Monday, May 20, 2019

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "2nd Ward Pedestrian Safety Improvements Coming to You!"

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:
With a new Suez water contract now in place and the redesign of Washington St. just about completed, PEDESTRIAN SAFETY sits alone atop the list of the issues that I hear the most from you – mainly relating to our intersections.  I can tell you the entire City Council and the administration are focused on this.  And although we have seen many improvements citywide, there is still a lot to do.  Like many of you, I am eager to see the Vision Zero plan the city will be rolling out shortly.  
But for today, I want to update you on some intersections in the 2nd ward that have been my main focus.  For those who receive this who do not live in the 2nd ward, I am 100% certain that you will still walk, ride or drive through these intersections at some point so these will also impact you.
14th / Shipyard
This is an intersection that has pretended to not be an intersection.  With only two cross walks, no clear direction for pedestrians, being in the path towards a main transportation hub, and located in a neighborhood that has had the highest growth in density in the city… it is an understatement to say this intersection needed an upgrade.  
At the 5/1 Council meeting, a resolution was introduced to re-do this intersection, but I asked to carry the proposal one meeting because I was concerned the plan was incomplete as it was from 2014, before many of the large buildings in the area were built.  I was particularly concerned the plan called for only three crosswalks instead of four which turned out to be the case:  
Parking and Transportation Director Ryan Sharp and City Engineer Kimbrly Craft agreed with me that it needed a refreshed view so we met me last week to review the intersection and working together, we revised the plan that has now since been approved at the 5/15 City Council meeting.  This new plan now completes the intersection, adds a few street parking spaces on the north side of 14th between Hudson and Shipyard (replacing a travel lane) which also provides the added benefit of narrowing the street.  Additionally, Director Sharp and Ms. Craft recommended adding a striped median (not raised) in the middle of the street to further give the impression of a narrow travel lane that helps to slow traffic in the area.  Oh, and this, along with others intersection improvements across town are funded by a grant from the state!  A win-win-win outcome!

