounting her own campaign to win the mayor’s seat in the upcoming May election. She has put together a top notch crew to support her as well. They include Ines Garcia-Keim, Tony Soares, and Brian Urbano.
Each of these wonderful people are willing to put themselves into the public spotlight in order to fight for the working men and women of Hoboken. Soares is already a member of the City Council and has stood shoulder to shoulder with Marsh in her fight to give Hoboken the government it deserves. Garcia-Keim is a founding Board Member of the Hoboken Charter School and has worked as an advocate for protecting Hoboken through the Fund for a Better Waterfront, the Hoboken Historical Society, and the Quality of Life Coalition. Urbano is also an activist who has used his legal talents to push for Pay-to-Play legislation that would cut down on the ability of corrupt politicians to reward greedy patrons.
One of the surprising developments has been the opposition’s willingness to throw any mud possible at this quartet of giant-slayers. Urbano was even called a Republican at one point (and that is a very dirty word in this heavily Democratic county) despite the fact that he provided an extensive amount of legal assistance to the Kerry campaign and has been endorsed locally by Democracy For America – started by Howard Dean to help finance municipal politicians that support Democratic principals.
If Urbano and Marsh are traitors to the Democratic Party, then it is only because the Hudson County Democratic Party must be more interested in enriching their friends than in upholding the sacred trust of public office. Traitors like these we need more of. Perhaps if we get enough of them we can actually turn holding a government office into an honorable profession again.

You can contribute to the Marsh for Mayor effort here

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