Were charges lodged against Ward E Councilman James Solomon last week political payback? It sure looks that way.
Apparently, Solomon was out with his kids last Friday when he stopped at the well known Lee Sims Chocolate Shop on Bergen Avenue. While parking, he scraped another car.
“I immediately wrote a note, apologizing to the owner and provided my name and contact information, placing it under the windshield of the parked car” he told HCV.
Solomon said the owner of the other vehicle contacted him a few hours later and an insurance claim was filed.
“I took immediate accountability for my error, as all people and especially elected officials should do” he told the Globe.
As it turns out, Solomon’s registration had also expired. He later explained that he had recently bought the new car in New York — the only dealer that had the model — and transferred the registration to New Jersey. He believed that the registration was squared away.
Both the Globe and Hudson County View noted Solomon’s calls for Amy DeGise’s resignation after she fled from a crash scene, as if there were some similarity. There isn’t. DeGise’s conduct was despicable. Solomon’s was beyond reproach.
The charges will likely be dismissed. New Jersey law specifically absolves a driver in such a case if they leave a note, as Solomon did.
Driving the new car with a lapsed registration will, at most, result in a slap on the wrist.
But none of this is newsworthy.
What is newsworthy is the way the Jersey City Police Department handled the case.
It would be the rare car owner who hasn’t scraped another car while parking or seen their registration lapse at some point due to an oversight.
Yet the JCPD threw the book at Solomon, hitting him with summonses for leaving the scene of an accident, failure to report an accident and driving an unregistered vehicle.
Then the story was leaked to two news outlets, one of which is read statewide. Both outlets noted Solomon’s calls for DeGise’s resignation, planting the idea that Solomon was somehow guilty of hypocrisy. The leaker, no doubt, insisted that that point be included.
Just as damning is the contrast between how the police handled the DeGise and Solomon cases. DeGise was given six hours to get her act together before turning herself in. Solomon was hit with every charge the police could dream up.
Why might someone in the JCPD want to go after Solomon? It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to come up with an answer.
Following the murder of George Floyd, Solomon proposed diverting a small portion of the police budget to social services. Solomon also pushed for the creation of a Civilian Complaint Review Board. On multiple occasions, police unions expressed their unhappiness with the progressive Ward E Councilman.
We’ll probably never know for sure who made the decision to go after him, but what does seem clear is that when it comes to the JCPD there are two standards, one for friends like DeGise and another for troublemakers like Solomon.
Ironically, this case of political retaliation will only burnish Solomon’s image, a kind of payback those behind this unfortunate episode apparently never considered.