15th / Garden
All I can say here is finally.   After advocating for safety improvements at this intersection till I was blue in the face, I was told that a solution is imminent.  Director Sharp and Ms. Craft informed two weeks ago that they have ordered RRFB’s – Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon Crosswalk System - for the cross walks at this intersection.  This would be a solar powered rapid flashing light combined with school crossing signage - something like the picture below.  The lights would be triggered as pedestrians approach the intersection.  I don’t yet have an ETA for these, just that they are ordered and on their way.
This intersection is where a main thoroughfare (15th Street) meets a main pedestrian route (Elysian Charter, Harborside Park and the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway) without any signal devices or effective signage.  And is the intersection that I get the single most calls about.  Why not speed bumps you ask?  Not supported for high traffic volumes and are noisy.  Why not a stop sign?  Too close to the traffic light/left arrows at 15th and Park.  Why not a traffic table (elevated intersection)?  This is actually coming in the future as part of Rebuild By Design.
14th / Garden
A traffic signal is underway, with the hopes of it being installed before the end of summer / beginning of new school year.  
This has been slow moving since it was approved in 2015. It is a County intersection and project and the bidding for the project is currently underway.  Director Sharp and Ms. Craft estimated timing to be approximately 5 months from right now, highly depending on PSEG when they ultimate activate the light.  We agreed that we will all be asking the various parties (County and PSEG) to target having this light installed and up and running before Labor Day and the start of the new school year.  I would encourage you to email Freeholder Anthony Romano at and tell him how badly we want this done before school starts (cc: me).
14th / Willow
Hoboken Police Chief Ferrante stated at the Council meeting on April 17th, that this intersection is by far the most dangerous in the City.  
After speaking with Freeholder Romano earlier that week who indicated the County (it is their intersection) was prepared to review the intersection once they received direction from the City, I co-sponsored with Councilman Cunningham a resolution formally recommending that the County make the following changes and do further review of the intersection.  
  • Remove all parking spaces in front of Trader Joe’s up through the traffic light at 13th / Rite Aid and convert to a second travel lane; 
  • Insert bollards / delineator posts along the center double line directly in front of the entrance into the Harlow / Trader Joe’s parking garage – approximately 200 feet from the intersection of Willow Avenue and 14th Street to create a physical barrier to prohibit left turns into and out of the Harlow / Trader Joe’s parking garag; and 
  • Review with Hoboken Police Department the accidents at and near the intersection of Willow Avenue and 14th Street and the configuration of the eastbound turning lanes on the Viaduct / 14th Street to recommend further changes to improve safety.
Freeholder Romano let me know last week that the County has received this request and is undertaking the review of this intersection.
14th / Hudson 
Have you ever just stood at this intersection waiting for the crosswalk sign to change to “walk” and it just never does?  Well, the issue here is that you have to actually press the button to make that happen.  One would think that it happens automatically as well, but apparently it does not.  I have asked the County to address this and change to automatic which I am told they will take care of. 
15th / Willow and 15th / Park - Traffic Light Timing
Remember when the timing of these lights magically seemed to coordinate to make getting across 15th and out of town easier?  And then it suddenly and annoyingly stopped?  I have informed the County who believe the change may relate to a reset that occurred at Willow and 19th and are looking into it.
Pier 13 / Sinatra North
The next step at this intersection is to do a warrant analysis to determine if a stop sign is warranted.  When Director Sharp and Ms. Craft visited me last week, we reviewed this intersection as well and they committed to installing new temporary "stop for pedestrian signs" and to work with the County to perform the necessary analysis during the busiest pedestrian times (weekends).  I have also asked Lt. Petrosino to increase patrols around Pier 13 on the weekends as we get into the busy summer season.  
Up next... 
I have discussed other traffic intersections with Director Sharp, Ms. Craft and the County and will hope to have more updates on these soon.  These include 9th and Washington where buses have difficult navigating the left turn up to Stevens; 11th and Hudson, a tough and confusing intersection that makes it wrought with safety concerns; 12th and Shipyard which suffers similary to 14th and Shipyard, frustrated by the double parking on 12th between Shipyard and Hudson; and 14th and Park where people speed to try to make the light before it turns and where I have spoken with the city about adding a visor or louver to the traffic lights to limit the visibility of the light until the driver is closer to the approach.  
If I have missed an intersection, please let me know.  I think we all are aware that there seems to be a general lack of stopping for pedestrians at intersections in Hoboken and not enough enforcement.  A number of improvements were made on the residential streets north of 12th to help improve visibility at the crosswalks, but that hasnt stopped people from parking in the crosswalks and speeding through stop signs.  At 15th and Bloomfield, one of my neighbors was hit by a car in the middle of the day while he was crossing 15th.  The car was speeding up Bloomfield and did not stop at 15th.  Thankfully it wasn't more serious, but he did require a hospital visit and had a broken leg.  
Culture of Safety 
I believe strongly that we are lacking and need to create a "Culture of Safety" in Hoboken.  Where EVERYONE does their part - drivers, riders, and pedestrians.  Some of the simple things we can all do starting today to do our part:
(from Street Smart NJ)
Once the City's Vision Zero plan is launched, which is a very public process including input from many, I plan to take an active role with my focus being on what we will do to educate those in and who enter our community that "Hoboken Takes Safety Seriously" and that "We Are A Pedestrian Town Where Pedestrian Safety Comes First". 
Shifting gears a little... thank you to everyone who helped support providing six homes for homeless veterans in Hoboken.  The event Saturday night at the new American Legion Post 107 was a huge success - they raised almost $50,000!  They still have another $50,000 to go to finish the project so if you are interested in supporting them email me or Commander John Carey at  The biggest moment of the night though was when Hoboken's treasure Vinny Wassman, who at 94 is Hoboken's oldest veteran, led the crowd in a spirited rendition of Grand Old Flag.   If you don't know Vinny, you should.  Click the picture below of Vinny (and beloved Charlie who runs Bingo at the Senior Center) to see...
We really live in a special community.  heart
Pedestrian safety touches all of us.  So please forward this to everyone you think would want to know about these updates.  And as always, feel free to reach out via email, text or phone (201-208-1674) about this or anything else important to you.      
Best wishes,  

City Council President Jen Giattino: "Help Continue to Improve Pedestrian Safety in Our Neighborhood"

Official release:

Hello Friends and Neighbors,
I am looking for your input to continue to make our neighborhood more safe for everyone, especially pedestrians. 
Last year, after a warrant study, I had a stop sign installed on 6th and Clinton Sts. This intersection has a bus stop and school which lends itself to vehicle/pedestrian conflict.
A warrant study is underway on 2nd and Bloomfield Sts. I am waiting for the results.
After advocating for pedestrian safety improvements on 7th and Clinton Sts. which has the parking lot for ACME, I am pleased that a resolution was passed at last week’s council meeting for a major overhaul of this intersection.  This will include corner bump-outs, a rain garden to help with drainage, and long lasting thermoplastic for all markings (crosswalks and on street signage).
Planned improvements for 7th and Clinton Sts:
Also, did you know that May is National Historic Preservation month?  Our Hoboken Historic Preservation Commission has started a campaign called This Place Matters, identifying places across Hoboken that have been around for a long time and matter most to our community.  If you have any suggestions, please email me.  I personally think that all of Hoboken matters.
Please email me any intersection that you have concerns with so we can continue to make safety improvements to our neighborhood.

Councilman DeFusco’s Small Business Expansion District Plan Approved by City Council

Official release:

Councilman DeFusco’s Small Business Expansion District Plan Approved by City Council
Plan is First Major Change to City’s Zoning Since 1980s, Will Attract Innovative New Businesses to Hoboken
HOBOKEN, N.J. -- Small businesses in Hoboken struggle with cripplingly high costs and bureaucratic barriers to entry, causing far too many vacancies on Washington Street and missed opportunities in other prime locations in the city. City officials have pledged to solve the problem for years, but now a new plan spearheaded by Councilman Mike DeFusco and passed by the City Council will finally make the revolutionary policy changes needed to support small businesses in Hoboken, the first major changes to the city’s zoning laws since the Reagan administration.
The City Council gave final approval to Councilman DeFusco’s Small Business Expansion District Plan on Wednesday night. The plan will re-establish Washington Street as the city’s primary commercial hub, lowering barriers to entry for small businesses like restaurants and shops to open on the main street by opening new sections to business uses previously prohibited. Secondly, the plan creates three new neighborhood business districts and defines and expands permitted uses in these areas, which will encourage innovative new businesses like restaurants, cafes, co-working spaces, tech incubators and more to open. It also encourages more neighborhood retail and corner stores, bringing vibrancy to neighborhoods in need. Taken together, these long overdue policy changes will remove many of the barriers to entry that have been stopping businesses from investing in the city while activating parts of the community where residents have long desired more local shopping, dining and entertainment options.     
“Small businesses play a vital role in our community, making it critical that we find ways to help mom and pop shops succeed in Hoboken,” said Councilman DeFusco. “The Small Business Expansion District Plan does exactly this by enacting a proactive policy that will encourage makers, creators and innovators to invest in our city. When small businesses thrive, our neighborhoods are more vibrant, new jobs are created and we lower the burden on residential taxpayers. I am proud to have worked with the City Council and Mayor to expand neighborhood business districts and look forward to bringing new and exciting business concepts into our community.”
The Small Business Expansion District Plan includes:

  • Expanding neighborhood retail the entire length of First Street, which will create a new business corridor between the Waterfront and Southwest Park
  • Expanding neighborhood retail along 14th Street from the Waterfront to Willow Avenue
  • Expanding the Central Business District from Fourth Street to Seventh Street along Washington Street
  • Expanding retail on Washington from Seventh Street to 14th Street, with the exception of certain blocks on the eastern side
  • Creating a neighborhood retail district on Jackson Street between First and Fourth Streets to serve the west side of Hoboken

Who is paying for the lawyer of Matt "Vote by Calicchio?"


Matt Calicchio's running voter fraud joke "Vote by Calicchio" may come back to haunt others

Matt Calicchio (l) in this exclusive July 1, 2011 photo with Frank "Pupie" Raia holding court.
copyright 2019
With the announcement this month of Matt Calicchio entering a guilty plea for promoting voter bribery in the 2013 and 2015 Hoboken elections, a ticking time bomb of significant magnitude lands square on the Mile Square City.

For the average Hoboken resident, the latest political operative player admitting to voter fraud schemes had become ho-hum but those familiar with the name Matt Calicchio who worked for former Councilwoman Beth Mason most of this decade know differently.

With the plea, the FBI in Newark laid an ace on the table aiming to put a nail into the coffin of Frank "Pupie" Raia.  Along with his sidekick, Dio Braxton, both are facing criminal charges connected to alleged voter fraud activities in their upcoming federal criminal trial for 2015.

The trial, set for June 11th anticipates testimony from Liz "Church Lady" Camis joining Matt Calicchio as witnesses for the prosecution against Raia, who is billed by the Feds as the director of the fraudulent voter operation.

As seen in this exclusive 2010 story, none of this comes as a shock to readers here. Others in Hoboken, however, are shocked any prosecution of voter fraud in Hoboken after generational voter fraud occurred is finally happening.

When did Matt Calicchio actually flip and become a witness for the prosecution? Reliable sources suggest it occurred "a while ago," back to at least last year.

This will have many people in Hoboken worried with the possible exception of the people paying for Matt Calicchio's lawyer who organized a plea deal on his their behalf.

Prior to 2011 when Matt Calicchio became an all-purpose political thug, he was known as a "Pupie guy." A falling out saw him depart that hot and cold love-hate relationship but not before he reportedly deleted a computer hard drive at the Raia Civic.

During the period of his admitted voter fraud activities in the Hoboken elections of 2013 and 2015, Matt Calicchio stated in live testimony before Judge Mongiello in Hoboken Municipal Court in 2012 that he worked for the "art gallery" and "the Mason family" of the Mason Civic League at 12th and Washington St.

That April 2012 criminal case was filed by Calicchio against this editor after a phone call to him inquiring on a trial date involving a BOE trustee and her young daughter.

The harassment charge would be thrown out of court when Calicchio stopped attending the court hearings in the latter part of 2013. One imagines he had other more pressing electoral duties at hand.

In attendance supporting Matt Calicchio at the onset of the 2012 court hearing in Hoboken Municipal Court, Ryan Yacco, the former 2011 campaign manager for then-councilwoman Beth Mason.  In addition, Frank "Pupie" Raia would show up in court to show his support and sit next to Calicchio.

Yacco is rumored to be on the witness list for the Raia-Braxton trial next month among other possible Hoboken political operative luminaries.

Back to the question at hand, who paid for Matt Calicchio's lawyer likely spanning back to his time as a cooperating witness last year?

Well, who do you think?

Former Councilwoman Beth Mason with her employee Matt Calicchio in this vintage 2014 reader-submitted photo.
Calicchio pled guilty earlier this month to his participation in a voter fraud bribery scheme in the 2013 and 2015
Hoboken elections. 

The rest of this story is premium content and will be sent to members Tuesday.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Ravi-Russo Alliance Ticket!

Yesterday's prediction of an impending Team Bhalla council slate announcement came within an eyelash of dead on accuracy.

Thanks to everyone who participates and continues to support the RaviLeaks Good Government Transparency Program.

The ticket Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced is less than inspiring in many respects but closes the books on any lingering questions about the often reported Ravi-Russo Alliance here.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla and his special guest Councilman Michael Russo speaking at a Hoboken Democratic Committee meeting.
The Ravi-Russo Alliance is very much alive with Russo set to face no opposition from Team Bhalla.

Ron Bautista an imperfect but suitable cannon fodder candidate in the third ward would complete a citywide ticket for Team Bhalla.

Yesterday, Hmag highlighted the obvious dereliction and received a response from the Team Bhalla spokesman who described the situation as "fluid" implying there may be an addition at a later date.

There's only one problem with this spin. It flies in the face of the Ravi-Russo Alliance and the deal already cut.

In recent days, Councilman Michael Russo has openly bragged about the deal he cut with Ravi Bhalla.

