Detective Alex Cruz repeatedly attacked former school board member Pedro Rodriguez at the City Hall mayoral debate on Monday afternoon.
Cruz began the forum by alleging Rodriguez’s government job was a classic example of political patronage. Except, Cruz couldn’t find the right word.
Cruz called it “nepotism.” He told Rodriguez to define nepotism.
“Mr. Cruz doesn’t know the definition of nepotism,” retorted Rodriguez. He was not hired by a family member or relative, he said. Former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres hired Rodriguez, who worked for the Torres’ campaign four years ago, as a telecommunications system analyst for a $73,000 job at the police department.
Cruz tried again. He alleged Rodriguez gave prominent developer Charles Florio a tour of the police department’s camera room.
Cruz (pictured) cited a news story. Except, that news story, said an associate of Florio’s allegedly received a tour from Rodriguez.
“Everything you are saying is false,” replied Rodriguez. “I’ve never given any tours.” He called Florio’s lawsuit “frivolous” and restated he will counter sue the developer for defamation.
Cruz tried yet again. He asked Rodriguez whether all of the cash his campaign is allegedly putting out on the street is being properly reported in state campaign finance reports.
Rodriguez said his campaign has reported “everything” on the campaign finance reports. “Every single expense is paid with checks,” he said. “We reported on time.”
“You were the one who was late,” Rodriguez told Cruz.
Cruz was late in filing his 29-day pre-election report. His report was received on Apr. 16, 2018, a week after the deadline.
Cruz reported raising $113,264.
Councilman Andre Sayegh also issued a mild attack against Rodriguez. He called the distribution of $20 bills by a rapper at Rodriguez’s headquarters as “bad optics.”
“You won’t find my campaign distributing cash,” said Sayegh.
Rodriguez hit back. He cited a claim Cruz put forth in a court document when a city resident challenged his residency. Cruz claimed to be a part-time Paterson resident.
“We don’t need a part-time mayor. We need a full-time mayor who is not embarrassed to raise his kids in the City of Paterson. My kids go to the Paterson public schools and I’m proud of it – not like you.”
Cruz’s children attend the Passaic Valley High School in Little Falls.
Rodriguez slammed Cruz for taking credit for charitable work the police officers’ union carries out.
Cruz is the president of the police officers’ union. He has taken credit for much that the union pays for.
Rodriguez called him a “disgrace” for “lying.”
Cruz took aim at Rodriguez for the residency challenge that was filed against him in court. He blames Rodriguez for orchestrating the challenge.
“I’ve never taken attacks like this,” said Cruz. He began receiving attacks the moment he announced his mayoral run.
Rodriguez accused Cruz of not residing in Paterson early on. Cruz was cleared to run in the six men mayoral race by a Passaic County judge in face of overwhelming evidence that suggests Cruz does not live in Paterson.
Other men running are councilmen William McKoy, Michael Jackson, and Alex Mendez.
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