Hoboken counsel resigns, Weiner Lesniak snags interim job

Not cut for the political theater of Hoboken, Corporation Counsel Michael Kates dropped his letter of resignation on Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s desk last week.

He took the job “with trepidation” last December, as Kates, of Kates Nussman Rapone Ellis Farhi in Hackensack, told Zimmer in his letter.

He said the job took up much of his time, yet it was “insufficient” for the “daunting tasks” at hand.

Kates noted that he also “did not enjoy the late night meetings or the occasional public criticisms.”

The city promoted Mark Tabakin, partner at Weiner Lesniak in Parsippany, who was handling employment cases for the city, as an interim replacement. Tabakin came to Weiner Lesniak in 1998 and chairs the firm’s education and labor sections.

Tabakin’s contract – not to exceed $6,500 – runs from September 16 to October 6, when the city hopes to have a permanent option in place.

Kates was contracted through his firm part-time – not employed directly by the city – and had to bring in reinforcements to handle the breadth and depth of legal work for the city.

According to a few sources close to City Hall, Zimmer and her council majority will most likely bring in a full-time counsel, as was the case in the past.

One source is racking this up as another failed case of municipal outsourcing in Hoboken, like the privatization of city finances that culminated in a 2008 budget shortfall and appointment of a state fiscal monitor.

One Hudson County politician said it’s very possible that Union County big dog and State Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth), half of the firm’s namesake, is making a play into Hudson – where the likes of Scarinci & Hollenbeck and Florio & Kenny capture much of the government work – but City Hall sources said Tabakin was just “impressing the hell out of” the administration.

Lesniak denied any political angle: “I’ve never met the mayor yet and haven’t spoken to her.” He praised Tabakin – “a steady hand at the helm” – and said his work speaks for itself.

Zimmer told PolitickerNJ, “I know it’s hard to believe, but the simple honest story is (…) I was highly impressed with his expertise and his professionalism and I hired him.”

The city RFQ’d for the job, and promoted Tabakin because they thought he was the best fit, Zimmer said. “There’s really nothing more to say.”

“It’s not about Ray Lesniak, it’s not about Paul Weiner,” Councilman Michael Lenz said. “It’s about Mark Tabakin. He’s a great guy to work with.”

A few Hoboken malcontents grumbled about whether Hudson boss State Sen. Nick Sacco (D-North Bergen) approved of Lesniak getting a foot in Hoboken’s door, but Sacco spoke highly of Tabakin, who works in North Bergen as well, when reached by phone today.

Hoboken counsel resigns, Weiner Lesniak snags interim job