If there was a Hall of Fame for politicians who break campaign promises, Mayor Labrosse and Deputy Mayor Canestrino would get unanimously elected on the first ballot. In their full four year term, they failed to honor a single campaign promise despite publicly announcing over 2 dozen during their 2013 campaign for City Council. As part of their campaign as “reformers” four years ago, they pledged to “bring legal fees under control” and to end the lawsuits which have plagued our City.
The Labrosse/Canestrino Team has spent over 2 million dollars for their City Attorneys’ legal fees alone. Unprecedented. There has never even been a close second. It’s impossible to comprehend how, after attacking their predecessors’ legal fees so vocally, they accepted and paid month after month, invoices that were more than double the bills which they were so critical of.
As a Councilman in 2010, John Labrosse believed “that the machinery of local government may be on the verge of a breakdown” because of 5 lawsuits which the City was facing in the Police Department. He said he had never seen “this many lawsuits against the City and its Police Department.” He believed that “out of fairness to the taxpayers,” the City needed “someone to come in and look at it.”
On his watch, the City has faced over a dozen employee lawsuits, 7 in the Police Department alone. What is most alarming is that in addition to police lawsuits numbering 2 more than the last risk of a government “breakdown,” Labrosse and Canestrino themselves have been sued by a former Council colleague, a former City Manager and a former City Clerk, all unprecedented. The Councilwoman’s lawsuit is still pending, they paid the former Manager over half a million dollars to keep quiet, and the former Clerk turned down a half a million dollar settlement offer. Yet, not once has Labrosse expressed the need for “someone to come in and look at it.” (Click here to read the clerk's lawsuit, the manager's lawsuit, and the councilwoman's lawsuit.)
On the contrary, after their own City Manager filed a lawsuit against them stating that Labrosse and Canestrino had threatened him “to force him to violate state law,” Deputy Mayor Canestrino described it as a “small bump in the road” and asked the public for “your support.” She asked for “your support” shortly before she used “your” tax dollars to pay him over a half million dollars for what they had done to him. Before paying him off, Canestrino reminded everyone that nothing in a lawsuit “has to even resemble the truth,” unless, of course, it was filed against someone other than yourself.
THE CONTINUING SAGA OF THE LABROSSE POLITICAL MACHINE LAWSUITS
Not only has the Labrosse/Canestrino Team done absolutely nothing to combat the problem of lawsuits, it seems to be accelerating. Two more Police Department lawsuits were filed this month, naming the current and former City Managers as defendants for their actions. Included in the lawsuit complaints is the failure to install an executive level officer to lead the department, a baffling situation which exists nowhere else.
There is no reason to believe that, under the current City Administration, Police Department lawsuits will ever be addressed.
LAWSUITS NAMING LABROSSE AND CANESTRINO AS DEFENDANTS
What has been most remarkable about the exacerbation of the lawsuit problem under Labrosse and Canestrino is that, as mentioned above, a colleague and their own administrative staff have filed lawsuits directly against them. Councilwoman Rose Greenman, who was elected as part of their team, resigned from office and filed a lawsuit against them for their anti-Semitic remarks and treatment of her. Their former City Manager and City Clerk both accused Labrosse and Canestrino of unlawful conduct in the lawsuits which they filed against them. Lawsuits filed against elected officials by colleagues and by their highest level staff are not only unheard of in Hackensack, but in virtually every community throughout the state. Lawsuits under the Labrosse Political Machine have already cost Hackensack taxpayers millions of dollars. It is impossible to predict how high those costs will soar if they have another four years to trample on the rights of those around them.
There are two things that we do know for sure. The first is that the Labrosse/Canestrino Team has cemented our reputation as “Lawsuit City.” The second is that Hackensack taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for their costly lawsuits.