Wednesday, July 19, 2017

NHSA reports action on limited pipe leak

Hoboken NHSA Commissioner Kurt Gardiner submitted the following official statement from Executive Director Richard Wolf of the North Hudson Sewerage Authority on today's spill that has been remediated.

"At approximately 6:30 AM this morning, employees at the North Hudson Sewage Authority discovered a leaking pipe inside a building on the Authority's premises at 1600 Adams St. The pipe valve was immediately shut off, and a small amount, approximately one gallon, of parasitic acid (a commercial form of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide) leaked onto the building floor."

"The Hoboken Fire Department was immediately summoned to the site, and in turn requested the presence of the Jersey City Hazmat division of its Fire Department. The fire departments established a safety perimeter that included NHSA's building complex, a small portion of the light rail and the PSE&G substation.  No hazardous materials escaped the building either in liquid or vapor form. The fire departments determined that at no time were residents of either Hoboken or Weehawken in any danger from the small contained spill. "

"Using an abundance of caution and to ensure unfettered access to the site, the fire departments briefly requested an interruption in NJT Light Rail service. The fire departments safely disposed of material on the North Hudson site within the normal treatment process of the plant.  The fire departments have informed us that there was no threat to public health.  The spill was effectively and safely contained, managed and disposed, thanks to the rapid response of the Hoboken and Jersey City fire fighters."

Dana Wefer: 'Saying goodbye is such sweet sorrow'

The following is public comment by former Hoboken Housing Authority Chair Dana Wefer. She was instrumental in uncovering massive malfeasance in the HHA, seeking a national solution in a replacement and helping to turn around the agency after the hole left by an autocratic political despot with political ambition and power the focus.

Last Thursday was my final Hoboken Housing Authority meeting. For those of you who follow Hoboken politics, you're probably familiar with the very public battle I had with my former assemblyman and former Executive Director of the housing authority.

But that public battle was just three months of the three years I was chair. In August 2014, I was able to walk into the housing authority for the first time with actual authority. I got my first glimpse of the financial and physical state the Hoboken Housing Authority was in, and it was awful. The rebuilding that we have been working on for the past three years is the more interesting and more important aspect of my tenure there.

David Dening, who is now chair, and LaTrenda Ross, who is vice chair are the leadership team on the board, and I am 100% confident that they are the best the HHA could get. Marc Recko, the executive director, is kind, principled, transparent, dedicated to the preservation of public housing, experienced and capable.

Serving with my fellow board members, Councilman At-Large David Mello, Judith Lee Burrell, James Sanford, Jean Rodriguez, and Hovie Forman, has been an incredible experience. They have all demonstrated that they have the courage and principles to stand up and do the right thing, even when the easiest thing to do is to walk away. They encapsulate the word "public servant," and it's been a privilege to work alongside them. Jeannie and I started off on rough footing, but she was an essential part of the rebuilding and ensuring that the HHA got a permanent executive director who is experienced.

The HHA staff. There are people who I know prefer not to be in the spotlight, so I will not name them, but let me just say, they are the reason we have Mark. They were a support system to the board, and they have gone above and beyond at every turn. Thank you.

Finally, the residents, the reason the HHA exists. It has been so wonderful getting to know all of you. Your dedication to the HHA exemplifies what the word "community" means. The biggest healing that needed to be done was between the residents and the authority. The chasm that needed to be bridged was wide, but I think we did it. Knowing that the residents, hha board, and hha itself are all working towards the same goals of making the HHA safe, clean, and a decent place to live, allows cooperation to thrive.

In particular, Barbara Reyes, Sandra Smith, Michele Lessane, and Arlette Braxton, you come to every meeting, rain or shine, with ideas and a willingness to put in the work to bring them to fruition. I admire you and have been inspired by your dedication.

Serving as chair of the HHA for three years, leading it from extremely troubled and putting it on a path to success has been my greatest accomplishment in life, so far. The lessons I have learned are invaluable, and I intend to share them through video.

Thank you all for allowing me to be a part of something bigger than myself.

Talking Ed Note: A few words on Dana Wefer who made a major impact on this community in recent years. First, she has an essential positive spirit seeking cooperation with others to do good. She became active in Hoboken's Reform Movement before she passed the baton to her fellow board members to take their next steps together as she and her family are looking to a new home outside Hoboken tending to the needs of her growing family.

This Horse saw the woman in action, in crisis and she was battle tested in taking on a political fiefdom with the scourges of Hoboken aligned in support. She was always resolute in her objectives but it wasn't about her; she was trying to do what she felt was right for the residents. 

Dana would seek elected office in 2015 for Hoboken City Council but she stayed honorable in how she conducted the business of the people in the Hoboken Housing Authority. In the end, even there, she won over her most skeptical critics. 

Dana feels the biggest impact on the HHA in her tenure was having Marc Recko, identified in a nationwide search step in to become Executive Director and the removal of the HHA itself as a political pawn in Hoboken elections.This election season however will see the HHA targeted perhaps like never before. 

Today however, I wish to say how much I respect Dana's community service and my admiration in how she performed under such trying conditions. Her smile and lighthearted nature lights up any room. I wish her and her family the best and will miss her terribly. She's been one of the great people I've met in the almost eight years of reporting here at MSV. 

Carmelo Garcia bounced out of Irvington Housing Authority job


Hoboken's Carmelo Garcia who left in a huff as Executive Director at the Hoboken Housing Authority back in 2014 when his contract was terminated is out again. 

This time it's connected to a short-lived one year contract quickly rescinded at the Irvington Housing Authority. Last April, the Irvington Housing Authority approved a contract to see Carmelo Garcia assume the role he had performed in Hoboken. Not a month later, another vote by that board's body terminated the agreement.

According to a May report by the Essex News Daily:

Apparently, a tenant uprising didn't find comforting the curious past of the former Hoboken Housing Authority ED. 

A May story by the Essex News Daily mentions a vetting problem, an issue others would find troubling before any contract was offered. However, the Garcia problem befell another Housing Authority:
In late April, Garcia apparently slipped in by a narrow 3-2 vote. Another report quotes him saying
“I’m excited and hopeful that we will bring about the change that you’re looking for and that the residents clearly are asking for,” said Garcia on Wednesday, April 19. “The No. 1 thing is building that trust, respecting and listening to the residents, knowing that what you say you’re going to do you carry out. So I’m looking forward implementing the plans that will improve your quality of life, because that’s very fruitful, when the residents can actually communicate with the board of commissioners and its executive director.”

In early May, rumblings began pointing to Garcia's "sketchy" past in Hoboken:

Carmelo Garcia (l) with friends; Chris Campos is on the far right and faces
federal sentencing for bank and wire fraud in September.

Talking Ed Note: Mister Carmelo is out but he has a third iteration of a civil lawsuit against the HHA and City of Hoboken still alive, originally filed back in 2013. The HHA however filed a civil lawsuit of their own against Garcia. The litigation is pending.

Related: Believe it or not, published a story where Carmelo Garcia talks about running for a Hoboken City Council seat again this year.

In 2015, Councilwoman Jen Giattino defeated Garcia's bid to replace her.
Hoboken, you just can't make this stuff up.