Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What have we here?

Pay to play is apparently all the rage in the land.  And now MSV enters that fray (again) with an exclusive story questioning a 2007 filing by Councilman Michael Russo.  We plan on following up with the Councilman to find out how a bunch of entries for 2007 has one written over and appears to be back dated to 2006.  Why?

Take a look at page 2 - SCHEDULE A.  It's the amount of $1,000 and it's from former Hoboken counsel David F. Corrigan.  The total contribution shows as $2,500.

Do we have a real pay to play violation on our hands?  As for this filed document, any falsification of the document by backdating an entry itself is a violation.  The question being; why are all these entries in this ELEC filing for 2007 except one that appears magically written over?  How did the entry concerning contributions from David Corrigan land up in a document of 2007 contributions AS 2006?!

Oh the web we weave....?  Here's a copy of the actual 2007 report filing.

Mr. Corrigan conducted the investigation and issued the Andriani report in early 2007. Here's his compensation mentioned in a Jersey Journal story.  The actual contract would have been issued within the one year ban to Councilman Russo's "2006" David Corrigan entry.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008 Jersey Journal

HOBOKEN - Mayor David Roberts has recruited some experienced lawyers to show the city is being "fair and impartial" in its investigation of nine unnamed officers charged in connection the SWAT scandal.

But others say that the city is prepared to throw a few lower-ranking police officers under the bus and pay top dollar to shield itself from further litigation.

Roberts said that he asked criminal defense lawyer Paul Condon, a former Essex County prosecutor, at $150 an hour, to present disciplinary charges on behalf the city in administrative proceedings.

He also asked former Hudson County Superior Court Assignment Judge Arthur D'Italia to be the hearing officer, sources said, adding that D'Italia would likely be paid $400 an hour.

Officials said the investigation into the SWAT scandal was conducted by David Corrigan, who has a $125,000 contract with the city to be its labor counsel, at no extra cost.

The timing of a 2007 contribution by David Corrigan to Councilman Mike Russo and his legal services agreement look to fall within the actual one year time frame of the Pay-to-Play ordinance if the overwriting on the document of contribution by hand may indeed have magically been backdated to 2006 .

In and of itself, there would be scant concern on its face.  But tied into the payments to Counsel David Corrigan, it does raise some strong questions in regard to the one year contribution rule to a city official when obtaining a city paid contract.

Talking Ed Note: MSV has contacted Councilman Russo by email and left a voicemail and asked for a time to discuss the concerns detailed here at his convenience.  Councilman Russo has requested questions be submitted via email and MSV has done so.

Councilman Russo originally abstained on a contract for David Corrigan in a City Council meeting back in January 2005.  Has he abstained on all business related to Attorney Corrigan since?

Related: The Hudson Reporter wrote a story about all the players in the SWAT scandal.


What do you think?  Regarding this "2006" entry what in this picture doesn't belong with the others?  Hint: 2007 entires around it.

To pump or not to pump?

City of Hoboken announces:

City to Hold Public Meeting  Seeking Public’s Input on Underground
Wet Weather Pumping Station

City of Hoboken, March 3, 2010 - The City of Hoboken announced today that it will hold a public meeting on Monday, March 8th at 7:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall to update the community and discuss the design of the underground wet weather pumping station which is being constructed by the North Hudson Sewerage Authority on the south side of Observer Hwy between Hudson and Washington streets.

The full amount of the estimated $14 million cost for the project will be funded by the Authority. Five million dollars of the project will come from a federal stimulus grant. The balance of $9 million will be financed through the Authority’s participation in the New Jersey State Revolving Loan Fund which provides long-term, low-interest infrastructure loans to qualified entities.

“Providing the public with an update about the pumping station and getting their input into the design of the facade of the structure is vital, Mayor Zimmer said.

Among those attending the meeting to discuss the project will be representatives from the North Hudson Sewerage Authority, Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Transportation and Parking Utility Director Ian Sacs and Community Development Director Brandy Forbes.

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"Real Results" BoE Slate releases platform details


Now that Frank Romano has withdrawn his application for superintendent, the school board has a second chance to hire a new leader for our district—and a chance to do it right this time.  The "Real Results" team for the April 20 school board vote—Elizabeth Markevitch, Perry Lin, Kathleen Tucker and John Forsman—vows to push for a careful, transparent and comprehensive search if elected.

Markevitch, Lin, Tucker and Forsman would all bring practical, hands-on business and management experience to the board.  Here is their plan to handle the search process if elected:
  Often the best candidates are not looking for new jobs, especially in this economy.  It is a search firm's mandate to ferret out and persuade highly qualified individuals to consider switching jobs.  The top school districts in the state use search firms and we must do the same.

“2) MAKE SURE THERE ARE AT LEAST 10 CANDIDATES WORTH INTERVIEWING.  Competition is healthy.  It gives the board a sense of the talent level available and leads to better decision-making.  In Hoboken's case, the last search was so superficial that naturally the results turned out poorly.

St. Patrick's Day - Bars open two hours earlier to 9:00 am

Yesterday Mark Mauer at the Jersey Journal noted a change for this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade.  The Hoboken bars will be opening two hours earlier to 9:00 am.
We've noted our concerns about the parade being held on a Saturday again and the lack of seriousness leading into the the 2010 version back in January - "Horse Sense: St. Patrick's Coming Titanic Disaster."

There's been some changes after that story was posted and they are not altogether lacking in improvement.  Public Director Angel Alicea spoke to MSV in City Council Chambers about doubling the force with aid from nearby localities and of course the "zero tolerance" policy has been trumpeted over and over with $2,000 fines now the maximum penalty.

The real totals of significance after the parade are not fines but the amount of arrests and hospitalizations.

MSV is looking into the details on the process leading into this decision.  Most residents have probably no idea of the change.

Photo courtesy Jerry Lore

Wot about Beth?

Tonight's City Council meeting should offer a few surprise and more of cough, cough the same.  With the State police audit's possible implementation on the resolution pack list, it's going to be interesting to see what the Old Guard does or puts forward other than the typical obstruction of serious business.  On the important issue of the budget, there's been absolutely nothing put forward, zero.  From the self-proclaimed "budget hawk" Councilman Mike Russo or "the football guy" a double zero.  (Someone place an order at Stan's for his football jersey.)

Which brings us to our "transparent" Russo clan ally, Councilwoman Beth Mason.  After the election, we were pretty surprised to hear some people independently voice how to bring Beth Mason "home."  The idea was to help her find her way to rejoin the "reform" group and plough ahead with the much needed changes for mere decent governance in town.

But how would that help Councilwoman Mason?  How could she remain fast tracked and still be viewed in the glamorous role of heading to State Senate or the Governor's office?  (At least in the imaginations among her political consultants and her anyway.)  If you had any doubts about the lack of seriousness from Councilwoman Mason all you have to do is look at what really gets her motor going to "serve" the 2nd ward today: fast tracking a real estate woman in Church Towers as an alternate to the Zoning Board.  In the video from the last City Council meeting, she joins the Russo clan to bypass the dozens of other Zoning Board applicants and suspend the City Council agenda to name her as an alternate.

MSV would like to state agreement with Councilwoman Mason on the rules of procedure.  If there is a motion and a second, the point of order is to act on that motion before proceeding with other business.  Please see the Roberts Rules of Order for details.

It's worth noting that neither Councilman Russo nor Councilwoman Mason have offered a single substantial idea on reducing the current Hoboken budget.  And neither have uttered a single word about Public Safety, by far the largest ticket item driving the town's costs.

Based on her "performance" people have begun speculating about what kind of challenge Councilwoman Beth Mason may see in a future 2nd ward race.  We've always laughed at the idea noting how much money she'd throw to retain the seat.  She blew a cool post tax million for two mayoral bids last year after all.  But based on her behavior and voting in lockstep with the Russo clan, you really have to wonder.  As one resident close to the political winds in town said, the opposition just might make post cards with their photo, name and two bullet points about their platform and on the reverse side merely say, "I'm not Beth" and roll straight to victory.  Sound crazy?

We're not so sure.

Talking Ed Note: The next time Councilwoman Mason may get inspired is on selecting a forensic audit firm.  In 2008, the Councilwoman advanced Howard Safir and his "comprehensive" forensics team from Alvarez and Marshal into the top spot in a no bid process.  That attempt to fast track Howie failed but there's another chance up ahead.  Safir's forensic firm has a record of business dealings over several years with the law firm of Councilwoman Mason's husband Watchtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.  No conflict there.  They don't share an office with each sending a rent check to the same landlord.
(That's the standard now?)

Here's a quote from the article from a Beth Mason political consultant on the matter:
"... Mason didn't mention the "relationship" because it wasn't worth mentioning.
"'They don't have a relationship where they're interdependent financially,' he said. 'They're two totally separate entities that happen to have some mutual clients, which is not unusual. The bankruptcy and restructuring business is a fairly narrow area.'"
So you know, it's all good.  How does this parallel with Councilman Ravi Bhalla and his office mate attorney Paul Condon who operate independent law firms?  Well on that side, Beth Mason calls it "the most blatant conflict of interest" she's ever seen.  Way to go Beth.

This article is available for reprint free of charge in any upcoming 2nd ward race when used in its entirety.  :)