Monday, July 17, 2017

City Council President Jen Giattino's remarks

Remarks by City Council President Jen Giattino as prepared for delivery.

City Council President Jen Giattino with Reform supporter Nial at her mayoral kickoff event at Moran's.

Thank you all for being here tonight. My name is Jen Giattino and I am honored to be running for mayor of Hoboken.

I am running for mayor because I love Hoboken. I am all about Hoboken and the people of Hoboken – newcomers, oldcomers and people who’ve been here for generations. I will be mayor for everyone. People of all colors and ages. People of every faith or no faith, people of ample means or limited means, people of all sexual preferences, all political parties, and everybody else. Mostly I just see people as people and our amazing diversity is one of the reasons that I love Hoboken.

I am running for mayor of Hoboken to address the needs of the people in our community, to better manage our growth and to enhance our urban village that we all call home. I do not think of being mayor of Hoboken as a stepping stone to anything else. Hoboken needs a mayor who will spend every day focused on making Hoboken the best place it can be.

When it comes to “quality of life,” I walk Hoboken daily and I will not stop when I am mayor. I understand and relate with the problems and concerns of our residents. When I see water seeping through a sidewalk, a light out, a pothole, or an unsafe intersection, I report and follow up to ensure it is addressed. These may seem like small things, but they are important. When I am mayor, my city directors will be leaders in establishing a culture of constituent service throughout the city and will make sure that reported problems are taken seriously if they cannot be anticipated in the first place.

When it comes to managing growth, everyone feels the impact of crowding around us. The 126 bus, the ferries, roads and bike racks are all overcrowded. It really does feel like we are bursting at the seams. I feel it too. When we begin to discuss growth we should be asking, what is the impact of development in our community and how do we manage it? I know most of the peopleare concerned with over development. 

Development needs to be done in a way that works and benefits us. We need to urgently complete a new Master Plan and change the zoning ordinance in a manner that provides the community, property owners and developers with clear standards for future development.

The way to minimize overcrowding is to build less residential and more commercial. Fewer people going in and out, more people working close to home. In any zoning change or redevelopment plan we need to make sure Hoboken gets the maximum community investment that matches the priorities of our residents. I voted against the large development on 7th and Jackson not because it did not have community benefits, but because it did not have enough. Three out of the four corners of our town have significant development ahead and we need to make sure it does not negatively impact our quality of life and that Hoboken gets the most benefits from these developments.

Commercial development is also a key way to broaden and diversify our tax base. I have been an integral part of keeping taxes flat since I was elected in 2011, having served on the Revenue and Finance Committee for my entire tenure on the Council. With much of the necessary investments in our infrastructure ahead of us, now is the time to find ways to offset these future costs which will by my focus. Another way to lessen the tax burden on residents is to work with the County and insist that Hoboken get County investment in our community proportionate to our tax contribution to the County. I have always worked effectively with the County and State officials and anticipate continuing my good working relationships with them to achieve this.

I have been fortunate to call Hoboken my home for 18 years. Raising three children here, I understand the challenges families have. Families are staying in town and the school age population is exploding. A big part of that is the positive changes that have happened throughout Hoboken schools and especially at the Hoboken Board of Education where the Board majority and Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson are doing an amazing job. Some of my proudest moments have been working with the many schools within Hoboken. I have actively supported and campaigned for those Board of Education candidates, been honored to work with All Saints Episcopal Day School on environmental awareness, and helped Hoboken Charter School find a new home and navigate the system after their fire, just to name a few. While the City of Hoboken is not directly responsible for district schools, charter schools or private schools, the City should be an asset to the schools’ efforts to deal with their own issues. As mayor, I will see that that happens.

Being on the Council, I unfortunately have seen firsthand the displacement taking place in our town which threatens the very diversity that makes Hoboken so special. Our most vulnerable have nowhere to turn. This needs to be fixed and as a community we cannot turn a blind eye to these neighbors. In my capacity as Councilwoman for the last six years I have helped many in danger of being displaced throughout our City. As mayor, I will work to not only help in a moment of crisis, but to find solutions so that these residents no longer feel unsupported and insecure.

When we talk about our urban village, in addition to the efforts that are currently underway, we need to continue finding alternative fixes for our flooding issues such as separating storm water and sewer systems where we can and exploring a third pump with North Hudson Sewerage Authority. And in order to maintain the feel of our urban village we must also revisit legislation such as our flood ordinance. By reforming the flood ordinance, we can help to protect the historical character of our town. No better example of our historic character is the centerpiece of our town - Washington St. Fixing the water mains, roads and, what is most important to me, pedestrian safety, is only a start. We must work with residents, businesses, and property owners to make our Main St. inviting and more successful.

