Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Chris Christie: "I'm in!"

NJ Governor Chris Christie made it official he'll be joining the more than dozen other Republican candidates seeking its nomination for President.

Gov. Chris Christie on his first visit to Hoboken as NJ Governor
announcing a 2.5% tax cap plan. He's announced he's running for President.

He joins a core of current US state governors and senators, 14 in all vying for the top prize.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, the controversial former US Secretary of State who received tens of millions of dollars to her family "foundation" from foreign sources/governments as she held office is considered the heavy frontrunner.

So far, Clinton is scantily opposed by the socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.

Another added competitor  is the former governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley, a beloved liberal icon after hiking almost $10 billion in state taxes and who made the state nationally infamous for a "rain tax."

Beth Mason sends out petitioners "for mayor"


Many in Hoboken took off for annual vacations around the July 4th holiday but some uptown in the Mile Square faced a scary Halloween proposition. 

Residents walking around on the street last weekend report being asked to sign a Beth Mason petiton "for mayor."

Are the petitions real? Are these petitions for second ward council or has Mason descended completely into madness and begun an absurd plan to obtain the top seat at City Hall?

Were the hired petitioners (intentionally) misinformed or is Beth Mason making noise with a second Hoboken Democratic Party meeting expected next month to select Vice Chair(s) and possibly an honorary chair?

Petitions for City Council are available to gather signatures for City Council ward races this fall. The deadline for filing petitions is August 31, a long way off in the distance.

Has Beth Mason gone completely out of her mind sending petitioners out to collect signatures for mayor?
Some eyewitnesses report being asked uptown to sign petitions for "Beth Mason for mayor."

Talking Ed Note: If these petitions are real documents from the City Clerk's office being collected for second ward council; there could be another problem to add to Beth Mason's lengthy list:  P-E-R-J-U-R-Y.

More to come.

Related: 600 people showed up at a Jersey City fundraiser garnering over $140,000 for Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.

The political NJ dignitaries drew from Essex, Middlesex, Monmouth, Bergen and of course Hudson County but there was no Beth Mason from nearby Hoboken.

She wasn't missed.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ruben Ramos prepares to join the party in the Hoboken fourth ward council race

And they're off!

Former Assemblyman and Hoboken City Councilman Ruben Ramos is about to join the party for the fourth ward council seat.

The long anticipated entry reported by PolitkerNJ late Friday would make the fourth ward council seat a full on battleground reminiscent of its legendary 2007 race.

In 2007, three fourth ward elections were required in a legendary battle between then upstart and unknown Dawn Zimmer and hometown favorite Chris Campos.

Ramos' anticipated entry into the fourth ward council race puts him on a collision course with challenger Dana Wefer and current occupant Timmy Occhipinti.

Ramos served previously as at-large City Councilman elected under the banner of former mayor David Roberts back in June 2005.

He went on to become NJ Assemblyman under the tutelage of Union City Mayor and State Senator Brian Stack for one two year term and was the top challenger to Mayor Zimmer's re-election in his bid for mayor in 2013.

Let the games begin!

Ruben Ramos (r ) at his 2013 mayoral kickoff party in April 2013. He's close to making official what
every Hoboken politco's expected and join Dana Wefer and Timmy Occhipinti in a battle for the fourth ward
council seat up for election this November.  He may have company on a coalition ticket with the extremely
controversial outgoing Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, aka "The Wire" and "Ethic Cleanser" who is expected to take on Councilwoman Jen Giattino in the sixth ward.

Talking Ed Note: Ruben Ramos most recently the loyal opposition leader running for mayor in 2013 will look for a repeat of his support in the fourth ward come November.

With a hometown advantage, there's only one person who can possibly take him on in the fourth ward and overcome the odds. It won't be Tim Occhipinti who saw the support of the Hoboken Syndicate vanish to Ramos months before he made his soft launch for re-election at Northern Soul.

Only one Hobokenite could possibly beat the odds: Dana Wefer.

In the face of a similar uphill climb to see the Hoboken Housing Authority Board of Commissioners regain its oversight powers, she first illuminated millions of dollars in illicit spending at the agency. The unauthorized spending by then Executive Director Carmelo Garcia was further compounded when several of the vendors paid turned out to give monies to his election committee.

That followed with the termination of Carmelo Garcia's contract last August before a mob of (paid?) protestors where this editor staved off assault but not robbery of gear partly seen in this now infamous video called The Fracas. (The stolen items were never returned.)

As Dana Wefer is continuing efforts to clean up that agency; several subpoenas were issued by the Feds in the HHA over recent months but the investigation's destination is yet unclear.

Wefer will see the full backing of the Reform Movement in Hoboken and Mayor Zimmer. Her kickoff saw two prominent reform minded council members in attendance: former City Council President and Councilwoman Jen Giattino and Councilman Jim Doyle.

Dana Wefer who announced her
candidacy for fourth ward Hoboken
City Council appears to have spurred
on Ruben Ramos who is expected to join
the fray soon.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Source: Beth Mason "ain't getting honorary anything"


Former Beth Mason allies turn their backs on her family checkbook as she makes public threats

Mere weeks ago, Beth Mason the controversial and unpopular occupant of the Second Ward council seat released a public threat to her Old Guard allies via her typical route via the Hudson Reporter.

By way of its political column, she threatened to run her own slate of Democratic Committee candidates who would win a majority and give her what she desperately sought: Chair of the Hoboken Democratic Committee.

Besides the threat coming after the candidate filing deadline, the Mason threat made public revealed that behind the scenes, her Old Guard allies were turning their backs on her demands and the family checkbook even as a decisive November council election looms not far in the distance.

Last week, Beth Mason made known to the public her newest threat. After the fiasco of the Hoboken Democratic Committee meeting, Mason left in a huff but she hasn't given up her quest to be handed a local party title.

Now Beth Mason is desperate to get a purely ceremonial title: honorary chair.

Hoboken's Old Guard factions differ on who should run and lead heading into November council elections but there's apparent agreement on disposing of the Beth Mason problem. They've tired of her endless tantrums for a title in the local Hoboken Democratic Party. They are in agreement she gets nothing and her threat to run herself and a council slate in the fall is equally a non-starter. One outside observer concludes, Beth Mason is "learning" what money can't buy. Even what Beth Mason  thought she bought and paid for already?

With the top prize of Democratic Chair already voted to the compromise candidate in Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano, Mason reportedly attended the meeting expecting to be given the title, "Honorary Chair."

Initial reports elsewhere claimed she was handed the position, at least one suggesting she shared the title of co-chair with the equally toxic and controversial Carmelo Garcia, Hoboken's outgoing Assemblyman.

MSV however refused in its extensive series on the local party activities to concede any such action had been voted upon or taken. Romano eventually confirmed the issue was open to evaluation either by an upcoming vote or assignment in a future meeting after legal review (unscheduled at the moment).

All of this out in the open push and pulling with her very public humiliation has Beth Mason seething.

Several people who had once been allies independently spoke to MSV on the condition their names not be made public. To a person they all showed disdain for Beth Mason's latest threat to obtain the title of "Honorary co-chair" and run her own council ticket this fall.

In the near term, the Hoboken Democratic Committee will hold another get together to vote at least for one if not more positions of Vice Chair. Most importantly, it'll act to satisfy the condition of its bylaws requiring one man and one woman to sit atop the two top positions.

One reliable source grew agitated when asked about what Beth Mason might expect to get at an upcoming meeting. "Listen, Beth Mason ain't getting honorary anything!" Their tone was definitive, exasperated and without question final.

While last weekend's "Between the Lines" column declared this the most contentious issue in a continuing factional political battle, the finality of the statement appeared apparent.

Another independent source intimate to the wrangling over months by Mason to be handed a party title saw last weekend's HR column as nothing but Beth Mason and her people "feeding things" in a desperate attempt to make herself look "more relevant" echoing the words of an early shot taken by the former Hoboken Chairman when MSV first reported the battle royale for Hoboken Democratic Party itself last April.

That source also expressed disdain for any council election effort Beth Mason would mount: either for herself or a council slate in November. Concluding on the entirety, this long time political player in Hoboken was non-pulsed about the matter.

"No shot," said a third source who viewed any Beth Mason ticket mounted in the fall as a complete non-starter. The view being if there's one way to energize Reform and the Hoboken public against you, it's having a campaign and candidacy with Beth Mason's name attached.

As far as the Old Guard is concerned, Beth Mason is kaput and her earlier bluff already called.

One observer removed from both the Old Guard and Hoboken Reform noted Beth Mason's series of tantrums saying she remains on the path to learning there are things money can't buy.

Clearly, that includes things (and people) Beth Mason thought she'd already bought.

One can only wonder if Beth Mason and the family checkbook are currently vetting another of her infamous lawsuits. But if she sues the Old Guard for a refund, she's only likely to get a big yawn.

Hoboken's Old Guard has moved on.

Talking Ed Note: On Beth Mason's Facebook page, she takes credit for a newly installed 'STOP' sign uptown at 15th and Bloomfield St.

Communications at the Hudson Tea Building, the location of the new stop sign however paint a different picture to the alternate universe Beth Mason would have the Hoboken public believe.

According to an email circulating in the Hudson Tea, it was their resident voices working with Mayor Zimmer and the administration which drove the outcome leading to the new STOP sign.

Among those credited in the Hoboken Tea Building residents email other than Mayor Dawn Zimmer who is described as making pedestrian safety "one of her priorities," the building's email credited at-large councilman Ravi Bhalla, Fifth Ward Councilman Peter CunninghamJohn Morgan, Director of Transportation and Parking, Gary Holtzman, Chair of the Hoboken Planning Board, Stephen Marks, Hoboken Municipal Manager and Andy Hipolit, an engineering consultant to the Hoboken Planning Board.

Nowhere is Beth Mason mentioned as doing anything to aid in obtaining the stop sign. Mason certainly may have made comment in a recent council meeting but doing any actual work - based on the residents email - the answer is zero.

One can imagine the Hudson Tea residents remembering all this and more come November.

Related: The Beth Mason tantrums.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rebuild by Design kickoff at Stevens

Stevens Institute hosted the first meeting of the $230 million Rebuild by Design project planning on protecting Hoboken, Weehawken and surrounding areas of Jersey City from major flooding events last night.

The following video report comes courtesy of Jeannette Josue of the Hudson County View:

The complete original report is available at the Hudson County View:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mayor appoints Battalion Chief Anton Peskens as Provisional Fire Chief

Office of the Mayor announces:


Mayor Dawn Zimmer has appointed Hoboken Fire Department Battalion Chief Anton Peskens as Provisional Fire Chief effective June 19, 2015. He is currently the Hoboken Fire Department's most senior Battalion Chief, having joined the Fire Department in 1986 and serving as Battalion Chief since 2011. Mayor Zimmer recently interviewed all Battalion Chiefs prior to selecting a Provisional Chief.

"We are fortunate to have great talent and many qualified leaders in our Fire Department," said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. "I thank Chief Peskens for agreeing to take on this major responsibility for the next several months as we begin the process of identifying a permanent Chief to lead the department in the years ahead."

A swearing in ceremony will take place ­­­­­­­­­­on Tuesday, June 23rd at 3:00pm in City Council Chambers. All members of the public are invited to attend.

Hoboken Fire Chief Richard Blohm retired on June 1, 2015. The department has been operating with an officer in charge for several weeks. Once Civil Service administers the Fire Chief’s exam and publishes the results, the Administration will interview candidates for the position of permanent Fire Chief.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mayor Zimmer to Stick Romano: 'What you're doing to Hoboken Dems is a disgrace'

November elections arrive in Hoboken summer as political rhetoric heats up

The leaves and sunset hour indicates we're in the kickoff to summer but the bickering and lancing of political opponents says Hoboken is moving to fall election mode.

As flaring tempers, raging egos, booming ambition, and shady power plays erupt among the Old Guard, Hoboken's Reform supporters watch from the sidelines as the local Democratic Party mimics a pinata whacked about with the goodies falling.

At least that's the view from the Hoboken public who have become increasingly disenchanted with the state of the new Hoboken Democratic Party witnessing its bylaws trampled so severely, Mayor Dawn Zimmer has exercised her voice as both a local committeewoman and mayor calling out the new Chairman, Anthony "Stick" Romano to account.

The recent videos of the Hoboken Democratic Committee meeting perfectly reflect the chasm between Hoboken's Old Guard and the Reform Movement. It's a reminder of past vs. present and a possible precursor to a 2017 mayoral showdown between Mayor Zimmer and Freeholder Romano for the second floor office at City Hall.

In a late Friday email, Mayor Zimmer blasted Romano on multiple fronts as exclusive video of the event has brought into question Hoboken's Old Guard once again, the self-styled "leaders" vying for control over Old Hoboken and feel entitled to the spoils of any budget they wrest control.

The mayor slammed Freeholder Romano who assumed control as the self-styled "compromise candidate" quelling concerns about Beth Mason being handed the position of chair both in Hoboken and Hudson County where her carpetbagger status has made her persona non grata.

Romano hosed that fire but saw himself in the middle of another storm as the Ruben Ramos-Michael Russo faction attempted to stomp the Frank "Pupie" Raia opponents out of existence for the latter's 2013 mayoral run ruining any chance at Ramos' efforts to unseat Mayor Zimmer.

The mayor however is focused on the damage being done presently to the local Democratic Committee and she's seen enough. After a rather tepid critique from Romano offering 'politics as usual,' the mayor laid down the gauntlet writing in withering fire:

“This is not about politics, The diversity requirements included in the Hoboken Democratic Party by-laws reflect the core principles of the Democratic Party, something Chairman Romano clearly does not understand,” she said.

“It is a disgrace that Mr. Romano, who is not only Democratic Party Chairman, but an elected Democratic Freeholder, does not understand either the importance of having women in party leadership roles, or the importance of telling the truth.” 

All of this is a precursor to the fall showdown where legislative control in Hoboken and six ward seats on the City Council is on the line in November elections.

What it means now and then is the fodder for further Horsey analysis and prognostication.

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Anthony "Stick" Romano is being blasted by Mayor Zimmer for the woeful state of the
Hoboken Democratic Committee recently taken over by the Old Guard with him atop.
The bylaws flouted at every turn led to Mayor Zimmer, a committeewoman blasting
Romano for the indiscretions under his watch just two weeks old.

Talking Ed Note: While the antis, the voices virulently against Mayor Zimmer and Reform are fighting to elevate themselves some rabid voices are laying countering fire over on Hudson County View.

See if you might have a minute to comment and square the record there.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tropical Depression Bill puts Hoboken on Flood Watch

City of Hoboken announces:


The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for our region from June 20, 8pm until June 21, 8pm. Heavy rainfall from the remnants of Tropical Depression Bill is expected to impact the area tonight through Sunday evening. The heaviest rain is expected during the overnight hours tonight into Sunday morning, with rainfall totals of 1 to 2 inches and up to 3 inches possible in some areas. 

Residents are advised to monitor weather forecasts and make appropriate preparations, including moving their vehicles from flood-prone streets.

Residents who have a parking permit decal or Temporary parking permit placard are reminded that overnight parking (8pm to 8am) is available at a rate of $5 every day of the year in Garages B, D, and Midtown.

Barricades have been pre-positioned in case flooded streets need to be closed. For their own safety and to protect property, drivers must obey barricades and not drive through flooded roads. The wake generated by vehicles can cause additional flood damage to homes and businesses. Pedestrians should also not walk through flooded roads as manhole covers can become dislodged and flood waters contain a mixture of rainwater and sewage.

A map of flood-prone areas and additional information is available on the City website: www.hobokennj.org/flooding.

Friday, June 19, 2015

HCV: Mayor Zimmer derides illegal Hoboken Democratic Committee actions

Chairman Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano confirms Michael Russo "vacated" Vice Chair position 

HCV confirms MSV's earlier story - Romano: Neither Beth Mason nor Carmelo Garcia honorary chairs

Emails from Mayor Zimmer slams Romano for improper meeting actions

In a late-breaking exclusive feature, the Hudson County View confirms in an interview with Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano the position of Vice Chair held by Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo is vacated.

MSV earlier this week wrote in an exclusive "Grist for the Mill" column Michael Russo would be stepping down from the Hoboken Democratic Committee position of Vice Chair.

Video of the Hoboken Democratic Committee meeting published by Hudson County View also shows committeewoman Ines Garcia Keim objecting to the nomination of Councilman Michael Russo. On the video she can be heard during the nomination of Vice Chair saying,

"the Vice Chair needs to be a female if the chair is a male."
Committeewoman Ines Garcia Keim

After those words are stated aloud, Michael Russo goes directly over to Garcia Keim who promptly falls silent.

