Monday, October 14, 2019

A Columbus Day Grist

A special Columbus Day edition of Grist for the Mill is arriving to our Hoboken port.

Yesterday, another weekend edition of Premium went out to members. If you didn't receive it, please email


Jen Giattino: 'Thanks and campaign help'

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors,

Election Day is only 23 days away!  I am grateful and humbled by the outpouring of your support so far!  As we approach election day, this is when I need even more from you!  I am seeking Election Day volunteers.  If you have just a few hours that day, in particular in the morning or evening, please let me know.  Here are a couple of ways you can help me get to the finish line!

Challengers on Election Day - Thank you to the many who have already volunteered.  

There are just a few spots left, mainly in the morning.
- Sit at polling locations in the morning (6-11) and / or evenings (4-8)
- helps keep track of who has voted so far
- gets the final vote tally from the machines at 8pm

Visibility on Election Day
- 2-4 hour commitment
- wear T-shirts, carry signs

Election Day Canvassing and Work
- 2-4 hour commitment
- phone calls and door knocking of supporters
- updating voter database
- helping deliver food and drinks to poll workers and challengers

If you are available on Election Day please reach out to me at or text 201-780-6779.

Need a window sign?
We have several dogs willing to deliver one. Email or text 201.780.6779 with your address.

T-shirts and buttons have also arrived:
If you would like my son to deliver one please reach out to or text 201-780-6779.

Donations are still appreciated! 
Click here for my Website Donation Page.

THANK YOU for your continued support and generosity.  Please reach out to me with any issues, questions or concerns you may have.

Vote Jen Again

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Hoboken fifth ward candidate targeted in dirty tricks attack to his employer


Fifth ward council candidate Nick Maganuco, not of Mayor Ravi Bhalla's choosing, sees employer contacted in underhanded bid to force him out of the race.

Late July, at the infancy of the Hoboken council ward races, Nicola Maganuco made a bold Twitter announcement launching his official candidacy for the fifth ward council seat.

The exclusive story was first reported here at on the morning of July 26th.

Maganuco was immediately beset upon by online Ravi Bhalla political campaign operatives who mocked him. Later the same day, a dirty political trick quickly followed to his employer.

The young candidate who developed a local following with his #HobokenCommuter twitter handle had no idea his employer would receive an email the very same day questioning the appropriateness of his entry into the race.

The email depicted below with no edits of any kind, claims to come from a non-existent phony Hoboken group from a Gmail account calling itself "hobokencitizenscoalition."

The email arrived mid-afternoon to Maganuco's employer, a New York City based financial firm attempts to alert them he "announced he is running for City Council in Hoboken, NJ."

The email quickly goes for a kill-shot on Maganuco's newborn candidacy requesting if he's "received all necessary Outside Business interest approvals...?"

The email continues, feigning interest in interviewing the new candidate for an imaginary publication and endorsement from its shadowy enterprise of a non-existent Hoboken organization.

It ends with claimed fevered interest "we want to ensure your employee has the full support... of (the) compliance department."

At the time of the sabotage-seeking email, there was only one announced candidate for the fifth ward, the Ravi Bhalla backed Phil Cohen who recently received an endorsement from the big construction union PAC, Stronger Foundations.

Shadowy operatives sought to knock Maganuco out of the box from being a candidate the same day he announced.

Who would be behind such a dirty deed?

The political operation against Maganuco echoes other political operations traced back to Ravi Bhalla's mayor's office.

In 2018, political operations were reported here with exclusive analysis revealing race-baiting and other assorted attacks against council members who do not reflexively support all of Ravi Bhalla's initiatives.

Vijay Chaudhuri, the communications manager in the mayor's office who worked as the campaign manager for Ravi Bhalla's 2017 mayoral campaign was asked what knowledge he, the mayor or others in the mayor's office have about the "hobokencitizenscoalition" July 26th email.

There's been no response to the request for comment.

Maganuco declined to react to the email but acknowledged it was sent to his employer late July questioning the validity of his candidacy.

The Ravi Bhalla council campaign is invited to comment on this story.

