Monday, May 31, 2010

Remembering the Fallen

Today is Memorial Day, a day to reflect on those who have given their lives to create this unique Republic and those who have laid down their lives since. Looking backwards is incomplete. This nation is at war.

Recently, the United States noted the 1,000 mark of the fallen in Afghanistan. At the moment, the largest and most decisive force is being mobilized to take and hold southeastern Afghanistan. Yet, there are many others in harms way in Iraq and on the tense border of North and South Korea.

Not all of them will return home to their loved ones. Please remember and honor them.
The following link offers many ways to do so. If you can't help, please remember them and their families in prayer. For some this will be their first Memorial Day with a loved one among those taken and for others, it's another marker added to their sorrow.

http://www.fallenheroesmemorial.com/links.html

A video tribute of those who serve and those who have made the supreme sacrifice.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Con Man welcomed in Hoboken High

Hoboken is again in the local news and as you can probably guess, it's not good news.  About a week or more back a con man calling himself Dr. Dexter managed to navigate his way into Hoboken High School and obtain administrative approval to "employ" kids to participate in his con game of selling folders to residents on the street.  He pocketed about $180 from the kids' efforts before failing to show up on a Sunday at the local McDonalds. Parents hearing this information then contacted the police.

Interim Superintendent Peter Carter states the school takes responsibility and will conduct an investigation.  How long does it take to fire an administrator(s) for bringing in a con man to rip off your students and the town by employing them in a con game?

This education came outside the classroom courtesy of at least one administrator and one Dr. Dexter.  Parents are not surprisingly very happy.

The "Dr." is not in the house and remains on the loose.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Temporary Municipal Garage under RFP resubmission process

Office of the mayor announces:

Update on the Location of the Municipal Garage from Mayor Zimmer

Based on community feedback, it is very clear that there’s a great deal of misunderstanding regarding the municipal garage issue. My Administration is working as hard as possible to develop every potential option for solving this problem. The following provides an overview of the situation, along with information about the process going forward.

Important update on the bid process
The bid responses for the two RFPs (Request for Proposals) issued two weeks ago were scheduled to be submitted no later than today, Friday, May 28th. Unfortunately, the integrity of the bidding process was compromised when the bidding list, which is confidential information prior to the bid opening, appeared on the Internet. Business Administrator Arch Liston has directed that the bidding process be rescinded and re-advertised. An internal investigation regarding the matter has been launched, and appropriate action will be taken against persons found to have been involved in any wrongdoing.

When the new bid process is completed, the submitted bids in response to the RFPs will be revealed and made public by the City Clerk in the Council Chambers. The public is invited to attend when the sealed bids are opened. My Administration will review those bids in an expeditious manner, solicit input from the community, and compare these options to other alternatives, which have been suggested by the public, the City Council, and my Administration.

The situation:
The only appropriate reason for moving our Municipal Garage would be if there’s another location that would better serve our community. Before selling the existing garage, the City should have secured and completed construction on an alternative site that it believed was more beneficial than the present location. Unfortunately, this was not done. It was based instead on the desire to plug the City’s budget gaps starting in 2005. As a result, there existed neither an alternative site nor any plan to obtain one.

We will not repeat those mistakes again. My Administration is taking a proactive approach and considering all alternatives for locating our garage with the single goal of achieving the best results for our City. Below are details on the history of the garage transaction along with some of the potential options and the steps we are taking to prepare.

Through a series of “sale leaseback” transactions starting in 2005, the Roberts Administration borrowed approximately $16 million against the City’s interest in our existing garage to cover operating expenses. In 2008, when the City entered into a contract of sale with the developer, Hekemian, it was anticipated that when the sale closed in 2010 the proceeds of the sale would be used to pay off that debt.

At the June 2 City Council meeting, a bond ordinance will be considered by the City Council to refinance (at a much lower interest rate) the debt borrowed against the garage. This will protect us in the event that, for any reason, the sale of the existing garage does not proceed as planned, in which case there would be no need to relocate the garage prior to acquiring a better long term alternative.

Understanding the role of the Mayor, Council, and public in final decision making:
There has been a lot of misinformation that has been circulated, some mistakenly and some intentionally, about about the decision making process being followed. A constituent called yesterday who had been misled into believing that in my position as mayor I could and intended to unilaterally decide without Council approval, where the garage will be located. I want to assure everyone that this is absolutely not the case. The City Council and the public will be very much involved in the final decision with regard to the garage location.

The preliminary discussions of the options were kept confidential to protect the City’s negotiating position, and so that options could be presented to the public as real viable and available solutions. The ultimate decision making process, however is a fully public one.

The process for acquiring land requires the City Council to adopt a bond ordinance. Ordinances receive a 1st reading at a Council meeting, followed by a legal advertisement in a newspaper of record, after which a 2nd reading and public hearing is held. The Council debates and votes after the public session. A supermajority, six votes, are required to adopt a bond ordinance. Leases, on the other hand, require passing a resolution, which require a simple majority, or, five votes. The public speaks on all resolutions and then the Council debates and votes. Neither a land acquisition or a lease option can be completed secretly or unilaterally by the Mayor. They can only be implemented following a full public discussion and approval by the City Council.

We will continue to involve the public in this process and keep you informed of developments. If you would like to receive updates on the status of the municipal garage, please email Juan Melli in the Mayor’s Office at jmelli@hobokennj.org.

Sincerely,

Mayor Zimmer



- Posted using BlogPress

Summer weekend, America's pastime, they'll make great pets



Walking around Hoboken, it's hardly unusual to see a Yankee or Mets hat or t-shirt but it's also not unusual to run into Boston Red Sox or Philadelphia Phillies fans.  The Phillies were just in New York to play a three game set.  Since their appearance in the World Series last year and the Mets trials and tribulations of late, the expectations were for more local disappointment.

But that didn't happen.  For the first time since 1969, the Mets shut out a foe for three straight games.  The Phillies, uh the Phlops were devastated even with holding first place.

So as we kick off the unofficial start of summer here in Hoboken with many folks taking off to the Jersey shore and points beyond, there's already an 18 mile traffic jam in Bon Jovi country of Sayreville and Tinton Falls on the Garden State Parkway.
NY Mets Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan do a midair celebration after sweeping the NL Champs Philadelphia Phillies last night.  The three game set held the Philly Phlops scoreless for all three games, a feat the Mighty Petz had not accomplished since 1969.

The NY Yankees may be defending champions but the Mets now can look back to their glory days of the 1969 Championship and ask what if?  In the meantime, enjoy the holiday weekend Hoboken and don't forget to kick back and enjoy America's favorite pastime and watch the NY Mets, they'll make great pets.

Miss USA dons the Mets shirt and takes a swing for the team.



.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Office of the Mayor announces:


MAYOR ZIMMER LETTER TO GOVERNOR CHRISTIE REGARDING CONNORS SCHOOL

In response to a letter from the New Jersey Schools Development Authority to Superintendent Peter Carter indicating that the “ConnorsElementary School project will not proceed to construction this June,” Mayor Dawn Zimmer today sent a letter to Governor Chris Christie emphasizing the urgency of funding the construction project.

Get the latest Hoboken news:


Director Angel Alicia accused of "double dipping"

Director Angel Alicia is the subject of a complaint filed with the New Jersey Attorney General's office for overlapping pension and pay - allegations made by an officer in the Hoboken Police Department.  The complaint stemming from a review earlier this year of the Hoboken Police Department audit, stated the role Mr. Alicia currently holds acting as Public Safety Director should be discontinued.

The complaint filed by Lt. Detective Mark Competello claims Director Alicia improperly assumed the position of Public Safety Director in Hoboken while still officially part of the Union City Police Department overlapping on both pay and pension while failing to meet a time requirement in between the two positions.  Lt. Detective Mark Competello insists the time requirement of six months being out of the Union City Police Department was not satisfied.  Director Alicia states in an interview with Hoboken.Patch.com he in fact met that requirement while taking terminal leave from Union City.

City Business Administrator Arch Liston states the matter is under review with the state.

Related: Claire Moses has the interview with Director Alicea and the story that followed the interview and complaint.

Talking Ed Note: The police audit was stated as the basis for the complaint but there's a history in the Hoboken Police Department regarding Director Alicea who some time back had applied to transfer from Union City Police to the Hoboken Police Department.  There's also grist for the mill that former County Boss now NJ Senator Robert Menendez tried to aid in the transfer that was rejected by the Hoboken Police Department.  How this fits now into the current dynamics of Hoboken's political scene is unclear.  Director Alicea was originally appointed by ex-mayor Peter Cammarano and kept on in his current capacity under Mayor Zimmer.  Much speculation on that being the case has followed.


The motivation for the complaint is not altogether clear but the complete report is below.


Photo: Director of Public Safety Angel Alicia at a City Council meeting earlier this year.


=========

               Mark S. Competello, CPP

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
 
Sent Via Certified Mail and Facsimile 609.292.3508
 
Honorable Paula Dow, N.J. Attorney General
Office if the Attorney General
P.O. Box 080
Trenton, NJ  08625-0080

Re: Pension Fraud and Official Misconduct Complaint: Public Safety Director Angel Alicea


Dear Attorney General Dow:

I write to you requesting an official investigation, as it has come to my attention in my capacity as a Police Lieutenant/Commander of the Criminal Investigation Bureau of the Hoboken Police Department, that Angel Alicea II; Public Safety Director for the City of Hoboken appears to be in violation of state administrative law, pertaining to both his pension and appointment to his current position.

