Monday, November 29, 2010

City: Corner Cars puts Hoboken in positive light regionally, nationally and beyond

City of Hoboken announces:

Mayor Zimmer urges Council to put good policy above politics

Despite its local status as a political football, the City of Hoboken has received a large number of accolades for the implementation of the Corner Cars program from transportation and environmental advocates, local organizations, the academic community, and independent news sources.

Most recently, Mayor Dawn Zimmer was “thanked” by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a critical transportation advocacy organization in the region, for her innovative stance with Corner Cars, among other transportation solutions. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental advocacy organization with more than 1.3 million members, featured Corner Cars in an article published last week in their “On Earth” magazine. In addition, Corner Cars and Hoboken’s transportation solutions are featured as the cover story of the November issue of the League of Municipalities Magazine.

“It’s great that Hoboken gets so much local, national, and even international recognition for our efforts, but what's most important to me are the benefits that Corner Cars and other transportation programs provide to our residents,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “I urge the City Council to put politics aside and ensure the continuation of this successful and widely-praised program which benefits all residents – those with cars and those without.”

At the November 14th Council meeting, the City Council voted 4-4 and failed to introduce an ordinance to establish on-street parking spaces for Corner Cars, a contractual obligation of the contract previously awarded to Hertz Connect by an 8-1 vote of the Council. As a result, the Zimmer Administration is again placing the same ordinance on the December 1st Council meeting agenda along with a resolution to temporarily establish the parking spaces since the prior temporary authorization will expire before the ordinance can take effect.

“We should all be proud of the success of these programs,” added Councilman David Mello, Chair of the Transportation and Parking Committee. “I am confident that Corner Cars will continue to take cars off the street and assist in relieving the pressure felt by residents who are looking for parking each day.”

“You simply don't get this kind of attention if it doesn't work," said Transportation and Parking Director Ian Sacs. "Our integrated transportation solutions featuring Corner Cars and the Hop have made it far easier to live in Hoboken without a car. The success of Corner Cars is proven by the numbers; with nearly 1,000 participants and 46 residents already giving up their on-street parking permits, Corner Cars is irrefutably taking cars off the street and improving the City's parking situation.”

Independent advocates, academics, and news organizations praise for Corner Cars:

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Corner Cars program under duress

The successful Hertz Corner Cars program is under duress and will be facing a critical vote on the parking spaces spread around town this Wednesday as the first item on the City Council meeting's agenda.

Councilman Mike Russo says he needs more information but he's been given all the answers to his often hostile line of questioning to Director Ian Sacs on the program at almost every City Council meeting of late.

If he needs more information, no doubt it's available. The mayor also sent a detailed communication to all City Council members last week.  Perhaps the councilman will get the outstanding answers he seeks before the vote on the matter at this Wednesday's meeting.

One can only hope.

The Hudson Reporter detailed its story and now has an online poll to go with its story.

Those interested can participate in their new poll.

Hertz Corner Car in Hoboken - the program's success continues in the face of a CC threat to end it.

Talking Ed Note: Although the almost 1,000 users of the program lead very busy lives as many in town, it's going to be important that some detail their experience with the program at the City Council meeting Wednesday night.

Recently Da Horsey had a first look with using a Corner Car and can say after owning a car in Hoboken almost all the time, it's one great option for those who need one less than daily.

Frankly, it's baffling such a successful program would be finding such curious reluctance in the City Council.  It reminds those active viewers of the Council proceedings of the county bond discount vote.  The opposition to the low cost county bond on purchasing the Municipal Garage was reducing the lease cost of about $100,000 to a mere fraction.  Until the deadline, the Council of No stood united against doing so.  Then sanity prevailed and voila, the bond passed unanimously.  Let's hope similar sanity prevails here and the people's business moves forward.

Related: Grafix Avenger provides an interesting analysis of the program in the wards where Council members in a most curious first reading vote, bravely said no to the 1,000 Hoboken residents already signed up and the innovative program.


Hoboken caught in the crunch of Superintendent reforms

With the State of NJ determined to reign in Board of Education Superintendent contracts at $175,000 - the same salary as its Governor, Hoboken is now caught between a rock and a hard place trying to hire its final choice for the district.

Although it's not public knowledge, the likelihood the maximum length four plus year contract exceeds the State's compensation limits expected in place by February is very likely if history is any indicator.

Dr. Mark Toback recently visited Hoboken
The previous selection Frank Romano was tabbed in the $185,000 ballpark.  Hoboken's final district candidate Dr. Mark Toback is then in conflict with the State's desire to limit pay for those positions.

The State's acting education commissioner has declined to renew any new Superintendent contracts above the expected limits while final legislation moves ahead.  The Assembly just passed an overhaul on Superintendent compensation 78-0.  State Democrats carry the majority in the Assembly, the place where a roadblock to spending curbs would typically face opposition but there wasn't a single vote against.

The Trentonian filed a story last Monday detailing the statewide efforts to reign in Superintendent compensation.

“This legislation is needed now more than ever,” said the bill’s primary sponsor, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, a Republican who represents East Windsor, Hightstown and parts of Monmouth County.

“When it comes to school superintendents’ pay, it has been divide and conquer property taxpayers. School administrators have been allowed to dictate their own outrageous terms to school boards, leaving taxpayers with the highest property tax bills in the nation,” Casagrande said.

Casagrande’s bill, A-406, would require school districts to use a model contract developed by the state Department of Education. The templates would also set “reasonable standards” for salary, health and pension benefits, and sick and vacation days.

Casagrande said the inspiration for writing the bill came when former Keansburg Superintendent Barbara Trzeszkowski attempted to claim $741,000 upon retirement, including unused time and a contracted severance payment.

The motivation to pass the bill grew when Parsippany-Troy Hills Superintendent LeRoy Seitz received a contract extension earlier this month that would have paid him an average annual salary of $225,064 over the next five years — well above Christie’s upcoming cap of $175,000.

Morris County’s executive schools superintendent, Kathleen Serafino, declared Seitz’s new contract null and void and Christie said school boards can’t renegotiate a superintendent’s contract unless it complies with his upcoming salary cap regulations, which are supposed to take effect February 2011.

The complete story from the Trentonian at the link:

Related: Ray Smith at the Hudson Reporter detailed their story on the current standoff.

Talking Ed Note: The candidate Mark Toback is clearly caught in the same spending net as any other potential Superintendent hire in the state with the Education commissioner believed to have the ability to set limits on pay for the position as the February deadline set by the Governor looms.  

The legislation including a package of reforms setting Superintendent compensation limits looks likely to move ahead with the passage in the Assembly.  It may clear the State Senate and arrive on the Governor's desk sooner than later.

So who has more responsibility a Governor of the State of New Jersey or a district Superintendent?  Should the biggest public servant position set the standard for salaries or not?

Photo courtesy