Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'About last nite, the off cycle council meeting'

Official release:

 
Dear friends and neighbors:  
I rushed last night to get my update out before the meeting started (for me at 6 with a closed session prior to the public meeting), and made one major error, a slightly less major one and a few spelling ones…corrections below in PINK.
  • DATE IS 9/30 – for Hoboken Arts & Music Festival.  Back downtown – Observer to 7th St. - with headliner bands Marshall Crenshaw & The Smithereens! Click the link for more details.   
  • 2nd Ward Intersections - 13th and Park – Pricing “shades/shudders” for the light at 14th and PARK (Not Washington).  Previously was told this was a simple, inexpensive fix.  However will be more costly than thought.  In parallel looking to do a pilot (aka temporary) program for a traffic type circle at 13th and Park.  See below for more on traffic circles.
Sorry for the confusion.  While I have your attention, there is one more event this weekend I became aware of today which I think looks exciting and wish I could attend:
 
About last night (City Council meeting)…
  • All three parking ordinances were tabled and sent to subcommittee for further discussion.
  • First reading of Easter Seals lease and related legislation was approved 9-0.  Corporation counsel confirmed there was no conflict with Advance Realty (owner of building) given their lawsuit against the city.
  • Mayor Turner of Weehawken was honored for raising $200,000 towards the completion of Hoboken’s New American Legion Post and Housing for Homeless Veterans.  This is such an amazing project and you can be a part of it too if you want to donate.  They just had their topping off celebration last week and are hoping to complete by this spring.  
  • We passed on 1st Reading a revised Temporary Parking ordinance 8-1.  I actually was the dissenting vote because although it had some improvements, I don’t think it went far enough.  The big issue for me is when / whether Temporary Parking signs are actually enforceable – I feel strongly we should not be allowed to post any sign that says “No Parking” unless it is enforceable.
 
And finally….
What did I mean by Traffic Circles … a better name might be a mini-roundabout.   Effectively the concept is to install a small raised traffic island that could be any diameter and could be decorative as well.  Roundabouts limit speeds by horizontally deflecting vehicles as they pass through an intersection.  13th and Park may be too small for this, but 15th and Garden may not.  The City is going to study traffic counts / etc. at each of these intersections and look at both intersections for viability and what can / should be done to improve pedestrian safety.  
I will say that I am also pushing that we consider speed humps in Hoboken in certain areas – Jersey City just announced that they are installing 86 as part of their Vision Zero plan.  They don’t work in all locations and they come with challenges if not designed correctly (snow removal, noise, etc...).  We historically have been told a flat “No”.  But I think it should be more of a “yes / sometimes”.
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”

Council rejects Ravi Bhalla's $130 pizza bill for his 'private' meeting at Marine View

Call it PizzaGate or call it a Hoboken farce. Once again, there's a bad taste and this time it's for pizza billed to the Mile Square taxpayer for approximately $130.

While the amount is relatively paltry, it's the thought that counts. In this case, it was pizza to entice Marine View residents to pay homage and one imagines lend future votes in loyalty to Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

Why is the mayor billing taxpayers for his "private" meeting with residents where he blocked other elected officials from attending altogether?

Didn't Ravi Bhalla say he was against buying votes only months back?  Not a month back, Bhalla used his taxpayer-paid security force to block Councilman Mike DeFusco from attending a meeting at Marine View.

The City Council rejected the charges for what one might call PizzaGate because Hoboken is back to once again being "special."

Former mayor Dawn Zimmer would never conduct city business this way.



In bigger news, the lawsuit filed by former Hoboken Police Chief Anthony Falco against the City of Hoboken and former mayor Dawn Zimmer got crushed and was thrown out of court. The years-long suit intended to make a mockery of one of Hoboken's highest-paid public officials demanding overtime among other compensation for "overtime" worked during Hurricane Sandy back in 2012.

The full story broke yesterday on HCV.

The rest of this story is MSV Premium content and will be sent to subscribers later today.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'On the agenda'

Official release:

 
Dear friends and neighbors:  
Hoping everyone has readjusted to back-to-school and/or back-to-work and their commutes have not been too impacted by the 495 Bridge project.  A few Up and Coming’s and Updates to kick off the last official week of summer.  And a late update on what is being considered at tonight's council meeting!
Up & Coming:
  • Tonight – City Council Meeting.  7pm City Hall.  Moved from Wednesday due to the Yom Kippur holiday which begins at sundown on 9/18.  You can watch the meeting HERE or on Facebook Live on City of Hoboken FB Page.  See below for more on tonight’s agenda.
  • 9/23 - Hoboken Arts & Music Festival.  Back downtown – Observer to 7th St. - with headliner bands Marshall Crenshaw & The Smithereens! Click the link for more details.   
  • 9/29 – Hoboken High Hispanic Fest 2018!  Come get your salsa on with the Skyline Salsa Band from 12-8 behind Hoboken High School on Grand between 8th and 9th!
  • 10/7 – Hudson County Computer – Only Recycling in Hoboken.  9am – 1pm at Hoboken DPW, 256 Observer Highway (at Willow)
  • 10/9 – All Schools Open House – This is the event to learn about schools that are available for your children.  Meet over 35 of them including Hoboken Public Schools, from Pre-K to High School in one evening.  Sponsored by Hoboken Family Alliance.  5-8pm at Hoboken High School Gym 800 Clinton St.
 
Tonight’s meeting
Cost of parking – both legally & illegally – could increase dramatically tonight!
On tonight’s agenda are three ordinances that will generally result in increased parking related charges and fines.  In theory, these are meant to accomplish two things – bring pricing up to market pricing and to generate more revenues to be able to reinvest in parking and transportation type activities and investments like expanded Hop service and improved roads.  And in theory, I am for this in general. 
My concern is that the increases are a big step at once without specifically identified improvements and that the increases will have a further negative effect on our businesses in particular at a time when we should be doing more to help them.  Additionally, after an incident late last week relating to temporary parking signs, I have drunk the Kool-Aid that we need to first do more to have the proper controls over our citywide parking signage.  
And given how important parking is to everyone in our city, I would hope that these increases would be rolled out in a more cohesive plan which includes benefits and operational improvements (like signage).  Quick summary of the ordinances up for 2nd reading:
  • B-64 – Increases parking fines across the board by an average of about 47%.  Unsure how much additional revenue this will increase for the city.  
  • B-65 – Increases parking meter rates, establishes dynamic pricing and resets time limit to 4 hrs across the City.  Dynamic pricing means that it varies across location based upon demand and use.  In Hoboken, this means pricing will go up the most (from $1/hr to $3.60/hr) in our CBD, near the PATH.  It will go up the least (from $1/hr to $2/hr) in the west side of the city.  You can see the proposed map HERE of how this pricing will apply.
  • B-66 – Changes rates at our garages - here, there are both reductions and increases.  It reduces the cost of parking on the shortest end while increasing monthly parking rates across the board.  Short term rates reduce to $5 for the first hour (from $7), increase slightly to $11 (from $10) for 2 hours and monthly rates across the board.  As an example, for standard resident parking:
Garage B – Increases from $235 to $250 
Garage D – Increases from $185 to $240
Garage G – Increases from $160 to $200
Midtown – Increases from $185 to $235
No changes at the Garden St. which is currently at $200/month.
 
Suez / Water Infrastructure
On tonight’s agenda we will be voting on $106K of legal and engineering contracts to investigate whether there is any causal effect between the JCMUA Meter Chamber project in SW Hoboken and the subsequent water main breaks; of note (and knock on wood), since that project has been completed we have not had any further breaks.  Also, at the last council meeting, we approved bidding out our water management services with the goal of improving our economic and operational partnership with our water management provider.  I have gotten a lot of questions, but basically here are a few key points:
  • We are not (yet) throwing out Suez.  The city council infrastructure subcommittee, the administration, our advisors and Suez continue to work together on everyday repair and maintenance solutions as well as trying to determine if and how we can have a more productive agreement and partnership that makes better sense for all parties.  
  • The RFP process is such that it is first sent to the State Comptroller who has 30 days to comment on the RFP before we can advertise.
  • The City is in process of finalizing approval for 2.5 miles of water main repairs with construction expected to begin in late 2018/early 2019.
 
City Lease with EasterSeals NJ
There was a bit of a kerfuffle after the last council meeting regarding a lease that the City is proposing to enter into with EasterSeals NJ for 1,000 sf of space that was given to the City at the Trader Joe’s building at 14th and Willow by Advance Realty.  EasterSeals NJ is moving their Hudson County offices to this location and is expected to continue to provide supportive services for elderly and disabled, with the hope that they will expand these services to Hoboken Residents.  Additionally, they will coordinate with local organizations dedicated to the homeless, like our own Homeless Shelter, as part of the City’s planned coordinated effort that will be rolled out shortly.  I applaud all of the efforts that are being made as homelessness is heartbreaking at the very least and I am 100% supportive of efforts to provide more services to our elderly and disabled.  
At last week’s meeting, I raised questions concerning whether the lease we were being asked to enter into was an arms-length lease at market terms.  Which is what you should want your public officials to do.  Was a public process conducted for the space when selecting EasterSeals; how was free rent determined when other leased space to non-profits like Hoboken Family Planning is not free; what were the circumstances around EasterSeals leaving Jersey City (we understand the lease ends 9/30); what conflicts, if any, are there as we are subject to a lawsuit by Advance Realty; and are there any conflicts relating to John Allen, the Chief of Staff to the mayor, who is on the board of EasterSeals NJ and is lobbying for this lease to occur.  Since then there has been continued discussion on these, with resolution of some, and the dialogue continues.  
 
Other items:
2nd ward intersections.  
I have met/spoke with Freeholder Romano, Chief Ferrante, Lt. Petrosino, Lt. Orrico, Director Sharp and Kimberli Craft, our new City engineer and toured all of the intersections in the 2nd ward.  Here is a quick rundown of actions/ideas/next steps (more to come...):
  • Sinatra and Constitution Ct – southbound stop sign not installed.  Unfortunately, I am now being told that it was never approved and a survey will need to be done to justify having one.  Right now, I would not recommend doing this because I don’t believe the results will justify a sign given the crane blocking Sinatra and Shipyard Lane.  We are going to meet to discuss what we can do in the interim.
  • 15th and Garden – Looking to do a PILOT for a traffic type circle at this location. Additionally, looking to enhance the pedestrian signs with strobes that would trigger when people are at/near the intersection.
  • 13th and Park – Pricing “shades” for the light at 14th and Washington.  Previously was told this was a simple, inexpensive fix.  However will be more costly than thought.  In parallel looking to do a PILOT for a traffic type circle at this location.  
  • 14th and Hudson – Asking county engineer to add automatic pedestrian light change (triggered currently only by pushing button).
  • 15th and Hudson – Adding pedestrian warning signs to the intersection.
Finally – The dog park behind Harborside is up and running!  
Please feel free to send me any and all thoughts you have.  Thank you to Directors Pellegrini and Gonzalez for getting this done so quickly!  And hoping the kids will be able to enjoy what is still a great open space to run around in!
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”

Grist for the Mill: Look who's invited to Ravi's Friday night dinner!

Among 55,0000 Hoboken residents, not many can say they were invited to have dinner with Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. That honor with the mayor Friday night went to one person who appeared out of nowhere to launch attacks on council members last summer.

Mike Donnelly, special guest of Friday dinner
At his last appearance before the City Council, this mayoral dinner honoree concluded by saying to Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, "no one sent me."

Last month, MSV published a Sign of the Times column unveiling that said political attack dog Mike Donnelly was none other than a good buddy of Ravi Bhalla's Chief of Staff, John Allen. As described:



Mayor Ravi Bhalla


The Friday night dinner at the uptown steakhouse Dino & Harry's, witnesses saw special Ravi Bhalla dinner in a corner of the restaurant with the mayor, John Allen and Mike Donnelly. In another part of the restaurant sat Councilman Peter Cunningham who was most definitely not invited.

Bhalla and Cunningham would chat briefly before the former left but it's John Allen's best bro who generated the most interest. What was behind his invitation to have a Friday night dinner with the Hoboken mayor?

