Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Beth Mason's wheeling pay to play practice under threat by new state bill

A bill introduced by a State Senator champion of pay-to-play legislation is working to undermine the games played with monies bypassing the intent of existing law.

The practice called wheeling occurs when donations to an organization or candidate are in turn sent directly to another - a customary but unacceptable inversing of the of pay-to-play laws says Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck).

Sen. Weinberg acting outside of party lines intends to pursue legislation that will stop the end run from the intent of her pay-to-play legislation when she was in the State Assembly.  The bill, should it become law would tighten the loophole where candidates feed monies through third parties and then have it deposited where they like.

In Hoboken the practice was most recently deployed by Councilwoman Beth Mason who funneled $13,400 to Tim Occhipinti's campaign.  The tightening of this legislation would  restrict such unethical bypassing of pay-to-play laws.


“The wheeling loophole in the current pay-to-play law has allowed unscrupulous contractors and politicians an opportunity to circumvent the intent of pay-to-play protections.  This is a practice which has to come to an end.”
                                                                      
                                                                          State Senator Loretta Weinberg


Councilman Mike Russo used the same wheeling practice where a Weehawken PAC sent him a tidy sum in his last Council race back when Peter Cammarano was his campaign manager.

Here's the key area of the legislation to stop circumventing the intent of pay-to-play laws:



Beth Mason used her 2007 candidate committee, Friends of Beth Mason as the vehicle to exceed the maximum contribution of $2,600.  She's listed on Tim Occhipinti's ELEC report along with her husband providing the maximum in in-kind donations.  How they both managed to hit the exact amount via in-kind donations is a question for another day.

In addition to those two maximum contributions, Beth Mason sent another $8,200 just before the fourth ward special election when Tim Occhipinti's street money operation was in full gear.  As his paper factory express was in full operation to the hundreds and hundreds of 'campaign workers,' the money was being doled out.

The New Jersey State Attorney General is reviewing a host of problems in that election and there's been no word since it was fowarded by the Hudson County Prosecutor weeks ago.  Among the problems are at least several criminal referrals originated at least in part by an independent investigation of the Hudson County Board of Elections before the election.

In addition, there are close to 200 ballots in question by the Lenz for Council campaign.  Where this all yet goes is still very much in question.

Except for the Tim Occhipinti investors like Beth Mason who along with her Mason411 ghostwriting minion would like to see all of it end so they can shill that the people of Hoboken have spoken.  Well, they in fact have already been doing so, the facts otherwise be damned.

Here's the key component of the draft legislation from PolitickerNJ:

Most importantly, the bill would prohibit campaign contributors from making any contribution to a political organization which contributes to one in which they would otherwise be prohibited from donating to under pay-to-play restrictions.

The full bill is available here:

Weinberg-Johnson-Vanieri Huttle Comprehensive Pay-To-Play Reform Bill, 12-6-10


Related: Once again it's Timothy J. Carroll, formerly of the Hudson Reporter who is like a new man now at PolitickerNJ. He authored this article that is the basis for MSV's story:

http://www.politickernj.com/43292/weinberg-goes-rogue-pay-play-bill


Update: Questions from commenters have wondered about the applicability of this legislation to a candidate committee referencing the highlighted portion of the pay-to-play legislation above.

Political committees of candidates is also highlighted in the legislation and it's a complex legal document so MSV is going to follow up to identify the areas properly scoped.  An inquiry was sent previously to the Citizen's Campaign and one will also be sent to Hoboken's People for Open Government.

Sign of the Times: Weasel with an easel

There's been some talk about the poster who coined the phrase weasel with an easel - MSV believes commenter Hobbes is the rightful heir to such a claim.

There's delicious ironic dilemma for the NJDC and one of its board members highlighted on Grafix Avenger in a story about the innuendos enticing a certain type of hate speech over on Mason411.  

It's been said the NJDC is still linking to the hatchet job there but even more troubling is the link remains even with the nasty rantings exhibited there just yesterday.  MSV understands Larry Stempler was warned but became angry saying the NJDC linked to Hoboken Patch.  Sorry, not so Mr. Stempler.

Grafix Avenger lays out all the gory details.  Congratulations to Beth Mason for showing us karma ain't just a you know what; it also can strike quickly with extreme prejudice.

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City: Western Edge meeting added is tonight

 REMINDER: WESTERN EDGE REDEVELOPMENT PLAN COMMUNITY MEETINGS WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY

Two additional community meetings have been scheduled to provide further opportunities for public input on the Western Edge Redevelopment Plan.

The first meeting will take place on Wednesday, December 8th from 7-9 p.m. at the Wallace School gymnasium, 1100 Willow Avenue (NOTE NEW LOCATION).

The second meeting will take place on Thursday, December 9th from 6-8 p.m. at the Hoboken Public Library, 500 Park Avenue.

These meetings are in response to the public’s request for additional meetings to provide feedback to the draft Western Edge Redevelopment Plan. The most recent version of the plan is available on the City website: http://www.hobokennj.org/departments/community-development/redevelopment/

The format is workshop style, and residents may come in at any time during the meetings at their convenience. There will be a brief discussion at the beginning of the meetings to go over the main issues that have been raised. Tables will be set up so residents can provide input on each of those issues.



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Hoboken's holiday lineup - it's the tree lighting ceremony on tap tonight

City of Hoboken announces:


Mayor Dawn Zimmer & the City of Hoboken
invite you to
Hoboken Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Wednesday Dec. 8th  at 5:30pm
in front of City Hall, 94 Washington Street
with special guests: Elvis the Elf & Santa Claus
Local school children & performers singing popular Christmas songs
including
Hoboken All School Chorus & Hoboken High School Band,
Hannah & the M & Ms
Hoboken Cheer Dynamic Allstars,
Hoboken Girl Scout troop 12038
Hoboken Girl Scout troop 12881
Garden Street Music School
and more

Hoboken Holiday Crafts & Art Fair
Sat. & Sun. 18th & 19th • 11am to 5pm
NEW LOCATION: Monroe Center for the Arts, 720 Monroe, 3rd Floor, Suite C-301
Elevator available

Unique Handcrafted Gift Items by over 50 local artists, photographers & crafters

Featuring: art, photography, stained glass, mirrors & frames, hand knit scarves, hats, mittens, baby sweaters, jewelry, baby clothes & blankets, holiday ornaments, soaps & body lotions, candles and so much more.

Most items are one-of-a-kind, and if you don't see exactly what you want, you can place a special order with the artist / crafter.

Monroe  Center is located just 1 block from the the Hudson Bergen Light Rail or take the PATH, NJ Transit Trains & Buses or NY Waterway and hop on the City's FREE  HOP shuttle bus which will take you right there. Free parking is also available at Monroe Center.

For more information call 201-420-2207 or online at www.hobokennj.org
Applications are still available

There will be lots of other events taking place at Monroe Center during the time of the Craft Fair, fun for the whole family. See below.

Also, many of the artists in the building will open up their studios for an Open Studio Day. Stop by for some holiday cheer, live music, art, craft, theatrical performances, a visit with Santa Claus and so much more. 
  

MusicSpace presents
Holiday Music Mart & Lounge
Sat. & Sun. Dec. 18th & 19th from noon to 5pm
3rd floor, suite C304
featuring performances by local musicians
Music by all performers will be for sale.
Give the gift of music.
Coffee, tea and sweets will be for sale as well. 
  
The Theater Company presents: 
Happy Holidaze 
Studio C413
Monroe Theatrespace, 
720 Monroe StreetHobokenNJ
2nd Floor
FREE PARKING

Tickets: $20 • Students and Seniors: $12
THIS WEEKEND: Tickets $15 and $10!!!
(Say BAH HUMBUG—does not apply to internet orders)
Reservations: 201.683.7014
or order online @ www.milesquaretheatre.org
The Santaland Diaries & Season's Greetings
THE SANTALAND DIARIES, featuring Brendan Applegate, is a brilliant evocation of what a slacker's Christmas must feel like. Out of work, our slacker decides to become a Macy's elf during the holiday crunch.
Season's Greetings, featuring Joanne Smith, is another funny, touching and twisted monologue about the season, told in the version of the "Christmas letter".
December 9 & 10, 16 & 17 at 8pm
December 18 & 19 at 3pm
Tickets: $20/adults; $15/students & seniors, $35/couples
Discover Jersey Arts cardholders: purchased online or at door
(performances not appropriate for young children)

Visit with Santa Claus, Storytime, and Caroling: 
Bring your own camera, do a craft, hear a story, and sing some songs!
Gifts given out to all good little boys and girls (while supplies last)
December 18 & 19 from Noon-2pm 
Suggested donation: $5 at the door

Mile Square Theatre presents: 
A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens’s beloved holiday story is brought to life in a tour de force solo performance by Lenard Petit. In A Christmas Carol Mr. Petit appears as the spirit of Charles Dickens, who in the reading of his classic novella, creates a magical world of characters, from past, present, and future, and brings to life this time-tested story of a cold-hearted miser who finds redemption on Christmas Eve.  
Sat. Dec. 18 at 3pm & 8pm
Sun. Dec. 19 at 3pm
Tickets: $20 • Students and Seniors: $12
For info about additional performances: www.milesquaretheatre.org

also

Reading of 
The Odd Couple by Neil Simon
starring MST Artistic Director Chris O'Connor as Felix and Associate Artistic Director Matt Lawler as Oscar
Sun. Dec. 19 at 7pm, $5

Both at: Monroe Theatrespace, 
720  Monroe Street
2nd Floor
Reservations: 201.683.7014

Cunningham: "Congratulations... adding exposure to the City of Hoboken."



