Friday, December 17, 2010

Battle of Rec Fees: It's Councilman Mike Russo taking on, well Mike Russo

Reader Raiser submitted this satire for your approval, the raging battle of recreation fees and who gets it right and who gets it wrong in what is best for Hoboken.

This battle comes to you courtesy of Councilman Mike Russo.  Here he takes on his worthy opponent, Councilman Mike Russo the second and Councilman Russo the third.

Councilman Russo at the last City Council meeting, "Listen to me...."  Okay, but which one

Councilman Russo recently took a strong stand against a $25 athletic fee for children who want to play sports in Hoboken.  I have taken the liberty of gathering quotes from Councilman Russo and his critics.

Mike Russo, the original - on Recreation Fees

In the Hudson Reporter, Councilman Russo commented, "She [Mayor Dawn Zimmer] is a tax and spend mayor. She’s taxing the children just like she’s taxed all the adults." Councilman Russo then restated his belief that taxing parents per child is wrong, as are recent moves by the Zimmer administration to seize children for unpaid back taxes. He is a classy individual and latter called to confess a lack of governmental knowledge and say he meant 'user fee'  when he said 'tax.'

Councilman Mike Russo the second 

On the opposing side, Michael Russo blasted Councilman Russo on saying that too much revenue was being lost to residents claiming the low income exemption. 
"The majority of people are just going say they can't afford it," said Russo. "You put rules into place so they're followed. You don't create an arbitrary rule that has no ability to be followed."  He railed against frequent reports of dishonest Hobokenites arriving at the soccer field in their Rolls Royces only to claim a low income exemption and dodge the $25 dollar fee.

Finally Councilman Mike Russo the third weighs in:

Mr. Russo blasted both Councilmen Russo and Michael Russo on Hoboken Patch, saying user fees were anathema to the very concept of a government. He singled out Councilman Russo's anti-spending stance specifically "that's what government does," he said, "it subsidizes things."  He went on to present charts and his own research to show that $25 covered the entire cost to the city for athletics and further showed a draft of his doctoral thesis linking the decline of subsidies to the imminent collapse of governments. The work is highly technical but Steven's professors assured us the work was solid and likely would win M. Russo a Nobel prize.

So there you have it, three wildly divergent views, each tremendously principled and well grounded. If these three ever meet I'm sure it would be an interesting discussion!


Occhipinti fourth ward update: Why can't I eat at Vito's?

News of Mayor Zimmer's veto is spreading and the fourth ward has gotten wind that recreation fees and their hefty $25 price tag are not going to be eliminated after all.  

On lower Jackson street, concerns for Councilman Tim Occhipinti have surfaced:

Talking Ed Note: Yesterday MSV heard both the Hudson Reporter and Hoboken Patch reached out to Councilman Tim Occhipinti to get comment on the mayor's veto of the ordinance sponsored in his name.  Unfortunately they couldn't get a quote for publication until later. Tim isn't allowed to comment to the press without asking his handlers what to say first.

Otherwise they'll tell him he'll be put in a corner and not given any more money to buy votes next spring when the fourth ward holds its election for a four year seat.

At $40 a vote for 500-600 of them, it costs a lot more than rec fees.

Ravi Bhalla - calls colleagues to account on Corner Cars ordinance

With the last meeting of the year in the bag, there's still more goodies to put under the tree.  Here's a video clip of Councilman Ravi Bhalla at the end of the meeting holding his colleagues to account on their third consecutive rejection of the parking spaces for the Corner Cars program - all without comment.

Councilwoman Beth Mason has been more open than any member in equating the Hertz Connect Corner Cars program to the Zip Car program.  Although she voted for the program like all members other than Councilwoman Terry Castellano, she's voiced a desire to put the cars in garages.

Of course that Rx means you don't have a Corner Cars program anymore.  You have a Zip Car program, limited by access and space in garages available around town and of course it wouldn't serve anywhere near the numbers the program has already achieved.

In this short clip, Councilman Bhalla spells out the political realities and what it means to shut down a public discussion out of the gate.

It's the Council of No Four (Russo, Mason, Castellano and Occhipinti) plus Councilman Nino Giacchi running their own version of the Snuff Corner Cars program.

It's probably not the program they hate, just that the mayor is getting too much credit along with Director Ian Saccs.

The Council of No just can't stomach that.

(At 1:30 the Councilman is interrupted.  That comes courtesy of Lane Bajardi from the back of the Council Chambers who practices a unique form of speech: Free speech for me, not for thee.)

The anti-democratic direction is clearly taking hold.  Brace yourself neighbors, more is on the way.  In January we'll soon see, Episode III: I'm with Tim cuz Tim snuffs me.

Without Tim, and Beth Mason's $13,400 in suspect street monies, none of this would be possible.