Later in the video a question of the necessity of the Vice Chair being an elected committee member is raised. After time is taken for review, it's Carmelo Garcia telling Romano the bylaws are "amended" allowing Russo to assume the position although not an elected committeeman.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer in an email exchange with Romano (and an elected committeewoman in the 4-5 committee district) objects to the secrecy of the actions taken by the executive committee. She calls for a public meeting of the Democratic Committee members to rectify the issues.

Carmelo Garcia, the controversial former Executive Director of the Hoboken Housing Authority refused to confirm Chairman Romano's stipulation there was no honorary chair action taken. He claims he was named and holds the position.

This story is breaking. For the complete details and late-breaking story, please see the Hudson County View:


Additional video of last week's Hoboken Democratic Committee meeting comes courtesy of John Heinis and the Hudson County View:

Talking Ed Note: Thanks to the Hudson County View for this breaking story and additional follow-up confirming MSV's Grist for the Mill piece.

For more on the HCV story and exclusive emails between Mayor Zimmer and Freeholder Romano see:

ISIS alleged conspirator arrested from Hudson County for conspiracy

Office of the US Attorney for NJ announces:

NEWARK, N.J. – A Bergen County, New Jersey, man was charged today with conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, and Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel of the FBI’s Newark Division announced.
Samuel Rahamin Topaz, 21, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, was arrested at his home on June 17, 2015, and is charged by complaint with one count of conspiring with others in New Jersey and New York to provide services and personnel to ISIL. He made his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court and was remanded without bail.

Samuel Rahamin Topaz's Facebook page contained these photos
with a reference to being an assassin. 

See also: the Hudson County View:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

N.J. Democratic Legislative Leaders Unveil ‘Democracy Act’ to Overhaul New Jersey’s Outdated Voting Laws

Here's a recent proposal on voting in NJ out of the NJ Assembly. It suggests there's more to be done on aiding voting in the state.

There doesn't seem to be any mention of curbing voter fraud, the abuse of Vote-by-Mail, non-residents of NJ or non-citizens voting.

In fact, this is such an open voting system as proposed, one has to wonder if you can't register and vote from your living room - in Bucharest as a fine citizen of say Romania.

The national trend  among some appears to encourage voting by anyone and everyone. Allowing illegal voting however nullifies the value of your vote.

Voter fraud is certainly outdated but there's no measure proposed whatsoever to stop it.

We know a little about voter fraud here in Hoboken. Some call it a tradition.

N.J. Democratic Legislative Leaders Unveil ‘Democracy Act’ to Overhaul New Jersey’s Outdated Voting Laws

Measure Calls for Early Voting, Online & Automatic Voter Registration, Same Day Registration, Increased Accessibility & Protections & End of Wasteful Special Elections 

(TRENTON) – Democratic legislative leadership on Monday announced sweeping overhauls of New Jersey’s outdated voting rights laws – including plans to allow early voting, online and automatic voter registration, same-day registration, increased accessibility and protections and an end to wasteful special elections.
The leaders said they would introduce ‘The Democracy Act’ on Monday, with the plan being to get it to the governor’s desk by month’s end.
           “The Democracy Act will modernize and improve state election laws to make voting easier and more accessible for the people of New Jersey,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Salem/Cumberland/Gloucester). “Elections are the foundation of democracy and anything we can do to increase voter participation will make government more effective and more responsive to the needs of everyone.  Elections have consequences so we want every eligible voter to have a fair opportunity to participate in the electoral process.”  
“New Jersey's election laws date back to the early 1900s, which has led to confusion, litigation, wasteful special elections and a process that quite simply has not kept up with modern technology,” said Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “Superstorm Sandy demonstrated how ill-prepared our election system is for emergencies and how ill-equipped we are for any modern voting. We must do better if we’re going to truly protect voting rights for New Jerseyans from every community across our state.”
The leaders noted New Jersey is 39th in the United States in the percentage of eligible voters who are registered at 64.3 percent, compared to 82.8 percent for the top state. And, New Jersey is 39th in the country on average voter turnout at 54.5 percent, compared to the top state at 73.3 percent.
"New Jersey is lagging behind other states when it comes to voter rights, and the level of participation in the election process in this state has been shamefully low. It’s well past time to modernize our election laws, and that means improving and updating our registration processes with online and universal access and allowing for early voting,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen). "These and the other important reforms we are proposing will bring our laws into the 21st Century and create greater access to the democratic processThese changes will only serve to make our election system stronger.”
“It’s sobering to consider that our current voting laws originated from a rural, farm-dwelling society,” said Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “Times have changed, but New Jersey remains stuck in a voting quagmire, with outdated laws and procedures that deter people from voting. New Jersey is in desperate need of this ‘Democracy Act’ that would modernize our election laws. The facts show the status quo is neither working nor acceptable. We need real reform and we need it now.”
Among the organizations participating in the effort are the: New Jersey Working Families Alliance, ACLU, Latino Action Network and the League of Women Voters.  
“The right to vote is the great equalizer, but that equality only becomes real when we all have equal access to the ballot box,” said Analilia Mejia, the executive director of the Working Families Alliance. “We commend the leaders in the legislature for advancing policies that will help ensure New Jersey's democracy is by and for the people, and we will work together with legislators to mobilize grassroots support for these common sense proposals and ensure that they become the law."
The bill establishes “The Democracy Act” to revise various voter registration and voting procedures.  Specifically, the bill establishes early voting, online voter registration, voting day registration and allows for the pre-registration of 17-year-olds.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Washington St. water mains and traffic improvements on tap - City Council @ 7:00

On tap, major ordinances for improvements to the water mains and traffic signalization on Washington St.