The rest of this story is premium content and will go out later today to subscribers.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'Improving Hoboken's budget'

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:
The City Council held its Public Hearing for the Budget Amendment that was proposed by the Council at the last meeting on May 1st where it was approved 8-1 (“Council Amended Budget”). 
In this amendment to one originally introduced by the mayor, the Council found ways to reduce the tax rate from the 2.8% that had been proposed to 1.3%.  In this rising cost environment, we felt it important for the City of Hoboken’s administration to show to the taxpayers of Hoboken that it can and will “do more with less” while sustaining municipal services, supporting wage increases for our lowest-paid employees, cutting administrative costs and above average salary increases and supporting our seniors and public safety teams.  The amendments we passed include: 
  • $315,000 reduction in overhead, excess budgeted amounts and unfilled positions
  • $295,000 reduction in environmental services driven mainly by lower contract costs for trash removal and use of trust accounts to offset snowplowing.
  • $125,000 reduction in budgeted legal costs
  • $75,000 reduction by delaying new police motorcycles 
  • $28,000 reductions in other areas
  • $98,000 increase for fire salary and wages and supporting our seniors 
Also included in the Council Amended Budget are the following additions:
  • A new ADA accessible medical van for our Seniors.  The conditions of the existing vans, which are not ADA accessible, can only be described as deplorable and unsafe.  
  • A new HOP to support the much-needed expansion of the HOP service.  
You may not be aware, but a portion of the surplus generated by the Hoboken Parking Utility contributes to the general budget.  It had been reduced from $4.5M in 2018 to $3.2 M in the original version of the 2019 budget and in the Council Amended Budget we recommended increasing this back up slightly by $96K.  To help fund this increase, we asked the HPU to also tighten their belts by requesting approximately 1.2% in expense reduction across the board for the parking utility.
The process to adopt the Council Amended Budget includes approval from the Department of Community Affairs which we still await and as such the Council has not actually voted to adopt the budget.  If not before, we expect to vote on the adoption of the budget at the next council meeting on June 5th.  Please read here (and attached) for the letter that Council President Giattino and I sent to the DCA setting for the Council's rationale for the proposed changes.  It also includes a detailed schedule of the amendments that we proposed.  
As always please forward this to everyone you think may be interested and feel free to reach out via email, text or phone (201-208-1674) about this or anything else important to you.      
Best wishes, 

Councilman Mike DeFusco: "Street Art, Water Mains and...Mimosas🥂"

Official release:

The rain finally seems to have let up, and it’s a busy time here in Hoboken so I wanted to update you on several important issues being discussed by the City Council.
Last summer, our city was on the verge of making a historic mistake by attempting to jump into a protracted lawsuit with Suez Water, the private water company that services Hoboken. At the time, I cautioned the mayor against jumping into a pointless lawsuit, which would only delay solutions and benefit lawyers, not residents. I thank my Council colleagues for stepping in to keep us out of court and working collaboratively towards a better contract for Hoboken.
At the last City Council meeting, we voted on an updated water contract that was markedly better than the one I voted against in 2017. The new contract contract includes $33 million in water infrastructure upgrades over 15 years as well as an additional $2 million investment in smart technology to monitor water consumption. Although this is a great first step to making much needed investments in our water system, it is not a silver bullet, it will not entirely fix the century-old problem. We can and need to do more by negotiating more responsible agreements with development projects, like the upcoming Hilton Hotel and I look forward to working with everyone to improve infrastructure across Hoboken.
Earlier this month, the City Council passed a budget amendment to size back the mayor’s 3% tax hike which would impact businesses and residents alike. In doing so, we were able to cut nearly $1 million in excess spending from the budget, while simultaneously increasing funding for our short-staffed Fire Department. Despite having a larger tax base than ever before, the mayor’s budget proposed raising taxes to compensate for his administration’s unprecedented spending over the past year. During his first two years in office, Mayor Bhalla has increased his office's spending by an alarming 40% to fund jobs for political supporters, politically convenient contracts and unnecessary lawsuits.

While no tax increase is acceptable, the City Council has worked productively with the Administration; and though the mayor doesn't like hearing that he needs to “do more with less,” this needs to be a belt tightening year.  I’ve long said that we need a private sector approach to government in Hoboken and holding the line on taxes starts with evaluating where cuts can be made without impacting critical city services. The City Council is in active discussions with relevant state authorities to maintain Hoboken’s track record of responsible spending.
Public murals foster artistic expression and enhance community character, which is why at tonight’s City Council meeting I’m excited to introduce an ordinance that will increase public access to and community participation in the creation of original works of art and set important standards that must be followed to ensure our neighborhood's stay charming and unique. 

I am also proud to have sponsored a resolution, unanimously approved by the City Council, urging PSE&G and Verizon to allow local artists to beautify our streets by adding art to their dull and dirty mechanical boxes. Not only does this liven up our neighborhoods, but it shows our support for local artists by giving them a public canvass visible to thousands of people each day.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ravi Bhalla announces council slate ignoring Ron Bautista leaving Michael Russo 'safe & sound'

Official release:

 “Taken together, the slate represents the new energy, new ideas and public spiritedness we need on the City Council,” says Ravi Bhalla

Mayor Ravi Bhalla of Hoboken today unveiled his slate of Council candidates for the Fall Ward elections.  The Team Bhalla slate of candidates are:
·         First Ward:   Migdalia Pagan-Milano Migdalia is a lifelong resident who began working with the community as an assistant in the Cultural Affairs Department for the City for Hoboken. She was instrumental in organizing Hoboken’s first Pride week. Currently, Migdalia works in the newly reconstituted Department of Constituent Affairs where she effectively finds solutions to residents’ day to day issues. 

·         Second Ward: Nora Martínez DeBenedetto.   Nora is a teacher at Kaplan Cooperative Preschool.  She coordinates Art in the Park for the City of Hoboken and was a founding member and volunteer organizer of the Hoboken Uptown Farmers Market for ten years.  She is also a lifelong resident of Hoboken.
·         Fourth Ward: Lisa Sprengle.  An attorney, accountant and a mom, Lisa currently works as the Controller for a large New York based company, actively involved in all aspects of the business large and small, including legal, finance, accounting, human resources and even store construction.

·         Fifth Ward:  Phil Cohen.  A long-time community activist who has served on number of City and community boards, including the Zoning Board, Phil currently serves on the Rebuild by Design Citizens Advisory Group and as the Hoboken Democratic Party Chair. He is an attorney.

·         Sixth Ward:  Cristin Cricco Powell.    A noted producer and director of television shows and documentaries, Cristin is an active supporter of the Hoboken Public Education Foundation and of reform candidates for Hoboken School Board. Cristin’s great-grandparents Robert and Raffaela Cricco helped build St. Ann’s Church.

City Council rejects Mayor Ravi Bhalla's tax increase a second time

Team Bhalla fails in second attempt to reverse City Council tax increase reduction in 7-2 vote

In Trenton, the City Council budget amendment reducing a three percent increase proposed by Mayor Ravi Bhalla to approximately one-percent is under review.

That won't change based on the failed attempt by Team Bhalla to undo it with a budget amendment rejected last night seeking to reinsert much of the reduced spending.

The City Council overwhelmingly rejected the Team Bhalla budget amendment 7-2 upholding the previous budget amendment and retaining most of the earlier spending reductions of less than a million.

Council members Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour saw their resolution go down to defeat but not after attempts to tease about funding for a tenant advocate and complain about "revenge" and what Councilman Michael Russo would grandstand calling "petty" on all sides before joining the majority vote.

Doyle attempted to dangle a carrot, artfully suggesting things could go well for tenant advocate funding or not. Jabbour bemoaned how the cuts in spending were targeted. She spoke as someone who understands a federal employee can't be but believes it's at issue now never mentioning taxes once.

The spending reductions are whittled across non-essentials and target massive raises mostly centered in the mayor's office. The bloated doubling of staff in the mayor's office and soaring 40% increases since Dawn Zimmer left office would see a 115K reduction.

The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) will review and get answers to some questions. They're overwhelmed with technical problems and backed up on the municipal budgets statewide.

Ravi Bhalla's mayor's office uncovered in latest dirty tricks race baiting attack

On a different tack or rather, tackless, the First Amendment is a target for the mayor's office in their latest political operation, or as one keen Hoboken observer says, "right out of their playbook."

The target, this story or an attempt to utilize it, deeming it "racist" for showing Ravi Bhalla "going to the mattresses" in uniform from the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy "The Dictator" on his higher tax plan and throwing out councilmembers in City Hall helping a Hoboken resident.

 The same reader-submitted graphic below was used once before receiving nothing but a yawn from the mayor's office (or anyone) last year.

This year is different. It's election season and there's some expectation a Team Bhalla council slate may be announced as soon as next week.

Time to bully some potential council opponents and demand they renounce the "racist image!"
Et tu Emily?

Borat runs amok as "The Dictator" movie comedy hit or a directed attack on Ravi Bhalla, playing victim? Again?
The mayor's office has a plan shopping his "victimization" but local media isn't buying it.

Vijay Chaudhuri works in the mayor's office and replaced the earlier communications manager at tens of thousands dollars more late last year under let's say, peculiar circumstances. He's also the former 2017 campaign manager who acts on behalf of the eternal Team Bhalla campaign issuing very unfortunate, misogynistic remarks about councilwomen last week.

Word on the street is that in addition to an organized but flailing campaign to depict Ravi Bhalla a victim of a "racist image" on Facebook and Twitter, Chaudhuri is pitching it to local media.

To this point, it's generating yawns. A few pointed responses by this Horse the other day on Facebook and yesterday on Twitter generated zero reaction. People may be feeling they're being politically exploited so have fallen silent and some Hoboken residents are creating blowback to the latest race baiting operation run out of the mayor's office.

Ravi Bhalla is seeing significant backlash reportedly across Hoboken as word of how he threw out two councilwomen in City Hall to help a resident at the rent office spreads. Time to change the narrative!

That's the playbook they're back to using even if they have to pretend the satire wasn't published by someone who voted three times for Ravi Bhalla previously but dares to differ with his ACTIONS as mayor at present.

Here's one respondent sprouting organically against the Chaudhuri led political operation on Twitter:

If you thought this kind of Al Sharpton race baiting attacks organized right out of the mayor's office would end last year, you're wrong.

Recall this exclusive political operation revealed here last December?
It was blown wide open here in less than 24 hours.

EYEWITNESS: Attack dog seen arriving at home of John Allen minutes after departing council meeting

Talking Ed Note: Just goes to show you, sometimes you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
Should Hoboken be ready for Ravi Terror Flyer II? Brace for impact! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

On the front lines exposing Hoboken voter fraud

Over the past decade, exposed voter fraud in Hoboken, breaking the biggest stories on the subject earning statewide attention and eventual federal prosecution and convictions.

Here's a gem from the archives featuring an exclusive interview with Frank "Pupie" Raia and naming Matt Calicchio for alleged voter fraud in 2010.

Last week, Calicchio pled guilty for his role involving voter fraud bribery schemes in the 2013 and 2015 Hoboken elections in federal court. Raia faces a federal criminal trial with sidekick Dio Braxton on June 11th.

Of note, the story didn't generate any interest from local media whatsoever. Only later, after further stories published here shed additional light to the scandalous Hoboken voter fraud "tradition" did the issue finally come out of the shadows.

Of course today, the latest guilty pleas in two Hoboken elections by Matt Calicchio, a decade-plus scourge in Hoboken employed as a political operative by former Councilwoman Beth Mason for much of it is making big headlines.

For these efforts pointing out the exploitation of the most vulnerable minority community, there was the typical lowbrow lying with the lowest denominator finger pointing as seen here and an appropriate response here. (Hat tip: former City Council President Carol Marsh.)

If you remain standing in the battle long enough; the circle loops back to the beginning as others in power seek to avoid transparency, being held accountable and hear constituents speak truth to power.

Almost ten years hence, the Boys of Summer, friends of ours at the FBI and DOJ are delivering justice.

Originally published October 28, 2010:

Matt Calicchio and Frank Raia named in vote buying scheme; Raia rejects charge


MSV can confirm affidavits filed in NJ Superior Court name two well known Hoboken individuals alleging their involvement in a suspected vote-buying scheme on behalf of Tim Occhipinti.

