Tuesday, September 26, 2017

HCV Poll, 42 days out and the politics of division

With 42 days out Hoboken's barn burner of a mayoral race plus 14 council at large candidates, pressure mounts and candidacies are being exposed in ways planned, unplanned and and for those in the observer cockpit, telling.

Hudson County View published a poll and has four of its mayoral interviews published asking who gave the best interview? The results are interesting if not scientific. Perhaps in the zombie apocalypse cave they'll defend the data and say it's valued but more likely there will be zombie retrenchment.

Before the results are assaulted by a slew of campaign political operatives, here's the initial results:

Hudson County View's poll shows all four of its interviewed mayoral
candidate pulling significant support. One candidate appears to have
pulled away by a significant margin.

Asking who did best in the interview is also an indicator on underlying popular support and candidate interest. Starting from the top, Freeholder Anthony Romano has an evident base of support. His interview came first in the summer and he probably hadn't even gotten his sea legs with the sudden switch entering the mayoral race. He was exceedingly polite and low key showing confidence knowing he has support that is rock solid. At almost 20%, the number shows if anything that support will be there no matter what. Can the freeholder beef it up for both his county seat and mayor appearance on the November ballot? That's what his recent mailers seek to do.

Councilman Ravi Bhalla is next and his figure comes in at less than 10%. His early jump start from a date uncertain (no one can get a clear answer on when the Mayor Zimmer's withdrawal and replacement deal was hatched) showed initial headway. That early kick may have stalled with a base of support that has shrunk below Romano and what one statewide NJ political writer called Hoboken's crunchy granola eaters after the much criticized back room baton toss from lame duck Mayor Zimmer. Last week's cynical divisive mailer to Hoboken Democrats is seeing derision from all political strata. Some Hoboken Democrats find the mailer crass and worse, creepy with its use of a white child as a prop. Of course registered Independents, Republicans and Libertarians need not apply as second class citizens. Did that message reach the Hudson Tea Building yesterday where the Bhalla campaign held a meet and greet? If not, it will.

Council President Jen Giattino fares the best in the results to date with well over 30%. Is this a reflection of a surging candidacy that is finding its stride? There's far too much time left to conclude but there's a sense her grass roots message focusing on commercial development, quality of life and sustainability combined with her campaigning is winning hearts and minds. Her interview shows a mayoral candidate relaxed, poised, and knowledgeable with a down to earth sense of humor not seen at all with her rivals. Giattino campaign signs are springing up all over town but to the amazement of many, one location is Church Towers, a locked down Russo stronghold. Is the crossover affect taking hold? Team Giattino will need to hone its message and hammer it home. Hoboken mayoral race victories are for closers.

Last, Councilman Mike DeFusco's numbers come in around 20%. Are they similarly reflected in his poll conducted last weekend? Some close political observers think they are but the DeFusco penchant to say anything is starting to come back to bite. His interview showed a preplanned strategy to switch from blaming the $8.35 million Suez liability on the Zimmer administration to his mayoral rivals on the council. How many noticed the switch or concluded the attack is clearly illogical and completely political on DeFusco's part? The used car salesman routine is growing old. Low information voters may be impressed by the schtick but Hoboken has a core base of voters in municipal elections who've seen this act before. They won't be buying.

The last group measured is "not impressed" which some may interpret as a lack of interest or undecided. If you cut the double digit number in half, figure the lack of interest group will not change nor move down the ballot and vote on Election Day. The real question; if the other half is undecided, will they play a role in the outcome on November 7th.

That like the actual poll of voters on Election Day is the only one that matters.

Hoboken mayoral candidates from left: Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano, Councilman Ravi Bhalla, City Council President Jen Giattino and Councilman Mike DeFusco. Not pictured: Karen Nason and Ron Bautista. 
photo courtesy the Hudson County View

Monday, September 25, 2017

Ravi Bhalla hit again as the 'national candidate' for his cynical mailer

A twitter handle Britt Reid@hobokenrazzie, aka "the Green Hornet" is making noise with comic and pointed political critique of the Hoboken mayoral race.

In a weekend tweet, the satirical commenter highlighted the latest mailer from Councilman Ravi Bhalla depicting the American president who is currently busy aiding hurricane victims in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico. The Bhalla mailer shows a sinister reflection in the eyes of a child and depicts the reflection of the president as "hate."

Green Hornet finds Ravi Bhalla's "vow to subsidize" the Hoboken ferry a "sad overreach" asking instead "how about potholes and parking?"

Talking Ed Note: The criticism of Ravi Bhalla and his national ambition tour raises its head again. Is he running for Hoboken mayor or US Senator? Or is he getting an early start running for US President?

Who was the last Hoboken mayoral candidate looking to use Hoboken to fast track themselves up the political ladder thinking themselves a future US Senator, NJ governor or US President? His name begins with a P.

Related: Ravi Bhalla has followed Jen Giattino in endorsing Sharyn Angley and her slate (Hoboken Proud) this November. MSV asked in the comments at the link why Ravi Bhalla had not done for Angley last time based on a BoE source who said he hadn't in June. A Bhalla backer in MSV comments repeatedly insisted Bhalla had supported Angley and her Parents for Progress slate in 2014 based on the claim of his saying so.

There was no Bhalla endorsement for Sharyn Angley and Parents for Progress in 2014. Numerous sources close to the Hoboken BoE admitted Ravi Bhalla had not supported Sharyn Angley and Parents for Progress. Some declined to comment while others in the know declined to say so on the record with Angley's re-election bid and her slate Hoboken Proud actively campaigning.

Perhaps Ravi Bhalla will explain why he withheld support for Sharyn Angley and Parents for Progress.
Or like his silence to the Hoboken public on the Suez liability and when he made a secret deal with Mayor Zimmer seeing her sudden June withdrawal, maybe not.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dual Southwest Park ribbon cuttings demonstrate political division

The competing ribbon cutting ceremonies for Hoboken's Southwest Park took place on Friday and Saturday to some public head scratching with each underlining the success of the decade plus efforts to make the dream a reality.

