Thursday, February 17, 2011

4th ward candidate Rami Pinchevsky: Fight for the public interest, not self-interest

Rami for Council announces:



HOBOKEN COUNCIL CANDIDATE RAMI PINCHEVSKY ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM FAILURE

Last week, I came out in favor of the campaign finance reform package proposed by Mayor Zimmer. Due to the history of corruption and scandal that have plagued our city government, I am in favor of any measure that empowers local residents and ends politics-as-usual.

Unfortunately, this much needed reform fell victim to the very same politics-as-usual system which has a stranglehold on our city council. Five of the nine city council members effectively said they were ok with letting political candidates accept over $10,000 from a single donor through the practice known as "wheeling" by voting against the measure at the first reading before the council. And why not? It has gotten them this far.

I believe the people of Hoboken are smarter than those council members give them credit for. We know when something isn't right. $10,000 from one person can buy an election - that is not right. Pay-to-play is not right. Nepotism is not right. If our elected officials cannot see this, then we don't need them.

What we need are council members who will fight for the interests of everyone, not just the wealthy or the well connected. What we need are council members who will fight for the public interest, not their own self interest. What we need are council members who will move Hoboken forward - and, that's what I plan to do if elected this May 10th.

-Rami Pinchevsky

For more information on Rami Pinchevsky for City Council, please visit www.RamiForCouncil.com.

Mayor Zimmer invites public to Hoboken State of the City address

City of Hoboken announces:

PUBLIC INVITED TO HOBOKEN STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS

All members of the public are invited to join Mayor Dawn Zimmer for her first State of the City address.

The event will take place on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm at the DeBaun Auditorium in Edwin A. Stevens Hall on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology.

The main entrance is on 5th Street directly across from the Stevens Park. The wheelchair entrance is located in the rear entrance of the building on River Street with handicapped parking located behind the two buildings (McLean & Babbio) located directly across the street from the ramp. For additional information, visit: http://www.debaun.org/Directions.html

Mayor Zimmer jams spoke in wheeling, questions veracity of Mason-Russo axis

Office of the Mayor announces:

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR ZIMMER ON ANTI-WHEELING LEGISLATION & FALSE STATEMENTS MADE AT COUNCIL MEETING

Last night the “new majority” of the City Council cast their votes to oppose legislation that would have stopped the practice of wheeling which has corrupted Hoboken’s electoral process. Put simply, wheeling is the practice of laundering contributions through campaign committees to circumvent campaign finance or pay to play laws. The law sponsored by Councilman Cunningham was modeled on an ordinance passed four years ago in Atlantic County. Six other jurisdictions in New Jersey have followed Atlantic County’s lead, and the legality of Atlantic County’s statute has never been called into question in the almost four years that it has been in effect.

While Hoboken has a strong pay to play ordinance that has successfully kept out direct contributions to candidates from vendors and redevelopers, it has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars instead flowing indirectly through PACs outside of Hoboken. This money corrupts our electoral process, and anti-wheeling legislation is crucial if we hope to have truly transparent and fair elections in our City.

The meeting was noteworthy not just due to this unfortunate and inexplicable vote, but due to the efforts of the Council President to stop Councilman Cunningham from even explaining the legislation to the public before it was voted down.

Not a single Councilperson opposing this legislation provided a substantive reason for their position. Instead two Council members, Council President Mason, and Council Vice President Russo attempted to distract the public’s attention from this critical issue by making malicious and false allegations against me. Councilman Russo asserted falsely that I had received a campaign contribution from County Executive Tom DeGise that I had “wheeled” to former Councilman Michael Lenz in the last election. This claim, which was also made on a Facebook page by a member of an editorial board of a local newspaper, is a figment of Mr. Russo’s imagination.

Councilwoman Mason falsely asserted that I had received “thousands of dollars” in campaign contributions from a committee that had received money from the government informant who bribed Peter Cammarano. This too is a malicious and untrue statement completely made up to divert attention from the real issues raised by the wheeling of money into Hoboken political campaigns.

While Councilwoman Mason and Councilman Russo are fully aware that their allegations are untrue, the ironic thing is that if they were true, they would be compelling arguments for passing the anti-wheeling legislation, not for voting it down.

I urge Councilwoman Mason and Councilman Russo to issue an immediate public apology to me, County Executive Tom DeGise and former Councilman Michael Lenz for their knowingly false and defamatory statements.

I ask all of the City Council members to reflect upon this very serious issue and move forward with this critical legislation which will ensure that Hoboken elections are decided by the people of Hoboken, not by developers, wealthy individuals, or political machines.   

Thank you.

Mayor Zimmer

OUTRAGE: BETH MASON TRAMPLES COUNCIL RULES, COLLEAGUES TO SUPPRESS CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

Wednesday night was a showdown on several levels for pay to play and campaign finance reform legislation at the City Council.  Beth Mason as chair hit a new low even by her previous actions on the council suppressing her colleagues from speaking, ignoring motions and refusing to allow the common courtesy to introduce an ordinance in support of campaign finance reform legislation.  That package offered by Council members Peter Cunningham and Ravi Bhalla adds teeth to prevent a wheeling loophole Beth Mason and PACs have used to flood Hoboken elections with money.

Adamant to keep the public eye from hearing or adding to the spotlight of her backdoor actions to funnel thousands of dollars well into five figures to Tim Occhipinti, monies applied to fund his massive fraudulent vote buying last November, Beth Mason attempted to squelch any and all reference to wheeling legislation sponsored by Council members Peter Cunningham and Ravi Bhalla.

At the previous City Council meeting, Peter Cunningham introduced a comprehensive package of pay to play ordinance updates and an anti-wheeling measure.  It was ejected by Beth Mason almost out of the gate when she claimed powers as chair later rejected on appeal to the Corporation Counsel.  In voting the complete package out, the updated pay to play ordinance worked on by People for Open Government (POG) was removed.

The video below begins with an inquiry by Peter Cunningham on why his sponsored ordinance appears below a copy cat ordinance sponsored by Beth Mason and Terry Castellano.  Their version is exactly the same as Peter Cunningham's except  the anti-wheeling measure has been deleted.

Beth Mason answer for this little trick is "this is how it appears on the agenda," and she immediately orders a vote on her ordinance in place of Peter Cunningham's.  A nice act of politrickery right out of the gate.  Bravo Beth!

Then all chaos breaks out after the vote when Peter Cunningham again tries to take the floor to introduce to the public the details of his ordinance that had magically found its way below Beth Mason's on the council agenda.  Note Mike Russo chiming in at key points here too acting in support of the suppression. But he's not the only guilty actor.  Both Beth Mason and Mike Russo can't pull this off without the full support of the Council of No, Nino Giacchi the linchpin to such preplanned maneuvers.

The Cunningham measure is then voted down with no explanation to the public on its content even as Corporation Counsel appears to state the measure should permit the sponsor to make an introduction.  MSV has never seen such suppressive tactics applied in Hoboken's City Council and there have been many anti-democratic actions there over the years.

Voting NO on the anti-wheeling measure (it's the usual suspects) Nino Giacchi, Tim Occhipinti, Terry Castellano, Mike Russo and of course your suppressor of ceremonies Beth Mason.  They are very clear in rejecting this legislation in not so much as a blink of the eye.  They all want Beth Mason's monies  beyond the the individual maximum contribution limit of $2,600 too, lots of it.  Voting with Beth Mason on this is almost like voting yourself a pay raise.  She gets more power and you get lots of unethical loot for a re-election bid.


The City's audio feed is worth a listen and view as well

Tim Occhipinti in particular needs that money to pay for another round of vote buying - by the hundreds.  His campaign directed payments to 550-575 'campaign workers,' and he expect to do the same again.  His campaign's obvious fraud in the November 4th ward special election is still an open question.  It's unclear if the NJ Attorney General's office will act against Tim Occhipinti's campaign where several criminal referrals remain outstanding.  One thing is certain: with Rami Pinchevsky in the race, people of the 4th ward will have a choice in May.

But liberation for Hoboken can only be had at the hands of the 2nd ward voters.  This is some of the most anti-democratic behavior MSV has ever witnessed in person.  They will decide at the polls if this will be a marker in time or forgotten.

There's going to be more video on this issue to follow, plenty more. 



Talking Ed Note: Two important board members of POG have publicly come out in favor of anti-wheeling legislation.  Ron Rosenberg a serious man on these matters made his statement of support in the Hudson Reporter.  Last night very late, Jim Vance another POG board member made a point that anti-wheeling legislation needed to see the light of day and be passed as well.

The POG updated pay-to-play ordinance passed by unanimous vote - but it's not the amended version of Peter Cunningham's resolution.  Beth Mason sponsored a competing version and now will use that for campaign fodder as it passed easily and will be expected to do so.  The public should support it and note Mason's failure to support controlling her checkbook and buy Hoboken elections each and every opportunity.  Let her use that shiny gavel she bought to her heart's content.

On a side note, there's been reasonable discussion on the merits pro and con of adding anti-wheeling measures to the pay-to-play ordinance.  There's plenty of good reasons and strong feelings on both sides.  But we move ahead and POG should now join in with the public in voicing unified support to stop wheeling in Hoboken.

MSV would be pleased to run a guest piece from the organization on the subject of wheeling.  Other parts of New Jersey have implemented the legislation and this was highlighted in the public portion last night.

Keep your eye on the prize.  It doesn't hurt to make the bad guys sweat either.  Last night they were filling buckets.  You could almost feel their pain.  More on that to come.

4th ward candidate Rami Pinchevsky's website goes live

Rami for Council announces:



CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE RAMI PINCHEVSKY ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN WEBSITE

Today, Hoboken City Council Candidate Rami Pinchevsky announces his campaign website to engage 4th Ward residents in a discussion of the issues. Rami Pinchevsky said, “the people of the 4th Ward deserve more than just a councilman who is accessible; they deserve a councilman who is actively reaching out to include them in the discussions about the important issues facing our community.”

The website features links to Rami's Facebook and Twitter accounts (facebook.com/ramiforcouncil & twitter.com/ramiforcouncil) where 4thWard residents are encouraged to give feedback and discuss issues with Rami. Just recently, he posted on both: “Check out the agenda for the council meeting tomorrow. Tell me what issues matter most to you,” complete with a link to the council agenda.

Rami's new website also features a Google Calendar application which lets visitors see upcoming campaign events and a flickr application (flickr.com/photos/ramiforcouncil) so people can see the pictures from events they might have missed.

Along with today’s launch, Rami Pinchevsky is also announcing his campaign’s first fundraiser, which will take place on February 24th. Elected officials and supporters of Rami’s candidacy expected to attend include, Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Councilman David Mello. The fundraiser will take place at 6pm and will be held at the Northern Soul, which is located at 577 First Street in Hoboken. Individuals interested in attending the fundraiser can RSVP at www.bit.ly/ramiforcouncil

For more information on the fundraiser or to view the newly launched campaign website, please visit www.RamiForCouncil.com.

City wins grant for redevelopment study in north end

City of Hoboken announces:

The City of Hoboken has received a grant to pay for the preparation of a redevelopment study for the properties located in the City’s north end. The grant, valued at $75,000, is through the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Local Assistance Program. This program assists municipalities with professional services for economic initiatives by paying for a consultant to conduct a particular planning project.

“As we take these initial steps toward studying this area for redevelopment, I remain completely committed to bringing balanced development that reflects the vision of our community and not just what’s most profitable for developers,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “That’s why it’s absolutely critical that the Council pass the anti-wheeling legislation before them to prevent outside developers from skirting our pay-to-play laws and having an undue influence over our development process.”

The Port Authority notified the City of the award on December 28, 2010 and initiated the public process to request proposals from urban planning professional firms. Proposals were due on January 18, 2011, and through the Port Authority’s professional services selection process, the contract was awarded to the firm Clarke Caton Hintz on February 4, 2011.

At its February 18, 2009 meeting, the City Council adopted a resolution to authorize the Planning Board to conduct a preliminary investigation of the proposed area in northern Hoboken to determine whether it is an area in need of redevelopment. This area includes those parcels north of 14th Street to the Hudson Bergen Light Rail line from the palisades to Park Avenue. The City Administration has been seeking grant sources for such planning studies to offset budgetary constraints and ensure balanced development in the City of Hoboken. The Planning Board will oversee this preliminary investigation planning project.


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