Friday, September 10, 2010

Guest of the Stable: Justin L. DePascale

To my fellow Hobokenites,

My name is Justin DePascale I am a 32 year old resident and police officer, not in jeopardy by the layoff plan.  I have lived in Hoboken all of my life.  I recently moved out for less than a year and collectively decided, with my wife Cara, to move back because Hoboken is the place we want to raise our son, now six months old. Throughout my life here in Hoboken I have seen so many changes, mostly for the betterment of our city.  We know that Hoboken is a safe, friendly, and fun place to live, but it wasn’t always that way.

For those of you who do not know my family history my grandfather, Louis DePascale, was the 30th mayor of Hoboken.  During his terms as mayor Hoboken was not the desirable urban center that it is today.  As Mayor he utilized the “Model Cities” program to begin Hoboken’s transformation.  His experience on the City Council, as well as holding the office of Mayor taught him that public safety was the most important component of his beloved City’s forward progression. Dilapidated buildings, empty lots, and abandoned industrial complexes were part of Hoboken’s landscape.  Worst of all, crime was a major part of life in Hoboken.  In 1970 during a holdup at the local liquor store, my mother was shot while standing outside getting caught in the cross fire. This occurring just a few doors down from her home on 7th and Garden Street.  This same home was burglarized on three separate occasions, with many items being stolen.  Today, thankfully, Hoboken is a different place to live. 

How did Hoboken become one of the most desirable places to live in the country? Before banks would lend money to builders, before planners could design a model city or builders construct new neighborhoods and before thousands of young people would have made Hoboken their home, there had to be an understanding and reputation of Hoboken being a safe city. If one were to chart the correlation of the crime rate dropping to the increase in investments and population in Hoboken, you would see that as crime rates dropped, investments and population were on the rise.  Here we are now, in 2010, with a population of almost 50,000 people, and an envy of cities throughout the state, with a 20 million dollar budget surplus.  I believe it is incomprehensible that Mayor Zimmer would even consider making a reduction to our police force.  We all know that creating and sustaining a safe city is a community effort but an effective police department is the main ingredient.

So I ask, Mayor Zimmer, please reconsider your decision to layoff 18 of our police officers.  Please let Hoboken keep its reputation as one of the safest cities in our state.  I know my grandfather would have been so proud of the many ways in which Hoboken has progressed.  Let’s keep our city moving in a positive direction.

Carol Marsh on police union request to move council meeting venue

From the desk of City Council President Carol Marsh:

At the last Council meeting, members of the City Council and Mayor Zimmer
listened to more than 4 hours of public testimony at the start the meeting
regarding the planned layoffs in the police department. Everyone, even
those who were not signed up to speak, was offered the opportunity to
address the Council. As a result, the Council meeting did not finish until
after 2 AM.

We have received a request that our next council meeting be held in a
venue to accommodate up to 500 people. While it is appropriate and
important that we listen to the public, we must balance the need to hear
from members of the public against the need to conduct the City’s

As a result, in consultation with Mayor Zimmer, we plan to provide an
overflow room in City Hall to accommodate additional members of the public
who may wish to attend the upcoming meeting. In order to balance the need
for community input while conducting the City’s business, we plan to allow
a reasonable period of time at the beginning of the meeting for the public
to speak on the resolution which was tabled at the last council meeting.

We ask that the organizers of this protest identify appropriate group
leaders and any other members of the community to speak as representatives
during the initial portion of the meeting, perhaps giving priority to
those who did not address the Council at the last meeting. As always,
additional community input can be provided during the public portion of
the meeting.  We will work closely with Police Chief Falco, and we are
confident in his department's ability to maintain a safe environment for
everyone as they did at the prior meeting.

Council meetings are just one way for the public to provide input to their
elected officials. For those who are not able to attend the meetings
because of work or other reasons, all members of the council can be
contacted via the email addresses which are published on the city website, Finally, public demonstrations are an important aspect
of our democracy, and I have been assured that the Administration will
work to ensure the safety of participants at any such demonstration.

Police union puts a face on latest commercial

Here's another commercial from a member of the Hoboken PBA who is on the chopping block: Josue Velez. Officer Velez appeared in uniform at the City Council meeting and spoke but is more impressive in his shorter appearance here. Seeing a vet in uniform talk about his disappointment on a personal level should he lose his job will strike a sympathetic chord in many.

Last night, MSV had an opportunity to speak to several officers by chance as part of an off the record discussion. There's real emotional upset with officers in town. One who was not facing the loss of his job spoke about the struggles of going to work in the current atmosphere but placing professionalism above all. He recounted the mental transformation he felt when putting on the uniform. As it turns out, his wife just lost her job and he recently bought a home in the heart of town. So even without facing the loss of his job, his future in town is now doubtful. He was reluctant to be critical of other senior officers who elected not to retire calling it a personal decision. Later, he did say after some additional conversation he hoped that would occur to save the jobs of his colleagues.

The Hoboken Police Department has not gone through what may be called right-sizing, reorganization, downsizing or any of the other terms most of us have seen applied in companies where we or loved ones have made part of our working life. It's not to be overlooked or downplayed. Cutting a layer of the most aggressive, enthusiastic officers will have a human impact on those who remain, not just those who would leave.

The changes are not likely to be reversed by public pressure. Retirements are a real way to put the brakes on the reductions and MSV can confirm there are several in the works. Out of respect, they won't be named. There are some senior members on the force who have well over 30 years and have already maxed out on their pensions. One Captain is approaching 40 years of service.

The question is what kind of legacy do they wish to leave to their brothers and Josue Velez?

Update 1:15: A reader sent in some additional information on a youthful Mr. Velez.  In no way should this be considered problematic in terms of his service to the country and now in Hoboken as an officer.  It does however show that in some respects, this town is a small world.  The readers have already begun a discussion on this so there's no point in hiding the reality of the past.   

SWAT trip - good times
Jello shots with a cutie and Mikie Squared
Hoboken Officer Velez now

Hey, I remember her.  Chicks with guns (sigh)

Ya gotta have art

Mayor Dawn Zimmer, the City of Hoboken,
the Hoboken Reporter and
The Hudson County Division of Cultural & Heritage Affairs
proudly present

The 30th Annual
Hoboken Artists Studio Tour
Saturday & Sunday Nov. 6th & 7th
Free Self-Guided Walking Tour of Artists Studios,
galleries, community group exhibitions, musical performance,
and much more

Applications to participate are currently available at City Hall
by calling the Cultural Affairs Office at 201-420-2207
or by email at

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