The attacks of September 11, 2001 brought the world together. Even Russia and the United States.
I know this to be true because one of the many times I came back to New Jersey from another state put me right in the middle of getting the gift of a monument to the victims of September 11 to New Jersey from Russia.
Shortly after the untimely death of the late state Senator and Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham I ended up in Jersey City working with then Councilman Steve Lipski. Lipski was one of several candidates running in the special election to fill the unexpired mayoral term of Cunningham. I came back and set up shop with my still friend and former partner in the old Kush and Associates, James Barracato.
At some point during the campaign Lipski informed me that I needed to meet someone because Cunningham had been working to have a monument from the Russians placed in Jersey City but since his passing they were now getting a lot of push back. Lipski set up a meeting with Emily Madoff, who was the American lawyer to the Russians at the time.
Long story short. In the middle of a special election campaign, James and I agreed to work on bringing this monument to Jersey City. We didn’t realize the significance of the monument at the time, it was more of a, “how dare they dishonor Glenn” kind of thing.
We worked our butts off getting support for this monument. Unfortunately, for some reason there was a very vocal group fighting it. We set out educating the public on the significance of this gift and collected tens of thousands of petition signatures in support, the powers that were didn’t want to hear from us.
Barracato and I went to Madoff and informed her we needed to step up the pressure. She asked what we suggested. The answer, “Let’s run a tasteful commercial on cable.” She agreed.
Great, in the middle of a mayoral campaign, now we have to find the time to produce a commercial, no way that was happening. I enlisted the help of the late Tom Blakely, Tom was awesome, early in my career he always encouraged me, I still miss him. Anyway, Tom put us to work with Al Riberio, then a part of the Jamestown Associates team, and still one of the nicest guys in the world.
Together, Riberio, Barracato and I put together a nice 30 second spot.
Apparently, that spot caught the attention of then Bayonne Mayor Joe Doria. And that’s where the monument stands today. If you get the chance stop and see it. It’s a beautiful monument.
And, that’s my 9/11 story. Oh, yeah, there was a brief argument with the Secret Service because we arrived at the dedication incredibly early, maybe the only time Barracato was ever early for anything, and we parked in the spot that was reserved for former President Bill Clinton’s motorcade. It might go down in history as the only time I ever backed down from an argument.