Monday, January 30, 2017

Mayor Zimmer's State of the City Address

Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s State of the City Address— as prepared for delivery, via the City of Hoboken:

Thank you to Stevens for hosting us today and to Provost Dr. Christophe Pierre for the warm welcome. I understand he couldn’t be here tonight, but I also want to thank President Farvardin for his friendship and partnership with me and the City of Hoboken. I truly appreciate that he came to our country as an immigrant from Iran, contributed so much innovation over his career, and has done a fantastic job over the last five years leading Stevens Institute of Technology.
Thank you to Assemblywoman Chaparro for your introduction and for your terrific job advocating for the people of Hoboken and the 33rd District. Thank you to the Garden Street performers, and congratulations to Finn Douglas on your 52 performances in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular as a 9-year old! Thank you to our Police and Fire Department honor guard, to Father Bob, Detective Quinones, and to Jeanne Cummins for your beautiful rendition of our National Anthem.
Thank you to Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director Mark Recko and North Hudson Sewerage Authority Executive Director Richard Wolff. Thank you to Freeholder Romano, Council members, School Board members, and all of our board and commission members for being here.
I also want to recognize Dr. Christine Johnson, our superintendent of schools, who has done an amazing job improving our public schools. Under her leadership, Hoboken now offers a fantastic curriculum in science, technology, engineering, and math for grades K through 12 as part of a program called Project Lead the Way. I encourage everyone to find out more so you can better understand the important academic changes that are happening right now in our public schools. This year the district also added a great after school program called Passport to Learning which provides 17 different programs to learn in a fun way from engineering to Mandarin to computer science. Children and parents love it and I want to applaud Superintendent Johnson and the School Board for implementing these programs. I also want to congratulate the kids at Hoboken High School, where over 90 percent of seniors have completed the college application process, and academic scholarships offered to our graduates have more than quadrupled in the last two years to over $7 million.
I want to welcome Library Board President Allen Kratz who is here. A big congratulations to the Library on nearing completion of the preservation of the fa├žade and rehabilitation of the basement into new, flood-resilient program rooms. We were glad to both financially support the project and provide space in the Multi Service Center during temporary closings.
Most importantly, thank you to all the members of our community who are here tonight. Hoboken is filled with incredibly dedicated, caring, and resilient people, and I want to recognize the efforts of some of our residents that make Hoboken such a special place.
I was inspired by the story of Stephanie and Matt Cohen who are here with us tonight. They took on a role they never imagined just one year ago when their daughter, Madison, was born with a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome. Stephanie and Matt spent each day by Madison’s side as she endured surgeries and medical procedures, but sadly she passed away after two months. Rather than let tragedy overcome them, they made it their mission to raise awareness and funds for congenital heart defect through Hayden’s Heart Foundation to support the children and adults now battling with CHD the way their daughter Madison did. I invite you to learn more about Stephanie and Matt’s efforts to raise awareness on the Little Hoboken blog, where Stephanie now serves as a contributing writer. Stephanie and Matt’s mission to keep Madison’s memory alive serves as an inspiration to us all, and I ask you to please join me in giving them a big round of applause.
On Saturday, I joined with the Boyd family to commemorate the life of Charles Boyd Sr., known as “TC” the superhero. His dedication and commitment to his community was boundless as he worked every day to engage young people and make sure that they stayed on track in their lives. He was an inspiration for the community, and it was wonderful to join the Boyd family, Housing Authority residents, and elected officials to name a building in Mr. Boyd’s honor and memory. His spirit will live on as a model for our community. Please give a round of applause for Mr. Boyd and the Boyd family.
I also want to recognize the resilient character of our veterans from American Legion Post 107 who are here with us tonight. Not only did they each fight to protect the core values of liberty and justice for our country, but every year they stand together and work hard to make sure that our veterans are recognized during all the national veteran holidays. When their Post headquarters was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, not only did they not give up, they worked with my Administration, the County, and members of our community to develop a plan and funding for a new post and to provide affordable housing for our veterans in need. They are still working toward a fundraising goal, and I ask everyone to consider giving what you can at Please stand and recognize our veterans, led by Post Commander John Carey, who are here with us, for their service to our country and ongoing commitment to helping veterans in need.
And finally, I want to acknowledge that, sadly, last week we lost Sada Fretz, a beloved member of our community who fought against overdevelopment of our waterfront and advocated for public parks. Many of the things we enjoy about Hoboken today are because of committed citizens like her.
For all these reasons and many more, it is an incredible honor to serve the people of Hoboken as mayor of our beautiful, vibrant city. I also want to thank my husband Stan and my sons, Jacob and Alex, who have all been my bedrock of support throughout my time as an elected official.
Together, as a community, we are making our great City stronger and stronger. Over the last year, we’ve made incredible progress to improve the quality of life for our residents.
The City invested $11 million in a new, second flood pump, and thanks to a partnership with North Hudson Sewerage Authority, we have made real progress in solving our flooding problem from typical rain storms. News crews were here to try and cover the flooding in our City last week, but all they saw was wet pavement. We are no longer the go-to place for footage of flooding! For three consecutive rain events, when neighborhoods in the western side of our City would otherwise have been under water, our two flood pumps kept our streets from flooding.
But our flooding challenges are far from over. We must continue working to protect from another kind of flooding – flooding from storm surge like what occurred during Superstorm Sandy.
Last week, during a storm that was hardly reminiscent of Sandy, the storm surge brought the Hudson River to mere inches from the top of the bulkhead – not very far from bringing the river flowing into our City. This provided a strong reminder that we still have a lot of work to do to protect Hoboken.
The risk for Hoboken is very, very real. We cannot live in fear that our City will be devastated again every time a major storm is predicted, and we all know that we cannot rely on flood insurance to pay the costs suffered by our residents and businesses.
That’s why our Rebuild by Design project is so critically important. This vital infrastructure project, funded by a $230 million federal grant, will give our community the protection and peace of mind that we deserve with beautifully designed new urban amenities.

Public Invited to Hoboken State of the City Address by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer


Hoboken, NJ - Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Mayor Dawn Zimmer invites all members of the community to attend her seventh State of the City address. A performance by the Garden Street School of Performing Arts will precede the address. The event will take place on Monday, January 30, 2017 at 7:00 pm at the DeBaun Auditorium in Edwin A. Stevens Hall on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology.
Seating is open to the public and tickets are not needed to attend.
The main entrance is on 5th Street directly across from Stevens Park. The wheelchair entrance is located in the rear entrance of the building on River Street with handicapped parking located behind the two buildings (McLean & Babbio) located directly across the street from the ramp. For additional information, visit:

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Hoboken elections, peace in our time?

There's two major offices up for election this year in the Mile Square City. First, the county freeholder seat with a critical June Democrat Primary and then the mayor's seat in November. Based on MSV's exclusive investigative report, the paths of the two senior elected officials are not likely to meet in any head to head face-off.

Some suggest it's an unofficial but higher power, re: HudCo organized nonaggression pact while others say it's a more Vulcan-like mind meld of the minds to take the more scenic road less traveled.

Current incumbent Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano is gearing up for his re-election bid for another three year term. His endless campaign after his last successful re-election saw the county freeholder appear the default Old Guard candidate in a mayoral bid this year.

To many observers, Romano's bid for mayor seemed inevitable as he slogged his way through every conceivable photo op in Hoboken and his Facebook supporters foreshadowed, "Stick is everywhere." His early retirement at the Hoboken Police Department lent some motivation as he felt corralled by Mayor Zimmer's police reorganization plan. His brief tenure as a captain eyed a shot at police chief but the reorg forced his hand and he chose retirement. From the county freeholder position, he bidded his time and a chance at payback.

Late last year, MSV reported in premium an armada of political operatives were lined up to work for Romano and one, Pablo Fonseca, connected to former Newark mayor and NJ Senator Corey Booker was slated to be among his new army. Another campaign manager type expected to get on board included Ryan Yacco who headed the 2011 council campaign for the odious Beth Mason.

Fonseca was plugged in and given a taste of earnings through the Board of Education slate Parents United campaign last fall. Romano worked heavily the past two years to replace the reform oriented 'Kids First' majority on the BoE. The failures didn't make for a stronger stomach to take on the mayoral incumbent leaving a motley minority of three rudderless on the BoE.

With heavy campaign artillery lined up, it looked like the order to "fire" on the second floor of City Hall was about to commence in 2017 even with a crushing beat down sweep on the BoE.  Previously, Romano lined up with big developer interests appearing as a guest speaker before the 2015 council races at a seminar sponsored by MSTA.  Seeing MSV in attendance, Romano went off his usual polite public script urging the attendees, "Don't read the blogs," code for MSV and Grafix Avenger. The latter satirical Mile Square website drives Old Guard candidates into a tizzy with her sharp-witted graphics.

Stick reportedly was incensed being depicted as a ballerina wearing a tutu for avoiding sticky questions on a former BoE employee who suffered from online transgender confusion persona.  It's all rather vexing and confusing. Stick was rather vexed and the former Hoboken 'educator' flying roundtrip via Austin, Texas too.

Back to the focus of the 2017 elections, earlier scuttlebutt said Romano would pursue both Freeholder and mayor. Those rumors have fallen by the wayside as nothing but a smokescreen if not legally available. While the intention seemed to buy time and gear up a war chest to take on the incumbent mayor, the wheels have fallen off.

Each elected official appears to have retreated to their respective corners awaiting other uncertainties. First and foremost: who will emerge to oppose Mayor Zimmer's third term bid?

Councilman Mike Defusco is now the spinning top circling the Mile Square. While his February fundraiser was mistakenly scheduled on the same date as an earlier one planned by Councilman Ravi Bhalla (slated for a third consecutive term as an at-large councilman on the mayor's ticket); Defusco's plans to have a big name atop in Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop were derailed.

Lots of hasty meetings have followed for the councilman, from the Malibu Diner uptown to downtown in his home base of the first ward and all points in-between. Is that Peter Cammarano's ghost floating behind or the spirit of former freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons?

In an exclusive interview last week, Romano shed some light on his electoral future and dismissed other rumors connecting him to would be challengers of Mayor Zimmer.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano won't be competing for the mayor's chair after all.
Before that November race, there's no one backed by the mayor to take on Romano in the June Democratic primary.
City Hall sources expressed confidence in the mayor's third term bid no matter who she faces.

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