Friday, April 17, 2015

Lane Bajardi: in support of the Russo Clan

As part of Lane "I'm not a political operative" Bajardi's extensive behind the scenes Hoboken political activities on behalf of Beth Mason and the Russo faction, there's this little gem from the 2011 ward races.

In the strenuous efforts to see Councilwoman Beth Mason retain the second ward council seat, support for the Russo clan was apparently extended beyond the Mason family checkbook. Mason's short-lived time as Council President was also at stake (and about to end with the re-election of Peter Cunningham in the fifth ward and election of Jen Giattino in the sixth.)

What's good for Beth Mason is good. If that means aiding and abetting the Russo clan, so be it.

An original, complete emails from April 22nd, 2011 from the son of the first ward councilwoman Terry Castellano to Lane Bajardi follows:

Related in the Bench Slapped series,  is an excerpt from this January 2014 deposition in the Bajardi v Pincus civil litigation. Hudson County decades long political operative Tommy Bertoli offered comment on the 2011 Hoboken ward races and the Mason family expenditures on behalf of the Russo clan.

Those comments immediately follow with mention of how Beth Mason came to hire Weehawken based James "FinBoy" Barracato to perform political operations for her in Hoboken. (Did that include work on the Bajardi lawsuit?)

Talking Ed Note: Isn't it reassuring to know that Lane Bajardi and his "not a political operative" wife, Kimberly Cardinal Bajardi "really care" about the Russo clan?

Here too is the smoking gun how James "FinBoy" Barracato has all but become the Hoboken second ward council representative. Beth Mason only "occupies" the seat physically as this MSV story breaking EmailGate so amply reveals.

MSV broke this July 2013 story exclusively and no other media reported on the odd connection of a first ward councilwoman putting the name of Beth Mason's political operative on an email in a request for City of Hoboken legal information.

The word cover-up comes to mind but the common ommission of truth is all too common in these parts among elected officials and what MSV coined the Mason Media Complex which serves them.

Related: The Court's February decision when it threw the Bajardi case out of court mid-trial stated:

“Limited public figures are those who have thrust themselves into the vortex of a public issue or have engaged the public’s attention in an attempt to influence its outcome. When it considered the public controversy prong, the Court must consider whether the alleged defamation involves a public controversy and the nature and extent the plaintiff’s involvement in that controversy.” Berkery v. Kinney, 397 N.J. Super.22222. 

“A public controversy is defined as a real dispute, the outcome of which affects the general public or some segment of it and the content, form and context as revealed by the whole record must be considered. Once a person becomes a public figure in connection with a particular controversy, that person remains a public figure thereafter for purposes of later commentary or treatment of that controversy.” The contentious factionalism present in Hoboken politics constitutes a sufficiently particular controversy to which an individual may have a connection, making that individual a limited purpose9public figure per Berkery. 

The Court finds that Bajardi has been heavily involved in the factional discord; that he has made efforts to inject his talents into the furtherance of one side over the other; has presented himself at various public gatherings in connection with one of the factions; has actively and publicly advocated for this faction; has communicated with public officials on matters involving Hoboken politics and can generally be considered involved in that particular controversy. 

As a result, even though plaintiff claims to have withdrawn from civic involvement as of a certain date, he remains a public figure thereafter for purposes of later commentary or treatment of that controversy. Furthermore, aside from plaintiff’s status as a limited public figure, the issue of Hoboken political factionalism is one of public concern and is, therefore, offered the highest possible constitutional protection. W.J.A. v. D.A., 210 N.J. 229 (2012). G.D.4v. Kenny, 205 N.J. 275 (2011) and Rocci v. Ecole5Secondaire MacDonald-Cartier, 165 N.J. at 149 (2000).

Original Lane Bajardi deposition graphic courtesy Grafix Avenger

Federally-funded Observer Highway construction begins

City of Hoboken announces:

Federally-funded Project Will Reduce Congestion and Improve Safety for All Modes of Transportation

Beginning on or about Monday, April 27, 2015, construction will begin on the Observer Highway complete streets redesign project. The improvements along Observer Highway will include new synchronized traffic signals and dedicated left turn lanes that will create a more organized, efficient, and safer driving experience. Between 2010 and 2012, there were an average of 37 crashes per year along Observer Highway. The new design will reduce traffic delays and prevent collisions. Along with these essential changes, the Observer Highway and Vezzetti Way corridor will be converted to a more pedestrian-friendly street with new, redesigned crosswalk signals and other pedestrian safety improvements as well as a two-way protected bike lane. 

"I am very proud that this project, fully-funded through grants, will create an attractive and safe gateway into Hoboken for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit riders of all ages and abilities," said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “While the main purpose of this project is to make the street safer, it will also have the benefit of reducing traffic delays along one of our busiest corridors.”

The project, which will also include a redesign of a portion of Newark Street later this year, costs $2.7 million and is completely funded by grants. The majority of the funding was secured by Senator Robert Menendez through a $2 million Congressional earmark for Observer Highway and a $240,000 earmark for Newark Street. Hoboken was fortunate to have access to these funds as cities across the United States are now no longer afforded Congressional earmarks. 

“Having too often been stuck in traffic myself on Observer Highway, I know what these much-needed upgrades will mean to such a vital corridor in and out of Hoboken. Complete streets accommodate the needs of all roadway users—not just drivers—and this project will help improve the quality of life for residents, make the city more welcoming for visitors and help local businesses grow,” said U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. “That’s why I fought for and secured $2,240,000 in federal funding for the project. A redesigned Observer Highway will make Hoboken’s infrastructure work better for drivers, transit riders, pedestrians, and cyclists."

The combined Observer Highway and Newark Street project is being managed by Hudson County.

“We are excited to undertake what truly will be a transformation of the most prominent county roadway in Hoboken,” said Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise. “The thoughtful input of Mayor Zimmer, Freeholder Anthony Romano and city residents has produced a design that will work better for drivers, bikers and pedestrians. Thanks to our legislative delegation in Washington, led by Sen. Bob Menendez, for securing the needed federal funding for us to move forward with this project.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will the project take and when will it begin?
Work is expected to last approximately 6 months on Observer Highway and will take place weekdays from 8am to 6pm. It is expected to begin on Monday, April 27th, 2015. 

What impact to traffic will there be during construction?
All efforts are being taken to minimize traffic disruptions. Police traffic directors will be on hand, and the roadway and sidewalks will remain open to cars at all times. Minimal work will be done on the roadway before 9am and after 4pm to minimize any travel delays during rush hour. Some night work may take place during the milling and paving phases of construction in order to minimize traffic disruptions.

Will Observer Highway be repaved as a part of the project?
Yes. The project will include the complete milling and paving of Observer Highway from Hudson Street to the firehouse just west of the Henderson Street intersection. 

Will any new traffic signals be installed along Observer Highway?
New traffic signals will be installed at Bloomfield Street and Park Avenue. The outdated signals at Henderson Street, Willow Avenue, and Washington Street will be replaced with modern signals. The timing of all signals will be coordinated to improve traffic conditions.

How will Observer Highway change?
Observer Highway will continue to be a two-way road. It currently has two travel lanes in each direction. The new street will have one travel lane in each direction plus dedicated left turn lanes so that turning cars do not slow down through traffic. New traffic signals will be synchronized to allow traffic to move smoothly and reduce backups.

How will the completed project impact traffic?
A detailed traffic analysis has been conducted indicating that travel times will be improved as a result of the roadway redesign. The creation of dedicated left turn lanes will remove turning vehicles from through traffic, reducing backups and rear-end crashes and improving the efficiency and capacity of the roadway.

The addition of traffic signals at Park Avenue and Bloomfield Street will aid vehicular movement in and out of the City. The timing on all signals will be optimized and coordinated to increase the flow of traffic, particularly during peak hours. With the new roadway configuration and synchronized signal timing, corridor travel times are expected to improve during rush hour. 

By optimizing signal timing, increasing left turn queuing capacity, and removing stopped vehicles from through traffic, average wait times at Observer Highway/Henderson Street are estimated to be reduced by 78% during the morning peak and by 59% during the evening peak.

What pedestrian safety improvements will there be?
Pedestrian safety along Observer Highway will be improved through traffic signals with pedestrian countdown timers, a pedestrian walkway on the south side of the street, new concrete pedestrian islands, new ADA curb ramps, replacing select curbs and sidewalks, high visibility crosswalks, and parked cars on either side of the roadway acting as a buffer between traffic and pedestrians. A new sidewalk will be added on the north side of the intersection with Henderson Street, providing safe haven for pedestrians walking on the south side of Newark Street. All pavement markings will be striped in long-lasting, highly reflective thermoplastic which will increase visibility of crosswalks in all conditions and reduce the need for annual restriping of faded paint-based markings. The new configuration will make it significantly easier and safer to walk along or cross Observer Highway.

Will there be improvements for bicyclists?
Yes. Bicycle safety will be enhanced through the creation of a two-way protected bike lane. The protected bike lane will terminate at the easternmost end of Observer Highway near the bus entrance for Hoboken Terminal. A bicycle parking area will be established at the eastern end of Observer Highway to accommodate cyclists riding to Hoboken Terminal. In conjunction with NJ Transit, a protected path will be created along the bus entrance to create a safe entrance for pedestrians from Observer Highway into Hoboken Terminal and the southwestern PATH entrance.

How will parking be affected?
Currently, there are two parking lanes along Vezzetti Way south of Observer Highway. Under the new configuration there will continue to be two parking lanes. One parking lane will be on the north side of Observer Highway and the other parking lane will be on the south side of Observer Highway. During construction, parking along Vezzetti Way will be limited due to the contractor’s construction operations.

Is anything being done about the flooding in the parking area on Vezzetti Way?
As part of the project, drainage improvements will be made to eliminate existing issues that result in pooling of water on the roadway.

How was this plan developed?
The project was planned through a series of community meetings in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and incorporates the goals and recommendations of Hoboken’s Master Plan, Complete Streets Policy, and Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan.