Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Two weeks out...

Hoboken has an election in two weeks although most do not know it. There's three slates in a hunt for votes. What are some of the issues they are running on? Other than the tribalism vote the Hoboken BoE's elections are infamous for year in and year out?

Are Hoboken schools for education or it is a jobs program? Most often, over many years this is part of the unwritten ideology within the system.

It's been weeded out both as a result of direct action in recent years and most recently State funding cuts which have led to a lawsuit, internecine warfare with charters at the epicenter and Kids First not even running a ticket under its name.

So is Hoboken pumped up for an election in two weeks?

Can you run for BoE from your bathtub? Well if you run for Hoboken BoE
while sending the "yuppies" to the burbs, why not?
This is Hoboken.

Monday, October 20, 2014

US Senate candidate Jeff Bell to NJ voters: "Liberate the economy!"


Jeff Bell a candidate for US Senate from New Jersey appearing in Hoboken last week had a direct message to Mile Square and NJ voters: "Liberate the economy."

Bell knows much about liberation. He was an advisor, speechwriter and observer to President Ronald Reagan making him a witness to what led to unbridled growth in federal revenues during the greatest peacetime economic expansion in US history. That engine came about through the historic Tax Reform Act of 1986, a point of controversy then and consternation to liberals since but the record of increased revenues and decades long prosperity are a model the nation only hopes it could repeat today.

In an environment where government success is touted by lowered unemployment totals created by "the disappeared," the hundreds of thousands who fall off government statistics monthly never to be heard from again, the 80s look like the good old days. Bell however sees opportunity on both the domestic and international front saying it can be fixed and of the latter with ISIS trampling over the Middle East, "It looks bad but I think it can be turned around quickly, more quickly than people think."

Bell admitted concern his ties to President Reagan might be too distant to NJ voters but discovered it isn't the case saying most older voters remember him and the times fondly and there's "an aura" surrounding him for young voters.

Looking back Bell admitted he nor others realized the glow on America was as strong under the leadership of President Reagan as most Americans say looking back in Gallup polling consistently over many years. Of his remarkable character, Bell said he like many didn't realize the greatness in their midst saying the presidency is often seen as a great burden and isolating but Reagan didn't seem to be affected negatively by it. "He had no self pity. He had no feeling of isolation whatever. He never brooded over the fact he wasn't appreciated. It was one of the most revealing things about him," Bell said with a hint of admiration.

Viewing the current state of New Jersey and the larger national economy, Bell didn't hesitate to advocate for his solution. He's an advocate of moving the US back to the gold standard. The idea is novel among some economists but on the whole is viewed as not politically viable or practical. Bell didn't shy away from taking on that challenge noting, "What they call QE (quantitative easing), it's printing money."

Looking at the state of affairs economically impacting American families he cited, "People's wages are not going up." From his perspective Bell thought it remarkable the current Administration didn't understand that fact as it tries to convince people they are better off than they believe. He noted New Jersey continues to see an eroding tax base as younger people are electing to move to Pennsylvania with its more competitive, re: lower taxes saying NJ should cut taxes.

Jeff Bell is running for US Senate against former Newark mayor Cory Booker who is finishing the term of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg. Of his opponent, Bell offered no kind words saying he had no answers for Newark and would offer the same for America.

On the energy and environment, Bell spoke directly of his perspective, "Ten years ago, environmentalists saw natural gas was a clean energy source. Then we found out we had more then we ever imagined and now all of a sudden their against natural gas." He added the unfortunate cause, "They want to drive up energy prices and heating prices in the name of fighting global warming," he said noting "it's unproven" human activity is the cause.

Of his opponent former Newark Mayor Cory Booker he summed up his current and future contribution to the state of affairs predicting what he'll deliver. "Nothing. He has nothing to contribute because he agrees with President Obama. He thinks we need to keep printing money, adding more debt and stimulating the economy by spending money. They tried that for six years. It hasn't worked."

For a replacement for Attorney General, Bell said he supports "someone who upholds the law and supports the Constitution." Saying of the outgoing Eric Holder, "He doesn't uphold the law... he just decides to uphold the laws he supports. No Attorney General has ever behaved like that before."

Asked what final message he had for Hoboken and NJ voters, Bell had a simple, positive message. "Liberate the economy." It's a message in direct contrast to the government actions espoused by his opponent, a favorite to continue as a NJ Senator.

But for this man who had a first row seat at the Reagan Revolution, it's not about who's favored or who has more campaign cash; it's about ideas. Somewhere up above, Ronald Reagan is looking down and smiling.

Talking Ed Note: Jeff Bell's appearance in Hoboken last week was sponsored by the Republicans of Hoboken and hosted by Chair Diana Davis. For more information on Jeff Bell's platform, see his campaign website: http://bell2014.com.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Hoboken event of the season; here's Y

A Taste of Hoboken 2014
The Hoboken-North Hudson YMCA's gala fundraiser celebrates its twenty-second anniversary this year on Tuesday Novemebr 11, 2014 at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken.

In addition to tasty bites from over 40 restaurants, bakeries and cafes, this years event will feature an expanded selection of quality wines from all over the world.  For the first time in the fundraisers history, guests will be able to sample beers and wines from around the world.

The $80.00 Champagne Preview, 6pm to 7PM and the $60.00 General admission ticket, allows you to enter after 7PM to close at 9:30.  All tickets are fully tax deductible.

Tickets are available through brownpapertickets at  Http://atasteofhoboken.bpt.me will be available at the door for Champagne Preview $90.00 and general admission will be $70.00.

Kindly hosted by the Stevens Institute of Technology - 1 Castle Point - Schaefer Center

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Is there an election in Hoboken or something?

Last night the Republicans of Hoboken sponsored guest speaker and NJ Senate candidate Jeff Bell at the Clinton Social.

With an election less than three weeks away, some late arrivals to the event showed up to mingle with the public and shake hands after the Q&A with the audience. They also posed for Da Horsey who is known for snapping a good pic now and then.

BoE trustee Peter Biancamano and Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano both made an appearance at the Clinton Social last night. 
Both are running for re-election in November.

BoE trustee Monica Stromwall: "Continue the progress"

The following was submitted by current BoE trustee Monica Stromwall on behalf of the Parents for Progress slate.

Dear Horsey,

Progress. Progress is what is currently happening within the walls of our district schools and in the lives of over 2,000 children that attend the Hoboken Public School District schools. For this reason, and to keep the momentum going, we, Antonio Gray, Sharyn Angley and Monica Stromwall are running for the Board of Education. We are Parents for Progress and we would like the community of Hoboken to join us in improving on and continuing the progress that has already been made these past few years. Together we have many reasons why we are seeking election; seven of which are our children that ALL attend Hoboken Public Schools. As parents, actively involved community members and Hoboken Public School PTO members we will continue to improve upon the progress. Education builds a strong community and allows for future successes within our children’s lives.

We are excited by the improvement of test scores in all of our schools and will continue to raise the bar and set our expectations high for all of our students. Our students are eager to learn and our professional staff will empower and foster a love of education for the children that spend their days with them. We will continue to support and expand the 14 National Advanced Proficient (AP) courses and electives at the high school by utilizing the change of the 6th teaching period that was agreed upon in the new contract that Monica Stromwall assisted in negotiating this past summer. We are also pleased that so many children are able to utilize the new tutoring time after school that was also part of the new teacher’s contracts’. We will continue to support Response to Intervention (RTI) reading program that has already shown success in the first and second grade children. We are happy with so many of the programs that our children have the opportunity to be a part of and we will look forward to the future.

One of the most important jobs a school board member can undertake is the selection of a new superintendent that will continue the progress and provide positive support and encouragement to the staff and students. Antonio, Sharyn and Monica will seek the most qualified superintendent to provide an excellent education for the children in Hoboken public schools. We are proud to note that Hoboken Public School teacher Mr. Mark Mautone, who teaches at Wallace Elementary in the new ABA/Special Needs Center was selected as teacher of the year for the state of New Jersey. He dedicates himself to the children that need the most and we congratulate him in all his success! We are very lucky to have such an outstanding educator in our district.

We have dedicated our time and energy working collaboratively to provide all of our students with positive support to achieve success for all students! Please support the progress and help build a better future for all our children; vote Tuesday, November 4th for Antonio Gray (2), Sharyn Angley (3) and Monica Stromwall (5).

Educationally Yours,
Parents for Progress

Antonio Gray, Sharyn Angley and Monica Stromwall (Hoboken Board of Education Trustee)   

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sign of the Times: US Senate Candidate Jeff Bell in Hoboken

Jeff Bell, NJ candidate for US Senate spoke earlier this evening at the Clinton Social outlining his positions on a host of issues and how the US should tackle its abundant problems domestic and abroad.

A key policy player under the last great one of the greatest American Presidents, Ronald Reagan, Mr. Bell had much to say about how a Reaganite prescription can turn around America.

He also had a one word answer on the achievements of his opponent, Senator Cory Booker as mayor of Newark and what he'll bring with six added years in Washington:


More to come with an exclusive interview with Jeff Bell.

Rehab for Newmanm Leather and the surrounding area tonight @ 7:00?

Lots on the plate tonight making this a more substantial meeting in some time. The Planning Board has green lighted the ability for the City and Council to designate the area around Neumann Leather as an area in need of rehabilitation. There's new owners there who spent $25 million and one can imagine they didn't spent that amount of coin to retain the status quo.

Beth Mason who was unexplainably absent at the last meeting when her and Councilwoman Castellano's ordinance for mandatory sick pay was up for first reading is back on the agenda. Will it make it through first reading? There's many businesses in Hoboken with 10 or more employees who would like to say a resounding "NO!" and they aren't just in the hospitality business. Motion to table!

A NJ.com story highlighted its passage in Jersey City and one small business owner stated they keep employees down to nine to avoid the hassle altogether. It's a bakery so people wonder if that's health conscious. Just another example of unintended consequences brought to you courtesy of local government which has no business in that sandbox anyway.

Also on the agenda is a prohibition against automated cameras at red lights. Well, no one has pushed for this in Hoboken and it's a trend being reversed statewide. Again, Beth Mason and First Ward Councilwoman Terry Castellano are your sponsors looking to put this on lit for ward races in 2015. It should pass for no other reason than that and why would anyone vote no?

Big $5 million ordinance for parking meters. End to end in Hoboken? Sure sounds like it's coming, ready or not. (MSV is not sure on this and hasn't confirmed before game time.) Confirmed: this will mean funding for the installation of meters at all non-resident parking areas across Hoboken if that measure is approved after the bonding is available.

A Planner is up for NJ Transit's proposed development. This is the restricted version proposed by mayor.

Public portion may be entertaining as follow-up on the crash and burn of a 2010 ethics complaint will be resisted, for whatever reason under the sun one can entertain. Will Beth Mason dare to open her mouth on that or campaign reporting? Who knows but this is the way of Hoboken, so expect some sparks.

As Perry Belfiore would say, "Thank you for your many courtesies."

Complete details in the resolution pack and a mighty detailed plan on the area in need of rehabilitation:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Perry Belfiore defends his comments and double downs with a ELEC complaint against Ravi Bhalla

Perry Belfiore says four years of political conflict with Councilman Ravi Bhalla to continue with ELEC campaign complaint

In a broad ranging interview, Perry Belfiore, a decades long player in Hoboken politics who's served  as a Hoboken Housing Authority commissioner and BoE trustee announced further action in his four year political battle focused on Councilman Ravi Bhalla. The latest, a NJ ELEC filing targets a new complaint stemming from campaign expenditures back in early 2013.

The recent controversy surrounding his heated fall 2013 election remarks surprised Belfiore who said the judge has never met him but, "the language against me is stark" suggesting his being "discriminatory against Asians." Belfiore repeatedly insisted it wasn't the case and couched the voicing as strictly political.

He explained his commentary where he said last September to reform members, "control your animal" in a political context. "I should have called him a monster. Was I chastising the council more than him? You best your ass."

A defense was offered to the core of the long running political dispute with the reform movement and Councilman Bhalla. "My theory is there is nothing trivial when it comes to an elected official. If they get away with these actions, they accelerate."

Referencing contracts Bhalla's former law firm won in Newark and Union City when he was a private citizen back in 2008 where he made local political contributions, Belfiore pointed to that as morally problematic. "He got away in Newark... you can be unethical everywhere but the town you are in." Councilman Bhalla has backed the updated pay to play laws in Hoboken in 2011 but New Jersey has no applicable laws statewide.

Turning to the local arena, often described as toxic inside Hoboken and within the rough and tumble world of Hudson County politics, Belfiore admonished further. "The council should hold the council responsible. They were letting him get away with his unethical behavior because they needed his vote." Without elaborating, he said, "It continues to this day... (and) he's going to do something stupid and get indicted."

If the comment was a warning, many in Hoboken may not agree viewing Belfiore's offering as highly partisan. The split between the Old Guard and Reform is hot with election cycles and likely to see further skirmishes. The battle lines are set in the Board of Education race with two Old Guard slates taking on a new district parents slate backed by some reform activists called Parents for Progress. In November 2015 all six ward seats will be up for election on the nine member City Council.

The ethics complaint filed originally in 2010 is not final. A board decision in the next 45 days may agree, overrule or take no action since the judge's withering comments were published in full. Belfiore said he offered to speak to Judge Geraghty but his office declined the request.

The political context of the original complaint is not clear. Belfiore signed his name to the ethics charges and they were published in full here on MSV. Evidence however points to extensive coordination with longstanding Beth Mason political operatives and the release of a hit piece, one in a series on Councilman Bhalla on the notorious censored website Hoboken411. The Hudson Reporter has also written stringent and questionable stories directed at Ravi Bhalla with one pointing to traffic tickets in a June 2012 feature story. (The tickets were later all thrown out largely due to mistakes in computer records but saw no follow up piece.) Last fall, an expensive political campaign targeting Bhalla failed to stop his re-election.

The funding for those efforts to unseat Bhalla in 2013 and overturn a reform minded council majority came from the Mason family. Councilwoman Beth Mason has been a long time antagonist of Bhalla but has declined comment with the release of the judge's remarks from last July's administrative hearing.

There's been no update by the state agency watchdog NJ ELEC on the extensive complaint and potential million dollar fines the Mason family faces for hundreds of campaign violations in her 2009 and 2011 election campaigns filed early this year. A longtime Mason supporter and political operative claimed the matter is settled with a small fine but NJ ELEC at press time has not confirmed that claim and declined to offer any comment in its investigation.

Belfiore for his part has not publicly criticized any Old Guard political allies including Beth Mason's alleged campaign violations or more recently ally Carmelo Garcia who saw his contract in the Hoboken Housing Authority terminated. He was a staunch supporter of the controversial massive expansion of the HHA presented by Garcia called Vision 20/20.

Looking forward, Belfiore made clear he would have to fight the perception of being viewed as a bigot "for the rest of my life." He didn't see himself retreating from the rough and tumble Hoboken political arena saying he planned to be at the next City Council meeting and put forward his case. "I'm considering what appeal (for the ethics complaint) may be available" then dropped another bombshell. "I've filed an NJ ELEC complaint against Ravi Bhalla."

Belfiore offered no legal specifics but said, "ELEC is considering it." Technically this may be true but there's not likely to be any cloud hanging with the allegation. NJ ELEC has limited bandwidth so whatever case can be made may only come from Belfiore and political allies in the near term.

The latest complaint revolves around a ballot challenge of now Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia back in the Democratic Primary for that seat in early 2013. A group of Hoboken residents filed a claim saying Garcia was in violation of the Hatch Act precluding federal employees running for partisan office. Initially, they won the case in Hudson County Superior Court based on a ruling by Judge Peter Bariso but later saw it overturned on appeal.

Belfiore said Bhalla funded the legal action to knock Garcia off the ballot to the tune of more than $40,000 from his campaign funds when he was looking to benefit personally considering a second run for Assembly himself. He didn't specify the reasons why use of campaign funds might fall outside NJ ELEC rules on campaigns. "I'm going before the council to show the complaint I put in with ELEC. That is what happens with unethical people. This council is turning a blind eye to his behavior."

Expect Perry Belfiore to follow through and appear in public portion of the City Council Wednesday night. He's not retreating from the public square; he's doubling down.

Perry Belfiore, once described as the jovial opposition seen here in 2010 being subjected to locks inspection by Grafix Avenger.
He's less jovial after a judge threw out his ethics complaint against Councilman Ravi Bhalla.
He's hinted at seeing the decision overturned and announced he's filed an ELEC complaint against Bhalla as well.

Talking Ed Note: Will another media campaign be ramping up against Ravi Bhalla courtesy of Beth Mason? No email was sent to Mason inquiring on her plans but she almost always ignores such requests. Typically she answers questions in council chambers and at City Hall.

In a phone call a detective in the Hoboken Police Department told MSV to "stay away" from Councilwoman Mason when she filed a harassment charge against this editor the week of September 15th after her avoiding service of a subpoena. A request for Beth Mason's criminal complaint via an OPRA request was denied last week. An unknown Hoboken Police Department source said through the City Clerk's office the denial was due to an "ongoing investigation." The Hoboken Municipal Court previously moved the case out of the Mile Square on a change of venue order.

As for Perry Belfiore, he's clearly not taking a back seat since Judge Geraghty's remarks were made public. The Old Guard rivalry with Reform will see him remain a political player. He's one of the strategists backing Patricia Waiters, Brian Murray and Lynn Danzker for the Hoboken BoE election slated in three weeks.

Belfiore lays claim his remarks perhaps offensive to some can be couched within the context of political speech. Was he reckless in extending it to what critics would call a less than coded bias? It's a matter of interpretation and people will draw their own conclusions but Belfiore vehemently disagrees.

In the end, Belfiore made one additional correction of the judge's remarks saying, "I'm not a gadfly." Overall, he'd likely accept debate on that designation versus the question marks elevated around his other controversial remarks during the last election cycle.

The original remarks made in September 2013 by Belfiore are seen in a video with a related story by MSV available here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The transcript: NJ Administrative judge tosses ethics complaint against Councilman Ravi Bhalla


The unedited original and complete transcript from the July 2nd hearing where Judge James Geraghty throws out the ethics complaint against Councilman Ravi Bhalla is here!

What he says about the complaint, the complainant and the toxic nature of Hoboken politics is a must read.

More to come including an in-depth interview with Hoboken Old Guard politico Perry Belfiore.
First, let's give the public a chance to read for themselves what the fuss is all about.

This is a public court document available for download.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Here comes the judge!

Hoboken was turned on its ear late yesterday when a NJ administrative judge took umbrage with a now four year old ethics complaint and voiced equally strong reservations about the critic laying the charge.

The after effects of the quake are not being felt; they haven't even started. So as the rumble is continuing and based on yesterday's NJ.com story, Councilwoman Beth Mason remains in hiding, here's a fixing of what MSV has coming next week.

Da Horsey will have more from Hoboken politico Perry Belfiore. He has much to say about the tangle of late and what he may further seek on this and other related Hoboken matters.

Complete remarks of the administrative judge from the actual hearing. The City of Hoboken was represented by Corporation Counsel Melissa Longo. Her arguments before the judge won the day.

More analysis on what this may mean for a changing tide in Hoboken. Whether you agree with the judge or not, is there a lesson to be learned in Hoboken's toxic political environment?

Equally of import, does Beth Mason get a clue writing more family checks advancing the politics of personal destruction of others, be it Hoboken citizen, activist or fellow council colleague is not only completely wrong and amoral but bad politics?

Beth Mason: a major loser with the savage attacks
on Councilman Ravi Bhalla thrown out. Her expenditures
were central in underwriting those attacks.
Councilman Ravi Bhalla, a resounding winner
and a major victory after four years fighting a
"frivolous, unwarranted, bigoted" ethics complaint." So said the judge.

The rest of this story is MSV Premium. Man your emails members.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Judge on ethics complaint against Ravi Bhalla: Frivolous! Unwarranted! & BIGOTED!

An ethics complaint filed back in 2010 is in the news as a NJ administrative judge has ruled that filing against Councilman Ravi Bhalla is frivolous but went much further slamming the complainant as "bigoted" and "malicious."

As reported just earlier late Thursday afternoon on NJ.com:

 An administrative law judge has tossed an ethics complaint against a Hoboken councilman, finding that the allegations of a conflict of interest were "wildly speculative" and made by a "local gadfly" known for launching bigoted attacks.

The "local gadfly" in the article is Hoboken Old Guard politico Perry Belfiore.

Judge James Geraghty tossed the ethics complaint stating Councilman Bhalla had no personal or financial relationship with the attorney in the complaint authored by Belfiore and the charges were "frivolous and unwarranted."

Hoboken politico Perry Belfiore as seen in a 2010 City Council meeting holding court
at the mic. A judge threw out his ethics complaint against Councilman Ravi Bhalla
deeming it unwarranted and the actions taken "bigoted."

The article goes on to say the judge described Belfiore as a "relentless political antagonist."

Councilman Bhalla is reportedly pleased with the ruling and said the decision aptly ends a five year smear campaign against him saying, "I'm happy the judge cleared my name."

Last November, Bhalla was the target of a relentless well financed campaign against him when he ran for re-election. Much of the vitriol came from online political operations believed by many to be  underwritten by Councilwoman Beth Mason.  A suspected political operative of hers was thought to have written some questionable and what was considered by many racist remarks under the screen name Ravi Ravioli on Hoboken Patch.

Late in the municipal race, Councilman Bhalla said he was considering filing civil charges against Beth Mason for defamation. After his election victory, he did not do so.

The NJ.com story says Beth Mason was not available after two days of attempts to reach her for comment on the story. She was in attendance at the special City Council meeting last night.

The complete story:

Currently, Perry Belfiore is backing a BoE ticket, Parents for Children with slate candidates: Patricia Waiters, Brian Murray and Lynn Danzker.

In an exclusive on the record interview earlier today with MSV, Belfiore said of Murray and Danzker, "they are very good people... very good people."

Related: Beth Mason's relentless attacks on Ravi Bhalla were covered on MSV during last year's municipal race.

Sign of the Times: QLC eats it as two of three slates ain't bad?

Last night the Board of Education forum took it on the chin when one of the three slates didn't appear.

It's unclear the full details leading up to the final date selected but the word is the Quality of Life Coalition first attempted to hold the forum on the same evening as the monthly Board of Education meeting. Three commissioners on the board are candidates in this election. That meant the date had to be changed.

Parents for Progress stated they were given an alternate date two weeks in advance but no one checked to clear the date. One BoE observer said one of its members was out of town on business making it impossible for the slate to appear.

Helen Manogue who oversees the QLC sponsored forum reportedly voiced complaint saying the no show was disrespectful to the organization and the public. It was suggested one candidate did not respond at all.

The two Old Guard slates according to one observer piled on with a verbal assault on their opponents not in attendance. Perennial candidate Patricia Waiters complained she was not handed an appointment to the BoE as a minority when Carmelo Garcia had to step down earlier this year.

And so it goes...

Talking Ed Notes:

Update 1:20 - MSV hears from multiple independent sources the audience received a handout from QLC's Helen Manogue. It's reportedly private email communications from one Parents for Progress candidate on the scheduling conflict for the forum. (It's uncertain for the moment if the candidate cleared its release.)

While that was going on prior to the start, another QLC board member of more intrigue reportedly blogged on a Hoboken forum how she was "looking forward to meeting you tonight" adding "I know I have been critical of Kids First...  I hope you realize that all I intend to do is find out who I'm voting for."

Where was this communication being publicly posted? At 6:52 it hit the Hoboken Mom's forum. 
It's clear QLC and its board members in attendance were well aware the Parents for Progress slate would not be attending.

How is obvious sandbagging acceptable action by a QLC Board member working an event for a Hoboken public interest group?

Updates will be done here in a public, transparent manner so:

QLC is invited to explain its position and the actions of its board members.

The Elks Club hosted the BoE forum last night but a third of the election candidates were not in attendance.

Who did what and why Da Horsey can't say as MSV was not in attendance. (A gallop was made over downtown to City Hall for the special council meeting.)  In the end will it engender controversy and impact the election outcome? As MSV has noted, the most important factor to date is two Old Guard backed slates lacking a full six candidates.

If Patricia Waiters is selected as the third place choice for both, she's going to be elected as a BoE commissioner.  What does that say (cough, cough) about Hoboken? Talk amongst yourselves.
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