Wednesday, January 22, 2014

City Council shadow @ 7:00

The great suck out you're feeling is the air being pulled out of Hoboken by the national media caught up in the latest in the Gov. Christie "gate" scandals.  Tonight the City Council will get back to the business of running a city and consider ending meetings at midnite.

That means no more loons sitting around to yell their insanity past the witching Beth Mason hour, throwing racial bombs, transparent political operations from the "public" nor screaming for approvals or hijacking the meeting for million dollar profit in developer deals with no paperwork, etc.

With a reform majority, the adults are back in charge.

The agenda:

NJ U.S. Attorney: 'SandyGate serious' and the possible link to BridgeGate



According to a report, City Communications Manager Juan Melli said Mayor Dawn Zimmer will not be commenting further on SandyGate. The end of public comment by the mayor comes at the direction of federal investigators.

The announcement, reported to come from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark matches with that law enforcement office not commenting either.

Mayor Zimmer stated she met with the US Attorney's Office on Sunday and mentioned Hoboken had been paid a visit on Monday by the Feds on Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday.

For federal agents to skip a national holiday reflects the allegations Sandy aid were possibly leveraged to push ahead development of the Rockefeller Group is being taken seriously and any investigation is entering a quiet period.

Aside from the likely federal investigation under way, a development project in Fort Lee called Redevelopment 5 mirroring the size, scope and value of the proposed Rockefeller Group development in Hoboken may hold a key determinative factor within the buzz of allegations.

Each of the proposed developments are valued at up to ONE BILLION EACH.

According to a report by Steve Kornacki, before SandyGate broke, the Fort Lee Redevelopment 5 project had reached critical mass in its approval process last year:

Peeking further under the covers of the two development projects - in the billion dollar area for each can't be good news to Governor Chris Christie who was sworn in to his second term yesterday.  

The SandyGate scandal appears to have legs coinciding with a NJ legislative investigation into the controversial lane closures at the George Washington Bridge several months ago.

Legal observers are already saying the misuse of federal funds is a serious matter and the US Attorney's Office will act accordingly.  The Star Ledger posted a story quoting Fordham Law Professor James Cohen who views SandyGate as more serious than the GWB lane closures saying:

Ultimately, the US Attorney's Office is likely to seek parallels with other NJ government executives, mayor's and officials charged with public-private policy development in New Jersey and who may have felt heavy muscle coming down from gubernatorial height levels.

In the HBO series, the Sopranos, a meeting of bosses discusses the windfall from the "Esplanade Project" with a government official.  
Is Sopranos fiction meeting reality?

Talking Ed Note: Taken together, the Hoboken and Fort Lee's development projects in near proximity potentially hold a total value of $2 Billion.  That makes the Vision 20/20 scam in Hoboken put forward where millions in profits were on the table with NO MASTER PLAN to view by the public look like a pikers convention.

The lane closures in Fort Lee are akin to a message from a party unhappy with "their end," in the deal.  It would be a shame if a traffic or zoning problem for two or three proposed "express lanes" out of Fort Lee would run into problems.  Or did it -

"I don’t know why one town gets three lanes. One lane, maybe. Three lanes, for one town? I don’t quite get it.” Port Authority Chairman David Samson.

The law firm lobbying Hoboken on behalf of the Rockefeller Group development is Wolff & Samson.  Yes, the same Samson.

How much scratch can two billion dollar developments offer toward a presidential bid?

Related: The must read Steve Kornacki story on the Fort Lee billion dollar development:

Key documents in SandyGate support Mayor Zimmer's chronology of events

Hoboken Exclusive SandyGate Feature

Letter to Gov. Christie last spring reveals Mayor Zimmer "stunned" there will be "no Hazard Mitigation funding for Hoboken"

While some continue to question why Mayor Zimmer waited months before going public with her allegations Sandy aid was being linked to a potential billion dollar development, the claim the charges are merely she said, she said are not supported by key documents in the affair.

On May 8th, 2013 Mayor Zimmer wrote a letter directly to Governor Christie conveying the seriousness for the "severe flooding" and "we (the City) "urgently need the help of the State... for hazard mitigation grant funding for three additional pumps."

The letter goes on to detail the urgency saying the City needed the aid for the pumps "as soon as physically possible."

The mayor then writes, "Hazard mitigation is not just about the next Sandy," and later adds she was "stunned" to hear that (her quotation) "there will be no Hazard Mitigation funding for Hoboken."

Hoboken would then receive a tiny fraction of its total request in the low six figures, a key element in an ongoing dispute about how Sandy aid should have been distributed in the first round of funding.

A second round of funding is part of the reason the mayor says she withheld publicly criticizing Governor Christie.  While the funds are designated federal block grants, it's the State holding the decision powers on where they are directed.  Mayor Zimmer has stated she did not wish to completely jeopardize Hoboken in that upcoming application.

The mayor's letter concludes again requesting for Governor Christie's support and notes he's "always treated Hoboken fairly in the past."

But according to the mayor's statements, following this letter her conversations with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, the head of Sandy aid and DCA all insisted she delineate what she would support for the proposed Rockefeller Group development.

Email from former NJ DCA head Lori Grifa shows the strong interest in moving the Rockefeller Group development forward on behalf of the Samson Group, a powerful politically connected law firm lobbying for the developer with a Hoboken attorney working on the matter.

Included in the exhibits below are the actual journal entries the mayor kept in her own handwriting.

Mayor's letter to Gov. Christie / supporting documentation

Talking Ed Note: The above documentation clearly supports Mayor Dawn Zimmer's version of events showing why she would be caught "between a rock and a hard place" as she put it.

While fighting for initial Sandy aid flood mitigation funds, a second round left the mayor in a "no go" quandary as she had to juggle several balls at once and fend off what she described as mounting, continued pressure to get behind a massive project she didn't see as appropriate.

The mayor stated in TV interviews, approving selected acres of development for the Rockefeller Group would immediately lead to lawsuits against the city by owners of the adjacent properties in the area.

Who do you think would be the first to complain about that?

The second round of flood mitigation funds has yet to be awarded.  How Hoboken fares in the midst of the embroiling SandyGate scandal remains to be seen.