Monday, November 16, 2009

The 4th Ward Appointment Vote!

Zimmer coalition puts Mike Lenz ahead. 4-3-1.  Bhalla, Mello, Marsh, Cunningham - yes: Giachhi, Russo, Castellano - no.  Beth Mason votes present. Query to counsel.

Counsel Bozak rules Mason's vote can be considered affirmative as present or the mayor votes to get a decision. Mason does not like hearing this, she's vehemently shaking her head no.  Kleinman says try to reach consensus or mayor can vote yes but some legal challenges may be available. But he agreed the mayor can vote to approve subject to legal review later.  He concurs with Counsel Bozak too.

Mason again voices request for a 4th ward citizen review. Carol Marsh politely disagrees. Crowd applauds. Mason mouths quietly "ok" inaudibly to no one in particular.

Mayor Zimmer votes yes breaking the tie. Mike Lenz is sworn in as 4th ward councilman.

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Kleinman on the needed 5th vote

Caught outside Chambers, Hoboken Counsel Steve Kleinman indicates no court action would be necessary for the mayor's potential vote. "The mayor is here tonight and can cast a deciding vote," Kleinman added.

We're going to a vote with Mike Lenz looking like the first choice.

- Posted using BlogPress the iPhone  - Counsel Steve Kleinman foreground

5th vote?

We've heard from another source a 5th deciding vote is in doubt. The Russo clan and Beth Mason are digging in.  They have the quiet old guard support of Nino Giacchi too.  Kleinman is said to be ready to go to Superior Court tomorrow to clarify a potential deciding vote from the Mayor.

This decision will be obstructed it appears with four votes for Mike Lenz and four cranky passive aggressive ABSTENTIONS!!!

Mayor Dawn Zimmer is still here! Appears to be committed to stay to the finish.  (Later it becomes obvious her presence will be required.)

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Candidate Jake Stuiver, the HHA Rep

Jake just jumps in and speaks about his dual focus of the mayor's agenda, and concerns in the ward. It's prepared remarks but interjections sound like a concession speech. He's being a total team player here.  He knows he isn't the pick but he's being very classy.

Another speaker, a business colleague now comes up. Says he waited three plus hours. He's happy to speak on Jake's behalf. Very personal endorsement and clearly heartfelt.

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Candidate Rami Pinchevsky

Speaking about parks and his founding group and a 4th ward kickball team. (Doesn't run away from it and embraces it as leading to some new friends and affiliations.)  Learned a lot from people and experience seeing problems. HHA interests and accountability are also goals, flooding of course named too.

Mason and Russo look bored and Nino trying not to sleep. Mason interrupts questioning election timing. Counsel Steve Kleinman indicates November 2010 for the election. Mason quotes a 45-50 day statute. Kleinman looked to review conflict on the spot. Mason says a late December election. Kleinman mapping out why Mason is incorrect, statute cited does not apply.

Mason now bypassing the legal concern as she voices desire for a 4th ward hearing.  Proceedings continue.

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Candidate Tony Soares

Talked about some historical battles, cultural diversity, parks, local geography, laughter on hospital expenses. Being hated not so bad, if you do the job. Selling on interim only offer. Asked for support, would donate salary.  His suggestion of being a known quantity if even a sometime angry one is not bad if the focus on the work is proper.  And Tony says the focus on the work has always been so.

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4th ward grandstanding.

Perry Belfiore: complains about residents not knowing the position is open. Doesn't read or know how to read local websites based on his odd citations of websites. Unsure what is the language to use in town.  He's stating there's a problem with Spanish speaking residents not knowing about this 4th ward seat.  

We see him in the hallway later.  Tell him his remarks on transparency would go better following the lead of an earlier resident before he went off into hyperbole Hoboken land.
He acknowledges it and departs as another speaker is called.  Later he approaches and is very polite apologizing about the abrupt end to the conversation.  Da Horsey says no problem.  Startled by the politeness.  Possible someone mentioned that horse is from Mile Square View to him.  Attempted to meet the politeness in kind.

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4th Ward Candidates Now

Russo clan complaining of no clan control over candidates. Claim they don't know who is running or how.  This is all old hat.  Mason agreeing. Ravi blasts the grandstanding, says the whole community knows. We've never seen Ravi take the Russo clan on and be so direct.  But it ends the grandstanding.  Now the candidates.

Mike Lenz speaking first about the bad choices re: the hospital. Talking budget on the city. That's his sale. But what about Judy? She is running the show. (Did everyone forget she's running a tight ship.)

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Hospital war to Dog Kennel war

Misunderstanding on location. Two speakers are complaining and they are on the periphery of the zone for the dog kennels.  Notices went to whole area as required. 4th Ward appointment is still ahead.  The poor businessman Mike S. gets a vote but as one councilman said in passing at 2:00 am, "Sorry, you got shafted."  We agree.

The discussion on this breaks up the depression in the audience over the hospital fiasco.

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Live City Council blog - Hospital first

Everyone is here and the big 4th ward showdown is underway. We've gotten a signal from a non-governmental source: the indication is that Mike Lenz has found the fifth vote.

The other candidates are all here dressed up to play.  They don't look like they are out of it.  Frances Jennings is not in the Chambers.  The mayor Dawn Zimmer is though. She's sitting in the front row and looking great with a new haircut.

The hospital has now been moved first.  First speech from the Hospital Authority guy selling the hospital tax contribution to the town.  Beth Mason not buying it.  She's shaking her head no as he touts the tax benefit.  It goes all downhill from there.  When the hospital CEO gets up to speak, the numbers are clearly abysmal when it finally comes out.  THE HOSPITAL IS THE BLOODY TITANIC!  The whole hospital PR campaign is under assault.  Beth Mason is furious and calls for all their heads.  CEO Spiros Hattiras is trying to reason with the councilwoman.  He loses his patience several times.  It's a joke.  They need millions immediately.  They are running on less than 100K in cash.  Hattiras says the hospital is "entitled" to millions in state aid.  Says the council should work with them to get the State funding by December.

The jig is up.  Hoboken has been set up.  This PR presentation is turning out to be a disaster.  Later on a break, Beth Mason spoke with MSV about the hospital.  Hattiras was dismissive of the councilwoman's suggestion consultants could provide some help.  She's absolutely convinced it would be very helpful.  She is none to pleased as we ask for what next steps can be taken.  She seems at a loss to explain the options.  For the town they appear to be quite limited.  She mentions that she believes the CEO knew about all this (red ink) when he took the position (in June).  She says she knows that there is a vulture waiting.  (An entity or person who will pick up the remains and profit from the disaster.)  It's a stunning turnaround from her efforts (along with her husband) to stave off this situation from ever happening.  And now it is. The anger and resignation in the packed crowd is palpable.  There must be 90 people, many standing ringed completely around the outskirts of the chambers.  The crowd is not happy with any of the hospital people.  (And why would they?)

City Council Meeting tonight: Plenty of Roundhouse Kicks Guaranteed!

Streaming live video by Ustream

We may be doing some live blogging tonight. We are in the chambers.  Showtime!

There's a City Council meeting tonight and it promises to be a doozy.  Our friends from HUH, Hoboken University Hospital or Medical Center as they prefer, plan on stopping by looking to protect their "investment" in Hoboken keeping the local residents on the bonded hook for $52 million.  This fiasco passed by the previous Roberts Administration and that City Council is now approaching a meltdown and the public is taking note of the spiraling red ink with the clock approaching zero hour faster than on an episode of "24."  Hoboken Now published the remarks of citizen Charles Mancini along with a reply from the hospital initially submitted unsigned by Joan Quigley.  A day later the CEO's picture and name were added. Read the letter and note it doesn't give taxpayers the warm and fuzzy feeling.  It however does dare Hoboken to pull the plug with a gun to the head to the taxpayers threatening even higher costs if shut down. (Wait didn't they tell us this would be painless and even profitable if it came to that?)  The upside as they say is the city is not currently paying toward its current operations.  Which part of that extortion threat do you think matters more?  

How many out of town employees will they be dragging along this time to speak on behalf of the hospital?  Maybe it's time for some of the senior administrators there to take pay cuts if they want to redeem goodwill.

Related: Hoboken Now on the earlier "news" in January of hospital financial rumblings.  Councilwoman Beth Mason has been on this for a while and her husband Ricky, who's expertise is beyond question, advised the safe path to avoid this trap.  Former Mayor Roberts and his henchmen refused and here we are.   

In addition, Mayor Dawn Zimmer's former council seat is up for appointment within the 30 days of her swearing in.  A special election would then follow next November. There's also a City Council President to be officially named on the agenda too.  So this meeting unlike the last could take a while.

The City Council complete agenda/resolution pack is available here.  You should be able to watch the meeting promptly at 7:00 pm.  Or go direct to the site with chat capability - uncensored!  (We decline to name the control freak but you probably already know.)

Do not call me on my mobile. Thank you!

More readers have pointed out this is only applicable to landlines.  Thanks!

A reader just submitted something many of you may not know and will be happy you did.  In 30 days after you register no telemarketer can call you on your cell phone.  There's going to be some overlap but this will end it:
REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public this month.
REMINDER...... all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing
companies and you will start to receive sales calls.
To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone:  888-382-1222.
It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time.
It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone
number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.
HELP OTHERS BY PASSING THIS ON .. It takes about 20 seconds.

Update: 12:30 - Another reader notes this may be an urban myth but the original reader just sent this government website before we could even ask.  Earlier before these last emails came, we tried the number and it does seem legit.  And we've seen more than one gov site mentioning it as well.  Regardless, you guys are really fast on the draw.  We're impressed!

Free Housing Advice - Wednesday at the Library

We just got news of this event from City Hall and want to get it out fast. It's this Wednesday:

Please join us at the Hoboken Public Library Housing Fair for Hoboken and Hudson County Residents

The Hoboken Public Library is proud to announce a Housing Fair which will take place at the Library on Wednesday, November 18th 2009. Over a dozen governments, non-profit and counseling organizations specializing in housing issues will be available on site to answer questions related to housing options, foreclosure mediations and assistance, credits and loans, and an array of other housing topics. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved counselors and non-profit assistance groups will be on-site to provide assistance in both English and Spanish.

Hoboken and Hudson County Residents are invited to join us any time between 11am and 2pm on Wednesday, November 18th on the second floor of the Hoboken Public Library, 500 Park Avenue, Hoboken, NJ.

Please contact the Hoboken Public Library Reference Department: