Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Mayor: 'Support final vote tonight on eminent domain' for a park with no tax increase

Office of the Mayor announces:

Community: Letter from Mayor Zimmer to Residents Regarding the Southwest Park

 Dear Hoboken Residents,

Tonight the City Council will consider an important vote to authorize the use of eminent domain to acquire the 2ndacre of property for expansion of the Southwest Park and for the application to Green Acres for a grant to buy the land.

Since all of Hoboken is concerned about traffic, open space, overdevelopment, and taxes, I am writing to provide some information on this important project because unfortunately, Academy Bus has chosen to completely misrepresent the facts surrounding this issue. Here’s some information for you to consider:

Park funding is available with no tax increase: The City has an Open Space Trust Fund, approved by the voters by a 3-1 margin in a public referendum in 2007, that is set aside exclusively  for park land acquisition and park construction. This fund currently has a balance of $7 million, and approximately $2 million is added to the fund each year. This fund, by itself, provides a bonding capacity of $69 million. This is enough to fund the debt for the purchase of the NW resiliency park as well as the two acres in the Southwest, without ANY increase in taxes.

“Free park” is code word for OVERDEVELOPMENT: If Academy wants $13 million for one acre when we purchased the other acre for $4.5 million, then how much development will they want for all the acreage they own in the Southwest? By how much will the development profits received in exchange for our “free” park exceed the fair market value of the property? Nothing is free, and what they are really proposing is to overdevelop our neighborhood so they can receive a financial windfall in exchange for a supposedly “free park.”

Please don’t be fooled, and please help to send a strong message to the Council and Academy that our community wants this acre of expanded park with NO connection to a development project (See the attached letter to property owners that gives an overview of the rehab process to date).

Some have tried to compare this to the project at 7th and Jackson, but there is no comparison. In the case of 7th and Jackson, there was a preexisting redevelopment plan dating back to 1998 with an already approved level of residential density. The agreement that provided for 2 acres of open space did not provide for any additional residential density – all it did was consolidate the permitted density onto one parcel to allow for 2 acres of open space. A long-term tax abatement was used to make givebacks possible, including buildout of a gymnasium and the inclusion affordable housing units. In the case of Academy, on the other hand, they are asking for additional density that does not have any approvals. In addition, their property is within a Rehabilitation Area rather than Redevelopment Area, which does not allow for the use of long-term tax abatements.

Eminent domain: This is a legal tool that ensures the City can purchase the property for a fair price. If the City Council authorizes acquisition by eminent domain tomorrow night, we will keep working in good faith, as we have been for the past year, to negotiate a purchase price for the property based on land appraisals. If an agreement cannot be reached, then we will ask for assistance from the courts. The claim made by Academy that it could take years of litigation to acquire the property through eminent domain is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts. In fact, if good faith negotiations fail, the City could immediately take title of a property after filing condemnation documentswith the court. The park could then be built immediately, or we could use the property as a pop-up park while the permanent design is completed, without waiting for the courts to finalize the purchase price. Determining the final price could take the courts months or years, but that would not slow down the process of acquiring the property and building a park.

I look forward to seeing you at the City Council meeting tonight. It is crucial that your voices be heard so everyone understands clearly that this is something that the community strongly supports for our City.

Thanks very much for working to create an expanded Southwest park and prevent overdevelopment.

Dawn Zimmer

Conflating national security with immigration, illegal immigration and visitor visas, council resolution on temporary travel ban proposed

Councilman at-large Ravi Bhalla proposes a ceremonial resolution condemning the Presidential Executive Order temporarily banning visas from seven troubled nation states

Councilman Ravi Bhalla submitted the following resolution as seen below for the Hoboken City Council meeting this evening. The resolution addresses the presidential executive order in place excluding visas from seven counties where the central governments are inert, suspect or complicit in working with jihadist groups.

Councilman Bhalla, who has relatives in Iran has declared the 90 day travel ban moratorium discriminatory, immoral and compares the EO to the Holocaust. The complete resolution follows:


WHEREAS, the United States of America is a country founded by immigrants and refugees;

WHEREAS, immigrants have always been a source of our Nation’s strength;

WHEREAS, as Americans we are rightfully proud of our great diversity, as it is among our
country’s greatest assets;

WHEREAS, the United States of America is unique on earth for being a place that is united by a set of ideas, among them the notion that, no matter who you are or where you are from, we are equals under the law;

WHEREAS, the City of Hoboken is a city founded by immigrants and one that was built by immigrants;

WHEREAS, to this day, immigrants continue to live and work in Hoboken and contribute to the fabric of our community;

WHEREAS, sadly, there have been exceptions where our country has not lived up to the values of welcoming refugees and immigrants, and we must learn from such lessons taught to us by history;

WHEREAS, in 1929, over 900 Jewish refugees arrived by ship to the coast of Florida on the St. Louis, fleeing persecution from Nazi Germany, and the United States denied permission to these Jewish refugees to find safe harbor in the United States, who were returned to Europe, resulting in hundreds of them being victims of the Holocaust genocide;

WHEREAS, we must learn from the lesson of history, lest they repeat themselves at the cost of the life and liberty of innocent human beings;

WHEREAS, on January 25, 2017, the federal government issued an Executive Order on “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements”;

WHEREAS, the Executive Order bars Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely, bars any refugees from entering the United States for a period of 120 days, and prevents individuals from seven Muslim majority countries, refugees or otherwise, from entering the United States for a period of 90 days. These seven countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen;

WHEREAS, it is the position of the City Council of the City of Hoboken that the Executive Order constitutes an assault on America’s values and our longstanding tradition of welcoming refugees and immigrants;

WHEREAS, the Executive Order has a direct harmful impact on countless innocent women, children, men, and families around the world, causing tremendous emotional pain and suffering upon innumerable families, including refugees from Syria and other parts of the world fleeing from severe forms of oppression, and even Hoboken residents simply seeking unification with their family members from countries subject the Executive Order;

WHEREAS, 16 Attorneys General, the top legal enforcement officers for the states of New York, California, Pennsylvania, Washington, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Virginia, Vermont, Illinois, New Mexico, Iowa, Maine and Maryland have affirmatively declared that the Executive Order is unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful,” and have pledged to “work together to ensure the federal government obeys the Constitution, respects our history as a nation of immigrants, and does not unlawfully target anyone because of their national origin or faith”;

WHEREAS, as of the date of this Resolution, 4 separate federal judges around the country have ordered stays on parts of the Executive Order, finding there is a likelihood of success on the merits of claims that the Executive Order violates fundamental due process, equal protection and protections against discrimination on the basis of religion or national origin;

WHEREAS, the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, Christopher Porrino, has not yet joined his colleagues in the 16 states referenced above in expressing concerns about the substance of the Executive Order;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Hoboken condemns in the strongest terms the Executive Order because its substance runs counter to America’s longstanding tradition of welcoming refugees and immigrants from around the world;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Hoboken expresses its support and solidarity with all those Syrian and other refugees impacted by the Executive Order, and others being separated from their families for no reason other than the coincidence of being from a country subject to the Executive Order;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Hoboken respectfully urges Attorney General Porrino to join his 16 colleagues referenced above in opposition to the Executive Order, so that the State of New Jersey may stand on the right side of history when this order is ultimately struck down by the courts.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a City Clerk of the City of Hoboken shall deliver a certified copy of this Resolution via electronic mail to Attorney General Porrino within 12 hours of its passage and via hand delivery within 24 hours of its passage.

Selective protest? When almost 100 Cuban refugees were forced back to that Communist gulag island in one of the last cynical acts taken by President Obama mere days before the inauguration last month, not a single cry or protest was  heard from the in the tank media or protestors. 

Talking Ed Note: MSV disagrees with much of the hysteria and conflation of national security and the right of sovereign nations to manage a legal immigration process with travel visas which fall under the Constitutional authority of the President.

Numerous US Presidents have wielded this authority, often repeatedly in seeking to address national security concerns. All recent presidents including President Trump have made efforts to accept refugees in similar numbers. Religious persecution is a factor in the process, more now than in the recent past.

When Barack Obama was President, he ordered a six month travel ban on Iraq in 2011. This even with many Iraqis who risked their lives and the lives of their families in the war.  Prior to him, President Bush wielded similar executive authority and so did President Jimmy Carter who slapped a travel ban on Iran when it raided and took over the US Embassy in Tehran taking more than 60 embassy staff hostage. In addition, Carter ejected Iranian nationals, among them foreign students. Other US presidents have taken similar action as is their Constitutional authority under US law.

This is an emotional issue and personal for many people. MSV would however note, there was not a single outcry, not from the media and not from the public with any protest after close to 100 Cuban refugees who escaped that island gulag were stopped from entering the United States last month. Similarly, a CNN Town Hall yesterday let slip a woman who asked what American lives should be put at risk as her son was tortured, set on fire and murdered at the hands of an illegal alien.

Who decides which and how many American lives are expendable on US shores

In one of the finals acts of his presidency, Barack Obama signed an Executive Order preventing fleeing Cubans from entry into the US reversing a decades long policy where Cuban refugees risking life and limb to escape the communist controlled island were given shelter and protected status on arrival. Many Cubans have risked their lives and that of their families in attempting an escape. Many have drowned and lost their lives in the shark infested waters between Cuba and Florida making the attempt.

When the Executive Order by President Trump was announced Friday, a similar amount of travelers, roughly 100 of more than 325,000 traveling to the US that day were impacted with heightened screening and vetting. This was met immediately with George Soros backed protests and allegations from numerous groups from the Left and the Lamestream media of an alleged "Muslim Ban."

The national security measures actually pinpoint seven failed or hostile nation states where terrorism is neither controlled if not openly backed. Visas issued from these failed states are certainly suspect and can not be considered properly vetted. Those seven nation states are NOT named in the President Trump Executive Order; they were selected through the efforts of the prior Barack Obama Administration.

MSV, as a first generation American citizen of immigrants strongly opposes this ceremonial resolution castigating a temporary travel ban from these Muslim dominated countries. It does not even constitute 15% of the population of 50 other mostly Islamic nations. The propaganda and misinformation, the gas lighting of Americans has been non-stop since Friday. Iran especially has historically seen numerous religious minorities among its 70 million majority Shia Islamic population. Historically, those religious minorities including people of the Jewish faith were not persecuted. Today, under the authoritarian mullahs, those minorities face imprisonment or worse if they attempt or are seen practicing their faith openly. 

In addition, Christians are among the most persecuted in the Middle East among other religious minorities such as the Yazidis. For the last two years, more Christians worldwide are persecuted for their faith than any other, back to Nero in the times of the Roman Empire. Was there a single media backed protest for any of it? Any sympathy or action led by the US government? On the whole, they like other religious minorities have been relatively ignored.

President Trump plans to accept approximately 50,000 refugees this year in line with previous US norms in most prior years. In addition to exceptions allowed on a case by case basis, an additional review of foreign nationals who aided the US military in the field will see approval for themselves and their families in short order under Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

The actual facts on the temporary travel ban are being widely misreported: intentionally and conflated with legal immigration, illegal immigration and earlier refugees fleeing the Jewish Shoah. This is wrong on so many levels but the utter disregard for the will and national security of the American people is nothing short of outrageous. To equate any refugees in decades past to the national security risk today is either willfully ignorant or blatantly political. None of those refugees posed a terrorist risk to the United States.

Historically, national security has not been politicized but since the shock to many of the uprising of the American people with the election results last November, that too is no longer a bridge too far. Sad times these.

The Belfiore Papers


Perry Belfiore v. the City of Hoboken and Councilman Ravi Bhalla

MSV obtained and is publishing the complete civil complaint filed by Hoboken politico Perry Belfiore against the City of Hoboken and Councilman Ravi Bhalla last fall.

Among the issues in the civil complaint: Perry Belfiore alleges violation of his First Amendment rights, being "thrown to the ground" by members of the Hoboken Police Department and seeks unknown monetary damages and cost of attorney fees in a jury trial.

The complaint lists former Hoboken Corporation Counsel and Beth Mason attorney Steve Kleinman as the trial attorney.

In 2012, Kleinman was one attorney representing Beth Mason and her Old Guard council allies in litigation ejecting Councilman Jim Doyle in his temporary appointment after Councilwoman Carol Marsh resigned due to family reasons.

The action initially failed in Hudson Superior Court and in a rebuke by Assignment Judge Peter Bariso's legal decision, the council vote was ordered retaken due to the "gamesmanship" of Beth Mason and Michael Russo avoiding their paid council responsibilities to attend and vote on the temporary appointment.

The law firm Greg F. Paster and Associates was unavailable this early morning for further comment.
The City of Hoboken does not comment as a matter of policy on active litigation.

Talking Ed Note: The decried "gamesmanship" was staged to avoid a legally binding and tie-breaking vote by Mayor Zimmer. An Appellate Court ruling would overturn the reinstatement of Jim Doyle to the council. No appeal to the NJ Supreme Court occurred as the clock ran out when Hoboken voters took matters into their own hands and elected Doyle to a full four year term in 2013. Mayor Zimmer led a sweep crushing Beth Mason and her Old Guard allies bringing all three of her at-large council candidates with her.

Related: Perry Belfiore has a long history of antagonism with Councilman Ravi Bhalla. An ethics complaint filed back in 2014 has been batted around gaining little traction before being tossed and then reinstated. It generated an initial ruling for a $100 fine on a designated minor technical matter.

Belfiore in a phone interview last week however says there was no quorum on a final decision bringing the matter back for further re-evaluation.