Friday, September 21, 2018

Hoboken House of Cards?

Outside of one of the best theme songs in the history of television, the House of Cards series can't be beaten in Hoboken's crashing deck.

Yesterday, years of ouright vote buying arrogance came up against the law and as The Clash would say, "the law won." Alright, that might be on the premature side but the first arrest in the rampant abuse of Hoboken Housing Authority residents seeing their votes purchased at election time ran into a major stumbling block.

As Hoboken voter fraud is a delectable Mile Square City delight; (MSV holds a culinary degree since 2010), there's much to consider on this FBI arrest.

Here's a tidbit of what you've been missing if you weren't a regular MSV reader circa February 2014:

The majority of almost 290 ballots not making the final election certification were never mailed - instead the majority of those contested ballots were handled by "bearers" of the Let the People Decide political committee.

The end to the legal election challenge means there will be no undoing of the narrow 122 vote victory among almost 10,000 cast after the legal complaint was voluntarily dismissed by Charles Gormally, Director of Litigation for Brach Eichler.

Renee Steinhagen, Executive Director of New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center, intervening on behalf of the Hoboken Fair Housing Authority expressed satisfaction the integrity of the election was preserved with the majority respected but added strong reservations on what had transpired leading into the court case saying, "It became apparent inconsistencies with rejected Vote by Mail ballots by the Let the People Decide campaign were mounting where irregularities and unlawful conduct were evident."

Steinhagen described the testimony heard in court as an "unlawful vote by mail scheme... that we all know has been in effect for at least the past four years, primarily in the fourth ward."

Talking Ed Note: There'll be more on all this but Horsey has to muster a gallop before Monday for our fine members of MSV Premium. For the rest, take a look at the link above.

As for fabricating Sybil's latest limp Manchurian Candidate push out of the mayor's office, stop laughing. Hey kid, Hoboken ain't a standup act and your buddy in the mayor's office isn't doing you any favors.

Smarten up!

Thursday, September 20, 2018



Hoboken Old Guard Vote-by-Mail soldier charged in promoting voter bribery scheme!

Official Department of Justice release:


NEWARK, N.J. – A Hudson County, New Jersey woman was arrested and charged today for promoting a voter bribery scheme by use of the U.S. mail, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced. 

Lizaida Camis, 55, of Hoboken, is charged by complaint with a violation of the Travel Act for causing the mails to be used to aid voter bribery contrary to New Jersey state law. She is scheduled to have her initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk in Newark federal court. 

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Under New Jersey law, registered voters are permitted to cast a ballot by mail rather than in person. To receive a mail-in ballot, voters must complete and submit to their county clerk’s office an Application for Vote By Mail Ballot (VBM Application). After the application is processed, voters receive a mail-in ballot. 

From October 2013 through November 2013, Camis agreed to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 each if those voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots for the November 2013 Hoboken municipal election. Camis provided these voters with VBM Applications and then delivered the completed applications to the Hudson County Clerk’s office. After the mail-in ballots were delivered to the voters, Camis went to their apartments and, in some cases, instructed the voters to vote for the candidates for whom Camis was working. Camis promised the voters that they would be paid $50 for casting their mail-in ballots and told them that they could pick up their checks after the election at an office on Jefferson Street in Hoboken. Bank records show that voters living in Hoboken received $50 checks from entities associated with the campaigns that employed Camis.

Camis faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, and special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest. 

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division. 

The charge and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This story is breaking hard!

The scene the night after the election at 520 Jefferson Street back on November 6th, 2013; the fulcrum of an alleged voter bribery scheme operation exclusively reported on MSV.

The following complaint filed against Liz "the Church Lady" Camis involving allegations of a voter bribery scheme using Vote by Mail ballots.

On November 6th, 2013, MSV exclusively filed this report on the alleged vote by mail bribery operation a day after the Hoboken election:

520 Jefferson St - payoffs for votes?

Another related MSV Exclusive from the same 2013 Hoboken election:

Hudson County homeless initiative

The following report comes courtesy of the Hudson County View:

For the complete story, please see the Hudson County View.

