Wednesday, October 17, 2018

BREAKING: LIZAIDA CAMIS INDICTED IN ADDITIONAL COUNT OF CONSPIRACY IN VOTER BRIBE SCHEME

Official release: US Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

A Hudson County, New Jersey, woman was indicted today for promoting a voter bribery scheme by use of the U.S. mail. Today's indictment of Lizaida Camis, 55, of Hoboken, adds one count of conspiracy to use the mails to promote a voter bribery scheme to the original count of using the mails in a voter bribery scheme, as described in the press release of Sept. 20, 2018.


Hudson County, New Jersey, Woman Charged With Using U.S. Mails To Promote Voter Bribery Scheme 

NEWARK, N.J. – A Hudson County, New Jersey woman was arrested and charged today for promoting a voter bribery scheme by use of the U.S. mail, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Lizaida Camis, 55, of Hoboken, is charged by complaint with a violation of the Travel Act for causing the mails to be used to aid voter bribery contrary to New Jersey state law. She is scheduled to have her initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Under New Jersey law, registered voters are permitted to cast a ballot by mail rather than in person. To receive a mail-in ballot, voters must complete and submit to their county clerk’s office an Application for Vote By Mail Ballot (VBM Application). After the application is processed, voters receive a mail-in ballot.
From October 2013 through November 2013, Camis agreed to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 each if those voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots for the November 2013 Hoboken municipal election. Camis provided these voters with VBM Applications and then delivered the completed applications to the Hudson County Clerk’s office. After the mail-in ballots were delivered to the voters, Camis went to their apartments and, in some cases, instructed the voters to vote for the candidates for whom Camis was working. Camis promised the voters that they would be paid $50 for casting their mail-in ballots and told them that they could pick up their checks after the election at an office on Jefferson Street in Hoboken. Bank records show that voters living in Hoboken received $50 checks from entities associated with the campaigns that employed Camis.
Camis faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, and special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.
The charge and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Councilwoman Jen Giattino offers clarification on Ravi Bhalla's scam email about pending council passage on Hilton Hotel

Official release:




Dear friends and neighbors,
Upon reading the Mayor's last email I realized there must be some confusion in the Mayor's office. Just last Friday the Mayor and Post Office Hotel sub-committee (Councilmembers Cunningham, DeFusco, Giattino, Fisher) issued a joint press release with the subject line stating:

HOBOKEN MAYOR BHALLA AND CITY COUNCIL SUBCOMMITTEE AGREE TO REDEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT FOR HILTON HOTEL, PUSH FOR 9-0 VOTE
His email from today reads: 
Help convince the Council to vote YES!
That's why your help is critical - we can't take any chances on this important vote. We need you show up to ensure that the Councilmembers put politics aside and support these benefits at Wednesday's council meeting!

Perhaps, the Mayor's email is referencing the councilmembers not on the subcommittee (Councilmembers Doyle, Falco, Jabbour and Russo).
Finally, I would like to share a quote from Mayor Bhalla from our joint press release, in which he highlights our working relationship.

"I want to also thank the City Council for their commitment to Hoboken and working together with me to raise the standards of development in Hoboken,” said Mayor Bhalla. Click here for press release or see below for the press release.

If you need any other clarifications please don't hesitate to reach out. 

-Jen

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher blasts Mayor Ravi Bhalla for fabricating hypocrisy about council passage for Hilton Hotel set for tomorrow night

Official release:

 
 
