Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Redevelopment Meeting @ 7:00 - We are Live!

For those of faint heart in the heat, there's still a way to catch the redevelopment meeting tonight at the Multi-Service Center 124 Grand St.  MSV is expecting it will be broadcast live and is carrying the feed.  It will also be rebroadcast on TV but for the hard core Hoboken policy wonk and/or political junkie who just has to have their fix live.  This one will probably not be for the faint of heart unless you are a stone cold policy wonk.

Meeting has ended.  Here's the link to watch it online:

Part 1:

Part 2:

USA Football awards equipment to Hoboken for 800 kids

City of Hoboken announces:


Mayor Dawn Zimmer is proud to announce that the City of Hoboken was awarded a grant through USA Football for acquiring sports equipment for the Hoboken Police Athletic League.

USA Football, the sport's national governing body on youth and amateur levels, has awarded football equipment grants to approximately 800 youth and high school football programs throughout the United States this year based on merit and need. The equipment grant program, directed by USA Football and NFL teams, has awarded more than $3 million in football equipment through the NFL Youth Football Fund since 2006. All equipment grants are fulfilled by Riddell, the official helmet and protective equipment partner of USA Football.

Hoboken’s Director of Human Services, Leo Pellegrini submitted the Hoboken P.A.L.'s successful application to USA Football this spring. In addition, through the support of the New York Giants and USA Football, Hoboken P.A.L. has received 100 tickets to the Giants' September 2 preseason game against the New England Patriots as part of USA Football Month across the NFL to salute youth football.

"Even with multiple fundraisers and strict budget adherence, many well-run youth football programs like Hoboken P.A.L. need help to properly equip their teams," USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. "We are proud to assist the kids and families of Hoboken with the NFL Youth Football Fund's support and wish them a great time at the Giants-Patriots game on September 2."

Director of P.A.L. Bobby Gohde is coordinating the Giants-Patriot game trip with youth football players. 

USA Football is the official youth football development partner of the NFL, each of its 32 teams and the NFL Players Association.

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Tax Relief comes for taxpayers but limits set by State control

Tomorrow night's City Council meeting will feature the introduction of the budget from the Zimmer Administration and with it much needed tax relief.  The relief will come in the form of a 5% reduction amounting to approximately $2 million of the almost $12 million in the City's current surplus plus another million in other reductions.

According to Councilman Mike Lenz, fourth ward Councilman and candidate for this November's special election in the same ward, Hoboken can't legally extend tax relief beyond this amount coming off fiscal monitor control. Although not physically present any longer in Hoboken, the State's sign off releasing Hoboken is not expected to become official until September.  "The mayor, finance committee and the council are committed to giving taxpayers a five percent tax cut.  To cut any more in this six-month transition period would require state approval, and until we've had our fiscal house in order for some time, it's very unlikely we could get such approval," he said yesterday.

Councilman Lenz indicated there are additional state regulations preventing larger tax cuts when cities incur savings moving from a fiscal to a calendar year as Hoboken did with in a recent action by the City Council.  Combined together, Hoboken can't in the short term deliver additional tax relief.

Councilwoman Beth Mason has issued several email communications to residents first insisting the $20 million "surplus" be given back to Hoboken taxpayers, then retreating a bit from that position before again issuing yet another email claiming a full $20 million surplus and suggesting people go to tomorrow's meeting and "Tell City Hall to give your money back and cut your taxes immediately."  

Most observers agree there's been another $6 million added to the budget surplus this year but $8 million is restricted leaving the real surplus at $12 million.  The surplus has become a matter of strong contentious political disagreement not just its actual amount, but its revelation with announced citywide layoffs expected to become official September 24th.

The Hoboken PBA and its members have pointed to the "$20 million surplus" as a reason not to overhaul the police department.  Councilman Lenz did not view the two issues as linked stating reserves in the city were a necessity, "The introduced budget does use some of the surplus of the surplus to reduce taxes, but it maintain $10 million as working capital and as a cushion against financial shocks.  This is toward the high end of the accepted 5-10% range for well run municipalities and will speed us toward a better bond rating.  Given our history and exposure this is just what we should be doing," he said.  

Hoboken's current bond rating is said to be just above junk status meaning the cost to the city for borrowing money when needed comes at significant high cost. 

Looking ahead, Councilman Lenz acknowledged expectation from Hoboken taxpayers saying, "The Zimmer Administration is getting Hoboken's finances under control, and making the tough choices to reduce spending.  Taxes will go down 5% in this budget, and more in the next if we stay the course.  Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her council allies - all of which I am proudly one - are committed to doing just that."

Critics of the Zimmer Administration led by die hard backers of Councilwoman Beth Mason's failed mayoral run last year have complained there was no real intent to cut spending or reduce taxes.  Most independent analysts acknowledge there can be no significant tax relief without reductions in city personnel.  City manpower costs are upwards of 70% of the city's annual budget with public safety alone coming in over 50%.  

Councilman Lenz acknowledged the current built in cost to the city and necessity for more tax relief concluding, "the only way we can do so as a city is to control spending."

Tomorrow's City Council meeting can be expected to exhibit sharp disagreements on all the steps proposed by the Zimmer Administration on the matters of taxes, the budget and municipal layoffs.  Onlookers will be curious as to the possible linkage between them as political consultant Paul Swibinski is now employed by Councilwoman Beth Mason and the Hoboken PBA.  Word of a show of force from the Hoboken Police is expected.

Talking Ed Note: If you want a good seat for tomorrow's City Council meeing get there early.  Unlike the previous City Council meeting, if you are tossed for bad behavior you won't be able to go sit in the corner.  There will be police available to show you the door.

MSV plans to attend and provide onsite observations and pictures for the Hoboken Journal.  You can watch the meeting online and join in the discussion there:


Reminder: Redevelopment 101 tonight at the Multi-Service Center

City of Hoboken announces:


On Tuesday, August 31, the City of Hoboken will host a “Redevelopment 101” informative seminar to educate the public on the redevelopment process.

“My Administration takes public input very seriously,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “As we move forward with various redevelopment projects, an informed public will be in a position to offer the feedback we need to reflect our community’s vision for our City.”

The event, which will take place at the Multi-Service Center124 Grand Street, from 7pm to 9pm, will be taped, replayed on television, and posted on the City website.

Redevelopment attorney Joe Maraziti of Maraziti, Falcon, & Healey will speak in general terms about the redevelopment process from start to finish, while Jong Sook Nee of McManimon & Scotland will explain the financing tools that are available through redevelopment. The presentations will be followed by a question and answer session.

The City is in the process of creating the redevelopment plan for the Western Edge and will soon be announcing a public meeting to discuss a draft of the plan. Additionally, the City is currently conducting a study to determine whether redevelopment would be appropriate for Southwest Hoboken.

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Assemblymen Ramos and Albano present plan to counter outsourcing


            (TRENTON) – In light of the country’s continued economic woes, Assemblymen Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. and Nelson Albano are pushing legislation to protect jobs at home and discourage the “outsourcing” of American jobs to other countries. 

The bill – A998 – would prohibit business entities from being eligible to perform any state contract or receive any state grant if the business eliminates jobs performed by its employees in the United States and assigns those functions to workers in a foreign nation. 

“Now more than ever we need to be conscious of the businesses New Jersey invests in,” said Ramos (D-Hudson).  “We should be using every resource at our disposal to help retain and attract jobs to our country, and our state in particular.”

The bill also prohibits state funds or funds under the custody or control of the state from being invested in the securities of such a business entity.

“With unemployment rates remaining at an all-time high, we should be using taxpayer dollars to benefit our taxpayers,” said Albano (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland).  “Companies should not be allowed to profit from state contracts while shipping all the jobs overseas when people in New Jersey are dying for work.” 
        Prior to receiving any state contract or grant, a business entity will be required to certify in writing to the state agency awarding the contract or grant that it is not prohibited by the bill’s provisions  from performing such contract or receiving such grant.  A business entity that is awarded any state contract or grant must agree that during the duration of the contract or grant it will not engage in conduct that would make it ineligible to receive a contract or grant under the bill. 

The Division of Investment in the Department of the Treasury is also directed not to invest any state funds in the securities of any business until the division determines that such investment is not prohibited by the bill’s provisions.

The measure is currently awaiting a hearing before the Assembly State Government Committee.

Monday, August 30, 2010

17th Annual Arts & Music Fall Festival


Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the City of Hoboken are proud to host the 17th Annual Hoboken Fall Arts & Music Festival on Sunday, October 3rd from 11am to 6pm. Admission is free.

The fair will take place on Washington Street between Observer Highway and 7th Street and will include more than 300 artists, crafters, photographers, local businesses, restaurants, food vendors and more. A special children’s section will include rides, games, and more.

Three stages of live music will feature performances by Loretta Hagen, Lorax, Care Bears on Fire, Erin Lee and the Up Past Bedtime Band, Guitar Bar Allstars, and much more to be announced.

Visitors are strongly encouraged to take public transportation. More information is available at: http://www.hobokennj.org/visit/how-to-get-here/

Vendor applications are still available. For information, call 201-420-2207.

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A picture from last year's fall Arts & Music Festival on Washington St.

50 more tickets for Hoboken's end of summer spaghetti western on lower Sinatra Drive

Mayor Dawn Zimmer & The City of Hoboken

invite you to attend the 6th Annual
Spaghetti Dinner Block Party

Thursday, Sept. 2nd • 5:00pm to 8:00pm
Walkway along Sinatra Drive between 1st & 2nd Streets

The early bird ticket deadline has passed
but we have just added another 50 tickets in this price range

Tickets are $15.00, Seniors are $12, children are $8,
table of 10 is $150.00 if purchased by Tues. Aug. 31st

After the deadline, tickets are $20.00 each
($12 for Seniors, $10 for children, $200 for table of 10)

Seating is limited

4 kinds of pasta, meatballs, sausage, salad, bread & dessert

Wine, beer, water, soda, will also be available at additional cost and
sold to raise funds for the Hoboken Ambulance Corp.

Tickets can be purchased
at City Hall, the Cultural Affairs Office
94 Washington Street
Make check payable to The City of Hoboken

For more information, call 201-420-2207

The Spaghetti Dinner Block Party was an event that we started in 2005
to celebrate Hoboken's 150th Anniversary - The idea was to recreate a
community event that took place in 1955 for the City's 100th
Anniversary - a Spaghetti Dinner Block Party on Washington Street,
except now we have it along the waterfront.

It has been a huge success. People really enjoy it so we've been doing
it every year since. Just a fun way to end the summer. We set up
tables along the walkway on Frank Sinatra Drive so that everyone can
enjoy the beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline. People bring their
families and businesses entertain their employees. It is one big
outdoor community dinner party.

Hoboken online polling jumps the shark

There's been an unusual high level of interests in some local online polls with people arguing the value of the results here on the Hoboken Journal poll and also the Hudson Reporter.

Online polls particularly ones covering a short period of time are far from scientific but the interest is more like a pr tool for further arguing one point of view or another.  With this being the end of summer, it's really interesting to see the Hudson Reporter website showing thousands of views and votes on a summer weekend.  They created a poll that permits repeated voting.  In fact, just to see the latest poll results you have to vote again.  You can blame the Hudson Reporter website for that faux pas.

On the Hoboken Journal poll featured here on MSV, repeated voting is prevented but that doesn't mean you have to be in Hoboken to vote.  In fact one local officer, who calls himself Hitman 149 reached out to a some friends on a website and asked folks to vote in the poll here on MSV.  Nothing wrong with it really, it shows he really does care about his fellow officers:

A Hoboken Police Officer asks for help in voting on the poll on MSV.  (Click to enlarge.)

Later in the thread, the Hoboken officer describes his frustration with senior officers who won't retire and save the jobs of the younger officers.  He concludes there are five captains in the Hoboken Police Department who could but none will.  (MSV has heard one possibly will but won't name the individual, as that's a privacy issue.)  Here's how HITMAN 149 tells it:

The same officer decries the local police captains who won't help younger officers save their jobs.

You can read the whole thread on this car enthusiast site here:


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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hudson Reporter Police Poll - Mugged!

The Hudson Reporter has a poll up on whether the public sides with Mayor Zimmer's plan for the Hoboken Police Department or the Hoboken PBA.  Yesterday, the Mayor had a significant lead but the poll's total votes was in the range of just several hundred.

Da Horsey noted to folks that lead would not last with a late push to get the PBA numbers up and so it has.  But it's been an astronomical effort.  There's been thousands of views overnight along with votes pushing the union's lead well ahead.

Take a look for yourself and vote if you like.  MSV notes that the voting function is not restricted to one vote per user.  So it appears some folks have had a very busy night.  Click, click, and clickety click to you.

Paul Swibinski, please take a bow.

Paul Swibinski (r) last fall led Beth Mason's second mayoral run.  He's now been hired by the Hoboken PBA

Lt. Andriani terminated - Mayor gets it retroactive to 2008

The Lt. Angelo Andriani case is finally over with Mayor Zimmer notifying the City Council of his termination in a memorandum scheduled for release at the next City Council meeting. The termination however doesn't match the date of the meeting or even the letter - it's retroactive to 2008!

After a lengthy process and approval of the Hudson County Superior Court approval, Lt. Andriani of the Hoboken Swat fiasco fame can move on to bigger and better things. Most recently, he was arrested at the Tampa Airport last January for disorderly conduct and impersonating a police officer. He had been on a paid suspension from the Hoboken Police force for more than two years.

It's not clear how the retroactive termination will impact payments made during that time but at a City Council meeting Corporation Counsel Michael Kates did not rule out seeking to recover those payments. MSV will look to confirm the city's decision in that regard.

In an internal report issued back in May 2008 on the Swat case, the following major points were highlighted. Carmen LaBruno was the Police Chief at the time, husband of former City Councilwoman Terry LaBruno:

*"Andriani did whatever he wanted with respect to the administration and operation of the unit," which he was in charge of since 1991 when the newly appointed LaBruno granted permission to form the SWAT team."

*"The SWAT team rendered virtually no meaningful services to the city" and the services it did perform such as providing security during the World Cup and two trips to Louisiana "did not benefit any business, resident or taxpayer of the City of Hoboken."

*"The Hoboken SWAT unit was more than a waste of money and/or time. The unit's operations either directly or indirectly let (sic) to several acts of misconduct engaged in principally by Andriani."

*Chief Carmen LaBruno "permitted Andriani to keep the SWAT bus at his home in Verona, New Jersey and work from home," where police officers worked on Andriani's boat and SWAT bus while being paid by the city.

*"'Working outside of Hoboken gave Andriani a license to have the police officers engage in private work for Andriani while the were being paid by the city."

*Andriani and LaBruno entered into a "secret" and "illegal" verbal agreement in the guise of aiding the SWAT operation, where Andriani allowed the police department to use his boat. But the "contract was not submitted to the City Council as required by law. The city received not benefits whatsoever. LaBruno let Andriani use the City's dock, which cost $15,000 for Andriana's boating pleasure."

*LaBruno allowed Andriani to collect SWAT dues through members' paycheckd without exercising "any oversight" on how the funds were spent.

*La Bruno allowed Andriani to use the SWAT funds to pay for the chief's trip for the Maddi Gras trip in 2006, stopping off at Houston where his family was on vacation.

The report also details the circumstances of the two trips to Louisiana after Katrina in the fall of 2005 and for Mardi Gras in early 2006, which led to infamous pictures of Hooter's waitresses, handling SWAT weapons for the camera..

The report, while showing that La Bruno had intervened to prevent disciplinary action against Andriani, also criticizes four police officers for allowing Andriani's misconduct as a "racist, liar and cheat" to continue longer than it should by not reporting until it was reported to Internal Affairs in Oct. 15, 2007.
LaBruno , 59, will retire shortly with an estimated $147,555 annual pension, plus a one-time payment of between $275,000 and $375,000, as per his contract with the city. That includes compensation for 150 unused vacation days and $150,000 in termination pay.
Lt. Angelo Andriani (c) in better times helping Hooters girls play with guns
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Correction: Former City Councilwoman Terry LaBruno is not married to Carmen LaBruno but a former Hoboken Fireman. Carmen La Bruno is her brother-in-law.

MSV apologizes for the error.

Friday, August 27, 2010

BREAKING: Schundler Sacked!

Gov. Christie has sacked his education commissioner Bret Schundler as reported in NJ.com. The Governor apparently took the action after Shundler refused to resign.

NJ.com writes:

Christie's chief of staff, Richard Bagger, ordered Schundler to turn in his resignation Thursday night after federal officials released a video that appeared to contradict the commissioner's account of what transpired when the New Jersey delegation met with the federal officials to review funding application and review process.
By this morning Schundler had not quit, so Christie ordered his termination.

This takes the issue of NJ narrowly losing $400 million in federal funds to a whole new level.  Gov. Christie is clearly holding people to account and in this case, a close ally who campaigned for him across the state in his upstart run for Governor.

Bret Shundler is the former mayor of Jersey City who successfully implemented many successful solutions in his two terms.  Along with Gov. Christie, he's been a strong advocate for educational reform and charter schools.

See more on the story here:

Bret Schundler - fired by Gov. Christie this morning
Related: Hoboken Patch has an excellent story up how this relates to Hoboken schools.

Bret Schundler comments on firing as education commissioner

Race to the bottom: NJ didn't supply corrected budget information

In the developing story of a lost $400 million education grant to New Jersey, fingers are starting to point but there's once central problem - it changes nothing and the Feds are saying the corrected budget figures were never provided for the reform dollars in the "Race to the Top" program.

A video has surfaced on the matter but it's unclear how the budget information would have been used in the application process submitted after the July deadline.  Gov. Christie and his people are saying it was after the deadline and wouldn't have been applied in the scoring of the application, and the Feds are saying it was never submitted.  The missing budget information requested was for 2008 and 2009.  The budget information was worth five points in the application scoring.  New Jersey missed obtaining the federal funds by three points.

Excerpt of N.J.'s Race to the Top interview shows officials with no budget answer

Bret Schundler, NJ education commissioner sits center in the video

Although it's the end of the summer, this issue is sure to generate a firefight.  The NJ Teachers union, the NJEA spent millions to defeat Gov. Christie in the statewide election and has been a stalwart of resistance in any educational reform.  They've not generated sufficient sympathy in their recent ad campaign but you can be sure this one will be crafted and be available on the airwaves near you.

Some readers here have commented on both sides of the issue calling it a horrible loss for New Jersey and its children while others suggest NJ's bloated and wasteful educational system is a "beast" and needs to be "starved."

No matter where you fall on the matter, it's going to be an issue and Gov. Christie will be hearing about it for a long time.  Between the teacher's union and the media, you'll need to hide if you hope to escape from it.

Related: NJ.com has the complete update on the story.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Grist for the Mill: PBA SOS - Get Paul Swibinski!

Paul Swibinski (c) was master of ceremonies for Beth Mason's
failed mayoral run last November
A rumor last week the Hoboken PBA would be bringing in a big gun to take on City Hall proved true with the release of today's press release.  Some whispers last week said Hudson County's Prince of Darkness - Paul Swibinski of Vision Media would be taking a $25,000 contract to represent the police in their battle against  layoffs.

Although there's no confirmation on the amount of the retainer, the press statement from an underling of Paul Swibinski did confirm it is in fact Vision Media.

There's been unhappiness in the PBA membership with the results of talks in both the union negotiations and in trying to obtain concessions in the city's announced layoff plan that will see both substantial demotions and layoffs.  Earlier last year announced layoffs by then Fiscal State Monitor Judy Tripodi were announced but never implemented after ex-mayor Peter Cammarano was arrested.

Paul Swibinski is a big inside player in the communications and elections game in Hudson County.  A recent video posted has gone viral with thousands of hits discussing his connections and multiple contracts in Hudson County.  Invoices in the video stated he is paid $3,000 a month for "services" in many suspected tawdry areas of the county.  For any other work, even just taking a picture, the additional cost challenges the top hourly rate of the state's best defense attorneys.

Last year, Swibinski successfully led ex-mayor Peter Cammarano's to a big win, making Camma-RAT-0 the youngest mayor in Hoboken history.  He didn't fare as well with a heavy negative campaign on behalf of Councilwoman Beth Mason last November where she came in thousands of votes behind eventual winner Dawn Zimmer.

Earlier this year Councilwoman Beth Mason held an event uptown and Andrew Tavani of Hoboken Path confirmed Vision Media as one of two consulting firms on retainer.

A NJ.com columnist also listed him part of the "North Bergen Sacco stable."

He's featured in this video on Hudson County corruption:

Segment 2 The New Jersey Civil Circus from Vimeo.

Assemblyman urges bridge fix to save jobs

The office of Assemblyman Coutinho announces:


            (29th LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT) – Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Chairman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex) on Thursday hailed an agreement that will result in raising the Bayonne Bridge’s low clearance to keep New Jersey’s port economy vibrant.

            The Bayonne Bridge is too low to allow new super-sized cargo ships to reach Port Newark and Port Elizabeth. Coutinho was the first legislator to cite the problem, and - after holding a full hearing on the issue with industry leaders earlier this year - sponsored a legislative resolution urging officials to quickly address the concerns:

            “I applaud the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for quickly moving to address this important issue.

            “As the sponsor of the resolution urging quick action to resolve this problem, I know all too well that New Jersey could start losing business and jobs as these larger ships start using other ports.
  “That would be devastating to New Jersey’s economy, and that’s something we cannot let happen to our businesses and workers.
“I am extremely gratified that this agreement will lead to saving those jobs. I cannot emphasize enough that we must get this fix done for the good of our economy and our workers.”
Assemblyman Albert Coutinho

PBA Union President: Police layoffs will 'devastate' safety

Vince Lombardi, the President of the Police Benevolence Association issued a statement in response to one yesterday by Mayor Zimmer on police layoffs: 

PBA President Vince Lombardi
"Yesterday Mayor Zimmer issued another statement claiming that she is 'working to finalize a redeployment plan to ensure that there is no reduction in the number of officers patrolling our streets' regarding her plan to slash 37 jobs from the Hoboken Police Department. I was appalled and disgusted to read this.

The Mayor's plan will have a devastating impact on the City of Hoboken. For her to claim that she can cut 37 police jobs and have no impact on manpower and presence is an outrageous statement and an outright lie. You cannot fire 18 police officers and demote 19 others without jeopardizing the safety of the people of Hoboken and dramatically decreasing the department's capabilities.
The Mayor's plan is ridiculous in light of the city's recently discovered $20 million budget surplus. She has less credibility talking about the public's safety in Hoboken than George W. Bush had in talking about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Mayor Zimmer is now 'inviting the police unions to join and have a voice in these discussions' in a meeting at her office on Monday. We have no intention of cooperating with this obvious media publicity stunt. We will not allow our membership to be abused in this egregious manner. Any further discussion of the city's layoff plan is absurd and we will not be a part of this nonsense.
We again call upon Mayor Zimmer and the city council to rescind their layoff plan and stop playing politics with the safety of the City of Hoboken."
Related: Mayor Zimmer's statement yesterday can be found on Hoboken Now.

Talking Ed Note: Layoffs earlier approved by the NJ Civil Service Commission will become effective by September 24th.