By David Cruz
Sources have confirmed Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer will ask the city council tonight to retain a criminal defense attorney to represent her in her dealings with the U.S. Attorney. Gerald Krovatin has a long history of high-profile cases in New Jersey, including Hoboken where he unsuccessfully defended the city of Hoboken in a discrimination case brought by its former public safety director. Today, Zimmer’s office said she’s through talking to the press.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked that we not conduct additional media interviews and we are respecting their request,” she wrote in a statement. “I stand by my previous statements and remain willing to testify under oath about all of the facts in this case.”
Zimmer succeeded in knocking the George Washington Bridge off the front pages by alleging that that Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno tried to pressure her into supporting a development plan favored by the governor in exchange for Sandy relief funds.
“I said, ‘Is any other town being asked to do development in exchange for help with the flooding?’ and her answer was, ‘Well the shore brings in $38 billion, so she very clearly was connecting the development with Sandy aid in our conversation,’” she said on CNN this week.
But it’s the content of those conversations that some members of the city council want to hear more about. Beth Mason, a frequent Zimmer critic, says she won’t vote to retain an attorney unless Zimmer clears up some questions, like who knew about the alleged shakedown.
“If it’s corporation counsel, what were they advising?” asked Councilwoman Beth Mason. “That corporation counsel represents not only the mayor but the city at large and the city council is the oversight body for the city at large. Why were we not informed? And that is a pretty significant issue, given that the city is also the redevelopment agency for the development project that she calls into question.”
Meanwhile, a new poll suggests that Gov. Chris Christie’s popularity has taken a hit since the GWB scandal broke. A new Rutgers-Eagleton poll shows the governor’s approval rating at 46 percent. That’s down from 65 percent in November, a drop of 19 points. At the same time, the governor’s unfavorable rating is at 41 percent, compared with just 27 percent in November. That’s a jump of 14 percent.
The poll also shows that Christie’s bipartisanship is sinking. His support among Democrats from November to today is down 26 percent. Even among Republicans he’s down 14 percent during the same period.
The Christie administration has gone on the offensive against Zimmer’s charges. Guadagno was adamant in her denial this week.
“I deny any suggestion made by Mayor Zimmer that there was ever any condition placed on the release of Sandy funds by me,” she said Monday.
Zimmer’s office says retaining counsel under the circumstances is fairly standard procedure and would extend to any other administration member where appropriate. No word on whether Zimmer would appear in person at the council meeting tonight to make her request.
The mayor’s office won’t say if or when Zimmer plans to meet with the U.S. Attorney again but it’s clear that some of her colleagues are going to want to hear more from her if she wants to continue to have their support.