Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Councilman Peter Cunningham weighs in on the aftermath

Here's comments from Peter Cunningham who posted a note originally Sunday about the parade on Facebook:

It's too bad in a way that so many people love Hoboken and it's bar scene, but are not mature enough to behave like adults.  That is respecting public and private property, our public safety officials, other residents, visitors as well as themselves.  How we would love to spread that economic impact around to the benefit of all, and not just the few.  In the end, it had just become too big for Hoboken to handle.  And that's why so many other towns that did have a problem moved their parades to Sunday. 

So the parade will continue, but on a Wednesday.  At this point, I know I have one phone call to return regarding the events of Saturday.  However please, if there are any other comments or concern, let me know.  Thanks, Peter
I just returned from Houston late last night, however, have been collaborating with Mayor on St. Patrick's Day changes since Monday.  Thoughts from cancelling altogether to other days of the week were all on the table.  A Wednesday helps preserve the parade celebrating Irish American heritage while maintaining civility in Hoboken. 
Peter Cunningham

Beth Mason mailer magically reduces surplus fib from $27 million down to $20 million

Beth Mason is back with another mailer to the 2nd ward residents she is counting on to bring her back to the job she wants more than any other.  Well it's momentary but in order to advance up the political ladder, the 2nd ward seat is critical to her ambitions to run again for mayor.  (If not then look out Stick Romano cuz it's Freeholder here we come.)  So she's appealing once again to the 2nd ward residents who aren't paying much attention. This it would appear to be Beth's target demographic these days.

In the letter above, she acknowledges the recent polling around town and proves if there were any doubters, well that mayor is certainly more popular than she'd like so it's time to wrap her arms around Dawn ever so tightly.  If there's one thing Beth Mason ain't letting go of though, it's that budget surplus thingy.

Most recently the City announced a 5% tax cut earmarked in the mayor's proposed budget and the surplus is planned for the low end of professional municipal planners advice of 5% as well.  That's 5 and 5, got it?

So after enveloping the mayor with the good news of what was obviously her citywide polling, (do you think she would be all kissy faced in the first paragraph if the data said otherwise?) - she moves on to two financial matters.  The first is the implicit amount of money to be raised via taxes and that figure has dropped with the results of some hard choices on the budget reducing staff and reorganizing the police department.  $4 million has been knocked off in total combining retirements to those efforts.

When Beth Mason says taxes in the future are too high, she fails to address any of these critical points disproving what reduced costs have already occurred on the ground in Hoboken.

Apparently Beth Mason is so impressed with the mayor's polling numbers, she's decided to move a bit off the big lie of the surplus being $27 million back down to her prior fiscal year fib of $20 million.

Some would call that a fib.  But this is Beth Mason, so let's give her some credit and call it progress.

The true cash surplus of the city in the mayor's proposed budget is $5 million.  That's 5% of the $100 million budget.  Another $4 million is dedicated to back pay for the police unions.  (Boy did they earn it especially with their hard work this past weekend.)

Talking Ed Note:  Two budget workshops are scheduled this month.  What will the Mason-Russo City Council do to match the mayor's efforts on reducing the budget?  Well there modus operandi is certainly not rolling up their sleeves and making tough reductions and last year Beth Mason told the Hudson Reporter the City Council lacked the courage to make cuts.  This after she had come off a run for mayor the previous November running on a platform of "rightsizing."  She refused to explain what it meant then and has shown no inkling on remotely acting on the word since.  None as in ZERO.

Mike Russo is a proud father now and rebranding his image from being rather difficult to cuddly but a budget hawk he ain't.  At the last City Council meeting, he showed he's more interested in obstruction (and acting difficult) at all costs trying to link the State's concerns on 2008-2009 professional services agreements put forward by his former campaign manager - the one and only Peter Cammarano to contracts today.

As many will recall, that State letter made its way around town on the weekend and was printed with the Russo Reporter storyline in two places: the Hudson Reporter and Hoboken Patch before the misleading conclusions were crushed by the Jersey Journal that corrected the record on Monday.   The Jersey Journal followed up with the State whereby we learned the Comptroller's office was actually targeting the towns where Operation Bid Rig was a big hit.  Of course Hoboken made the grade.

Back to our Council of No champions, what are they to do?  Neither Beth Mason nor Mike Russo has shown much interest in reducing the size and scope of government.  They can take the road of ordering the Department Directors to do the heavy lifting and ask them to come back with proposed budgets of 10-15%.  Then they can take the credit when some of it is finally approved.  Is hitting the same well again the right way to go?  (Last year 300K was saved but now you will hit bone if you apply this technique twice in a row.)

That's hardly the skillful surgery the town needs, and deserves.  But this is what we have and this is what you'll likely get.  Don't expect much more than critical eyeing $38 expense reports and the like.  Hard to believe but Mike Russo actually questioned Director Forbes on gas expenses in an earlier meeting.  This when he lost track of almost a million dollars in quarters.  A million dollars in quarter.  A million dollars in quarters.  Of the missing 55 tons of quarters, he later tried to bury the matter describing it as "my mistake."

City wide elections will be held on May 10th.

Kids First Kickoff opens the BoE election season

Jean Marie Mitchell of the three KF candidates is a BoE commissioner completing a one year term.  She returns now with a full year of experience under her belt.

Mayor announces innovative traffic 'calming toolkit'

30% Drop in Pedestrian Crashes & 60% Drop in Bike Crashes in 2010

The Zimmer Administration continues its focus on pedestrian safety with the introduction of the City’s first "Traffic Calming Toolkit." The new toolkit is designed to clarify and formalize the process by which pedestrian safety concerns will continue to be systematically addressed. Residents are invited to a community meeting to discuss pedestrian safety and other transportation issues on March 15, 2011 from 7:00 to 9:00pm at the Rue School gymnasium, 301 Garden Street.

“With pedestrian crashes dropping by 30% this past year and bicycling crashes dropping by 63%, we have made some progress, but we need to continue building on our measures to address pedestrian and bike safety," said Mayor Zimmer, "With these goals in mind, I asked Director Sacs to prepare a 'Traffic Calming Toolkit'.”

The Traffic Calming Toolkit is the culmination of methods and measures implemented by the Zimmer Administration to make pedestrian safety a top priority. It will address appropriate solutions to obtain slower driving speeds, safer crossings, and improving other aspects of pedestrian life that make walking in Hoboken so enjoyable. The Toolkit includes recommendations for Education, Enforcement, and Engineering (The so-called “Three E’s”), that are proven for their effectiveness in municipal traffic calming programs throughout the country.

As part of the City’s continued efforts to address resident concerns, a program for regular installation of state-approved speed humps is now in place in conjunction with annual resurfacing projects. This program is designed to maximize cost efficiencies for these more costly measures.

Since the Department of Transportation and Parking was established in 2009, a thorough re-evaluation of Hoboken’s traffic calming methods and efforts has helped to improve Hoboken’s pedestrian safety.

Pedestrian Safety and Traffic Calming Initiatives & Update:

  • Hudson Place Redesign (created safer pedestrian area by more than doubling width of sidewalk and reducing crossing distances with bumpouts)
  • 30% and 63% reduction in pedestrian and bike collisions with motor vehicles from 2009
  • “Twenty is Plenty” educational outreach campaign to slow down vehicular traffic
  • Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan (strong emphasis on pedestrian and bike safety)
  • Daylighting Program to improve visibility/reaction time at crosswalks (38 strategic locations around the city)
  • Pedestrian safety/redesign community outreach meetings (14th St Viaduct, Observer Highway, Newark Street, Hudson Place, Bike/Pedestrian Master Plan, and on Transportation concerns)
  • Reduced pedestrian-motor vehicle conflicts around PATH/Hoboken Terminal (moved taxi stand, created shuttle loading zone, longer designated crosswalk times at River/Hudson)
  • Increased parking enforcement at crosswalks
  •  “Don’t Block the Box” painting and signage at Monroe/Observer Hwy/Paterson Ave intersection (improves visibility, keeps crosswalks clear, and assists with enforcement)
  • 15th Street repainting (low-cost strategy to reduce speeding by 8% eastbound and 5% westbound)
  • Use of radar-based “Your Speed Is” educational signage
  • Replacement of pedestrian ramps at intersection corners with better landings
  • Installation of “Stop for Pedestrian” signs at crosswalks throughout the city
  • Bike Rules (improves pedestrian safety on sidewalks)
  • Bike lanes and “sharrows” throughout the city are proven to reduce speeding and pedestrian injuries/fatalities by up to 40%

“I’m very proud that our streets are getting safer,” said Transportation and Parking Director Ian Sacs. “Still, it’s difficult to feel that our streets are safe when you’re intimidated in a crosswalk or a car zips by at high speed. Our ‘Traffic Calming Toolkit’ will give us a consistent way to react responsibly and helps every resident understand the process we go through to address their concerns.”

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More rain on the way and City offers free garage parking


The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for our area from Thursday morning through Friday morning. Due to the potential for flooding, the City of Hoboken is providing free parking in municipal Garage B (located on 2nd Street between Hudsonand River streets) from Thursday, March 10 at 8am through Friday, March 11 at 8am for residents who reside in flood prone areas and have a valid Resident parking permit or Temporary parking permit placard.

Residents who wish to extend their stay in the garage before and/or after the free parking period and who have a parking permit decal or Temporary parking permit placard are reminded that overnight parking (8pm to 8am) is available at a rate of $5.00. This rate is available in Garages B, D and Midtown every day of the year.

A map of flood-prone areas is available on the City website:

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Guest of the Stable: p1ywood on parade

Well, “hi” again, I’m hoping that all of you at least got some enjoyment out of the usual train wreck that is our St Patrick’s Parade day. I’ve weathered more than a few, and allow me to say it’s a day that’s not for the squeamish.

It might well be a good thing that Hoboken has a watchdogs like me to go out and research some of the seamier problems that confront our fair city.  In that spirit I made the sacrifice of embracing, once again, the carryings-ons that occur on and about Hoboken’s St Patrick’s Parade day. Without further adieu:

Field Correspondent Report:

As you are well aware, there is with absolute certainty perfect weather for this event, for as we know, the elements have quite a soft-spot for facilitating mayhem. So this typically perfect weather is always just the thing to optimize reveler turnout to Hoboken.

First up for my big day of days was waiting on a long line at the bagel store for over half an hour for the most slipshod egg sandwich ever made (and at that point I was damn glad to have it).  I am curious as to why coloring a bagel green is considered a good idea, but I assumed it wasn’t moldy and ate it anyway. As you may know, waiting in line for only half an hour for baked goods is now considered normal, if not a bit under par  in Hoboken. Thus stoked with breakfast, I moved on to an overview of the venues for libation.

So it was with that I ventured about Washington Street to see what the latest developments are in bar-hopping, a subject I work very long and hard to keep abreast of. The results of surveying the bars were unsurprising. The first thing I noticed is that the crowd was the same age as last year, but I a year older.  I found twenty-dollar cover charges to be pretty typical, some were higher.  Speaking to some waiting in the traditional long lines to get in these establishments, I was informed that there was no need for financial concern, the cover charge could easily be counter-acted by diminished tipping once inside. It was with great pride that I realized that the American educational system is working order, seeing the firm grasp of mathematical concepts and cash flow our young bar patrons have. Little ironic sidenote here –I swear this is absolutely true- the day after St Pat’s parade every bartender I talk to says they DIDN’T MAKE MUCH MONEY. Lousy tips. At any rate, at this point in the morning I realized I wasn’t going to get into a bar anytime soon. Not a big deal, almost parade time.

The parade itself is a wonderful tradition, even though it was very disjointed this year in particular. The pageantry! The ear-shattering fire truck sirens! Kids picking thrown candy off the street and eating it! But hey, what was up with those long mid-parade gaps?

Reports I heard claimed that it was issues with Buddy Valestro’s TLC production staff getting the cameras ready and such. Looks like the production staff at The Learning Channel has some learning to do. We love ya Buddy, but please don’t hold up the parade, people spend enough time waiting in your lines! The icing on the cake was that this resulted in a fifteen-minute gap in the line of march, that confused most and convinced many persons to go home, thinking the parade was over. Candidly, the crowd needed some thinning, especially that inconsiderate dweeb with the camera that kept jumping out in front of me, totally block my view. Note to photographers everywhere: you are the only one who cares you are taking a picture, don’t freakin’ jump in front of me to do it! But again I digress.

Anyway, where in the world was Beth Mason? Rumor had it she went home either ill, or in a snit, after being told her campaign signage was in bad form, and hence non-grata. Well then, Ms Mason, head home and have your campaign workers march the signage down the sidewalk during the parade.  Problem solved!

Yes, Ms Mason’s parade performance (or lack thereof), with the concurrent sign carrying campaign workers on the sidewalk repeats a recurring theme of Ms. Mason: the spirit of the law is an ass. According to her doctrine, it is considered better to go the route of squishing your political actions hard against the edge of breaking the law, then be conveniently absent from the scene, so no one can ask you a direct question in an effort to hold you to task. Above all, make a concerted effort to have your personal fingerprints off the operation. Later, in a format unconducive to immediate rebuttal, pontificate how what you did was technically legal, and that everyone is out to get you.