A big part of what makes Hoboken feel like a village is our open space. We have outdoor space that needs to be completed such as the BASF site which I have been fighting for since I was elected to the Council in 2011. I am also a proponent of completing what many of our neighbors started decades ago which is for Hoboken to have a contiguous waterfront public park. This includes the Union Dry Dock site and continuing the fight for the Monarch site. Mayor Zimmer has done an amazing job of increasing our open space. Now, we now need to add focus to other community facilities such as the YMCA, the Multi-Service Center, a pool, and also the maintenance and enhancement of open space and parks that we already have. Community members and stakeholders must be included in this process.

Those who know me best know I am an inclusive person and this approach is the most effective way to get things done and strengthen our community. As a three-time Council president, elected by my peers, I have made it a priority to work with all Council members and as mayor I will continue to prioritize working with stakeholders and other elected officials at all levels.

To quote a friend and Hoboken resident, “out of change comes the opportunity to see things differently, to keep the ideas that work and replace those that don’t.” With this, I ask for your support in creating an Administration that works, and works for all of us. 

Sign of the Times: BLOWOUT!

Tonight the kickoff event for City Council President Jen Giattino who is running for Hoboken mayor was held at Moran's and a blowout overflowing crowd beyond capacity forced 125 who blew through the event to the sidewalk outside causing much rubbernecking by the cars on midtown Garden Street.

Among the luminaries: Councilman Dave Mello, Council candidate Kurt Gardiner, Parking Director John Morgan, Hoboken Zoning Board Chair Jim Aibel, Hoboken Housing Authority Chair David Dening, former HHA Chair Dana Wefer, former Hoboken Business Administrator Quentin Wiest, former council members Carol Marsh, Michael Lenz, former BoE trustee Theresa Minutillo, hospital authority board member and bonafide Hoboken heroine Toni Tomarazzo and council members Peter Cunningham and Tiffanie Fisher amid a buzzing throng.

Did a Horse miss anyone? No doubt. There were MSV Premium readers, some never met before and other readers among the throng who kept asking, "Are you the Horse?"

You bet.

 Councilman Dave Mello (l) among a group of the overflowing crowd at Moran's earlier this evening with City Council President Jen Giattino and friends. Former councilwoman Carol Marsh is seen (r) and NHSA commissioner and independent council candidate Kurt Gardiner (seated front).

More to come.

Grist for the Mill: Rebirth of Reform?

Tonight the last of the four major mayoral candidates, City Council President Jen Giattino is hosting a kick-off for her launch tonight at Moran's.

This won't be your typical reform movement kick-off. With four major campaigns in the mix, there's a sense anyone can emerge between now and November and win the chair to the mayor's office on the second floor at City Hall.

This of course is nothing like what anyone has seen since the fall of 2009 when Reform united under one banner behind Mayor Dawn Zimmer, the unlikely mayoral candidate who threw in her hat to claim that mantle. The quiet council member as many saw her, was viewed as the silent one among two reform oriented members coming on board in the 2007 election and the current senior reform statesman Peter Cunningham. When Dawn Zimmer got ahead of the competition declaring her intent for mayor, many Hoboken observers saw her dividing the nascent reform movement's effectiveness by splitting it with another now notorious name: Beth Mason.

Apologies to those having a late lunch. The horse just threw up a little with the afternoon Lasix. Early 2009, the sense of fear there was a reform split mirrors the concerns today. Both mayoral races then and now featured multiple mayoral candidacies and some bit players thought inconsequential. In the spring of 2009 however there wasn't four major mayoral candidates dividing two major camps as today.

Beth Mason's mayoral campaign polled as likely in shouting distance of winning the spring mayoral election outright on the first ballot but crashed and burned plunging harder than the Hindenburg. Former mayor and felon Peter Cammarano exploded out of the gate in the first round running neck and neck with then councilwoman Dawn Zimmer, both seeing well over 3,000 votes. Beth Mason came in a distant third with less than half of the votes of each of the top runoff candidates and would reportedly suffer a nervous breakdown. After her crushing defeat, Mason disappeared for almost four days and some say she had to be carried out of her bedroom by two assistants several days later. She would never forget or forgive the defeat emerging as a linchpin underwriting the Russo Clan and hating Hoboken residents' guts. On the way, she literally tried to destroy the Mile Square City, its hospital, publicly backed a frivolous lawsuit against residents and bloggers and lashed out against those she thought stood in the way of her believed entitlement.

Fast forward to 2017 with Mayor Zimmer who looked like no one wanted to get into the ring and compete this November. Her sudden withdrawal and the expected baton toss to her ally Councilman Ravi Bhalla didn't go off as planned and the botched power play created resistance clearly miscalculated among her inner circle. Enter City Council President Jen Giattino and the Hoboken reform resistance.

Tonight at Moran's, that resistance and with it a new energy for reform will take shape. Both City Council President Jen Giattino and Councilman Ravi Bhalla are seeking to breathe new ideas and a new energy in a post Mayor Zimmer political universe in the Mile Square City.

The idea of a sheer Reform split may however prove a misnomer, exactly as it did in 2009.

Grist for the Mill is MSV's rumor column. Got a tasty carrot for Da Horsey? Send it to 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.

Making the best choice for Hoboken

Official release:

Hi MSV readers,

As you probably know, my friend and colleague, Councilman Ravi Bhalla is running for Mayor of Hoboken, and I'm thrilled to join his team. I've served with Ravi on the Council, and I know firsthand that there is no better person ready to hit the ground running on Day 1 as our next Mayor.  

Throughout his eight years on the Council, Ravi has faced difficult votes with real life consequences, and he has consistently done the right thing for our City.  When Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Ravi first took office, the City's finances were in dire straits, with municipal taxes having risen 70% the year before and the State having taken over the City's finances. Ravi supported Mayor Zimmer's plan to restructure and redeploy the police and fire departments that increased patrols, but also saved taxpayers millions of dollars. Thanks to these types of difficult decisions, Hoboken's taxes were stabilized, and the City was able to steadily improve it's financial condition from near junk-bond status; ultimately acquiring the AA+ bond rating that it has today.

Ravi also demonstrated real leadership as Council President when our hospital was on the brink of closing. Ravi worked closely with Mayor Zimmer to garner public support and provide testimony to the State to secure the continued existence of a hospital in Hoboken - and its 1200 local jobs - and marshal approval for it by the Council. Thanks to a lot of hard work, in partnership with the Hoboken Hospital Authority board, the hospital was saved, and the taxpayers were relieved of the potentially devastating impact of a looming $52 million bond guarantee. 

These are just examples of Ravi's forward thinking in the face of difficult votes. There are many more, less high-profile examples where I've witnessed Ravi's humble leadership, and these are all reasons why I know he'll make a terrific Mayor of our City.  If you also support Ravi, please let me know - I'd love to hear from you.  


Councilman Jim Doyle

Sue Pregibon: Come meet our next mayor tonite: Jen Giattino

The following guest of the stable comes courtesy of Hoboken resident Sue Pregibon, who was on the steering committee of Hoboken Revolt, a grassroots tax reform organization instrumental in seeing Dawn Zimmer elected mayor in 2009.

Dear Friends, 

I would like to invite all of you to a Meet and Greet tonight with our 6th Ward Councilwoman, Jen Giattino. 

As you are all aware, Mayor Zimmer has decided, in a most untimely fashion, not to run for a third term.  She has been an excellent Mayor and has, with the help of many others, transformed Hoboken into a World Class City.  However, by deciding not to run, it is not her prerogative to dictate, behind closed doors, who will do best at protecting her legacy.  

Jen Giattino has been our 6th Ward Council member since 2011 for two terms and is the current and three time City Council President.  She won both elections by a respectable margin, on her own against two long time politicians.  She is highly respected by her peers on the City Council and has been re-elected by them three times to serve as City Council President.  She is experienced, level headed and has brought cohesion to a group that doesn't usually see eye to eye. 

In the neighborhood she is always ready to help.  The answer is not "I'll get back to you" - it's "I'll start working on it."  When our Freeholder was unable to do anything about the traffic on Hudson Street - a county road, it was Jen who worked with the County to get a traffic study done and a much needed four way stop at Eighth Street erected.  When in 2012 Stevens bought the Ravenswood townhouses and evicted those that had lived there for decades, it was Jen who made sure everyone was relocated into a new place to live.  

Jen represents the entire community and puts our local issues first.  That is why Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher and Councilman Peter Cunningham are supporting Jen for Mayor.  She also has the backing of several past and present members of the Kids First Board of Education slate.  Many founders and key officials of our civic coalitions and foundations are standing up for Jen.  

Jen has been part of building our great city but she also recognizes that we can do a lot better in areas and that we have strayed too far in other areas.  Mayor Zimmer has tried to pass the baton to the status quo so that all things good or bad, will remain the same.  But out of change comes the opportunity to see things differently, to keep the ideas that work and replace those that don't.  

This is why I believe Jen Giattino is truly the best candidate to lead us forward.  Please join me at Moran's (Garden and 5th) tonight, Monday July 17th at 6:30 P.M. to show your support for our next Mayor - Jen Giattino. 

Thank you! 

Sue Pregibon