Wednesday, October 31, 2018

BREAKING: FRANK "PUPIE" RAIA & CAMPAIGN SOLDIER INDICTED FOR CONSPIRACY IN VOTER BRIBE SCHEME

Official release:

USAO NJ Seal 3
United States Attorney - District of New Jersey

FORMER HOBOKEN CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE AND CAMPAIGN WORKER INDICTED FOR CONSPIRING TO USE MAIL TO PROMOTE VOTER BRIBERY SCHEME

NEWARK, N.J. – A former candidate for the Hoboken City Council and a campaign worker were charged today by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to promote a voter bribery scheme by use of the mail, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Francis Raia, 67, of Hoboken, New Jersey, was a candidate for city council in 2013. Dio Braxton, 43, of Hoboken, worked for Raia’s campaign. A federal grand jury charged them today with conspiracy to violate the federal Travel Act for causing the mails to be used in aid of voter bribery, contrary to New Jersey state law, during the 2013 election. Lizaida Camis, a conspirator, was charged by indictment on Oct. 17, 2018; her case is pending.

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 VBM Application is processed by the County Clerk’s Office, voters receive a mail-in ballot.

From October 2013 through November 2013, Raia instructed Braxton and other conspirators to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 if those voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots in the November 2013 Hoboken municipal election. Conspirators provided these voters with VBM applications and then delivered the completed VBM Applications to the Hudson County Clerk’s office. After the mail-in ballots were delivered to the voters, the conspirators went to the voters’ residences and, in some cases, instructed the voters to vote for Raia and in favor of a ballot referendum that Raia supported relating to rent control. Conspirators 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 Raia’s office in Hoboken. Bank records show that voters living in Hoboken received $50 checks from an entity hired by Raia’s political action committee.

Raia and Braxton each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge.

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 indictment.
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 charges and allegations in this indictment, and against Camis, are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Frank "Pupie" Raia with his pal Beth Mason back in happier days on their 2013 campaign
efforts for Hoboken City Hall. He's been indicted today for allegedly leading a  voter bribery scheme in the 2013 election involving a conspiracy of residents.




Talking Ed Note: As MSV exclusively covered the alleged conspiracy of massive vote-buying fraud in Hoboken in 2013:



Hey Hoboken, Happy Halloween & You're Welcome.
Love & Kisses from the Horsey - XXOO

Sign of the Times: Majority vote preference with runoffs surge in Hoboken

Ballot question in Hoboken to be decided on Election Day


Mailers hitting Hoboken residents urge support for a ballot question to bring back runoff elections and with it, majority rule in our municipal races.

In opposition to runoffs elections being approved at the ballot box are the supporters of Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Ravibots; those who will say just about anything, deny the truth, reality or a fact if it serves his political interests.

Since the controversial and ugly mayoral election last year, arguments about runoffs have been constant with Ravi Bhalla and his insiders being deeply fearful of its potential return. Does his having waged a scorched earth campaign against friend and foe winning with 32% of the vote have anything to do with it?

The usual Ravibot arguments are all self-serving and disingenuous. They proclaim fear of voter fraud although the potential impact for voter fraud impact is far greater in a large field of candidates in a winner take all race. Notwithstanding the US Department of Justice finally made Hoboken a priority and is currently working on a conspiracy case against voter fraud in the Mile Square City.

Voter fraud in Hoboken is on the run but the Ravibots won't tell you that. (Thank Horsey later.)

The other argument typically badgers residents about a falloff in the second round of balloting. However, with Vote-by-Mail options and long hours with the polls being open, the real actual evidence for any drop off is low information voters are not so easily led by the nose a second time. In Jersey City, a council race was decided by a hard-working candidate, James Solomon, who came from behind for a runoff victory.

Isn't that what democracy is all about? Fighting for the last vote and making a passionate argument to voters showing you are deserving?

In Hoboken, the arguments are less about the Hoboken voter and more about a cult of personality push to aid and abet a wannabe career politician. That's not in keeping with any principle of service the Founding Fathers had in mind.

MSV has articulated an independent position for instant runoffs. It needs further legislative efforts but without runoffs on the books, you can't achieve the second portion of that objective.

So on Election Day, VOTE YES on the ballot question for runoffs.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Councilman Jim Doyle refuses to stand up for himself - and Hoboken

What was Ravi Bhalla's role in the TV attack ad by his union pals on Councilman Jim Doyle?

The controversy over the construction union Local 825 attack on Councilman Jim Doyle and by extension all of Hoboken took another turn when the councilman responded to support from council colleagues by criticizing them.

Stating their defense included criticism of Mayor Ravi Bhalla, he responded along the lines of "Ravi Bhalla is the kindest, warmest human being I know" and took shots at the council members who issued statements mostly defending him and his vote in opposition to theirs.

The whacked out response by Doyle was reported on the Hudson County View late yesterday. Although almost all the comments by Council VP Jen Giattino, Councilman Peter Cunningham and Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher centered on an unfair attack on Doyle and Hoboken by a pro-development union backing Ravi Bhalla, he responded as if it was only about the mayor.

Councilman Jim Doyle, unfazed by council colleagues defense of
his vote and Hoboken, "Ravi Bhalla is the kindest, warmest,
most wonderful human being I've ever known." 

Calling their defense "a continuing mission," against Ravi Bhalla, Doyle claimed the defense of both him and Hoboken is really all about the mayor to "see in any event, any occurrence, any utterance a nefarious intent on the part of the mayor."

Doyle was the lone, meaningless vote as eight other council members approved the Hilton Hotel after negotiating additional benefits in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charter schools, infrastructure, and the affordable housing trust.

But what role exactly did Ravi Bhalla play in the TV attack ad? Doyle shows no inclination or care to know.

Last week, the union televised an ad first aired exclusively on MSV where Doyle's lone vote in opposition was attacked as bad for Hoboken.

The question dangling and unanswered is what was Mayor Bhalla's role in the television attack ad? Rumors are flying from Trenton that Bhalla took no issue with the union attack on his running mate Doyle and the buzz is exploding north back into Hoboken.

After the attack, Ravi Bhalla would air no public defense of Doyle or Hoboken electing to pay homage to the union even as its spokesman declined to issue any apology pointing to its pro-development stance for Hoboken.

Did Ravi Bhalla approve in advance the union commercial as a warning against anyone who stands in the way of big development plans underway for Hoboken?

Jim Doyle doesn't appear to have a remote care about any of it and is aloof to the implications.

The original Ravi Bhalla Terror Flyer remains under investigation
in the Hoboken Police Department.
Police Chief Ken Ferrante has urged people with information to report it.

Talking Ed Note: Is anyone else experiencing deja vu about the Ravi Terror Flyer? The parallels on the savaging of Hoboken then and now are eerily identical.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Councilmembers Jen Giattino, Peter Cunningham & Tiffanie Fisher denounce Local 825 bullying of Councilman Jim Doyle

Official release:

Councilmembers Condemn Attack Ad By Local 825 Union Against Hoboken Councilman Jim Doyle; Cite Ties to Mayor Bhalla; Call for Elected Officials to Denounce Bullying Tactics

Hoboken, NJ – At the end of last week, Elec 825, an affiliate of the Local 825 Operating Engineers union, ran an attack ad against Hoboken Councilman Jim Doyle on NJ12 criticizing Doyle for his “No” vote on the proposed Hilton hotel in Hoboken; a vote that was inconsequential in the 8-1 outcome.  

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s election campaign benefited from $85,000 in advertising spend through the Stronger Foundations PAC which is funded by Elec 825.  Doyle ran with Mayor Bhalla on his ticket and is seen as a close ally of the mayor’s.  

Hoboken City Councilmembers Peter Cunningham, Tiffanie Fisher and Jen Giattino, respond to the bullying of their colleague Councilman Jim Doyle:

“The commercial was both troubling in its attack on Jim for his vote as it was in its messaging to all Hoboken elected officials – vote “yes” or else.  This type of bullying by a union, or any large contributor, will not be tolerated. ” said Councilman Cunningham.

The Hotel proposed by Mayor Bhalla is 20% larger than what was previously passed by the City Council in April 2017.    

“Jim, along with then-Councilman Bhalla before he was elected mayor, consistently voted for a more moderate hotel.  Jim, however, held to his beliefs, voted accordingly and should not have to be subjected to such public threats.” – Council Vice President Jen Giattino

The only public responses given by Mayor Bhalla and the union can be found in Hudson County View’s article from Friday.  While no apologies were made to Councilman Doyle, Mayor Bhalla claims he received an apology from the union, whereas Mike Makarski, Elec 825 spokesman, gave a conflicting message and stated that the union stands behind the message in the ad.  The Hoboken mayor in his comments goes on to say how the unions will continue to be rewarded despite their bullying tactics.  

“The messages here are alarming on many levels. For Hoboken residents who should be concerned that our mayor’s alliance with the unions comes first, but also for Jim and other elected officials across the state where the message is clear - if you run afoul of the Local 825 Operating Engineers union, you will pay politically.  Neither is acceptable.”  - Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher

All three councilmembers stated in unison, “We support Jim and his vote and ask that all other Hoboken elected officials do the same and renounce the bullying tactics employed against him.”  

