Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kingpin: More personal observations on the state of the Mile Square City


Did I get your attention?  I said I have a flair for the dramatic.  “Haters gonna hate”.  If I’m not pissing someone off, I’m not doing it right.  I found it astonishing that as the theme of my first column was about Reform not respecting other viewpoints within reform, most if not all of the negative comments were exactly that.  Where did I represent myself as being an “insider?  My observations were exactly that, my observations.  You have a right to disagree. And things may present themselves, in which I am flat out wrong, but opinions and observations belong to individuals and these are simply mine.  I again thank the Horsey for allowing me to express mine in this forum.  I do feel bad about the way it came across that I was bashing Phil Cohen.  Phil is not a loser.  He was listed on my loser column in regards to the election he lost.  I also said Phil is a pioneer for reform, but those words did not resonate with the readers as much as the negative.  Phil, if you are reading this, I apologize if my words came across too negative.  You constantly stick your neck out for reform and spent time campaigning that took time away from being with your family.  I commend you on your efforts.  Don’t stop fighting the good fight. 

I appreciate the majority of the positive feedback and the majority of the comments sparked dialogue and conversation, which is exactly my goal with this column.  I want all voices heard, not just a select few who feel they have earned that right.  You don’t have to attend City Council meetings to earn that right, you don’t have to campaign or run for office, you just have to have the passion to care.  I have that passion and I assume all of you reading do as well. 

“Hoboken Reform is very diverse and we share this wonderful place we call home with other reformers that may not necessarily be in the same place in life.  It’s their home too, their businesses, their livelihood. We can not agree on everything, but we have to get past the point that if you disagree with anything of the current administration and create a voice of dissention, you must be a paid operative of Mason.”

I reiterate this.

I’m trying to create dialogue and throughout the course of my column my viewpoints will become quite apparent, but there isn’t a checklist to make sure I qualify for reform.  Reform is diverse.  We are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents.  We are 3rd generation business owners, newly weds expecting their first-born child and artists who have studio space in Newman-Leather for 20 years.   I believe in good, honest government, the kind of government that Dawn Zimmer and her council allies and Kids First have brought to Hoboken.  My credentials are simple.  The Horsey vouches for me.  You have put your trust in him and now please trust he has done his diligence prior to allowing me to contribute to MSV. 

After 100 comments on the first attempt, I’ve spent time wondering what I should write about next?  Should I discuss my thoughts on rent control, on parking or why I had a problem with Phil Cohen as the freeholder candidate?  There were tons of comments on who I am, what I stand for, what do I believe in?  Am I a reformer if I have a relationship with bar owners or can have a civil conversation with Terry Castillano?  Carmelo Garcia’s actions trouble me as much as the rest of you, but do I dare criticize the current administration? I know the current culture is instant gratification or if you are not with us, you are against us, but it is because of these conclusions that I write this column.  Reform is built on anti-corruption, good government and a belief that Hoboken can be everything we believe it can be.  Reform is not about public vs. charter schools, rent control vs. fair market value or pro vs. anti development.  These are important topics in which legitimate arguments can form from both sides.  But where is that debate?  Is it fair to say HOLA is a very successful program, but it sucks that in order to get off the ground they had to involve Frank Raia?  It’s a shame that Garcia and Ramos have a presence within HOLA, but some of the parents there don’t care about Hoboken politics, they just know that their child is speaking better Spanish at 9 than they ever did. 

Is all reform against the St. Paddy’s Parade?  Could it be on a Sunday, could it be on Sinatra Drive, could the bars agree to start serving alcohol at a later hour?  As long as there is no discussion, there will be no compromise.  Is it possible to create an “event tax” in which a portion of alcohol sales help pay towards safety, security and sanitation?  There is a whole group of Irish Hobokenites wanting to form their own Parade committee and don’t know or care who Helen Cunning is.   What about Rent Control?  I have friends in town who have lived in Hoboken forever and are in rent control apartments.  I don’t want to see them displaced.  Low-income housing is what the HHA is for, or what it should be for.  Unfortunately in Hoboken, the HHA is exploited and there are many who live in Church Towers and Marine View who do not need affordable housing.  Let’s tackle that and I bet that diffuses the rent control hot topic a bit.  But, there is enough dialogue about Rent Control; I’ll leave that to another thread.  Since I mentioned the HHA, is anyone else concerned that the $230 Million for Rebuild By Design came from HUD?  Our only HUD employee in town is Carmelo Garcia.  What involvement will he have in the handling of those funds?  Keep up the good work Dana.  Seems like last weeks HHA meeting continues to move things in the right direction. 

All I hear from this administration is quality of life.  But whose?  Do you not care about the 25-year-old renter?  Did you live in Hoboken when you were 25?  Did you dance on barstools, stay out till 2AM?  How about a 40-year-old single homeowner?  Are they not part of reform because they don’t have kids and have priorities other than more parks and playgrounds?  Being involved with reform as a property owner caring about property value is no less noble than being part of reform because you want a new park for your kids.  The families of Hoboken use several parks and fields including a beautifully renovated Sinatra Field and several updates to the Little League field.  The single community of Hoboken uses the bars and nightlife.  I see many Facebook likes when there is a Top 10 in Hoboken involving singles and the nightlife, but so many anti-bar comments when it comes to “Quality of Life” issues.  Councilwoman Giattino was able to draft an ordinance for the outdoor caf├ęs that took in consideration bar owners and residents.  At the end, most people found the legislation appropriate.

It is quite apparent from the comments of my first post that some of you are too self-righteous to ever agree with me.  That is your choice and we will still stand together against corruption in Hoboken and Hudson County.  I write this for those of you who will not be intimidated by those few voices who question ANYBODY or ANYTHING that is not their view of what reform is.  Reform is anti-corruption.  If Reform is going to continue to win elections we need to embrace the ideas of new Hobokenites looking to join reform, not criticizing them because they have not been in reform as long as some others and don’t completely agree with the Mayor’s handling of all issues.

I’m excited to hear about the PSE&G upgrades.  Obviously looking forward to the flooding solutions.  The designs for the SW Park that include parking and water storage look fantastic.  I still hope Capt. Pasculli gets the Police Chief job.   Now with Dr. Tobak’s resignation, there is another huge role to fill and trust that Leon Gold and the rest of the school board will make the right hire.  While I mention Leon, sure he made a stupid comment, but I don’t believe he should be ostracized for it.  Everybody is always looking for people’s gaffes, their gotcha moments.

Issues do not have to be black and white.  I want open-minded conversations.    That’s the path change.  This is not an old guard vs. reform issue.   I disagree with some of the ideas of the new master-parking plan.  I heard the talking point that we are leaving revenue on the table but cutting off meter parking at 9PM.  Should people have to leave their house at 11PM to feed the meter?  What about the bartender who loses track of time because the bar is packed at 11:45 on a Friday night?  Is it fair to them to miss it by 3 minutes and end up with a boot?   We share this square mile with many others who are not in the same place in life as you.  If a bartender parks his or her car on the street and 5 nights a week remembers to feed the meter, but the 6th night loses track of time because the Rangers are in the Stanley Cup Finals and the bar is packed, that one boot could cost more than an entire week of tips and now they can’t pay the rent.  We all don’t’ work 9-5s and come home to dinner with the family but we all share this 1 square mile as our home.

I disagree with the handling of Arts & Entertainment.  The Arts & Music Festival is a city initiative, not one of the Hoboken business community.  Do you think business owners really want out-of-town vendors setting up kiosks in front of their stores?   The City should take pride in the success of both the Spring and Fall Festival but it’s not a successful day for the retail stores on Washington.  The Chamber of Commerce can certainly do a better job, but it doesn’t seem that the administration makes small business a priority.  There are way too many open storefronts on Washington St.  A vibrant Washington St needs small business success and it’s a shared responsibility between business owners, the Chamber and the Administration, but they all seem to want to just blame each other.

I thought the Mumford & Sons concert was a step in the right direction, Dylan took a step backwards and this year there is no concert at this point.  The promoter, Bowery, cited difficulty working with the administration and when Live Nation was approached they declined as well.  Word gets around.  I’ve been made aware of several huge opportunities with massive marketing budgets lost because of a lack of understanding logistics by members of the administration.  I am hoping John P. Cary fills that void. It’s not productive to just bash the administration; my goal is to get the administration to be more open and active with members of the community and their initiatives.  What ever happened to The Pier Sessions?  From what I remember they were promoting local musicians, local artists and raising money for The Hoboken Shelter.  H-Mag is bringing back the Lackawanna Music Festival this year.  I hope it is a great success and it is certainly a step in the right direction.

So comment away… discuss my gender, what is my ulterior motive, with whom do I have a bone to pick?  I assure you solving the mystery of me will be anti-climatic.  Stop insulting the Horsey by implying that I am a mole for the Old Guard.  This isn’t about me.  It’s about us, it’s about our town and making sure our voices are heard, all of ours whether you attend City Council meetings, been part of reform well before I moved into town or feel that the current administration can do better.  Everybody can do better, if you think you are perfect, well then your arrogance will make you unable to listen to those around you and then you are no longer suited to represent a city of 50,000+ people.  I don’t want the mindset to be us identifying someone in the 2nd Ward to run against Mason.  My hope is that someone emerges through their own actions and initiatives.  We need to speak up, speak out.  We need to get out the vote before we need to vote.  My ideas may not be the same as yours, but don’t let that stop us from finding solutions together.