Some have speculated Donnelly, an uptown resident may have developed a political infection from his friend working in the mayor's office. Both lack any institutional memory (or involvement) in Hoboken's battle against corruption and the good government movement known as Reform. Allen failed to land a council seat when he was installed on Bhalla's at-large council slate last year. That defeat quickly found him placed inside the mayor's office as chief of staff.

Ravi Bhalla COS John Allen
The infection may have taken and some think the talking points attacking varied council members as part of an interest in standup comedy combined with Donnelly's ignorance on the Hoboken political scene. The passing interest may not last as Mike Allen is working to further Ravi Bhalla ties to Old Guard forces.

Next year Hoboken's City Council ward races will square off and the combined forces of Ravibots will do the unthinkable and further unite with the Russo Clan in an effort to take out the good government trio of councilmembers Peter Cunningham, Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher should they seek reelection. All three have stood independent and set the tone for the City Council where most of the Bhalla Administration agenda is easily passed but questions are asked and policy routinely analyzed.

As the mayor's Chief of Staff, John Allen has been keen to embrace the political component of the job and many see him inside City Hall as the day to day mayor with Ravi Bhalla focused on how to forge a path to another political gig in Washington DC. Allen has been having steamy conversations with the second ward failed council candidate Peter Biancamano who most recently lost a seat on the Hoboken Board of Education.

It's not the BoE seat Biancamano wants back but the second ward City Council seat. He lost in a three-way race to Tiffanie Fisher in 2015 and he's not gotten over it. He's been telling people he can beat her next time in 2019.

The romantic conversations between John Allen and Peter Biancamano have passed the initial dating stage. Allen is thought to be sweetening the pot and Biancamano's heartstrings with the idea of being bestowed a place on the mayor's council ticket. They are locked in a passionate political embrace with each believing they are on the "same team" with one goal. "We have to work together to get rid of Tiffanie," is their refrain.

Reform elements who were part of the good government movement for decades are shuddering at the prospect. Those on the BoE will be especially appalled. But one longtime observer of the now defunct Reform Movement said of Ravi Bhalla he was not surprised. "He'll torch Hoboken if that's what it takes to move up the political ladder and get what he wants, a seat in Congress."

People suspect the ugly politics will be back with a Ravi-Russo Clan alliance bringing bad Hoboken memories back to the present in 2019.

Grist for the Mill is MSV's rumor column. Got a tasty carrot for Horsey? Send it to smartyjones@me.com. All email is kept confidential and is protected by MSV's proven Reporter Privilege upheld under the NJ Shield Law in Hudson County Superior Court. In farm animals we trust.

Friday, September 14, 2018

JC Councilman joins Councilman Mike DeFusco: Restore full ferry service in Jersey City & Hoboken

Official release:

Councilmen Solomon & DeFusco Call for NY Waterway to Restore Ferry Service in Downtown Jersey City & Hoboken

Jersey City & Hoboken, NJ – Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon and Hoboken First Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco are each calling on New York Waterway to restore ferry service that has recently been cut as the company has consolidated routes in both Downtown Jersey City and Hoboken. The changes have resulted in service being reduced from three round trips per hour to two, causing overcrowding and long lines on ferry boats back and forth from both cities to Manhattan.

“Thousands of Downtown Jersey City residents rely on ferry service to commute to and from work in Manhattan, and any reduction in service just means even more crowding on PATH and buses that are already packed,” said Councilman Solomon. “NY Waterway has been a valued partner in Jersey City’s growth, and though I support optimizing routes and sharing service with Hoboken, adding back the third trip per hour will greatly improve the new combined route. It’s up to local leaders and commuters to make their voices heard on this issue to demand better service for both Jersey City and Hoboken.”
The Hoboken City Council passed a resolution recently that was sponsored by Councilman DeFusco uring NY Waterway to consider options to restore service frequency as well as make access to ferry more accessible by instituting shuttle vans and waiving the fee for bikes. A copy of the resolution is attached.  

The service cuts follow the city’s highly publicized legal battle to obtain the Union Dry Dock property, which NY Waterway is now using as a dock for ferry boats after vacating its former property in Weehawken.

