Life Without Menendez: Brian Blows His Stack, Sacco, and Other Hudson Heartbreaks

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez says that he thinks Gov. Phil Murphy is right to make sure that whatever tax incentive program exists for the state benefits the people of NJ. This statement comes after George Norcross filed a lawsuit seeking to have the NJEDA Task Force investigation deemed unconstitutional.

When Menendez didn’t have gold bars in his pockets weighing him down, he had sufficient political heft to straddle Hudson County like a colossus.

In his heyday, friends used to wonder if he wanted to take in a game of football on a Sunday. Word got back to those people that Menendez didn’t have time to sit around fiddling with a bowl of potato chips in front of a television set. He was too busy testing the levers on his political guillotines.

Somewhere out there, one of those fat, beer-guzzling coach potatoes, reflexes dulled by inactivity, wouldn’t even see it coming.

But that role ended some time ago, becoming a ceremonial invocation at best, just before Menendez found himself thrashing around in overlapping federal nets, kicking against the latest charges that he accepted gifts to work as an agent of Egypt and Qatar.

What remains are the twin smokestacks of political power in Menendez’s home county of Hudson, one actually named Stack, mayor of Union City, and the other named Sacco, mayor of neighboring North Bergen. Those smokestacks, mostly spewing their own separate chimneys of ashes and dust for 25 years, have now merged into a single raging political inferno.

Ok, maybe that’s a little heavy-handed.

It’s more like coconut hurling in a primate cage.

No one ever really gets hurt.

But there’s a lot of shrieking, strutting, and chest-thumping.

And if coconuts are a metaphor for endorsements, sometimes the ones that cause the most pain are the ones left un-thrown.

For most of their history they’ve held it together, the two tough guy mayors, as Menendez only occasionally picked up the phone amid some of their more tormented spats and told them to cut the crap. But with New Jersey’s senior senator indisposed, Stack and Sacco have opened up on each other with renewed vigor. “Hudson’s the worst I’ve ever seen it,” one insider groaned to InsiderNJ.

Stack and Sacco
Stack and Sacco


What’s the problem?

Maybe it started back in 2021 when the redistricted legislative map sliced Sacco out of his senate seat, leaving him to nurse only his local throne as mayor of North Bergen and establishing Stack – as both mayor and state senator – as the last dual-officeholding kingpin of North Hudson.

Ah, but it actually went back before that, to when Sacco’s Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) candidate, Amy DeGise, defeated Stack for the chairmanship.


It went back before that, when Stack was uncomfortable around Joey Muniz, Sacco’s guy.

No, before that, actually.

The Governor Christie years. Remember, those investigations in North Bergen?

Oh, yeah.

No, before that, back when Christie was U.S. Attorney – the Union City stuff.

And on. And on. And on.

So, Sacco won.

Then Stack won.

Then Sacco won.

Then Stack won.

Then Sacco won.

Then Stack…

In time it became tough to track. Suffice to say, a lot of pushing and shoving went on.

Then Stack wouldn’t back Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop for Governor.

Then Fulop wouldn’t back U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez’s (son of the U.S. Senator) reelection to congress.

That’s because Menendez (junior) wouldn’t back Fulop for governor.

Then Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced a challenge to Menendez, Jr.

Menendez allies bristled when Stack backed Tammy Murphy for his U.S. Senate seat, even before the political career was cold.

Stack’s a pragmatist.

He depends on the governor’s generosity come budget time, and Phil Murphy has to preside over two more budgets.

Bhalla started showing signs of supporting Murphy’s rival for the senate seat, U.S. Rep. Andy Kim.

Then Fulop decided to switch his endorsement for the senate seat from Tammy Murphy to Kim.

Somewhere in there, somewhere along the way, Stack backed former Governor James McGreevey to succeed Steven Fulop as mayor of Jersey City. Sacco said he’s neutral in that contest, but someone photographed him sitting at a table with Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea, McGreevey’s chief rival in the developing 2025 contest.

Sacco backs HCDO Chairman Anthony Vainieri, who also serves as one of Sacco’s North Bergen commissioners. Stack can’t wait for Hudson County Executive Craig Guy to succeed Vainieri in June. But everyone likes Guy, who’s probably just trying to keep his head down at this point.

Maybe Guy can bring everyone together.

In any case, in all likelihood, given the case bulldozed against him, it won’t be Menendez, senior, doing the welding, a job he took on willingly for years in the name of trying to keep Hudson held together despite the bifurcations of Stack and Sacco, Sacco and Stack, in the process sacrificing the pleasureful indolence of Sunday football.



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6 responses to “Life Without Menendez: Brian Blows His Stack, Sacco, and Other Hudson Heartbreaks”

  1. Outstanding article Max. Hopefully this could lead to changes desperately needed in Hudson County.

  2. To put an end to these Political entanglements, the first thing to do is remove the columns in the elections so that everyone has the opportunity to compete in an election in the way that is currently done is what is known in other countries. , is choosing the candidates with the finger

  3. Craig Guy is just a puppet of Stack and will probably be a one term county executive with some of his colleagues that blew their way to top positions

  4. I don’t know either Stack or Sacco. But the fact that Stack supports Mcgreevey, Sacco is the wise person to trust.

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