Two individuals are named in the affidavits: Matt Calichio, who was mentioned earlier as possibly having problematic ties to the Occhipinti campaign on vote by mail transactions in the Hudson Reporter debate.

The other is Frank Raia, the perennial candidate in Hoboken elections, most recently for Mayor last November as a suspect in another signed affidavit.

Frank Raia denied any wrongdoing earlier today.

In an interview with MSV by phone, Frank Raia categorically denied he was involved in any way in vote by mail fraud.  "I don't know what the hell this is but they are playing with the wrong guy.  I can sue them all for defamation of character and sue them out of the town."

In a ripping tirade, Raia complained, "You haven't seen me knock on one door.  They are sore losers. They should blame it (the election) on themselves."

Raia continued in a blistering rebuke of the charge in the complaint saying he knew nothing about it, "Whatever I've done, I've done for Dawn Zimmer, whatever they are accusing me of," he stated.  He then added ominously, "I will sue them all and drain all their money until they're homeless.  Go after someone else."

Raia ended by saying, "There will be repercussions if they play with me.  I put them (Mayor Zimmer and Mike Lenz) there. Without me, she wouldn't be in that chair (mayor's office.)  They will pay.  I will wipe them out.  Go and pick on somebody else.  They're desperate because they know they're going to lose."

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Ravi Bhalla goes to the mattresses... for his tax increase!

Ravi Bhalla - going to the mattresses for
his higher tax increase.
Never say die when it's your tax increase at stake. Mayor Ravi Bhalla is summoning all the powers of the mayor's office and its bloated staff in an effort to reinstitute his tax increase of three percent.

The City Council voted at its last meeting to reduce Ravi Bhalla's proposed three percent tax increase down to one-percent cutting spending by less than a million.

That vote passed overwhelmingly 8-1 but the pushback from the mayor's office to take back the tax reduction is underway.

It's a doozy.

A series of letters from various departments intended to generate a sky is falling narrative is disintegrating before it can get airborne. Public safety, always the bulk of municipal costs is indifferent with letters from both the Hoboken Police Department and Fire Department issuing a big yawn.

While the Corporation Counsel Brian Aloia bemoans the possible lack of funds for overtime administrative work, the mayor's office is unhappy with a $115,000 reduction to its staff funding.

Efforts to whisper layoffs into the halls of City Hall are falling on deaf ears as details from a roundup of documents are issued in round two by the mayor's office versus Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, the sponsor of the council's successful budget amendment.

No warrant issued for her arrest yet. She'll have to settle for the harsh glare of the public on Ravi Bhalla and his staff for being booted out of City Hall caught with City Council President Jen Giattino in the building trying to help a resident stave off eviction at the rent office.

Councilman Jim Doyle who voted with the council landslide to reduce Ravi Bhalla's tax increase has apparently been taken to the woodshed. He's now proposing with Emily Jabbour (the sole pro-tax increase vote) an amendment to reinstitute much of the higher spending and tax increase. (Clerk 2)

Meanwhile, Trenton is reviewing the budget amendment previously passed by the City Council. A final budget approval lies in wait with the City Council meeting Wednesday night weighing in the balance as Ravi Bhalla's desired tax increase of three percent.

Talking Ed Note: In the midst of the budget brouhaha, Ravi Bhalla is asking for almost $60,000 to put in automated security doors in the mayor's office. With the mayor's office bloated spending 40% higher since Dawn Zimmer left office, Ravi Bhalla continues to seek ways to insulate himself from the public.

Update: Today's story featuring a reader-submitted photo based on the comedy hit by Sacha Baron Cohen "The Dictator" was used in social media to allege worse behavior than the recent tossing out of City Hall two councilmembers who went to the rent office on behalf of a resident.

Do Hoboken residents have a right to go to visit the rent office at City Hall? Or does that fall under the whims of "cough cough?"


Related: With Hoboken voter fraud making the headlines, here's a feature on that "tradition" past to present. It's an issue Mayor Ravi Bhalla and this pony worked toward the same ends in years past: bettering Hoboken. Be best.