Hoboken suffers from large legal bills and it's been a problem for years with multi-million costs annually.  The Hertz Connect program where the city adopted Corner Cars parking spots extension was a knock down drag out affair with the new majority absolutely intent on if not scuttling it and getting the cars off the streets where the public has welcomed them overwhelmingly, then moving to prevent the adoption of a required ordinance for the parking spaces over the balance of the two year contract.  (Relocating the cars as needed for more desireable locations around town is permitted by contract.)

In this five minute segment, a key battle is being waged with the mayor's minority fighting for a State required ordinance to be adopted preserving parking rights for the Corner Cars for the duration of the contract.  The new 'majority' having been punked in the battle of public opinion (it could only arrange two in opposition) retreats from an attempt to push the cars into garages (pushed by Councilwoman Beth Mason) and was dead on any chance of the ordinance passing.  Alternatively, the resolution was gutted and a 200 day extension added, even though Corporation Counsel Buzak repeatedly says the parking spaces need to be instituted by ordinance is REQUIRED BY STATE LAW.

When you place petty politics above the law, this is what further lowers the environment in Hoboken and the Council (the number of disrespectful interruptions of a Council person speaking by another was at a record high) while putting the city at risk of being in breach of contract.  That risk of a breach was also stated by the Corporation Counsel.  Councilman Nino Giacchi was unmoved by that even though he is a lawyer by profession and he took an oath as other Council members to uphold the laws of our town as well as the State of New Jersey.

MSV sent an email asking for him to reply on his follow up to Corporation Counsel and come back with an explanation on what is presently required for the Hertz Connect contract.  Councilman Giacchi acknowledged receipt of the email and replied he's reached out to the Corporation Counsel on this matter.

At the last City Council meeting, Councilman Giacchi focused on the implementation of the contract and the incorrect application of a 90 day resolution at the Hertz Connect contract's inception.  He's voicing how it was "illegal" to do so - quite odd for someone who co-sponsored the Corner Cars program.  Councilman Giacchi should be addressing the requirement of State law presently if this is his overwhelming concern.

It's the Council of No Four already full out in politrickin mode.  If a legal bill arises as a result, they should be held directly responsible.  If Councilman Giacchi who is a practicing lawyer allows petty politics to leave Hoboken in such legal exposure, he shares equal culpability.

Councilman Peter Cunningham is right.  Congratulations to Council members Terry Castellano, Mike Russo, Tim Occhipinti, Beth Mason and Nino Giacchi for their big victory on not upholding their sworn oath and putting Hoboken in legal jeopardy.

Petty politics and politrickin over common sense, it's Hoboken don't ya know.

Hoboken joins statewide crackdown on holiday drinking and driving

This release came via the Hoboken Police Department noticing its participation in a statewide plan over the holidays involving drinking and driving.

OVER THE LIMIT UNDER ARREST 2010 STATEWIDE CRACKDOWN

Law Enforcement Officers from Hoboken will be cracking down on drunk drivers as part of the Holiday Season “Over the Limit Under Arrest 2010 Statewide Crackdown”. Beginning December 6, 2010, and running through January 2, 2011, local and state law enforcement officers will conduct sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, looking for motorists who may be driving while intoxicated.

Last year in New Jersey, 185 people were killed as a result of alcohol-related crashes. That number represents 31 percent of the 583 traffic fatalities reported in the state.

This is a critical law enforcement program that can save lives during a time of the year when impaired driving traditionally increases by nearly 10 percent. Launched nationally in 1999, the program works to combat drunk driving during the busiest travel time of the year. This initiative brings attention to the serious consequences of drunk driving and the grave danger those who choose to drink and drive pose to all who share the road with them.

Law enforcement agencies participating in Over the Limit Under Arrest 2010 Holiday Crackdown offer the following advice:
- Take mass transit, a taxi, or ask a sober friend to drive you home.
- Spend the night where the activity is held.
- Report impaired drivers to law enforcement. In New Jersey, drivers may dial#77 on their cell phones to report a drunk driver.
- Always buckle up every ride. It’s your best defense against an impaired driver.
- If you are intoxicated and traveling on foot, the safest way to get home is to take a cab or have a sober friend or family member drive or escort you to your doorstep

Motorists are also asked to subscribe to the pledge of Ensign John R Elliot HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers: “Drive Sober, be a designated driver and don’t let friends drive drunk.”