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Albiez - New Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor; JJ Cut from Announcement: Political Insider
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Political Insider: Fulop's team going through some changes ... why?

By Agustin C. Torres/The Jersey Journal
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on July 12, 2014 at 6:24 AM, updated July 12, 2014 at 6:25 AM

The political news is starting to sound like NBA rumors. Who is being cut from the team and who pulled off a free agent deal? Who will pay the luxury tax for handing out too many contracts and how much is the penalty? Well, the answer to the last one, politically speaking, will always be the taxpayer.

Right now, the center of the gossiping universe is Jersey City, where Mayor Steve Fulop has arguably achieved the media political status of ? if not a LeBron James, then a Carmelo Anthony ? a franchise player and future gubernatorial wannabe. The talk, like the aforementioned hardwood stars, is about the role-players around Fulop ? those administration directors and inner circle types who may be moved or whose roles on the team may change.

Let?s start with one of the worst kept secrets of this administration. On Thursday, Fulop announced that Mark Albiez, right-hand man to Union City Mayor and Sen. Brian Stack, will be joining the Fulop administration as deputy chief of staff, a very revealing title.

Media outlets received the announcement ? except The Jersey Journal. This is fast becoming the new standard practice.

Or am I confusing City Hall with the constant battle to get information from a Police Department that prefers to obfuscate rather than explain their activities in the city? These are conditions most journalists struggle with, but it hurts the public.

As far as the hiring of Albiez at a salary of $100,000, which may be offset by the removal of a similar salary in the NBA tradition, both Fulop and Stack released written statements.


It is a major coup for Fulop, who wants stability in his office and needs someone who knows his role, including taking a political bullet, knowing when to return fire and being able to communicate the mayor?s thoughts and policies.

Albiez was No. 15 in this year?s Political Insider?s power list. Obviously he will be higher next January. Here is the paragraph that accompanied Albiez?s selection to the list:

At No. 15, Mark Albiez is a savvy and smart right-hand man for Mayor and Sen. Stack. Albiez is the political boss? alter-ego. Besides having a deep understanding of local government and politics, he is equally adept at swimming in state waters. The only question is whether he can maintain Stack?s pace.

After about a decade with Stack, the parts were wearing.

Naturally, the gossip is now about Muhammed Akil, Fulop?s chief of staff. Akil is on vacation this week.

City observers are wondering if the Albiez hire means a change in Akil?s status. Is the chief of staff heading for the bench or being released? Sources say Akil is also close to Department of Public Works Director Michael Razzoli, who got burned after it was discovered he had an unapproved gas line put into his office for a barbecue grill. Razzoli would have been better off ordering through Meals on Wheels ;)

Razzoli is still at the DPW, for now. He has civil service status as a code enforcer ? a position or two may open up soon there.


As for Akil, despite any of Akil?s alleged demerits, I don?t believe he?s going anywhere, for now. How about it, mayor, is Akil being let go or moved?
?There?s zero chance he?s going anywhere,? Fulop said Thursday. ?There?s been zero discussion. People don't understand the weight Akil carries, what he does.?

This comes after the removal of Robert Cowan as police chief and Fulop denying Cowan a hearing before the City Council.

You could assume that with the hiring of Albiez, the administration is about to undergo a thorough vetting of itself. While Fulop and company hit the ground running, most of the stuff they worked on were changes that would draw praise from progressives ? such as mandated paid sick leave. Now, there has to be a portfolio of completed projects and efforts in Jersey City if a future gubernatorial candidate wants to show he is capable of being an administrator. He needs to be certain he has a team that is focused on making it happen.

Fulop said he already has that team and there is no need to scrutinize his staff. He?s dancing with the folks who brought him.

He does want to control the message. The mayor has made it known he is not happy with some of the one-year anniversary articles written by The Jersey Journal about his administration, calling some of them ?patently unfair.? I?m certain this is why The Jersey Journal was frozen out of the Albiez announcement. They have the Wall Street Journal and other national media. Don?t they cover city meetings and local antics? Why worry about us? My colleagues may not like it but ?cowabunga,? Buffalo Bob, I?m happy as a penguin to work in a Cold War environment.

? Other than replacing three of four Bayonne government directors, nothing much has changed in the Peninsula City under the administration of Mayor Jimmy Davis. As predicted, the only survivor from Mayor Mark Smith?s administration is Gary S. Chmielewski, the Parks and Public Works director. He is the son of former Hudson County Register Kenneth Chmielewski, from the days of County Executive Robert Janiszewski.

Things are quiet. The only question is when will the audit of city government and the school district begin and who will be doing it?

? U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez said Cuban spies had forced him to endorse mayoral losers Sal Vega of West New York and Jerramiah Healy of Jersey City in the past, as well as stopped him from backing Freeholder Anthony Romano?s successful re-election bid. State Assembly unofficial hopeful Nicholas Chiaravalloti of Bayonne is in trouble because those Cuban covert ops guys are whispering his name in Menendez?s ear.

EDITOR?S NOTE: Agustin C. Torres? column appears here every Saturday.


Posted on: 2014/7/12 13:42

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