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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mayor Dawn Zimmer's 2nd Annual State of the City

The following is the complete, unedited video of the proceedings held at Stevens:


Mayor Dawn Zimmer State of the City Speech - it's a real humdinger



HOBOKEN STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS
Remarks of Mayor Dawn Zimmer
As Prepared for Delivery
Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
DeBaun Auditorium, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ

Welcome everyone. Thank you all for joining us tonight. I want to thank Stevens and President Farvardin so much for hosting tonight’s 2nd annual State of the City.

I am extremely pleased to announce that under Dr. Farvardin’s leadership, the partnership between Hoboken and Stevens continues to grow stronger than ever.

Most recently, we are partnering on a very exciting project that could make Hoboken the nation’s first truly “smart city.” Through this innovative program, residents would be able to have immediate access and input on the array of services that impact their daily lives.

Thank you to Dr. Ali Mostashari and all of the Stevens staff and students who are working with us on this project, along with the many other essential infrastructure projects by Stevens students.

Thank you again to all of the Stevens students whose volunteerism during Hurricane Irene helped to protect our community, students who volunteered to help beautify our City, and also those who volunteered to help with our many cultural events. Hoboken is so lucky to have the Stevens community as a part of our City.

I also want to say a huge thank you to the City Council, all those who have served and continue to serve on our many boards, and volunteers for our Community Emergency Response Team.  We don’t always agree on everything but all of these individuals devote an enormous amount of time and energy to serving our City, and their contributions deserve to be recognized. 

A special thank you to my directors, chiefs, and employees for your dedication to our City.

Now I must say, 2011 was one heck of a year! Together we overcame tremendous challenges. At times I feared we could be destroyed financially if the sale of the hospital failed - let alone the challenges we faced from the hurricanes, the blizzards, the shipworms that ate away at our piers, and the unexpected earthquake. I want to give a huge thank you to all of our public safety members who saw us through quite a tumultuous year.

Despite the fact that the challenges have never stopped, we not only survived, but we thrived on many fronts in 2011.

First, we were able to achieve a 10 percent municipal tax reduction, the 6th largest in the State.

Secondly, together we saved our City from financial destruction with the successful sale of Hoboken University Medical Center to the principal owners of Bayonne Medical Center. The sale was crucial for our City both because of the incredibly important role the hospital plays, and also because we had a $52 million bond backing the hospital. The hospital was bankrupt, and had the sale not been completed, we would have lost our hospital and faced a fiscal crisis on a frightening scale.

Saving our hospital consumed more of my time than I could have ever imagined, but the results demonstrate that what seems impossible can be achieved. Thank you so much to everyone who worked tirelessly to save our hospital. In particular, I’d like to thank and recognize Toni Tomarazzo, the Chair of the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority board and all of the Authority members. They are the heroes of Hoboken.  Without your unwavering support and perseverance we could never have succeeded.

Thank you to the Hoboken Women’s Auxiliary for their tremendous support of the hospital. Over the years they raised more than $1 million dollars for the hospital.

I also want to thank Senator Kenny and Mayor Roberts who are here with us tonight – I called both of them on that exciting Friday afternoon when the sale finally went through. As I told each of them on the phone, while many, including me, questioned the wisdom of the City’s bailout of the hospital in 2007, without that bailout we would not have had a hospital to save in 2011.

Under the strong leadership of Phil Schaengold, the new CEO of HUMC, the hospital’s future is very bright. Just last week, HUMC hired a highly regarded neurosurgeon from New York University. We welcome Dr. Ramesh Babu and look forward to the highest level of care that he and all of the doctors and dedicated staff at HUMC offer to our community.

Another essential achievement of 2011: My Administration worked closely with North Hudson Sewerage Authority to finally get the Observer Highway flood pump online. This essential infrastructure is already helping to alleviate our City’s 100-year old flooding problem. Congratulations to Chairman Richard Wolff, Executive Director Fred Pocci, and the entire board of North Hudson Sewerage Authority. Thank you to John Nastasi, a Stevens professor, architect, and Hoboken resident, for working with the City and North Hudson to design the exterior of the pump.

As a Councilperson, I advocated strongly to make certain that this was the first pump to be built.  The original 4-pump plan scheduled this most important pump last, meaning the Southwest, the area with the worst flooding would have had to wait in line to receive the relief it needed. This pump is important, but we are going to keep going to solve our City’s flooding problem completely.  That’s why I brought in EmNet to install sensors, and now we have data before and after the pump was installed. The data the sensors have provided will save our City millions as we create affordable and effective flooding solutions.

A third important achievement this year was the transition to single stream recycling. Under the leadership of our Recycling Coordinator, David Calamoneri, we have increased our City’s recycling by more than fifty percent! Thank you to David and thank you to everyone that is actively working to recycle! Not only does this save the City money, but it is plain and simply the right thing to do and our community’s responsibility.

In addition to going green, we’ve been working to restore your faith in our City’s government. This year we passed anti-wheeling campaign finance reform, which banned the practice of circumventing our pay-to-play laws and other contribution limits by funneling contributions through third parties. Given Hoboken’s recent history, this reform is a vital step to ensure that the politics of the future do not emulate our unfortunate politics of the past.

Very soon we will be announcing that a world-class company will be coming to Hoboken, creating hundreds of jobs and spurring economic development. Last week was the grand opening of Office Depot.  I went over to congratulate, welcome and ask the President of Office Depot why they decided to locate in Hoboken.  He confirmed my intuition: major companies such as his recognize that Hoboken is a fantastic place to locate their business with our high quality of life and direct access to New York City.

Last year was also a tough year of evaluation and change for our Police, Fire and other departments. I know it was difficult for everyone, but through it all we were able to reach fair agreements with our Police and Fire Departments. These contracts provide our public safety personnel with the security of agreements going into the future for the first time in many, many years. Thank you to our Police and Fire Departments for protecting our community each and every day.

After years of delay, we were able to complete and open Pier C Park for our community. Thank you to everyone who was involved in developing and bringing this beautiful waterfront park to our City.  It is great to see so many residents and visitors enjoying this spectacular addition to our City’s network of parks.

Last year we also added a desperately needed air conditioning and heating system to our Multi-Service center that serves our seniors. This was a long overlooked project, and I am proud that we were able to work together to get this crucial infrastructure upgrade completed.

Parking is always a difficult issue in Hoboken. No matter what we do we won’t have enough supply to meet the demand. However, we need to continue to do everything we can to alleviate the problem. We must make it easier to get around Hoboken with and without a car.

Some headway we have made includes new multi-meters that have added an estimated 150 additional parking spaces and made parking easier now that you do not need to search your pockets for quarters. It has also made our parking meters impossible to steal from, something that we now know was occurring not so long ago.

Corner Cars has been an unambiguous, unbelievable success. Over 2,000 Hoboken residents have taken advantage of this program, and 99 people have surrendered their permits. This program has made it far easier to live in Hoboken without a car. It has without question, made more parking available. Is it a solution by itself? Of course not, but has it helped? Absolutely, without question, and that is why five major cities are looking to Hoboken as a model for car-sharing and part of the reason we received a Sustainable Jersey award this year.

We worked with the business community to provide new discounted parking in our municipal garages. Over 300 businesses have partnered with us, leaving more space for valued customers to park on the street.

An additional 200 cars are off the street thanks to the new “Monthly Limited” parking option – a discounted rate for resident commuters who don’t need to park in the garage during the day.

Last year we also implemented a three-route Hop transportation system, which has had 120,000 passengers since its launch, and is filled to capacity during peak commuter periods. We are looking to update the fleet with modern buses and working on partnering with the business community to expand Hop service on the weekends and evenings this year. After all, we’ve got great shopping here in Hoboken, and we want to make it as easy as possible for you to shop local and enjoy everything that our City has to offer.

Most recently we worked with Councilman Cunningham and our public safety officials to pass legislation that will allow parking close to some curbs, bringing 850 new parking spaces to the City without compromising on pedestrian safety.

Hoboken is also becoming more bike-friendly every year. We doubled the number of bike racks near the PATH, installed our first bike repair station, and passed a plan for ten miles of new bike lanes, which we’ll be striping in the year ahead.

As a result of our many pedestrian safety measures, pedestrian-car collisions are down nearly 30 percent since I took office. Bicycle-car collisions are down by more than 60 percent.

This year we want to work with the community to create a parking master plan, and we look forward to hearing all your ideas on this very important issue. 

In addition to all that we have achieved in 2011, we’ve also got a tremendous number of important projects that we will complete this year.

This week our Chinese community is celebrating the New Year – the Year of the Dragon. I believe in Hoboken, 2012 will be known as the Year of Parks. We will be opening a new park in North Hoboken, currently known as 1600 Park and Hoboken Cove. The plans are being finalized now, and this long awaited park will be a fantastic addition to our community.

We finally have the approvals we need, and Frank Sinatra Park and Castle Point will be reopened in 2012. We will be bidding out Frank Sinatra Cafe to transform it and make it a go-to destination for our residents and visitors.

We have a contractor in place to upgrade the playgrounds at Jackson Street Park, Jefferson Park, and Legion Park on Willow Avenue. At Stevens Park, we’re looking to resurface the little league field, upgrade the playground, and install an indoor batting cage. Church Square Park, Mamma Johnson Field, and all our dog runs will all be upgraded this year.

Will Hoboken411 make a rare public appearance at State of the City address?

Perry Klaussen the reported proprietor of Hoboken411, although some suggest that may not in fact be completely true, is an uncertain attendee to the State of the City tonight.

Rarely seen at any Hoboken event is never a problem for Hoboken411 to write about said events.  He doesn't do much of the political writing and was largely dormant the past six months quaking in fear when best bud Patrick Ricciardi was nabbed by the Feds last May.  That was his best conduit to information illicit and otherwise including pictures other than his Masonite ghostwriter, who pens the angry screeds packed with the usual assortment of lies, half-lies, distortions and the always present self-perpetuating rumors.

Last year, Das Klaussen made a rare public appearance at the State of the City but ever the recluse went upstairs to an empty balcony taking photos of his hated Zimmertinis below.

He pointed his camera repeatedly toward the Horsey and fired away but was met in kind by our trusty camera that captured the essence of his character as seen below where he's raising his middle finger.

Perry Klaussen of Hoboken411 made a rare public appearance at last year's SOTC address.  And by appearance, he showed up, took photos of people to smear on his site later and left before the event started.  Typical Klaussen.

Beth Mason, a longtime backer of the website that smears and censors everyone except her was recently known to have sat down with her lackey at the Elysian.  Some wonder about the nature of the business relationship.  To be in favor at Hoboken411, all that is required is to be on the right side with Beth Mason or is it passing an envelope?   Michael Russo was a bad guy years ago, but now a Mason ally, he's "a good guy" on Hoboken411.

A lot has happened since last year's SOTC.  Hoboken411 has degenerated into self-parody with his ranting hatreds of Mason's and his nemesis - Mayor Zimmer, to the point it's difficult to know if he hates Hoboken and everyone in it or just anyone who doesn't pay him.  Last May, he illegally voted in the 5th ward council election even though he lives around the corner in the 2nd ward from Beth Mason, thus proving that hatred drives him more than allegiance to his paymaster.

Here's a video of Councilwoman Beth Mason who failed to get him on the City dole, but it is oppossed with no support from anyone but her.  Maybe that's why Perry Klaussen chose to vote illegally in another election rather than for Beth Mason.

Perhaps tonight Hoboken's smearmeister king will sit with his benefactor Beth Mason.  Now that would be novel.




Fighting off savage attacks and saving the hospital and Hoboken with it, what does Mayor Zimmer do for an encore?

Mayor Zimmer will be giving a State of the City speech tonight at 7:00 and observers will be interested in not only her reflections of the past year but the roadmap she sees ahead.  After beating back a savage battle for the life of the City and its hospital, she knows her opponents will stop at nothing to undermine her, even if it means bankrupting Hoboken.

Aware of that political reality, Mayor Zimmer knows there is no compromising with the forces of darkness led by the Beth Russo hydra.  In her first two years she attempted to work with a nine member City Council; she found out their intentions to undermine her at all costs and see her ejected from office in failure.  The experience added more steel to her spine, but her opponents from all quarters refuse to acknowledge it.  That's not likely to change with the scrambling for her chair already underway.

In the practical space of budgeting, the mayor is sitting on a $4 million hole from the end of last year, courtesy of MORTe who lept at the opportunity to cynically hurt Hoboken (again) denying a simple refinance of the midtown garage with great savings to the City.  Those costs along with other financial challenges will force Hoboken to make choices in 2012.  MORTe can explain further layoffs to their people as they whine about it the whole way.  After the hospital, they've become accustomed to lying to their face.

This mayor has shown enormous restraint, curbing spending at every turn while attempting to maintain and increase services serving the wider community and reducing taxes more than 8%.  It's unclear how she can continue to do so, so tonight we'll have a better glimpse of where her budget priorities stand.  The irony, she looks to do what she feels is best for all of Hoboken and any reduction in services hurts MORTe's base more than hers.  None of this matters to MORTe.  Their craven face is clear to anyone who watched the hospital sale war and it was nothing short of a war.  It was the ugliest action in Hoboken since the arsons decades back.

The mayor has undergone a rough two years working to keep Hoboken above water and she scores an A for those efforts, especially for the miracle of saving the hospital and with it, the Hoboken taxpayer.  She's remained true to her principles and worked honorably throughout which only emboldened her opponents who live for nothing but their unquenchable ambition for power and the taxpayer's dime.  Now the mayor must look ahead in a practical manner with a working coalition on the council to push Hoboken ahead.  It's her vision the audience will be most curious to see this evening.

Tonight's speech will not only be a State of the City but a roadmap to the politics of Hoboken leading into the spring 2013 mayoral election.  The mayor has walked an independent line on behalf of all of Hoboken against the forces of corruption, the status quo, and the Hudson County Machine.  Her citizen led lawsuit on behalf of Hoboken voter rights places her once again in their sights.  But that's hardly news anymore.

Tonight the mayor must pivot off the enormous challenges overcome in the past two years and show everyone where she wishes to take the City.  Construction can finally commence on Sinatra Park (after an RFP process) and open space is one of her main priorities both short and long term.  Beyond that, it's anyone's guess what choices she'll make.   We're as curious as everyone else.


Mayor Dawn Zimmer will be giving a State of the City tonight.  After a two year period of fighting off disasters, it's her vision for Hoboken people will be most interested in hearing.


From the City release: The event will take place on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm at the DeBaun Auditorium in Edwin A. Stevens Hall on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology.
The main entrance is on 5th Street directly across from the Stevens Park. The wheelchair entrance is located in the rear entrance of the building on River Street with handicapped parking located behind the two buildings (McLean & Babbio) located directly across the street from the ramp. For additional information, visit:http://www.debaun.org/Directions.html

The latest on the resistance to the Monarch Project from HobokenRPW


Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront announce:


1) Hoboken MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER invited all members of our group to attend her STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS on Wednesday evening, January 25, 2012 at 7pm.  The address will be made in DeBaun Auditorium in the Edwin A. Stevens Hall on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology.  The main entrance to use is on 5th Street across from Stevens Park, while the handicapped accessible entrance is located in the rear of the building on River Street.  The Mayor has stressed how important it is to defeat the Monarch project (http://hudsonreporter.com/view/full_story/17245976/article-Zimmer-reports-on-quality-of-life-issues?instance=hoboken_letters_story_left_column) and we hope to hear a good deal about her plan in Wednesday evening's speech.

2) The HUDSON COUNTY PLANNING BOARD will hold a special meeting in the next 30 days to handle the overflow of concerned citizens who signed up at the first meeting to speak out against the project (http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2012/01/hudson_county_planning_board_t_1.html).  Kevin Coakley, legal counsel representing Shipyard Associates, attempted to silence our protest by arguing residents of the Hudson Tea buildings could not make public comments because the condo association's legal counsel had already spoken.  The Board quickly denied Mr. Coakley's request and decided a special meeting would be needed to hear the overwhelming negative public outcry.  We will keep you updated when we know when this meeting will be held.  The more vocal public support we receive the better.

3) The HOBOKEN PLANNING BOARD has notified us the Monarch project will be on the agenda for their meeting on Tuesday evening, March 6, 2012 at 7pm.  The Hoboken Planning Board is our greatest opportunity to defeat this project.  WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!  We must ensure the room is filled and overflowing into the hallway with residents opposing the project.  11 years ago this same developer withdrew his application to develop the uptown piers after a strong showing of opposition from local citizens (http://betterwaterfront.org/?p=1022).  It has been communicated to our group numerous times by many public officials that a strong showing of opposition at public hearings is imperative to defeating this project.  Please plan to attend this meeting.

Regards,
Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront
@HobokenRPW on Twitter