“With PATH and bus service growing increasingly more crowded, ferry service is an essential mode of transportation for Hoboken residents,” said Councilman DeFusco. “I previously expressed concern that the City’s attempt to acquire Union Dry Dock may result in retaliation from the ferry provider in the form of reduced service, and now it appears that this is what we’re seeing. It’s time for the City and NY Waterway to stop pointing fingers and start working together for the benefit of everyday commuters who are now being impacted by this failure to cooperate.”

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hoboken Police Department conducting criminal investigation on "The HUB"

Official release:



 Hoboken Police Launches Criminal Investigation against The HUB
                      ABC Charges also filed
     On Sunday, September 9, 2018, the Hoboken Police Department
was made aware of social media activity that was showing videos
from incidents that had occurred inside The HUB (Hudson Ultra
Bar at 16 Hudson Place) from late Saturday into early Sunday
morning. The alleged activity occurred during a promotion called
“Supreme Saturdays at HUB.”
      According to the preliminary investigation, the promoter
hired by The HUB that night is known as #theslutwhisperer, who
has millions of viewers on social media. The Hoboken Police
Alcohol Beverage Control Unit Investigators (ABC Unit), along
with Hoboken Police Detectives, immediately began reviewing
videos and comments from open source, social media. The videos
obtained depict extremely graphic lewd acts.
     After reviewing videos and additional records obtained on
Monday, September 10th, it was determined that there were ABC
violations. On Tuesday evening, the Hoboken Police ABC
Investigators served the HUB ownership group with many charges
due to multiple acts of lewd behavior. The ABC hearing will be
held September 20th, 2018, at 4pm, at 94 Washington St, City
Hall, at which time, the City of Hoboken is seeking revocation
of The HUB’s Liquor License.
     As of now, The HUB remains open until the ABC hearing. The
Hoboken Police Department will continue to have a strong
presence in the vicinity along with the ABC Unit, who will be
monitoring the area to ensure dangerous and illegal conduct is
not continuing in that immediate area.
The Hoboken Police Department Investigations Bureau is continuing a criminal investigation into this matter. Anyone with information, videos or pictures regarding this incident is asked to contact the Hoboken Police Department’s Investigations Bureau Lt. Edgardo Cruz at 201-420-5101 and cruze@hobokenpd.org. All information will be kept confidential.
     Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante said, “I saw videos of
activity that I never could imagine would occur anywhere,
especially in a business open to the public with a liquor
license approved by the City of Hoboken and State of New Jersey.
To state that this conduct will not be tolerated by the Hoboken
Police Department is a major understatement. Any other bar owner
that thinks they can allow or promote this type of activity, in
the City of Hoboken, will also face charges which could lead to
a revocation of their license, and severe penalties. For any
individual who saw the disgraceful acts, and are thinking of
coming to a bar in Hoboken to repeat this activity towards
women, be assured that you will be arrested if you violate the
law.”
     Ferrante credited Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez
and her SVU Unit Detectives who are assisting in the
investigation. He also credited Hoboken Police Captain Charles
Campbell, Lt. Edgardo Cruz and their criminal investigators, as
well as Lt. Scott Hochstadter and his ABC investigators, for
their work thus far on this case. Chief Ferrante thanked Mayor
Ravi Bhalla and his administration for their support and their
swift response to this matter.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "TIME SENSITIVE - Relating to voting in upcoming 11/6 elections"

Official release:

 
Dear friends and neighbors:  
Although this is a MUST READ for some, there is something for everyone in this so please read on… 
Governor Murphy signed a law on August 10th with a number of changes to our NJ Election laws relating to VOTING BY MAIL (S647).  Our State Senator Brian Stack and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji were among the sponsors of this legislation.  The intent is to increase voter participation, but one part of the new law that requires the immediate attention of some of you, and possibly a response is:
«««
IF YOU REQUESTED A BALLOT TO VOTE BY MAIL IN THE 2016 GENERAL (PRESIDENTIAL) ELECTION, AND ONLY FOR THAT ELECTION, YOU HAVE BEEN SIGNED UP TO AUTOMATICALLY VOTE BY MAIL FOR ALL ELECTIONS, FOREVER.
«««
If this applies to you, then you should have received the attached letter from the Hudson County Clerk informing you of this.
  • IF YOU WANT TO OPT OUT of this, then you must do so in writing.  
  • If you want your opting out to be effective for the upcoming General Election on Tuesday November 6th, you must do so by this Friday, September 14th.  Instructions are in the letter.  
  • If your opting out instructions are received after Friday, September 14th, the you will be just opting out of all future elections afterthe upcoming general election on November 6th.
  • If you do not opt out or your notification to opt out is received too late, and you want to vote on Election Day this November 6th, you will not be able to vote in the machine.  You will, however, be able to Vote by Mail OR submit a provisional ballot at your polling location on Election Day.
 
Applying to Vote By Mail – Rule Changes:
OLD RULES / Prior to the law change:  you could apply to vote by mail and select one of two options – either for the current calendar year OR for all November elections going forward. 
NEW RULES /  With the law change:  you can apply for either ALL elections going forward OR just one election in the current calendar year.  
Click on the picture or HERE for the new Vote By Mail application.  
 
What does this mean for you for this year and going forward:
You are being added to the automatic and forever list if any of the following applies:
  • If you applied for a ballot previously having checked the box that says all November General elections and still receive ballots.  E.G. – you applied in 2015, and have received ballots for every November election since.  
  • If you applied in 2016, checked the box that says ONLY the November General election that year.
You are not being added to the automatic and forever list if any of the following applies:
  • If you applied in 2016, checked the box that says ONLY one of the elections (E.G. the primary) other than the November General election.
  • If you applied in any other year (2017 or 2018 for example), and checked the box that says ONLY one election (whether November General or any others) that year.   
 
Other major provisions in the new law that will affect us:
  • You will be able to apply for automatic and forever Vote By Mail when you register to vote.  See Boxes 1 & 14 on the new application HERE
  • Your Vote By Mail Ballot can now be counted after closing of the polls on election day ONLY IF it was sent in the mail, postmarked no later than election day, and received no later than 48 hours later.  This is a change – previously the Board of Elections had to receive your ballot no later than Election Day.  For Hoboken, and others, this has the potential to have elections not decided until the Thursday following Election Day.
 
Upcoming Election on November 6th
The upcoming election will have four main choices to vote for:
  • U.S. Senate 
  • U.S. House of Representatives
  • Hoboken School Board
  • Hoboken Public Question – Yes/No: do you want to see election run offs reinstated (to ensure winning candidate receives at least 50%+1 of the vote).  
If you are not registered to vote, and I believe about 20% of the people who receive this are not, please do.  Whether you lean left like me or lean right, your vote is your voice.  As President Obama just said in a speech recently [paraphrased] “young people complain that they aren’t represented in government.  Yet only 1 in 5 millennials vote!”.  This idea of not voting but complaining about policies / politics can be applied to any group and any voice.  So please register and / or make sure if you recently moved that your registration is current.  You can download an application HERE.  And don’t worry, I am told that it is not voter registration that adds you to the jury duty list.  It is your driver’s license.
 
Clear as mud?
If you are not clear on whether or not you are being added to the automatic and forever list, please reach out to the County Clerk’s office directly at 201-369-3470, select 6.
To give you an order of magnitude, in 2016, 2,511 Hoboken voters were sent a Vote By Mail Ballot.  Of these only about 1,800 actually voted by mail.  BUT ALL 2,511 WHO RECEIVED A BALLOT THAT YEAR, plus any others who applied in 2017 and 2018 to receive ballots for all November General elections going forward, will now receive Vote By Mail Ballots for all elections going forward.  Unless you OPT OUT in writing.
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”

Joshua Einstein: Rational public safety not rationalization on HudCo ICE contract


County Executive Tom DeGise and the Freeholder Board are under pressure to cancel a contract with immigration and customs enforcement (ICE) by alt-left extremists and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez. The agreement, which was has been supported by county Democratic leadership since 1996, allows ICE to hold hundreds of illegal aliens convicted of crimes in the US and arrested in NYC. ICE has similar agreements with Bergen and Essex Counties, also Democrat run. 
Yet a small but vocal cadre of out of touch alt-left agitators has engaged in a campaign of demonization of law enforcement, including the corrections officers of the Hudson County jail which are holding murderers, rapists, child predators, those who have committed assault and repeat drunk drivers behind bars. These felons and criminals are not US citizens, have no legal nor moral right to remain in the US and are from around the world.
It is one thing for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to support an amnesty for illegal aliens who have committed no other crimes after their initial illegal entry or visa violation. It is another, and disturbing thing, to imply the US has an obligation to keep foreign criminals who are a danger to our communities. It is an immoral thing altogether to compare corrections officers to Nazi death camp guards as some of the alt-left in Hudson County have done. And it is an inexplicable thing to posit the illegal alien who happens to be a sex offender will register as such and put their actual address on a government list rather than disappear into the population upon release.
Wherever one stands politically, all should stand against the vilification of our police and corrections officers. Claims made by the foot soldiers in Menendez’s army of professional election activists and alt-left extremists that getting criminals off the streets is bigoted ignores the facts that the offenders are not in jail due to their ethnicities nor even their status as illegal aliens alone. Everyone knows criminals come in all colors as do our law enforcement (including the Hudson County jail which has a high proportion of minority officers). The analogy that some, with this counter-factual mob mentality have made, comparing the county jail to Nazi concentration camps and the everyday heroes of our law enforcement to Nazi SS troops hunting Jews, Gypsies, and others for extermination, is hyper-partisan politics at its worst and morally repugnant.
The vast majority of Hudson County voters know that law enforcement, from our own corrections department to the regional ICE division are dealing daily with gang members, child molesters, sexual predators, and repeat drunk drivers in order to get them off the streets and out of our neighborhoods. County Executive Tom DeGise is undoubtedly aware of this but questions naturally arise. With Menendez acting out of fear of losing to Senate Candidate Bob Hugin (whose polling numbers show he is in striking distance of a historic win), will DeGise follow Menendez down the dangerous path of putting partisan politics above commonsense law enforcement? Is helping Menendez score a hypothetical handful more votes from the alt-left extremists who compare our cops to Nazi’s worth selling out both the people and the brave men and women of law enforcement? 
Fundamentally, both the local Democratic leaders and Menendez are anti-law enforcement and anti-safety. What reason could one have to protest the future deportation of dangerous criminals? Why else canonize convicts as if they were saints and portray law enforcement as bigots? The reality is that law enforcement officers are heroes working with a dangerous population of criminals from around the world who have come here to prey upon the weak, poor, and often times immigrant communities they live in. The sad reality is that if released the Russian mobsters held at the county jail will likely return to plague the immigrant Russian community in America once more. If set free in the US the rapist will likely return to a neighborhood with a majority of his ethnicity and rape again. If allowed to enter American society again, the gang member will likely return to an ethnic neighborhood of his background and resuming forcing neighborhood businesses to pay a protection fee or face violence. The alt-left advocates of releasing criminals into our streets put the lives of otherwise law-abiding illegal aliens, hardworking legal immigrants, and American’s in danger.
The divisive anti-law enforcement rhetoric paints the police and corrections officers, who are protecting us, as racist antebellum era plantation overseers. It ignores the fact that criminal illegal aliens held in the county jail come in all colors, many ethnicities, and the that many of our protectors are themselves from ethnic minority communities. The people of Hudson County are not stupid, they want to hear the wailing siren of the police when the corner store they are in is being robbed when they are being mugged, and when it’s late at night and their home is broken into. They realize that the less visible corrections officers are no less everyday heroes. 
Normal people across Hudson County and New Jersey, blue and white collar, black, white, Hispanic, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, atheist, and others, understand what our law enforcement deals with and protects us from on a daily basis. Most people know our cops and corrections officers are the good guys; the real question, does County Executive Tom DeGise agree? Will he give in and join the crazy chorus of alt-left extremists denigrating law enforcement and Is he willing to suffer the political consequences?

Joshua Einstein is a Hoboken resident and ran for City Council last year as an independent candidate netting in the ballpark of 1,000 votes.