Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Michael Russo to Council President Cunningham: You're not Jesus Christ!

Ugly speech follows earlier attack of "racist" by Michael Russo at previous meeting

A failed 4-4 vote on HHA candidate Barbara Reyes led to the controversial political environment in recent housing authority meetings coming to the City Council.

Councilman Michael Russo during the contentious battle for political control over the Hoboken Housing Authority laid out an attack on Council President Peter Cunningham saying "You're not Jesus Christ."

Michael Russo took the Lord's name in vain while playing HHA politics.
It follows his "racist" charge from the last meeting.
Well he has to get in his election speeches.

The taking of the Lord's name in vain came with his asking legal opinion on Councilman Ravi Bhalla's comments earlier on a housing authority candidate.

The HHA candidate Barbara Reyes sponsored by Mason and Occhipinti spoke among numerous housing authority residents focusing on service.

Occhipinti concluded with a personal attack on HHA commissioner Jake Stuiver saying he was "pushing a political agenda," and did nothing for them failing to note his out-of-pocket

The HHA residents followed the vote yelling "We can, we will, watch us" in a chant briefly interrupting the proceedings.

Talking Ed Note: No reward for the Hoboken Sopranos for their continued lawsuit against the people of Hoboken.

The Old Guard council members are playing to the mob.  Taxpayers take note.

Hoboken Sopranos use appeal power on Doyle to sabotage 900K funding

As MSV outlined in the lead-in to the council meeting, the Old Guard council members stayed true to form voting down the emergency appropriations for the City budget.

No, it's not rocket science, it's common sense that when you sue the residents of the City of Hoboken to keep off a legal appointment in Jim Doyle, you will wield power to enjoy the fruits of your "temporary" victory.

Tim Occhipinti squawked about tax increases repeatedly and was corrected by Jen Giattino on his sound byte falsity.

Councilman Russo complained about the surplus saying it's not needed and made out the idea was a scam.  Councilwoman Giattino would later ask who is the municipal expert the four Old Guard council members would quote advocating for a zero surplus.

Of course killing the surplus helps in the next goal to the Old Guard agenda: force a tax increase.

Later, the Old Guard council would go ahead and kill the emergency appropriation.

Beth Mason complains about pennies for professional development of municipal workers while costing
Hoboken tens of thousands in her power grab for the Hoboken Sopranos in the Doyle lawsuit.

Talking Ed Note: The Carmelo Garcia HHA dog and pony show is now up.  These are the same characters who were screaming in favor of a lawyer not being rotated out and wearing "Benedict Jake" shirts.

The behavior in the council is at least far better at least than the HHA meetings.

City Council: emergency appropriations and HHA politics

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Tonight's meeting should be one big mess.  Since Jim Doyle will once again be sitting in the audience in limbo, his blood pressure should be checked frequently as an artificial war will be played out on several levels.

First, the City is in a bad position on approving a good budget.  Tonight appropriations will continue to be a very, ugly stumbling ground.  Why?  Well, if you nullify a fifth vote which the Mason family underwritten lawsuit continues to do, you get to play political games and do as much harm to Hoboken and of course get at the mayor.

That's ultimately what the Old Guard council lives for in these meetings.  Notice none of the four Hoboken Sopranos have missed one meeting since Judge Bariso ordered them all to attend and vote on Jim Doyle's appointment.  It's what we call in poker, a tell.

The huge news today of course is the partnership with the North Hudson Sewerage Authority and the City for a second pump.  A second pump is probably a game changer for Hoboken.  For the Old Guard it may just be unfathomable to see a second pump approved and installed on Mayor Dawn Zimmer's watch.

Even after Hurricane Sandy?  Yes, the hatred to stop the change that's working for Hoboken may be too hard for Russso, Mason, Occhipinti and Castellano to say anything other than they need more time and information to say yes to a low cost loan and approve a second pump for Hoboken.

Or will they see it as a losing proposition to fight it and allow a second pump to move forward?  Tonight won't be the night as it will need to await the next council agenda.

MSV is on a hot streak after yesterday's Fulop victory so we'll go on the record and say it's going to be a mixed bag with more sabotage aimed for the future, re: the Old Guard is dead set on killing the surplus which they have been trying to destroy for about two years now.  They were so close when Beth Mason held the chair in 2011 and they were thwarted and ran out of time as the State pointed out their incompetent figures.

