Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A sea of officers in yellow

- Posted by Jhnnynewman, intrepid photographer via iPhone

Hoboken Journal - City Council live blog tonight @ 7:00

Tonight's City Council meeting promises to include drama, political operatives screeching their hatred, and plenty of other John Q. Public imitators along with a few straight honest voices with or without frogs.

The police will also be speaking.

Mayor Zimmer to speak to Council on budget introduction tonight

Office of the Mayor announces:


Mayor Dawn Zimmer will address the City Council Wednesday evening, September 1, 2010, to present the Transition Year 2010 budget.

A “yes” vote for the introduction of the budget by the City Council does not represent approval of the budget, but rather a willingness to accept the budget as a starting point to begin its work. After introduction of the budget, the City Council has the statutory responsibility to review, amend as needed, and ultimately adopt the budget.

Budget workshops are currently scheduled for Monday, September 13th and Wednesday, September 22nd from 6pm to 10pm. Directors and the Police and Fire Chiefs will be prepared to present their budgets and answer the Council’s questions. As they review the introduced budget, Council Members are asked to draft and email as many of their questions as possible to Business Administrator Arch Liston in advance so as to be as prepared as possible to answer detailed questions. The public is invited to observe these workshops either in person or online. The workshops will also be televised, and all documents presented to the Council will be made available on the City website,

As required by State law, the public hearing, at which the public will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on the budget, cannot occur until 28 days after the budget has been introduced. The public hearing and possible adoption of the budget is scheduled for Wednesday, September 29th at 7pm. Residents are invited to attend and offer their feedback on the budget during the public session.

The Zimmer Administration will fully cooperate with the Council as it completes its responsibility to review the introduced budget, revise as it deems necessary, and adopt a fully funded budget as expeditiously as possible.

“This is an honest, gimmick-free, fiscally responsible budget that is fully-funded and not reliant on one-shot revenues to pay operating expenses,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “It will reduce municipal taxes by 5 percent this year – the maximum amount permitted in a Transition Year without State approval. But most importantly, it puts us on sound financial footing that -- combined with further savings opportunities being developed -- will enable us to reduce taxes further in 2011.”

The budget anticipates using $1.9 million of the $11.9 million cash surplus, reducing the surplus to approximately $10 million.

“We will not repeat the fiscally reckless and shortsighted mistakes of the past that led to a backbreaking tax increase,” added Mayor Zimmer. “Through the establishment of a responsible surplus, this budget prepares us for the rainy days ahead, ensures cash flow, helps improve our bond rating, and allows us to address our desperate infrastructure needs.”

The 2010 Transition Year Budget is available for download at:

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City Hall: Police retirements = saved jobs


There's been some back and forth discussion here whether police retirements impact the planned layoffs in the Hoboken Police Department announced by Mayor Zimmer back on July 21st.

An Administration official indicated in that earlier story retirements would reduce the number of layoffs but there's been some comments in recent days here questioning if that is in fact the case.  In an email statement, administration spokesman Juan Melli confirmed it's accuracy writing:

It has been Mayor Zimmer's position from the beginning that if there are
cost reductions, such as may result from retirements or through attrition,
it would reduce the number of layoffs needed.
As this has been a point of contention in recent days, it's probably a question also not clear in the public's mind.  A recent story highlighted a post on a car enthusiast forum by a person who claimed to be an eleven year member of the Hoboken police force asking for the support of readers to vote in the poll here on MSV against the layoffs but also complained senior officers who could retire were refusing to do so and spare the jobs of younger members.

In addition, an invitation for a meeting held this past Monday with Chief Falco to discuss redeployment with the Administration was extended to PBA President Vince Lombardi numerous times but there was no response.  But the door is still not shut for any future discussion, "They are still welcome to provide their input," Juan Melli added.

City Hall has stated its intention to maintain the number of police on the streets of Hoboken and the police union has contested the layoffs will have "no impact on presence and manpower" after the layoffs.

Related: Around New Jersey, a number of local police departments are negotiating new agreements even forgoing arbitration to protect the jobs of its members.

Talking Ed Note: If the PBA wants to help its members, maybe some internal discussions to urge those considering retirement do so now to benefit the younger members on the force would be in order.

With potential changes this fall in pension reform, what are they waiting for?

Opposing sides gear up on announced police layoffs

There will be a press conference featuring the Hoboken PBA at six tonight in front of City Hall signaling the beginning of a post summer push to get out a message of resistance on City Hall's announced police layoffs.

The battle is expected to follow inside the City Council meeting with a number of police officers appearing in support of their colleagues who are facing both demotion and loss of their jobs.

One reader also submitted an online petition supporting the police.  As those things go, it's often fraught with both real supporters and also some jokers.  Here's the petition now up to 150 signers:

This online petition is intended to marshall support for the police but of course the nature of the beast as we've seen before with local online petitions is they can include some less than wanted signatures.  In this case, additional signees include Peter Cammarano (or someone claiming to be),  Mr. Boink Mazin, ex-police chief Carmen "God" La Bruno, ex-mayor Dave Roberts:

Here's a link to the Hoboken PBA supported website:

But another reader, without knowledge of this story underway, just emailed his thoughts from the other side stating:

The Zimmer administration has taken the corrective action that we have all known is long needed in dealing with our bloated police department; and of course the police & their union have already taken the traditional old school response of scare tactics & are now planning to show up en mass at tonight's City Council meeting.

Whether or not you agree with all of the specific details in the layoff & demotion plan, it must be agreed that the current reporting structure is out of balance, outdated and unsustainable and the the Table or Organization is upside down.
Please use the power of your sites to give a voice to the silent majority who do not show up to these marathon length meetings and want to see real change in Hoboken and urge them to come out in support of the administration, either in person, through letters & emails to the Mayor or letters to the editor of the local papers & blogs.

Enough with this discourse of fear and hate.

Summer isn't officially over, but the battle over the police layoffs scheduled to be in place September 24th is certainly on.

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Assembly Democrats propose background checks on school volunteers


Bill Would Require Background Checks for School Volunteers

            (TRENTON) – With the new school year starting, legislation Assembly members L. Grace Spencer, Ralph Caputo, Annette Quijano and Caridad Rodriguez are sponsoring would require background checks for school volunteers.

            “This is common sense,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “If we protect our children by providing background checks for paid staff, we should provide the same protections for volunteers. Schools do a great job of protecting our children, but we know predators try to work themselves into situations involving children, so this extra protection is the smart approach.”

            “By far, most school volunteers are dedicated parents and members of our communities, but we know not everyone has the best intentions,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “This extra line of protection for our children is the right thing to do.”

            The bill (A-1019) would require any individual who volunteers to provide service on an unpaid basis in a public school district to undergo a criminal history background check in accordance with the same standards and procedures used to conduct such checks on paid school district employees.

            “With schools being forced to do more with less, the need for volunteers is even greater,” said Quijano (D-Union).  “This is all the more reason why we need to put these protections in place to ensure that our children are in the best of hands.”

            “I’m sure the majority of people who volunteer to help out in our school systems are motivated by good will,” said Rodriguez (D-Hudson).  “But when it comes to our children it is always more prudent to err on the side of caution.”

              Under current law a school district may choose to conduct background checks on volunteers and if it does so then the district must bear the cost of the check.  Under this bill, the volunteer would bear the cost of the check.

            The bill passed the Assembly 74-2-1 in June and has now been referred to the Senate Education Committee.