Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NJSC: Peter Cammarano disbarred from practicing law in NJ

The New Jersey Supreme Court barred former Hoboken mayor Peter Cammarano from practicing law in the State writing in a unanimous opinion he had broken "a solemn public trust."

Cammarano served less than two years in Lewisburg, PA after pleading guilty in early 2010 to accepting bribes of $25,000 from FBI informant Solomon Dwek who posed as a developer seeking Hoboken variances.

Former mayor and convicted felon Peter Cammarano
won't be applauding today's SC decision.
NJ's highest court disbarred Cammarano from practicing law.

Cammarano who served for less than a month as mayor in 2009 was seeking a second chance to regain his law license.  At the time of his arrest, Cammarano was working for NJ election law powerhouse Genova Burns.

That firm is currently embroiled in another hot Hoboken election law controversy for its clients Beth and Richard Mason of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.  Last March the firm stated it sought a speedy resolution to the millions in potential fines the Mason family faced for hundreds of campaign violations. NJ ELEC however has not announced a final verdict.

According to today's story at the Jersey Journal, the NJ Office of Attorney Ethics suggested disbarment while an opposing majority on a disciplinary board favored suspension.

"This form of corruption is corrosive to our democracy and undermines public confidence in honest government, and its ripping pernicious effects are incalculable," NJ Supreme Court Justice Barry Albin wrote for the Court.

The NJ Supreme Court decision noted Cammarano had made efforts to right his life but that punishment short of disbarment could lessen the public's confidence in the NJ legal system.

The full legal decision can be found at:

HoLa variance expansion request in City Council @ 7:00

Tonight the City Council will switch into fall mode and the agenda is transitioning with some high profile items of interest with one charged zoning variance up for consideration.

Zoning variances are usually a high point of interest in Hoboken, especially since former mayor Peter Cammarano offered to sell two of them for $25,000 back in 2009 to federal informant Solomon Dwek who was posing as a developer.

"I promise you, you'll be treated as a friend," Cammarano told him for the ill begotten gains.

Tonight we have a variance of the legal variety up for consideration.

A zoning board application for HolA, the Boys and Girls Club aligned with the City of Hoboken seeks a zoning variance to expand facilities for the school. The subject is touchy with the legal differences in the HoLa school's 7th and 8th grade expansion approved by the State of NJ Dept. of Education and the regular Hoboken School District which recently saw cuts last year.

The expansion of the charter school has led to legal action by the district which lost its request to stop the seventh and eighth grade expansion. An appeal has been made to the Appellate Court.

Rarely do issues related to the Hoboken Board of Education surface in the Hoboken City Council as each has its own elected representatives. With the bump of financial resources in the wider school district, the contentious relationship with Hoboken's multiple charter schools entered a new phase around funding and the limited resources competing with one another.

The BoE most recently led by Superintendent Mark Toback said the expansion of charters was harming the regular school district. The charters argue they receive less funding and do more with less.

Hoboken finds itself in a unique position with a regular School District and four competing charter schools in a one square mile area. HoLa has been more polarized in the conversation as several Old Guard members and backers send their children to the school and have attempted to use the charter school as a linchpin to divide reform forces and a base of professional parent led families.

An article delineating concerns about the "segregative effect" showed in the recent school year there was progress in the income levels of parents across all the Hoboken schools with one exception: Connors.

The Connors school is in close proximity to the HoLa school and serves a 95% minority student population. HoLa with approximately a third or so minority enrollment remains in sharp contrast to its neighbor.  Last weekend, Carlo Davis broke down some data in his story here.

The competition for State resources and funding is likely to be a big agenda item in this November's Board of Education race.

Tonight's City Council agenda is available at the link.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Turnabout is fair play...

Yesterday's story hit a nerve. Traffic was the highest since the unofficial end of summer. Oh what the craven will do to usurp from our Mile Square neighbors and seek to inflict mayhem on the Hoboken People.

As Councilwoman Beth Mason's plan is to instruct Hoboken residents how to sue the City in large enough numbers to raise taxes for all the Mile Square taxpayers, the effort is likely to do more damage politically adding to her vast unpopularity.

The idea originally hatched in the aftermath of the November 2009 mayoral election is not likely to see much traction. Most property owners in town are aware they were doing fine since the late 80s on their tax assessment. Appeals are likely to see sporadic approval at best and the reval firm set out clear options on how to do so.

On another discordant note:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Beth Mason in new poll to Hoboken residents: 'Sue the City of Hoboken'


A Beth Mason poll politicizing the  long overdue reval as reported on MSV last week took a new ugly turn with the litigious councilwoman urging Hoboken property owners sue the City of Hoboken.

A reval under State law is required every ten years. (Correction: The standard is effective to real property in the municipality being assessed at somewhere between 85% and 115% of the average, then no reval is necessary.) But in recent decades ten years or less would exceed this required average in Hoboken. Recently, property values have again surged in the Mile Square.

 Hoboken took almost three decades to finally begin and execute a revaluation of all property values in town. While some homeowners saw a stable outcome to their tax bill, others saw a decrease with other residents seeing substantial increases.

The latest twist by the Mason family's army of political operatives can be interpreted as an escalation in the never ending Russo faction war on the popular Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer and the reform oriented majority on the City Council. The Mason family is the underwriter of the Russo Faction's political operations.

Independent reports state the live poll blamed the mayor for "initiating" the long overdue reval in town. Now the paid Mason poll operators are urging residents to sue the City of Hoboken if they are unhappy with the increase in their property taxes.

One reliable source said the paid Mason poll operator indicates Beth Mason will host workshops at her Mason Civic League "charity" office on Washington and 12th street offering detailed advice on how to sue Hoboken taxpayers.

The Mason Civic League has been controversial almost from its start. Filed as a 501(c)(3), it's required to file publicly each year when its expenditures exceed 50,000. To date, it's not clear if Beth Mason and her husband Ricky Mason have ever done so.

It's unknown if the latest Mason family political operation is part of a strategy to restart a new operation to undermine reform which currently holds the mayor's chair and a five working votes on the nine member City Council.

Beth Mason herself is facing re-election in ward races in November 2015.  At least one potential candidate is expressing interest in taking on Beth Mason in the second ward.

Beth Mason not to be outdone by her solitary joy suing Hoboken residents and the City hired
live pollsters calling Hoboken residents offering a workshops on how to sue Hoboken after the long overdue reval took effect. 

The Mason plan calls for Hoboken residents to sue the City. 
A success for Mason's latest political operation would mean higher taxes across the board for Hoboken taxpayers.

Talking Ed Note: MSV has verified indisputable proof Beth Mason political operatives were planning on using the long overdue reval to attack Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer back in November 2009.

In point of fact, Mason's senior political operative outlined the plan after her second successive defeat to Mayor Zimmer in the fall 2009 mayoral election. The full email detailing the planned Beth Mason political operation will be published upon legal approval. There's quite a bit more along those lines.

What the reval means for residents who saw increases is they benefited from Hoboken not holding a reval for decades. As a result, annual taxes were substantially lower for a period of years when no adjustments were made.

Beth Mason political operatives have waited years in the hopes to exploit this. So there's no turning back now. But it stinks really bad: all the way to Weehawken.

A correction is added into the story prominently. The full 2005 NJ report showing the requirement is available here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Now served... but more importantly: protected

This week MSV passed another milestone and with thanks to you the Hoboken People, a statement on behalf of one of our most cherished freedoms is made. The millions come faster and faster but what's most important is the First Amendment remains alive and breathing in the Mile Square.

People here, especially here must know they are free to express their views, whatever their views, in anonymity or not without fear of cynical SLAPP suits backed by vindictive losers and a family checkbook failing to elevate a flagging political "career."

New Jersey has an especially vigorous standard for the protection of speech. The New Jersey Supreme Court has stated that the State's Constitution offers protections "more sweeping in scope than the language of the First Amendment and has supported broader free speech rights than its federal counterpart." In addition, closer to home, Hudson County Superior Court recently stated political speech "lies at the core of our constitutional free speech protections."

Corruption rears its head in varied forms as the Mile Square City remains in a tussle with its "tradition" of entitlement reaping the spoils of power, legal and as so often been the case not. That factional battle between its "On the Waterfront" past vs. professional 21st century governance must not fall way to the underhanded use of the civil court system. Hoboken politics cast at times as a battlefield must remain first and foremost a sanctuary for the open discourse of ideas, in the political square, town hall and on its local blogosphere.

In Hoboken after the FBI came to City Hall in 2011 (and revealed a conspiracy of looting electronic communications out of the mayor's office), the Beth Mason sponsored smear site attempting to control and censor all political discourse saw its ghostwritten efforts cower into the shadows before retching one final tirade of lies then descending into the bowels of our city.

What has emerged is numerous places for residents to read about and discuss Hoboken government and politics. A chill struck in 2012 when a bitter vindictive political failure applied the family checkbook seeking to destroy the the town square.
In the face of this utter depravity, MSV continues to see the most comments of any Hoboken website. Repeated attempts using the civil courts to obtain any information of our users, in any shape or form here has been rebuffed although coming at tremendous cost.

So with thanks, MSV wishes to share a few words from Thomas Paine, with a grateful eye especially to those who join the fight for speech in this Mile Square we call home. Most of you who support "the experiment" as it was originally deemed, only know MSV by the work here. Thanks especially to you all.

"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow." - Thomas Paine.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Saying goodbye to Lane's End

The bite in the air signifies summer's over even if the calendar doesn't quite agree. So too for SmartyJones' cousin, Zenyatta and her team saying goodbye to summer at Lane's End.

Zenyatta one of the most successful racehorses since SmartyJones nuzzles with her daughter Princess
at Lane's End Farm. Team Z is off to greener pastures. 

Zenyatta's official Facebook with this and more photos is available here.

The full Team Zenyatta page is available here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9-11 thirteen years out, terrorism is very much with us

The following article was originally published here on the ten year anniversary. Christopher Hitchens saw clearly the true nature of the threat and did not quibble about moral equivalence. He passed away shortly after the ten year anniversary but his original article then is linked below and is a must read.

Each year this day brings one further removed from the ultimate moments of sadness.  With it, a faint hope as the day approaches it will be further removed from memory, less memorable, distant with less feeling.  When the day arrives, those hopes are dashed.

The first anniversary was the worst.  Midday in downtown Hoboken the air was carrying the vibrations of loss from across the river.  It wasn't a feeling, it wasn't a passing thought - it was palpable.

Everyone has a story that day.  Like so many, I had worked in the shadow of the World Trade Center for four years leading in never thinking of the dangers that would arrive.  People perished murdered at the hands of terrorists convinced of their religious rectitude. Their victims were people I had worked with, done business with, gone to school with and some among the 57 neighbors here in Hoboken murdered that day.

 In 1993, my first reaction working in Tribeca to the news of the buildings being bombed was denial. Eight years later, I saw the second airliner hit and instantly knew the reality: terrorism.

The people responsible for the 1993 attack were said by those who knew better they would be back to finish the job.*  They were right.  This time the murders were multiplied many times over, the damage seemingly incalculable in rubble from where the the two monoliths once stood.

Words are inadequate.  More important, it's necessary to do so anyway if nothing more than to not allow the remembrance to become too distant.

Honor them.

* One of the 1993 WTC bombers escaped to Iraq where he lived a comfortable life with a government home and check.  His colleague Ramzi Yousef was captured and confident the job would be finished.  Eight years later, Yousef's uncle, Khalid Shaikh Mohamed did.

Related: Christopher Hitchens facing his own mortality reflects on the inherent nature of what America faced that day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Grist for the Mill: The cost of corruption strikes home in Hoboken

Corruption is at present a living breathing organism in Hoboken. Back in 2009, at the time of the arrest of then mayor Peter Cammarano, division between the Russo Faction and the rise of Reform was an emerging battle line temporarily abated.

Other than a few discordant voices who said with straight faces, "Don't hate the playa, hate the game," an unsaid rule of thumb prevailed. Let the dust settle and the decks (and bodies) be cleared away then it will be business as usual for the Old Guard again.

It was at best a tip of the hat to corruption in the salty "On the Waterfront" veiny past in the Mile Square City. It isn't quite a novella for the history books though. Let's examine how it may have played out in recent events.

The Hoboken Housing Authority is reeling with revelations of misdeeds, incompetence and financial strangulation. Finger pointing isn't going to solve those problems but MSV can state without final confirmation, a list continues to be unwound and the unraveling will become more a public issue. Transparency and all that jazz being a real deal for reform.

Among the emerging gristy chewables:

Numerous HHA residents unbelievably did not have any "normal" security in their homes. Quite literally, they had no locks on their apartment doors. The reason was a vendor agreement with a local locksmith was not paid and the outstanding bill, in the thousands of dollars stopped all work orders. Buildings also were not secured with no working entrance locks putting some residents in double jeopardy.

How is it that problem never came to the fore? It was never mentioned by any HHA resident at any meeting. What does that tell you about the iron fisted fear they lived under?

Early on this year when the financial irregularities were surfacing, MSV clearly saw the echoes of finger pointing at one HHA officer. It was obvious this person was going to be thrown under the bus should/when the need arise. Once the full weight of financial issues began to surface due largely to the strong investigative efforts of HHA Chair Dana Wefer, right under the bus this officer went. A suspension was thrust upon them and only after the termination of the former Executive Director took place was that wrong righted.

Reports of misuse of HHA authorized vehicles has been whispered about for weeks. There's more than one vehicle involved. One vehicle was in the sights for personal usage but the authorization of use is an open issue too. Unfortunately, a clearer explanation isn't possible for the moment.

There's additional word from the County level of some political shenanigans tied to unnecessary and completely unjustified political spending using HHA vendors. More investigative work is required. 

When trouble began surfacing in the HHA, one official was tossed
right under the bus. More problems are coming to light and will not
be so easily whitewashed, part of the Hoboken "On the Waterfront" tradition.

With the fear of talking removed in the HHA, residents have begun stepping forward asking if they can speak to issues and problems of a personal and legal variety. It's in the early beginnings but it's a positive sign. What emerges will be more than a little interesting.

Corruption rears its head in many forms and the nexus of corruption is very much in our midst and ready to strike, perjure, cheat and steal to advance itself and no gutter is too low to go. As cited here, it's Hoboken's most vulnerable who recently were paying the highest price. 

Grist for the Mill is MSV's rumor column. Have a juicy carrot for Da Horsey? Send it to Confidentiality is ensured but publication is not. 

Morning Sidebar: Be on the lookout for another in a series of Beth Mason sponsored phone calls to Hoboken residents urging anger over the legally required reval.

Multiple reports are coming in already and the Mason family money is on the warpath. The latest in a fishy smelling political operation on behalf of Beth Mason is an attempt try and blame the reval, decades overdue, on Mayor Zimmer.

A reader emailed MSV saying a caller speaking for Beth Mason was blaming the reveal on the mayor saying she initiated it.

At the spaghetti dinner, the usual jovial Freeholder Anthony Romano was heard by this horse saying similar. When asked why he was saying that which he must know is untrue, he pointed to resistance to the law in a neighboring municipality.

Mr. Freeholder, is the race for Hoboken mayor already underway? 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We remember

City of Hoboken announces:


The Hoboken community will come together to share in its annual September 11th Interfaith Memorial Service for the victims, their families, the City of Hoboken, and the entire nation. Fifty seven Hoboken residents were lost on September 11, 2001.

The service will take place on Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. on the southeast corner of Hoboken’s Pier A Park. All are invited to attend.
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