Although the redevelopment agreement with KMS Development for the Hilton hotel passed on October 17th, the vote on the second (and final) reading of the redevelopment plan amendment will be November 7th.   You can watch the attack ad in its entirety below.

Ravi Bhalla on union attack ad against Jim Doyle, "I'm with them"

Mayor Ravi Bhalla comes out of the cold on union attack ad siding with the construction union and throwing Councilman Jim Doyle under the bus

An outtake from the construction union TV ad run against Councilman Jim Doyle.
The commercial appeared on local TV Thursday and was first published on MSV last Friday.

Hoboken 's rookie mayor Ravi Bhalla came in from the cold late Friday finally making it clear who he stands with in a construction Local 825 union TV ad attacking "ally" Councilman Jim Doyle.

'I'm with them' Bhalla let the world know as he declared his allegiance with the construction union that doled out approximately $85,000 a year ago in TV ads to see him win a controversial mayoral election.

Bhalla said he reached out to the union "who are friends and supporters" letting them know about his personal relationship with Councilman Jim Doyle and said "they immediately took it down and apologized to me" according to a late updated Friday story on the Hudson County View.

They didn't know?

The union TV ad appeared Thursday with MSV publishing the commercial last Friday.

Bhalla added his ties to the construction union are strong insisting development labor in Hoboken ahead will continue signaling major redevelopment is in his plans for the Mile Square City.

One political critic who saw the tepid statements but declined to make it public fearing retaliation said, "When you're bought, you stay bought and Ravi knows he's bought."

Councilman Jim Doyle apparently received no such apology publicly or privately from the construction union, Local 825. To the humiliation of being tossed under the bus, public exchanges on Facebook proved frustrating with one local activist whereupon he exited saying, "I'm out of here."

A spokesman for the union, Mike Markarski was clear in not offering any public apology to Mayor Bhalla nor Councilman Doyle saying, "Councilman Doyle's vote against the first major redevelopment agreement of the Bhalla administration was a miscalculation."

Markarski would also slam Doyle for speaking out against an upcoming billion dollar power plant planned in North Bergen. Doyle is currently planning to introduce a resolution slamming the power plant at an upcoming council meeting according to local government sources.

Snippet of the controversial "terror flyer" used to get Ravi Bhalla elected last year according to rumors by those in the know.

Talking Ed Note: Rumors continue to fly about the less than publicly acknowledged support putting Ravi Bhalla into the mayor's chair.

What can a terror flyer do for you?

Friday, October 26, 2018

BREAKING: Mayor Ravi Bhalla's construction union allies attack Councilman Jim Doyle

MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE

Local 825 TV commercial savages Councilman Jim Doyle and announces "We own Hoboken"

In a stunning political attack on local television seen last night, the construction union Local 825 launched a savage attack on a council ally and running mate of Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

The original and unedited ad is seen here on MSV below and is directed against Councilman Jim Doyle.

The same union was part of a Super PAC, Stronger Foundations that ran TV ads in the closing week of the contentious and venomous Hoboken mayoral campaign urging votes for Ravi Bhalla. (MSV broke that exclusive story in the final week of the campaign.)

Councilman Jim Doyle was the sole council member last year to endorse and later run on Ravi Bhalla's mayoral ticket.

Doyle was the lone "no" vote on the Hilton Hotel at the last council meeting, meaningless in the outcome where eight of his colleagues voted to approve. Only five votes are required for approval.

The savage attack on an intimate ally of Ravi Bhalla is a political shot across the bow by the construction union flexing their influence if not outright political control over Hoboken as word of additional backroom development deals are anticipated to be announced from the mayor's office.

The City Council would work late to improve a seven-figure package of givebacks including one million for the local school district and another two million for a revamped uptown community center adding hundreds of thousands later added for the charter schools, Affordable Housing Trust and infrastructure downtown.

In the TV ad, Jim Doyle is attacked for allegedly abandoning Hoboken children and stopping "hundreds of good paying union jobs" before it concludes "Doyle doesn't get it." 





Last Friday, Ravi Bhalla submitted an op-ed in NorthJersey.com promoting the massive NJ Transit redevelopment in downtown Hoboken. The press release type promotion on behalf of the long-feared development alarmed many Mile Square City residents.

The attack ad seen last night concludes saying it's "paid for by ELEC 825."
It's the same union featured on MSV last year pushing for voters to
elect Ravi Bhalla mayor.

Talking Ed Note Update: Late Friday afternoon and City Hall is closing up for the weekend and nothing but silence from Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

Not. A. Word.