Councilwoman Jen Giattino offered this official release: "Reducing Homelessness Together"

Dear friends and neighbors,
Yesterday, New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced important steps to reducing homelessness across Hudson County.  This first-of-its-kind initiative brings together state, county and municipal teams and for-profit and non-profit organizations that will focus on: finding homes and supportive care for those currently homeless, expanding training and support services for those who are at risk of becoming homeless, and expanding local resources in ways that better allow communities to show their own compassion for their neighbors most in need.  The highlights of the initiatives, including those which our own Hoboken Homeless Task force helped secure, include:
  • $200,000 donated by Jersey City Medical University and $50,000 by Hoboken University Medical Center to fund housing and supportive care provided by Garden State Episcopal for those who have suffered chronic homelessness.  
  • 25 housing vouchers provided by the NJ Department of Community Affairs to be given to those who have suffered chronic homelessness – 20 to be identified by JCMU and 5 to be identified by HUMC 
  • $10,000 secured by MBS Housing, the owners of the building formerly known as the YMCA, to renovate space and open a food pantry open to all residents of Hoboken.
  • 8 donation meters to be located across Hoboken, similar to parking meters, as a vehicle for people to contribute towards efforts to help those who are homeless.  These meters are sponsored by Hudson Pride Center and donated by IPS Group.  These will be managed by United Way of Hudson County and funds raised will be given to Hoboken Homeless Shelter and other agencies providing supportive services.
  • A 10-year lease with EasterSeals NJ for their new Hudson County operations in Hoboken.  EasterSeals providing supportive employment and training will serve two of our area’s communities that are statistically at greater risk of becoming homeless – disabled adults and seniors.
I have been working with the Hoboken Homeless Shelter for over a decade and I am so proud to be a part of this effort as both the City Council liaison to the Hoboken Homeless Shelter and a new member of the Hoboken Homeless Task Force.  I am thankful to all those who have made this happen and am hopeful that through these initiatives we will be able to bring homes to those without, keep people in their homes, and save lives.
Please feel to call or email me if you would like to hear more about this or anything else.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Introducing Hoboken Proud 1-2-3 for School Board!

Official release:

Meet Hoboken Proud 1-2-3!
Incumbents Tom Kluepfel and John Madigan have joined with district parent Malani Cademartori to form a three-member slate seeking election to the Hoboken Board of Education in November.
"This team will raise some eyebrows," says Tom.  Tom and John ran on opposing slates in 2015, but they’ve found common cause in strong support of the superintendent and forged a solid working relationship on behalf of the district.  Malani, an active advocate for the children of the district, will continue to protect and support the district and its recent achievements and is familiar with the issues facing the board.  John hopes this apolitical alliance will help unite the Hoboken community.  They believe this is an opportunity for all of Hoboken to come together and focus on what's best for all district kids.
Tom was elected to the Hoboken Board of Education in 2012 and reelected in 2015. In that time, he has served as chair of the Finance Committee and as president of the board for the past two-and-a-half years. Tom is a retired creative director. His wife is a special education teacher; they have two grown children.
John has served on the HBOE since 2015. He is a clerk in the William J. Brennan Courthouse in Jersey City. John's wife is an ICU nurse at Hoboken University Medical Center; they have two grown sons.
Malani is an active district parent, serves as the Calabro school’s PTO president for a second term, and was a main organizer of last year’s first ever district-wide PTO Harlem Wizards fundraising event.  She is an attorney and partner with a N.Y.C. law firm where she focuses on corporate reorganization and restructuring. She and her husband have two young daughters in the district.
Please join Hoboken Proud for their official Kick-Off event Monday, September 24.  Grab a friend and come meet the team!

What's new at the Hoboken Historical Museum

New Art Exhibit Opens Sunday, 2-5 pm, in the Upper Gallery: 
"Hoboken Halloween: Portraits by Gary Spector (2011-2017)" 
The Hoboken Museum is pleased to present our latest Upper Gallery art exhibit: “Hoboken Halloween: Portraits by Gary Spector (2011-2017).” Spector started the project on Halloween in 2011, when he set up a drape and some lights for a temporary photo studio in front of his Hoboken home. As trick-or-treaters walked by, he asked if he could take their portrait. Over the years, he has photographed hundreds of people, and it’s become a Hoboken tradition, with lines extending around the block! Come to the free opening event on Sunday, Sept. 23, between 2 - 5 pm. The photographer will give a talk at 4 pm. The show is on view through Nov. 4. Learn More >
Hoboken's Masked Ball, Oct. 26
Tickets are on sale now! 
Join us Friday, October 26, for the best party of the year: 
“Then & Now” Masked Ball to benefit the Hoboken Historical Museum! 
Click on the image above, and share this link with your friends:
Join us on Sunday, Oct. 21,
for the Annual Hoboken House Tour!
Fall fun at the Museum...
Tai Chi classes on Wednesdays at 10 am - Sign up or drop in!
Pieter Sommen leads a one-hour session of Tai Chi, a Chinese exercise tradition comprising a series of low-impact movements practiced in a slow and focused manner, coordinated with breathing. Each posture flows into the next one without pausing, creating a constant motion in the body. Benefits may include decreased stress and anxiety, improved mood, improved flexibility, balance and agility. Next class is today, Wednesday, Sept. 19, from 10 – 11 am. Class costs $10 per person. Drop-ins welcome, or click here to reserve a spot.

