Sunday, March 20, 2011

Grist for the Mill: Council member to appear in court this week

A court case involving a member of the City Council is being moved out of Hoboken to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest.  Instead the case is being moved to another venue this week in Secaucus.

Who is the mystery council member and what is the crime?  Sadly, some would have hoped it was the New Jersey Attorney General sending a team to cart out the vote fraudsters who hijacked the 4th ward election last November but no such luck.  The case involves signage zoning rules over at Tim Occhipinti's pet shop headquarters from the same election.

Tim Occhipinti is the chair of the Zoning and Planning Subcommittee.  He was handed that plum by Councilwoman Beth Mason.  You just can't make up this kind of irony.

The mayor hosted a fundraiser to back the loose coalition of reform minded candidates on St. Patrick's Day.  But who was the guy stalking the mayor's home standing outside?  A big turnout of Hoboken citizens plus this one strange unwelcome fellow outside on the street with a camera.  After quite some time taking photos of all the residents arriving, he was asked why he was stalking the mayor's home?  He said he was from Queens and couldn't or wouldn't provide any details on his boss.  Wonder who would fund such a thing?

The photographer's evening collection was most likely looking to identify anyone who could be depicted as untoward for Hoboken's biggest smearsite Hoboken411 or as many now call it Mason411.  Anyone getting in the way of the Masonic Queen of Hudson Street's ambitions is likely to be at the ugly end of it's endless smears.

Last City Council meeting was a real howler.  The circulation of work out of the City Council to subcommittee has become a circus and this time Hoboken's finest paid for it when Councilwoman Beth Mason gave the boot to the ordinance  to see their well deserved back pay over years. 

Beth Mason's response to that problem surfacing after the Council meeting, "Where was the Public Safety Director in all this?"  She also said the council wasn't aware but we know she wasn't and wouldn't allow a comment to explain to the consequences of her action.  She refused to listen and now the police are going to be awaiting their backpay longer.  That will be remembered by many for quite a while.

5th ward council challengers Perry Belfiore and Scott Delea both shared time at Beth Mason's campaign get together Saturday afternoon but that's not the only thing they are sharing.  Word is out on the street their petitions also have some odd overlap with signatures being featured on both.  How many and how did that happen?  We're not sure but the City Clerk's office will have to get to the bottom of it.

Is it enough to be a problem?  People can only sign for one candidate and if some names are thrown out, it could be problematic for a candidacy meeting the required signatures to get on the ballot.  Good luck to the City Clerk's office on this one.

Talking Ed Note:  The Hoboken Journal notes the news of Tim Occhipinti's date before the judge and says it will be tomorrow at 9:30.  Will Tim show up this time or blow it off again?  Will his job find out about it?  Wouldn't it be lovely if someone from the NJ Attorney General's office stopped by and had a little chat with Tim about his 575 'campaign workers,' last November too?

BoE President Rose Markle details public budget workshop

Dear Editor:

It’s budget time again for the Hoboken Board of Education. I am writing to provide some details of the 2011-2012 school budget and invite the community to the Budget Workshop on March 29.

The school budget is most certainly a financial document but it also is a detailed plan, signifying a true commitment to support the educational goals and positive vision for the district as determined by the board members, the administration and the community. This budget reflects the board’s desire to cut costs, spend efficiently and provide the students and staff what they need for maximum success.

The proposed budget includes a proposed tax levy, $36,758,685 (money requested by the BoE from municipal taxes), which has been lowered again for a second year in a row. The proposed tax levy is now at the lowest possible tax levy allowable for Hoboken under NJ state law.

The state has a minimum allowable tax levy? Yes. The state sets budget minimum and maximum amounts. No proposed budget can go over the two percent cap and no proposed budget can go under the state minimum set for each individual district (not even by one penny). Of course, most people have never heard of this minimum right? Whoever asks for less? Most districts request the maximum. With back-to-back decreases, the Hoboken BoE has hit that minimum amount.

Does that mean the board cannot look for additional savings? No. It means that any savings and efficiencies go towards replenishing the surplus depleted during last year’s state aid cuts and to support the educational goals of the district.

Due to careful planning and efficient spending, the district is now in a position to accomplish many goals earlier rather than later! For example, replace text books (some over 12 yrs old), provide new science kits for all elementary science teachers and students, continue to grow the successful laptop program and hire a new computer teacher to work specifically with the middle grades students and teachers, create new gifted and talented programs to supplement existing programs, allow for field trips for all students and proceed with a district-wide facilities master plan.

The Hoboken Board of Education will hold a Budget Workshop on Tuesday, March 29 at 7 p.m. The meeting is open to everyone in the community. There will be a presentation and opportunities for the community to comment. I hope to see you there.

Rose Marie Markle

BOE President

Rami Pinchevsky schedules Tuesday neighborhood meeting

City Council candidate debates updated

Hoboken City Council Candidates’ Forums Set for April 12-13
Public is Invited to Join in Moderated Q&A with City Council Candidates

Due to the number of candidates in Wards 2 and 5, the April 12 forum
will include Wards 1, 3, 4 and 6; April 13 will be for Wards 2 and 5

Hoboken, NJ – March 15, 2011 – Hoboken voters will have the opportunity to pose questions and hear directly from the candidates vying for the six City Council ward seats in the May 10 election. Two moderated forums will be conducted by the Hoboken Quality of Life Coalition and People for Open Government, and hosted by The Parish of Our Lady of Grace and St. Joseph.
The first forum will feature candidates for the four wards with just one incumbent and one challenger (1st, 3rd, 4th and 6th) on Tuesday, April 12, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the school at Our Lady of Grace, at the corner of Willow Avenue and Fifth St. The second will feature candidates for the two wards (2nd and 5th) with an incumbent and three challengers, on Wednesday, April 13, from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. in the same location. All candidates will be invited to participate.
At each event, written questions will be solicited from the audience and screened by members of QLC and POG for clarity, general interest and absence of partisanship. Both events will be moderated by longtime Hoboken resident Bob Bowdon, a veteran TV reporter, anchorman and documentary filmmaker. Bowdon’s on-camera reporting encompasses six years with Bloomberg News and he is an op-ed contributor to the Huffington Post website.
QLC and POG are nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen organizations that have been active in Hoboken during the last decade and have organized previous candidates’ forums. Our Lady of Grace Church is joining in the sponsorship of these forums in order to make information available about the candidates in this important May election and as a means to urge citizens throughout the city to exercise their right to vote.
QLC ( actively supported POG’s initiatives and has a long history of working with other groups concerned about clean air and water, flooding, the density of development, the need for open space, the lack of parking and anything that threatens a good and healthy living environment in this densely populated city. QLC is committed to preserving Hoboken’s unique streetscape and the old and historic buildings that make Hoboken a special place. In March 2008, QLC established the Committee for a Green Hoboken, which actively advocates for green initiatives in local government and hosts education series for residents and businesses in greener building and lifestyle choices.
POG ( is a nonpartisan, political committee dedicated to promotion of open, accountable and transparent municipal government; active participation of Hoboken residents in municipal affairs; and curbing the undue influence of campaign contributions on public policy. POG successfully advocated for passage of anti-pay-to-play legislation as well as ordinances requiring electronic access to local government documents. It produced a package of ordinances that ultimately were adopted as city law that required competitively negotiated professional contracts and developer contribution disclosures.