Talking Ed Note: Has a familiar ring, doesn't it?

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Ravi Bhalla-Stronger Foundations PAC candidate Cristin Cricco-Powell MIA in sixth ward debate

It's a Sign of the Times.

Not a day after news of the Stronger Foundations big construction union PAC is revealed backing most of Mayor Ravi Bhalla's council slate, a debate held yesterday shows an empty podium for his sixth ward candidate, Cristin Cricco-Powell.

Hey, she had a nice place on the podium there though. Looking good!

City Council President Jen Giattino smiles on the left with fellow sixth ward council candidate Frank Rosner at yesterday's sixth ward debate. The middle podium was for Ravi Bhalla's no-show Stronger Foundations big construction candidate:
Cristin Cricco-Powell. 

Talking Ed Note: Yesterday's sixth ward debate hosted by the Hudson Media Group is available on their Facebook page.

Willie Rojas joins Matt Calicchio admitting to voter fraud conspiracy in 2015 Hoboken election

Official release:

USAO NJ Seal 3
United States Attorney District of New Jersey


NEWARK, N.J. – A Hoboken, New Jersey, today man admitted his role in a conspiracy to promote a voter bribery scheme during a municipal election in Hoboken, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced. 

William Rojas, 69, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to an information charging him with conspiring with others to use the mail to promote a voter bribery scheme during the 2015 municipal election in Hoboken. 

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 VBM Application is processed, voters receive a mail-in ballot. 

From September 2015 through November 2015, Rojas worked for a candidate for the Hoboken City Council (Candidate 1). At Candidate 1’s direction, Rojas and a conspirator, Matthew Calicchio, agreed to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 each if those voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots for the November 2015 Hoboken municipal election. Rojas provided these voters with VBM applications and told them they would get paid $50 for casting mail-in ballots. After receiving the completed mail-in ballots from voters, Rojas and Calicchio reviewed them to ensure that voters had voted for Candidate 1. After the election, Rojas delivered $50 checks to the voters whose mail-in ballots he collected. Calicchio previously pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 7, 2019.

Rojas faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2020. 

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 guilty plea. 
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. 

Defense Counsel: Kevin F. Carlucci Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark

Related from the US DOJ in Newark: "The Goal of the Conspiracy"

Goal of the Conspiracy

3. The goal of the conspiracy was to bribe voters by paying them to apply for and cast mail-in ballots in support of Candidate 1.

Manner and Means of the Conspiracy

4. It was part of the conspiracy that:
A. At Candidate 1's direction, ROJAS and Calicchio promised voters that they
would be paid $50 if they applied for and cast mail-in ballots for the 2015 Election for Candidate

B. After the 2015 Election, at Candidate 1's direction, ROJAS and Calicchio delivered $50 checks to the voters that were drawn on the Campaign Committee's bank account.

For the complete details, please see the US DOJ link:

The One and Only - a debate for and featuring the 5th Ward on October 15th!

Official release:

The Pulse with Peter B. Announces
Hoboken 5thWard Debate 
The Pulse with Peter B., Hoboken’s only “Mile Square City” focused show has announced the Hoboken 5thWard Debate to be held at the Mile Square Theater (1400 Clinton St) on Tuesday, October 15. Doors will open at 7:00pm for audience members and the debate beings at 7:30pm. The Pulse, as the show is known, is the leading show for cable access television in northern New Jersey. While special episodes include on-site visits to local businesses, festivals, community fundraisers, and more, regular episodes are 3 parts featuring sports analysis, a local food review, and a political/policy breakdown of events in Hoboken.
The show is hosted by Peter Biancamano, a born and raised Hobokenite with a fresh and young take on town and who spent two terms as an elected Hoboken School Board Trustee. Biancamano has a unique take on Hoboken that informs the conversation in the local food and politics segments. Biancamano stated, “as someone who has been involved in the public conversation in Hoboken, I felt it important to really get into the issues in the only ward with no incumbents and three viable candidates.” “It’s going to be a great night of solid questions and I’m sure the three candidates will bring solid answers,” he continued.
The debate will feature the candidates answering questions from Biancamano and the show’s political analyst, Joshua Sotomayor Einstein, as well as audience questions. Einstein stated, “as this is the only ward specific debate exclusively featuring candidates from the 5thward, it’s an opportunity for the community in the ward and for the 3 candidates to really have a dialogue on the issues.” Format wise, candidates will be given 90 seconds for answers, 60 seconds for response, and 30 seconds for rebuttals. Audience questions will be taken in writing on index cards collected at the beginning of the debate and read to the candidates during the last half hour. All are welcome to attend.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Big Construction Union backs Ravi Bhalla council slate, Michael Russo & Ruben Ramos

