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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Sopranos move to Jersey City (Council)

If it were on television, it might well be an episode of the Sopranos. A jealous mobster beats up girlfriend, puts her through law school, then uses her name to hide his assets. She double-crosses him, leaving him and keeping the property. Years later, she puts her life together, even earning the job of City Counsel for a mayor of a nearby town. The charismatic young mayor dies of a sudden heart attack and the new mayor quickly informs the woman that her services are no longer needed. She then challenges the new mayor’s ward candidate in the next election and forces a run-off election. Suddenly, all of her past comes bubbling to the surface in the local press.
Is it a case of a jealous ex-boyfriend seeking revenge against the young girlfriend that left him? Is it a case of the “non-existant” mob reaching forwards through time to ruin the life of a double-crosser? Is it the story of a young girl who made a bad choice, made up for it, and is now having her name dragged through the mud for political purposes? Or is it simply what happens when someone enters the public eye with things in their past that are juicy and sell papers? (Like this one and this one and this one and this one.)
Whatever else it may be, it is the ongoing story of former City Corporation Council and current City Council Ward A candidate Karen DeSoto. The case has been dragging on for four years and is set to finally go to court next month in Flemington. There are many ways to spin the story, and none of them are flattering. Both Karen DeSoto and her former boyfriend, Anthony Scaffidi, are sure to make themselves out to be innocent. The truth is…well, only those two know the truth.
What we know for a fact is that Scaffidi is not an angel. The man has proven ties to the Genovese family. This does not mean that everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie, but it makes it a little difficult to believe that a fresh law school grad could hoodwink him into signing over all of his property. It also makes him a difficult man to feel sorry for, but the law doesn’t exist for only those who are sympathetic figures.
Of course, that does not make DeSoto an angel, either. It brings up some troubling issues with her past at the worst (for her) possible time. It should be simple to clear her name – if, as she claims, she bought the property in dispute, it should be easy to show that she legally earned the money to do so. However, with less than a month to go before the run-off election, she may find that winning in court is a Pyrrhic victory as far as her political career is concerned.
I suppose you could put it this way, Soprano fans: If Carmella left Tony and became a lawyer, would you vote for her as your City Council representative?
Meanwhile, as the Jersey Journal burns ink as fast as it can be bought on this case, it finally finds a way to mention Steve Lipski. As far as it goes, he is right that he was “cited, not indicted” for fiscal mismanagement. This would basically translate into being too ignorant to run the school rather than being criminally malicious about it. For a man who brags about his multiple degrees, this seems a bit hard to swallow. Are we really supposed to believe that no one on the board ever said, “You know, I’ve heard about competitive bidding for contracts. What do you guys think about seeing if we can find someone to do stuff for us for a lower price?”?
Of course, neither the Jersey Journal nor the Star-Ledger has any stories about Councilman Lipski being investigated. The best reporting has been from Channel 7 in New York. It’s sad that we have to depend on the sympathy of New York City to find out what our elected representatives are doing.

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