Here's the first:


Here's the second:


The full agenda is available at the link: 

Update from Mayor Zimmer on Various Issues

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Community: Update from Mayor Zimmer on Various Issues

Dear Horsey & MSV Readers,

In a memo to the City Council, Mayor Dawn Zimmer provides an update on a variety of important topics including Washington Street, affordable housing for veterans, the City Hall sustainable stormwater demonstration project, the bike share program, and flood insurance.

The text of the memo is available below and can also be viewed at: www.hobokennj.org/docs/mayor/6-16-15-Memo-Zimmer-Council.pdf

June 16, 2015

Dear City Council members and concerned residents:

I am writing to provide an update on several important issues. As a reminder, I hope that you will be able to attend the kickoff community meeting for the Rebuild by Design project which will be held on June 23rd from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Babbio Center on the Stevens campus.

Moving ahead with Washington Street
As you may know, we have submitted two applications to the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust for low-interest loans related to infrastructure upgrades on Washington Street. One loan was for the replacement of our water mains ($6,200,000) and the other for drainage and green infrastructure improvements ($3,000,000). As a reminder, these loans provide 0% interest on 75% of the loan and market rate interest on the remainder along with 19% principle forgiveness and eligibility for 50% grants for green infrastructure projects. In addition, we have received a $457,000 grant from the NJ DOT for Washington Street. On the agenda is a bond ordinance for first reading which encompasses both loans plus the grant and an additional $300,000 for engineering work which creates an appropriation by which we can begin spending these funds, similar to the bond ordinance issued for the wet weather pump establishing an appropriation for the funds received through another NJEIT loan. I hope all Council Members will support moving forward with this important project.

In addition, we have applied for a $14 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER program to resurface and revitalize Washington Street. We received nearly 50 letters of support for our application, which you can learn more about on our website at www.hobokennj.org/washingtonstreet. We hope to learn by the end of the summer whether we have won the grant. The TIGER grant would require a local match, which we would provide through the low-interest NJEIT loans and NJ DOT grant.

Clock Towers and affordable housing for veterans
Recently, the Department of Community Affairs issued an RFP for project-based Section 8 Housing Vouchers for very-low income households (or individuals) where a veteran is the head of a household. The deadline for proposals is June 19, with awards being announced on July 20, 2015.

On the agenda is a resolution to extend the PILOT for Clock Towers by an additional six months to provide the owners of the property with an opportunity to apply for the vouchers. Attached is a memo from outside counsel Jong Sook Nee, Esq. with more information regarding this extension request.

City Hall Sustainable Stormwater Demonstration Project
On the agenda is a resolution to award a contract to Greenscape Landscape Contractors for the City Hall sustainable stormwater demonstration project. As you may recall, this project is being funded as part of the low-interest NJ EIT loan for the H-5 wet weather pump. These loans are provided with extremely low interest rates, partial principle forgiveness, and eligibility for grant funding. This is an important project incorporating rain gardens and cisterns to demonstrate to our community how property owners can play a role in addressing our flooding challenge. When completed, the project will retain all rainwater that falls on City Hall during a 6 hour long 100 year storm and prevent it from contributing to flooding. This project is part of the “delay” element of the “Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge” strategy and we look forward to using this project to hold workshops and show the community how they can be part of the “delay” strategy. We are excited to move forward on this important demonstration project.

Bike share program update
We are very close to finalizing the sponsorships for our bike share program, and we look forward to announcing the founding sponsors shortly.

As previously authorized by the City Council, the contract between the City and the bike share operator states that the system will be funded through three main revenue sources: 1. Sponsorships, 2. Membership and rental fees, and 3. Advertising revenue. On the agenda will be a resolution to authorize the locations for the advertising panels.

The bike share program will have nearly 30 stations, and the previously approved contract authorized locating an ad panel at each station. Based on input from the Transportation and Parking Committee and working with the bike share operator, we are looking to minimize the number of stations with advertising panels while still generating the revenue necessary to fund the program. As a result, we are proposing to locate ad panels at only 13 locations, with some of the locations having two ad panels. While the resolution would authorize the location of 19 ad panels (a reduction from the 29 that would be permitted under the contract), we have included some additional locations for flexibility in case of space constraints and ultimately only expect to install a total of 15 ad panels.

The ad panels will be the same size as those on the side of bus shelters (4ft x 6ft) and will be solar powered to illuminate them at night, similar to other ad panels in town. We sought to avoid locating panels near parks and primarily residential areas wherever possible and to focus on commercial areas, near transit, and other higher profile locations that will generate sufficient revenue to support the program. On the Council agenda is a resolution to authorize locating advertising panels at the following bike share locations:

• Hudson Pl & River St (2 panels)
• Hudson Pl & Hudson St (2 panels)
• 1st St & Washington St (1 panel)
• 4th St & Washington St (1 panel)
• 6th St & River St (1 panel)
• 11th St & Washington St (1 panel)
• 14th St & Washington St (2 panels)
• 14th St & Sinatra Dr (2 panels)
• 14th St & Grand St (2 panels)
• 8th St & Jackson St (1 panel)
• 2nd St & Marshall Dr (1 panel)
• Observer Highway & Harrison St (1 panel)
• Newark St & Adams St (2 panels)

Advertising revenue will make up approximately 1/3 of the funds necessary for the program, so it is important that this component of the funding be in place in order to launch the program as soon as possible.

