Thursday, February 24, 2011

Beth Mason on handing out Occhipinti loot: 'I bought a City Council seat. I liked it!'

Councilwoman Beth Mason sent a letter to the Hudson Reporter admitting her intent to break the spirit if not the actual law itself, exceeding the individual maximum contribution limit of $2,600 to Tim Occhipinti.

$8,200 of her still unknown final tally of more than $13,000 was given in stealth-like fashion via her 2007 council campaign committee mere days before the 4th ward election.  On election day, hundreds and hundreds of Tim Occhipinti's invisible army of 'campaign workers,' re: voters lined up to be paid mostly in $40 checks, after handing in evidence of their paper vote by mail ballots.  His campaign attempted to push through over 500 paper ballots in an election where he tallied just over 1200 votes!

It's notable that Beth Mason's letter is an obvious admission she unethically sought and then evaded the law on individual maximum contributions.  MSV broke the story of Tim Occhipinti's ELEC campaign report before the election showing 'the anomaly,' (see top) - a mathematical improbability unknown in any voter pattern in the history of the US where 'campaign workers' by the dozens all voted by paper ballot and days later almost every single one of them, 79 of 80 were paid!

Beth Mason saw the same ELEC report and could not conclude anything else other than exactly that.  Indeed Beth Mason aided and abetted the massive voter fraud by Tim Occhipinti that soon followed.  Or to put it succinctly, she bought a City Council seat and liked it in an election still under review with multiple criminal referrals. The package was forwarded by the Hudson County prosecutor to the NJ Attorney General's office shortly after the November election.

Beth Mason's letter fails to distinguish her spending for her own campaign and circumventing campaign contribution limits to others, which is not the point of the wheeling legislation.

She's crying victim (again) but it's the Hoboken people being victimized and as resident Patricia Waiters said at the last City Council meeting - exploited. (The local media ignored Ms. Waiters account of voter fraud at the polls even as the election may still be investigated.)

Beth Mason - proud of wheeling money from her campaign committee for an election not her own.  She calls her family's contribution evading the law on maximum individual contributions good for Hoboken.  Wheely?  Wheely Mason?

Dear Editor,

Please allow me to respond to last week’s story regarding Councilman Cunningham’s and Councilman Bhalla’s resolution, which was tacked on at the last minute to an ordinance I co-sponsored to strengthen our campaign finance laws. The Cunningham-Bhalla ordinance is not “anti-wheeling”, it’s just “anti-Beth”. As reported this resolution specifically targeted me and my ability to use my own money when running for office. Why? Because in last November’s election I supported Councilman Tim Occhipinti over their and Mayor Zimmer’s ally, Michael Lenz, for City Council.

I supported Tim because he is a bright new leader who represents a philosophical and generational change from the politics of old. Mr. Lenz on the other hand exemplified anything but good government ... Reducing the burden on Hoboken’s taxpayers, in the Second Ward and elsewhere, is my number one goal, which Mr. Lenz obviously did not share.

My family and I were proud to contribute $13,000 of our hard-earned money to Councilman Occhipinti’s campaign, as were others; in fact, he raised almost six times the amount we contributed, from other people. Councilman Bhalla called my contribution the catalyst for his ordinance but in 2009 Mayor Zimmer contributed ... her own money to Council members Bhalla, Marsh, and Mello during their Council-at-Large campaign. That was not illegal and was the Mayor’s right to do so with her own money, but it underscores the double standard on display.

Mayor Zimmer announced her support of the Cunningham-Bhalla ordinance by saying that it will limit the influence of outside contributors on Hoboken political races. But, among its other faults, this is exactly the opposite of what the ordinance actually says. The ordinance prohibits self-funding Hoboken candidate committees, such as mine, from contributing more than $500 to other candidates. But it leaves a gaping hole for developers and other outsiders to donate thousands of dollars to Hoboken candidate committees such as hers, with no corresponding $500 limit on her committee’s ability to contribute to the people she favors. This is the very essence of “wheeling”, which the Cunningham-Bhalla ordinance does nothing to stop. Instead, it targets people like me, who are willing to use our own resources to fight for Hoboken residents and taxpayers, and magnifies the influence of non-Hoboken money.

When crafting legislation there must be a higher standard than “how can I hurt people I disagree with today?” If Councilmen Cunningham and Bhalla are serious about campaign finance reform, an issue that they seem to have come to only recently, then I am happy to sit down and work with them on legislation that works for the entire community, and does not just target my family and other Hoboken residents who are not their best friends.

Councilwoman Beth Mason

Mike Russo searches for items to criticize in the State of the City address

Councilman Mike Russo is circulating his editorial on the State of the City address.  Notably, both he and his cousin Councilwoman Terry Castellano did not attend the event.  


This commentary frankly sounds particularly hollow, fails to even address the major points of the address in any serious way and has some old tepid arguments regurgitated by Beth Mason's ghostwriting Mason411 attack dog.


Frankly, it's somewhat sad to see this.  Mike Russo could have contacted me and I could give him some rational, coherent points to offer a real useful critique. 


With all the budget reductions the mayor has done in her limited time at the helm, this is frankly an astoundingly bad rebuttal, if one can even call it that.  It's notable that the first point submitted originally sent to the Jersey Journal has been deleted.  In that editorial, Mike Russo said the event was not available in a webcast.  


Not only did the City broadcast the SOTC live on ustream.com, Mile Square View used that feed to broadcast the address live as well.


An independent observer on the Hoboken scene of standing, the NY Times noted in a feature recently it was Mike Russo's father, Anthony Russo who as mayor ignored the advice of engineers and refused to replace wood pilings at the waterfront leading to another massive bill today of $20 million.


The Russo family's cost to the city of Hoboken is a tally that never seems to end.


To the editor:

I hope you’ll give me an opportunity to respond to a few of Mayor Zimmer’s comments at her recent State of the City Address. As is often the case with Mayor Zimmer, what she chooses to say isn’t always as revealing as what she chooses to leave out. For instance:

The mayor says: "Personnel costs represent the vast majority of our operating budget, and we cannot cut spending without addressing salaries and staffing levels."

The mayor failed to mention that on the very day she announced the police layoffs, she handed out raises to her public relations man and her personal aide. She has also increased the number of directors and increased the salaries of several others, making the city more top heavy.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer pauses during an interruption of applause at the SOTC address.  Mike Russo didn't like the speech and offers some rather shallow criticisms in his re-edited rebuttal.

The mayor says: "Going forward, we must avoid being penny wise and dollar foolish. If the City Council works with me to maintain a responsible level of Cash Surplus, we can improve our bond rating and achieve even more savings in the future. Our surplus is not a luxury, it’s a necessity if we’re going to be able meet the future needs of our City."

The mayor fails to mention what the actual surplus is. The mayor’s so-called fiscal responsibility is easy to accomplish when you have millions of dollars in taxpayer money set aside for pet projects and politically convenient “tax relief” come election time. It’s not her money. It belongs to taxpayers, and Mayor Zimmer should give it back.

The mayor says: "Our crumbling waterfront clearly demonstrates that it is just as irresponsible to not spend money on the things that you need as it is to spend money on things that you don’t need … I cannot take back the decisions of the past, but it is my job to solve the problems for the future."

The mayor seems to think that our waterfront was always the jewel of North Jersey. Before she even moved to town, many residents from all across Hoboken fought for the open space that we all enjoy today. When it suits her purposes, the mayor will take credit for waterfront accomplishments, like Pier C Park and the park at Maxwell Place. But when it’s not politically convenient, she pushes the blame on every administration that preceded hers.

Then, she says: "With shipworms eating our waterfront, termites at City Hall, and flooding, I sometimes feel like I am taking on the plagues of Hoboken."  This line is especially offensive to me and to many residents of Hoboken. It reveals a great deal about the mayor’s point of view. There are no plagues in Hoboken, Mayor Zimmer. This is a beautiful city with wonderful people. I hope one day you’ll consider it a blessing to serve her citizens.

I believe Mayor Zimmer when she says she wants to work with the council, and that she wants what’s best for Hoboken. I look forward to hearing from her again when she presents her municipal budget next week. Maybe the mayor can renew a time-honored Hoboken tradition when the mayor attended all city council meetings. She’d be most welcome.

Sincerely,
Michael Russo

Third Ward Councilman

Talking Ed Note: Mason411, re: Hoboken411's ghostwriting minion did not appear at the SOTC.  Instead it appears he stayed away working on the official Mike Russo "response."  Unfortunately his penchant for pathological lying was what began right out of the gate:


 Mason411 carried her ally Mike Russo's "response,' immediately the next day which began with a lie so obvious it was deleted before being resent to Hoboken Patch.

Perry Klaussen showed up in the balcony at Stevens, not to record the event, but to take photos of people he could attack and later photoshop in the brand of hate journalism he and Beth Mason's other minion employ on a regular basis.

On arrival MSV heard from a member of the public Perry Klaussen was taking pictures of people in the balcony.  MSV went upstairs to see and took a few pictures too.  Not a word was exchanged as another reporter witnessed the intellectual response by Hoboken's censoring, free speech hating website owner.

The photos are now part of a story on The Hoboken Journal detailing Perry Klaussen's annual attack on dwarfism and Tony Soares.

No word if Beth Mason will go on a condemnation shopping tour to the Anti-Defamation League and other organizations to direct criticism to her Boys of Hate at Mason411.

Link: http://thehobokenjournal.blogspot.com/2010/08/perry-klaussen-close-encounter-of.html
Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority Statement 
on Bayonne Medical Center Transaction

The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority (the “Authority”) is steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC) remains open as a full-service, acute-care, community hospital serving the Hoboken community.

The Authority is aware of the recent transaction announced by Bayonne Medical Center (BMC). According to BMC’s announcement: “Bayonne Medical Center (BMC) has recently entered into a long-term real estate agreement with Medical Properties Trust (MPT), a major U.S. real estate investment trust headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. Under the terms of the agreement, BMC refinanced its existing debt and in addition has access to a significant amount of capital for continued improvements in its infrastructure, and essential projects including a major remodeling of its Emergency Department. … MPT has now purchased the buildings and property in which Bayonne Medical Center is located for $58 million and the hospital has a minimum operating lease of 45 years.”

As the Authority announced previously, it has signed a Letter of Intent with HUMC Holdco LLC, an entity having common ownership with BMC, and is continuing negotiations in good faith to reach a final Asset Purchase Agreement. Despite the common ownership, the potential Hoboken transaction is entirely independent from the Bayonne transaction, and the Authority will only enter into a final agreement with HUMC Holdco that meets the Authority’s key goals of maintaining HUMC as a full-service, acute-care, community hospital; preserving relationships with our outstanding employees and medical staff; and relieving the City’s taxpayers of the bond guarantee obligations made to save the Hospital in 2007.



Talking Ed Note: MSV will interrupt its policy on no editorializing on press releases of elected officials (technically the HUMC is an entity but) to add this is clearly designed to address concerns in the Hoboken community as a bid is being fully explored to purchase Hoboken University Medical Center.

Councilman Mike Russo who was one of the people who originally put Hoboken taxpayers on the hook with a $52 million bond to keep the hospital open is now doing what he can to stop the sale.  At the announcement of the selected bidder, he falsely claimed the HUMC did not have the legal authority to even sell the hospital.

Now he's put out a statement trying to muddy the waters raising generic concerns about complications doing what he does best, using demagoguery to incite both the hard working employees of the hospital and fear in Hoboken residents the institution will not remain an acute care facility.

Mike Russo at Hoboken's City Council - in his element, always pleased with his politrickin

Councilman Russo should stick to his strength: politrickin in the City Council where he can say just about anything on any issue or person, contradicting his own statements in less than 30 seconds.  In that respect, he's an absolute marvel.

Planning Firm for Rail Yards met with Task Force Approval

Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force Applauds City’s Approval of a
 Planning Firm for Phase 1 of Rail Yards Redevelopment Zone