Lunchtime Yoga & Meditation class returns on Tuesdays at noon
Restore your bliss with our weekly hour-long Basic Yoga class focusing on building blocks of yoga, ending with a 10-min. guided meditation. Experienced local yoga teacher Kate DeCock coaches students of all levels through a series of basic poses, with emphasis on fluid breathing and form. Bring your own mat and towel, and wear comfortable clothing. (Adults only). Next class is Tuesday, Sept. 25, from 12 – 1 pm. Class costs $10 per person. Classes tend to fill up, so click here to reserve a spot.
Sponsor message: Visit
Penny's Storytime on Thursdays, at 10 & 11 am. Reserve ahead!
Penny's storytime, Thursdays at the Museum, 10 & 11 am
Penny's Storytime offers a fun half hour of reading and singalongs for children ages 2 - 5 years every Thursday. Reserve in advance for one of 2 half-hour sessions, at 10 am and 11 am. Booking links are posted on our website on Wednesdays at 10 am, and fill up fast.
Children must be accompanied by an adult, and behavior supervised. Donations are welcome.  Learn more >

This program is supported in part by our Family Sponsor, Macy's.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'About last nite, the off cycle council meeting'

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:  
I rushed last night to get my update out before the meeting started (for me at 6 with a closed session prior to the public meeting), and made one major error, a slightly less major one and a few spelling ones…corrections below in PINK.
  • DATE IS 9/30 – for Hoboken Arts & Music Festival.  Back downtown – Observer to 7th St. - with headliner bands Marshall Crenshaw & The Smithereens! Click the link for more details.   
  • 2nd Ward Intersections - 13th and Park – Pricing “shades/shudders” for the light at 14th and PARK (Not Washington).  Previously was told this was a simple, inexpensive fix.  However will be more costly than thought.  In parallel looking to do a pilot (aka temporary) program for a traffic type circle at 13th and Park.  See below for more on traffic circles.
Sorry for the confusion.  While I have your attention, there is one more event this weekend I became aware of today which I think looks exciting and wish I could attend:
About last night (City Council meeting)…
  • All three parking ordinances were tabled and sent to subcommittee for further discussion.
  • First reading of Easter Seals lease and related legislation was approved 9-0.  Corporation counsel confirmed there was no conflict with Advance Realty (owner of building) given their lawsuit against the city.
  • Mayor Turner of Weehawken was honored for raising $200,000 towards the completion of Hoboken’s New American Legion Post and Housing for Homeless Veterans.  This is such an amazing project and you can be a part of it too if you want to donate.  They just had their topping off celebration last week and are hoping to complete by this spring.  
  • We passed on 1st Reading a revised Temporary Parking ordinance 8-1.  I actually was the dissenting vote because although it had some improvements, I don’t think it went far enough.  The big issue for me is when / whether Temporary Parking signs are actually enforceable – I feel strongly we should not be allowed to post any sign that says “No Parking” unless it is enforceable.
And finally….
What did I mean by Traffic Circles … a better name might be a mini-roundabout.   Effectively the concept is to install a small raised traffic island that could be any diameter and could be decorative as well.  Roundabouts limit speeds by horizontally deflecting vehicles as they pass through an intersection.  13th and Park may be too small for this, but 15th and Garden may not.  The City is going to study traffic counts / etc. at each of these intersections and look at both intersections for viability and what can / should be done to improve pedestrian safety.  
I will say that I am also pushing that we consider speed humps in Hoboken in certain areas – Jersey City just announced that they are installing 86 as part of their Vision Zero plan.  They don’t work in all locations and they come with challenges if not designed correctly (snow removal, noise, etc...).  We historically have been told a flat “No”.  But I think it should be more of a “yes / sometimes”.
As always, feel free to reach out if you want to discuss this further, or anything else, by email or by phone 201/208-1674.  And please forward this to anyone you think would benefit from hearing about this.
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”

Council rejects Ravi Bhalla's $130 pizza bill for his 'private' meeting at Marine View

Call it PizzaGate or call it a Hoboken farce. Once again, there's a bad taste and this time it's for pizza billed to the Mile Square taxpayer for approximately $130.

While the amount is relatively paltry, it's the thought that counts. In this case, it was pizza to entice Marine View residents to pay homage and one imagines lend future votes in loyalty to Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

Why is the mayor billing taxpayers for his "private" meeting with residents where he blocked other elected officials from attending altogether?

Didn't Ravi Bhalla say he was against buying votes only months back?  Not a month back, Bhalla used his taxpayer-paid security force to block Councilman Mike DeFusco from attending a meeting at Marine View.

The City Council rejected the charges for what one might call PizzaGate because Hoboken is back to once again being "special."

Former mayor Dawn Zimmer would never conduct city business this way.

In bigger news, the lawsuit filed by former Hoboken Police Chief Anthony Falco against the City of Hoboken and former mayor Dawn Zimmer got crushed and was thrown out of court. The years-long suit intended to make a mockery of one of Hoboken's highest-paid public officials demanding overtime among other compensation for "overtime" worked during Hurricane Sandy back in 2012.

The full story broke yesterday on HCV.

The rest of this story is MSV Premium content and will be sent to subscribers later today.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'On the agenda'

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:  
Hoping everyone has readjusted to back-to-school and/or back-to-work and their commutes have not been too impacted by the 495 Bridge project.  A few Up and Coming’s and Updates to kick off the last official week of summer.  And a late update on what is being considered at tonight's council meeting!
Up & Coming:
  • Tonight – City Council Meeting.  7pm City Hall.  Moved from Wednesday due to the Yom Kippur holiday which begins at sundown on 9/18.  You can watch the meeting HERE or on Facebook Live on City of Hoboken FB Page.  See below for more on tonight’s agenda.
  • 9/23 - Hoboken Arts & Music Festival.  Back downtown – Observer to 7th St. - with headliner bands Marshall Crenshaw & The Smithereens! Click the link for more details.   
  • 9/29 – Hoboken High Hispanic Fest 2018!  Come get your salsa on with the Skyline Salsa Band from 12-8 behind Hoboken High School on Grand between 8th and 9th!
  • 10/7 – Hudson County Computer – Only Recycling in Hoboken.  9am – 1pm at Hoboken DPW, 256 Observer Highway (at Willow)
  • 10/9 – All Schools Open House – This is the event to learn about schools that are available for your children.  Meet over 35 of them including Hoboken Public Schools, from Pre-K to High School in one evening.  Sponsored by Hoboken Family Alliance.  5-8pm at Hoboken High School Gym 800 Clinton St.
Tonight’s meeting
Cost of parking – both legally & illegally – could increase dramatically tonight!
On tonight’s agenda are three ordinances that will generally result in increased parking related charges and fines.  In theory, these are meant to accomplish two things – bring pricing up to market pricing and to generate more revenues to be able to reinvest in parking and transportation type activities and investments like expanded Hop service and improved roads.  And in theory, I am for this in general. 
My concern is that the increases are a big step at once without specifically identified improvements and that the increases will have a further negative effect on our businesses in particular at a time when we should be doing more to help them.  Additionally, after an incident late last week relating to temporary parking signs, I have drunk the Kool-Aid that we need to first do more to have the proper controls over our citywide parking signage.  
And given how important parking is to everyone in our city, I would hope that these increases would be rolled out in a more cohesive plan which includes benefits and operational improvements (like signage).  Quick summary of the ordinances up for 2nd reading:
  • B-64 – Increases parking fines across the board by an average of about 47%.  Unsure how much additional revenue this will increase for the city.  
  • B-65 – Increases parking meter rates, establishes dynamic pricing and resets time limit to 4 hrs across the City.  Dynamic pricing means that it varies across location based upon demand and use.  In Hoboken, this means pricing will go up the most (from $1/hr to $3.60/hr) in our CBD, near the PATH.  It will go up the least (from $1/hr to $2/hr) in the west side of the city.  You can see the proposed map HERE of how this pricing will apply.
  • B-66 – Changes rates at our garages - here, there are both reductions and increases.  It reduces the cost of parking on the shortest end while increasing monthly parking rates across the board.  Short term rates reduce to $5 for the first hour (from $7), increase slightly to $11 (from $10) for 2 hours and monthly rates across the board.  As an example, for standard resident parking:
Garage B – Increases from $235 to $250 
Garage D – Increases from $185 to $240
Garage G – Increases from $160 to $200
Midtown – Increases from $185 to $235
No changes at the Garden St. which is currently at $200/month.
Suez / Water Infrastructure
On tonight’s agenda we will be voting on $106K of legal and engineering contracts to investigate whether there is any causal effect between the JCMUA Meter Chamber project in SW Hoboken and the subsequent water main breaks; of note (and knock on wood), since that project has been completed we have not had any further breaks.  Also, at the last council meeting, we approved bidding out our water management services with the goal of improving our economic and operational partnership with our water management provider.  I have gotten a lot of questions, but basically here are a few key points:
  • We are not (yet) throwing out Suez.  The city council infrastructure subcommittee, the administration, our advisors and Suez continue to work together on everyday repair and maintenance solutions as well as trying to determine if and how we can have a more productive agreement and partnership that makes better sense for all parties.  
  • The RFP process is such that it is first sent to the State Comptroller who has 30 days to comment on the RFP before we can advertise.
  • The City is in process of finalizing approval for 2.5 miles of water main repairs with construction expected to begin in late 2018/early 2019.
City Lease with EasterSeals NJ
There was a bit of a kerfuffle after the last council meeting regarding a lease that the City is proposing to enter into with EasterSeals NJ for 1,000 sf of space that was given to the City at the Trader Joe’s building at 14th and Willow by Advance Realty.  EasterSeals NJ is moving their Hudson County offices to this location and is expected to continue to provide supportive services for elderly and disabled, with the hope that they will expand these services to Hoboken Residents.  Additionally, they will coordinate with local organizations dedicated to the homeless, like our own Homeless Shelter, as part of the City’s planned coordinated effort that will be rolled out shortly.  I applaud all of the efforts that are being made as homelessness is heartbreaking at the very least and I am 100% supportive of efforts to provide more services to our elderly and disabled.  
At last week’s meeting, I raised questions concerning whether the lease we were being asked to enter into was an arms-length lease at market terms.  Which is what you should want your public officials to do.  Was a public process conducted for the space when selecting EasterSeals; how was free rent determined when other leased space to non-profits like Hoboken Family Planning is not free; what were the circumstances around EasterSeals leaving Jersey City (we understand the lease ends 9/30); what conflicts, if any, are there as we are subject to a lawsuit by Advance Realty; and are there any conflicts relating to John Allen, the Chief of Staff to the mayor, who is on the board of EasterSeals NJ and is lobbying for this lease to occur.  Since then there has been continued discussion on these, with resolution of some, and the dialogue continues.  
Other items:
2nd ward intersections.  
I have met/spoke with Freeholder Romano, Chief Ferrante, Lt. Petrosino, Lt. Orrico, Director Sharp and Kimberli Craft, our new City engineer and toured all of the intersections in the 2nd ward.  Here is a quick rundown of actions/ideas/next steps (more to come...):
  • Sinatra and Constitution Ct – southbound stop sign not installed.  Unfortunately, I am now being told that it was never approved and a survey will need to be done to justify having one.  Right now, I would not recommend doing this because I don’t believe the results will justify a sign given the crane blocking Sinatra and Shipyard Lane.  We are going to meet to discuss what we can do in the interim.
  • 15th and Garden – Looking to do a PILOT for a traffic type circle at this location. Additionally, looking to enhance the pedestrian signs with strobes that would trigger when people are at/near the intersection.
  • 13th and Park – Pricing “shades” for the light at 14th and Washington.  Previously was told this was a simple, inexpensive fix.  However will be more costly than thought.  In parallel looking to do a PILOT for a traffic type circle at this location.  
  • 14th and Hudson – Asking county engineer to add automatic pedestrian light change (triggered currently only by pushing button).
  • 15th and Hudson – Adding pedestrian warning signs to the intersection.
Finally – The dog park behind Harborside is up and running!  
Please feel free to send me any and all thoughts you have.  Thank you to Directors Pellegrini and Gonzalez for getting this done so quickly!  And hoping the kids will be able to enjoy what is still a great open space to run around in!
As always, feel free to reach out if you want to discuss this further, or anything else, by email or by phone 201/208-1674.  And please forward this to anyone you think would benefit from hearing about this.
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”