Flood insurance concept developed at conference
Thank you again for working with my Administration on all of our resiliency projects including the Resiliency Parks planned for Southwest, Midwest and Northwest Hoboken. These projects, working as a system with our new pump (due to begin construction after July 4th), will dramatically reduce our City's significant flooding challenges. While I am proud that we are being recognized nationally for our resiliency initiatives, I feel strongly that our residents and our City deserve financial benefits for our proactive approach to climate change adaption and flood mitigation.

As a City, we are making investments and taking concrete steps to comprehensively protect from flooding, but when it comes to the National Flood Insurance Program rates for our residents and businesses, we get absolutely no credit at all for our initiatives. We cannot raise our homes on pilings to reduce our insurance rates as they are doing at the shore, but our taxpayers are funding infrastructure projects that will mitigate flooding in Hoboken. Why shouldn't our residents and businesses get credit from the National Flood Insurance Program for funding these mitigation initiatives that will protect our entire City?

This week, I was invited to attend the Clinton Global Initiative conference. I spoke on a panel about resiliency and then participated in a workshop on resiliency and infrastructure. The structure of the conference is to get people from different areas of expertise to sit down, talk and essentially hash out potential commitments to make an implementable change. During the workshop, I had the opportunity to talk with insurance brokers, carriers, insurance companies, a Harvard Professor who is Director of Resiliency and Infrastructure, and other experts about the unfairness of the system for urban areas like Hoboken that are taking a comprehensive approach to protecting our City from flooding. There was a lot of discussion about various approaches that could be taken, but ultimately, the group agreed to work together on a pilot program that could establish comprehensive resiliency standards that could be recognized by the insurance industry with the long-term goal of reducing flood insurance rates. This will admittedly be a very challenging process, but given that our flood insurance rates will soon be rising, and we get no credit for all that we are doing, I hope you will agree this is a worthwhile endeavor for our citizens and businesses. In addition, the workshop members agreed that the proposed pilot should also include rating agencies. While the rating agency was interested in what we are doing with resiliency, the City should also be getting full credit for our efforts since these initiatives will protect the economic vitality of Hoboken.

I do want to advise you that the Clinton Foundation did not fund my travel expenses to the conference, but given the direct potential benefit to our residents and businesses I hope that all of you will support my participation in this conference where I advocated strongly for the urban approach that will help Hoboken.


Dawn Zimmer


The following comes courtesy of Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront Co-founder Tiffanie Fisher:

Dear neighbors –

On May 8th, at a hearing which I attended, Hudson County Judge Patrick Arre overturned both the Hudson County Planning Board’s denial of Applied’s application for the proposed Monarch development as well as the subsequent Board of Chosen Freeholder’s denial.  Effectively, the Judge found that both Boards’ decisions had insufficient technical reasons to uphold their respective denials.  

With this ruling, Applied technically has all but one of the requirements to build Monarch: Hoboken Planning Board (“HPB”) approval (judge ruled deemed approval; under appeal), DEP Waterfront Permit (fast track approved without public hearing; under appeal), and now the Hudson County Planning Board approval (under appeal).  The only obstacle stopping Applied from building Monarch (other than the various appeals and litigation) are the 2013 Hoboken City flood ordinances which, among many other provisions, include a prohibition of developing on our waterfront due to health and safety concerns.  Applied are currently challenging this in Federal Court. 

What drives this fight is the unanimous support within our community to preserve our waterfront for its intended use – for the public’s enjoyment.  A use to which Applied / the Barry family had previously committed. 

What caused this fight is when the Barry family recanted and decided to recast this portion of the Hoboken waterfront to exploit for private use and their own financial gain.  

For those less familiar, the plans for the subject site date back to the late 90’s, when the Russo administration negotiated with Applied for a very detailed plan for the entire Shipyard development.  From those negotiations, the terms which were documented in a Developers Agreement signed in 1997 by Applied, the City and the HPB, the City and the HPB agreed to change the zoning for the area to accommodate what would be Applied’s for-profit, mixed use development.  In exchange, Applied agreed to include significant open space that would be for public benefit including, on this site that is now subject to this fight, public amenities comprising open space, tennis courts and parking. 

It was only after Applied completed all of the profitable phases of its Shipyard plan – including the Constitution, Independence, Sovereign, Berkshire and Vanguard buildings at Shipyard – did the Barry family change their mind deciding that they no longer wanted to honor their commitment to build the public amenity that it had agreed to do.  In fact, they actually claimed a hardship stating that the costs to build the amenity would be too great – of course not giving any consideration to any of their prior and continuing profits from the other completed buildings.   So they started preparation for the proposed Monarch development on the site that was supposed to be the public amenity.

This is not a question of being pro development or not. There are plenty of good developments being built by principled developers in Hoboken.  That just isn't the case here and Hoboken loses if Applied wins.

This is only a setback, but still an unfortunate outcome for our Hoboken community. 

Tiffanie Fisher
Co-founder, Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Grist for the Mill: Michael Russo expected to step down as Vice Chair of Hoboken Dems


Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo to resign as Vice Chair of Hoboken Democratic Committee

The Hoboken Democratic Party meeting last week is echoing with shudders among the Old Guard's pantheon of concerned backers and Hoboken's November ward elections off in the distance.

Add the newest casualty to the lengthening list of bad publicity the meeting generated for all the OG concerned; Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo who is expected to launch another run for re-election this November will resign his elevation to Vice Chair of the Hoboken Dems.

When the issue was first raised at the meeting, it was another party bylaw brushed off stating a man and woman must hold the top two party position.  That response claimed the bylaw was  "amended" but behind the scenes after some consideration, the problem was determined as requiring addressing.

Russo who was reported initially backing Councilwoman Beth Mason in her desperate quest to be handed Hoboken Democratic Chair later flipped his support leading to Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano as the stand-in compromise replacement.

In place of Russo,  a well placed source said a woman will be elevated into the position of Vice Chair. The woman slated to be handed the title is long time Beth Mason supporter Ines Garcia Keim.

Garcia Keim triumphed with her second electoral victory where she's faced no opposition in two Democratic committee elections.

Beth Mason attempts to cower behind Ines Garcia Keim (r ) as James "FinBoy" Barracato returned to the scene of a repeated assault against MSV in broad daylight on Washington and 12th St. outside the Mason Civic Association. The Mason declared "business partner" returned to the street from the the Mason "charity" office which fronted as the HQ of the controversial 2012 Move Forward Nazi Truck BoE campaign. 

Much of the Democratic Committee scuttlebutt has been described as "meaningless" but the blow back since last week's meeting - with actual video evidence - has Hoboken buzzing.

The same source noted Carmelo Garcia's unfortunate actions in the meeting saying, "Carmelo's another ego that is out of control," before admitting there had been no vote for honorary chair - not for Garcia nor for Beth Mason.

Last weekend, the HR political column stated they are both honorary co-chairs although no committee member present recalls any such vote taking place.

Some consider all this further evidence of how the spinning by the Old Guard to media has spun completely out of control leading to what another source removed from the proceedings described as their "implosion."

Last week, Carmelo Garcia trumpeted the meeting on his Facebook page, seeing it not as problematic but "democracy" in action saying when "exercised, there is power and progress."

Carmelo Garcia put up the Hudson County View video of the Hoboken Democratic Committee meeting trumpeting it as "power and progress" which "belongs to the people." 

For those interested in viewing Carmelo Garcia's triumph, here again is the actual video. He can be seen clearly hijacking the meeting from then Chairman Jamie Cryan who he ignores and talks over throughout.

If you close your eyes, you might think you were back at a Hoboken Housing Authority meeting.

Grist for the Mill is MSV's rumor column. MSV is confident to stand its rumor column against those publishing contrary "facts." Got a juicy carrot for Da Horsey? Email it to smartyjones@me.com. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dana Wefer makes the case for her candidacy for 4th Ward Hoboken City Council

Hoboken fourth ward resident Dana Wefer kicked off her campaign for Fourth Ward Hoboken City Council yesterday and was interviewed by Jeannette Josue of the Hudson County View.

The interview below comes courtesy of the Hudson County View.

From Josue's report on Hudson County View, Wefer related how issues at the level of the Hoboken City Council reverberate at the county level. Hudson County raised Hoboken's taxes almost 12% last week. Coupled with the prior year increase, that figure is over 25% in two years and almost 50% in the last five.

Wefer was one of a group of residents who spoke against the Hudson County tax hikes when the County Board of Freeholders held a meeting at Hoboken City Hall.

In addition to Wefer and other Hoboken residents, Mayor Zimmer and Council members Ravi Bhalla and Dave Mello spoke out against the heavy tax increases. The current occupant of the fourth ward seat, Timmy Occhipinti did not attend or speak at the county meeting held in Hoboken.

No Old Guard council members attended with neither Michael Russo nor Beth Mason saying a word in opposition to the hefty tax increases on Hoboken residents. Former Assemblyman Ruben Ramos who is expected to run again for the fourth ward council seat also did not attend or speak out against the heavy tax increases from the county.

In the Hudson County View report, Josue quotes Dana Wefer writing:

Talking Ed Note: MSV attended the event yesterday which came on a hot summery Sunday afternoon showing a good turnout of Reform minded citizens joined by Council members Jen Giattino and Jim Doyle.
A fourth ward race always means a focus on Vote-by-Mail ballots and their controversial payments mostly out of the Hoboken Housing Authority and nearby senior buildings.
Contrary to some who talk about a split between potential Old Guard candidacies, any review of the 2013 VBMs shows there's no equal split. The Occhipinti campaign has consistently harvested the major lion's share of VBMs in the fourth ward at election time.

HudCo slams Hoboken with 11.6% tax increase

Hoboken saw another double digit increase in county taxes when the County Board of Freeholders last week passed a $525 million budget slamming the Mile Square City with a double digit increase of 11.6%.

Last year's increase over 14% means Hoboken has seen more than 25% in increased taxes from HudCo in the last two years and almost 50% in the last five.

Anthony "Stick" Romano, the Freeholder representing Hoboken voted no on the Hudson County budget which easily passed 6-3.

Augie Torres laid out the bad news in a rather stoic political column on Saturday.

Some highlights as it relates to Hoboken:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Frank Sinatra Centennial Celebration in Hoboken

The Mile Square City is featuring a full weekend salute to Francis Albert Sinatra with a Swingadelic Big Band finale in Sinatra Park Sunday evening from 5:00 - 7:00:

Here's a family heirloom passed down from my mother who had met Sinatra. He would send someone to deliver an autographed 8.5 x 11 photo. 
It reads: Hi Roman & Dino - Best Wishes - Frank Sinatra.

Here's to Hoboken's Chairman of the Bad Attitude!

Friday, June 12, 2015

City Council President Bhalla: Rebuild by Design meeting; taxes, PATH and Washington Street updates

From the desk of City Council President Ravi Bhalla:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope your summer is off to a great start. I’m very excited about a few news updates and events and wanted to share them with you with the hope that you will stay informed and mark your calendars.

Rebuild By Design

On June 23 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., I hope you will join me at a public kickoff meeting for the Rebuild by Design Hudson River Project at the Babbio Center on the Stevens campus. I am proud to be co-chairing the Hoboken Citizens Advisory Group, which will provide feedback regarding this $230 million project to implement a comprehensive urban water strategy in the Hudson River. The money was awarded by the federal government following a Rebuild By Design competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As many of you know, flooding has always been an issue in Hoboken, but I am happy to report that through this historic project, we will be able to make chronic flooding in the streets of Hoboken a thing of the past. Please see the city’s website for more information.

Tax Update

I am proud to say that the City Council and Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s administration have kept the municipal tax levy flat for the upcoming year. We have been able to keep taxes under control through hard work and by making tough decisions.

Then why have your property taxes gone up?

Unfortunately, even though the City has held the line on taxes, the County of Hudson is calling for a tax increase to Hoboken of about 12%, or $285 for every $500,000 in assessed property value.  This happens year after year and I find it outrageous and unacceptable.  The current tax formula for the county punishes Hoboken because of our rising property values. As Mayor Zimmer noted in the Hoboken Reporter, Hoboken has 7.9 percent of Hudson County’s population but bears 20.6 percent of its county tax burden. I publicly spoke out against these increases to the Hudson County Freeholder Board last week at their public hearing in Hoboken, asking them to work harder to find a way to provide some relief to taxpayers. We continue to urge the county to find ways to trim the budget, even if that means making tough decisions like we have done here in Hoboken.

PATH Service

You may have also read about cuts in PATH service.   Mayor Zimmer and I met with Port Authority Director Patrick Foye and other representatives about the potential impact of these cuts, including ways to make sure Hoboken’s needs are met. I want you to know that Hoboken does have a place at the table in these discussions, and we are urging the Port Authority to work to accommodate the growth of Hoboken and reward riders for using public transit. 

Washington Street Update and Other Events

If you’re looking for better news, check out this great website from the City of Hoboken which outlines the proposed Washington Street Revitalization Project which, yes, includes a repaving!

Hoboken is also hosting a number of free events this weekend for Frank Sinatra’s 100th Birthday! Check out all the events here! It’s going to be great.

Fundraiser – June 25

Finally, I hope you will join me on Thursday, June 25 at 6 p.m. for a fundraiser I’m hosting at Hudson Tavern (51-53 14th St.). Please RSVP by June 24 and contact Jessica Lanfranchi at (201) 457-9000 with any questions. It is my sincere hope that you will spend the evening with me and discuss any issues that are important to you. If you’re unable to attend but would still wish to make a donation, please click here to visit my new website.

Like my page on Facebook if you’d like to receive more updates. As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or need assistance with anything, feel free to call me at (201) 647-6090 or email me at councilmanbhalla@gmail.com.

I hope to see you on June 23 at the Babbio Center and June 25 at Hudson Tavern!

Enjoy your weekend!

Ravinder S. Bhalla
City Council President

Councilman Ravinder Bhalla

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Beth Mason temper tantrum: on the warpath for Hoboken Democratic Committee honorary title


The farce isn't over! For those who thought the backbiting, ego-driven mania in the Hoboken Democratic Chair "selections" is over; there's word more skullduggery and underhanded plans are afoot. 

According to yesterday's Grafix Avenger story, Councilwoman Beth Mason fresh off being snuffed from contention in the Democratic Chair sweepstakes is throwing a tantrum she didn't get an expected door prize: honorary chair.

In an update to the Hudson County View original report, that title was bestowed on Carmelo Garcia who is allied with the Russo's and a pending Ruben Ramos ticket in the upcoming November City Council ward elections. 

Although no Hoboken Democratic committeee members can recall a vote for the purely ceremonial position during the chaos at Room 84 Monday night, HCV remarked in an editorial note the following day it was "informed" the title was given to Garcia.

Viva the Banana Republic!

The Old Guard Dem Committee fun and games harkens to the spirit of midnight hijackings back to the Conrail Boyz days. As fondly recalled in the hood, it's when informants knew how to take their cut and then cut a deal with the right people in law enforcement.

Back to the present, observers say Beth Mason known for her family checkbook's largess on behalf of the Hoboken Sopranos exited Room 84 feeling jilted and left "in a huff."

Was Mason at the Dem Committee hijacking to applaud preplanned appointments of people like Room 84 owner Joe Branco or was she there for an arranged door prize?

Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano, the self-declared "compromise candidate" didn't have a moment to relish his new position as Democratic Chair when the Mason goon squad went over to complain the boss didn't get her door prize.

"You fucked up," he barked more than once before lumbering off. 

According to Grafix Avenger, the latest "fix" on the Hoboken Democratic Committee is upcoming:

What's the impetus driving this mania?

It's not about Hoboken City Hall but the one across the border in Jersey City. A rising, popular young mayor is the talk of the county and north Jersey as a potential candidate for NJ governor in 2017.

One down and out Hoboken carpetbagger wants to leverage a ceremonial title to aid and abet a competing potential gubernatorial candidate from south Jersey in NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney and "impress" anyone who will listen in Trenton, DC or on the Hillary for President campaign.

Predictions the word "honorary" will appear on the letterhead are less then even money.

The GA report says Beth Mason is demanding the honorary title be quietly handed to her in a few weeks so Jersey City doesn't see the shiv coming when she and the Hoboken Dems Executive Committee stab Mayor Steve Fulops in the back.

Mason's Hoboken Soprano pals in the "coalition" are reportedly in on the plan.


Talking Ed Note: Are the rumored threats whispered the Hoboken Sopranos being inserted between a rock and a hard place true ?  Do those whispers fit the cateogry of political coercion or blackmail?