Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Beth Mason's non-binding resolution on layoffs fails in a 5-4 vote

In what came as no surprise, Councilwoman Beth Mason's non-binding resolution disapproving the police reorganization and layoffs failed 5-4.  Council members Mike Russo and Terry Castellano who have family in the Hoboken Police Department were joined by Nino Giacchi.

The mayor's council majority led by City Council President Carol Marsh along with Mike Lenz, Peter Cunningham, Ravi Bhall and David Mello stood up to a roomful of police, their supporters and family members in supporting the mayor's plan.

Many members of the public spoke against the police layoffs, those in the audience were largely residents of Marine View and also the Hoboken Housing Authority.  The rambunctious crowd more representative of citizens outside of the Hoboken Police Department were often loud in voicing both approval and disapproval with council comments along with different public speakers.

The Council of No - voiced strong frustration on police layoffs.  Terry Castellano again charged the mayor as being anti-Hoboken claiming a discriminatory posture due to her being against people who are born in Hoboken.  Councilman Ravi Bhalla described that claim as "unfortunate."

Former Councilwoman Terry Labruno
The Council of No members voiced frustration with the council majority.  Often they speak of budget cutting and reducing taxes but they offered no concrete methods to raise the approximately $2.5 million to offset the police reorganization and municipal plan put forward by the administration.  Numerically the layoffs are about equal for both police and municipal but the value of the reductions on the police side is substantially higher.

The public portion of the meeting ran close to four hours leading into the vote on Beth Mason's non-binding resolution on police layoffs.  Terry LaBruno, a former City Council member, spoke about the resolution claiming it held overriding power to the mayor's authority.  Her stated claim cheered by the audience however is incorrect.

Later, in a direct Q&A with Business Administrator Arch Liston, Councilman Ravi Bhalla queried the impact on a hot issue: whether street patrols would be impacted.  Mr. Liston said he was working on an almost daily basis with Police Chief Falco and said the cooperation was continuing with an expectation no reductions in street patrol would occur.  Many in the audience voiced disapproval with that discussion.

Among many members of the public speaking was three year officer Jonathan E. Mecka.  The young officer who was unavailable to speak at the last meeting described the layoffs that would cost him his job as "a mistake."
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Tim Occhipinti, 4th ward candidate

Tim Occhipinti

- via iPhone

At the Council

And Mo Just arrived.

City Council Meeting - Live with chat here @ 7:00

The mayor has stated a concern about the tone of tonight's meeting and if you prefer to watch it online versus a crowded room with every square foot taken, MSV will be hosting it with uncensored chat.

Registering is fast and quick so go ahead and pull the trigger, pardon the pun.

Guest of the Stable: plywood


Ø    the lowest temperature at which the vapor of a combustible liquid can be ignited in air
Ø    In international relations, a hotspot; an area or dispute that has a strong possibility of developing into a war.
Ø    a 1991 live album by the Rolling Stones
Ø    a dangerous place of violent political unrest
Ø    point at which something is ready to blow up

Hey everybody, I had been concerned about something for a few months and wanted to just grab your coattail and expound a tad. Having been on these local blogs for a time now I must say they are entertaining, informative and often fun. How nice it is to wile away the hours blogging instead of doing something more trivial like paying the PSE&G bill or painting the bathroom. We all know those arcane matters can, and what is more will, wait.

Many years ago, the local websites initially were robust and lively. The mood light and jocular, the dialog fast, the dynamic relaxed. Sure, sure, there were references to “born and raised” and “yuppies” being at odds but it by and large didn’t go too far. Seeing as I don’t fit into either of these categories, and transplanted “Old Work-a-day Nebbish” was something I didn’t want to OWN, I took it all with a grain of salt.

Anyway, I decided to jump in the blogging fray and years ago was often taken aback by the just horrible things that people would say about restaurants, realtors, pizzerias, etc. I for some reason have always been interested in defending the underdog from the rigors of online anonymous attack, and often did and do so.

As time went on, the blogs became more of a community force, and moved on to attacks on doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs. Then came political figures and ideologies. My awareness became more and more that many bloggers will now say just about anything if they are certain enough that their identity will never be know. Enough to make you cringe. Things that might enrage and incite the target. Negative commentary on blogs and bloggers becomes more and more a topic in general conversation, council meetings, etc.

I began to wonder why that was. The answer, once I comprehended it, was surprisingly simple: “Because This is Freakin Hoboken”. Talk about your art history, the art I remember back in the day was fights on street corners and later such things as “THIS IS DISPLACEMENT” being spray-painted on buildings (there was also that thing with the sneakers slung on the overhead lines at 7th and Park but that’s another story for another day). There was no blogging back then, people just took it to the streets. People had to physically step up to the plate to weigh in. Not for the faint of heart.

Not so anymore. Multiple screen names, multiple e-mail accounts. And probably the most troublesome is the growing disconnect between saying something negative and being concerned about being personally held to task for it. The notion of waking up in a bad mood or frustrated, and going on the internet to take it out on whoever shows up that day, in some kind of a subconscious effort to feel better, all anonymously from the comfort of your home. Heck, you don’t even have to comb your hair or put on a presentable pair of pants to do it. The internet is becoming lousy with trolls stirring up nonsense. Nowhere is immune. The language is troubling. One notable example might be “asshat” which I far as I know doesn’t mean anything but clearly you don’t want to be called one; simply said to offend and demean.

Well my friends, this all was sort of at a troubling maintenance level until the rules changed. During a strong economy, it’s one thing to be nasty to people with money in their pocket, accelerating real estate values, low taxes, rose-colored glasses and a gleeful song in their heart. It is quite another thing to trample the id of someone scraping to maintain their status quo, facing down a potential short sale, massive tax increases, scratched cheap sunglasses with a piece of adhesive tape holding them together, and the “free credit report dot com” song running through their head. They’re already pissed.

Cue Rodney King. Would it be okay to blog civilly as if the intended recipient was a rich older relative from who you were hoping to inherit money? Can we limit comments to something we would say to a person’s face with both arms tied behind our back? OK, maybe one arm.

Could we consider holding ourselves to one screen name?

Could we really realize that like ourselves that most of these locals we meet in the internet neighborhood are just trying to keep on keepin’ on? That all day some are trying to protect their hard-earned money, their way of life? That everyone is now needing to economize? I think it is safe to say these times bring many challenges, stress being one of them. Please everyone, can we hold it together and not take it out on each other?

And while we’re at it, for the last time, can you remember to put down the toilet seat?

So, please, if you take nothing else from this diatribe, could you just knock it off and behave? Golden rule? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Thanks for your time
p1ywood is a fictional character living in the mind of a Hoboken blogger. p1ywood (or plywood depending on venue) can often be found on the internet clinging to utopian fantasies or playing with his/her mental blocks. Remember, “p1ywood” is never capitalized.

Chief Falco - No Parking at City Hall effective @ 3:00 today


As of 3pm today, parking is suspended on the East and West sides of the street in front of City Hall by order of Police Chief Falco. Chief Falco believes that the anticipated police union protest scheduled before tonight’s City Council meeting creates a public safety concern. As a result, he determined that suspending parking privileges is necessary. The Administration regrets the inconvenience caused to City residents.

Police Chief Falco last Saturday
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Here comes the 'show of force'- Mayor says opponents to union should sit it out

Tonight's meeting promises to amp up the volume in front of the City Council and although Police Chief Falco did a great job of keeping a high level of professionalism among most of the members at the last City Council meeting, tonight's is showing hints it may fall short.

Based on a Hoboken Now story, Mayor Zimmer is anticipating some heat.  The heat though is not what the police expect as she's suggested citizens not sympathetic to the police position stay away from the City Council meeting tonight.  The mayor expects the tone to be less than healthy.

An online poll earlier this month, although not scientific was completely opposite to the "vote thousands of times if you want" Hudson Reporter poll.  An earlier Hoboken Journal poll also posted on MSV showed a strong majority in support of the police.

The Jersey Journal online poll results show a sampling of public sentiment. On the question, should the police and fire be exempt from layoffs:

Source: Jersey Journal

The police are thought to be busing in supporters from other police departments to amp up the number of supporters for an overflow area set outside of the City Council Chambers.

Prior to the last City Council meeting, PBA President Vince Lombardi thanked members who came in from other police departments outside of Hoboken.  Tonight they are promising to make a bigger show of force with 500 people.  But there's no way you can safely get in even half that number.

Talking Ed Note: The police union is not ruling out protests outside the mayor's home along with her current council majority if layoffs are not rescinded.  The City Council does not have a binding vote on layoffs.

The last and maybe only time a protest in Hoboken was held outside an elected official's home was on upper Bloomfield last summer.  That came after Peter Cammarano's arrest and his refusal to resign even with FBI tapes revealing his extortion conspiracy.  Cammarano goes to jail in five days to serve a two year sentence.

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Beth Mason: applauds not one police layoff but...

Back when many people viewed Councilwoman Mason as the front runner mayoral candidate, she addressed the serious issues of the day.  Yes, it hardly seems possible but it was only last year in 2009 many thought Beth Mason was heading straight to the mayor's office and not with a visitor's pass.  One would say tackling the issues of the city and holding serious positions were of the utmost importance to the second ward councilwoman back then.

Beth Mason at her mayoral event last October.  No longer for rightsizing police and fire?  
The current 2nd ward Councilwoman was so serious about facing down the issues the city of Hoboken faced, she more than once used the term rightsizing or in street parlance: downsizing or layoff.  Not only has Beth Mason advocated rightsizing, she even told us where she planned to apply it: police and fire.

Woooooott?  But wasn't she just applauding her colleague Mikie Squared at the last City Council meeting when he bravely declared he stood for not one police layoff?  Okay, well let's go to the videotape:

Watch Councilwoman Beth Mason at the 1:15 mark. She applauds along with the audience of police and their supporters at the idea of not laying off a single officer.  Now there's nothing wrong with taking that position.  There's plenty of other residents who would like to see no police laid off either, some even taxpayers.  Unfortunately, when trying to change some of the structure of the police force, in this case the top heavy nature it has grown into over many years, union rules "bump" down the reductions so the lowest paid, and the most junior members are the ones who face the chopping block.  This is the meaning and application of the term bumping rules.

But back to the point of our story here, there was another Beth Mason who advocated rightsizing.  Here in her own words:

Where do these words come from?  Beth Mason!  Here's BM's complete 2009 mayoral questionnaire to Hoboken Revolt.

Okay, granted politicians are known to be for something until they are caught red handed for the other thing but this is really quite, well the best way to put it; she's showing a lot of chutzpah!

So the question Da Horsey puts to you, which Beth Mason do you want to believe?
Do you want to believe the Beth Mason who advocated for "rightsizing" police and fire or the new and improved Beth Mason who the following year later is for retaining every police officer on the Hoboken Police Department?

Will the police rally on Hudson Street against Beth Mason when the truth gets out?

Related: By the time of her fall mayoral bid, Beth Mason didn't want to discuss what she meant by rightsizing.  How does Da Horsey know?  The question was posed after seeing it in her fall platform too right on her own campaign website.

That began her fall run where Beth Mason declined to comment on her own platform.

Which Beth Mason will be showing up tonight: Rightsizing Beth or Grandstanding Beth?

Original Questionnaire: