Friday, April 13, 2012

Landmark Pay-to-play reform passes in Hoboken Housing Authority

Last night's Hoboken Housing Authority meeting saw several important resolutions passed among them landmark pay to play anti-wheeling legislation based on Hoboken's municipal law passed in the City Council last summer. The resolution passed in a 5-2 vote.

A new online wait list system for applicants to see where they are in the system was passed unanimously along with returfing Mama Johnson Field.  A two month process is expected to see the new field reopen by July 4th.

Three resolutions were reviewed and introduced by Chairwoman Jean Rodriguez as live items in addition to the HHA's regular business.  Two of the three: pay-to-play and a new online transparent wait list went to a vote while a third on political activities in the HHA introduced was withdrawn for further review.

Executive Director Carmelo Garica responded to a question by Commissioner Eduardo Gonzalez why the pay-to-play legislation was presented as a live item on the agenda in new business calling it "good policy" and "good government" adding efforts had been made to the eleventh hour to finalize it through the attorney review process.  Commissioner Jake Stuiver strongly backed the measure saying the legislation was based on the model passed in Hoboken back in 2004 and updated last year.

The legislation limits any entity making a political contribution from receiving a public contract for one year.

In the only contested vote of the evening the pay-to-play legislation passed 5-2.  Commissioner Michael Russo asked the legislation be amended to bar political contributions by HHA commissioners.  The attorney explained the legislation was about preventing pay-to-play on contracts not infringing on individual constitutional rights to speech.

Stuiver applauded passage of the landmark pay-to-play legislation by email stating: "Pay-to-play rules are a central tenet of open and accountable government and the reform movement.  Expanding it to cover the Housing Authority, which has a budget of over $14 million and deals with many contractors is a logical extension of reform in Hoboken.  I'm proud and grateful to my fellow commissioners, our executive director and board attorney for helping move our community forward."

The pay-to-play legislation roll call: commissioners Judy Burrell and Eduardo Gonzalez voted no and Chairwoman Jean Rodriguez, Vice-chairman Robert Davis being joined by commissioners Maryanne Camporeale, Michael Russo and Jake Stuiver voted for passage.

Here's a video clip of the vote:



The direct, online access for HHA applicants has been a point of interests over years and Stuiver added "implementing this system will both guarantee transparency and sanctity for the wait list system."

The Mama Johnson Field will be seeing new batting cages in addition to the astroturf.  It's expected to support baseball, softball, football and soccer.

Related: Amanda Staab filed a report for Hoboken Patch and it's available at the link:
http://hoboken.patch.com/articles/housing-authority-enacts-pay-to-play-limits?ncid=newsltuspatc00000003