Sunday, February 28, 2010

How to be a yellow journalist: the Hobo411 stylebook

Not everyone is cut out to create the vilest, crudest propaganda in service to the deranged reality of Hoboken411.  But if you are, you must follow the rules of the Hobo411 stylebook.  If you are angry and embittered because you just can't get over last year's election results, here's the playbook you need to follow should you wish to submit a "story" to Perry Klaussen.

Please adhere to the right column of the checklist and lie wherever possible in your story to maximize your submission's chance for publication.

Click to enlarge

Graphic courtesy of the Grafix Avenger
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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Councilman Ravi Bhalla to Hoboken411 - 100% WRONG!

MILE SQUARE EXCLUSIVE

Councilman Ravi Bhalla rejected any charge he violated the Hoboken pay to play law ordinance as charged earlier in a Hoboken411 "exclusive."  Hoboken411 accused Councilman Ravi Bhalla and Council President of the violation and said both had a legal requirement to abstain on a contract issued to attorney Paul Condon in the last City Council meeting.  The contract is intended for legal services in the case of Lt. Angelo Andriani who was recently suspended without pay after an incident in the Tampa Bay Airport.

Councilman Bhalla spelled out the actions he took when he saw the resolution pack.  Noting the contract named attorney Paul Condon for its potential services, he approached Corporate Counsel Michael Kates before the meeting to inquire on whether it was required he abstain on the matter.  The Corporate Counsel indicated it was not the case but the Councilman had been prepared to sit out the vote, "If he told me I had to abstain, I would have abstained."  Responding to any mere appearance of impropriety, he said Paul Condon is not a business partner adding, "We're separate business entities" although their respective firms do share office space, a practice not uncommon in the legal world. (MSV's Wall St. attorney's actually sublet office space to other attorneys in Manhattan.)

On the specific application of the City's pay to play ordinance, Mr. Bhalla shed some light on the incorrect charges by Hoboken411.  "As a legal matter, a City Council member can not violate the pay to play ordinance.  It's the mayor's and the the City of Hoboken's agreement with the vendor." Without mentioning Peter Cunningham by name, the same fact apparently applies to the Council President as well.  Dismissing all the charges out of hand Mr. Bhalla described Hoboken411's actions - "Never lets the facts get in the way of a good story."  Asked what conversation he had with fellow office attorney Paul Condon before the City Council meeting, the Councilman was emaphatic, "Zero....Zero," he repeated.

Councilman Bhalla addressing the matter of the 2007 contract to Paul Condon noted this would have occurred under the Mayor Roberts Administration concluding, "There's no violation but if there was, it would have been by Dave Roberts."

Due to a death in the family, Council President Peter Cunningham could not be reached for comment.

Talking Ed Note:  Would it be farfetched to guess - that no one related to the penning of this Hoboken411 hit job spoke to or even attempted to speak to any of the parties in the story?  Once again, Hoboken411 and yellow journalism at its finest!



MSV calls on Hoboken411 to print a retraction to its fabricated "story."

We look forward to it being posted.  (But we're not holding our breath.)  We think Hoboken411 should get some better "City Council watchers." In the words of Rosie Perez from the film, "Do the Right Thing," - cuz the ones you got ain't working.

Doesn't that little guy have anything better to do?

Wile E.Coyote - just a minute

On the Hobo411 claim of violations by Councilmen Bhalla and Cunningham.

More to follow soon.


Upon further investigation, I see that Condon has been representing the case since 2008. Your investigator needs to see what sort of contract he entered into and when:

Was the contract entered into within 12 months of the contract – by May 2008?

Was the contracted amount over the annual bid limit (the threshold was somewhere between $25K or $29K)? If not, the public bidding requirement does not apply; the professional services exemption from public bidding would then be not applicable and consequently the Pay-to-Play ordinance would not apply.

I don’t see the contract on any of the 2008 agendas, so it may have been under the bid limit and thereby not have appeared before the council for a vote.

Eric Kurta

Update: Eric has asked for the following added as some people may be unclear on the details of his current status:

I’m no longer president of POG and am not officially speaking on the organization’s behalf.
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City begins pumping it up, moves taxi stand for construction

City of Hoboken announces:


TAXI STAND, SHUTTLE BUS LOADING ZONE TO RELOCATE


City of Hoboken, February 26, 2010 - The Hoboken Terminal taxi stand will be relocated and a loading zone for shuttle buses will be created at the terminal, effective on or about Monday, March 1st  (weather permitting). The existing taxi stand will move to the south side of Hudson Place, east of River Street to accommodate construction of a sewerage pump station by the North Hudson Sewerage Authority. Construction of the pump station is scheduled to begin in March.

Also, to streamline shuttle bus service at the terminal, the city is creating a designated shuttle bus loading zone on the north side of Hudson Place, east of River Street. Permitted shuttle buses will be able to stand in the shuttle zone for up to five minutes Monday through Friday from 7 to 10 am and 4 to nine pm.

The area will be designated as a loading zone for local businesses from 10 am to 4 pm and will be available for parking at other times.

Related: Hoboken Patch reported on the reaction of local taxi drivers earlier.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sign of the times: The Edible Snowman





Ingenuity comes in many forms but this may be a first: a snowman all set to be picked apart if you are looking for a candy fix.  There's no way those lollipops are going to last a day before someone gets too tempted.

At least this snowman won't take it so hard.  Perhaps that was the idea.

Click to enlarge.

All rights reserved, courtesy of intrepid photographer, Jhnnynewman.

Wall Street Journal's John Fund coming to Hoboken


John Fund will be coming to Hoboken to speak at a dinner hosted at Amanda's Restaurant!

John Fund - a member of the "Wall Street Journal"’s editorial board and writes the paper’s daily 'Political Diary.' He has written on voter fraud and election irregularities for the last decade in the "Wall Street Journal," "New Republic," "American Spectator" and other publications. In the past year, Fund has made over 90 appearances on Fox News, MSNBC, C-Span, and CNBC.


The Republicans of Hoboken announce the first event of their Speaker Series 

Topic: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy

Date: March 30, 2010

Guest  Speaker: John Fund

We are privileged to have as our guest speaker, John Fund. John is  a well known journalist for the Wall Street Journal and the best selling author of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy".

Location:
Award winning Amanda’s Restaurant
908 Washington Street
Hoboken, New Jersey 07030

Time:
6:00 -7:00 check in, registration
7:00 pm dinner, speaker, book signing

Many New Jersey citizens are aware of the persistent problem of voter fraud in Hoboken, Hudson County and parts of New Jersey. 

We have also seen what voter fraud can do, not only in our local elections, but in our national elections, as well.

We invite and encourage everyone to attend this event and learn how voter
fraud effects the Democratic process. 

It promises to be an engaging and informative social event. 

For additional information contact: Sue Pregibon 908.962.1281

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hoboken411 threatens Da Horsey!?

Earlier today, MSV received an email from someone claiming to be Hoboken411:

This serves as notice to you that the unsubstantiated attack on me on your blog is entirely inaccurate. Every statement you have offered as fact in regards to me in today's "Grist for the Mill" is false. I demand a retraction of these false statements that are clearly designed to defame me and damage the reputation of both myself and my business. Should you refuse to retract these lies my attorneys should have no problem proving you acted with malice.



Now Da Horsey can't prove this email is actually from Hoboken411, but if it is MSV has no intention of obeying its demand.  As we noted although "Grist for the Mill" is a rumor column, we take great pride in it and adore the reader response.  We're looking through the love letters right now to see if we can find one from Louise F.   You may remember Louise.

As always, if you have a tasty carrot for Da Horsey, MSV welcomes your tips and ideas worth looking into with great gusto.

As for this email, we've been counseled to say nothing more than Mile Square View denies its false allegations in their entirety.

Have a nice day. 

Update: Friday 8:05 am - Checking the email address: hoboken411@gmail.com appears real so apparently unless midtown authentic went over for pizza and sent it, it's legit and oh by the way, so is Colonel Stevens who may be writing from more than just this location under that moniker.  The Colonel is a clone?  PWNED again!


Hudson Reporter & being snowed


Someone on the Hudson Reporter decided to generate some controversy, take a few political shots and generate some page hits and comments and well look outside you're being snowed again.

Venture over to the City website on the realities of that and your vehicles on the street re: snow routes that need to be cleared on snow days like this on winter storm warnings.  

MSV is actually flattered to be noticed, again.  Thanks guys.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grist for the mill: What's the matter with Maureen?

The Hoboken Journal posted a story with a graphic depicting this question and sadly it's a fair one.  We hate to agree with that HCDO political hack vegetable (and most often don't).  Da Horsey agrees in this and most instances the application of the term "hate" (along with racist) is almost always the empty vindictive argument of losers and certainly a losing media strategy just down the rung from the code of silence.  And MSV has gotten plenty of the silent treatment from Maureen Sullivan, the BoE member who trumpeted her "resignation" from Kids First and complained her perspective was not heard before the jolly green giant let fly with a cartoon lampooning the new self-proclaimed goddess of reform.

But the big green vegetable did offer Maureen Sullivan opportunity for a full rebuttal and is still doing so.  More than a week later after a half-dozen email and public invitations to chat from MSV, no luck arranging any conversation whatsoever either.  Maureen appears completely tied up by a certain Red Elephant, the Hudson Reporter and a few unlucky souls on the end of her her wrath in dusk to dawn emails and blogging blasts noting her woeful victimization (at the hands of the those emailed of course) and their betrayal in not giving her an opportunity to weigh in.  Are we beginning to see a pattern here?  Maureen there was this device created a while back.  It's called a phone.  Just dial D-A-H-O-R-S-E-Y but leave out the Y, as in why no horsey chat?

And now word on the street: Councilwoman Beth Mason was reportedly seen with Hoboken411's hate merchant Perry Klaussen recently at an uptown coffee shop no doubt issuing instructions on how best to further serve the Masonite crown. (Did money also pass under the table ala Malibu Pete?)  We doubt she was filing an in-person protest for the Hate411 diatribe using the holocaust in an ugly, demented and cheap political stunt against the mayor's public call for the release of the State's police audit.  (Sorry Perry, you lose again!)  Well Maureen Sullivan is probably just following the Masonite script, either by orders of the queen or just in a bad post election imitation - loudly proclaim your bonafides but answer no real questions, even on your own platform, I mean perspective.


The BoE election filing deadline for board candidates is this Monday.  We'll guess Maureen and her husband John of M&M First as in Maureen and Mason, or is it Mason and Maureen are working hard to meet it.  We wish them luck, well sorta in the best phony frenemy kind of way.  More evidence of the Masonite connection is the appearance of the political operative better known as Hudsonshark.  His recent post out of the blue on the NJ.com Hoboken forum decrying Zimmer supporters with predicted personal attacks on Maureen Sullivan proved empty but he was obviously there in his Majesty's service.  Hey Sharkie did that check clear yet?  Remember it's retain before you defame, and the client best not complain.  This political operative biz is like stolen goods, strictly cash and carry.

Does this meet any standard remotely close to the self-proclaimed banner "all about transparency"?  Have you noticed there's a lot of self-proclaimed stuff flying around in town of late?  But there's no "there" there.
What a sham.
Councilwoman Beth Mason - still suffering from Equinophobia.

Talking Ed Notes: Not even two days before the the Maureen First letter was published in the Hudson Reporter, MSV had its first ever phone conversation with Theresa Minutillo of Kids First but later that very evening a "surprise guest" bellied up to the bar at Moran's - none other than Maureen's husband John.  He made clear the recruitment drive was well underway, notwithstanding her letter's technically accurate claim she was not doing so in the Hudson Reporter letter.  To that hit job we'd like to say Salud!  Maureen for the record and since MSV can't even get 10 minutes with you on the phone, Da Horsey might as well give you some free political advice here - when family goes out on a political operation, it's good to buy a media person at least one beer.  We know times are tough all over but gee this is Hudson County after all.  A Guinness doesn't guarantee good press but it can't hurt good will.  Dangling a carrot, even one that's not organic in front of Da Horsey for more than a week to just chat on the other hand....

Now the out of box idea MSV offered on sorting out the so called "spending" differences within Kids First died a quick death upon Maureen Sullivan's denouncing Kids First.  (She still asks how Theresa's list is going in reply to MSV's numerous email requests to chat as if her Hudson Reporter letter never happened.  Helloooooo.)  To her credit, Theresa Minutillo, showed no hesitation in agreeing to the MSV's Kids First spending reduction proposal in our first brief chat.  Maureen Sullivan on the other hand has consistently refused to agree to any time to chat with Da Horsey in over nine days now.  (MSV is still awaiting "I'll have to get back to you on a time" to our last offer to speak on Sunday.) Meanwhile Theresa Minutillo and Kids First are pounding on the stable door, demanding, get this - to ANSWER QUESTIONS on the record to discuss just about everything, including ALL of Maureen Sullivan's grievances.

The whispers in the stable is the Beth-Klausfuherer coffee chat will also yield a new BoE "voice" penning smooth stories about the Board race on Hate411 and a possible full slate with your usual Masonite retreads along with a possible Revolting Kids First reject. (On that point, all Da Horsey can say is there's shopping and then there's BoE slate shopping:  loyalty and principles last!)  Clearly Beth Mason has no problem being seen with the Hate411 owner if it serves, well, Beth Mason. (Does her rabbi know about this?)  Will Maureen Sullivan be writing under her own name as an elected BoE official or will it be the typical underhanded Perry Klausfuher's anonymous penmanship?  On Monday at 4:00 pm, we'll see what's what, who's who and how all this comes together in any potential Maureen-Mason Revenge First ticket.  Whether they get it together or not with a full slate, we just have one last question.  Which of the two is the true Queen of Reform?  Their can be only one self-proclaimed Queen. And Hoboken just ain't big enough for two reform Queens.

For the record, MSV has attempted to speak to Councilwoman Beth Mason too.  There's been no reply to interview requests outside of two impromptu chats in City Council Chambers on meeting breaks since the November election, the last request coming as recently as this morning.



Graphic: "All hail the Goddess Of Reform" by Grafix Avenger courtesy of the Hoboken
                Journal.
               Equinophobia graphic with Pimpette and Maureen    
               Sullivan courtesy of the Grafix Avenger.



Talking Ed Note: Grist for the mill is a rumor column but in this instance much of the information comes way of first hand experience.

Related: The Hoboken Journal just did a story showing the breakdown of all Superintendents compensation in Hudson County and also a recent Hoboken Superintendent.  Doesn't look so out of line in that light.  Will Maureen Sullivan see that?  More importantly, will she care?   




Judy Tripodi - Responds to the police audit

MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE

Judy Tripodi, the state fiscal monitor emailed a statement on the State Police Audit:

I did not have a draft copy of the report since the summer.  I received a
copy the same day as it was received by the mayor.  I played no role in the
writing, editing or release of the report. 


I believed that I had the authority to approve the contracts, but have since
been told that I do not. I have always acted in the best interests of the
taxpayers of this City.


For the record, page 7 of the Police Audit states "While this report's
recommendations may affect the staffing and City's fiscal obligation to the
HPD, this report has no direct role in the contract negotiations."



Talking Ed Note: The state fiscal monitor states she did not hold a draft copy of the State police audit on the Hoboken Police Department since last summer.  In that regard we'd note MSV wishes to issue an apology and correction to our earlier Horse Sense editorial, "Audit Avalanche" stating she held a draft.  We've asked when Ms. Tripodi may have seen a draft and should that become available, we'll update accordingly.


Update: Ms. Tripodi noted she had seen an earlier draft but did not give it weight as it was not a final State approved document.  MSV thanks the fiscal state monitor for her statement and this clarification.


Mayor Dawn Zimmer in a tweet yesterday noted she met with the State to discuss the police audit.  This story is breaking.  Stay tuned on this and another breaking story.
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Horse Sense: Audit Avalanche

The fallout from the State Hoboken Police audit is reverberating across town with Police Chief Falco and Police Union head Vince Lombardi each extending preliminary thoughts.

Police Chief Falco appearing at a meet and greet in the 6th ward Monday suggested he would speak to the mayor at the proper time but his initial reaction to the report's release is to ask for more headcount.

Police Union President Vince Lombardi expressed little confidence in a negotiated settlement not a month since a leak to the Hudson Reporter of a pending agreement while the fiscal state monitor Judy Tripodi was on vacation.  The story titled "Police payout coming to Hoboken" veered off the news path and predicted defeat to any resistance of the mayor's City Council coalition, stating Judy Tripodi would have the final say in approving the agreement.  The fiscal state monitor had all but indicated finalization of the police contract most recently in an email exchange with Hoboken Revolt just last week.

Judy Tripodi has been silent since the stunning revelations of the police audit released early Monday.  Public anger in some quarters on her lack of action to curb spending in any significant way since she took the financial reins has given way to a larger resentment for not acting on her earlier plan last spring to reorganize the police department leading into the city's mayoral race.  Some felt that announcement was political giving police allies a cause to rally around heading into the mayoral election. (The police union came out strongly for Peter Cammarano who stated he was against any staff reductions.)  The fiscal state monitor has held a copy of the near finished police audit draft since at least the summer.   In an interview last month with MSV, Ms. Tripodi cited ex-mayor Peter Cammarano's arrest as the reason she had not followed through.  But the fiscal state monitor has not expressed any interest in her initial stated plan or explained her lack of action most recently since.

Acknowledging the new playing field, Vince Lombardi told the Jersey Journal earlier Tuesday, "It is probable we will file for arbitration."  Late Monday, Councilman Mike Lenz called the police audit "a game changer" and stated the City Council had no appetite to approve any retroactive pay.

MSV invites the fiscal state monitor Judy Tripodi to comment on the results issued in the police audit.  Hoboken deserves to hear her statement sooner than later.

Talking Ed Note: Beth Mason's attack dog, the political operative known as Hudsonshark posted on the NJ.com Hoboken forum asking where's the mayor's police plan not a day after the audit's release.  Well Sharkie, maybe a reasonable question is where is Councilwoman Beth Mason's statement on the matter?  Councilwoman Mason recently stated she is through being "nice."  MSV has emailed and called the Councilwoman on this and other questions but as yet no reply.  Perhaps the Hudsonshark will have better luck and can share that answer since her interview "All about transparency."  


For someone claiming their done being "nice" the Councilwoman has yet to offer anything on spending cuts - not a single word on Public Safety costs and no votes of any significance unaligned with the Russo clan against the mayor's City Council reform coalition excluding those that were unanimous.  Her only significant proposal since the November election has been to go after illegal apartments which she raised in a recent City Council meeting.  Watch the tape: she almost mentions that problem in "her" neighborhood before she stops and corrects herself. 


(Yes MSV caught that too.  We're also done being nice.  More on that soon.)


Now let's give all public officials a chance to weigh in first ya big catfish.  
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

City to Lt. Andriani - 'The tap is shut'

 City of Hoboken Announces Suspension
Without Pay of Lt. Angelo Andriani

City of Hoboken, February 23, 2010 - The City of Hoboken announced today that Lt. Angelo Andriani has been officially suspended without pay pending a full hearing. The decision was rendered by the Hearing Officer Thomas F. Portelli who said, “After consideration of the hearing notes and memoranda, I find that that suspension without pay pending a full hearing is not unwarranted…”

Mayor Dawn Zimmer had called for the suspension without pay of Lieutenant Angelo Andriani of the Hoboken Police Department resulting from an incident involving Lt. Andriani with the Tampa International Airport Police Department. The incident occurred on the morning of Monday, January 18th in which Lt. Andriani was involved in a “passenger causing disturbance” according to TSA Supervisor Taylor Johnson. 

 “Lt. Andriani’s suspension without pay is a just decision,” Mayor Zimmer said. “This type of behavior can not and will not be tolerated and we are appreciative of the decisive measures taken to remedy the actions of this individual.”

Lt. Andriani was originally suspended with pay by the City of Hoboken as the result of an alleged incident which occurred approximately two years ago.

                                                #                                    #                                    #

Talking Ed Note: Hoboken.patch.com reported on this story late yesterday.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Councilman Lenz: Police Audit is a "Game Changer"

Councilman Mike Lenz in a phone interview earlier with MSV called the police audit's release a "game changer" impacting the current police union negotiations thought by some observers to be near completion.  "I think there's more negotiations to do on the contract that's fair to the workers (police) and to the city.  There's a role for the City Council and the mayor to play and there's a lot more work to do," the Councilman said in a veiled reference to the union negotiations Judy Tripodi has been looking to finalize with the police union.

Last week Judy Tripodi, the fiscal state monitor charged with overseeing Hoboken's finances downplayed any impact of the changes blowing through the State both from Trenton and the current Mayor and Council elected last year describing her efforts leading the negotiations being previous to their arrival. In addition, the fiscal state monitor described the report she has held in draft form going back to last year as nothing new in an email statement last week to Hoboken Revolt, a local tax reform group.  "Everyone has known about the police report for a very long time and it was agreed upon all parties that the report would not have any impact on the negotiations." Who the "parties" are in Judy Tripodi's statement is unclear but it's obvious Councilman Mike Lenz does not share that assessment.

In fact, Councilman Mike Lenz says otherwise.  On the rumored retroactive raises to the police leaked to the Hudson Reporter while the fiscal state monitor was on vacation,  Mr. Lenz added, "I don't think there's any support on the Council in regard to paying retroactive salary increases.  In light of the report, the fiscal monitor won't... don't see how she could."

Timothy J. Carroll of the Hudson Reporter originally reported the retroactive raises over the last two years would be 3.9% with 2.3% this year and next if the police contract was finalized.

Related: Councilman Ravi Bhalla in an earlier interview with MSV stated the City Council had the final authority on ratification of any union contract.

Also Breaking:  Lt. Angelo Andriani's pay has been suspended, effective today based on a story just posted by Claire Moses of Hoboken.patch.com

Photo: Councilman Mike Lenz pictured here at the last City Council meeting.
All rights reserved.

Police Audit

Office of the Mayor announced:


Statement from Mayor Zimmer on Receiving the Operational Audit of the Hoboken Police Department

On Friday at 5:00 PM, I received the long awaited Operation Audit of the Hoboken Police Department from Division of Local Government Services Director Susan Jacobucci.
                
  I’d like to thank the Division of Local Government Services for all the hard work that went into producing this report. I’d also like to thank Lori Grifa, the new Commissioner of the State Department of Community Affairs, for giving this matter her personal attention to ensure this long awaited report is finally available to Hoboken’s government officials and to the public.

 I look forward to working with the public safety committee of the City Council, Public Safety Director Angel Alicea, Police Chief Anthony Falco and the DLGS to determine the best course of action to implement the recommendations contained within the report.

Thank you,
Mayor Zimmer



Talking Ed Note: In a brief conversation with Dan Bryan, Special Assistant to the Mayor, MSV inquired on the original plan to give Police Chief Falco and Public Safety Director Angel Alicea a week to review the document before its release.  The change came about due to an OPRA request.  As a result, the mayor's office decided to go ahead with a full rather than partial release.
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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Guest of the Stable: Gregory Bond

With much fanfare Maureen Sullivan has announced her "resignation" from Kids First, the slate of three Hoboken School Board candidates who were elected to the Hoboken Board of Education with an overwhelming majority almost one year ago. While resigning from an electoral slate a year after the election would appear to be a meaningless gesture, the excessive volume with which Sullivan is broadcasting this news indicates that she wants everyone to hear that she's got something important to say. And the news is this: she's appalled that the majority of the Board voted against her in their decision to hire Dr Frank Romano as the next Hoboken Superintendent of Schools. Sullivan's stated reason for opposing the decision is that she feels Dr. Romano's salary is too high. The other dissenting vote came from Board member Carrie Gilliard who favored a candidate who failed to submit their application on time. Gilliard stated that the Board "rushed" the hiring process, presumably because they did not (illegally) accept this late application or re-open the search to consider her candidate.

Let's put things in perspective: seven of nine Board members voted in favor of hiring Dr. Romano. Only three of those seven members were elected on "Kids First" tickets. Furthermore, the only two dissenting votes also came from members elected on "Kids First" tickets. To me that sounds like a healthy vote in favor of Dr. Romano. It's clear evidence that the vote had everything to do with individual decisions and nothing to do with electoral slates. Nevertheless, as a result of losing the vote Sullivan has publicly decried the existence of a conspiratorial "machine" at work behind the scenes. Given the diversity of members voting in favor of Romano this accusation is clearly nonsense; and so it raises the question: what is Sullivan's real motivation in making all this noise?

Sullivan is publicly declaring herself as the only reformer Board member which is quite an assertion considering the make-up of the current Board. What does Sullivan hope to gain by vilifying all her fellow Board members who have worked so hard over the past year to improve the schools and rein in the budget?

My first impression is that Sullivan opportunistically rode the coattails of Kids First to victory last year after a failed run as an independent and now that members of her former slate have decided to vote differently from her she's thrown a very big, public tantrum. But perhaps there's more to it than that.

The Board of Education elections are only a month and a half away and, while Sullivan is not up for re-election, perhaps she's angling to back her own slate of candidates who would be more willing to vote the way she votes: a "Maureen First" ticket. So how does Sullivan vote anyhow? Interestingly, she tends to vote the same way as everyone else on board. As a regular School Board meeting attendee one thing that has struck me is how unified the Board has been in making their decisions of late. Admittedly, until the decision to hire Dr. Romano was brought to a vote there haven't been a lot of "big ticket" items on the agenda. So perhaps Sullivan intends to wrap herself in the "slash and burn the budget" flag. This would be consistent with her stated reason for rejecting Dr. Romano and, with the annual budget to be voted on soon the picture will be clearer.

Everyone knows that the Board's annual budget is bloated and I've applauded the Board's actions this year to both expose the budgetary shenanigans from years past and significantly reduce the budget going forward. However, as a parent with a child in the public school system I recognize that slashing the budget shouldn't be a goal in itself. Reducing the budget has to be performed so that it doesn't adversely affect students' educations - after all, this is what it's all about. Given the size of the budget I'm certain there are many more places where the budget can be reduced but let's remember that it's taken decades for the Hoboken School system budget to get to its current state. It's reasonable to expect that it's going to take more than 9 months to get it back under control. More importantly, I'm confident the Board is working to achieve this goal in a sensible way that takes into account how the students will be affected. Now that Sullivan's children have moved to schools outside the Hoboken public school system she doesn't have the same personal stake in improving the system that she used to have. It's easy to make "slash and burn the budget" pronouncements when you're not concerned about the consequences for your child's education. 


Reform will not come from one person or the loudest person. Sullivan is free to disagree with the majority in this or any decision but that doesn't mean reform is dead or that she is the vanguard of reform. The record is clear: for the past year reform has been happening in the Hoboken School district and the reason why is because the majority of the Board has been voting in favor of reform, not just Sullivan. Sullivan's clearly decided to redefine "reform" to mean something that suits her better although it's not entirely clear what that is yet. My suspicion is when Sullivan says reform she really means "conform", as in: conform to my way or the highway. We should bear this in mind during the upcoming School Board elections when Sullivan anoints her chosen candidates as "reformers."



Gregory Bond is a parent, resident and a keen observer of the Hoboken schools with a child attending Wallace.  This story appeared just yesterday on his website, whatsupwithhoboken.com.  MSV would like to thank Greg for allowing this piece to appear here as a guest of the stable.  All rights reserved.
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Walkers Beware: "Look out Below!"

The Wile E. Coyote, Eric Kurta sent in the latest breakup of pavers with a some excellent photos up on the north side of town.  He writes:

I first noticed this yesterday.  A few pavers were missing next to a light post on the walkway behind the Tea Building (16th & Bloomfield). More pavers were sagging downward. I removed a few more pavers to reveal a rather large hole. Anyone walking across would have fallen in – there was nothing beneath the pavers but air. The hole goes down several feet. HPD came out to string up some caution tape. It appears that a larger area was cordoned off today.

More repairs to be done! More money to be spent! What else is in store for us? Walk the riverfront at your own peril!

The rise of the true BoE Machine

The Wile E. Coytoe, Eric Kurta provides this historical gem on the view from the Machine on the Board of Education, circa 1993.  The more things change the more they stay the same.  Will history repeat itself?

That depends.  How sweet is the taste of revenge?  Is it sweet enough to enjoy the sour fruits of spoiler when your neighbor sees massive waste and fraud restored (with higher taxes) under your favorite ringworm Frank Raia?


What kind of "principle" is that?




November 1993: Louise Boscia was the union rep for the Hoboken school district and librarian for the Calabro elementary school (library hours were reputedly 9am-12pm...good hours, if you can get 'em and apparently worth fighting for). Louise lays out the old-guard strategy for removing the newcomer members from the board. Sixteen years later, not much has changed.


Something to consider in light of the growing split in the BOE reform vote.



