Monday, March 31, 2014

Belmar mayor strangles himself in triangulation attempt on SandyGate

An interview over the weekend saw the unfortunate mayor of Belmar trying to follow through on admitted coordination with the governor's administration but he couldn't bring himself to say the mayor of Hoboken lied.

He instead lands up admitting he may not have been able to hear all of the conversation in question with DCA commissioner Richard Constable.

Preceding that interview is background by Steve Kornacki who has done more detailed work on this story on TV by far then anyone else. 



The video below shows Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty detailing what he heard in the conversation between DCA commissioner Richard Constable and Mayor Zimmer shortly after the conversation outside the Hoboken Shoprite between Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and Mayor Zimmer.

Or is he admitting he didn't hear the entire conversation but the portion about hazard mitigation?

Is this a TV interview or an Al Qaeda hostage video? When you see the end of the segment watch how nervous the poor Belmar mayor gets when the host asks him about the coordination of his appearance on his show with the Christie administration.

Throughout the interview the Belmar mayor refuses to say Mayor Zimmer lied. He says what he heard did not include anything about "money flowing" in Hoboken for cooperation.



FYI - While the MSV website takes to the Google Chrome browser best, these videos appear to have a love affair with Firefox - at least on a mac.

Correction: As noted in earlier MSV stories, the conversation between the mayor and Lt. Gov. took place outside Shoprite. It was mistakenly referenced and corrected here from the local A&P.

Bombshell revelation: Mayor Zimmer told lawyer about Lt. Governor's SandyGate remarks same day!



Mayor Zimmer asks City Council to allow City land use attorney to testify on SandyGate

In the latest pivotal twist to SandyGate, Mayor Dawn Zimmer is asking the Hoboken City Council this week to release a lawyer from attorney-client privilege she consulted on the same day of her conversation with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. 

The revelation Mayor Zimmer spoke with a City attorney the same day as a controversial conversation with the Lt. Governor outside the Hoboken Shoprite may prove signifiant in a dispute over what was said between the parties.

The request to the council comes on the back of the mayor's allegations last January where she alleged a quid pro quo by members of the Christie administration for a billion dollar development proposal in Hoboken's northwest by the Rockefeller Group in exchange for Hurricane Sandy aid. 

The bombshell development comes with the mayor issuing a resolution for Wednesday night's council meeting to allow Hoboken land use attorney Joseph Maraziti to testify in the ongoing federal investigation on SandyGate by the US Attorneys Office.

Over months since she first made her allegations, Mayor Zimmer has faced severe criticism for writing as critics have claimed solely to "her diary" and not telling others about the alleged encounter with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.

The US Attorneys Office however immediately followed the allegations and began its own investigation last January. The mayor and her administration have been relatively silent but stated members of her staff and some council members were told of the incident going back to last summer.

Councilman Dave Mello previously confirmed he was one among a handful told of the mayor's encounter with the Lt. Governor last summer. The mayor sharing similar and timely details of her conversation with the Lt. Governor to others may prove pivotal to the credibility of her claims.

On Sunday, news show "Up with Steve Kornicki" telecast the potentially explosive development writing on its news page:


The Sunday story follows an internal report the end of last week by the governor's office countering both BridgeGate and SandyGate.  That report was met with skepticism for both its cost (a million dollar fee) and the integrity it arrived at the report's conclusions. The interviews weren't conducted under oath and many parties central to both BridgeGate and SandyGate played no role.

The mayor's administration declined to participate in the governor's internal investigation and she released a statement decrying the state report as a "whitewash" Friday while again offering to testify under oath.

The 360 state page report may also have been helpful to the mayor confirming the Lt. Governor had been with Governor Christie the previous night preceding the conversation in the Hoboken A&P parking lot. That detail is secondary but one component in the mayor's alleged conversation with the Lt. Governor.

Also on Sunday, the state report conducted by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher was reported to be the second highest paid by the NJ Attorney General's Office receiving $3.1 million in 2013 in a Sunday Star Ledger story.

Last May, Mariziti communicated in an email he was facing a "full court press" about the Rockefeller project from Wolff & Samson head David Samson and former NJ DCA director Lori Grifa who left the Christie Administration to become a lobbyist for the law firm.

MSV will have more on these breaking developments.




Talking Ed Note: MSV has focused little on this blockbuster story since the US Attorneys Office announced its federal investigation. Since then, there's been lots of wild attacks and accusations. Most recently over the weekend, the Hudson Reporter released a story depicting as controversial Mayor Zimmer's communications with the governor's office leading into the November election.

The inference being the mayor is somehow inconsistent has never added up since she is a mayor of one among hundreds of NJ municipalities and requires good relations with the state executive, especially before a critical second round of Sandy aid is issued. Equally important, the mayor and every pol in the state knew very well Governor Christie was being re-elected and the only question was by how large a margin.

Wednesday night's council meeting should see approval for the resolution freeing the City's land use attorney to testify and answer questions in the federal investigation. That is as long as all five votes likely to vote yes on the reasonable proposal are available.

If not, you can anticipate a rejection by the Old Guard Council of No members. Short of that, Mr. Mariziti will likely become a witness for the US Attorneys Office.

The full Sunday report from Steve Kornicki with video is available at:

http://www.msnbc.com/steve-kornacki/hoboken-consider-waiving-attorney-client-privilege-for-city-lawyer-christie-scandal

Update: Today's story has also hit the Star Ledger and is the top story on the homepage of NJ.com.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Phil Cohen announces run for Freeholder - Mayor Zimmer, Mayor Fulop and County Democratic Chair Prieto all extend endorsement

From the desk of Freeholder candidate Phil Cohen:





PHIL COHEN ANNOUNCES FREEHOLDER CANDIDACY
HOBOKEN MAYOR ZIMMER, JERSEY CITY MAYOR FULOP AND HUDSON COUNTY DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZATION CHAIRMAN PRIETO ENDORSE COHEN



Phil Cohen today announced his candidacy for 5th District Freeholder in the June 3 democratic primary. An attorney who serves as a Commissioner on the Hoboken Zoning Board of Adjustment, Phil Cohen has a long history of active involvement in local civic affairs. Cohen has served as a Vice Chair of the Hoboken Democratic Party and a member of the Hoboken Planning Board. He is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the United Synagogue of Hoboken, the past Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Stevens Cooperative School, and a recipient of the Corporate Leadership Award from the Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation.

Phil Cohen said, “I am running for Freeholder to bring greater cost-effectiveness and fiscal responsibility to county government. I have seen first hand the real difference Mayor Zimmer’s fiscal reforms have made here in Hoboken and I have also seen the positive changes Mayor Fulop is making in Jersey City. As Freeholder, I will employ a similar approach.”

Phil Cohen said, “I am a strong supporter of workers’ rights and protecting the middle class, including the recent successful effort to raise the State’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25.” Phil Cohen went on to say. “I will be a strong voice for Hoboken and Jersey City on the Freeholder Board.” Cohen noted that he was proud to be running on the County's Democratic line with Senator Booker and Congressman Sires, and pledged an active, grassroots campaign.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer said “I’ve known Phil Cohen for many years and his service to our community has been exemplary. He will fight for the residents of our district to make sure that our voices are heard and we are treated fairly. I am proud to support Phil, and know that he will work hard for our district.”

Mayor Fulop said “Phil Cohen has the kind of commitment to good government that we desperately need in County Government. His experience as an engaged municipal leader will make him an enormous asset to our County. I strongly support his candidacy for Freeholder.”

“Phil Cohen is a strong candidate to serve the Fifth District and Hudson County,” said HCDO Chairman Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. “I am proud to join Mayor Zimmer and Mayor Fulop in supporting Phil and his Freeholder campaign for the upcoming June primary.”

Hudson County’s 5th Freeholder District includes all of Hoboken and a portion of Jersey City. 

When the love is gone...

An internal report from the New Jersey governor's office cleared him of wrong doing in BridgeGate with a cherry on top absolving any allegation regarding the charges by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer of a quid pro quo on Sandy aid for approving the northwest project proposed by the Rockefeller Group.

Shocking no one but with its million dollar fee, the law firm hired to perform an internal investigation came back with its results implicitly suggesting Gov. Christie may be a viable candidate in the presidential sweepstakes in 2016 after all.

Or was that report's conclusion all along?

The Star Ledger featured that story with the report stating Governor Christie had "no role" in BridgeGate while yet another Star Ledger story focused on Mayor Dawn Zimmer's account, with the law firm's report calling her allegations "unbelievable" and "demonstrably false."

Mayor Zimmer's administration which declined to work with the governor's internal investigation saw the mayor dismiss the report as biased and again offer to testify on the matter when it counts most, "under oath.  In a statement the mayor called the law firm's report a "one-sided whitewash."

Gov. Chris Christie visited Hoboken after Hurricane Sandy and enveloped the mayor and Hoboken with affection.
It was returned in kind last November by Hoboken voters but those days seem long past now.

Talking Ed Note: While the mayor continues to hold steady to her position and offers to testify under oath there should be no illusion what people may say with the stakes so high and the Oval Office itself the prize.

Political operatives, (wannabe) career loyalists and lawyers who without hesitation are willing to out and out lie - and worse - lie under oath appear less a rare a commodity these days. For a taste of such vermin, see your local band of dwindling, embittered (and paid) Masonistas.

Better yet, don't. You can thank Da Horsey later.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The transparent silence of Beth Mason on her million dollar campaign violations

MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE FEATURE




Councilwoman Beth Mason's staggering three week silence on her biggest scandal to date.


No explanation from Beth and Richard Mason of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz hit with hundreds of campaign violations by NJ watchdog agency and facing millions in fines.

Hoboken's army of political operatives on the payroll and at the ready to issue press releases at the behest of Councilwoman Beth Mason have fallen silent over weeks with nothing to say on her and her husband's hundreds of campaign violations.

Since the limited initial story broke on PolitickerNJ, the most influential statewide political site, the only comment coming from the Mason family was from their lawyer saying no punitive fines should be levied against his clients.

However, both Beth and Richard Mason face potentially several million in fines. No media has published one word from Hoboken's self-anointed Queen of Transparency offering any explanation how she worked herself into such a predicament.

Mason who has been known to viciously attack others using her army of political operatives on the flimsiest of pretexts or outright fabrications, herself launched one verbal assault on an empty council chair when Councilman Peter Cunningham was away attending the funeral of his mother in law.  Her scorched earth tactics before the 2013 election had Councilman Ravi Bhalla weighing legal action against her. (She followed with YouTube campaign attacks and writing to his employer at the prestigious law firm of former Governor Jim Florio.)

Some knowledgeable observers prefer Beth Mason's apt name Hoboken Queen of Dirty Politics, partially earned when two of her political operatives were referenced similarly by a judge for their perjuries in a Union City Municipal trial.  One was up for harassment of a former BoE official and her young kindergarten daughter on school property and remains on the Mason family payroll.

In addition to the hundreds of campaign violations for the 2009 and 2011 campaigns, MSV highlighted how Mason money broke numerous campaign and federal laws with widespread distributions of cash across Hoboken and within the Hoboken Housing Authority, a hotbed of activity for illicit cash for votes schemes.

The reckless pile of violations don't end there. MSV has cited her TV and online ads previously, even asking her directly in a City Council meeting why they weren't filed in her 2011 campaign reports. No answer was offered and there's no explaining how the expenditures were legally reported as there's no record of her doing so.

Then there's the flagrant violation of Hoboken's pay to play ordinance. Beth Mason was challenged for exceeding legal campaign contributions, totaling almost $7,000 to the Move Forward Nazi Truck BoE slate. When passed by the Hoboken City Council in 2011, she unilaterally declared the law "unconstitutional." Her illegal contributions followed a year and a half later.

In addition, Beth Mason has been identified as the underwriter of the infamous 2012 Nazi Truck campaign in the BoE election. The related expenses for that political operation have never appeared in any of Mason's campaign reports for obvious reasons.

Hoboken's two rabbis publicly called for an apology for the Nazi Truck and its multiple visits where on two different nights the operation reportedly orchestrated by Beth Mason's chief of political operations James Barracato sent the vehicle outside the Wallace School one night before a BoE meeting and outside Hoboken City Hall the next night before a City Council meeting.

Beth Mason arrived mere seconds before that council meeting with the Nazi Truck parked right outside. What was her reaction to the continuous looping broadcast proudly showing the Nazi swastika in an attack ad on BoE trustees up for re-election, Council members Peter Cunningham, Jen Giattino and Mayor Zimmer?

Sometimes a picture tells the story. MSV took this photo before the council meeting starting on Beth Mason's arrival:

Beth Mason emits a pleased smile upon entering the City Council as members prepare to start with the Nazi Truck outside.
MSV has evidence she funded the Nazi Truck parked on lower Washington Street outside the council meeting.
Where is her apology publicly requested by both Hoboken rabbis?

Beth Mason has failed to explain not only how she faces record breaking NJ fines for campaign violations but why she refuses to make an apology for underwriting and backing the Nazi Truck's appearances in Hoboken.

The public has a right to know. Isn't that right Ms. Mason?

Talking Ed Note: Below are the full NJ ELEC public documents detailing the hundreds of campaign violations by Beth Mason, her husband Richard Mason of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, her entire council slate and de facto treasurer Ines Garcia Keim.









The Hoboken troika above double as board members in the questionable Mason Civic League. From top: Richard Mason of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Beth Mason and James Barracato.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

BoE VP Ruth McAllister: "The State funding formula is not working"

We have two issues that must be addressed in Hoboken’s overall Public Educational System: funding fairness and balanced enrollment.  These two issues are universally recognized by all four district leaders, yes, all four districts, the Hoboken Board of Education Schools, Hoboken Charter School, Elysian Charter School and HoLa Charter School.  The four school leaders have all met to discuss these issues, at Dr. Toback’s behest, and they all agree that the State Funding Formula is not working for any of them and that there is an unintended segregation effect in our system on the school age child population and they all would like to address it.

In the recent discussions over the expansion of HoLa Charter School, the funding of only two districts was at stake.  The funding that was in question was either going to remain available to the Hoboken Board of Education schools or it would be diverted to HoLa.  Elysian and Hoboken Charter would not be directly affected.  HoLa’s Board and parents advocated for their funding and the Hoboken Board of Education and parents advocated for their funding.   I understood the HoLa board and parents actions, I spoke with, met and emailed many.  I also spoke with, met and emailed with many of the district’s parents. Both groups had something in common, they were equally passionate in their pleas and support for their own districts and their students, rightfully so. It is unfortunate, but the State has set up a situation where one district's gain is another district loss in terms of funding.

Dr. Toback and the charter school leaders have all expressed their concern for the unintended segregation effect. The question is how is this addressed?  The first step is always to acknowledge its existence and develop solutions.  When corporations review their statistics and see a diversity issue they create a diversity action plan to address the issue.    These written plans outline goals and actions over multi-year periods to achieve these goals.  A true effort involves evaluating why, addressing those reasons and evaluating your results.  Having four diversity plans is one solution, but I think the state needs to address its charter law and mandated lottery system to come up with guidelines to make this right.

I want the State of New Jersey to take responsibility for creating both of these community dividing issues.  We all need to lobby the state together to address the funding issue and the diversity issue with changes in legislation that do not pit one school district against another. 

Lastly, taking a critical look at how the funding is affecting the BOE schools and asking for relief does not translate to me wanting to close down all the charters.  I have sat quietly while the charter allocation has gone up from 4 million to 8 million dollars in 4 years.  Through responsible budgeting and eliminating waste in the budget, the BOE was able to absorb those and other increases and the decline in funding.  In 2009 there were approximately 525 employees on the payroll and now there are approximately 400.  We have diverted those savings to our classroom, to infrastructure, to technology, to professional development and extensive work on the curriculum. Unfortunately, many of our revenue sources have recently been constrained, State aid, federal Aid and (only our) School Choice cut, making it harder to accommodate our students while diverting ever increasing charter funding year after year.

I understand that these issues create contentious conversations.  I also know that my colleagues and I have worked diligently for the children and for the Hoboken taxpayer and resident.  We have a proven record of improvement in all areas and we will continue to work toward our goals even with the challenges that this year’s budget brings.

My email address is rmcallister@hoboken.k12.nj.us.  All are welcome to contact me about the above or any school related issue.



Thank you for considering my view,
Ruthy McAllister
Vice President

Hoboken Board of Education

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Horse Sense: Hoboken faces speed bumps for basic road improvements

The City of Hoboken isn't alone, slammed with a harsh winter leaving roadways less than desirable. This of course was before many roadways especially Washington Street were already less than desirable.

Lots of complaints about navigating on local roads can be heard. $2 million requested in bonding by the mayor is the proposal on the table as available State funds won't put a dent in the problem.

A bond proposal requires six votes on the City Council. Six votes means that beyond the five "normal" reform oriented votes, - council members who are willing to listen, discuss and entertain the mayor's proposal - one vote must come from among the Old Guard council: Beth Mason, Terry Castellano, Timmy Occhipinti and Michael Russo.

That sixth vote in recent years on many a noteworthy measure has been difficult if not impossible to come by.

As my colleague on the Hoboken Journal coined, the Council of No was consistent in saying no. Some of the Old Guard Council's recent collective actions has meant a no to the unanimous public support for repaving Washington Street (taking advantage of grant funding at that time from outside government sources) to refusing approval for the final 9-11 memorial. (Timmy wanted to "test" it in a wind tunnel at Stevens first).

This puts the Hoboken public in an odd position. As most are not likely to petition their local council members they will merely gripe or comment on the City of Hoboken Facebook page why straight forward matters are not moved ahead. Others will yell as they pass City Hall.

Start learning your Council of No. Perhaps they will relent and show the people of Hoboken some mercy.  It's more often than not most definitely a no in the last four long years.

There's of course alternate avenues, pardon the pun. Perhaps "Novenas for Hoboken road repair," Lord hear our prayer.

Hoboken's harsh roads are all the rage. A City $2 million bond proposal seeks to address the damage from the harsh winter.
Bonds require six votes meaning at least one is needed from among the Council of NO: Beth Mason, Terry Castellano, Timmy Occhipinti and Michael Russo. Strap in Hoboken, this could be a bumpy ride.

Talking Ed Note: Hoboken says it's hit four figures with pothole repair. Everyone is weary of the cold weather and wants to see lasting improvements. That's what it takes.  That and six of nine votes on the Hoboken City Council.

Monday, March 24, 2014

BoE announces 3.9% tax increase and potential 54 layoffs

Thursday night the Hoboken Board of Education announced a preliminary budget with almost a four percent tax increase with an unknown budget deficit it says potentially may require 54 layoffs.

The numbers determining the figure of 54 layoffs can't be calculated due to the lack of financial details.  Most of the negative budget impact is attributed to federal, state cuts in aid and charter school increases although other key drivers are part of the financial picture based on limited information, some from late week reports.

A federal cut is attributed as 15% but the percentage figure does not indicate what the actual dollar amount is to the Hoboken school district. The district is expected to see a tax levy of $39 million in its $64.8 million budget.

Some sources believe the state loss may derive from changes in the school choice program. Hoboken reportedly will see $250,000 less in the program due to a formula change. Previously, NJ school districts could accept outside students based on a popular statewide choice program. Additional restrictions were added by the State after school districts often overestimated the amount of students enrolling resulting in huge over payments across the state.

Among the additional costs hitting the BoE district are spiraling health care costs, new contract increases taking affect (3.4% annually) and a flat student population without significant revenues via the school choice program. Retirement savings from departing senior district employees acting on state pension changes in recent years are not likely to offer significant offsets this year.

Another expense for the BoE is its unpaid school lunch program bill carrying a years long price tag, upwards of 750K. A payment schedule to eliminate the that bill will be levied against its annual budget over multiple years according to one BoE administration source.

One option in favor of the district is its cap bank, where prior year budgets below the 2% annual increase allowed are permitted to be utilized on the back end of a three year period. As the district is over the 2% annual tax increase permitted, it's unclear how much of a cap bank is available beyond the 1.9% in the total 3.9% addition already planned.

A million dollar reduction in the preliminary budget has been implemented based on actions taken by Superintendent Mark Toback.

Last week, BoE President Leon Gold said the charter schools were "bankrupting" the district but HoLA President Barbara Martinez countered the suggestion saying the half a million required in its expansion hardly offset the $64.8 million budget to the degree requiring layoffs in the district.

Martinez is quoted as saying "The most important thing for people to understand here is that HoLa spends $11,000 per pupil and the district spends north of $24,000 per pupil."

Last year the three Hoboken charter schools costs were a bit over $7.8 million with this year coming in at $8.3 million.

Some/additional figures require confirmation in the preliminary budget.

Hoboken High School at night during the Hurricane Sandy emergency with volunteers awaiting to unload supplies.
The BoE is underwater and says it may need to increase taxes and lay off 54 employees.

Talking Ed Note: The funding to Hoboken's school district is complex and more details are required to identify the projected dollar figure gap in the preliminary budget. It's unclear how the layoff figure of 54 was determined without complete data.

MSV will look to get more questions answered so readers should feel free to submit questions to smartyjones@me.com.

The City of Hoboken's $107.6 million introduced budget is likely to include a tax increase of 1.5% after some additional tax rateable come online this year. Health care costs, an 800K charge for illegal early retirements under the Roberts administration, a possible million in legal losses with an impact from new municipal contracts all play a role in the increase expected to come in below two percent.

The slight anticipated increase to the City budget will be the first increase since 2009 under Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Previously, she delivered double digit municipal tax decreases.

In the last few years, municipal budget hearings have produced additional cuts, in the range of several hundred thousand one year, almost all of which driven from the administration or its reform allies on the council. Typically, the Old Guard council fails to attend much of the budget hearings and although complaining about the budget puts nothing on the table in the way of true cuts.

This BoE story was partially based on figures from the weekend story by reporter Dean DeChiaro.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hoboken’s Future Promise as a Hotbed of Business Start-Up Success

The following Guest of the Stable submission comes courtesy of Ethan Chazin.



In the interest of full disclosure, let me start by saying I LOVE Hoboken.

My wife and I moved here in 1998, and our daughter was born here.  I formed a business consulting and career coaching firm in town in 2009.  I have worked with thousands of residents to provide career coaching and business consulting.

My commitment to ensuring the future success of this town is reinforced by my membership in the Hoboken Rotary, and I am also a member of the Hoboken-based BNI group, Gold Coast.
I have been a member of the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce, conducted job search boot camps in town to hundreds of residents, and gave career exploration talks to over 500 students at Demarest and Hoboken High School.

My ongoing frustration with the town is there is no central authority (Task Force) empowered to coordinate initiatives that bring together the towns’ students, graduates, entrepreneurs, start-ups and small business owners. We need a cross-functional Team combined with public sector/private enterprise representation to foster new business development and jobs creation of substantial magnitude in such fields as green initiatives, clean technology, and high technology.

There is a Hoboken Technology Task Force that was formed in March, 2012 with the assistance of Aaron Price and the NJ Tech MeetUp. This Task Force was created to facilitate new technology development.  Of late, it appears that the Task Force’s focus has changed to now focus on IT and telecommunication infrastructure development.

I would like to see our Administration facilitate an open and honest discussion about the town’s long-term plans to facilitate new technology and 21st Century post manufacturing jobs creation similar to StartUp NY.  It was this glaring lack of public discourse and public/private sector enterprise that led me to form a Hoboken Business networking group last year.

Our Hoboken Business Rainmakers group is now 200 members strong, with members coming from as far away as Staten Island and Pennsylvania.  Such initiatives are required for the city to facilitate connections between students, entrepreneurs, professionals, business owners, as well as local vendors and service providers.

There are many solutions that Hoboken could implement, to realize its potential as a world-class center of entrepreneurial business start-up activity.  One such initiative could be bringing together a forum/Council type of entity comprised of individuals that serve on City Government, run local business establishments, not-for-profit organizations, and educational functions.

Such a Task Force could be patterned after Business Improvement Districts, Economic Development Centers, or Urban Enterprise Zones. These entities receive tax incentives, and can leverage statewide funding to supplement private funding sources for to help foster jobs growth and new business creation.

We have an internationally renowned technology and engineering college in Stevens Institute of Technology.   The University has an Entrepreneur and Innovation Center that could function as a pipeline to feed new businesses in town and thus serve as a significant source of new high tech jobs creation.  I would love to know what the city’s current strategy is for connecting with Stevens.
I served on the student business plan competition at Stevens last spring, and it was amazing to see all the fantastic new business ideas.  No one from the city was involved, so I wonder how, if at all, is our town engaging the University to create an entrepreneur launch forum?

Hoboken has the tremendous potential to serve as a 21st Century start-up community, much like Austin, Texas with the direct involvement of the University of Texas and Dell Computers.  Hoboken’s proximity to New York City (Silicon Valley) should provide it with a significant number of strategic benefits to spur investment in technology and entrepreneur business start-up activity.

For starters, there are many local area business incubators associated with local colleges and Universities like NJIT, NJCU, Montclair State, etc.  We also have a highly educated work force.  The town has doubled in population from the 2000 to 2010 Census.  There seems to be ongoing discussion surrounding the Observer Highway (NJ Transit) development initiative that will add 2-3 million square feet of combined residential-commercial space. What percent of that 7 block stretch of real estate from the Path down Observer highway has been ear-marked for innovative and entrepreneurial ventures?

It is not as if we lack for the resources to facilitate an evolution from the town best known for pizza, Frank Sinatra and the birthplace of baseball into a 21st Century entrepreneur community. What we truly lack is a defined long-term vision for the future of business growth to leverage technology.  Certainly no one can dispute the tremendous resources and time that the city had to spend just to get its infrastructure back up after Hurricane Sandy. In fact, that work continues to date, and the amount of resources required has likely set the city’s long-term technology planning back considerably. 

There are many local single initiatives taking place in town, but there seems to be a lack of any coordinated initiative on a citywide basis.  Thanks to the work of Greg Dell Aquila, Hoboken has a shared entrepreneur workspace called Mission 50 located in the Harrison Business Center that received recent coverage by the Hoboken Reporter. 
     
Who is coordinating the disparate stand-alone initiatives on a citywide basis?  Why are we wasting such tremendous potential? I have expressed a strong interest in this with a number of influential people in our local political and business organization.   No one has an answer.

What do you think?


Ethan L. Chazin
President & Founder
The Chazin Group LLC