In all fairness, I as well heard rumor that Ms Mason was having illness and fatigue on parade day, that is to say she is sick and tired of not getting her way and not giving the marching orders. Indeed, she certainly marches to a different drummer. Is it Mr Russo?

Anyhow, the parade wound down and the crowd disbursed from the curb-side of the sidewalk to the bar side of the sidewalk. The bar entry lines stood at twenty people deep once again, and I realized a different strategy was needed if I was to get my groove on.

I then decided to survey the house party scene. If you are new to the house party game, here’s a couple of pointers. No invitations are needed; house parties are designed to be crashed. First rule of thumb is to be wearing a Kelly green tee-shirt with something ingenious printed on it like “I’m Irish, what’s your excuse?”

If you don’t smoke, this is a good time to carry a pack of cigarettes anyway, in conspicuous view. All house parties are easily identified by the three or four people standing on the fire escape with a keg, or on the front stoop smoking, usually one of which is in a “Cat in the Hat’ floppy hat, drinking heartily. Once you locate such people, to crash the party, from a distance, yell to them “is Annabell inside?” Then just blend in with them by either lighting their cigarettes or insulting the appearance or sobriety of passers-by. After a few minutes of this hang, just announce, “well, I guess I better head in”. Then meander your way into the apartment and toward the refrigerator. Then mingle, remembering the louder and more base your remarks, the less likely anyone will challenge with “Who in the world are YOU?”  Make a point of laughing every 3 or 4 minutes for no apparent reason. You’ll get the hang of it.

It’s a fact, and rightfully so, some people are turned off to the house parties, while others say “it keeps ‘em off the street; let them trash their own digs.” The real problem is not the house parties, but the fact that you can’t fix stupid, nor can you fix stupid house parties. Unfortunately, if you are indeed unfortunate enough to be a neighbor to such debauchery, due to that pesky Bill of Rights, there is little to do about noisy and destructive neighbors other than take the Red Bull by the horns and be a “in your face” neighbor.  Some are more suited to intervention then others, and I’m pretty sure that contrary to popular belief, the meek will not inherit the earth, certainly not one that isn’t already trashed.  Moreover, elimination of Parade day will not eliminate such parties; it will instead scatter them across the calendar, and exponentially harder to predict, or for that matter crash, if either is important to you.

At any rate, somewhere around this point in the St Patty’s Parade day curve is when inevitably things will take a turn for the worse. It seems people just don’t know when to stop.  You can usually rate the danger level of inebriation by the frequency of use of the “F” bomb in general conversation, as laid out in this handy chart:

F-bomb not used at all: check the address, you’re at the wrong place

F-bomb every fifteenth word: hey, lighten up and live a little

F-bomb every tenth word: a nice glow, time to start pacing oneself

F-bomb every sixth word: getting a little fuzzy, make damn sure the party’s not running out of beer

F-bomb every third word: decidedly time to start turning down the Jameson’s shots

F-bomb every single word: drinker is shot, a case of spins on the way, time to call a taxi, or the authorities

If only people knew when to stop.

Knowing when to stop is the issue that is the point of departure for all the trouble.

Talking Ed Note: p1ywood is a known reader and commenter on MSV among other locales.  Although we usually insist on names for guest pieces, for this low density wood we make an exception. p1ywood's guest piece was submitted before the mayor's afternoon press conference, but square wood chip is entirely responsible for her action.

Submit your complaints and when you do, blame p1ywood.

Mayor Zimmer's City Council fundraiser moved to March 17th

Dear Friends,
Our party/fundraising date has been pushed back one week
to Thursday, March 17th. 
Unfortunately we have to reschedule because our entire family was
hit hard by a pretty serious flu that seems to be going around.   

Despite the change in date, we hope you will be able to come
and meet some very special candidates, and gear up to make
sure that our City moves in the right direction in the
May 10th City Council elections!
The Date:  Thursday, March 17th
Time:  7:00 – 10:00 pm
Where:  Dawn’s and Stan’s House – 59 Madison Street, Apt. #2
Why:  Why Not?  There’s too much at stake and it will be fun!
RSVPs appreciated but not required.  (Just respond to this email)
Suggested contribution to citywide effort:  $250.00
Look forward to catching up with all of you next
Thursday, March 17th!  
Thanks and stay healthy!