In a September 24th online announcement unknown to most Hoboken residents, the big construction union, Local 825, with its better known statewide Political Action Committee (PAC), Stronger Foundations, made its endorsements for Hoboken's critical council elections in November.

Following major backing for Ravi Bhalla's mayoral bid in 2017 with over $70,000 in underwriting is Local 825's latest endorsements for Ravi Bhalla's council slate: Migdalia Pagan-Milano, Nora DeBenedetto, Phil Cohen and Kristin Cricco Powell.

Say hello to your Stronger Foundations-Ravi Bhalla Big Development team!

In addition, the powerful construction union also endorsed Councilman Michael Russo who hammered away in support of the massive NJ Transit plan at the last council meeting and Ruben Ramos, who slides in as Bhalla candidate Lisa Sprengle is thrown under the bus with her token candidacy.

For NJ Assembly, Local 825 endorses Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro but her Assembly counterpart, Jersey City's Raj Mukherji is not.

Back in January, featured this graphic of Hoboken City Hall with a Ravi Bhalla For Sale sign.
As the latest NJ Transit plan has been kept under wraps right before Hoboken's critical November council elections,
the big development masks are off. Copyright 2019, Stanislaw Nesferatu not included.

The Stronger Foundations PAC returns for the 2019 council elections backing Ravi Bhalla and his council slate in the biggest downtown redevelopment in Hoboken featuring the tallest building in Hoboken history, a 28 story residential tower. It's one of two they're likely to immediately begin constructing with any council approval.

In 2014, former mayor Dawn Zimmer stalled NJ Transit and its desires for a three-million square feet plan. She reduced it to two-million in negotiations and insisted commercial development must come first. Those demands are out the window as the future growth from the 1.4 million square foot redevelopment enters as a starter kit.

The redesigned NJ Transit plan was scaled back due to restrictions that grew out of the Rebuild by Design plan to aid in protecting Hoboken from flooding. Those limitations, however, are not permanent in the language of the NJ Transit plan forwarded by Ravi Bhalla.

There was no Nixle alert this time as Ravi Bhalla kept the big construction union endorsement for almost all of his council slate on the down-low, just as he did for the vote put up before the City Council last week.

The more you know...

Talking Ed Note: Back in January, featured its exclusive feature announcing "The State of the City: Corrupt."

This website gave fair warning this year, in 2018 and the prior year in the 2017 Hoboken mayoral election, one of the dirtiest in living memory. For Hoboken, that's saying a lot.

While the Reform Resistance for good government lives, the true test will be if Hoboken will mobilize to stand up for itself before next Wednesday's City Council meeting where a likely vote will be held on Ravi Bhalla's Big Construction NJ Transit Deal.

As stated in the endorsement, yes votes are looming and are likely expected from Councilman Michael Russo, Ruben Ramos, Mike DeFusco and Vanessa Falco.

That puts Ravi Bhalla's at-large 2017 slate winners: Councilman Jim Doyle and Councilwoman Emily Jabbour front and center.

And that puts the most massive Hoboken redevelopment one mere vote shy of approval with not a single economic, traffic or shadow study to date as noted yesterday by Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher.

Who needs any impact evaluation, politicians got to get paid!

Told ya.

Monday, October 7, 2019


Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors – 
Next Tuesday, October 15th, there will be an IMPORTANT COMMUNITY MEETING to get your input on a revised HOBOKEN YARDS REDEVELOPMENT PLAN.
When:        October 15th, 7pm
Where:       Multi-Service Center, 124 Grand Street
What:         Presentation on Amended Hoboken Yards Redevelopment Plan
My guess is that for most of you, you are hearing about this for the first time.  As of this writing, the administration has not yet sent out any communications on what is the single biggest redevelopment in Hoboken and one that has a long history of public participation.  The amended plan was before the City Council last week for second reading but Councilman Cunningham and I led the effort to table the ordinance until after public input could be sought.  Although not unanimous like it should have been, the Council voted 7-1-1 in favor of holding at the very least a public meeting prior to any vote of the City Council.  
After you read this, I would like to also get feedback from you on your thoughts on the proposed changes.  This was a very controversial plan last time around but the City Council approved it 8-1 in December 2014.  This article I think gives a good description of some of the history behind this project that began as a 9.8 million square foot (SF) project with towers soaring as high as 78 stories.  The one that was approved in 2014 was for 2.3M SF with an emphasis on much needed commercial development.
The new proposed amendment suggests the project is now being reduced to 1.4M SF, but that is misleading.  What is really being proposed is two 300’+ buildings totaling 1M SF - one of the two buildings is commercial and the other is residential - and improvements to Warrington Plaza and a portion of the Terminal.  No additional buildings are planned, but the developer actually retains the option to build an additional 1.3M in the future subject to accommodating our Rebuild by Design anti-flooding project that is earmarked to be built at an angle through the middle of the HRY site.    
I think having a world-class terminal at the entrance of Hoboken is great for Hoboken and I would like to see progress made in that direction.  I personally am ok with some height and density there (as opposed to the interiors of Hoboken) but prefer that the W remains the tallest building in Hoboken.  To me, this is centered around making the area a commercial hub along with the SJP properties buildings just north, with little to no additional parking built in the area and activating Warrington Plaza.  This type of development could bring: an important and missing source of tax revenue to the one location where it could definitely work in Hoboken; more of a daytime population to help support our businesses; a place where Hoboken residents might actually be able to work and not have to commute to leave town; and complementary commuting instead of more commuters competing with Hoboken residents for space on the already crowded PATH, ferries and buses.  In terms of significant residential development close to the terminal, I am less in favor for reasons that are the opposite of those listed above.  
There wasn’t a good side by side visual provided but these two superimposed together to give you an idea (in both cases 2014 is at the top of the graphic).  In this first one, you can see the RBD structure as a purple line going through the site in the bottom picture and the “lost” (aka future development) area in light yellow.  In the 2014 plan, the commercial office components are closer to the terminal and the residential components further west.  Under the revised 2019 plan the buildings closer to the terminal can now include residential.  The other noteworthy piece which I think is a huge positive is that the 2019 plan now calls for a revamping of Warrington plaza and the ferry terminal whereas the 2014 one did not.  (for a clearer picture, click on the city memo, page 4)
In the next graphic, you see the building massing. The building closest to the terminal increases 50% from 200’ to 300’ to accommodate building over the bus terminal.  The second building remains the same height at 330’, although wider and less deep to accommodate the restricted site and use changes from commercial to residential.  And the buildings that are most west are targeted to be commercial although the revised plan specifically indicates that those buildings are not expected to be built for a while until the RBD project is built and NJ Transit makes structural changes to their site. (for a clearer picture, click on the city memo, pages 1&2)
One of the takeaways presented at the Council Meeting was that the overall mix of the development remains close to the same as the 2014 plan (2014/2019): 67%/68% commercial, 25%/29% residential and 8%/4% retail and other.  However, this is somewhat misleading as it includes a future commercial site that may never be built to keep the averages similar across years.  
When you do an apples to apples summary you see that the commercial density closest to the Terminal decreases from 91% to 59%.  And given we know residential development is most desirable for developers in Hoboken to build, if the entire plan is built out as permitted, the commercial component could be expected to be as low as 40% overall (vs. 67% in the prior plan) with the residential component potentially more than doubling.  This is a big departure from what was originally intended.
Of note, the prior administration focused, and to me correctly, on ensuring that the commercial was built before any residential.  This revision now explicitly says phasing of the development will be determined by market conditions (aka – allowing residential to be built first).
When the ordinance was introduced on first reading at the Council meeting on September 18th, along with the ordinance the administration included a summary of the proposed changes, a detail of the proposed changes to the redevelopment plan and a clean version of the proposed amended plan.  I would encourage you to read through all of these at your leisure.  I would read in order that I list them above to start big picture and then drill down to more details.  This is a LOT to take in.  And the details really matter here.
The City has sent out 12 community Nixle alerts since September 18th on such topics ranging from an invitation to a park groundbreaking to free tickets to Propelify to the mayor calling a special meeting for a non-binding, resolution as an election-related, political maneuver.  But no Nixle alert or any other transparency on the biggest project Hoboken has seen in decades.  I think the reason the administration is pushing this through probably has to do with leveraging the upcoming elections.  Tragically it is just how things work these days.  And I mention it here because I want it on your radar.  Remember the last time a City Council person voted against a large development and received political attack ads… 
I completely understand that this project has sat stale for a long time and was turned upside down with Rebuild by Design.  I, like most of the City Council, met with the developer for the project, LCOR, a few weeks ago to hear about the project as well as the considerations affecting timing.  Normally we agree a redevelopment agreement first – this is the contract with all the teeth – and concomitantly approve an amended plan.  But because there are still a number of moving parts and some near term deadlines for LCOR, they have asked for us to amend the plan first.  It is worth noting that no critical studies have or are planned to be completed before this approval including traffic, economic and shadow.  
I do believe the developer has tried to move the ball forward in a way that contemplates the interests of Hoboken and that they have worked closely with all stakeholders to – NJ Transit, DEP/RBD and the administration – to try to create a workable plan.  And there are many aspects of this plan that I support.  But the one stakeholder missing from that list is the public.  The pendulum feels as though it needs to swing back a little in our favor for the project to work and I don’t see the rush to exclude the public other than the upcoming election.   
As you know, I am not afraid of bringing transparency to controversial topics.  This isn't our first rodeo.  When the administration did not inform the public on having Marijuana dispensaries in Hoboken, I made sure you were aware and demanded a public meeting for such an important topic.  When the administration didn't share publicly they were rezoning Stevens’s campus with significant height increases, I made sure you were informed and sought your inputcalled for a pubic meeting and ultimately ensured Stevens would work with Hoboken on any future buildings.  When the administration kept quiet the fact that the Hilton Hotel was actually 20% bigger than what the City Council had approved, I made sure you knew.  And when the administration didn't bother to inform the public and address concerns about the 5g poles being installed on our sidewalks citywide, I did.  
We are elected to make tough decisions but I feel strongly that we have to be honest and transparent when doing so. For those who have embraced the phrase “reform” in the past you know these are fundamental to reform and we should demand from all elected officials.   
Thank you to everyone who donated this weekend to my campaign!  My first ELEC report has been sent!  I hope everyone can join tonight for my #MOREVOICES (and Mojitos!) event at La Isla Uptown from 630-8.  For anyone who has already donated please come as my guest!  As always, please forward to anyone you think may be interested in this.  And feel free to email me at or call me at 201/208-1674 to discuss what you have read or anything else that is important to you.  Thank you again for your support!  Looking forward to seeing everyone tonight! 
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”
Follow me on Facebook or Twitter

Hoboken City Council Candidates’ Forums Are Oct. 22 & 24, Co-Hosted by Quality of Life Coalition, Stevens Institute of Technology and Hudson County View

Official release:

Hoboken City Council Candidates’ Forums Are Oct. 22 & 24, Co-Hosted by Quality of Life Coalition, Stevens Institute of Technology and Hudson County View

Hoboken Quality of Life Coalition continues to encourage active civic participation with this public forum for the candidates running for Hoboken City Council ward seats in November 5 election 

Hoboken, NJ – October 4, 2019 – The Hoboken Quality of Life Coalition is pleased to announce the plans for its 2019 Hoboken candidates’ forums for the Nov. 5, 2019, City Council election. Co-hosted this year with Stevens Institute of Technology and Hudson County View, these forums give Hoboken voters a chance to hear candidates for office answer questions submitted by the public in a timed and moderated format. The events are free and open to the public. 

·        The candidates for City Council in Wards 1, 3 and 5 will meet in a forum on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at Stevens Institute of Technology’s DeBaun Auditorium, 24 Fifth Street. 
·        The candidates for City Council in Wards 2, 4 and 6 will meet in a forum on Thursday, Oct. 24, at Stevens Institute of Technology’s DeBaun Auditorium, 24 Fifth Street. 

Each forum begins at 7 pm and lasts about 2 hours, with a brief intermission. The second forum on Oct. 24, 2019, will be followed by a community reception at 9 pm hosted by Stevens Institute at the Babbio Center, just up the hill from DeBaun. 

This year’s candidates’ forums will follow the same format that the Hoboken QLC has established for over a decade. Questions are submitted on index cards by members of the audience, then they are sorted by topic, and posed to each of the candidates in turn by co-moderators Bob Bowdon, a professional interviewer and longtime resident of Hoboken, and John Heinis, publisher of Each candidate will be given a minute and a half to respond, and the order of response will be randomized for each round. Brief rebuttals will be permitted as needed by the moderators. 

This format has consistently presented a lively exchange of policy ideas, opinions and comments on issues that the voters themselves consider the most important. Hoboken QLC is grateful for the support of Stevens Institute of Technology, its event staff, and its Student Government Association, along with many volunteers who help out with these events. 

For those who cannot attend, a video recording by Hudson County View will be posted to the websites and

About the QLC
The Hoboken Quality of Life Coalition (QLC) is an all-volunteer organization concerned about the air, earth and water, about the density of development, the need for open space, the lack of parking, the flooding, and the host of difficulties that undermine a good and healthy living environment in this densely populated urban city. Since 2000, we have been actively advocating for these causes. The QLC was designated as a 501c3 organization by the IRS in 2000, and all contributions to the QLC are tax deductible.

About Stevens Institute of Technology
Founded in 1870, Stevens Institute of Technology is a premier, private, research university that prepares graduates for successful careers in an increasingly technological workplace and society.  Ranked among the nation’s top colleges for return on investment, career services and graduates’ mid-career salaries, Stevens offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering, science, computer science and business, and bachelor’s degrees in the arts and social sciences.

Councilman Ruben Ramos:"Voting Today & Helping to Get Out the Vote!"

Official release:

Dear friends,
Thank you to all the 4th Ward residents who have been so generous with their support for our campaigns over the years. Together, we have been able to accomplish so much and I know we can continue the progress we have already made over the next four years. 
Need a window sign?
Show your support for our campaign with a window sign!  Send me an email and we can bring a sign right to your home today.
With less than 5 weeks to go before election day, we are already making our GOTV and Election Day plans. For us to continue fighting for the people of the 4th Ward, I need your help! If you are available to help us “Get Out the Vote” on November 5, or to knock on doors before election day, please email me at
New Vote by Mail Legislation
Many residents are wondering why they received a Vote by Mail ballot. If you voted by mail in any election in years 2016-2018 you will automatically receive a vote by mail every year unless you opt out.  If you have any questions please email me at
REMINDER: if you received a vote by mail ballot and go to vote at the machines on Election Day you will have to vote provisionally.
Voter Registration deadline is October 15th!
This is an important local election where your vote really matters and can have a direct impact on your quality of life in Hoboken.  So if you are new or have recently moved and need to update your registration, below are a number of helpful resources to help you vote on November 5th:
Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any issues, questions or concerns. I hope to earn your support on November 5th to continue fighting for Hoboken. 
Thank you,
Councilman Ruben Ramos
Hoboken City Council, 4th Ward
Real Leadership for a Better Hoboken