Louise, librarian at Calabro, currently makes $90K.
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

'Maureen First'

We came across a story from a Board of Education regular and it's worth a read.  It's quite an insightful view on the current situation on the Board of Ed and it sums up the thoughts we are hearing on the street.

We'll have more to say on the BoE but still hoping that maybe the repeated invitations to speak to Maureen Sullivan will actually be accepted.  To this point, we are getting nothing but emailed references to a discussion with her husband, even after a public offer to speak was posted on the Hoboken Journal the other day along with the several emails offering same.  Maureen had complained that the Hoboken Journal did not give her a chance to offer her perspective.  Well MSV has, repeatedly.

Full disclosure: Da Horsey met the author of the linked story at a BoE event.  It was actually the one on the topic of parents providing suggestions on the selection process for the Superintendent.  Have not spoken to the writer since and came upon this post much by accident.  The article is very well done and worth your time.  Just click on the story title or the link below:

http://whatsupwithhoboken.com/2010/02/maureen-first.html#links

Update: Maureen Sullivan has posted over in Red Elephant land and we've extended another invitation there to chat.  The thread there is also worth a read on the recent BoE events.

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Providing aid and assistance to Councilman Russo

The police audit has yet to be made public but it's already creating quite a bit of discussion over in the NJ.com Hoboken forum, even with its unreleased arrival.  Not everyone can let go of their pet idea about it.  Some are launching personal attacks on its supposed author and another theory posits the incomplete report should have been illegally released just as Councilman Mike Russo advocated.  As part of that suggestion, it's stated Dave Mello transgressed with ye gods of grandstanding in his comments Wednesday night.

So in a salute to our neighbor and colleague jhowe, here is Councilman Dave Mello's comments on the police audit in their entirety.  You can then decide on the moral equivalence of bad behavior to the sins of Councilman Mike Russo.

CEO Budget Presentation 2010 - Budget

This is the second part of the presentation by CEO Spiros Hatiras on the 2010 budget for the hospital.

CEO Spiros Hatiras - on rebuilding trust


Apologies the audio is somewhat low as this was a backup camera.  A woman in the audience asked about how the hospital can build trust in Hoboken.


Here's resident Leon Gold asking for details on the bond.


Here's new commissioner Toni Tomarazzo speaking in response to an earlier disagreement on the roles of oversight vs. management. It was a bit heated earlier but was now moving to a clearer basis on all sides. The area of concern was specifically on learning more and reviewing information on the $4 million cost annually for Information Technology. There are almost two dozen contracts covering that area, not one for the record and CEO Hatiras has obtained 10% reductions. At the same time, the oversight role of the Authority Commissioners still remains.


Friday, February 19, 2010

BREAKING: Mayor Zimmer to Police Audit: Welcome to Hoboken

In the Mayor's twitter, word is now hitting the street: the long awaited police audit is now officially in Hoboken.  Although further details will come with a complete press release Monday morning, the saga is now truly over.

Earlier MSV had expressed confidence the changing of the guard with Acting DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa's arrival would mean the State's follow through was likely sooner than later.  And now just about a week later, the promise made has been fulfilled.

We feel better having already thanked the Acting Commissioner.

You can find the Mayor's twitter at: http://twitter.com/dawnzimmernj or add twitter and a list following with: dawnzimmernj.

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Hospital Authority - The New World Order

Recent changes on the Hoboken University Medical Center hospital board is adding some flavor to the big push to propel the hospital into surplus' projected to year's end.  The new commissioners appointed to the Hospital Authority are very active, getting up to speed and requesting lots of information.  Earlier commissioners are weighing in more too and it's showing signs of being a very dynamic, positive mix.

Of course, there's going to be some growing pains in an evolving process and we'll say more on this later with video.  For the moment, here's the report.  Things are most definitely looking better for the hospital.  There's numerous areas heading in the right direction and the seriousness of the changes and improvements are significant.

Last, a recent charge made about Hoboken being on the hook for $65 million in union contracts appears to be completely erroneous.  It was discussed again in the Q&A.  Hoboken has $65 million in bonds out to the hospital but no other liability should the hospital falter and close.



Related: Mark Mauer at the Jersey Journal posted a story after attending the meeting as well.

Dear Councilman Russo: 'bout that law thingy

Wednesday night was a long and busy night but there's always time for a little showboating and grandstanding, especially if you don't get your way.  Hoboken saw plenty of that leading into November and it was well, bloody awful the only way to describe it.  Political reality has changed some (but not all) of the grand designs of the not so young and ambitious.  Just when you think things have calmed down into a semblance of normalcy something will flare up and here's just one example from the evening.

There's pretty much unanimous agreement Hoboken should obtain the final results of the State's police audit (cheap political ploys by Hobo411 notwithstanding) and just when you thought everyone was on the same page, Councilman Mike Russo, the yet unannounced mayoral candidate for 20?? decided that going to the mayor's office the next day was a wise and noteworthy idea to obtain the draft version of the State report.  Unfortunately, that's not exactly legal but then again, when did legality have anything to do with how the Russo clan have operated Hoboken?  Councilman Ravi Bhalla takes his colleague for a little schooling and at first you feel a bit bad for Councilman Russo, perhaps he just misspoke.  Then he doubles down and forces Councilman Bhalla to call him on the carpet.  Councilman Russo finds this all quite amusing and entertaining until the camera shifts back to him and then his laughter and smirk quickly reverts to serious legislator.  Later, on a discussion of the budget, the Councilman was stunned by audience reaction when his tedious budget questions led to the Council President recommending he pose them via email to the appropriate parties as Councilman Mike Lenz noted the discussion was far off the track of budget appropriation.  The crowd burst into spontaneous applause.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  More to say on the meeting to come.


Related: Reporter Claire Moses of Hoboken.patch.com has a good summary of the evening's events.

Update: Late Friday, Mayor Zimmer announced via Twitter the report is in Hoboken.  Earlier the mayor had indicated after giving a week for Police Chief Falco and Public Safety Director Alicea to review, the report would be made public. So let's all huddle over to Mikie Squared for a week and we're good to go.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

BLACK YOUTH EMPOWERMENT TO FOCUS ON CAREER PLANNING

10th Annual Event Saturday Featuring Inspirational Speakers, Three Honorees

HOBOKEN -- The 10th Annual Richard Hicks Black Youth Empowerment will focus on building career-opportunity awareness among young people in Hoboken, with an emphasis on the African-American community. The event will take place starting at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Boys & Girls Club of Hoboken, 123 Jefferson Street, with food and beverages provided by Andy’s Supermarket of Jersey City.

Representatives from the Hoboken police and fire departments, the National Society of Black Engineers, the Stevens Institute of Technology and several other organizations will make presentations on job opportunities, career goals and ways to pursue education and self-empowerment. Other motivational speakers will include Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director Carmelo Garcia, STY Academy Organization Founder and Director Luis Acevedo and Minister Shirley M. Dennis.

Three honorees will receive special awards:  Ora Welch, president and CEO of HOPES Inc., will receive an award from the City of Hoboken for her service to the community in helping low-income families empower themselves by expanding their skill sets and developing career paths. Jalin Miles, a 16-year-old student, will be awarded for outstanding academic and athletic achievements and working to help and inspire youth throughout the community. Saquan Williams, a 17-year-old senior at Hoboken High School who has distinguished himself through his academic and extracurricular achievements and his leadership in the STY Academy. The awards will be presented by Hoboken Health and Human Services Director Leo Pellegrini, Housing Authority Executive Director Carmelo Garcia and Housing Authority Commissioner and newly appointed STY Academy Organization Vice President Jake Stuiver, respectively.
MSV asked the new VP, Jake Stuiver to explain the impact of the organization in the Hoboken, "The STY Academy Organization has done great work to help young people, particularly in the Housing Authority community, to stay out of trouble and channel their energy toward creative outlets. Just last night, there was a vigil that's held annually at Fifth and Jackson streets honoring the memory of a young man who was killed three years ago in gang violence. That incident fueled the momentum behind building the Save the Youth Academy to create more programming to give young people an alternative to gang activity. I have been working closely with the founder and director, Luis Acevedo, on a number of positive programs over the past six months, and because we share a vision for the community and an eagerness to put all our energy and passion behind it, we got to talking about having me join STY in an official capacity, which I am proud and honored to do. And the timing is good, because Luis had been carrying the administrative load for quite some time, and I'm happy to take some of the work off his hands, apply the skills I bring to the table however I can, and help make the organization even more effective."

Related: The original New York Times story on the death of the young man Ismar "Mooky" Mineros.



Hudsonshark attacks SmartyJones!

An angry Hudson Shark frustrated by the lack of web hits and bounced paychecks from political paymasters took it out on SmartyJones last night in the City Council.  Still angry and very bitter, he hijacked the microphone and accused Da Horsey of "not doing a good job for this town."

If you ever wondered what happens to embittered political hack operatives, here is your answer.

Mayor: Zoning Officer on Board


Mayor Zimmer Announces New Zoning Officer

Mayor Dawn Zimmer announced today her appointment of Ann Holtzman as Zoning Officer, effective February 22nd.  "Ann Holtzman will be an excellent addition to our City,” Mayor Zimmer said. “She has been passionate about Hoboken’s community development for many years, and is a strong voice in our community for balanced development and fair process.”

Ms. Holtzman has been involved in Hoboken’s development community for many years. She was integrally involved in Hoboken’s Master Plan preparation process, as well as having years of experience refurbishing and renovating buildings in town. Ms. Holtzman also has extensive management experience. She has pledged to focus on making the Zoning office not only user-friendly, but a public resource for information and guidance.

“I look forward to working with Ms. Holtzman to ensure the zoning office runs as smoothly as possible for the citizens of Hoboken,” Mayor Zimmer said. This new hire brings the Zoning office to full staffing to meet the needs of Hoboken. “We can now begin integrating all of our Community Development departments to work in better harmony together.”

Talking Ed Note:  Usually we don't say much with an official announcement but just last night we had a chance to get a picture with Ann sitting two seats away in the City Council Chambers.  We told her to lean away as we didn't want to get a "civilian" in the shot.  Little did we know.

Congratulations to Ann and best of luck in the new position!
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Superintendent to teachers, administrators - You're Fired!

Okay, it didn't happen here in Hoboken or even in New Jersey but the parallels the state faces are very similar to Rhode Island overall.  Now this superintendent who fired every teacher and administrator, one has to wonder do you think among all the great references over his career, a few from this local Machine would kick back a red flag?  Maybe we should keep this guy on the back burner in Hoboken.  You know like in case Mr. Romano decides he's had enough of being sniped at online and decides to walk after some legal action.  That's just what Hoboken doesn't need.  What about a 7-2 vote don't some understand.  Let's move on.

Update: This parallel story to the ills New Jersey faces in education and beyond has generated some debate of late.  It's even generated heat pointed at Da Horsey over one member on the board named in a recent Hudson Reporter story as seeking to reopen the process for a candidate they favored close to Corey Booker.  For the record, MSV is not the source of that story.

And on that note, let the debate continue.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hudson Shark

A very angry unstable Sharkie
foreground


- Posted by Jhnnynewman, intrepid photographer via iPhone

Phil Cohen

In da house. Up to bat. To the zone.
- as in the Zoning Board.


- Posted by Jhnnynewman, intrepid photographer via iPhone

Da Mayor is Here


- Posted by Jhnnynewman, intrepid photographer via iPhone

Tonight's the nite, ohhhh ohhhh

Like Phil Collins, some nights gets us more pumped up than others.  And tonight we think should prove rather interesting.

Here's the agenda below.  Can you say "Forensic Accounting" boys and girls?
Resolution 6 (sponsored by Councilman Mike Lenz) and Resolution 20 (sponsored by Councilman Peter Cunningham) are especially Phat.  Rock!