I did report this alleged misconduct in a confidential internal memorandum, dated April 22, 2010, both through my chain of command, as well as to the City of Hoboken, including Mayor Dawn Zimmer. To date, Mayor Zimmer and the City of Hoboken have met this matter with silence. Also, this matter may have been referred to the Hudson County Prosecutor for a criminal review, however, even if this is the case based on Director Alicia’s historically strong political ties in Hudson County politics, I would rather this be investigated by your agency in the best interest of neutrality and justice.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

HUMC Board Meeting - streaming live @ 7:00

MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE




Update: Post Meeting


The Hospital is seeing some benefits from the new emergency room.  At this meeting the numbers showed a significant boost in the admissions and also surgeries.  The numbers overall are a bit off from projections but far more in line than recent years. One big concern is the accounts payable.  There was an increase from the average of 123 days to 129 with $16.8MM estimated outstanding. The new board showed a strong unified voice and looks to be very active in the oversight role, a drastic improvement from years past. MSV will update some additional information later as the board members went into executive session.  Apologies for some of the audio, the room had fans running due to the heat and members are not using microphones.

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7231151


========================================

MSV will be broadcasting live the monthly board meeting of the Hoboken University Medical Center.  The hospital's health is critical not only for those who depend on its services but to Hoboken as the town has backed the institution with $62MM in bonds.

This will be the first live broadcast of the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority Board.
With some new members and new initiatives underway, the changes may prove critical to both the hospital and Hoboken itself.

If readers have questions for the hospital board, please email them to smartyjones@me.com.

Please note, MSV will not be available to respond during the meeting.  No phone calls or text during the meeting.  Thanks.

 Agenda below at the jump:

Operation legal taxi underway...

City of Hoboken announces:

HOBOKEN REIGNS IN ILLEGAL TAXI OPERATIONS

The City of Hoboken has been increasing its efforts to enforce taxi and limousine regulations for the protection of residents and visitors.

“My Administration is taking taxi and limousine safety issues very seriously,” Mayor Dawn Zimmer said.

Code enforcement officers have already issued over $60,000 in summonses to illegally-operating taxi services. In addition to scheduled inspections, spot checks for proper documentation and vehicle condition are now regularly conducted.

The relocation of the taxi stand at Hoboken Terminal combined with a dispatcher posted during peak periods has improved organization and dramatically reduced illegal and inappropriate haggling. City code states that the first fare has a right to refuse additional passengers.

These increased enforcement efforts contributed to the recent arrest of an illegally-operating driver by the Hoboken Police Department. The driver had a suspended license, four warrants out for his arrest, and was found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia. Due to this and other events, the City has been cooperating with higher level agencies to assist in expanded enforcement efforts.

“Out of town operations that had been ignoring our rules are now thinking twice before driving on our streets,” Department of Transportation and Parking Director Ian Sacs said.

Residents are reminded that hailing a licensed Hoboken taxi is perfectly legal anywhere in the City. All licensed taxis bear a shield and number on both front doors of the car. Despite the City’s efforts to crack down on unlicensed operations, residents are advised that riding in unlicensed vehicles not only poses a safety risk, but also harms legally-operating Hoboken-based taxi businesses.

Residents who suspect a violation or have a concern about a taxi should call the Taxi Division at 201-216-1090 or email taxi@hobokennj.org and provide the number in the shield on the door.


Residents who suspect a violation or have a concern about a taxi should call the Taxi Division at 201-216-1090 or emailtaxi@hobokennj.org and provide the number in the shield on the door.

Residents can get important updates from the Department of Transportation and Parking by following the department’s twitter account:http://twitter.com/hobokentap

Get the latest Hoboken news:


.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Superintendent Carter clarifies, calms the district

Superintendent's Letter to Citizens and Parents Regarding Connors School


THE CONNORS SCHOOL MATTER
Dear Citizens and Parents of Hoboken,

Within the past twenty or so hours, the air has been buzzing about a letter written to me by the Schools Development Authority, a governmental agency located in Trenton, New Jersey, about the status of the renovation of the Connors School. Let me state at the outset that the letter which bears my name and has been making the rounds throughout the area, has yet to be stamped into my office. In other words, I am still waiting to receive a letter which others have chosen to share, and to which reaction is occurring. I did intercept a copy of the letter as it was winding its way among fax machines and e-mail attachments and who knows what else, and then call the Authority in order to receive the “official” document which I did receive via e-mail at 2:50 p.m.

Here are the simple FACTS contained in the letter. “The New Jersey Schools Development Authority….is undertaking a review of the 2008 Capital Plan, in addition to project delivery.
We anticipate an accelerated process ….to complete this review.” The letter then goes on to say”…the fact that the design work for the project has not been finalized, the Connors Elementary School project will not advance to construction this June.” Quite simply, then, as I read the letter, the State is merely saying that the approval of the construction phase will be delayed. In essence, the design stage is continuing even to go so far as state that we plan to meet on this project with State officials tomorrow, Thursday. The letter further suggests that we can continue to utilize the Connors building until further notice. An administrative decision will be made on that issue in early June, once I speak in greater detail with the author of the letter.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the State Official who heads the S D A at this time, and we shall be speaking again next week. Stay tuned for the outcome of further discussion. In brief, then, on May 25th we hear for the first time about a letter from Trenton dated May 21st, which I have still not received via USPS (as of 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday).

Let me assure you, people of Hoboken, that your appointed and elected officials of the community are very concerned, and will be working very hard to obtain clarity with regard to the progress of our Connors School Project. My request is that we not react as a body politic at this time, to allow me the time and space that I need to properly respond to the letter of May 21st which begins, “Dear Mr. Carter.” May I also state unequivocally that this action is NOT aimed at Hoboken in particular, but is part of a review process by the Department of Education and the Schools Development Authority of all 59 new construction and rehabilitation projects.

Sincerely yours,
Peter E. Carter



- Posted via Blogpress

State reconstruction of Connors School on hold



This letter arrived from Assemblyman Reuben Ramos' office announcing the disappointment in the State placing the construction of the Connors school on hold. There's no clarity on the length of time although the work was anticipated to begin this June. Students from Connors have already been prepared to move to Demarest.

This project earmarked earlier from the State was anticipated to cost $33 million.

The Jersey Journal has posted the story along with a comment from fourth ward Councilman Mike Lenz. Assemblyman Ramos has requested a meeting with the Governor to express the necessity of this project.

.

Hoboken not our kinda town no more

Things had been going pretty well.  Lots of traffic coming and going in and out of Hoboken but I knew I'd always make up for the time lost by not having to hunt for twenty minutes or more to find a parking spot near my destination.  My friend who is buds with Johnny C hooked me up with this nifty little device that gets me in and out of the Hoboken parking garages pronto.  I just leave it in the window and the parking attendant either ignores me or waves me along.

Even when some bad news befell our friend Johnny C, my friend said there's nothing to worry about, everything is good to go.  I pay him a monthly rental fee for the little doo hickey and get unlimited free parking everywhere in town.  Didn't tell my friend I lent it out to my family and friends for a little scratch on the side.  Put them on the friends and family program too.  A little grease never hurt anyone.

So it was pretty bad when my device stopped working last month.  Came into Hoboken and when leaving the garage, the doo hickey thing didn't work and the gate didn't open.  The attendant said there was a problem and I had to pay the cost of parking.  It was $27!  I couldn't believe it. 

Took the ticket to City Hall and found out where this Ian Sacs guy was who had replaced our friend.  He was very uncooperative.  He wanted to know who gave me the doo hickey and why I was using it.  I just wanted him to throw out the ticket.  He was really arrogant and told me to get out of his office even when I told him about our friends from the arcade company.  This guy is really thick.  Doesn't he know how things run here?

So then I went to the mayor's office to complain.  Told she was busy although all I saw her doing was talking on the phone and telling someone to shut all of the doo hickeys down.  Maybe she was on the phone with that Ian guy.  Did someone miss a payment or something?

One of our friends told me to go to the Russo Association to see what I can do but they told me to go talk to Councilwoman Terry Castellano.  So I get her on the phone and before I could finish explaining she tells me there is no parking quarters problem.  She said, "It's been resolved" and hung up.

What have they done to our town?  This used to be our thing.  I ain't ever coming back to Hoboken no more.  This ain't our town no more.

Photo: A car transponder, for depiction purposes only.

The above story is satire and a mere guess on what's been discussed about 160 times around town recently.  Your mileage, conversation (and parking) may vary.

Related: A video from back in the day of Mayor Anthony Russo when expectations were more clear on how things should work in "our town."


Related: MSV commented on Hoboken hiring Ian Sacs and also noted the opposition from a certain rumored burka wearer.

Video: Courtesy of the Wile E. Coyote, Eric Kurta

Rustle up 13 billion dollars or so for New Jersey

The State of New Jersey is facing a double digit deficit in the billions of dollars.  A weekend protest by thirty-thousand mostly public sector workers sought to convince Gov. Christie they should not feel the pinch in meeting that deficit.

This video shows the psychology prevalent today in New Jersey and beyond, some would call it global with France seeking to raise the retirement age from 60 and Greece suffering with riots as the public sector has squeezed its way into every crevice of private sector's production.  At a certain point, it's not sustainable.

This reporter captures the disconnect quite well.  If you haven't noticed, Hoboken will be facing the exact same situation here.  The results will probably be the same except the discussion in Trenton over the weekend may appear quite civil in comparison.

Protesters offer their suggestions to try and close the 13 billion budget gap


Related: Here's a fine article discussing the potentials for trouble in the global economy due to a lack of political will to control government spending and describes the problem "as moving from private debt to public debt....But rising public debt is never a free lunch, eventually you have to pay for it."

Economist Nouriel Roubini - the man who called the housing boom bust.


The Cartel continues to rock



Let's just number these announcements to keep them straight....
1.) The Cartel has been selected to screen at the 2010 National Charter School Conference in Chicago in late June.  Other events will include Keynote Speeches from Bill Gates, Co-Chair Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Reed Hastings, Founder & CEO, Netflix.  Full details soon to be released here:
National Charter School Conference

2.) Look for a live TV interview with The Cartel's Director Bob Bowdon on the Fox Business Network's Varney & Co.(with Stuart Varney), this Friday, May 28, 10:30-11amEDT.

3.) New Jersey residents can catch a TV interview with The Cartel's Director Bob Bowdon on News 12 New Jersey's12 in Our Schools , which will air on a rotating schedule throughout the weekend of May 29-30.

4.) The Cartel will screen every night through Thursday, May 27 in Columbus, OH, at the Gateway Film Center, affiliated with the Ohio State University.  Information is available here:
Gateway Film Center

5.) The Cartel will screen July 2-8 in Peoria, IL at the Peoria Theater.  Information will soon be available here:
Peoria Theater

6.) Fresh New Screenings in New Jersey, this week & next week:

 


Date
Time
Town
Location
Tickets
May 267:30pmMount Laurel, NJEnterprise Center, 3331 Route 38
 
June 27pmWestfield, NJRialto Theater, 250 East Broad Street
 
June 29pmWestfield, NJRialto Theater, 250 East Broad Street
 
June 37:30pmHawthorne, NJHawthorne Theatre, 300 Lafayette Avenue
 



You can also check here for:
New Jersey Screening Details 

Save the date: Career Fair in Hoboken - June 19th

Monday, May 24, 2010

There goes the free parking

The City of Hoboken announces:


INTERNAL AUDIT ASSISTS IN CATCHING ILLEGAL USE OF PARKING TRANSPONDERS

In October 2009, Mayor Zimmer directed Transportation and Parking Director Ian Sacs to conduct an audit of all active Municipal Parking Garage transponders.

After completing the audit in January 2010, Director Sacs identified about 160 active devices that were not associated with a City vehicle and had them disabled. The arrests announced today are a result of the Mayor’s efforts to restore integrity in government and the cooperation between the City’s directors and the Hoboken Police.



Related: The Jersey Journal reported just earlier on an arrest of a city employee at the Municipal Garage.  Expect this story to get legs if well, reporters decide to actually report.


Talking Ed Note: As a matter of policy MSV avoids commenting on press releases from the city.  (It's been our preference to allow the public to digest it first.)  In this instance we're making an exception as this development is truly an outstanding effort to lock down an obvious loophole of systematic abuse.  


Now MSV does have a question about the 160 active devices.  Who had them, who failed to report them missing or take any action?  The cost to the city must be in four or five figures and this is a substantial amount of fraud.  An analysis may even hit six figures when it's all done!  



Dust up on Church Square Park

Church Square Park is one of the most popular destinations in town and some recent proposed changes by a local Hoboken group, Project Play, introduced their plan detailing efforts for upgrading some of the children's area.

Of the reported 35 residents who attended, there was a clash of ideas on the agenda of what should be upgraded and how.  Three residents aligned against a group of mostly parents and it got heated to the point where the meeting was almost shut down.

Andrew Tavani of Hoboken.patch.com provides the blow by blow, well not quite but it's well told.

For some history and background, here's a classic piece from a 2007 City Council meeting.  Councilman Mike Russo provides the entertainment interrupting the speaker, what was once a typical pastime here in Hoboken at City Council meetings.

Maybe this park needs a new name.  How about Mikie Squared?



Video courtesy of the Wiley Coyote, Eric Kurta.

Okay, where do I park this rig?

There's a lot of problems with garbage and Hoboken has one big headache on its hands looking to identify at a minimum a temporary solution to relocate the existing municipal garage. Another in a line of inherited failures of the Mayor Roberts administration, the cost to the city is about $100,000 a month to lease the existing property it once owned. An opportunity to rebuild on that space and add a floor or two was also missed when those serving on a local board to evaluate options nixed that idea previously as well.


Next sanitation stop: an outpouring of mostly third ward residents concerned about the Pino towing yard being selected creating a rush of speakers to the City Council podium as an RFP is still out on multiple locations.  Is the Pino space at the top of the list?  Councilman Russo seems to think so and marshaled a mighty effort as he "met with residents" according to Patch.com's report to stave off any potential naming of that location.  Ironically the owner of that tow firm at the current location also testified against Mike Russo's father Anthony who served as mayor of Hoboken before Dave Roberts.  As a partial result of that testimony, Mayor Russo later served jail time for his corrupt activities.  (The last thing Councilman Russo wants is to see that same owner get a nickel or a hefty lease from the city.)


In the scheme of things, pardon the pun, Councilman Russo has a real winner on his hands.  If the city chooses a site among its candidates other than this location on Jackson, the owner of Pino's doesn't get an inflated payday leasing the property to the city and he can pound his chest and declare how he saved the 3rd ward from the fate of sanitation trucks regularly driving by.  If the city does circle back and make the case there is no better location, he surrounds himself with all the real estate people, the new three week residents among others and declares himself the self-anointed Savior of the 3rd Ward.


The Council of No: joyous applause at the fracas brought to bear by Mikie Squared


A curious development not available in the earlier Hoboken.Patch.com story but was picked up by Timothy J. Carroll in the Hudson Reporter: what's the truth behind the City Council circus?  It appears the Pino's location is not first on the list of sites after all, but a negotiating lever for the city to apply with other potential sites?  Did Councilman Russo know this?  No matter, since he communicated something, as in confidential city information to third ward residents and created quite the circus.  No doubt he's proud of himself, even if as the Hudson Reporter suggests, the costs could now be substantially higher to the city.


As MSV gazes into the crystal ball, the Zimmer Administration is facing a no win situation.  And the "Council of No" has never been happier since election night in November.  


They live for this.     




Photo: An earlier photo from a City Council meeting, from left: Councilwoman Terry Castellano, Councilwoman Beth Mason and Councilman Mike Russo.
Courtesy the Hoboken Journal, all rights reserved.

Mayor Zimmer pays old $4.2 million bill, more ahead


Office of the Mayor announces:



ONE WEEK AFTER DEPARTURE OF FISCAL MONITOR: HOBOKEN TAKES CONTROL OF ITS FINANCES

Having completed its first full week of self-rule free of fiscal monitoring oversight, Mayor Dawn Zimmer highlighted some of the steps taken by her Administration to correct mistakes of the past and position Hoboken for a more responsible and fiscally secure future. 

"Hoboken's days of kicking the can down the road and leaving the check for our kids to pick up are over," said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. "My Administration will always put the City's interests ahead of the short-sighted political expediency that brought us to this point."

After conducting an actuarial review, the City of Hoboken last week paid the State of New Jersey $4.2 million for an illegal early retirement incentive plan implemented by the Roberts Administration. The City is pursuing alternatives to recouping funds.

"We are quite literally paying for the mistakes of the past," noted Zimmer. "With proper research, we would have known that this was illegal. We didn't create this mess, but we will clean it up and leave Hoboken a better place for the next generation."

The relocation of the Municipal Garage, which was sold five years ago, is a major challenge inherited by the Zimmer Administration.

"They sold the garage, spent the money to plug budget holes, and never planned for where to relocate," said Zimmer. "That kind of recklessness threatens Hoboken's future and will not be tolerated in my Administration. I’m not simply determined to solve this problem; I’m committed to making sure we don’t find ourselves in this kind of situation in the future. That's why it's been a priority of mine to hire the most qualified individuals who base decisions solely on their professional judgment and on what is best for the City."

On May 12th, Mayor Zimmer traveled to Trenton and appeared before the Local Finance Board to argue for the City's release from state oversight. The board voted unanimously to eliminate fiscal monitoring oversight, four months ahead of schedule.Hoboken's first day free of oversight from State Fiscal Monitor Judy Tripodi was Monday, May 17th.

Get the latest Hoboken news:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | RSS


.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Relay for Life" trashes Pier A Park

An event held earlier today led to this photo which Da Horsey is told doesn't do justice to the amount of garbage dumped onto the park as the "Relay for Life" people broke down their tents and left.


Although this reader pic isn't the best, it was reported this was the "tip of the iceberg" and the whole central area of the field was covered in litter.  A witness on site saw the breakdown of the tents and the dumping of the trash out on the grass and then they took off.

.

Ahoy Swabee! Historic ferry ports in Hoboken



Living on a houseboat can have its pluses.  For one there's no property taxes and after last week's visit from Gov. Christie, there's been plenty of attention on that front but add some rich local history and it's a twist available this weekend for those who pay a visit.


Hoboken residents caught a glimpse of that life style over the weekend via tours of The Yankee ferry owned by Victoria and Richard MacKenzie-Childs. The artists are giving tours of their home on The Shipyard river front (12th street) over the weekend to raise money for the restoration of the historic boat.  The hundred year old ferry is the last remaining boat that carried immigrants to and from Ellis Island. In her long history she was also a luxury ship and served as a transport during World War II. On the inside the boat is colorfully decorated and much of the art is of Victoria and Richard's own design.

Further the MacKenzie-Childs are also raising funds for the 'Polk-Dot' garden which is growing corn, heirloom tomatoes, and squash. Victoria wants a strip of green to break up the otherwise concrete water front. The couple intends to make the produce available to contributors and the public. Their ambition is to use the raised funds to support an irrigation system and extend the garden down the entire length of the pier.


It's worth a visit to explore living on a house boat, local art, and learn more about local history through the life of the vessel.



The Yankee is open today, Sunday, again from noon 'til 9pm.







Story and photos by Davidd

Related: Hoboken Patch posted a feature on the Yankee too.






Saturday, May 22, 2010

Guest of the Stable: Scott Siegel



Governor Christe Comes to Hoboken

     This past Monday our newly elected Governor Chris Christe kicked off his statewide town hall tour in the mile square city. Perhaps it was because we both face similar problems - high taxes, even higher spending and historically a dysfunctional government (or because he spent a majority of career arresting Hudson County politicians). It took a lot of courage for our newly elected Mayor Dawn Zimmer to reach across party lines to have this event. As she said fiscal responsibility should be a bi-partisan issue. I was deeply disappointed that no Hoboken elected official from Hudson County, Trenton or our nation’s capital decided to come. 

As a Republican if I were in the mayor’s shoes and Jon Corzine was Governor, I would have done the same thing. When it comes to fiscal security in Hoboken it is imperative that we utilize all potential sources of aid and support. It does us no good to spit at the Governor. It was lively discussion with give and take by both sides. If you like the Governor or dislike him it was refreshing to see his candor and deep knowledge on a variety of issues and questions posed by the public.
     
His proposal centered on capping property taxes at 2.5% combined with salary and benefits increases at the same level through a constitutional amendment. This is a sound approach to control spiraling costs. His “tool kit” offered various options in a comprehensive manner to control spending. You can find his tool kit on the Hoboken city website. I urge everybody to support this necessary measure in November. He gave good answers to my two questions. If inflation occurs the voters of Hoboken can choose to raise taxes or cut spending. He also agreed with me that NJ should repeal the Bacon-Davis act which penalizes private companies vs. unionized ones. Other questions were on PILOTS, NJ Transit redevelopment, bond debt and the millionaire tax.
     
Although we had good participation from the City Council and the BOE for some reason Councilwoman Mason decided to sit in the audience and in my opinion grandstanded in an accusatory manner instead of sitting on stage with her colleagues and asking him questions (hospital charity aid and NJ Transit price increases) in a professional manner. For the record the state raised charity care by $65 million and former Governor Corzine passed on recommended small annual price rises in train fare forcing Christe’s hand.

Friday, May 21, 2010

No means no

'Millionaires tax' bills pass both houses, but is vetoed by Gov. Christie

“New Jersey does not have a tax problem, that we don’t have enough tax revenue. We have a spending and size of government problem, and we need to start saying “no.” And, today is another one of those examples of saying no.”


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
After vetoing New Jersey Dem’s latest tax hike
May 20, 2010



It took Governor Christie about 2 minutes to veto the latest democratic tax hike in New Jersey.

Inspired by our colleague at the Hoboken Journal, MSV is highlighting this efficient veto by Gov. Chris Christie.  It may be a foreign concept to some, but spending is the problem in much of our land.  


Thursday, May 20, 2010

HHA with Superintendent Carter speaking on Connors, Special Ed and suspension


Mr. Carter and Q&A runs about 25 minutes.

Introduction - this segment is only a minute:
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7073588

This is a short part of the Q&A - only two or so minutes
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7073668

Superintendent Carter appeared last night at the Jubilee Center to discuss a number of issues with local parents and clergy on the Connors School and its temporary move to Demarest, suspension policies and Special Education.  The meeting ran about one hour.
(Due to wifi problems some of the meeting is not available.)

Claire Moses, editor of Hoboken.Patch.com attended and will also be featuring a story tomorrow.

Mayor Zimmer weighs in on the garage


Statement from Mayor Dawn Zimmer on Municipal Garage

I am writing to assure residents concerned about a potential municipal garage site located at 6th and Monroe Streets.  My Administration is considering multiple options, none of which are ideal.  Relocating the garage, even temporarily, in this or any other residential area raises serious concerns. Those concerns were heard very clearly at last night's Council meeting, echoing publicly concerns that have been raised both internally by my Administration and by Council Members.

The lack of proper relocation planning in the five years since the garage was sold to fund operating expenses has been the single biggest challenge faced by my Administration.  There were no good options available in the very limited time we were given.  We have been working diligently to find the least bad solution.  I have every confidence we are nearing one of several options that will avoid the outcome rumored in recent days.

The Council has been briefed on alternatives.  In an effort to overlook nothing, we have been and will continue to consider additional locations through direct solicitation of property owners and the RFP process, which is scheduled to be completed on May 28th.  Results of the RFP process will be shared with the City Council and the public and discussed at a public meeting.

Residents may review the notices for two RFPs issued on our website at the following links:


Please email Juan Melli at jmelli@hobokennj.org in the Mayor's office if you would like to sign up for regular updates on the municipal garage site relocation.

As a final note, it is personally frustrating that I cannot further reduce concern by more fully briefing the public.  There are a great many moving pieces to this transaction, and I am firmly advised by counsel that premature disclosure could severely undermine the City's interests.  It would be far more comfortable to say more, but I will not do so if it means putting the City's interest at risk.

Sincerely,

Dawn Zimmer

Horse Sense: Gaffes, garages and $6 million for tax relief?

With all the problems Hoboken and the State of New Jersey face, it's certainly fascinating how the light of a minor gaffe in a speech by a public official attracts more attention than insects to a bug zapper.  Mayor Zimmer misspoke the Governor's name and there was a lot of laughter including from Gov. Christie.
Gov. Christie: takes mistake in stride - "I'm here, he's not."

Last night's City Council meeting saw a number of unusual events including a large group of concerned residents speaking on the city's RFP process to identify a yet unannounced site of a temporary garage.  MSV is all but certain this outpouring of legitimate concern for one site on Jackson St. will generate the bulk of discussion as the scene is one that makes for good copy and drama - much like Monday's.  But were there other equally important developments in the five hour plus marathon meeting?

Moving the City of Hoboken from a fiscal year to a calendar year has many advantages, one being $6 million gained in the transition among numerous other accounting benefits on a yearly basis.  Likely to be little noticed, City Council President Peter Cunningham stated the savings could provide 5% in much needed tax relief.  To this the "Council of No" (a term coined by our colleague at the Hoboken Journal) sat firm in opposition, arguing numerous points in multiple ways with one bottom line: if Mayor Zimmer is for this, we're against it.

Now it's no surprise that the Russo clan would not favor such a move.  Even with numerous lengthy detailed explanations, former Director of Finance Nick Trasente included, no logic could budge them.  Long time resident Helen Hirsch later criticized the City Council for not being honest and being more interested in showing off business cards with the city logo or getting a "free meal" than doing the right thing.  One reader just posted here about witnessing one such free lunch taken.  Hey is that ethical?


Councilwoman Beth Mason reacts to the crowd's applause to Gov. Christie's response 
during one of her three questions at last Monday's town hall meeting.

But then there's the other member of the Council of No: Beth Mason.  Isn't she for reform and lower taxes?  Her government-in-exile supporters even posed with her fall campaign t-shirt at the last City Council meeting showing those exact printed words.  Apparently since her defeat at the hands of the voters last November, she's for neither.  The reform part comes as no surprise, Councilwoman Mason jettisoned reform since she aligned with the Russo Association earlier last year.  Now she can add no tax cuts to her list.  Does anyone think that when that comes up next she'll see the light?

What was the tally of Councilwoman Mason's contribution last night?  She wants resumes.  Resumes obtained by the mayor in the earlier search for a Business Administrator.  Although she's been advised they are available via the mayor's office for weeks now, she's declined to do so instead first requesting they be made available to the City Clerk's office, and then yesterday insisting Corporation Counsel Michael Kates intervene and obtain them.  Mr. Kates offered to do so since the Councilwoman has not and apparently will not contact the mayor's office to arrange such a viewing, although that again was discussed as an easily accessible option.

The Corporation Counsel advised the Councilwoman he could make such an arrangement but only after she commits to preserving the confidentiality of the applicants.  Not only is the Business Administrator position now filled, but the candidates still hold their existing positions and would expect their names not to be made public by anyone involved in the city's hiring process.  On this point, Councilwoman Mason refused to make any commitment though she was given numerous opportunities to do so.  Each time she changed the subject to her aggrieved victim status, finally agreeing to discuss the matter "offline."

Wonder what she'd say to the question of why she didn't take the matter "offline" with the mayor's office to begin with?

Last, another effort by the Councilwoman to change the conversation and elevate her image after her violations of ELEC laws emerged by restructuring the city ethics ordinance exploded at liftoff.  Since the early 90s, the controlling entity on such matters is the State and Corporation Counsel explained any proposed changes have to go through Trenton.

Does this mean she will be getting back to the Hudson Reporter and the public on her investigation of street money illegally distributed in her mayoral campaign last spring?  A video she posted on her website earlier this week claimed she had "nothing to hide" and she didn't distribute any cash to any "campaign worker" in her mayoral bid last spring.

Well of course you didn't Councilwoman.  Your campaign did.

.