Hoboken, NJ – Feb. 23, 2011 – The Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force, a group of concerned residents working together to help ensure an open and community-based approach to developing the rail yards redevelopment zone, applauds Hoboken City Council for its unanimous approval of a planning firm, Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC, to create a redevelopment plan for Phase One, a two-acre portion of the 52-acre New Jersey Transit property.
The firm was selected through a competitive bid process by a review team composed of the City Council’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Subcommittee; the city’s Community Development Director, Brandy Forbes; a member of the Quality of Life Coalition; and a member of the Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force.
WRT has been tasked with the first phase of the project, developing a detailed plan for a two-acre parcel covering the site of the current bus depot and a former maintenance building. The second phase will address the rest of the 52-acre redevelopment zone. WRT’s scope of work includes building consensus among the multiple stakeholders in the site through one-on-one interviews and conducting public outreach to keep local residents informed.
The Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force will monitor the planning process and encourage local residents to provide input whenever possible.
“The Rail Yards represent 8% of the city’s territory and serve as a key entrance point to the city from the east, south and west,” says task force member Diana Davis. “They will set a tone for Hoboken’s quality of life. The Rail Yards could be Hoboken’s next great neighborhood, but only if the planning incorporates community input and complies with the appropriate redevelopment process.”
Feedback on NJTransit’s Latest Proposal A two-phased approach was necessitated by a proposal made late last year by New Jersey Transit and a major developer to accommodate a commercial tenant in a new 500,000-square-foot building that would house the unnamed commercial client, as well as a new bus depot. [A photo of NJT’s proposed design is attached. More photos from the Dec. 14 event are available online at: www.thehobokenjournal.blogspot.com/p/nj-transit-rail-yards-slideshow-2-from.html]
The Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force reviewed NJ Transit’s proposal and provided feedback to the Mayor, City Council and the City’s Planning Director last month. The group’s chief concerns with NJ Transit’s plans are:
  • Piecemeal plan undermines holistic approach: NJT should wait until a city-appointed planner has a chance to complete a thorough, thoughtful plan for the entire 52-acre site, with public input. Also, by New Jersey land-use law, an official developer first needs to be approved by Hoboken’s City Council, the official redevelopment agency.
  • Height rivals the W Hotel, looms over Terminal clock tower: The height of the proposed building—260 feet—is 35 feet taller than the historic terminal’s iconic clock tower, and nearly as high as the tallest building on the waterfront, the W Hotel. In addition, it is much more massive than the W and threatens to obscure many street views of the historic terminal building.
  • Building mass is out of scale: At a half-million square feet, the building’s bulk is out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood. Public input should guide the allowable height and density of any development there. A 3-D computer-generated model would help citizens understand the real impact of various building sizes.
  • Infrastructure impacts ignored: NJT’s plan doesn’t address concerns about infrastructure improvements that have been raised by city officials and many residents at the previous meetings. Fully occupied, such a massive building might severely strain current sewer, power, roadway and parking resources. NJT didn’t address the complexity of building over existing PATH train platform and rails.
  • Transportation impacts: While the new plan addresses concerns raised by the previous proposal about rerouting bus traffic, NJT didn’t provide details about parking and car circulation on the site for the commercial tenants.
About the Hoboken Rail Yards Task ForceThe Task Force was formed in the wake of a series of public meetings held by Hoboken’s Planning Department in 2008 to present the NJ Transit Rail Yards redevelopment plan.  When it was clear by the third meeting that NJT’s designated planners, FXFOWLE, had incorporated none of the feedback expressed by members of the community at the first two meetings, the group convened to advocate development of the rail yards in a scale and manner that complements the larger community it will be joining.
The rail yards along the southern edge of Hoboken have served as a highly efficient transportation nexus for more than a century. The terminal itself is on the National Register of Historic Places. New development at this crucial gateway to Hoboken will impact the city for many generations. For more information, contact Diana Davis at 201-927-8395.



Meeting set for Master Plan Reexamination

City of Hoboken announces:


PLANNING BOARD UPDATE ON MASTER PLAN REEXAMINATION / MEETING ANNOUNCEMENT

The Hoboken Planning Board has released a final draft of the 2010 Master Plan Reexamination Report on the city’s website. The Board will hold a Special Meeting on Monday, March 7th at 7pm in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 94 Washington Street to give the public an opportunity to comment on the report.

The Reexamination Report evaluates the community’s planning and development regulation documents, identifies whether the community’s policies or objectives have changed since the completion of the last Master Plan, and makes recommendations accordingly.

The meeting is an informational meeting only, and no formal action will be taken.

The current Master Plan (2004) is available online at: http://hobokennj.org/docs/communitydev/HobokenFinalMasterlist.pdf

The Master Plan Reexamination Report (2010) final draft is available online at: http://hobokennj.org/docs/communitydev/Hoboken-Reex-2010-2-21-11.pdf

Residents with questions can send feedback to rex2010@hobokennj.org

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