Split happens. Mason and some arch-lieutenants (and we do mean 'arch') then splinter off in early '07 to form the revolutionary, new and improved, well-polished and all-around expialadocious Vote Hoboken political committee. [Oh, yes, folks we were there for it, the hot-air balloon having crashed right in our backyard on its way back to Kansas.] The Marsh/Lenz faction remained largely at the helm of Reform, but not by dint of any real leadership: it was squarely due to inertia - residual name-recognition, the defining voter-base apathy, and Vote Hoboken's utter inability to draw off much of a following at all. The ensuing bickering, posturing, and indignant outrage would fill a tetralogy of the cheapest of dime novels, (which - if you count hoboken 411, NJ.com's Hoboken forum, Hoboken Now and the Hoboken Reporter's Political column - it pretty much did). Suffice it to say, this dog had fleas, couldn't hunt, was all bark no bite and the incessant and feckless tail-chasing thoroughly eroded any burgeoning ascendancy Reform was evolving into. Early '07 victories intimating a potent Reform-oriented demographic turn and awakening amidst a (thereby-apocalyptic) Machine civil war were brutally reversed within a year as both County and municipal machines closed ranks, partly in response to Reform’s newfound bite.
The Last Days of Chez Fous The real, inbred craziness in the royal House of Reform was not simply the rift itself, but the protracted denial and toleration of its self-destructiveness as epitomized by the testosteronic rantings of the movement's tanists, Lenz, Jim Vance, Lane Bajardi and Tony Soares. High Priestesses Marsh and Mason stepped to the background somewhat as the feud revved up but kept the bitterness of the rivalry quite alive through the feistiness of the aforementioned publicists-cum-pugilists, who availed themselves of every forum and every opportunity to bash each other into tertiary relevance within Hoboken politics (behind the rival halves of the Machine presence).
This spawned confusion and demoralization among the core Reform polity just as the Reform gains of '07 begged for consolidation in advance of an inevitable and telegraphed Machine regrouping. By the time of this past April's school board elections, Reform was so childishly self-divided that the emblematic Kids First landslide the prior year got thoroughly reversed, spanked crudely by the most acrid dregs of Old Hoboken cronyism. This was quickly washed down with the lye of a Reform freeholder candidate's massacre several weeks later, all the more caustically as she came in third behind a divided Machine vote. The feud also spawned another pair of twins – hopefully to be separated at birth, permanently and with extreme, post-apocalyptic prejudice.
On the one (more dextrous if six-fingered) hand, a Neo-Reform leadership has emerged, questing for self-direction in the aftermath of the elder Reform leadership's abdications. Dawn Zimmer, Peter Cunningham and Theresa Minutillo retain clear leanings toward The Marsh/Lenz camp due to its greater proximity to the bulk of Reform vote and its more potent operational actors. But they have each also established an individualized independence, focused largely on the relevant school-board or city council portfolio. This lends focus to their efforts and coherence to their public profile even as it sacrifices the scope of leadership they can project. But that's okay – they limn a solid leadership profile for the necessary retooling of Hoboken Reform.
On the other (more sinister and sticky-fingered) hand, the internecinematics of the Reform movie have also allowed infancy to a pseudo-Reform counterinsurgency, a shallow co-optation led by the indelible smarm of otherwise eclipsed politicos, Peter Cammarano and Maurice Fitzgibbons. If responded to artlessly or even embraced as a lesser of evils, this new pseudointellectual goo could suck Reform/Neo-Reform down to a permanent bottom at the chill and murky depths of the Hudson political scene . Fortunately, these two soulless hacks most closely resemble those grotesquely feckless-but-fierce-looking micromonsters one sees out the bathysphere window, whose huge ugly maws have almost no impact on anything except even smaller more grotesque creatures. But those could be Reformers if the leadership doesn’t watch out.
Ah, but what is so rare as a day in June?? Despite all this, Reform hopes sprout feathers in the week following the June primaries. On a single day, complete fiscal meltdown of the city due to gross and obvious Old Guard incompetence and control of the municipal Democratic Party committee fall beneficently into Reform’s lap. Stay tuned – the ramifications of this are playing out frenetically as you read. More soon.