Controversial former deputy mayor of West New York Silvio Acosta may be creating a civil war within Mayor Felix Roque’s administration. The question is: will anything change this time around?
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Roque has dealt with his fair share of trials (literally) and tribulations during his just over four years as mayor of West New York, though he still remains a formidable force, with a loyal group of supporters, in North Hudson.
While he’s a long ways off from Nick Sacco or Brian Stack territory, he remains beloved by a significant portion of his constituents up and down Bergenline Avenue, among other areas in town of course (not to say his critics don’t still exist).
Regardless what type of leader you think Roque is or isn’t, it’s inarguable that a significant amount of his criticism has come from Silvio Acosta, a longtime friend of the mayor/pain management specialist who was the deputy mayor during the majority of his first term in office.
Anyway, Acosta’s name really didn’t hit the mainstream until my predecessor at The Jersey Journal revealed that Acosta, who was also Roque’s chief of staff at the time, owed over $500,000 in building violations, causing friction between Roque and the building department.
The fines were estimated to accrue to over $1 million and that property has since been purchased by Armando Alvarez, the chairman of the West New York Parking Authority.
Construction Code Official Tom O’Malley and his wife Kim were unceremoniously removed from the department about a half a year later, but they were both brought back last summer as part of a lawsuit settlement.
Moving on, Acosta was appointed to the board of education on April 17, 2013, replacing Joe Rodriguez – the husband of current Freeholder (D-7) and then-Commissioner Caridad Rodriguez – and by November 18 of the same year, resigned as chief of staff and became acting superintendent of the department of public works.
The history lesson is almost over, I promise.
Then, on July 7 of last year, Acosta resigned as the deputy mayor, giving the reason that “pressing time commitments make it impossible for me to continue to serve as your deputy mayor.”
While there’s plenty of other fun facts that happened in the past 13 months or so, here’s where West New York and Acosta stand today:
Nevertheless, the powers that be in West New York want to keep it that way and the increasingly anxious anti-Acosta faction believes that a certain Silvio is going to become a liability sooner than later, so it’s time to get him out of town hall once and for all.
Now of course, rumors are, at best, a dime a dozen here in Hudson County, but on Friday afternoon when I saw the agenda for the August 19 West New York Board of Commissioners meeting, check out what resolution number 16 was:
For those who still believe my Photoshop skills are impeccable and I make up a lot of wild and crazy scenarios based outside of reality, here’s a larger shot of what the agenda looked like around 2 p.m. on Friday:
That didn’t last for long though, because once I called town hall for a copy of the resolution, it had already been pulled:
In a matter of minutes, which my sources tell me was about an hour-and-a-half tops, resolution 16 went from a politically charged measure that would quickly become the talk of the town … to standard road improvements (yawn).
According to some pretty reliable sources, the original resolution called for a search committee so that a deputy DPW superintendent could be hired, then trained, for several weeks late this year as Acosta rode off into the sunset some Hudson politicos have nightmares about: retirement.
As it turns out, Roque was the one who pulled the item off the agenda, sources say.
After looking at all the facts, this means one of two things:
1. The other four commissioners hit Roque with a little juke-and-jive move and never clued him in about what the latest Acosta eradication plan was.
2. Roque initially begrudgingly agreed to the plan to bid a slow farewell to Acosta, but quickly changed his mind when he got an angry phone call from his longtime friend and political pal.
A big indicator of how strong the push will be to remove Acosta from local government by next year will be who is on the Roque-supported board of education ticket for the November 3 election.
Three terms, all of the three-year variety, are up for grabs and the only live dog in the fight appears to be incumbent Matthew Cheng.
Yet, the real question is will Wendell Oms be a part of Team Roque this time around?
Oms is the police partner of Michael Acosta, Silvio’s son who is currently suing the police director, so the anti-Silvio contingency is fighting tooth and nail to ensure Silvio Acosta doesn’t gain any more influence on the nine-person board.
If Oms makes the cut, the battle begins within West New York one more time as Acosta laces up the gloves for another scrap: in case you haven’t been paying attention, he’s not the type to go down without a fight.