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Friday, March 3, 2017

Councilman Mike DeFusco is called out on 901 Bloomfield resolution

Sometimes the best laid intentions presented to the public are unmasked in the transparent light of a live meeting. All intentions are not necessarily paved with gold; sometimes it's politics in search of a prize. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder or as here, a would be mayoral candidate.

The saga of the 901 Bloomfield resolution presented by Councilman Mike DeFusco sought some salvation for the church structure offering to explore a swap with the uptown owner who is part of an owners group at a Newark and Willow property. There's only one problem; the owner had his lawyer send a letter declining any tradeoffs last December and expressed no interest in any larger project offset at Willow St. where 40 feet in additional height would be needed to make up for the loss of economic opportunity uptown.

Enter a debate on the inert and ceremonial resolution. Councilman Ravi Bhalla followed the sponsor by flatly calling it a political stunt. He's guilty of being both blunt and correct.

Councilman Peter Cunningham spoke about setting proper expectations with your constituents and then calmly relayed he felt "duped" by the sponsor being pitched the resolution a week prior. He didn't know the status of the building permits at both of the owner's locations. Building permits are in the windows and construction work officially underway.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher gave a recitation on the project from the end portion of her time on the zoning board. She politely voiced openness to a solution but noted that time was likely past and the resolution was not viable and so she would vote no.

Councilman Michael Russo tried to give some life to the resolution. He brought up the idea of deploying eminent domain on the up zoned property, a less than financially viable proposition.

The apparent failure of the ceremonial resolution led to this rebuttal of torrid exchanges seen in the video below. Councilman Mike DeFusco offers a fusillade of attacks on the negative reception. Amidst a cantankerous soliloquy he overhears sniggering several seats away with Councilman Jim Doyle.

Doyle notes in understated tones his colleague Councilman Bhalla told the truth and then proceeds to unleash a deadly sarcastic rebuke. An exchange of rapidly increasing mortar fire leads Council President Jen Giattino to interrupt and call for an immediate cease fire.

The Council President soon finds herself in the broadside and asks if she can finally have a word having allowed Councilman DeFusco more than a half an hour on the resolution. Their exchange ends shortly before the vote is called and the Council President addresses her disappointment to the public for the false expectations set in the resolution.

During the debate, it comes to light 250 signatures on a petition were collected last fall before the owner's December letter to the City of Hoboken saying thanks but no thanks. Condos are coming online and the time for any actual consideration is passed.

The resolution failed 5-4 and so enters Hoboken's election season. Salud!



Talking Ed Note: Voting in the majority "no" to the resolution: council members Bhalla, Cunningham, Doyle, Fisher and Council President Jen Giattino. Voting yay council members: Ruben Ramos, Michael Russo, Dave Mello and Mike DeFusco.

Few burps on the video but it's not your computer. It's the recording. Video and audio is unedited.
If the resolution had passed, the outcome would be the same. Owner's rights move forward.