Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cammarano pal Michael Schaffer sentenced to 18 months

Hoboken Patch attended the sentencing of former North Hudson Sewerage Authority commissioner Michael Schaffer earlier this afternoon in Newark federal court announcing a prison term of 18 months along with a $4,000 fine.

Claire Moses, Hoboken Patch editor indicated Judge Linares, the same judge who sentenced Peter Cammarano issued the sentence to the former aide to the imprisoned mayor.

Schaffer was the bagman for Cammarano who collected $25,000 in bribes both before and after becoming Hoboken mayor.  Schaffer was sentenced for his role in the extortion conspiracy.  He surrenders to authorities March 7th.

Hoboken Patch also has a picture of Michael Schaffer and his attorney at the link:

Talking Ed Note: Claire Moses of Hoboken Patch just celebrated its one year anniversary in town.  Congrats!

Mayor announces repair bill 'On the Waterfront'

City of Hoboken announces:

Please see the attached open letter to residents from Mayor Zimmer as well as a memo to the City Council regarding theHoboken waterfront. Also attached is the waterfront inspections report from Boswell Engineering. A waterfront map (please note the file is very large ~50MB) created by Boswell is available at: http://www.hobokennj.org/docs/mayor/Boswell-waterfront-properties-map.pdf

Open Letter from Mayor Zimmer Regarding Hoboken's Waterfront

January 18, 2011

Dear Hoboken Residents,

I have always been upfront with you, whether it was to share good news, such as the potential sale of Hoboken UniversityMedical Center, or to be straightforward with the challenges our City faces.

Today I write to tell you we’ve got one more unexpected hill to climb. Last Friday I received a report detailing that Boswell divers found quite a few issues that we will need to resolve to ensure that our incredible waterfront is fully repaired for all of us to enjoy for years to come. The price tag for repairing our entire public waterfront, including newly discovered problems with Pier A, and the previously known problems with Sinatra Field and Castle Point are estimated by Boswell Engineering at almost $20 million. This is almost $8 million in addition to the $12 million we have already bonded for Frank Sinatra Field and Castle Point repairs.

This figure does not include the Sinatra North roadway which is being repaired and largely funded by the County with cooperation from Applied. It also does not include the privately owned waterfront areas with public access that are still under review by Boswell Engineering.

The most surprising part of Boswell’s findings is that we have an estimated $3.6 million in damages that need to be addressed with Pier A that was built approximately 10 years ago. As the attached report from Boswell Engineering explains, the damage resulted not from shipworms, but from the fact that the mud line of the Hudson River under Pier A has receded by as much as 8 ½ feet in some areas, leaving the steel I-beam piles exposed to deterioration from the tides. Boswell Engineering has advised me that delaying the repairs will increase the expense since the deterioration will continue if not addressed.

I want to assure the public that Pier A is fully safe at this time, but in order to ensure that it remains safe going forward and to prevent costs from rising significantly, we will need to move quickly to rehabilitate Pier A. For this reason, I have asked Boswell to create bid specifications for the repairs of Pier A so this project can be put out to bid as soon as possible.

Explanation of Funding:
Over the last year, my Administration has developed several million dollars in potential funding for Sinatra Field and Castle Point Walkway through various sources. With this new report, my Administration will redouble our efforts in asking for assistance to try and reduce the costs to Hoboken taxpayers.

I will continue to try my hardest to seek funding, but I must be upfront with you: A significant portion of the costs for repairing our waterfront will have to come from our bonding capacity and/or from our surplus.

Implementing preventative measures going forward:
Now that we have a better understanding of the extent of our waterfront problems, I have asked Boswell engineering to develop their recommendations for maintenance going forward. Not only do we need to repair the waterfront, but I also want to make certain that we establish a clear preventative maintenance schedule and standards that will be a written blueprint and guide for the long term sustainability of our waterfront. My Administration will be working with Boswell to develop legislation that ensures proper maintenance of both our publicly and privately held waterfront.

I received the report on Friday afternoon, and wanted to share it as soon as possible because I know everyone is concerned about the future of our waterfront. This is not the news you were hoping to hear, but we must face our problems now, rather than letting them grow exponentially larger if left unchecked. While I wish the report were different, we will roll up our sleeves and confront this challenge head on.

The attached report provides a complete overview of the repairs that need to be completed in addition to Pier A. Unfortunately the projected cost for repairing Sinatra Field has also increased significantly. As Boswell completed its own due diligence, they determined that the previous quote was underestimated, and have now raised the total price of repairing Sinatra Field and Castle Point to $15 million up from $12 million, which the City previously bonded for.

The challenges we now face with maintaining Pier A demonstrate that maintaining parks built on piers over the water will continue to be very expensive for the City of Hoboken. While we are moving ahead with rebuilding Sinatra Field with the original design of a pier out over the water, this news about Pier A gives me pause. I told the Hoboken Reporter just last week that I thought it would be too complicated to try to change the design. However given the new cost projections, we as a community should seriously consider the alternative of rebuilding Sinatra Park on land, instead of building on piles over the water. As stated previously, it will cost $3.6 million to make repairs to Pier A, a park that was recently built, and it will also cost $3 million more than anticipated to rebuild Frank Sinatra Field and Castle Point. The concept of building on land was preliminarily evaluated by Boswell and discussed at the Open Space community meeting in December.

A decision to move Sinatra Park inland will require having the City Council fund a planner so that a design can be developed that fully integrates the City’s Sinatra Field, Stevens garage, and Sinatra Drive. All of this is feasible, but it will require consensus and cooperation between the City Council and the Administration. When I return from holiday with my family this week, I will be reaching out to each Council member directly to try to understand their perspective on this important issue. In addition, I have asked Boswell to provide the City with cost projections for maintaining our waterfront for the long term with and without Sinatra Field built on piers versus built on land.
Frank Sinatra North and privately held property: 
I have asked Boswell to provide a written update on the Frank Sinatra North roadway as well. Until that report is distributed, I can tell you that I have been advised verbally that the Frank Sinatra road repair is moving ahead as planned.

Before my Administration can release Boswell’s review of the privately held property that may need repair, we intend to review our findings with the property owners directly, as they are ultimately responsible for the cost of all repairs. Since the walkways that may need repairs are accessible to the public, my Administration will be working closely with the private property owners to ensure that any necessary repairs are completed as expeditiously as possible.

Community meeting:
Once Boswell completes its full evaluation of the waterfront including privately held property that is accessible to the public, then we will hold another community meeting to provide everyone with the opportunity to discuss the challenges we face with our waterfront directly with our City engineer. Email waterfront@hobokennj.org to sign up for our email list if you want to receive notices directly.

State of the City Address:
I also want to let you know that I am planning to give a State of the City address in February to give everyone my views on where Hoboken stands and my vision for our City going forward. The date and location will be announced soon.

Again, I know this is disturbing news. I share your frustration. The decisions that led to our predicament today were made years ago by past Administrations, and must be evaluated based on the information that was available at that time. The City Council and I must take full responsibility for ensuring that we address these repairs as safely, cost-effectively, and expeditiously as possible going forward.

While this is a setback, I have no doubt that together, we will face this challenge and ensure that our waterfront is repaired and protected as the treasure of our City.

Thanks for listening. 

Best regards,

Mayor Dawn Zimmer

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Horse Sense: Council 'Majority' to public - "stay out of our way"

There's been two City Council meetings since the midnight "emergency" overthrow of Council President Carol Marsh and it should shake people from the slumber thinking corruption in Hoboken was dragged away with Peter Cammarano.

Following the installation of Tim Occhipinti since the massive fraud in last November's 4th ward special election, this new council 'majority,' has moved quickly to sabotage everything from Corner Cars to a matter as straight forward as passing a temporary budget.  (Tim again says thank you Beth Mason for that ethical $13,400 to pay the hundreds of 'election day workers' re: pay for votes in his invisible army.)

So is it everything they bargained for?  Well from the aspect of shamelessly seizing power - yes.  They have shown no restraint whatsoever even as the New Jersey Attorney General and Hudson County Prosecutor's Office have not issued results to Tim "Mr. Integrity" Occhipinti's campaign with several criminal referrals passed up by the county Board of Elections pending.  It's the kind of shameless display the Soprano State has become accustomed.  Until you actually shut the door on their jail cell they'll complain about the injustice of their arrest right into sentencing.

What's most remarkable among the numerous travesties being perpetuated on Hoboken people is the reaction to just a handful of Hoboken residents getting up and resisting their grandstanding on a given issue - this one on the handwritten Russo budget presented as a substitute to the mayor's ordinary temporary budget following state guidelines.  Being among them MSV can tell you the only person we anticipated seeing was Scott Siegel who speaks consistently on financial issues.  To his great credit, he laid down the foundation for others to follow building into a crescendo from former Councilman Mike Lenz who laid down some heavy lead of his own.

The fiasco of substituting the typical temporary budget with the underfunded handwritten one by Mike Russo led to no bills being paid, city employees at risk of not getting their paychecks, and an emergency meeting called by the mayor to pass a temporary budget.  Most of New Jersey's 500 plus municipalities do so in a matter of minutes along the standard guidelines the state established.  It's not rocket science and there's no partisanship whatsoever in approving one.  Resident Joe Branco, getting up to speed on these matters asked a penetrating question of Councilman Nino Giacchi who has served for more than a decade on the City Council. What has changed in this temporary budget for him to suddenly declare it not worthy of approval while the full budget is being prepared for delivery next month?

Councilman Nino Giacchi one of the more temperate members on the council suffered a sudden loss of institutional memory.  He's gone from being a quiet and sometime strong intellectual contributor when areas of disagreement arise and thrown in with this new corrupt council majority.  (Will 6th ward residents be getting a picture of Nino and Tim Occhipinti to replace the previous one at election time of him with Peter Cammarano?)

Instead of answering the questions put to him by the public, Councilman Giacchi put on a tinfoil hat and joined the Legion of the Beth Mason Conspiracy Minion Brigade. Everyone in the majority clearly had their talking points prepared denying reality.  Beth Mason went as far as calling her Mason411 political operative "the public" in her concluding remarks before the vote.  As if.

Mike Russo the unspoken leader of the Tim Occhocorrupto crew got into a snit at the end of the meeting when a simple question joined with his previous remarks on decorum were casually highlighted.  His reaction was contemptuous and would it be fair to say this 'majority' considers the public all in the same vein?  Judge for yourself in the short clip:

To his credit when confronted about this after the meeting, Mike Russo did apologize.  
Beth Mason on the other hand has not for her earlier unfortunate race baiting remark.

While attending most City Council meetings in more than a year and rarely speaking, it's become fairly obvious what this council wants more than anything is to perform in a series of one man Shakespearean acts devoid of reality while putting forward their agenda against the will of the people.  When just a handful of the public show up to make their observations on the farce before them, they become insolent, sneering and snippy.

Then the council 'majority' have their full time "unemployed" political operative from Mason411 take the microphone and weaves conspiracies out of thin air claiming knowledge of operations being run from the second floor from the mayor's office by the communications manager. Because you know he's up there like well, never.

What this council 'majority' clearly fears is more of the public speaking the truth before them.  A handful of Russo political operatives and Tim Occhipinti absentee ballot "handlers" are the ones causing the commotion during recent meetings.  Beth Mason rarely lifts the gavel let alone asks them to behave.  The Russo clan has no issue with their behavior either - discouraging the public from participating is exactly the remedy they have in mind.  Beth Mason indulges the constant rabble making, never taking decisive action - most likely with the approval of Mike Russo, the defacto chair.

Councilman Dave Mello interjected on the constant inappropriate use of profanity coming from the rabble in the audience and his admonition has also fallen on deaf ears.  The farce continues to get out of hand, and our colleague Jimmy the K noted before the Arizona shootings, something bad is going to happen.  Da Horsey agreed.

From the streets in the back of the fourth ward to the sunken pier in the 2nd to the heart of corruption at 'the Association' in the 3rd, there must be an answer to stop them from turning all of Hoboken into a banana republic.  With the blatant fraud in the 4th ward special election, they have shamelessly taken the swing vote on the council and made a go of exactly that.

The city wide elections in May are around the corner.  Please join all Hoboken people of good will, from civil servants to those who have worked for reform recently and over decades, and those quiet residents doing the hard work of raising their families and let us unite against the corruption in our midst.

Let them see the soul of Hoboken is not available for $40 per vote or for any price.  Serve their contempt for the public on a platter and hand it back to them at the ballot box in May.

The crescendo ends there, but the battle must begin now.