Friday, September 22, 2017


In a rambling Friday interview with Hudson County View, Mike DeFusco says the $8.35 million dollar Suez liability that never appeared before the council is due to "possible criminal" action by City Council President Jen Giattino

Friday afternoon, a gorgeous day led to startling and unseemly charges in an interview by Hudson County View with Councilman Mike DeFusco, a candidate for Hoboken mayor.

Some are already calling it a meltdown of Titanic proportions.

Underscoring the problems recently surfacing with the million dollar Suez liability, DeFusco a mayoral candidate lobbed a bomb changing his earlier stance pointed at the administration for not revealing the issue sooner to the council and opting to lob a "possible criminal" bomb at his fellow council member and mayoral rival City Council President Jen Giattino.

In perhaps a Freudian slip, DeFusco first pointed to himself and other council members being somehow mistaken in the Suez liability. He quickly corrected himself to point the gun at City Council President Jen Giattino, a surging rival he targeted with his bomb alleging she funds the Hoboken budget.

"Either we're negligent in, either Jen's negligent in her oversight of this or she intentionally underfunded a budget and that's potentially criminal."

No member of the City Council funds the Hoboken budget. The administration presents the budget and its approval with amendments are made by the council members inclusive of all nine members: Mike DeFusco and Jen Giattino being two.


The Suez liability was never presented to the City Council in any budget. Administration professionals stated the $8.35 million liability was part of ongoing contract negotiations since 2014 and sorted in the last two.

Mike DeFusco sees the exact same budget information each year on the City Council as any other sitting council member including the City Council President Jen Giattino.

In an interview not two weeks earlier with Giattino, Hudson County View asked her about when she learned the details of the Suez liability. She said the full details were obtained in a subcommittee meeting late last month and were then shared with other council members.

The Zimmer administration presented an updated contract to the council that could not obtain a sponsor for further action at the previous City Council meeting.

Previously, DeFusco at last month's City Council meeting had pointed at the mayor's administration for being negligent or incompetent on the revealed Suez liability.

Apparently, he changed his mind.

Hoboken holds its mayoral election on November 7th.
Jen Giattino was not immediately available this evening for comment.

Here is Mike DeFusco praising City Council President Jen Giattino on her handling of the Suez liability at the previous September 6th, 2017 meeting.

Which Mike DeFusco do you want to believe?


Talking Ed Note: Prior to his bizarre charge today, DeFusco had actually lauded City Council President Jen Giattino for her efforts sharing with her fellow council members information obtained from the Zimmer administration.

Will he apologize or will he see a lawsuit?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Breaking: Buyer Beware - Shiny Penny Mike DeFusco Poll is out


MSV is exclusively reporting a new telephone poll is out and unlike the previous one last weekend called "straight-up" and "professional," this one is loaded looking for bear against all its main rivals.

There's push poll negative questions directed toward each of three candidates in the poll aiming at Freeholder Stick Romano, Councilman Ravi Bhalla and City Council President Jen Giattino. Residents reporting the polls to MSV similarly conclude the poll is being sponsored by Councilman Mike DeFusco, aka the Shiny Penny. 

Mike DeFusco
DeFusco touts his youthful candidacy based on the shiny penny principle. Have observers distracted by a shiny object and not focus on his lack of experience, trustworthiness and substance of a council record. Similarly, the telephone polls offers some tells on the DeFusco Shiny Penny principle in action.

The poll reportedly taken by ABG Research is already encountering problems. Apparently, Hoboken households are tired of being repeatedly polled since July and are not being cooperative.

Among the pro-DeFusco elements is a mix of facts favorable to his candidacy and some less than factual attacks against his main rivals. On Freeholder Romano, the poll notes accurately he's running for two offices then says "he's gaming the system with a six-figure pension and a lot of real estate income, yet he continues to live in affordable housing." Not altogether accurate but in the ballpark of accurate.

Of Councilman Ravi Bhalla, the Shiny Penny poll says he is "connected to a law firm, a partner that represents lots of entities such as Suez Water, NJ Transit adding there are serious concerns about his ethics and conflicts of interest." On this front, it's mostly accurate as Bhalla is conflicted currently on acting as a councilman on both Suez Water and NJ Transit according to most legal observers familiar with the details.

Then the biggest wild (and cheap) shot is taken against City Council President Jen Giattino saying of her part time work in local real estate it "spells trouble for Hoboken" then falsely claiming "she stands to benefit financially from the city." Concern about a Giattino surge is evident with the gutter shot.

A number of test messages cite issues seeking to identify which areas the Shiny Penny Mike DeFusco should leverage on the Hoboken public. Among them the polls asks about interest in "vibrant restaurants," "constant water main breaks," "more parking and better parking technology" and "return Observer Highway to four lanes, three lanes out in the morning and three lanes in on during the pm rush hours." Observer Highway is likely to be a staple of more than one mayoral and council candidate.

One notable test message surrounds development. The DeFusco Shiny Penny Poll asks about interest in "coffee bars, wineries, etc." These happen to be some of the new shiny ideas DeFusco has tossed out earlier this year when he announced he would run for mayor.

Additional push poll ideas are added but let the Hoboken buyer beware! The Shiny Penny Mike DeFusco is looking to lock down some avenues to push in the final 47 days to Election Day.

Talking Ed Note: Neither Mike DeFusco nor his campaign manager Ryan Yacco were contacted for this story. Neither has responded to requests for comment previously.

MSV publishes its commenting policy from time to time. It's been updated at the jump.

Council President and mayoral candidate Jen Giattino endorses BoE slate 'Hoboken Proud'

Official release:

It is with great pleasure that Jen Giattino, City Council President and Hoboken mayoral candidate, announces her continued support for incumbent Sharyn Angley and her Hoboken Proud team of Melanie Tekirian and Chetali Khanna for election to the Hoboken Board of Education.

“I supported Sharyn and her running mates three years ago and I’ve been extremely pleased with the continued positive change in the Hoboken Public Schools. Hoboken Proud is certainly an appropriate reflection of how we should all feel about the job that’s being done by Superintendent Christine Johnson and the current Board of Education. I and my council running mates will proudly support this team in any way we can. We thank them for stepping up for this vital volunteer service and agree wholeheartedly with Hoboken Proud when they say strong schools equal a strong community.”

'People's ribbon cutting for Southwest Park' set for Saturday at 4:00

Official release:

The Real Hoboken Southwest Park Ribbon Cutting Celebration
“For the People – By the People”

Site of the Hoboken Southwest Park

Southwest Parks Coalition co-founder John Gregorio, original group member Councilman David Mello, and Fourth Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos ask that you join us at 4:00 pm this Saturday, September 23rd, as we gather at the Southwest Park, Hoboken’s newest public open space, for an informal ribbon cutting celebration.

The opening of the Southwest Park marks the fruition of over a decade of effort by many Hoboken advocates, past and present.  From the formation of the Southwest Parks Coalition to the present day, residents in Hoboken’s Southwest and beyond have been advocating for a significant open space in this vibrant, up and coming Hoboken neighborhood.  This cornerstone piece marks the start of what hopefully will be an even larger park creation in the future.  This park is not only Southwest Hoboken’s first significant public, open space; it contains much needed flood retention technology to further combat flooding events in one of our most flood prone Hoboken neighborhoods.

All are welcome to attend, as we celebrate this moment with an informal and festive ribbon cutting, which we want all of our friends and neighbors to be able to participate in.  This is your park Hoboken, and it’s opening should be celebrated at a time when the maximum number of people who made this dream a reality can revel in its long-awaited start.

The Southwest Park is located on Block 12 in Hoboken, N.J., between Paterson Plank Road and Observer Highway, and Jackson and Harrison Streets in Hoboken’s Southwest neighborhood.


John Gregorio
Councilman David Mello
Councilman Ruben Ramos

Talking Ed Note: Some explanation is required with this release. The Hoboken public doesn't know Mayor Zimmer set up a city ribbon cutting for tomorrow morning for media at 11:00 am with a later public event set for next Wednesday.

Two of the current council members, Dave Mello and Ruben Ramos are joined by Southwest Park activist John Gregorio to hold this event Saturday when all are available, as emphasized in the release. Both of the council members work as most of the public at that time and are not available for tomorrow morning's Mayor Zimmer's selected ribbon cutting time.

You can probably guess who will be among those attending the mayor's ribbon cutting.

Councilman Peter Cunningham: 'City Council President Jen Giattino is Hoboken's best choice for mayor'

Official release:

Dear friends, family and neighbors, 

As many of you know, I serve on the Hoboken City Council. Over the past ten years I’ve been at the forefront of many positive changes. But I couldn’t have done it alone. I am deeply grateful to my colleagues and to my 5th Ward constituents for providing me with their support, their thoughts, their ideas and the opportunity to serve them and the City of Hoboken overall.  It has been a pleasure and I’m proud of what our reform team, Mayor Zimmer and strong reform Council Members, have together accomplished.  Finance, constituent service and quality of life issues have always been a focus for me, and I have worked hard to keep these issues in the forefront.  But challenges remain. There are legitimate concerns about the direction of new development, adequacy of city services and Hoboken’s continued fiscal health to name a few. Mayor Zimmer’s announcement of her plans to not run for reelection provides us with an opportunity to take stock of our accomplishments, evaluate where we are, and to ensure that we address the greater good of Hoboken in the future.  We have to adapt as required to best address the changing needs of all of Hoboken’s growing population – young and old, and across the widening socio-economic spectrum. 

I believe Jen Giattino is best suited to lead Hoboken now as Mayor.  I give her my enthusiastic, unqualified endorsement.  I have had the fortunate opportunity to work with all the major mayoral candidates over the last several years, and while they all have their strengths, none is more ready, none is as ready to lead Hoboken.  As a Ward leader myself, I recognize how passionately Jen serves both her 6th Ward constituents and residents throughout Hoboken.  Jen has the experience, knowledge, creativity, character, work ethic and determination necessary to lead Hoboken to future success.   With her I am completely confident we will do what we need to do to continue to raise the bar – and not slip back to the secretive, weak and too often corrupt leadership of the past.

Jen’s leadership is recognized by her council colleagues who have elected her Council President three of the last six years. She understands the core challenges Hoboken faces. In addition to quality of life issues, she has been the strongest voice in favoring commercial development which minimizes congestion and tax rates over residential which does neither and she has been unwavering in her support for greater financial transparency.   She’s chosen a council slate with demonstrated experience in being tough on development, finance and negotiations -- three critical tenets to Hoboken’s future success.   
Jen has unparalleled respect among her neighbors both in and beyond the 6th Ward. She’s friendly and compassionate, and unequalled in Hoboken for her passion for helping people.  What I love most about Jen is that she’ll work her hardest for any Hobokenite, supporter or not alike.  Hoboken needs leaders ready to serve ALL of Hoboken.  Please join me in supporting Jen Giattino for Mayor and her team of Jim Aibel, Sal Strace and Jason Ellis for Council.

Peter Cunningham, 5th Ward Councilman
Check out her website at and on facebook at

Meet the BoE candidates - Monday, September 25th

Official release:

Dear friends,

As longtime residents and parents of children who attend the Hoboken Public School District, we can speak firsthand to the quality of education and opportunity provided to district students.  

We are running for election to the Hoboken Board of Education.  Our mission is to raise awareness of the many great things happening across the district today and to work constructively with the administration on further enhancing public education in Hoboken.  Our goal is that our elementary and middle schools be urban schools of excellence and Hoboken High School to be our communities’ No.1 choice for grades 9-12.

Please join with us in this effort.  We look forward to seeing you on Monday.

Melanie, Sharyn and Chetali

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A grant and picking up the tab for more firefighters?

The Hoboken City Council didn't have any further Suez related matters last night to consider but how to handle a grant to bring on firefighters?  How do you manage a grant when you have to pick up the tab later?

Hudson County View filed this story:

For the complete story, please see the Hudson County View:

Councilman Ruben Ramos endorses Mike DeFusco for mayor

Another local endorsement came in yesterday with Councilman Ruben Ramos making it official getting behind Mike DeFusco.

Hudson County View published its story:

Councilman Ruben Ramos who represents Hoboken's fourth ward
officially endorsed Mike DeFusco for mayor.

Talking Ed Note: The pieces on the chess board in the Mile Square City begin moving to the inevitable endgame on November 7th, Election Day. Councilman Ruben Ramos who holds strong support in the fourth ward and across Hoboken with his solid 2013 mayoral run lends solid support to Mike DeFusco.

It's the time of the season for many moves toward the inevitable finish line.

Council candidate Josh Einstein on urban public housing

Official release:

Our government run social safety net system was created to use government to help people in need ascend out of the immediate and temporary problems they were confronted with towards self-sufficiency. It failed. From the inherent problems of a functional monopoly with an institutional incentive to regulate competing models out of business rather than out-serve them on a level playing field to the intrinsic desire of status quo politicians to create long term stable voting blocs to support their eternal re-election campaigns, the government social safety net system has always faced many existential issues which undermine its original and noble purpose.

One such example, and a local one that relates to our city, is the public housing authority aka the projects. Our fellow citizens living in the projects are served by a system in dire need of reform. This is not to impugn the residents, nor the trustees and staff, but it is an indictment of a system that de-facto warehouses people and is intuitionally ripe for abuse. The projects are governed by a board of commissioners appointed by a mix of the mayor, city council, and the state government who together hires a director. Each one of these people have to fight the urge to use their position as the de-facto mix of condo-board, landlord, and mini-government of the projects to build a political base. Aside from the ever-present danger that the politicization of the basic needs and services for our fellow Hobokenites represents, there have been few residents of the projects on the board, further infantilizing residents as wards of the board for the political leadership care for.

Across the country this system of patronage has created a disincentive for the political appointees who run public housing to engage with residents as stakeholders as well as to attempt to give a hand up rather than a hand out. The system needs transformation in order to achieve its original goal. That reform is a Community Land Trust (CLT). A CLT is a non-profit that seeks to keep lower income housing in perpetuity, maintaining that safety net for those economically less fortunate, while at the same time allowing its members to strive for more while taking a leadership role in their own destiny. CLT’s have a co-owning model, not dissimilar from co-opts or condo associations, in which they the own land and residents can own the housing unit they live in. CLT’s keep units for rent substantially below market rates for the working class as well as offer to sell units to their current residents as highly discounted and low rates (as has been done in public housing in Britain). The then owners of a unit can sell it onwards at a CLT agreed upon formula which keeps the unit significantly under the market rate but allows the selling resident to make a small profit. This keeps units affordable and allows residents more opportunities to build a better future.

Just an importantly, CLT’s destroy the ability of local political factions or a potentially bad board member from using their influence for political gain by having a board that is made up of CLT residents (unit owners and renters) and neighboring community members. It integrates, rather than segregates, the CLT residents into the local neighborhood community by building bridges across economic divides and communities and it empowers the residents to be the stakeholders they can be when not being lorded over by political appointees.

The path to transform Hoboken’s projects to a Community Land Trust will be long and arduous. It will not be easy as partisans often fight for the status quo but building a better city for all is why I’m running for City Council.

Joshua Einstein is the independent candidate for Hoboken City Council, the Republican State Committeeman from Hudson County, a member of the Hudson County Regional Jewish Council, and has been published in over 13 papers and websites.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Michael Russo endorses Stick Romano for Mayor

In a story reported on Hudson County View earlier today, Councilman Michael Russo endorsed Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano for mayor.

Today's decision to endorse Anthony Romano for Mayor of Hoboken, along with his slate of council candidates, is the best decision we can make," Russo said in a statement.

Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo (l) endorsed Freeholder Anthony Romano for mayor earlier today.
For the complete story, see the Hudson County View:

Talking Ed Note: HCV correctly notes in its story, this is not a surprise being that Michael Russo "came out from the cold" and finally threw in behind Romano showing up at his recent fundraiser. It's a blow to the Old Guard backing Mike DeFusco who sought Russo's political support.

Russo's cousin and godmother, former first ward councilwoman Terry Castellano would have been more than a trite displeased had Russo backed Mike DeFusco for mayor. In 2015, Castellano was replaced by DeFusco who used the support of Mayor Zimmer to get elected.

Russo is a well known and controversial political figure who was captured in 2009 on FBI surveillance video agreeing to a bribe with an undercover FBI informant Solomon Dwek. Russo was not arrested and the plan to make payment was allegedly not consummated. Some wonder otherwise and question if a deal for cooperation with the government didn't follow.

MSV's earlier reporting on Russo's comments back in 2011 denying any bribe directly led to the FBI video's release. An earlier March 2011 MSV story broke the story opening the Russo-Dwek controversy.

In 2012, MSV published a theoretical timeline on the Russo-Dwek Affair.

Russo was re-elected as third ward councilman in 2011 and ran unopposed to re-election in 2015.

Councilman Dave Mello: 'No knowledge on actual Suez liability to date?'

Official release:

I'm taken aback this morning by my former running mate's comments regarding her proposed Suez Water contract extension.

First, to say that this proposed contract is better, is not saying much. The existing contract is horrible, and it does not take much to improve on the existing agreement. To say that I should vote for this contract extension because it is an improvement, is not saying much at all. If a football team went winless last year, and they win one or two games this year, they've improved, but their coach will probably still get fired.

Second, regarding the $8.35 million liability, it is surprising to read that the administration still doesn't know what this amount is. To quote the Mayor, "The reality is we don't know exactly what the amount is." How, exactly, can this point of leverage for Suez Water, be clearly understood, if the amount of this supposed liability is still unclear, AND this "liability" was never properly billed. I'm shocked that this liability wasn't more accurately pinned down, and that there was no legal challenge to this "liability" not being billed in a timely manner.

Third, to my knowledge, the City's hired negotiator still has never looked into other possible water providers, to comparables across the nation, or to whether we could take some of these services back in-house. When I specifically asked about these potential sources of leverage for the City at the August meeting, I was told that these things had not been done. I was also, surprisingly, told that there aren't "comparables" that exist. This is so shocking, because everyone drinks water! I lose faith in our hired negotiator/consultant when he tells me he can't develop comparables (note ==> Councilwoman Fischer's questioning about whether this contract was "at market" or "above market" speaks to the lack of comps as well).

Fourth, nobody has explained the urgency here. Councilman Russo has requested insight into these negotiations for over a year now, and was consistently rebuffed. It's understandable that he would make such a request, since the administration seemed more focused on blaming his father for the existing contract, rather than renegotiating it at any point during the eight years my old team has been in office. For some odd reason, there was no sense of urgency in assuring Councilman Russo that negotiations were proceeding thoroughly and expeditiously. Yet, once an intense election season was set in motion, an inexplicable sense of urgency was also created. As Mike Lenz wisely stated recently, "Slow down. Get the facts. We’ve owed the money for years, we’ll still owe it in January. Let the next Mayor and Council decide. They, and we, will have to live with those decisions."

This is a contract extension that is being proposed. People are so focused in on the purported $8.35 million liability, because it makes it appear that this proposed contract extension is a last minute attempt to get out of trouble. It's akin to one of my students trying to hand in a pile of late assignments right before the marking period ends, so that they won't get in so much trouble with their parents, and will give their GPA a boost. This should never be the basis for committing to major policy decisions.

I have always tried to do what is best for Hoboken. I have also always rejected attempts to escalate political discourse in a mile square city of approximately 55,000 people to such irrational and hyper levels. This proposed contract is a better deal for the Hoboken taxpayer, ONLY if the taxpayers weren't all also water ratepayers. The reality is, they are one in the same (the further reality is we are not inundated with car washes in our city). We on the City Council need to ensure that we are finally considering a fair deal for the Hoboken taxpayer/ratepayer - for our neighbors, friends, and families. To do anything else would be an abandonment of the duties that I was so honored to be trusted with eight years ago.

Councilman Dave Mello