Dear friends and neighbors:
The mayor has just sent out an email to many of you implying that the city council will somehow be political and get in the way of approving the hotel project tomorrow night.  
I am so incredibly angry about this email that I don’t know how to even respond.  
Mainly because at a time when we have been working so hard to come together, our mayor only wants to continue to divide us.  And it is insulting to the hard work that our City Council subcommittee has undertaken over the past two weeks to ensure that we get the best outcome for our community.  And also because it is so telling that our mayor is so comfortable sending out disparaging and false propaganda emails to his extensive email list with his bullhorn.  All I can do is try to refute it.  
Apparently the mayor doesn’t believe his own JOINT PUBLIC STATEMENT (click link or read full text below) that his office sent out on Friday showing our combined support for the project.  Let me be very clear – and please circulate this widely:    
We have five locked in votes for the project and I am confident based upon prior support that we will get to either an 8-1 or 9-0 vote fairly easily.  (Councilman Doyle has been firm in the past about his views that the hotel is out of scale for Hoboken, and this being 20% bigger I am not sure where he will get to).  
You are welcome to come to the meeting to advocate, or give away your email via signing a petition – and you know that I always say more voices are better – but if you are doing so because you are in any way concerned the project won’t get approved because of his propaganda email, save your energy for the next fight the mayor will pick.  
We are all still working on final changes to make sure that the deal that the mayor sold to our community, is actually what is reflected in the legal agreement.  Things like:
  • Ensuring that the $2M of funds that the mayor’s chief of staff promised to board members of the Y to restore the Y, actually in fact go to the Y.  The mayor has proposed in the actual agreement that it go to the city and only MAYBE go to restore the Y which is not what was agreed.  
  • Ensuring that all of the community benefit payments are actually funded before certificates of occupancy and completion are given to the developer.  Instead of the developer friendly arrangement of making the payments after the developer no longer has incentive to pay which is what the mayor negotiated.  
These kind of details really matter and we are working closely with the City’s counsel to try to bridge these gaps.
Three weeks ago I was faced with having to have to vote for an out of scale building - made 20% bigger by this mayor – yet sweetened with a $3 million give back for two local non-profits.  The mayor’s chief of staff was heard telling people that this is a civics lesson – the council’s only role is to vote up or down.  We were also told that we had to work within a self-imposed tight timeframe that if we didn’t support the entire deal and vote yes on October 17th, the entire project would fail and not be able to be saved.  And then when the benefit package was prematurely leaked to the public, suddenly if we even considered saying “No” to the project for any reason, we would be pushed as anti-public schools and anti-YMCA.  Remember the mayor has the bullhorn.
So up or down – how should I vote?  
The subcommittee would struggle to make any meaningful improvement to the design of the building, so we focused on improving the community benefit package. 
And we did.  Significantly. 
We worked our way through it – and I can say it is a testament to Councilmembers Cunningham, Giattino and DeFusco and their willingness to work around the clock and stay together in the face of this pressure – and leverage our block and push as much as we could to improve the overall community benefit package so that it addressed more of our community’s needs including affordable housing, charters and infrastructure.  And we did so as quickly as possible so that we could remove the angst and division that our community was feeling and state publicly that we would go into the council meeting on October 17th with at least the 5 votes necessary to approve the project.  The developer also saw the benefit of this.  And we delivered this last Friday, October 12th (see text below).
And since then, nothing has changed!  
Don’t let the mayor kid you, the benefits were expanded specifically because a voting block of four council members demanded that we get more and broader benefits in exchange for our support.  Had the mayor actually solicited our support prior to giving us his ultimatum, he probably could have gotten to the same outcome.  But that isn’t how he wants to work.
The last few weeks have been an incredibly difficult political landscape, a view that is shared by many parties involved in this project.  And I do know that there are some in our community who will not like the outcome – they’ll say the hotel is too big, the community benefit isn’t big enough or the benefits are not going to all of the right places.  And I don’t disagree with any of that.  But that is what political compromise is.  You work with what has been given to you, you ensure that the pros outweigh the cons, you balance the priorities of all decision makers, try to navigate where you can be most effective, use leverage where you can, and ensure your vote represents as many as possible.  
I am voting yes on the project.  Do I need to say it again so that it is clear for the mayor?
Yes because I believe the positives outweigh the negatives, the contribution to our taxes will benefit our whole community, the majority of the feedback I have received most of you is public support having this hotel – even the now monolithic structure, the improvements to the area are significant and will redefine our southern waterfront, and this hotel will bring a much needed daytime population to our community that will support the businesses we all want to see succeed.  Over the next 25 hours, I will still fight to make sure the details work.
As always, if you have any further questions, want to yell and scream at me, or want to discuss this or anything else, please feel free to call me at 201/208-1674 or email me.  Two favors - forward this to everyone you know.  And if you did happen to receive the email from the mayor, email him back and ask him why he thinks the city council is not supportive of the project.  
 
TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
 
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”
 

City Council President Ruben Ramos: "Upcoming Paving, SW Park Presentation & Coffee with a Cop"

Official release:

Dear friends,

I wanted to update you about a few upcoming events and issues that may interest you:
  • Paving on Harrison Street from 4th to Observer starts today (Oct. 16).
  • Voter registration deadline is today (Oct. 16) to be able to vote in the upcoming election.  If you don’t know if your registration is updated (for example if you recently moved), you can check here.  If you do need to update, you can download forms from the site and drop them off at City Hall today by 9pm.  
  • Southwest Park - Tomorrow night (Oct. 17, 7pm) at the City Council meeting, there will be a presentation which will include the “Interactive Structure” and the new fencing along the northern portion of the park.  Dead trees have already been removed and new trees will be planted in the coming weeks.  If you cannot join in person, you can watch the presentation on the City’s website or on Facebook Live.
  • Coffee with a Cop - On Saturday (Oct. 20) from 930 am - 11am at G Milz Boken Roadhouse, 61 Jackson St.  A great opportunity to meet and ask questions of our police in an informal setting.  Joining me will be Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante, Captain Gino Jacobelli, Lt. Mike DeTrizio, Sgt. Ed Drishti, and Officer Cynthia Rivera.  All residents welcome! 
  • New Hilton Hotel - Friday, the City Council subcommittee reached an agreement with the Mayor and the developer, KMS (read our joint statement), for the new Hilton hotel.  As a result, we have confidence there will be the requisite votes needed for it to pass when the City Council votes tomorrow night (Oct. 16).

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time to discuss any matter that is important to you.   And please share this with any of your neighbors who you think might be interested in these updates.

Regards,

Ruben Ramos

Hoboken City Council, 4th Ward

Monday, October 15, 2018

When the headlines go wrong

Lost in the buzz of ever-growing millions with the City Council taking a less than transparent Hilton Hotel process by its collar and shaking it; the finale of the downtown redevelopment took some late, unexpected turns.

The original plan intended to make Mayor Ravi Bhalla a hero and provide plenty of votes (and greenbacks to his campaign coffers) for his election... somewhere. The City Council will pass the finalized plan this Wednesday but not before some grandstanding at the mic. Public portion will be boring and/or entertaining depending on your patience.

Lost in the fine print, none of the ever-increasing millions courtesy of the City Council's late efforts entering the non-transparent and non-public process will be paid until after the Hilton Hotel opens.

That's three years of celebrating another "Ravi Bhalla accomplishment" in his never-ending election campaign but nary a nickel finding its way benefiting Hoboken up front. (There's but $75,000 obtained late by Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher for a study up front replacing the Y uptown with a Hoboken Community Center.)

No one is unhappy with funds made available in givebacks for Hoboken but the process of where and how much connected to a higher Hilton Hotel illustrated how a plan hatched out of the mayor's office and conducted by the mayor's aides led to a media backfire and embarrassment.

How much money was left on the table in Ravi Bhalla's rush to officiate his union friends' unofficial announcement as a mainstay player in Hoboken's future? No one can say exactly but even with the City Council's late efforts working toward an improved financial outcome, observers state millions more was available.

One close political observer noted the mayor and his staff were frantic to grab headlines and lost sight of what was financially available for Hoboken. They noted the developer appeared quick to finalize even with late City Council input and sweeten the deal to more than four million as millions more were likely earmarked.

Pointing to the value in three additional floors being added to the Hilton Hotel in the neighborhood of $10 million annually, other local and industry related sources noted the developer would seek to arrive at an agreement quickly with the City Council as the budgeted givebacks were in the end lower than anticipated.

Adding to the less than transparent process, sources say Ravi Bhalla was more than a little angry to see his $3 million "gift" to two non-profits topped by the majority on the City Council for Hoboken's betterment.

At one point, upon hearing of the City Council efforts to further add to their efforts in obtaining $300,000 for the three charter schools, Bhalla exploded saying he would blow up the entire Hilton Hotel deal.

Not a day later, the mayor's office would find itself issuing public congratulations to the City Council for its winning efforts on behalf of Hoboken. The fait accompli completed without their input had been undone for the betterment of Hoboken and the headline-seeking mayor had his plate of crow returned.

Mayoral aides followed with tantrums of their own, airing behind the scenes how the mayor would go to war with the City Council for what they did in adding to monies for Hoboken and seek their destruction in council ward races next year. The City Council core working together with its subcommittee members Jen Giattino, Peter Cunningham, Tiffanie Fisher, and Mike DeFusco kept working with Council President Ruben Ramos to improve the plan unfazed. Not three months into office, Bhalla had already announced a war footing against the City Council at his first fundraiser.

According to well-placed sources, Councilwoman Jen Giattino led on the call for the charter schools who were left out entirely of the original seven figures for the school district. When the council efforts continued to seek greater givebacks from the developer for the three schools, Ravi Bhalla reportedly exploded in anger saying he would not stand for one dollar more for the charter schools. Then he later claimed that the increased charter school funding was all his doing.

Councilman Mike DeFusco pushed hard for more infrastructure especially in the area of the hotel in the first ward. Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher championed funding for the Affordable Housing Trust, an area of interest for Councilwoman Vanessa Falco as well. Councilman Peter Cunningham acted as the senior statesman to keep a positive dialog open with both the Hilton Hotel developer and Ravi Bhalla.

Four of the councilmembers executed over days and held firm with the full support of City Council President Ruben Ramos throughout. Councilwoman Jen Giattino kept a low-profile as she's worked diligently over years behind the scenes to come to a solution on a downtown Hoboken hotel. Unlike Ravi Bhalla, she kept working until the final plan was completed, seeking no personal glory for herself.

The City Council did a service to Hoboken working late toward a better outcome but Ravi Bhalla will seek payback for it all the more. The City Council did better for the Mile Square City but they messed up the mayor's headlines and showed whatever he does, they can do better.

Now Ravi, about that Washington St. reconstruction "accomplishment" to ninth street by mid-July...

Ravi Bhalla recasts himself as Ritchie Rich when he prematurely announced $3 million for two non-profits for the Hilton Hotel plan. The City Council having played no role in the process of allocating givebacks jumped in and got to work.  Their late efforts improved it to closer to $5 million depending on how you count it.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "Happy Monday - Cracks, Cranes, and Mud"

Official release:

 
Dear friends and neighbors: 

A couple of minor quick updates for this gloomy Monday morning (remember all of you who were excited about cooler weather... I was not one of them....).
  • The crane that has been used for the construction of 1425 Hudson is being taken down today.  I have asked, but have not yet confirmed, for the street to be re-opened after construction hours and on the weekends once it is removed.  This would not involve restoring any street parking, but rather just to allow better street access throughout the remainder of the project.
 
  • The Harborside parks.  The mud is epic in both parks – children’s and dog - right now, in particular, the entrance to the new dog park.  Per the city when I enquired last week “The contractor will be on site to install the second gate early next week [this week]. We're going to replace the mulch with gravel at the entrance to solve the mud problem, which should also be installed next week.” In terms of the hedges [pruning them to a lower height] and overall maintenance, the City is getting proposals for both and will provide a better updating on timing shortly.  
 
  • The waterfront walkway near Maxwell Park.  If you walk in the area, you will notice a part of the walkway between 11th and 12th has been cordoned off.  A Maxwell neighbor alerted me this morning to what they described as a sinkhole, and because I only heard from one neighbor, I thought it might be small.  But when I walked over, I saw that in fact, it is an approximate 3’x4’ section that had collapsed.  I reached out to the many officials within the City who immediately responded, blocked off the area and will be bringing in marine engineers to review.  
I’m providing this narrative as much to inform you about what occurred and to ask that you respect the barriers that have been put up but also to say thank you to our neighbor who reached out to me this morning about this safety hazard.  This type of our own informal Hoboken neighborhood watch system is what helps us contain potentially dangerous situations quickly.  So please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, to the City via Hoboken 311, to any councilmember or to call either 911 or the Hoboken Police Departments non-emergency line at 201/420-2100.  We are better working together.
 
Top picture, left to right: Jennifer Gonzalez, Director of Environmental Services, Leo Pelligrini, Director of Health and Human Services, Kimberli Craft, City Engineer, Joe Lupo, Office of Emergency Management, Sgt. William Montanez, Head of Office of Emergency Management.  Bottom picture how I found it this morning before OEM et al came.
 
  • The proposed new Hilton Hotel - the City Council subcommittee and the Mayor reached an agreement.  You can read THE PRESS STATEMENT sent out late Friday to learn more.  We are still hammering out some of the details in the agreement, but this means that we are confident going into the City Council meeting on 10/17 that we have sufficient votes for it to be approved.  
  • Tomorrow – October 16 - is the deadline for registering to vote or changing your address to vote in Hoboken! 
    • If you have never voted in Hoboken in recent elections – so not registered, just moved to town, and/or registered but not voted recently – then click on THIS LINK – to check if your registration is updated and will allow you to vote in Hoboken in the upcoming election.  
    • And then click HERE to see where you vote.  So if you moved within Hoboken, for example, you may want to update your address so you are voting in the district that you live. 
    • And if you need to register or change your address, you can download the VOTER REGISTRATION FORM (click here for SPANISH) and drop it off at City Hall.  Or let me know and I will come pick it up and bring it to City Hall for you.
I have more updates, but these had some time sensitivity to them.  I am working on a second update that will send out separately.  As always, feel free to reach out if you want to discuss this further, or anything else, by email or by phone 201/208-1674.  And please forward this to anyone you think would benefit from hearing about this.  
 
TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
 
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Hoboken Mayor Bhalla and City Council Subcommittee Agree to Redevelopment Agreement for Hilton Hotel, Push for 9-0 Vote

Official release:

After weeks of deliberation, the Mayor of Hoboken and the City Council subcommittee have agreed with KMS Development on the terms for the proposed Hilton Hotel to be built on Hoboken’s southern waterfront. 

The project will bring a world class hotel and operator to Hoboken, generating $1.7M in additional tax revenue, adding 200+ union jobs at fair wages with preferences for Hoboken residents, transforming our southern waterfront near our crown jewel, Pier A park, and building amenities that benefit Hoboken residents like a roof top bar and much needed banquet space. Additionally, KMS has agreed to invest $4.85 million in the Hoboken community addressing broad community priorities including public education, infrastructure, affordable housing, and recreational facilities.

In aggregate, the revised proposal will include the following public benefits: 

  • $2M to help establish the Hoboken Community Center, with up to 100K to be immediately available to fund their feasibility study
  • $1.165M for infrastructure, with $165K of this to be dedicated to the needs of the adjacent neighborhoods 
  • $1M to the Hoboken Public Education Foundation, which supports the Hoboken Public District Schools
  • $484K to the Hoboken Public Charter Schools, divided equally among the schools
  • $200K into Hoboken’s Affordable Housing Trust

“I could not be more proud to bring this history making project to fruition; the community benefits of this deal will be positively felt throughout our community. I want to thank KMS Development for their longstanding support of the residents of Hoboken. I want to also thank the City Council for their commitment to Hoboken and working together with me to raise the standards of development in Hoboken,” said Mayor Bhalla.

"We are proud to provide our support for this incredible project that brings so many positives to Hoboken and to have collaborated with KMS and many stakeholders to deliver an expansion of community benefits in the areas of affordable housing, education, and infrastructure that help address the broad needs of our community. We thank Mayor Bhalla for prioritizing this project and look forward to working with him again on other important initiatives. We are recommending that our council colleagues join us to deliver a 9-0 vote for this important project at the upcoming council meeting on October 17th," said City Council subcommittee members Peter Cunningham, Mike DeFusco, Tiffanie Fisher and Jen Giattino, and Council President Ruben Ramos

“This is a world class Hilton hotel that will be an enhancement to life in Hoboken. We are excited this project enjoys broad political support and are proud to become a contributing member of the Hoboken community,” said Dennis Martin, KMS. 

Martin added, “We thank mayor Bhalla for his leadership and the city council subcommittee members Peter Cunningham, Michael DeFusco, Tiffanie Fisher, and Jen Giattino and council president Ramos for their longstanding support and dedication over many years. The Mayor and City Council have been dogged advocates for their constituents and this is a better deal for Hoboken residents because of the benefits they each were able to secure in negotiations with us.”

“This hotel is a major win for Hoboken and for the housekeepers, concierges, banquet workers, and others who will work hard every day to make it a success. KMS Development Partners worked proactively with our union to ensure that these workers can count on jobs where they are treated with dignity and respect. We are very grateful to Mayor Bhalla, who has been an absolute champion of hotel workers, and to Council President Ruben Ramos and Councilman Mike DeFusco, who have long advocated for smart hotel development. The Hotel Trades Council looks forward to working with KMS and with Hoboken officials to make this hotel a great amenity for Hoboken residents and guests,” said Rich Maroko, Vice President of Hotel Trades Council.

"This week's announcement regarding the Hoboken Hilton, a fully union-built and union-operated waterfront hotel, demonstrates the city’s commitment to economic development projects that include smart private-sector investment that will improve the quality of life for residents while creating hundreds of union jobs. We thank Mayor Bhalla and City Council President Ramos for their leadership as well as the members of Council's redevelopment subcommittee for their efforts. Mayor Bhalla and Council worked diligently on reaching a deal that revitalizes Hoboken's waterfront, preserves the historic Post Office, and provides immense community benefits. It has been a pleasure to work with KMS Development throughout this process, and we are so pleased they have committed to providing millions to support education, housing, recreation and infrastructure for Hoboken in addition to the projected $5 million in annual economic activity the hotel will generate,” said Mark Long, Director of ELEC 825.

“The Hoboken Hilton Hotel project demonstrates what good can happen when an insightful developer, KMS, teams up with labor, the Mayor, and members of the City Council for responsible development.  We are proud to support what will be both a union-built and union operated endeavor,” said Steven M. Gardner, Director of New Jersey Laborers’-Employers’ Cooperation and Education Trust.




Talking Ed Note: The special interest pandora's box is officially opened and unleashed on Hoboken thanks to Ravi Bhalla and his bedding the construction unions.

What's the difference between the poor and the wealthy in Hoboken? It's the difference between $40 for a vote and seven figures. Do the math.

More on this next week as the plan is easily enacted on Wednesday at the next council meeting.

Hoboken Public Education Foundations announces:

Official release:
Dear Hoboken PEF friends and supporters,

It has been an exciting week for Hoboken and our Foundation! Mayor Ravi Bhalla and city officials have negotiated a multi-million dollar development deal that will build the city's second waterfront hotel. As the deal currently stands, the hotel developer, KMS Development Partners, will be providing more than $4.8 million in community givebacks.

As part of the agreement, the Hoboken Public Education Foundation will receive a one-million dollar endowment – the first ever community giveback to benefit Hoboken Public Schools. This is a true testament to KMS’s belief that communities are strengthened when public schools are thriving.

Please show your support for this opportunity by:
  1.  SIGNING THIS PETITION - the more names we collect, the more we can demonstrate the collective support of Hoboken! (NOTE: please disregard any request to donate to change.org.) 
  1. JOIN US IN PERSON at the City Council Meeting next Wednesday, October 17, 7:00 pm (City Hall, 94 Washington Street) to show your support for this opportunity, and to encourage a vote to approve the deal.
With gratitude,
Hoboken Public Education Foundation


Special thanks to KMS Development Partners:  

KMS Development Partners $1 million commitment to the Hoboken Public Education Foundation - to create a permanent endowment to provide financial sustainability for our non-profit organization – reflects the developer’s long-standing personal interest in and support for traditional open-enrollment public schools. We are truly grateful to KMS Development Partners for their ongoing support of our Foundation. We are honored to be on the receiving end of this generous commitment, and know that these funds will help us continue our mission of elevating and enhancing the Hoboken Public  Schools.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Hoboken Proud: "HobokenProud Coffee Meet & Greet October 19"

Official release:

Please join us at a meet and greet at the home of candidate Malani Cademartori!  This is a wonderful opportunity to ask questions, and voice your concerns and ideas on how to make our public schools even better.  

Thursday, October 11, 2018

City: 'Ravi Bhalla admits City Council got more money for Hoboken'

Behind the scenes, reliable sources say Mayor Ravi Bhalla is less than pleased the City Council improved the proposed Hotel Hilton community givebacks for another $350,000.

While admitting that political reality, the City spokesman tried to put the best face on the additional 350K showing up minutes after word of the deal hit the street.

Clearly, money was left on the table and sources close to the discussion revealed obtaining the initial $300,000 for the three charter schools took mere "minutes."

The City statement from the mayor's office appeared earlier today on the Hudson County View:

"The Mayor negotiated an agreement that included $4.5 million in community givebacks. We applaud the City Council for securing an additional $350,000. This is an excellent win for the people of Hoboken.

Councilwoman Jen Giattino is the impetus behind hundreds of thousands of dollars boosted in givebacks according to well-placed sources on the Hilton Hotel community givebacks package. Among the groups seeing additional funding: all three Hoboken Charter schools, the Hoboken Affordable Housing Trust and more infrastructure funds.

Talking Ed Note: It's a little too early for an Orwellian rewrite of history. The City Council with other members of the public pushed back on limiting funding to only two non-profit groups: two million for the community center replacing the Y and a million for the school district.

If you want to blame or give credit where due, look no farther than Councilwoman Jen Giattino.
More to come.

BREAKING: City Council obtains additional $350,000 in Hotel Hilton givebacks!

Official release:

Council Secures Additional Funding up to $4.85 Million; Urges Mayor Bhalla to Support and Recommends City Council to Vote 9-0 to Approve Amended Plan for Proposed Hilton Hotel 

The City Council subcommittee responsible for evaluating the proposed Hilton hotel is announcing that late Wednesday night it received a verbal commitment from KMS, the developer of the hotel, to increase the total community benefits by $350,000 to $4.85 million.  This increase will provide further investment in education and infrastructure in surrounding neighborhoods.  With this increase, the subcommittee supports the improved plan, trusts that Mayor Bhalla will see these expanded contributions as beneficial to more Hoboken residents, and recommends that the City Council vote 9-0 on Wednesday, October 17th in support of this revised plan.  
  
In aggregate, the revised proposal will now be: 

-              $2 million to help establish the Hoboken Community Center, with $75,000 to be immediately available to fund their feasibility study and launch the project
-              $1.165 million for infrastructure, with $165,000 to be dedicated to the needs of the adjacent neighborhoods
-              $1 million to fund the endowment for Hoboken Public Education Foundation which provides private investment into the Hoboken Public District Schools
-              $485,000 to the three Hoboken Public Charter Schools 
-              $200,000 into our Affordable Housing Trust fund to help seed future investment in affordable housing

“The City Council Subcommittee wants to thank KMS Development for their incredible commitment to supporting the broad needs within our community and for bringing a world class hotel to Hoboken that will redefine our southern waterfront.  We appreciated working collaboratively with all stakeholders in making community benefits in this redevelopment a priority and trust that Mayor Bhalla finds these additional concessions from the developer a benefit as well.  We encourage our neighbors to reach out to the Mayor and the rest of City Council to ask for their support of this improved plan that reaches even more of us.”