Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BENCH SLAPPED: Hoboken Quality of Life Coalition betrayed!

Hoboken has been riveted by the series of email revelations on MSV and Grafix Avenger after the failed civil litigation to take down the speech of more than a dozen Hoboken residents last February.

Those revelations don't end with individuals - the war on the First Amendment tolls by Beth Mason's dwindled coterie of ubermensch backers and extends to existing Hoboken organizations.

Here we see one such example and it's the Quality of Life Coalition victimized. The war on the First Amendment extends beyond the dozen Hoboken residents litigated for political speech.

A true, complete email follows from December 14, 2012 where the names of the unsuspecting QLC parties have been changed.

On Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 9:19 AM, Helen XXXX <helenxxxx@verizon.net> wrote:
Board members; I would like to send an e-mail to the mayor congratulating her on the presentaion she made to the U.S. Senate and perhaps

even a letter to the editor. Your opinion?

On Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 9:40 AM, Melissa XXXX <melissa.XXXX@gmail.com> wrote: i would support it. 

On 14 December 2012 10:32, Brad XXXX <darbXXXXr@gmail.com> wrote:
me, too 

Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2012 11:36:30 -0500 Subject: Re: congrats to mayor
frances.XXXX@gmail.com To: darbXXXX@gmail.com
CC: melissa.XXXX@gmail.comhelenXXXX@verizon.netXXXXtom@yahoo.combXXXX322@yahoo.compaulXXXX.comgarciakeim@msn.comXXXXalez@yahoo.com
me three.
thank you. 

On Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 4:12 AM, Ines Garcia Keim <garciakeim@msn.com> wrote:
The mayor made some good points, but she made them before a Senate committee that has no jurisdiction over insurance and FEMA issues, which were the main focus of her speech. I don't think Hoboken businesses are having a problem getting SBA loans, and in fact most businesses on Hoboken's main street were not flooded. Mayor Zimmer had no concrete numbers on how many businesses exist in Hoboken, or how many businesses were flooded (she mentioned "hundreds" a couple of times, but no real number). She listed the flooded public buildings and 1,700 homes, but not businesses that were damaged. When Senator Landrieu asked her a question, the mayor repeated some of the points that the other speakers had made (such as lowering the SBA loan rate), and she was unable to answer Senator Gillibrand's question about grants for businesses. She admitted that the City of Hoboken has no useful data about Hoboken businesses and asked whether the Federal government could provide it. She was also unable to quote the specific law or regulation that exempts "garden-style" businesses from flood insurance coverage. I think having that information would have made her points stronger, perhaps using a real example of the experience of a Hoboken business owner with their insurance company.

I hope no one is offended by this, but I think that Zimmer was just taking advantage of the TV notoriety she gained during the storm. It looks like she is trying to make the best of it, and I really hope that her suggestions will trickle down to the right people. It is important to give the government specific numbers so they can appropriate the right amount of money for immediate relief, because if the relief we seek is dependent on changes in legislation, that process takes a long time and it will not happen for the businesses that need help now.
The members of the Senate panel clearly had seen pictures of Hoboken's flooded streets and the mayor's presence and remarks helped keep Hoboken on the radar screen of politicians in Washington. That's the main good thing that happened here, and it's great. So while I realize I may be out-voted on this, I would refrain from playing cheerleader and would wait and see for the results of the mayor's day in Washington. 

----- Original Message -----
To: Ines Garcia KeimCc: Frances XXXX Brad XXXX Helen XXXX Tom XXXX Bill XXXX Paul XXXX Eduardo XXXX Sent: Monday, December 17, 2012 8:13 AMSubject: Re: congrats to mayor

Thanks, Ines, for your perspective on the situation. At the end of the day, regardless of details or the jurisdiction of the committee, her appearance there did raise the issue in the national media in a way that it hadn't covered it before. And while the majority of businesses on Washington St. were spared from flooding, the ones on the back streets -- as well as the residences -- need all the help they can get.
It's not easy to pull off your first Senate hearing appearance, so I support this letter of congratulations just to encourage public officials--present and future--to doggedly pursue all avenues to help the victims of the storm. Given the speed of government action, waiting until we see results will take too long.
-- melissa 

From: XXXX Manogue <helenXXXX@verizon.net>To: XXXX XXXXX <melissaXXXX@gmail.com>; Ines Garcia Keim <garciakeim@msn.com>Cc: XXXX Jennings <frances.XXXX@gmail.com>; XXXX Miller <darbXXXXr@gmail.com>; Helen XXXX<helenXXX@verizon.net>; Tom XXXX <XXXXtom@yahoo.com>; BillXXXX <bXXXX@yahoo.com>; Paul XXXX <XXXXX@helpauthors.com>; Eduardo XXXX <XXXX@yahoo.comSent: Monday, December 17, 2012 5:05 PMSubject: Re: congrats to mayor
Have not heard yet from Tom and Paul on this. Please respond.

Begin forwarded message:
Date: December 17, 2012, 5:06:41 PM EST To: (Edited)
Subject: Re: congrats to mayor
Tom XXX <thomas@XXXX.com>

It's okay by me.
Thomas XXXX

From: Ines Garcia Keim <garciakeim@msn.com>Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 10:34 AMTo: Sara Stojkovic <sastojkovic@gmail.com>; Robert Duval <rduval@uicost.com>; Kim Cardinal <kcardinalmn@yahoo.com> 
Subject: Fwd: congrats to mayor

I have never forwarded communications from the QLC board before, but I had to share this one. Just take a look at the bunch of Kool-Aid drinkers I have to deal with. Or maybe my standards are too high.

I am fed up with people whom I consider intelligent and their willingness to give Dawn a pass on everything. Is it too much to ask that she know how many small businesses we have in Hoboken, or how many were damaged by the storm? Is it too much to ask that she quote the regulation or legislation that she wants changed so flood insurance covers damages more fairly? How about the fact that Hoboken taxpayers paid for a trip to DC so she could appear before the wrong committee for the main issue she wants addressed? I wonder if these people would have been this patient with Dave Roberts, or with Beth if she were the mayor.

Some people still have the nerve to say that it is me who has changed. I disagree wholeheartedly. These people need to see how they have changed on how they judge the actions of city officials.

Sent from my iPhone 

Talking Ed Note: Yeah, some people, the nerve.

City Council President Ravi Bhalla: Budget, taxes, open space, parks

From the desk of Hoboken City Council President Ravi Bhalla:

Banner Logo


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It has been a productive first quarter for Hoboken city government. We approved funding for a wet weather pump to alleviate flooding in the west end of Hoboken (near Shop Rite), we've passed a resolution enabling Hoboken to become the first city to establish a residential composting program, and we worked to be a strong voice to help lead the charge against proposed cuts in PATH service back in January, among other initiatives.  Here is a taste of what's to come: 

Municipal Budget and Taxes

The budget was recently introduced with a proposed increase in municipal taxes of just under 1%.  Now the Council has the task of rolling up our sleeves and seeing where cuts can be made to achieve a zero increase in municipal taxes - which is my goal. 

Residents may see changes in their tax bills this year due to the revaluation process, which updated the city's records to redistribute the tax burden in a manner that is more equitable and reflective of the current, actual market value of homes.  My property taxes increased too, and needless to say, I was not happy!  The "reval" process resulted in tax decreases for some residents, and increases for others.  However, it is important to note that the city did not see a major increase in total taxes to be collected this year.  In an attempt to help provide context, please see below for the size of the municipal budget, along with the amount in taxes raised through the municipal levy for the past three years:

YearTotal Budget SizeAmount to be raised
*2015 numbers are based on budget at introduction - total may change. Source of data: City of Hoboken

The increase in the total amount raised in taxes between 2014 and 2015 was not a result of the reval process. Rather, it is driven by annual increases in salaries owed to our City employees (police, fire, municipal employees) under legally binding contracts negotiated with various municipal unions.  Over the next few weeks, the City Council will amend the budget and hold hearings. I will keep residents informed of these proceedings through my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ravibhallahoboken.

Open Space and Parks

In March, the City Council approved an application for a low interest loan from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust to purchase a six-acre property commonly referred to as the BASF site located at 11th and Madison streets in northwest Hoboken.  It is our vision to use this opportunity to obtain a large portion of land for a public use in the form a large, beautiful park for all of our residents to enjoy. 

A major added benefit is that the design construction of this park will have a substantial impact on alleviating flooding in this area of Hoboken.  While the city is still in negotiations with the property owner, we anticipate designing the park to also act as a defense mechanism against flooding. The plan for the six-acres is to build a multi-purpose park and a large-scale underground storm water retention chamber.

The City's efforts to combine park space with flooding solutions places Hoboken on the cutting edge of green infrastructure development, and is being watched with great interest nationally as well.  I will continue to provide updates on this park and other open spaces.


Hoboken is becoming the first city in New Jersey to establish a composting program for its residents. I recently  wrote a letter to The Hoboken Reporter outlining the basics of the program, which was approved by the City Council on March 18. The City will be providing more information on this program as it is introduced. 

Constituent Outreach

Lastly, in an effort to stay in contact with residents, in the past three months, I've launched a Facebook page and an official website. To stay up to date on the latest happenings in Hoboken and what the City Council is working on, "like" my Facebook page here.

My new website is located here.  The website is another avenue for residents to contact me regarding any problems, read about issues of importance, and if you like the work we are doing, join us by making a  donation to help with our efforts to make Hoboken an even better place to live, work and play.

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.

As the Spring is finally here, and the sun is coming out (slowly), the highlight of this time of year for me is always the beginning of baseball!  I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to my Yankees.  They were off to a rocky start, but seem to be getting back on track - fingers crossed!

Ravinder S. Bhalla
City Council President