Enter Councilwoman Jen Giattino and the surplus saved, what most any NJ municipal financial expert advises preserved.

Of course the Hoboken Sopranos are not interested in such things as best practices in government.  They are focused on usurping power, by hook or by crook.  Tonight a nice lady from the HHA will be put forward. Someone who will not vote or support any purview into the less than transparent Hoboken Housing Authority - because Carmelo Garcia doesn't allow that in his fiefdom.  Scratching under the covers there, well - you can't have that.

Which of course leads us to the HHA commissioner nomination tonight sponsored by Tim Occhipinti and Beth Mason.  Yes, the same people who have pumped thousands into the HHA during elections for "campaign workers," in massive voter fraud for Timmy who also when not working on his campaigns set up meth labs in the HHA.

And oh about those hundreds of bags of heroin Mr. Executive Director Carmelo Garcia...

Prepare yourselves Hoboken.  When the Old Guard starts seeing power bases dwindling, they do their ugliest.  Tonight will not be an exception coming on the back of Michael Russo yelling "racist" at the last meeting.

The election is in November meaning we're in the hot season.

The agenda:

Mayor announces initiatives on flooding, water and power

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Wednesday May 15, 2013, 

City of Hoboken

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Community: Mayor Zimmer Announces Infrastructure Initiatives to Address Flooding, Water & Power Systems

Mayor Dawn Zimmer was joined by officials from North Hudson Sewerage Authority and United Water today to announce major initiatives to upgrade Hoboken's infrastructure and address flooding, water distribution, and power resiliency.

Mayor Zimmer announced a partnership with North Hudson Sewerage Authority (NHSA) to build Hoboken's second wet weather flood pump in order to further alleviate Hoboken's 200 year flooding problem. The City and NHSA will work together to apply for a low interest $9 million loan from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust. The City would pay for and own the pump, while NHSA has agreed to pay for the engineering, permitting, loan application preparation, and operations and maintenance, a contribution estimated at nearly $5 million over 20 years. The pump, with a capacity of 50 million gallons per day, would further alleviate flooding in Western Hoboken.

The City has reached an agreement with United Water through which the water utility will pay for the costs of conducting a complete master plan of Hoboken's water distribution infrastructure. The plan will provide a prioritized schedule for upgrading the City's water distribution system. In order to fund these capital improvements, the City is also in the process of renegotiating the existing agreement with United Water - a 30 year agreement that was entered into in 1994 which did not provide any planning or funding for non-emergency infrastructure upgrades.

To improve the City's resiliency to power outages, the City of Hoboken is entering into a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, and PSE&G to design an energy resilient "smart grid." The design methodology uses advanced, smart grid technologies and distributed and renewable generation and storage resources as a way to improve the reliability, security, and resiliency of the electric grid. The City of Hoboken will be one of the first non-military applications of this methodology from Sandia National Laboratories.

Flooding remains one of Hoboken's historic challenges. Parts of the city, which were previously tidal marshes, still lie below the level of the Hudson River at high tide. As a result, when strong storms occur at high tide, the water cannot drain into the river by gravity, and it backs up, flooding streets. To alleviate the flooding, the stormwater must either be prevented from entering the sewer system or pumped out more quickly than it enters.

The City is pursuing both approaches - through the installation of additional pumps and through "green" technologies to divert, capture and store stormwater. In addition to pursuing the installation of the second flood pump, the City is supporting the North Hudson Sewerage Authority's Hazard Mitigation funding application for additional pumps. The City has also submitted its own grant applications for Hazard Mitigation funds to acquire land for three parks in western Hoboken. Hoboken was awarded a technical assistance grant to study the feasibility of building large underground detention basins under these parks to store stormwater runoff. Similarly, Mayor Zimmer has suggested to NJ Transit that the agency consider converting the Long Slip Canal just south of Hoboken Terminal into an additional stormwater detention system.

During Hurricane Sandy, Hoboken flooded because the storm surge caused the Hudson River to flow into the City from low lying areas in the south, including through the Long Slip Canal, and from the north. The City has applied for $44 million in Hazard Mitigation funding for a system of flood barriers, berms and gates at the north and south to protect the city from future tidal surges. The City is working to have its plan incorporated into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regional study. If a flood protection plan receives the approval of the Army Corps and the City is designated a "Shaded X" area, property owners in that area will no longer be required to purchase flood insurance.

Hoboken was one of three recipients of a grant from Together North Jersey for technical assistance to develop a Green Infrastructure Strategic Plan. The plan will develop stormwater management and flood control strategies, strategize key updates to the aging water system, look for ways to improve the resiliency of transit infrastructure, and identify important steps to help plan for climate adaptation. Through the Planning Board and input from the public, the City is developing a sustainability plan (Green Building & Environmental Sustainability Plan Element of the Master Plan) that will provide guidance for stormwater management, utilities, infrastructure and other sustainability priorities.

In addition to applying for funding that would enable the City to create detention systems under newly purchased open space, the City is pursuing a variety of other green initiatives to address flooding. Hoboken was recently awarded a grant to install rain garden curb extensions to capture stormwater runoff and has incorporated rain gardens in designs of new parks. The City legalized the use of rain barrels in 2011 and has required the use of green roofs in redevelopment areas to minimize runoff. The Shade Tree Commission completed a pilot program to expand tree pits and install new street trees along Washington Street between 1stStreet and 2nd Street, setting standards for other property owners. The Commission will launch a program to encourage more property owners to install street trees, which play an important role in reducing stormwater runoff.

The City has applied for approximately $2 million in Hazard Mitigation grants to install permanent emergency backup generators at critical community facilities including the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps, City Hall, Fire Headquarters and stations, Police Headquarters, the Public Works Garage, Multi-Service Center, Wallace School (shelter), and radio repeaters for the Police and Fire Departments. The City strongly supports PSE&G's proposal to consolidate Hoboken's three substations into two and to elevate and protect the remaining two substations from flooding.

Carmelo Garcia choice of HHA legal counsel voted down for fourth time

HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia sees legal counsel criticized by HUD voted down

After the re-org meeting last Thursday (shown below), the Hoboken Housing Authority held its regular meeting and again the topic of its legal counsel was up for approval.  HUD the federal agency with oversight had disqualified the process advancing the current counsel Charles Daglian.  For the fourth time, it was voted down.

Daglian who saw controversy erupt when he presided over the meeting where his contract was on the agenda for approval has seen criticism by the federal oversight agency HUD and also Hoboken Corporate Counsel Melissa Longo who was asked by then Chairman Jake Stuiver to offer advice on that matter, a request permitted within HUD guidelines.

HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia has acted to block any new professionals be approved and extend new eyes on the agency for almost a year as former Chairman Stuiver sought new legal counsel and auditors.

The questions arising from the staunch opposition by Garcia and the commissioners consistently backing his position led to several contentious meetings where HHA residents wore "Benedict Jake" t-shirts provided to them by Garcia and Old Guard backers.  Stuiver had led a Thanksgiving dinner the last several years for HHA residents providing funding himself for its success.

In the video below, Garcia injects himself as board secretary to arbitrate on the sequence of a vote between commissioners nominated for chair: Greg Lincoln and Rob Davis and deems it "a tie."

Garcia then refuses point blank to call the roll on the first nomination of Greg Lincoln.  The legal counsel is seen but not heard making remarks before Stuiver concedes a vote for Rob Davis.

Later in the same video a resident presents a petition to see Jake Stuiver out as commissioner and interjects repeatedly along with other HHA residents backing Garcia's power play to see another resident, Barbara Reyes seated in the same meeting.  (HHA commissioners are appointed by the City Council or Governor's appointment.)

"Take your seat Barbara," the resident is clearly seen and heard saying.  There is no admonishment by Garcia or legal counsel Charles Daglian for any of these interrruptions.

Also note, all resistance and interference to the proceedings of the meeting by Garcia end completely once Rob Davis takes over his seat as Chair.  Davis would call the vote himself on the vote for Vice Chair.  The motion to elect Dave Mello into the seat failed on a 3-3 vote.

Tonight Dave Mello will be voting as an at-large City Councilman on the Garcia pick Barbara Reyes for commissioner to bump out Stuiver.

Nothing less than the oversight of the HHA is at stake.

The HHA board has not been able to obtain numerous public documents in question including resident information, HHA employee headcount details and also until recently, the secretive contract of the HHA Executive Director himself.

In one recent meeting, Jake Stuiver asked to see Carmelo's Garcia's contract more than a dozen times when it was brought out in a meeting disputing separation of powers on vendor selection.  The contract was quoted and promptly handed back to Charles Daglian who quickly put it into his personal bag never to appear again.

MSV obtained the contract in an OPRA request to Trenton.

Questions on where seven figures during the time of Hurricane Irene to elevate generators went is one of several larger issues looming in the HHA.

The question is who will seek its accountability.

The Backstretch
: As for the surprise vote for Rob Davis as new Chairman, there's two perspectives. Jake Stuiver sent an email saying of his successor, "All of the reform commissioners agreed that I, as a holdover, should not continue as chair. Because Judy had served on the Board the longest, and because Greg and Dave had not yet completed all their coursework (though they still had time remaining to do so), I thought Judy would make the best choice.

I explained my reasoning to her weeks ago, including the fact that Greg and Dave had not yet completed all their coursework, and asked her whether she was open to it. At first she said she was open to it, but she ultimately told me, only days before the meeting, that for a variety of reasons she could not serve as either chair or vice chair. This left only Greg or Dave as choices for chair, and since the coursework is not a legal prerequisite, I asked Greg if he would take it on and he agreed to. I discussed this choice with my colleagues, all of whom, including Judy, knew that Greg had not completed his coursework yet, a topic that was specifically discussed, and nobody indicated that they could not support him for that reason. We all agreed, I thought, that it was much more important to have a chair who was committed to conducting the necessary oversight than to have a chair who had already completed all their classes, given the absence of any rule to the contrary. Given this history, I was genuinely shocked when Judy cast her vote for Rob Davis, since she knew about the issue with respect to the classes all along and had never indicated to me, or as far as I know to Dave or Greg, that this would present a problem for her."

Judy Burrell explained in a phone interview why she felt compelled to vote for Rob Davis. "I didn't know that Greg Lincoln hadn't taken any classes until that night during the meeting. If he had taken one or two it would be fine but to take none? I found out after everyone else during the meeting."

Adding to the atmosphere of incrimination yelled out by residents common during the HHA meetings, Burrell said, "I felt embarrassed because event though it's not the same as Maryanne Camporeale, I know the mentality."

During the meeting, a resident is clearly seen on the video (above) equating Camporeale's situation where she in effect resigned by not taking the required coursework within 18 months to Greg Lincoln who is scheduled to take courses this year. Burrell said she hoped to make the best of it, "I thought okay, Rob (Davis) will be chair and then we'll have Dave (Mello) be vice-chair."

The action by Burrell however was not reciprocated by the other commissioners: Jeanne Rodriguez, Rob Davis and Eduardo Gonzalez who consistently back Carmelo Garcia. They have stood together and consistently voted with Garcia's agenda.

Burrell concluded the interview recounting the problems she's faced sitting on the board at a recent meeting where a HHA resident began verbally attacking her. The resident in question is believed to be Evelyn Rodriguez. Burrell would call over Lt. Campbell at the end of the meeting who came over to provide support and had another Hoboken Police Officer escort Burrell safely home. (MSV witnessed Lt. Campbell's assistance.)

Rodriguez filed a harassment charge against Burrell the next day. Burrell has responded with her own complaint and the case has been moved to Jersey City. Rodriguez refused to sit with a mediator in Hoboken before the case was moved.

Talking Ed Note: Tim Occhipinti and Beth Mason have nominated Carmelo Garcia's choice, Barbara Reyes for HHA set for tonight's council meeting. Don't be surprised if Garcia sends in a squadron to back his pick too.  He knows he can't have his friend seated so he'll have someone equally accommodating.

Why should the Old Guard council benefit from their legal manufactured lawsuit and control any board in Hoboken let alone flip the HHA to themselves? Why reward their continued cost to the people of Hoboken ($30,000 and counting) giving them control over anything? They lost the staged lawsuit early this year in Hudson County Superior Court. A hearing is set for later this month on their latest appeal to the Appellate Court. Professionals dedicated to putting energy into the role of HHA commissioner is required. Nothing less is remotely acceptable.

If you want to truly help all the residents of the HHA, stand tall.  The reform council members should begin the hard work of finding talented, energetic individuals who will do the required work at the HHA.  When Jim Doyle takes his rightful place back on the City Council, see it through.