The Hoboken Journal will be running with a live blog tonight.  See ya there at 7:00!

Councilman Bhalla - City Council vote determines union contract

Councilman Ravi Bhalla is relatively new to Hoboken's government elected last spring as an at large Councilman.  Last Thursday, Da Horsey sat down with Ravi to discuss the big issues of the day including the current budget, union contracts, and the accounting treatment for the $4.2MM pension issue in Hoboken.  The interview was quickly paced by events the very next day.

An email by the State Fiscal Monitor Judy Tripodi Friday to a member of Hoboken Revolt, a local organization of citizens concerned about taxes and fiscal responsibility in government suggests a conclusive contract with the police union may be eminent and the finality of it is beyond local and state officials or new facts on the ground.

In the email, Judy Tripodi states:
"What happens in the State has absolutely nothing to do with the City's
current contract negotiations.  The proposals made by the governor for the
State employees relate to all new hires, not current employees or retirees.

Besides, I began these negotiations long before Mayor Zimmer and the 4 new
council members were elected and long before Governor Christie was elected.

Everyone has known about the police report for a very long time and it was
agreed upon by all parties that the report would not have any impact on the
negotiations.  The results of the report would be handled by other actions
undertaken by the City."


Councilman Ravi Bhalla touched on the recent action by the fiscal state monitor to move $1.5MM in funds back into an operating account in anticipation of retroactive payouts to the police department in a potential union contract agreement.  Speaking from his downtown Hoboken law office the Councilman  described the financial moves as premature saying "The problem was this line item was unclear, if and when we have this expense...But frankly it's insulting to me, it's insulting to the Council to suggestively attempt to possibly usurp our authority with respect to the ratification process."

Noting the actions by the fiscal state monitor overruling the City Council on earlier emergency appropriations, concern over the approval process for a potential union agreement may be rapidly approaching.  On the question of the fiscal monitor moving to finalize union agreements without the City Council's approval and what possibly legal grounds the City Council has to object, the Councilman noted, "We already have that legal right.  We can ratify or not ratify the (union) contracts.  The contracts are not there for us to rubber stamp."

Although Councilman Bhalla clearly believes the presence of the fiscal state monitor does not diminish the rights of the City Council in any contract approval(s), he emphasized the desire to work with Judy Tripodi and the mayor stating "Our ultimate goal is to cooperate."

Councilman Bhalla also runs counter to the fiscal state monitor's conclusion that both the police audit and the state legal mandate under consideration to contribute 1.5% to health care costs are in fact not areas for consideration in any union agreement. The Councilman doesn't rule out the State may in fact increase the contribution to a 3% contribution for all state employees mentioned in a Star Ledger editorial last week.

On the expectations about taxes and the voter's will expressed in Mayor's Zimmer's victory last November, the Councilman didn't stray from his earlier pronouncement at the first Budget Workshop  "One of my objectives as a council person is to play my part in advocating for tax relief.  One means to achieve that goal is to lower the cost of government.  One means to do so is to look at what drives it.  In order to lower the size of government, we need to address personnel."

Another area of concern the Councilman expressed was on the introduced budget and the increases built in as presented by Judy Tripodi. The budget presented assumes increases across the board for city workers in both the current fiscal year and the next beginning July 1.  "I strongly disagree in any wage increase for non-uniformed employees for this budget year.  We have to tighten out belts...We need to lead by example." Mr. Bhalla noted with some surprise when prompted the lack of support by Councilman Nino Giachhi to forego a $2,000 increase as he suggested during a recent City Council meeting.

On why there's been no specifics proposals on budget reductions and in response to Councilwoman Mason who said her colleagues lacked the courage to make cuts and Councilman Russo (both failed to participate in last Saturday's budget workshop).  "Council persons Mason and Russo have spoken in generic terms about cutting the size of government but they haven't said anything about the big elephant in the room, public safety."  In the bigger picture, the Councilman agreed that both the Council and the mayor still did not have the analytical tools from audits, including the police audit to responsibly implement any significant changes.  He suggested elected officials could propose 10% reductions to Department heads and ask them to demonstrate how they would do so.  He complimented Director Leo Pelligrini for "getting the memo" and how he "showed a net decrease of $87K." *

Like the mayor, the Councilman concludes the problem still undecided on the accounting treatment for the $4.2MM pension issue will be central in this fiscal year's budget.  Considering the impact of paying over $4 million at once in a budget under $100 million in just the few remaining months of the fiscal year, Mr. Bhalla said, "If we want tax relief, an option would be to spread that costs over a period of years.  It's one or the other."

Related: In an article from The Star Ledger, the pending State pension reform heading to the Governor's desk specifically states all state employees would have to make a contribution to medical costs, not future ones.  Hopefully, the fiscal state monitor will note that fact.  From the article:

THE REFORMS
The four officials could not provide a formal estimate of the savings, but said the amount would reach billions over the next decade. The reforms to be proposed Monday include:
• Requiring all current public employees to contribute at least 1.5 percent of their annual salaries toward their health benefits, and all future retirees to contribute at least 1.5 percent of their base pension to their health benefits. State employees were required to contribute at that rate beginning in 2007 under then-Gov. Jon Corzine, but many local governments and school districts do not require any health care contributions. The minimum threshold would be incorporated into upcoming local contracts, and governing bodies could try to negotiate it higher.

Related: Hoboken.patch.com - in an interview posted earlier, reporter Claire Moses notes Councilman Russo expects to be mayor one day.  (Maybe that explains my friend uptown getting his robocall to wish him a "Happy Holiday" last December.)

Photo: Councilman Ravi Bhalla at his law office last Thursday. All rights reserved.
* Talking Ed Note: Director Brandy Forbes came in with substantial reductions (approx. 30%) in her area of Community Development the very next day far exceeding the discussed 10% in this article.