Monday, January 23, 2017

Councilman Mike DeFusco explains his abstention vote on eminent domain


Councilman Mike Defusco the sole member of the Hoboken City Council meeting who did not vote for eminent domain last week explained why he did not vote yes on first reading of the ordinance as his other either colleagues unanimously did.

An abstention vote may be made by voting "present" as was elected here. The ordinance's second reading will be held with opportunity for public comment at the next City Council meeting.

In a series of texts, he wrote exclusively to MSV:

I voted 'present' to indicate support of a second reading but a concern with access to information.  Specifically, the Council requested our annual debt statement and audit and neither document was provided prior to the vote.  Casting a 'yes' vote on first reading without that data is a  populist vote, rather than a vote based on financial data and potential impact on future municipal  budgets. Everyone wants an expanded park (I really want bocce courts) so I'm looking forward to working with everyone to chart the right course of action. 

The Council's request to see our current debt servicing is so that if a deal is reached, and if it comes back in front of the Council to fund, we can actually pay for it.   This isn't a vote on who likes parks and who doesn't, it's about how we're going to expand a park and do so without impacting our city in a negative way.   Negatives to me are increasing residential bulk to offset cost, a technique that was used for decades to the detriment of our City.  On the flip side, the other negative is a very real potential to engage in a litigious battle that we may not win.  

Councilman Mike DeFusco is sworn in as the elected Hoboken First Ward City Councilman in January of last year.

Talking Ed Note: Councilman DeFusco, a rumored mayoral candidate to oppose Mayor Dawn Zimmer this November may be seeking additional information as described in his statement. MSV is providing links for both Councilman DeFusco and the public who may wish to review:

Annual Debt Statement 

Annual Financial Statement

Councilman Cunningham: 'Pop up park coming to 12th and Adams'

From the desk of Councilman Peter Cunningham:

Good morning!

Last Thursday night we had a great crowd at the Jubilee Center to weigh in on the "pop up" park at 12th and Adams.  The attached photograph of the slide show will give you a some sense of what's to come - this summer.  

As described, these park features are temporary as we begin a more thorough planning process which will bring additional flood mitigation to north Hoboken and permanent park amenities all without an increase in taxes and added residential density.  And it should also go without saying that property values, in north Hoboken and all over Hoboken, will be positively impacted by having this great space!  Why wouldn't we want more?  

It's not too late to submit to the survey below as it will close at midnight.  Many thanks to those that made it last night and completed the survey.  Please circulate to your friends and neighbors, and let me know if you have any questions.  

Peter Cunningham

Councilman Bhalla: 'With President Trump here, some local options to get involved'

From the desk of Councilman Ravi Bhalla:

Dear Neighbors,

After the election of Donald J. Trump as our next President, many of you wrote to me, with a strong desire to find ways to get more involved and make an impact in our community.  For those who reached out, thank you and I apologize for not being able to respond to everyone individually.  I have had many conversations with residents who want to serve on local boards, run for office, or find others ways to make a difference. 

As Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of a few ways in which you can step up your community engagement in 2017.  Here we go …

Know thy neighbor (and neighborhood): If you haven’t yet already, make an effort to know your neighbors, and your neighborhood.  Being more aware of your immediate surroundings and community can open your eyes to different perspectives and bring awareness to issues, big and small, that your neighbors care about.  It may be something very simple, like placing a stop sign on the corner of your block, but it may impact you, so you should be aware and involved!  This will also give you the ability to contact your local officials (council members, school board officials, mayor, agency officials, etc.) and advocate for positive change in your local neighborhood.

Ever think about running for office?  Here’s an option: in alternate years, the Hoboken Democratic Party and Hoboken Republican Party elect Committeewomen and Committeemen in each of the 40 districts in Hoboken.  Why not run to be a Committeeperson in your neighborhood?  Click here for more information about running for Committee.

Apply to be a Poll Worker on Election Day: Were you unhappy with the way the election process was administered at your polling place for the Presidential election?  Did you witness confusion and incompetence?  If so, be a part of the solution by serving as a Poll Worker on Election Day!  It is very easy to apply to be a Poll Worker: you just need to fill out a one-page application and take a basic training.  I recall being so frustrated with my polling location in 2008 that I applied to be a Poll Worker and served as one for a few elections.  It’s an incredibly rewarding experience.  Plus, you are paid $200 for your time.  This is a very good way of ensuring elections that are administered professionally and protecting the integrity of the election process in Hoboken.

Apply to serve on a local board or agency:  The local boards and agencies are generally (but not in all cases) charged with implementing and enforcing local laws adopted by the governing body in Hoboken.  In this way, they play a critical function and offer you an opportunity to serve Hoboken and make a real a real difference in the lives of residents.  Among the boards where you can apply to serve are the Hoboken Historic Preservation Commission, the Hoboken Housing Authority, the Rent Control Board, Planning Board, Zoning Board, Library Board and North Hudson Sewerage Authority. Each board plays a distinct but an important function in ensuring good government in Hoboken.  It’s a great way to make a difference in Hoboken, so I would strongly encourage you to apply to a board that suits your skills and interests. Click here to view an application.

Contribute to causes you care about: If you do not have the time to actively engage, open your wallet to causes that you support and care about.  Whether it’s Planned ParenthoodDoctors Without Bordersthe ACLU, local advocacy groups like the Waterfront Projectthe Jubilee CenterHoboken Public Education FoundationMile Square Theatre, or your local, state or elected officials, there is no shortage of non-profits that need community support to keep Hoboken and our country moving in the right direction. If you support the work I am doing alongside Mayor Zimmer and my Council Colleagues, please consider making a donation to my re-election campaign for the fall.  So if you don’t have the time to get directly involved, please make regular contributions to non-profits that are making a difference in Hoboken.

I hope the above information is helpful.  If you have any questions or want to get more involved and need assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at or call me at 201-647-6090.

I look forward to hearing from you.  Our country is entering unchartered territory, and we all need to be more aware and involved in 2017!

Ravi S. Bhalla
City of Hoboken