On Friday, Mayor Dawn Zimmer held the official City of Hoboken ribbon cutting. Councilman Dave Mello and Councilman Ruben Ramos headlined a Saturday "People's" ribbon cutting.

About a month ago the City Council formally asked the City to hold the ribbon cutting when its members and the community could attend on a weekend. But the request while formally stated during the meeting fell on deaf ears, another sign of the political division with Mayor Zimmer's lame duck status and Hoboken's barnburner of an election set for November 7th.

Mello was an early advocate for a Southwest Park and a critical vote to its eventual approval. He however is no longer part of the Zimmer baton handoff to the Bhalla campaign. He's now a council at-large candidate for the Romano for mayor slate this coming November having served two terms on the mayor's at large council slate.

While Mayor Zimmer noted Mello's role on Friday, it obviously didn't make up for how the former ally of eight years felt for the official Southwest Park opening.

John Heinis of the Hudson County View captured some of those sentiments with Councilman Ruben Ramos filed in this report:

For the complete story, please see the Hudson County View.

Talking Ed Note: It's somewhat disappointing there couldn't be some accommodation for schedules especially as Councilman David Mello was an early advocate for a Southwest Park before taking office more than a decade ago joining with local activist John Gregorio and others.

From the video above, visible are young trees with no protection barrier around them. Dog urine will destroy those saplings and in short order. The kid's playground equipment is not installed reportedly due to an unconfirmed cost overrun.

Friday, September 22, 2017


In a rambling Friday interview with Hudson County View, Mike DeFusco says the $8.35 million dollar Suez liability that never appeared before the council is due to "possible criminal" action by City Council President Jen Giattino

Friday afternoon, a gorgeous day led to startling and unseemly charges in an interview by Hudson County View with Councilman Mike DeFusco, a candidate for Hoboken mayor.

Some are already calling it a meltdown of Titanic proportions.

Underscoring the problems recently surfacing with the million dollar Suez liability, DeFusco a mayoral candidate lobbed a bomb changing his earlier stance pointed at the administration for not revealing the issue sooner to the council and opting to lob a "possible criminal" bomb at his fellow council member and mayoral rival City Council President Jen Giattino.

In perhaps a Freudian slip, DeFusco first pointed to himself and other council members being somehow mistaken in the Suez liability. He quickly corrected himself to point the gun at City Council President Jen Giattino, a surging rival he targeted with his bomb alleging she funds the Hoboken budget.

"Either we're negligent in, either Jen's negligent in her oversight of this or she intentionally underfunded a budget and that's potentially criminal."

No member of the City Council funds the Hoboken budget. The administration presents the budget and its approval with amendments are made by the council members inclusive of all nine members: Mike DeFusco and Jen Giattino being two.


The Suez liability was never presented to the City Council in any budget. Administration professionals stated the $8.35 million liability was part of ongoing contract negotiations since 2014 and sorted in the last two.

Mike DeFusco sees the exact same budget information each year on the City Council as any other sitting council member including the City Council President Jen Giattino.

In an interview not two weeks earlier with Giattino, Hudson County View asked her about when she learned the details of the Suez liability. She said the full details were obtained in a subcommittee meeting late last month and were then shared with other council members.

The Zimmer administration presented an updated contract to the council that could not obtain a sponsor for further action at the previous City Council meeting.

Previously, DeFusco at last month's City Council meeting had pointed at the mayor's administration for being negligent or incompetent on the revealed Suez liability.

Apparently, he changed his mind.

Hoboken holds its mayoral election on November 7th.
Jen Giattino was not immediately available this evening for comment.

Here is Mike DeFusco praising City Council President Jen Giattino on her handling of the Suez liability at the previous September 6th, 2017 meeting.

Which Mike DeFusco do you want to believe?


Talking Ed Note: Prior to his bizarre charge today, DeFusco had actually lauded City Council President Jen Giattino for her efforts sharing with her fellow council members information obtained from the Zimmer administration.

Will he apologize or will he see a lawsuit?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Breaking: Buyer Beware - Shiny Penny Mike DeFusco Poll is out


MSV is exclusively reporting a new telephone poll is out and unlike the previous one last weekend called "straight-up" and "professional," this one is loaded looking for bear against all its main rivals.

There's push poll negative questions directed toward each of three candidates in the poll aiming at Freeholder Stick Romano, Councilman Ravi Bhalla and City Council President Jen Giattino. Residents reporting the polls to MSV similarly conclude the poll is being sponsored by Councilman Mike DeFusco, aka the Shiny Penny. 

Mike DeFusco
DeFusco touts his youthful candidacy based on the shiny penny principle. Have observers distracted by a shiny object and not focus on his lack of experience, trustworthiness and substance of a council record. Similarly, the telephone polls offers some tells on the DeFusco Shiny Penny principle in action.

The poll reportedly taken by ABG Research is already encountering problems. Apparently, Hoboken households are tired of being repeatedly polled since July and are not being cooperative.

Among the pro-DeFusco elements is a mix of facts favorable to his candidacy and some less than factual attacks against his main rivals. On Freeholder Romano, the poll notes accurately he's running for two offices then says "he's gaming the system with a six-figure pension and a lot of real estate income, yet he continues to live in affordable housing." Not altogether accurate but in the ballpark of accurate.

Of Councilman Ravi Bhalla, the Shiny Penny poll says he is "connected to a law firm, a partner that represents lots of entities such as Suez Water, NJ Transit adding there are serious concerns about his ethics and conflicts of interest." On this front, it's mostly accurate as Bhalla is conflicted currently on acting as a councilman on both Suez Water and NJ Transit according to most legal observers familiar with the details.

Then the biggest wild (and cheap) shot is taken against City Council President Jen Giattino saying of her part time work in local real estate it "spells trouble for Hoboken" then falsely claiming "she stands to benefit financially from the city." Concern about a Giattino surge is evident with the gutter shot.

A number of test messages cite issues seeking to identify which areas the Shiny Penny Mike DeFusco should leverage on the Hoboken public. Among them the polls asks about interest in "vibrant restaurants," "constant water main breaks," "more parking and better parking technology" and "return Observer Highway to four lanes, three lanes out in the morning and three lanes in on during the pm rush hours." Observer Highway is likely to be a staple of more than one mayoral and council candidate.

One notable test message surrounds development. The DeFusco Shiny Penny Poll asks about interest in "coffee bars, wineries, etc." These happen to be some of the new shiny ideas DeFusco has tossed out earlier this year when he announced he would run for mayor.

Additional push poll ideas are added but let the Hoboken buyer beware! The Shiny Penny Mike DeFusco is looking to lock down some avenues to push in the final 47 days to Election Day.

Talking Ed Note: Neither Mike DeFusco nor his campaign manager Ryan Yacco were contacted for this story. Neither has responded to requests for comment previously.

MSV publishes its commenting policy from time to time. It's been updated at the jump.

Council President and mayoral candidate Jen Giattino endorses BoE slate 'Hoboken Proud'

Official release:

It is with great pleasure that Jen Giattino, City Council President and Hoboken mayoral candidate, announces her continued support for incumbent Sharyn Angley and her Hoboken Proud team of Melanie Tekirian and Chetali Khanna for election to the Hoboken Board of Education.

“I supported Sharyn and her running mates three years ago and I’ve been extremely pleased with the continued positive change in the Hoboken Public Schools. Hoboken Proud is certainly an appropriate reflection of how we should all feel about the job that’s being done by Superintendent Christine Johnson and the current Board of Education. I and my council running mates will proudly support this team in any way we can. We thank them for stepping up for this vital volunteer service and agree wholeheartedly with Hoboken Proud when they say strong schools equal a strong community.”

'People's ribbon cutting for Southwest Park' set for Saturday at 4:00

Official release:

The Real Hoboken Southwest Park Ribbon Cutting Celebration
“For the People – By the People”

Site of the Hoboken Southwest Park

Southwest Parks Coalition co-founder John Gregorio, original group member Councilman David Mello, and Fourth Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos ask that you join us at 4:00 pm this Saturday, September 23rd, as we gather at the Southwest Park, Hoboken’s newest public open space, for an informal ribbon cutting celebration.

The opening of the Southwest Park marks the fruition of over a decade of effort by many Hoboken advocates, past and present.  From the formation of the Southwest Parks Coalition to the present day, residents in Hoboken’s Southwest and beyond have been advocating for a significant open space in this vibrant, up and coming Hoboken neighborhood.  This cornerstone piece marks the start of what hopefully will be an even larger park creation in the future.  This park is not only Southwest Hoboken’s first significant public, open space; it contains much needed flood retention technology to further combat flooding events in one of our most flood prone Hoboken neighborhoods.

All are welcome to attend, as we celebrate this moment with an informal and festive ribbon cutting, which we want all of our friends and neighbors to be able to participate in.  This is your park Hoboken, and it’s opening should be celebrated at a time when the maximum number of people who made this dream a reality can revel in its long-awaited start.

The Southwest Park is located on Block 12 in Hoboken, N.J., between Paterson Plank Road and Observer Highway, and Jackson and Harrison Streets in Hoboken’s Southwest neighborhood.


John Gregorio
Councilman David Mello
Councilman Ruben Ramos

Talking Ed Note: Some explanation is required with this release. The Hoboken public doesn't know Mayor Zimmer set up a city ribbon cutting for tomorrow morning for media at 11:00 am with a later public event set for next Wednesday.

Two of the current council members, Dave Mello and Ruben Ramos are joined by Southwest Park activist John Gregorio to hold this event Saturday when all are available, as emphasized in the release. Both of the council members work as most of the public at that time and are not available for tomorrow morning's Mayor Zimmer's selected ribbon cutting time.

You can probably guess who will be among those attending the mayor's ribbon cutting.

Councilman Peter Cunningham: 'City Council President Jen Giattino is Hoboken's best choice for mayor'

Official release:

Dear friends, family and neighbors, 

As many of you know, I serve on the Hoboken City Council. Over the past ten years I’ve been at the forefront of many positive changes. But I couldn’t have done it alone. I am deeply grateful to my colleagues and to my 5th Ward constituents for providing me with their support, their thoughts, their ideas and the opportunity to serve them and the City of Hoboken overall.  It has been a pleasure and I’m proud of what our reform team, Mayor Zimmer and strong reform Council Members, have together accomplished.  Finance, constituent service and quality of life issues have always been a focus for me, and I have worked hard to keep these issues in the forefront.  But challenges remain. There are legitimate concerns about the direction of new development, adequacy of city services and Hoboken’s continued fiscal health to name a few. Mayor Zimmer’s announcement of her plans to not run for reelection provides us with an opportunity to take stock of our accomplishments, evaluate where we are, and to ensure that we address the greater good of Hoboken in the future.  We have to adapt as required to best address the changing needs of all of Hoboken’s growing population – young and old, and across the widening socio-economic spectrum. 

I believe Jen Giattino is best suited to lead Hoboken now as Mayor.  I give her my enthusiastic, unqualified endorsement.  I have had the fortunate opportunity to work with all the major mayoral candidates over the last several years, and while they all have their strengths, none is more ready, none is as ready to lead Hoboken.  As a Ward leader myself, I recognize how passionately Jen serves both her 6th Ward constituents and residents throughout Hoboken.  Jen has the experience, knowledge, creativity, character, work ethic and determination necessary to lead Hoboken to future success.   With her I am completely confident we will do what we need to do to continue to raise the bar – and not slip back to the secretive, weak and too often corrupt leadership of the past.

Jen’s leadership is recognized by her council colleagues who have elected her Council President three of the last six years. She understands the core challenges Hoboken faces. In addition to quality of life issues, she has been the strongest voice in favoring commercial development which minimizes congestion and tax rates over residential which does neither and she has been unwavering in her support for greater financial transparency.   She’s chosen a council slate with demonstrated experience in being tough on development, finance and negotiations -- three critical tenets to Hoboken’s future success.   
Jen has unparalleled respect among her neighbors both in and beyond the 6th Ward. She’s friendly and compassionate, and unequalled in Hoboken for her passion for helping people.  What I love most about Jen is that she’ll work her hardest for any Hobokenite, supporter or not alike.  Hoboken needs leaders ready to serve ALL of Hoboken.  Please join me in supporting Jen Giattino for Mayor and her team of Jim Aibel, Sal Strace and Jason Ellis for Council.

Peter Cunningham, 5th Ward Councilman
Check out her website at https://www.teamgiattino.com/ and on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JenforHoboken/

Meet the BoE candidates - Monday, September 25th

Official release:

Dear friends,

As longtime residents and parents of children who attend the Hoboken Public School District, we can speak firsthand to the quality of education and opportunity provided to district students.  

We are running for election to the Hoboken Board of Education.  Our mission is to raise awareness of the many great things happening across the district today and to work constructively with the administration on further enhancing public education in Hoboken.  Our goal is that our elementary and middle schools be urban schools of excellence and Hoboken High School to be our communities’ No.1 choice for grades 9-12.

Please join with us in this effort.  We look forward to seeing you on Monday.

Melanie, Sharyn and Chetali

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A grant and picking up the tab for more firefighters?

The Hoboken City Council didn't have any further Suez related matters last night to consider but how to handle a grant to bring on firefighters?  How do you manage a grant when you have to pick up the tab later?

Hudson County View filed this story:

For the complete story, please see the Hudson County View:

Councilman Ruben Ramos endorses Mike DeFusco for mayor

Another local endorsement came in yesterday with Councilman Ruben Ramos making it official getting behind Mike DeFusco.

Hudson County View published its story:

Councilman Ruben Ramos who represents Hoboken's fourth ward
officially endorsed Mike DeFusco for mayor.

Talking Ed Note: The pieces on the chess board in the Mile Square City begin moving to the inevitable endgame on November 7th, Election Day. Councilman Ruben Ramos who holds strong support in the fourth ward and across Hoboken with his solid 2013 mayoral run lends solid support to Mike DeFusco.

It's the time of the season for many moves toward the inevitable finish line.

Council candidate Josh Einstein on urban public housing

Official release:

Our government run social safety net system was created to use government to help people in need ascend out of the immediate and temporary problems they were confronted with towards self-sufficiency. It failed. From the inherent problems of a functional monopoly with an institutional incentive to regulate competing models out of business rather than out-serve them on a level playing field to the intrinsic desire of status quo politicians to create long term stable voting blocs to support their eternal re-election campaigns, the government social safety net system has always faced many existential issues which undermine its original and noble purpose.

One such example, and a local one that relates to our city, is the public housing authority aka the projects. Our fellow citizens living in the projects are served by a system in dire need of reform. This is not to impugn the residents, nor the trustees and staff, but it is an indictment of a system that de-facto warehouses people and is intuitionally ripe for abuse. The projects are governed by a board of commissioners appointed by a mix of the mayor, city council, and the state government who together hires a director. Each one of these people have to fight the urge to use their position as the de-facto mix of condo-board, landlord, and mini-government of the projects to build a political base. Aside from the ever-present danger that the politicization of the basic needs and services for our fellow Hobokenites represents, there have been few residents of the projects on the board, further infantilizing residents as wards of the board for the political leadership care for.

Across the country this system of patronage has created a disincentive for the political appointees who run public housing to engage with residents as stakeholders as well as to attempt to give a hand up rather than a hand out. The system needs transformation in order to achieve its original goal. That reform is a Community Land Trust (CLT). A CLT is a non-profit that seeks to keep lower income housing in perpetuity, maintaining that safety net for those economically less fortunate, while at the same time allowing its members to strive for more while taking a leadership role in their own destiny. CLT’s have a co-owning model, not dissimilar from co-opts or condo associations, in which they the own land and residents can own the housing unit they live in. CLT’s keep units for rent substantially below market rates for the working class as well as offer to sell units to their current residents as highly discounted and low rates (as has been done in public housing in Britain). The then owners of a unit can sell it onwards at a CLT agreed upon formula which keeps the unit significantly under the market rate but allows the selling resident to make a small profit. This keeps units affordable and allows residents more opportunities to build a better future.

Just an importantly, CLT’s destroy the ability of local political factions or a potentially bad board member from using their influence for political gain by having a board that is made up of CLT residents (unit owners and renters) and neighboring community members. It integrates, rather than segregates, the CLT residents into the local neighborhood community by building bridges across economic divides and communities and it empowers the residents to be the stakeholders they can be when not being lorded over by political appointees.

The path to transform Hoboken’s projects to a Community Land Trust will be long and arduous. It will not be easy as partisans often fight for the status quo but building a better city for all is why I’m running for City Council.

Joshua Einstein is the independent candidate for Hoboken City Council, the Republican State Committeeman from Hudson County, a member of the Hudson County Regional Jewish Council, and has been published in over 13 papers and websites.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Michael Russo endorses Stick Romano for Mayor

In a story reported on Hudson County View earlier today, Councilman Michael Russo endorsed Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano for mayor.

Today's decision to endorse Anthony Romano for Mayor of Hoboken, along with his slate of council candidates, is the best decision we can make," Russo said in a statement.

Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo (l) endorsed Freeholder Anthony Romano for mayor earlier today.
For the complete story, see the Hudson County View:

Talking Ed Note: HCV correctly notes in its story, this is not a surprise being that Michael Russo "came out from the cold" and finally threw in behind Romano showing up at his recent fundraiser. It's a blow to the Old Guard backing Mike DeFusco who sought Russo's political support.

Russo's cousin and godmother, former first ward councilwoman Terry Castellano would have been more than a trite displeased had Russo backed Mike DeFusco for mayor. In 2015, Castellano was replaced by DeFusco who used the support of Mayor Zimmer to get elected.

Russo is a well known and controversial political figure who was captured in 2009 on FBI surveillance video agreeing to a bribe with an undercover FBI informant Solomon Dwek. Russo was not arrested and the plan to make payment was allegedly not consummated. Some wonder otherwise and question if a deal for cooperation with the government didn't follow.

MSV's earlier reporting on Russo's comments back in 2011 denying any bribe directly led to the FBI video's release. An earlier March 2011 MSV story broke the story opening the Russo-Dwek controversy.

In 2012, MSV published a theoretical timeline on the Russo-Dwek Affair.

Russo was re-elected as third ward councilman in 2011 and ran unopposed to re-election in 2015.

Councilman Dave Mello: 'No knowledge on actual Suez liability to date?'

Official release:

I'm taken aback this morning by my former running mate's comments regarding her proposed Suez Water contract extension.

First, to say that this proposed contract is better, is not saying much. The existing contract is horrible, and it does not take much to improve on the existing agreement. To say that I should vote for this contract extension because it is an improvement, is not saying much at all. If a football team went winless last year, and they win one or two games this year, they've improved, but their coach will probably still get fired.

Second, regarding the $8.35 million liability, it is surprising to read that the administration still doesn't know what this amount is. To quote the Mayor, "The reality is we don't know exactly what the amount is." How, exactly, can this point of leverage for Suez Water, be clearly understood, if the amount of this supposed liability is still unclear, AND this "liability" was never properly billed. I'm shocked that this liability wasn't more accurately pinned down, and that there was no legal challenge to this "liability" not being billed in a timely manner.

Third, to my knowledge, the City's hired negotiator still has never looked into other possible water providers, to comparables across the nation, or to whether we could take some of these services back in-house. When I specifically asked about these potential sources of leverage for the City at the August meeting, I was told that these things had not been done. I was also, surprisingly, told that there aren't "comparables" that exist. This is so shocking, because everyone drinks water! I lose faith in our hired negotiator/consultant when he tells me he can't develop comparables (note ==> Councilwoman Fischer's questioning about whether this contract was "at market" or "above market" speaks to the lack of comps as well).

Fourth, nobody has explained the urgency here. Councilman Russo has requested insight into these negotiations for over a year now, and was consistently rebuffed. It's understandable that he would make such a request, since the administration seemed more focused on blaming his father for the existing contract, rather than renegotiating it at any point during the eight years my old team has been in office. For some odd reason, there was no sense of urgency in assuring Councilman Russo that negotiations were proceeding thoroughly and expeditiously. Yet, once an intense election season was set in motion, an inexplicable sense of urgency was also created. As Mike Lenz wisely stated recently, "Slow down. Get the facts. We’ve owed the money for years, we’ll still owe it in January. Let the next Mayor and Council decide. They, and we, will have to live with those decisions."

This is a contract extension that is being proposed. People are so focused in on the purported $8.35 million liability, because it makes it appear that this proposed contract extension is a last minute attempt to get out of trouble. It's akin to one of my students trying to hand in a pile of late assignments right before the marking period ends, so that they won't get in so much trouble with their parents, and will give their GPA a boost. This should never be the basis for committing to major policy decisions.

I have always tried to do what is best for Hoboken. I have also always rejected attempts to escalate political discourse in a mile square city of approximately 55,000 people to such irrational and hyper levels. This proposed contract is a better deal for the Hoboken taxpayer, ONLY if the taxpayers weren't all also water ratepayers. The reality is, they are one in the same (the further reality is we are not inundated with car washes in our city). We on the City Council need to ensure that we are finally considering a fair deal for the Hoboken taxpayer/ratepayer - for our neighbors, friends, and families. To do anything else would be an abandonment of the duties that I was so honored to be trusted with eight years ago.

Councilman Dave Mello

Monday, September 18, 2017

Jen Giattino: 'Why I will be Hoboken's next mayor'

In an interview with the Hudson County View on Friday, City Council President Jen Giattino explains how her unexpected mayoral candidacy occurred, the Suez $8.35 million liability uncovered in recent days and why she will win in November and become Hoboken's next mayor.

Talking Ed Note: In this interview, Hoboken learns why Jen Giattino is surging among the main mayoral candidates. She's a straight shooter. There's no "political speak" or the usual hedging one sees in political candidates.

It's the same reason most Reform council allies are backing her mayoral candidacy and/or sought to be on her council at-large ticket.

Jen Giattino, as a mayoral candidate before her says she will not see to use Hoboken as a stepping-stone to move up the ladder. It's one of the clear differences between her and Councilman Ravi Bhalla. The model she's following? Dawn Zimmer.

The other universal trait shared by friends and rivals alike: trustability. Jen Giattino is liked and trusted by people who are and were both friend and foe.

Among the issues, it's the Suez water vendor front and center. Giattino says some questions were answered by the Zimmer administration but not others. She said it was August when some members of the council first learned of the unfunded $8.35 million liability. Efforts to obtain the information before the last council meeting didn't occur and the letter from the city auditor was oddly "very brief."

How is the $10 million liability being paid? It's a rhetorical question where Giattino points to payment being made in the future by Hoboken residents.

Giattino talks about the grass root community support she's seeing across Hoboken old and new pointing to that support as the reason she will win the November election for mayor.

Mayor supports improved proposed contract

In an interview with Mayor Zimmer the Hudson County View last Thursday, the Suez contract is discussed with the mayor citing the improvements from the previous terrible contact made in the 90s.

From the Hudson County View story:

Zimmer responded by saying that the auditor was on vacation during the subcommittee meeting he was summoned for, indicating she preferred to have that conversation occur during an open session of the city council.

The mayor also clarified that the $8.35 million figure is just an estimate since Suez has never billed the city for those services.

For the complete story please see the Hudson County View:

Hoboken Democratic Chair and Second Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher endorses Jen Giattino for mayor

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors

I am proud to endorse City Council President Jen Giattino to be our next Mayor of Hoboken and her council slate comprising of Zoning Board Chair Jim Aibel and long-time Hoboken residents Jason Ellis and Sal Starace. 

The day Mayor Zimmer announced her intentions, I awoke feeling unsettled and concerned about Hoboken’s future. To me the right message going forward for Hoboken is embracing what works, but fixing what doesn’t. And when Jen decided to run for mayor a week later, the unsettled feeling went away. 

Being the mayor of Hoboken is an executive role, not a legislative one, which is critical as you think about the candidate’s ability to execute on their vision. Our next mayor needs to have demonstrated:
  • Experience protecting the quality of life for Hoboken residents;
  • Ability to lead and navigate through many prioritizes – big and small - and get things done;
  • Willingness to challenge the status quo;
  • Financial focus to be a steward for taxpayers; and
  • Commitment to working with others to ensure the best outcome for Hoboken.

Jen is the only candidate who has all of these. Jen offers her hand and heart to anyone who needs it. She walks our streets daily and helps her constituents on everyday life issues like dirty streets and parks and unsafe intersections and helps those being displaced from their homes. Her neighbors tell me the following about her: “Jen is everyone’s neighbor”, “Accessible and acts”, “Mom who gets s--t done”, “Helped me when..,” “She is all about Hoboken.”

Jen has been my partner on the many issues that required a deeper understanding and financial review – like the 30 year PILOT given to the developer of the ginormous “7th and Jackson” project - Jen and I were the only two dissenting votes. She shares my view that improper development is the biggest threat to our community. That getting development right for Hoboken requires better financial review to level the playing field in negotiations with developers. And that prioritizing commercial development is critical to curb overcrowding impacts residential development has on traffic, parking and schools and bring much needed commerce and tax revenue to our community. 

In this election, we cannot go backward to the corrupt practices of our past that sent two of our prior three mayors to jail. Jen and her entire team are simply on the right side of wrong. I cannot stress enough the importance of supporting a candidate like Jen who is not beholden to any special interests (like developers) and who is not supported by votes that will be paid for. 

Jen is what Hoboken deserves. Someone who is all about Hoboken and not using this as a stepping stone to higher office. Someone who puts our residents first, solves the little things that seem big to individuals and can also tackle the big things that will have everyday impact to everyone in Hoboken. Please join me in voting for Jen and Team Giattino on November 7th.

Tiffanie Fisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Guest of the Stable: Mike Lenz on the Hoboken $8.5-10 million debt - 'it’s a problem'

Hoboken DOES have a
$8.5-10 million debt.
And it’s a problem

Mayor Zimmer sent a Nixle on the $8.5-10 million Hoboken owes to Suez Water.  Yet in over 1,000 words the word “debt” never appears.  Google defines debt as “something, typically money, that is owed or due.” There has been some nervous muddying from City Hall about whether the money is currently due, but there have been no claims that it is not owed.  While City Hall has kept it pretty quiet, Hoboken does, in fact, owe $8.5-10 million to Suez, and Mayor Zimmer has known about it for years.

But I can understand why she didn’t say so.  Admitting keeping an $8.5-10 million obligation secret raises uncomfortable questions: 1) How long did the Mayor know about this debt?  The Nixle alert says 2 years, at the last council meeting they said 4 years, and the reality is anyone’s guess.  2) Who knew, and when? Did city auditor Steve Wielkotz know? At the council meeting he said he didn’t, but the Nixle raises questions when it says “accountants” did. Which accountants? Which Council members knew before July? I know Cunningham, DeFusco, Fisher, and Giattino have said they knew nothing, and I think Russo and Ramos said so too, but I’m not sure on the rest.  
Even Councilman Ravi Bhalla would be expected to answer – recusing yourself from a vote doesn’t mean you don’t have to answer to the public. And what about the Mayor’s former chief of staff, now manager of the Bhalla campaign? It’s kind of hard to believe the chief of staff didn’t know. 3) Was this debt disclosed in the annual audits, and in recent bond offering statements? My strong suspicion is no. Was it required to be? I think it extremely likely.  If some credible professional said it was ok to leave it out – as Mayor Zimmer implies in her Nixle – who were they, did they put those opinions in writing at the time, and why haven’t we seen the proof? It’s no wonder Mayor Zimmer is publically second guessing herself for going public on this before the election.

Does any of this matter? I think it does.  If “reform” means anything it means talking openly and honestly about what’s going on in City Hall.  Despite what has been implied, no $8.5-10 million forgiveness is coming, there is no Santa Claus, and even though you can refinance your mortgage – or your water bill – you still end up owing the money.  Why does this matter? Because when our elected leaders start hiding financial realities they invariably end by doing deeply damaging things as they struggle to avoid disclosure.  About 17 years ago a past administration put short term priorities over long term fiscal health and signed the awful water deal that haunts Hoboken now.  Had the facts not come out it could easily have happened again. Slow down. Get the facts. We’ve owed the money for years, we’ll still owe it in January.  Let the next Mayor and Council decide. They, and we, will have to live with those decisions.

Michael Lenz

Talking Ed Note: The gnashing of teeth at Sybil's Cave lacking a logical counter to Councilman Michael Lenz says all you need to know about the fear and panic the Suez debacle besets the Bhalla campaign.

The political decision to bury the debt of millions exploding in the Suez water contract since 2014 by rolling it into a new Suez contract extension is a standard Soprano State trick politicians use to bury mistakes in the hope the public doesn't ask questions.

The City Council sought a closed session briefing at its prior meeting with the city auditor and the financial analysis underlying the proposed contract extension. They were denied by the Zimmer administration. Is it to protect Councilman Ravi Bhalla and his conflicts heading into the election?

If you wish to submit a guest piece for consideration to MSV, please keep it to 1,000 words or less and send it with your contact information to smartyjones@me.com

Sign of the Times: Mayoral candidate Karen Nason is no. 1

No, it's not an election result that comes in November. Karen Nason, a mayoral candidate attended the ballot drawing at City Hall yesterday and will however appear as the first candidate listed on the ballot.

She's no. 1!

Karen Nason was pleased with the result writing, "I could not have been happier to have been placed in the number 1 position for mayor. It is an honor to be on the ballot and I promise to deliver on that number 1 position."

Saturday, September 16, 2017

BREAKING: Hoboken Candidate Poll Positions

Locations on the Hoboken Municipal Ballot in the 2017 non-partisan municipal elections were drawn at City Hall earlier today.

Here are the candidate appearances for the upcoming November 7th Election Day ballot.

For Hoboken Mayor:

Karen Nason

Ravi Bhalla

Mike DeFusco

Jen Giattino

Ron Bautista

Anthony Romano

For the Hoboken City Council (independent and slates):

Josh Einstein

Angelo Valente

Michael Flett, Andrew Impastato, Vanessa Falco

Dave Mello, Laini Hammond, Charles "Buddy" Matthews

John Allen, Jim Doyle, Emily Ball Jabbour

Jim Aibel, Jason Ellis, Sal Starace

The Ballot (lower half, mayoral candidates left, council candidates right):

They're back! Hoboken phone poll underway

There's yet another telephone poll going around Hoboken. Before the questions are bestowed on you the reader, a little word of warning about polls.

If the public is not provided the sample size, the number of likely voters or all voters, etc., you don't know anything about the internals of a poll. You're not suppose to of course as this is paid for by private groups/campaigns for their use not to enlighten you the public.

Between now and November, as earlier, you'll hear select information about a poll, people talking about polls and "telling" you how to think about any poll(s).

What they won't be talking about is the full complete internals, the full data about any poll. The only value in a poll for the public is to see those details, if it's a poll made public. Short of that, it's a little game people play to try to manipulate your choice, wait for it, at the poll. 

It's called propaganda. 

The one poll that actually counts is taken by the Hoboken public on November 7th, Election Day.

In the interim, people will and have referenced "a poll" telling you how important it is for you to take this into account before you. You never get the details only what they want to tell you. Undoubtedly, it's the candidate they are already backing as they look at you with whimsical eyes when possible, hoping you take the bait.

Part of the entire poll game is to manipulate you to "join the inevitable," what is called the "bandwagon effect." Some may have noticed this psychological warfare didn't work  last November.

As an example, an informal poll in Hoboken might show 50% or more of the eligible voters describing themselves as "Undecided." Or they may not even ask if the person polled is undecided in order to generate a result. The polled would be voter may not even have a clear idea on who the candidates are in the race and hasn't focused on who they may consider voting for in November. None of this would show up in a poll. The saying, garbage in, garbage out applies.

Among this polled group of "undecideds," many if not most may break to or away from a candidate late in the race because of an issue or revelations learned prior to Election Day. They may also choose to not vote at all.

Keep this in mind when you hear anyone, ANYONE selling you a bill of goods about "a poll." It's why you don't hear MSV talking up any poll in Hoboken in more than eight years. Hoboken is a small voting environment and the idea any scientific poll of any value being given to you for free is not only unlikely to happen, it won't happen. 

So having shared the secret sauce on polling and polling manipulation in Hoboken and elsewhere, here's reader questions submitted on the breaking Friday poll likely to stay around town for some days.

No, it's not scientific, your questions can vary. Often, questions can be changed, added or removed depending on what the people behind the poll are looking to do but that's entirely a different story.


Are you a registered voter?
Do you live in Hoboken?
Do you hold any government position?

On a scale of: Very Satisfied, Somewhat Satisfied, Somewhat dissatisfied, Very dissatisfied - how do you rate:
The  direction of NJ?
The direction of the City of Hoboken

Rate job performance of (same scale as above)
The governor
Your state senators
You state assembly members
Your Freeholders
The Mayor
The Hoboken City Council

If you were told the following things about a candidate would you be more likely, likely, not likely or not at all likely to vote for them.

The candidate received the endorsement of the mayor
The candidate had ethical issues and was prone to conflicts of interest
The candidate joined the city council 2 year's ago and is now running for Mayor
The candidate is a Republican
The candidate is running for 2 offices at the same time and if the candidate won both they would pick the one that they want to hold

First do you recognize each person  & if you do is your impression:  very favorable,  somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or  very unfavorable?

If the election were held tomorrow who would you vote for?
Murphy or Guadagno?
Bhalla, DeFusco, Romano, Giattino?

If the Mayoral race was between two people who would you vote for
Giattino v. DeFusco?
Giattino v. Romano?
Bhalla v. Romano?
Defusco v. Romano?
Defusco v. Bhalla?
Giattino v. Bhalla?

What is your age (given an age range)
How many years have you lived in Hoboken?  (variable - less than 5 up to more than 20)

Rent or own

Do you consider yourself:

Conservative, Moderate, Liberal, Reform, Progressive?

Are you a registered Republican, Democrat, Independent, Other party?

Talking Ed NoteBefore the cave dwellers arrive to make up what isn't stated here; the information above is reader submitted. It's not a claim you will be polled with the same exact questions or similar questions or these questions are the complete poll. 

Who is behind this poll? Your guess is as good as anyone. When someone is taking to you about a poll keep in mind that without the internal data being published; the person telling you or writing about the poll is most likely seeking to manipulate you. Other than the motive to entertain the reader, in fact, the person trying to sell you on a poll thinks you're dumb. It's very condescending. 

Lot of that going around.

Reader reaction: One reader after seeing this Saturday story, offered their perspective stating a poll sample taken in the Mile Square City can never capture the peculiar Mile Square City mix of politics and land up with bad data from a tilted sample size, phone types and neighborhoods polled. The reader added that the Hoboken population which on the surface seems homogenous is quite diverse in important areas on income, time living in Hoboken and non-political affiliations.

Friday, September 15, 2017



The Waiters v Romano complaint filed on behalf of whoever is behind Patty Waiters was heard earlier today in Hudson Superior Court.

The legal effort to see an injunction keeping Freeholder Romano from appearing on the ballot for Hoboken mayor and freeholder was denied by Administrative Judge Peter Bariso earlier today.

The complete legal decision follows:

Talking Ed Note: The injunction is denied but the matter may be fully briefed for further court review. Let's see what people decide to do on the issue. Based on the story that followed on Hudson County View, attorney Eric Dixon will make an emergency application with the NJ Appellate Court.

As it stands, the Hoboken November ballot will see Romano appear for mayor and freeholder.

Update: The Hudson County View confirms today's legal election news:

Grist for the Mill: All rise before Judge Bariso

Word this morning is the dual ballot appearance legal challenge against Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano is scheduled for today.

Romano is set to appear on the November election ballot as a candidate for Hoboken mayor. He's also the candidate on the Democrat line as he won the primary for re-election freeholder back in June.

All rise before the honorable Administrative Judge Peter Bariso in the case of Patty Waiters, re: the Shinny Penny Mike DeFusco vs. Anthony "Stick "Romano.

The hearing is said to be set for 11:30 this morning.

Update: This gristy chewable item is confirmed with the hearing set for 11:30 am.
Word is Mike DeFusco campaign manager Ryan Yacco is in attendance.


Update: 12:55 pm

According to one reliable source, the Administrative Judge Peter F. Bariso has ruled against the Patty Waiters - Shinny Penny Mike DeFusco complaint to remove Anthony Romano from the ballot.

As a result, Romano may run for the office of freeholder and Hoboken mayor this November. If he should win both; he'd have to select and hold one office.

There may be more wrinkles. Another party not at the courthouse claims the request for an injunction holding up the ballot is denied but says the matter isn't over. Trying to get details and see what's what. Lots of jumpiness on this one.

The post hearing results remain a gristy item. More to come.

Grist for the Mill is MSV's rumor column. Got a tasty carrot for Da Horsey? Send it to smartyjones@me.com. All email is kept confidential and is protected by Da Horsey's proven Reporter Privilege upheld under the NJ Shield Law in Hudson County Superior Court. In farm animals we trust.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

City Sgt. Schultz: I know nothing, nothing about these million dollar Suez liabilities

People in City Hall just don't know how the $8.35 million dollars in liability happened

Most people didn't see last week's City Council meeting where the eruption of a $8.35 liability owed Suez, the water vendor was discussed. Many don't care for reasons political and personal but the public is learning of it and about as thrilled as the last time they "discovered" bills in the $10 million ballpark in a prior administration.

Councilman Jim Doyle at last week's discussion on Suez
and the $8.35 million liability owed. He along with the rest of
the council declined to sponsor the Administration's proposed contract.

Notice the calm demeanor of the council who was rebuffed from asking questions of the City auditor prior to the meeting.

Then ask yourself, what does not compute? The discussion shows a striking lack of intellectual curiosity among those working within the administration on the exploding million dollar costs.

But is it logical to assume no one knew?

Here's the video from some of the key moments with the City Council and city auditor. Eye opening.
It will remind many of the old Hogan's Heroes show with Sgt. Schultz who would often say in a pinch, "I know nothing."

Shades of Hoboken government past with double digit costs owed in the millions.

The city auditor writes in a letter released at the meeting there are significant costs.
No one at City Hall had the slightest desire to quantify those "significant" costs in seven figures annually?

Is that right?

The City's auditor Steven Wielkotz is asked about reporting and disclosure requirements. He states he had found out about the actual $8.35 million liability a day earlier as nothing was disclosed to him.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher inquires about the obligation to disclose and the million dollar costs associated with the bulk water costs being tabulated annually.

Councilman Dave Mello follows along similar lines and Mr. Wielkotz admits if he had been told he would have been under a professional obligation to include the "material" costs at least in a footnote.

"Until yesterday, I did not know what the numbers were. They were never supplied to us. So it's hard to disclose something when you you don't have the information," Mr. Wielkotz says.

Councilman Ruben Ramos follows with the $1,000,000 dollar question, "How do you enter into negotiations without knowing those numbers? How does the mayor?"

City Council President Jen Giattino poses another question. "If we owe $1.2 million.. liability from last year, would you say it's okay you don't have to disclose it, you don't have to appropriate, it doesn't have to be in the audit because you're going to negotiate sometime in the future?

"I have an obligation as a professional to disclose what I believe needs to be disclosed that's material in nature. If I knew about it, if it was quantified, year by year there would at least have been some disclosure," Mr. Wielkotz replies.

Talking Ed Note: Reference is made to a 2015 conversation within the Administration. It's all but admitted without a complete figure running in seven figures with the bulk water costs, millions annually since 2014 are piling up.

Yet no one sought to tabulate what the million dollar cost actually was?

Councilman Ruben Ramos wondered aloud how one can negotiate a new contract extension without tabulating the millions in monies owed as part of the City's negations with Suez? The question points to ignorance not being an option. Someone clearly knew and avoided seeing it tabulated and disclosed to the City Council members and Mile Square residents.

The millions in liability were clearly known and discussed just not disclosed to the City Council and the Hoboken public.

There's an election coming this November. Mayor Zimmer is trying to get Councilman Ravi Bhalla elected mayor as her successor.

Any questions?

Related: To hear more on this segment of the meeting scroll ahead to the 1:15 mark: