Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Grist for the Mill: BOE tonight: Is he or isn't he?

In our linked story over the weekend, Frank Romano was mentioned as a potential winner among the two finalists for Hoboken's new school superintendent.  MSV has learned that both sides of the Hoboken school board have been investigating his background extensively with dozens of reference checks.  Does this mean he will get the nod?  It's unclear based on the public statements by School Board President Rose Marie Markle but negotiations have begun with an unnamed candidate.

A closed session considering a final candidate would take place after negotiations are complete.  Tonight at 7:00?

Update 1:39: A source based in Fort Lee and a close observer to the Board of Education there noted Mr. Romano has "done a decent job here" and "people don't want him to go" adding, "He's going to be missed and you are (will be) lucky to get him."

Update: 11:00 - In a 7-2 vote, the Hoboken Board of Education has voted overwhelmingly to approve Frank Romano as Superintendent of Hoboken schools.  Maureen Sullivan and Carrie Gilliard have split with the Kids First coalition by refusing to make the choice unanimous.

Earlier today, a source close to the Fort Lee Board of Education indicated Romano's interest in pursuing a superintendent position, a primary reason for his seeking to depart Fort Lee but this was cited as one of the reasons for dissent and the fracture of the Kids First Coalition vote.

A temporary Hoboken High School principal has also been named: Albert Joy.

Have a juicy carrot for da horsey? Well let Smarty know: smartyjones@me.com and it may become grist for the mill.

Wed. City Council meeting cancelled and coming storm

City Hall announced two items: the City Council meeting is cancelled tomorrow.  Also:

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for our area of New Jersey. The alert will remain in effect until 6 A.M. on Thursday (February 11th).  The alert means significant amounts of snow, sleet and ice are expected.
The City of Hoboken has made all the necessary preparations for this potential storm. Please be advised that as soon as City streets are covered with a layer of snow, cars must be removed from all emergency snow routes. These routes are clearly identified on street signs. They include:
Name of Street Location
  • Washington Street Both Sides
  • Willow Avenue West Side- Observer Hwy to 11th Street
  • Third Street North Side- Jackson Street to River Street
  • Fourth Street South Side- River Street to Jackson Street
  • Fifth Street South Side- Clinton Street to Hudson Street
  • 13th Street North Side-Washington Street to Willow Avenue
During a Snow Emergency there is No Parking on these streets. VIOLATORS WILL BE TOWED. This is necessary to move Police, Fire and Ambulances throughout Hoboken in times of emergency for the safety and welfare of all our citizens.
The City of Hoboken is opening Garage B, D and midtown to residents with permits for a $5 fee from 8:00 P.M. tonight (Tuesday, February 9th) until 10:00 A.M. tomorrow morning (Wednesday, February 10th). Residents with parking permits may also park in these garages on Wednesday evening from 8:00 P.M. until 10:00A.M. Thursday morning (February 11th). You may stay in the  garage tomorrow from 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM, but it will be the regular Garage rates.  This offer will help residents avoid having to dig out their cars and also assist the City and its plans for snow removal.
Please be advised that DUMPING or shoveling snow into restricted fire hydrants areas or into City streets is a violation of the law and subject to a fine. Keeping these areas clear is vital for the safety of the general public.
In addition, please be advised that all sidewalks must be cleared of snow six hours after the completion of the storm.
SENIORS that need emergency assistance during working hours (9:00 A.M. to 4 P.M.) can contact the City at 201-420-2054 or 201-420-2055.
Please stay tuned to the City of Hoboken website (hobokennj.org) for any and all updates related to this potential winter storm.

Update: At Eyeball's request, The Elysian Charter School is closed tomorrow - at least.

Smokey says, don't throw butts

Hoboken's newest full time website, Hoboken.patch.com posted an update on the fire on Super Bowl Sunday and its origin on lower Park.  Looks like a simple butt of a cigarette tossed between the buildings was the ignition.  Hard to believe but that's what the story is showing.

Smokey the Bear was not happy about this and said dun do dat.

Commenter khoboken thinks Hoboken411 has stepped in it yet again and this time may be facing a legal action.  Now there's a story we'd like to be first on.  We're eagerly awaiting more on the latest Hoboken411 follies.  Earlier someone reported on Hoboken411's illegal use of Accuweather weather graphic data and the copyright violation on the NJ.com Hoboken forum and sent us a copy which were exactly alike.  But that's old hat over there.  Hoboken411 is still using the hospital photo from the Hoboken Journal last we heard.  And get this, he's now doing gadget reviews, most recently a walking meter.  But walking to the hospital and taking his own photo is simply beyond him.

Folks you just can't make this stuff up.  MSV would say a reader "Louise F" emailed us a diatribe saying Hoboken411 is "lazy and offensive" but that would be just too easy.  In this case, the truth is actually far more entertaining.

Neumann Leather Stays - Lawsuit against Hoboken Zoning Dropped!

Litigation against the Hoboken Zoning Board regarding the destruction of the Neumann Leather building was dropped apparently in a legal filing earlier last week.  The litigation apparently wasn't going to be successful with the plaintiff seeking to call two Hoboken Zoning Board members on a claimed conflict of interest.  When that fell through, the lawsuit was deemed kaput.  Residents of the building fought against the building's removal as it would force them to be evicted.

Tony Soares, Hoboken Zoning Board President made a statement indicating this is an all around victory for the town, "This is a not just a justification of the Zoning Board's actions, it is a victory for the entire city of Hoboken, our professional representation led by Attorney Doug Bern and Planner Elizabeth Vandor , the nearby residents and above all the Arts and Industry Community which has long been essential to the fabric and success Hoboken has been for 156 Years."

Related: The background story on the building as reported in NJ.com.

Photo: Courtesy of the Neumann Leathers Tenants Association

Jhnny Newman, a frequent poster on the Hoboken NJ.com forum website was not immediately available for comment.  Update: Jhnnynewman sent an email having seen the news today stating, "Da Horsey is first yet again?"

BREAKING: Judy: $1.5 million back into the budget for retroactive police raises


In an email shared with MSV minutes ago, Judy Tripodi, the fiscal state monitor reversed the City Council's deletion of $2MM at the City Council meeting last Wednesday.  During the meeting a heated moment occurred when the Council protested the funds being inserted in an emergency appropriation.  In a reversal not seen in earlier appearances on emergency appropriations, Finance Director Nick Trasente agreed to withdraw the $2MM before the Council vote that later passed.

The fiscal state monitor has previously adopted similar budget measures the day after the City Council has failed to pass emergency resolutions.  In this instance, Judy Tripodi reinserted monies for potential retroactive police raises.  She explains her decision thusly:

The $2 million is to cover any retroactive pay that may be required to be
paid prior to the adoption of the budget.  This number was inserted based on
the potential settlement of the police contract prior to adoption of the
budget also.  I will insert $1.5 million as I anticipate ratification of the contracts by the union rank and file.

The Hudson Reporter earlier wrote about a police union contract agreement while the fiscal state monitor was on vacation.  That story revealed a 3.9% increase for each of the two years prior with a 2.3% increase for this year and next.  MSV confirmed the Hudson Reporter story appeared accurate and noted it for the record.  There's been little public discussion about this potential union contract until today.
Update:  Late last night, MSV received a reply from Council Peter Cunningham on a query concerning The Emergency Appropriation (TEA) and the $2 million inserted. He responded:

Hey there smartyjones.  Long day at the office, so I am sorry for the delayed response.  My apologies if my actions were unprofessional last week.  I was really annoyed over (1) Director of Finance for either not listening or stretching the truth on what was in the TEA, ie 2 mil, (2) the lateness of the document in the first place and (3) errors.  We all make mistakes, but it happened before when he refused to make changes to correct errors.  This document should be prioritized to be completed timely and accurately.
On the 2 million, it's shocking that the Director and Fiscal Monitor were looking to fund salary increases that were not discussed or authorized by the Mayor's office or funded by the Council.
Could it be deliberate that the reason TEA came down so late was an action to catch the council off guard to approve them and specifically salary increases?  I hope not.  Thanks and have a good evening.

Riders on the Storm: where's the loot?

Council President Peter Cunningham sent out an email late last night.  Here ya go folks:

Dear neighbors, friends and family,
This is an extremely important development in Trenton.
Those that attended the first round of budget workshops and have reviewed the materials online will begin to see that the Administration and Council are producing results in transparency and accountability never seen before.  There's much more work to be done, but its change that's working.  Members of the current city council agree that substantive cuts need to be made.  And we all agree that these are tough decisions make.  But some of us are missing the elephant in the room.
We must have forensic accounting at city hall, which this mayor supports.  Having no explanation for a 155,000 short fall in the payroll account since 2007 is unacceptable, particularly under state supervision.
We also need to finish other operational audits and I wrote to Christie's office today to demand Jacobucci's release of the Police audit.
Follow the pension reforms in Trenton and continue to write your local legislators as the only real substantive property tax reform in Hoboken and New Jersey will be at the collective bargaining tables.
As always, please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns.  Thanks for listening, and pass this along to your friends. 
Peter Cunningham

Talking Ed Notes:  The bold emphasis in the Council President's is highlighted by MSV, but the message is unmistakably clear: this town's government wants to move ahead and check under the covers.  In an earlier interview with the fiscal state monitor, Judy Tripodi, the desire for forensic accounting and its potential was not as enthusiastic.

From the linked article:

The proposals would require workers and retirees at all levels of government and local school districts to contribute to their own health care costs, ban part-time workers at the state and local levels from participating in the underfunded state pension system, cap sick leave payouts for all public employees and constitutionally require the state to fully fund its pension obligations each year. They would also eliminate multiple pensions and change how pensions are calculated, including for police and fire personnel.
While most of the reforms would apply to future workers, current employees would have to contribute at least 1.5 percent of their base salary towards their health care costs.
...but read the whole thing.  Unions are very unhappy about this.  But there's a new sheriff in town and his name is Chris Christie.  New Jersey has to turn the ship around NOW.  There's no other way.  Of course the unions could care less.  They are still operating in a world that no longer exists and with a Governor who is now gone.