Former Gov. Jim McGreevey hosted his first Jersey City Town Hall yesterday as part of his campaign for mayor, and while it was a pleasant, civil discussion for two hours, it ended with a YouTuber raining on his parade just before the event concluded.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The event, which McGreevey promoted via a campaign mailer last week, had about 150 people come to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church to discuss a wide myriad of issues such as clean streets, parking enforcement, general quality of life, and much more.
“God willing, we ran a good town that controlled property taxes, was clean, and was responsive and that’s why I’m doing this, because I want to do that, I want to do what we share,” he said, referring to his tenure as mayor of Woodbridge between 1992 and 2002.
“And part of this is a listening tour, I’m doing this all over Jersey City because I want to listen to what people say, I want to know what your concerns are. I have my concerns … I also want to know what people’s aspirational goals are.”
He entertained the idea of bringing back the parking authority after a few in attendance complained about enforcement, as well committing to keeping the street sweeping schedule the way it is to keep streets clean, despite whatever inconvenience it may cause.
Others in the audience said they wanted more accountability at City Hall, as well as a fully revamped 911 call system that has immediate response times. Not surprisingly, McGreevey was quick to commit to both concepts without hesitation.
“911, to be fair, it’s not just the workers responsibility: You have to have proper staffing, you have to have proper coordination, and you have to have proper connection,” he asserted.
“I was reading on a blog about somebody being woken up and they were yelling out the window, they called 911, and like, minutes went by, the person went back to sleep, and nobody ever responded.”
He also noted that he had written an editorial for The Jersey Journal outlining how to reform the local 911 system.
Community advocate Tina Nalls, who runs the Community Treasures group that donates clothing weekly, said community services are not readily available in several parts of the south side of the city.
“Tina, I agree with you, and what I do every day, is you have to be compassionate. I actually think there’s a real role for the nonprofit community in Jersey City to do things because of what we do,” McGreevey stated.
“We have our civic association named after my mom and dad on Martin Luther King [Drive] and we do that, we help people with general assistance, for Medicaid and whatever, I can’t figure out those forms! I had my daughter help me with these bloody forms.”
There were some more somber, emotional moments as well, for example, when Miriam Melendez, a city resident and crossing guard whose son, Darius Burgess, was killed at Cosmo “Gussy” DiSanto Memorial Playground across the street in 2009.
“He was playing basketball at the time, too. The person waited for him to finish playing basketball and he went to the store, as he’s coming out of the store … by the time he turned back, they shot him in the back,” she recalled.
” … The things that happened to me, I don’t want nobody else to go through … Last night, three minutes before 12 o’clock, there was a shooting on Van Wagenen and Sip Avenue. So these are things that we would like, if he becomes the mayor, bring the curfew back out. Bring it back out,” Melendez said to applause.
McGreevey praised her community efforts, providing food and medicine to those in need, though did not acknowledge her remarks about bringing back a curfew.
After running just past 8 p.m., it appeared that the event had gone off without a hitch, productive at best and uneventful at worst.
However, Leonard Filipowski, better known as Leroy Truth Investigations, had other plans, as he asked McGreevey if he would kick Justin Mercado, the Union City Board of Education secretary, off of his campaign after he allegedly assaulted him (he has filed a tort claim in the matter).
McGreevey’s New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (NJ ELEC) filings do not list Mercado as a member of his campaign, but Filipowski insisted that he was part of his campaign finance team.
“This ain’t about the community, you shouldn’t be so nasty to him!” one resident shouted as members of McGreevey’s team started to approach him.
“This has to do with the integrity of Mr. McGreevey’s campaign,” Filipowski said.
Shortly thereafter, Heights resident and McGreevey team member David Cruz briefly got members of the crowd to chant “McGreevey” as the situation escalated, with attendees circling Filipowski to try to get the microphone as he told them to back off.
“Don’t even give him any attention!” another attendee shouted.
After some tense exchanges with McGreevey campaign supporters, Filipowski eventually left around 8:30 p.m. after attempting to approach the former state assemblyman and state senator one last time.