Wednesday, August 3, 2011

NJ Attorney General Paula Dow: 'Hola on absentee ballot voter fraud'


Last Friday PolitickerNJ highlighted a story of absentee voter fraud and the sentencing of a Newark man who worked on the 2007 campaign of State Senator Teresa Ruiz (D-29).  The sentence of three years in jail included remarks on the matter from the current NJ Attorney General Paula Dow.

State Senator Teresa Ruiz (l) standing next to Assemblyman Ruben Ramos at the Hola ribbon cutting ceremony last year saw a member of her 2007 campaign sentenced to a three year prison term for absentee ballot fraud.  Her husband was also snared in the investigation connected to absentee ballot fraud.

In the story the Attorney General is quoted stating:
“We will not tolerate conduct that deprives citizens of the right to vote or corrupts the free and fair election process that is the foundation of our democracy,” said Dow.  “This prosecution should serve as a deterrent to those who would attempt to illegally manipulate the election process in New Jersey.”


The story also notes comment from Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor:
“We will thoroughly investigate any allegations of voter fraud and aggressively prosecute individuals who are found to have disenfranchised voters.

The State Senator's husband, former Essex County Freeholder Samuel Gonzalez was also arrested in connection with the absentee ballot voter fraud and has been accepted into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program.

Last November the 4th ward election saw multiple allegations of voter fraud against Councilman Tim Occhipinti's campaign.  The allegations were kicked up to the NJ Attorney General's Office by the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office.

The allegations under review have not been cleared in any law enforcement announcement.

Talking Ed Note: Sign of the times or soon to be a sign of Hoboken's times?

Original photo Katie Colaneri, courtesy of NJ.com

Boys & Girls Club violating terms of building lease with City of Hoboken



MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE

The Hoboken Boys and Girls Club has failed to provide required annual reports to the City of Hoboken showing specific compliance requirements serving the community's underprivileged youth. The terms of the agreement are part of a fifty year lease originally created back in the mid 90s.

The complete terms appear in an original ordinance dated November 1994 in City documents. As part of a 50 year agreement, the building at 123 Jefferson Street is leased annually from the City of Hoboken for $2.

The terms to the Boys & Girls Club specifically mandate it demonstrate in an annual report to the Business Administrator how it has complied with requirements using the building, the value and cost of its use in its activities along with the continued demonstration of tax exempt status.

The City recently learned the reporting mechanism is missing with the Boys & Girls Club and is comprehensively reviewing the terms of the lease.

The original ordinance states a requirement of the lessee (the Boys & Girls Club) to the City of Hoboken in item 10:

The Lessee agrees to use the facilities for the sole purpose of conducting youth programs and the Lessee activities. It will not rent or lease the facility for commercial purposes without first obtaining City permission nor will any commercial activities be conducted at the facility.

Last year the Boys and Girls Club changed the nature of its mission allotting space to a new Hoboken charter school: HoLa at a cost of $48,000 annually. It also has rented out its gym to another local charter school thought to be in disproportionate cost than what it charges to sublease to HoLa.

Meanwhile, the building is expanding - to benefit the HoLa school. The expansion is believed undertaken by a construction company owned by developer Frank Raia, who also acts as a voting trustee on the HoLa board.

Questions on the authorization of these activities and the City's oversight and approval role in the process remains outstanding. Complaints have been going on for months among public school parents including other charter schools on the unfair competitive advantage of a charter school being hosted at the Boys & Girls Club while underprivileged community youth have been bumped out of the building to make way for HoLa.

The Boys & Girls Club does not publicly offer an annual report of its expenditures and declines to do so as a semi-private entity. HoLa's agreement with the Boys & Girls Club designates the latter as "the Landlord," with a three percent increase paid for the building use in the second year of an executed lease.

"Mr. Integrity" Scott Delea sits on the Board of the Boys & Girls Club. Perhaps he'll provide answers to the questions on how the organization has changed its mission while failing to meet the terms of its $2 a year lease to the City of Hoboken. You'd have better luck "Waiting for Godot." MSV knows this from experience with Scott Delea.


Talking Ed Note: MSV previously stated the lease incorrectly as being one dollar annually but the true price is two dollars. The requirements stated in the ordinance, agreed upon by the City of Hoboken and the Boys and Girls Club is problematic on many levels.

How did the Boys & Girls Club approve a process of allowing a charter school lease space on its premises? Under what jurisdiction did it do so and who negotiated the price and where do the monies go?

Perhaps the Boys & Girls Club Board can provide some answers. The City is now pressed to obtain and provide them to the public but it doesn't appear it can be done in any satisfactory way. The basic terms of the lease have been violated and the mission of the Boys & Girls Club is not serving the youth of the community but one favored charter school. Hola's control of its facilities grows larger.


Update: August 3rd, 2011 - 8:00 pm

The discussion has been extensive on this week's exclusive story opening up a can of worms with a lengthy list of questions for the City to dig in and answer - in this a classic inversion of the haves and have nots.

Who is looking out for the underprivileged children without a voice, lacking nuclear families and the strength that comes from those unions?

MSV supports charter schools and that's hardly the issue at hand, favoritism of a self-anointed political elite however is the order of the day. The City has a lengthy list of questions to obtain answers. First and foremost who approved, if anyone, the subjugation of the voiceless and powerless at the hands of the well to do and politically connected at the Boys & Girls Club?

Who is responsible for yielding to a charter school a taxpayer subsidized building with no remittance to the taxpayer or accountability to the community that has contributed enormously directly and indirectly to the Boys & Girls Club?

When will these people on the board of the Boys & Girls Club answer and demonstrate accountability to the Hoboken community and fulfill their signed responsibility in missing reports to the City of Hoboken?

Frank Raia, Scott Delea, Tim Occhipinti, Ruben Ramos and others involved in taking from the most vulnerable in our community have much to answer. Listen to their silence and listen to the howls for blood of the "loyal opposition" for their political opponents as they provide neither.

Don't be fooled by the distractions. Hoboken is owed answers.



Court to Picardo on Castle Pt. extension: Raze it!

The NJ Superior Court ruled on a controversial extension by Louis Picardo at 920 Castle Pt. ordering an added floor be removed in a decision filed July 22nd.

The controversy stems back to 2008 when the addition to the Picardo residence suddenly went up over a period of weeks.  Hudson Street neighbors protested the addition and filed a lawsuit in 2008 after the Hoboken Zoning board rescinded approval for the extension.

Picardo said he had approvals from the Hoboken Construction Office issued by then Hoboken Zoning Officer Virginia "Ginger" Buonfiglio and former Construction Code Official Al Arezzo.

The Superior Court agreed with the plaintiffs Julian and Gretchen Brigden, the neighbors on Hudson Street who fought the years long battle to see the addition stopped.

Now they will see it removed.

The upper rear areas now blended in together in red were not legally added according to a recent ruling by the NJ Superior Court.  The addition by Louis Picardo will have to be removed.