Monday, July 15, 2019

Former Councilman Dave Mello reflects on serving with Peter Cunningham

This guest piece comes courtesy of Hoboken Housing Authority Chairman & former City Councilman Dave Mello

I was sad to have just read that my friend and former Hoboken City Council colleague Peter Cunningham will not be seeking a fourth term as the Fifth Ward's City Councilman. I do, however, admire and understand his reasons for not seeking another term.
If I had to select the Council colleague who I most admired, it would be Peter. Peter was ALWAYS open to considering stances on issues that I was passionate about, even if they didn't affect him and his neighbors. Whether it be expanded park space #WestOfWillow, the need to retain more families, or the need to put more dollars towards our water main infrastructure, Peter was always a colleague you could count on to consider your point-of-view, to never be dismissive of an argument, and to lend his unwavering support to a policy fight once he was convinced it was the right way to go.
Peter's leadership around the City's finances was second to none. Political achievement is always a team effort, but Peter was the quarterback, star running back, and fleet-footed wide receiver all rolled up into one, when it came to the team effort to right our City's financial ship. He was the clear MVP of that effort, and all of Hoboken should be grateful for his leadership. Whenever residents read a press release about Hoboken's strong bond rating or reflect back on the former stability of our municipal budget they should remember that it was Peter who led our City to these financial victories. Thank you, Peter!
Peter was also a great friend to the Hoboken Housing Authority and to the Fox Hill community. He brought a lovely garden to Fox Hill, that just this week HHA leaders were telling me remains extremely popular with residents who are always eager to prep their next planting. Again, thank you, Peter!!
I used to kid Peter that serving with him was like having a big brother on the Council; always ready to help, always willing to show you the ropes of local government, and always willing to punch you in the gut if you were acting like an ass or going the wrong way in a political fight! Peter is just that type of tough-love colleague; as great of a colleague as anyone could have. Thank you for that!!!
Since I don't want to "gas him up" anymore (as my students would say), I'll end with this: 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher Campaign Kickoff Monday @ the Madison 6:30 - 8:00

Official release:

Dear neighbors, family, and friends, 
Happy Friday and Happy 25th Anniversary to me – on this date 25 years today, I moved to Hoboken!  What an incredible adventure it has been since then when at 26, I lived in a 4th floor walk-up on Monroe St. between 1st and Newark and worked a zillion hours a week at an Investment Bank in New York.  And now, at the age of 51, with a few more gray hairs and still working many hours per week only now for Hoboken, I wiIl be hosting a Campaign Kick-off Event for re-election to a second term on Hoboken’s City Council as the 2nd Ward representative.  Please RSVP here (FB event) or email me.
Whether you live in the 2nd Ward or elsewhere, please come out on what looks to be a gorgeous summer evening to help me celebrate these milestones.  Drinks and snacks are on me including my single favorite summertime drink - Pimm’s and Lemonade.  And I have a special guest who will be introducing me that night… J
Nominating Petitions
As you probably know, in order to get on the ballot, I need to have nominating petitions signed by 1% of the registered voters in the 2nd Ward.  Last time it required 63 but I was able to get almost 300.  And this time the 2nd Ward grew so much I need 75!  If you are a registered voter in the 2nd ward (click HERE to see boundaries), I would be so honored to have a nominating petition from you – it just requires a signature and an address.  
If you would like to help me get on the ballot, I can bring one to you or you can print the attached and sign and I will come to you to pick up!  Here are some important links to help you with your voter registration if you need to make any changes:
  • Am I registered? - Click HERE
  • Voter registration form - Click HERE
  • Register to Vote By Mail - Click HERE
Special Improvement District
After 2 1/2 hours of discussion at the City Council meeting, the City Council passed an ordinance to establish a city wide Special Improvement District to be called Hoboken Business Alliance.  This is a historic step for Hoboken and resets the trajectory of our business community and local economy.  You know how you hear about all of the improvements going on with businesses in Jersey City?  They are all through SID’s.  I have been working for over 2 years on this and am so proud of all those involved who helped get it to this point.  Some familiar faces were appointed to be the incorporating officers for the new SID – Armando Luis (La Isla and Sparrow Wine), Eugene Flinn (Amanda’s, Elysian Café and Alfalfa), and Donna Garban (Little City Books) and will be leading voices in this initiative.  
Maybe More Open Space & Historic Preservation
In November when you go to the polls there will be two ballot questions for Open Space – one that expands the definition of use to include Historic Preservation and would increase the assessment from $.02 to $.03 per assessed value and the second one that would allow more of the funds to be used for park development (currently limited to 25%).  
Future of EScooters on the Waterfront Walkway
The City Council passed on first reading the ordinance that I sponsored to ban EScooters from our waterfront walkway.  This measure will require City Council approval on second reading in August and approval by the mayor before it can go into effect.  For those unaware, OJO scooters – the ones you sit down on – have announced a self-ban of their scooters on our waterfront walkway. 
Earlier Sunday Morning Cocktails
Good news for some. That Sunday morning Bellini or Bloody Mary can now be had an hour earlier at 10:00 am!
Clinton St. Bike Lane PILOT
This was pulled from the agenda by Councilman Russo, the Chair of the Parking and Transportation committee, to bring back to committee before re-introduction at the next meeting. 
Plastic Bag Ban means All Plastic Bags (and also Styrofoam Containers)
You know those extra thick plastic bags certain retailers are handing out saying they are “reusable”.  Well, soon to be no more.  The council voted unanimously in favor to include all plastic carry out bags in the ban.  Additionally, the ban has been expanded to also include the use and sale of certain single service Expanded Polystyrene (Styrofoam) containers and what is commonly known as packing peanuts.  
Nothing specific other than we expect that the Mayor will be presenting a settlement proposal to the City Council soon.  His office is in the process of setting up some meetings with residents and the City Council to discuss in more detail.  As you know, I have previously taken the position that I have a conflict that keeps me from voting on any proposed settlement given the outcome may affect my view.  There are certain circumstances that may actually allow me to vote given that when I originally ran for office, I ran and was elected on a platform that included fighting against the proposed Monarch.  I won’t know until early fall, but will let everyone know.  That said, just know that I have and will continue to advocate - both as your neighbor and your elected representative -  for a completed public waterfront including the Monarch site and the former Union Dry Dock site.
Special Council Meeting Thursday July 18th at 7pm
Our City Council meeting was long on Wednesday night and we did not get a chance to vote on certain pieces of legislation so we are having a special meeting next Thursday at 7pm to do so.  These include, among others, a resolution on Car Free Sundays on Sinatra Drive, updating our Ethics Ordinance Chapter 29 to Prohibit Politicking on Public Property (including Nixle…), and amendments to the Northwest and Western Edge Redevelopment Plans. 
Peter Cunningham Not Running for Re-Election
Today I was saddened to read that Councilman Peter Cunningham has decided not to run for re-election.  To say that this is a loss for Hoboken is an understatement.  He leaves big shoes to fill.  If you haven't yet read, I would encourage you to read his email he sent this morning.  Councilwoman Giattino and I put out this statement earlier today that reflects our sentiment.  
Councilwomen Giattino and Fisher React to Cunningham Decision Not to Seek New Term, Praise Longtime Colleague
HOBOKEN, NJ -- Hoboken 5th Ward City Council member Peter Cunningham has announced that he will not be seeking re-election this November following three terms on the City Council. Councilwomen Tiffanie Fisher and Jen Giattino, both longtime colleagues and friends of Councilman Cunningham, praised him as a strong, independent voice on the council who has advocated for efficiency, competence and transparency in city government. 
“I first met Peter in 2009, when he was organizing the uptown farmers market and he was the first person to encourage me to run for city council in 2011,” said Councilwoman Jen Giattino. Peter was a true reformer, who was the mastermind behind getting the city’s finances in order. No matter the issue, Peter has always done what he believed was best for the city.  It will be a great loss for Hoboken to no longer have his independent voice on the city council.”
Not only was Councilman Cunningham the first to suggest Giattino run in 2011, but he also joined others including then-Mayor Dawn Zimmer to encourage Fisher to run in 2015.
 “Peter has been the sage, the voice of reason on all decisions we have made on the Council,” said Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher. “At the core of his decision making, and what I respect most about his leadership, is his commitment to always doing what was best for Hoboken and his 5th Ward neighbors. Peter’s judgment and independent voice have had positive impacts on our community and will be missed. I will work hard to continue his legacy of reform, good government and unconditional commitment to Hoboken. I am grateful for his continuing friendship and support and wish he and his family all the best.”
The silver lining of this is that I am hopeful that others within our community who may want to get more involved but didn’t see a pathway will see this as an opportunity to run for office.  If you are that person or you know anyone who lives in the 5th ward, let me know!  Right now there is only one person running and democracy demands that we have choices!
As always, please forward to anyone you think may be interested in this.  And don’t hesitate to email me or call at 201/208-1674 to discuss this or anything else important to you.  Thank you for reading and I hope to see you Monday night at 630 at the Madison Bar and Grill for my Kick-Off event!  

Friday, July 12, 2019

Councilman Peter Cunningham: 'I took on corruption; now it's time after 12 years for someone new'

Official release:

Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

I was elected to the Hoboken City Council on June 2007 at a time of tremendous change in our Mile Square City.  We launched an exciting period of reform and transitioned from the old days of corruption and mismanagement. Dawn Zimmer fought two runoffs in the summer and Fall of 2007, and, as a new member of City Council, I led the reform efforts legislatively in what turned out to be the beginning of the most amazing time in Hoboken’s local government history.  In 2009, as City Council President, we instituted unprecedented financial and economic reform in Hoboken City government. 

I understood that corruption had the potential to ruin our City.  The primary examples included a Director and a Mayor going off to jail, and a Councilman caught on tape willing to accept a bribe.  We went from State Supervision to attaining one of the top credit ratings in New Jersey.  We financed critical projects to support our infrastructure and build parks.  As Chair of the Revenue and Finance Committee of the Council working closely with Mayor Zimmer’s appointments I selected, we built a solid, sustainable financial infrastructure.  My experience in and knowledge of best practices in public finance was critical to these efforts. 

I am also proud of the difficult campaigns for new Council members and the continuing re-elections of Mayor Zimmer.  These were hard-fought races which insured that reform efforts were not only temporary but a lasting foundation for good government in Hoboken.  Of particular pride is the appointment of our Zoning Board and its leadership in responsibly examining all aspects of development.  Other proud moments include saving our hospital and the community garden built at Fox Hill Gardens by the efforts of our broad 5th Ward community two years ago.  

Twelve years is a good long time to serve on City Council, and I am more than proud of my accomplishments.  I can say, from my perspective, I have made this City proud of who it was, who it is today, and who it will be into the future.  With that being said and after careful thought with family and friends, I have decided to not run for re-election this year.  I must now devote increased time to my professional life and more importantly, my responsibilities as a husband and a father.  I entrust my legacy to my council colleagues Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher.  We need to stay grounded in the foundation of reform initiated twelve years ago and remain committed to good government.  Politics is always inherent to the process, but healthy debates about policy should always be respected and encouraged.   

As you can see, I am not “anointing” the next 5th Ward Councilperson which was done by the previous Mayor.  While some close friends believe I should, it would be hypocritical.  I believe a strong, independent candidate will emerge, and I look forward to working hard to ensure his or her election.   

I look forward to hearing from you as the democratic process begins right here, right now with you.  Please be sure to circulate to all your friends and neighbors, and let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks, Peter

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Sign of the Times: The Mikie Dilemma

Councilman Michael Russo, an unannounced anticipated third ward council candidate for re-election in 2019 is surrounded with magical numbers.

In 2015, his campaign reports state he loaned his unopposed re-election bid $15,000. It appears that the full amount was utilized to fund over 240 "campaign workers" during that election, mostly at $50 per pop.

All but 20 of those alleged campaign workers voted by mail in a remarkable similarity to the $15,000 check Frank Raia paid out for similar activities in 2013.

It's a Sign of the Times.

Talking Ed Note: Last night, Councilman Russo flipped his vote rejoining Ravi Bhalla's efforts for a non-binding November referendum on e-Scooters. The measure again utterly failed in a 6-3 vote and is maybe one of the last significant votes in the Ravi-Russo Alliance. That's for another day.

The big July summer issue went out to premium members by email yesterday. If you didn't receive yours for any reason drop a note to

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Councilman DeFusco pushes ethics reform halting political campaigning on taxpayer time

Official release:

Councilman DeFusco to Introduce Sweeping Ethics Reform Proposal 
Councilman Mike DeFusco will be introducing a comprehensive new ethics reform proposal during Wednesday’s City Council meeting to ensure taxpayer money and resources are not being misused for personal or political gain. The ordinance, co-sponsored by Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, will bar any public official from using the city’s Nixel alert system to promote a political agenda and will create additional oversight to prevent city employees from performing political campaigning activities during working hours. 
“Misusing taxpayer-funded government resources not only wastes taxpayers’ money, it compromises the integrity of our democracy,” said Councilman DeFusco. “Our city government and employees should be exclusively focused on delivering the best, most efficient services possible for our residents, not on political advancement. This legislation is essential to begin restoring a sense of accountability in our city government and it will help all residents have confidence that every one of their tax dollars is being used properly and responsibly.” 

Councilwoman Jen Giattino: "Join me at my Re-election Kickoff July 22"

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors,
I am excited to announce that I will be running run for a new term to continue representing the 6th Ward in November’s City Council election. Please join my family and me to help launch my campaign at Moran's on Monday, July 22 at 6pmClick here to RSVP or email me.
I have strived to cultivate a reputation as an advocate for our neighborhood and pride myself on being accessible to my constituents for problem-solving while providing independent, responsible leadership on the City Council.  Serving the residents of Hoboken is something I take very seriously and our community deserves a true advocate who will always do whatever they can to deliver to residents. I also am someone who can make the tough decisions on what’s best for our city without bowing to political pressure. I look forward to walking door to door and connecting with friends and neighbors and building towards a victory in November.
In 2011, with support from many of you, I was elected to the City Council and since then my peers have elected me City Council President four times reflecting what I believe is my dedication to public service and willingness to be a consensus builder and leader. I partnered with Mayor Dawn Zimmer on numerous initiatives, from passing the ambitious Rebuild by Design resiliency plan after Hurricane Sandy to instituting a stronger ethics code for city officials to creating new open space like South West Park and Northwest Resiliency Park (BASF).
My focus has been and will continue to be, on improving quality of life issues and protecting our neighborhood feel that makes Hoboken so special.  With your input, I have supported zoning changes to preserve the historic character of the community, added loading zones to neighborhoods, began advocating for Union Dry Dock to be added to the open space plan in 2012, brought necessary upgrades to city parks (grass in Church Square) and secured $250,000 from the County for dog park upgrades.  Recently, I have worked to reduce homelessness in Hoboken, ensure that local nonprofits are able to continue operating and fix a loophole in the city’s rent control law to protect tenants. 
I have been proud to be your representative on the City Council and, with your continued support, will be honored to keep working together on what matters most to all of us, Hoboken.    
I look forward to seeing you at my kick-off!


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Hoboken American Legion opens new building with housing for homeless veterans

The following story comes courtesy of the Hudson County View:

Seven years after suffering extensive damage from Superstorm Sandy, the Hoboken American Legion 107 cut the ribbon today to officially open a new building that will contain a community center and house homeless veterans in six apartment units.

After the event, we spoke to Hoboken Council President Jen Giattino, and based on her remarks, there’s a good chance that the legion will be able to acquire the property from the city to build the additional units.

“I can see no better use for that land to house homeless vets. For anyone serving this country to leave and then have to come back and be homeless is completely unacceptable, and we as a society have to do anything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Giattino said in an interview.

Talking Ed Note: Congratulations and thanks to American Legion Post 107 Commander John Carey and all the Hoboken veterans who worked so hard over so many years bringing this community benefit to American veterans.

Kind thanks also to Mayor Richard Turner of Weehawken for his town's gracious and kind support.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Councilwoman Jen Giattino Announces Re-Election Campaign, Kickoff Event July 22

Official release:

Council President Promises Continued Constituent Accessibility, 
Responsible Leadership for 6th Ward 
City Council President Jen Giattino is announcing that she will run for a new term to continue representing the 6th Ward in November’s City Council election. A longtime public servant, Councilwoman Giattino has cultivated a reputation as an advocate for her neighborhood who prides herself on being accessible to her constituents for problem-solving while providing independent, responsible leadership on the City Council. 

Giattino will host a Campaign Kickoff Event on Monday, July 22 at 6:00 p.m. at Moran’s Pub, 501 Garden Street. 

“Serving the people of Hoboken as a member of the City Council is a responsibility I take very seriously because the people of our community deserve nothing less than a true advocate who will always do whatever she can to deliver for residents,” said Councilwoman Giattino. “My neighbors know me as a leader they can trust and count on to provide assistance whenever it’s needed, and also as someone who can make the tough decisions on what’s best for our city without bowing to political pressure. I look forward to walking door to door and connecting with friends and neighbors and building towards a victory in November.” 

Jen Giattino was elected to the City Council in 2011 and has since been voted City Council President by her peers four times, a reflection of her dedication to public service and willingness to be a consensus builder and leader. She partnered with Mayor Dawn Zimmer on numerous initiatives, from passing the ambitious Rebuild by Design resiliency plan after Hurricane Sandy to instituting a stronger ethics code for city officials to creating new open space like South West Park and Northwest Resiliency Park(BASF).

Aside from providing outstanding constituent service, Councilwoman Giattino has focused on improving quality of life issues and protecting the neighborhood feel that makes Hoboken so special. Recently, she has worked to reduce homelessness in Hoboken, ensure that local nonprofits are able to continue operating and fixing a loophole in the city’s rent control law to protect tenants. Councilwoman Giattino has advocated adding the Union Dry Dock location to the open space plan since 2012, supported zoning changes to preserve the historic character of the community, added loading zones to neighborhoods and brought necessary upgrades to city parks, including $250,000 for dog park upgrades. 

For the Feds, Hoboken is a target rich mile square city

Years in the making, there's years more targets on the backs of politicos in the Mile Square City courtesy of the Boys of Summer, the Feds.

The shutout is over and the innings of zeroes endlessly following Hoboken elections with it. Having unraveled the 2013 election with a string of convictions elevating Frank Raia the poster child, the Feds are drilling into 2015, hitting paydirt and touching 2017.

Councilman Michael Russo may sing the praises of Mayor Ravi Bhalla in a council meeting again but he won't be claiming voter fraud is a myth with zero convictions anymore.

The work of Old Guard soldiers like Matt Calicchio isn't over. Wired for sound in the past means being available to be wired in front of a microphone before more grand juries and jurors for years to come. Cooperation ends when the Feds say it does, not when your lawyer's billing should according to your Uptown Old Guard sponsor hiding in the wine cellar would like.

These are future stories for another day. conducted interviews with numerous parties for the Raia trial including the attorney for Matt Calicchio as premium members already know.

It's called reporting. 

A decade of proven reporting has seen credentials here accepted from Hudson County Superior Court to US Marshalls in federal court. From election day 2013 when the US Department of Justice sent in special investigators to a gnawing growing voter fraud to the conviction in Newark, has broken more stories on the growing epidemic of Hoboken voter fraud than everyone. Combined.

The next phase, the 2015 council ward elections get tricky. There's muckraking and then there's taking dictation and shoveling (redacted).

Here are the complexities facing pending investigation of Hoboken's "tradition" at election time.

The rest of this story is premium content and will go out to members Wednesday.

Council President Jen Giattino: 'Lights for Liberty' vigil Friday @ 7:00 in Church Square Park

Official release:

Council President Jen Giattino will join organizations around the world in sponsoring a Lights for Liberty vigil on July 12 to end human detention camps across the United States. Thousands of people are expected to participate in similar events in their communities and outside detention centers to call for an end to human detention. 
“The detention of immigrants, refugees and families is an inhumane practice that strips individuals of their basic rights,” said Council President Jen Giattino. “Together, we as a city will take a stand for democracy and work toward putting an end to these intolerable conditions. I invite all of Hoboken to join us to show their support for those who are detained and suffering behind bars across our country.” 
Candles will be provided at the vigil. 
WHO: Council President Jen Giattino, members of the City Council and community organizers 
WHERE: Church Square Park, 499 Willow Avenue, Hoboken 
WHEN: Friday, July 12 from 7 to 9 p.m. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Independence Day 2019!

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 
Declaration of Independence, 1776

The Blue Angels are set to perform for Independence Day today in the nation's capital.

Independence Day Schedule of Events 

National Independence Day Parade – Constitution Avenue NW from 7th Street to 17th Street NW
11:45 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Marching bands, fife and drum corps, floats, military units, giant balloons, equestrian, drill teams and more celebrate Independence Day in this patriotic, flag-waving, red, white and blue celebration of America's birthday! Visit the National Independence Day Parade for more information.

Salute to America – Lincoln Memorial 
6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
President Donald J. Trump honors America’s armed forces with music, military demonstrations, flyovers and much more. Participants include the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the U.S. Army Band (“Pershing’s Own”), the Armed Forces Chorus, the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, and many others. Gates open at 3 p.m.

A Capitol Fourth Concert – West Lawn the U.S. Capitol 
8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Co-sponsored by the National Park Service and the National Symphony Orchestra, join host John Stamos for an all-star salute to America's 243rd birthday with performances by Grammy Award-winning music legend Carole King, multi-platinum recording artist Vanessa Williams, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat, the National Symphony Orchestra, a special appearance by the Sesame Street Muppets, and much more! Gates open at 3 p.m. Visit A Capitol Fourth for more information.

Fireworks Display
9:07 p.m. – 9:42 p.m.
Independence Day celebrations culminate with a spectacular fireworks display over the National Mall. The fireworks will be launched from West Potomac Park and behind the Lincoln Memorial. They will be visible from locations throughout D.C. and Northern Virginia.

C-SPAN will televise live coverage beginning at 6:00 PM.