Passaic County Freeholder Lois Cuccinello announced last week that she would not seek re-election to a fourth term in order to accept a job with the Corzine administration as Assistant Commissioner of Labor.
As she embarks upon her career in state government, and with the hope that surveillance cameras that may have captured the moment are long gone, it is time for this column to relate a story of a rare personal meeting between the Freeholder and the man sometimes known as Wally Edge.
A few years ago, I found myself in a North Jersey deli around lunchtime. After about ten minutes, I was second on a line of about a dozen people when a woman entered the store. She moved rapidly to the front of the line, ahead of those who had been waiting. Quickly, she got the attention of the man behind the counter and in a bold, confident voice, she made an announcement: “I am Freeholder Cuccinello, and I am in a hurry. I need you to make me a sandwich, fast.”
With confidence, I say that I was probably the only person in the deli who knew what a Freeholder was; accordingly, I was unimpressed with the power she displayed, or the influence she sought to exert over the nice guy who just wanted to make the sandwiches and move the line along. I was the guy who told the distinguished gentlewoman from Passaic County that the perks of her office do not extend within the confines of a deli and that she should go stand on line and wait like the rest of the common folk.
Unhappy with her plummeting job approval ratings among the people in line, she said nothing. She shot me an unhappy look, and with little dignity, left the deli — sandwichless.
So if Freeholder Cuccinello has a photographic memory after a few years, the secret I have kept for more than six years will be over. I think everything will fine.
*** Dear Sir/Madam: I just read today’s column by Wally Edge where he accuses me of rude behavior at a “deli in North Jersey.” While I understand that as an elected official, I am open to pot shots by the media for positions I may take on issues, this was not only an unwarranted personal attack on my character, it is an outright lie. I would like to ask Wally Edge to name the deli in question so that he and I can challenge the shopkeeper to verify this story. I have never in my 12 years of elected office used a title for personal privilege. Perhaps someone else was using my name for their personal advantage and since Wally Edge doesn’t actually know me, he just assumed it was me. I don’t know. I only know I haven’t frequented a Passaic County deli literally in years, and certainly never bullied my way into any line there. Because I work in Bergen County, you can find me in a deli on a regular basis, but Wally Edge purposely leaves the location vague. So where is this deli in question? I would appreciate a response to this email; I have been a reader of your site for some years, and I am aghast that such trash could be allowed in without some verification of the truth. What journalistic guidelines do you follow? Or can anyone write anything about anybody? I am moving on to a state job where the people know nothing about me except what they may read. I have 12 years of a spotless record as an elected official, but am now suspect of bad behavior because of a lie. I would at least appreciate the opportunity to refute his statement, by way of your printing this email or other method. I await your reply. Freeholder Lois Cuccinello
Editor’s Note: Our source on this one doesn’t get any better. We stand by our story. P.S. Can you imagine someone using Freeholder Lois Cuccinello’s name in order to jump the sandwich line?