Over at the Cave, a limp cover-up attempt put forward by the mayor's office claims Ravi Bhalla decried the attack on Councilman Jim Doyle. Yet, the MSV exclusive has been out ALL DAY, everyone has seen it, other media are covering the story and not even a statement has been issued on behalf of Ravi Bhalla let alone him making a public statement.

We're going to need a better coverup. This flacid one simply won't do.

Talking Ed Note: Poor Jim Doyle. He refused to flip-flop on his vote on the Hilton Hotel, unlike Ravi Bhalla. The Mile Square City is abuzz over the intimidation against Doyle, the City Council and anyone who dares to oppose big development deals that clearly lie ahead.

It's almost as threatening against Doyle, the City Council and Hoboken as the Ravi Terror Flyer last year.

This story is breaking...

Related: The MSV exclusive where Local 825 ran TV ads as part of a Super Pac, Stronger Foundations tied to efforts getting Ravi Bhalla elected mayor.

Shadowy PAC appears advertising on Fox News for Ravi Bhalla

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Councilman Mike DeFusco: "It's Happening....."

Official release:
This Election Day Hoboken residents will have the rare opportunity to decide how our local elections are run and vote on a ballot question to enact runoff elections.

If the question is approved, any candidate for Mayor or Council will be required to earn 50% of the vote to win office, otherwise, the top two would square off in a runoff election.   Runoffs are used across the state in similar cities like Jersey City, Trenton & Bayonne to ensure majority rule through fair, democratic, elections.

If you can spare sixty seconds, take a look at this video to explain why you should join me and vote YES for Runoff Elections on Nov. 6th….
All you need to know about runoff elections....in 60 seconds

 

It’s not democracy if your vote doesn’t count! 

In last year's crowded and confusing municipal election we had fourteen candidates running for City Council and six running for mayor, with the winning mayoral candidate only earning 32% of the overall vote. 

Establishment politicians and special interests use this fault in the system to intentionally split our community and pander to smaller voting blocks, sometimes even buying those votes. Runoff elections would require candidates to create broader platforms and once elected, broader policies, which benefit the most number of residents as possible, not just the select few who elected them. Voting YES will make certain that everyone’s voice is heard and their vote counted, not drowned out by those looking to divide us for political gain.
Many have asked me about the possibility of ranked choice voting (aka instant runoffs) and though it's an exciting and interesting concept, New Jersey law currently does not permit municipalities to vote that way.

Click here to learn about why Runoff Elections are important and why you should vote YES on Nov. 6


Regardless of who you supported last year, this is not about a single person, it’s about the future of honest and fair elections in Hoboken and I hope you'll come out to support this grassroots effort.
Your Councilman,
Mike DeFusco
Hoboken City Councilman

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Hudson County View to host panel on marijuana

A panel on marijuana legalization is set for tomorrow night at Hudson County Community College. The event is being hosted by the Hudson County View from 6:00 - 8:00 pm.

Among the panelists is First Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco with State Senator Ronald Rice (D-28), Harmony Dispensary CEO Shaya Brodchanel and NJ Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Police Executive Director Stephen Reid.

The event will be available live on the Hudson County View Facebook page for those unable to attend.



Tonight at 8:00, it's New Jersey's sole US Senate debate

In the "Battle of the Bobs," it's one enterprising Bob versus corruptocrat Bob.

One is a former pharma CEO who turned a company around and made it a success becoming wealthy in the process. The other is a decades-long politician with legendary corruption status swirling around him since his HudCo Machine days and in swampy DC as a NJ Senator.

Tonight the battle royale will take the stage as challenger Bob Hugin will go mano a mano with incumbent Senator Bob Menendez in their only debate.

Menendez has survived Clinton style under an atomic cloud of corruption and denunciations as his BFF, Dr. Salomon Melgen sits in prison for looting taxpayers for over $70 million. Corruptocrat Bob wasn't helping and didn't know? Menendez escaped prison when a jury hung and the feds reversed their decision for another trial.

Did Menendez not know of the tens of millions being scammed (and an alleged seven-figure kickback) while taking private jets and lavish vacations where federal prosecutors alleged there was "corroborating evidence" to their having sex with teenagers at prostitution parties.

As U.S. News & World Report reported of the prosecution filing, "Presented with specific, corroborated allegation that defendants Mendendez and Melgen had sex with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, the Government responsibly and dutifully investigated those serious allegations," the (federal) filing says. "The indictment here, of course, charges only corruption and does not include any allegations of soliciting underage prostitution."

Federal prosecutors held no authority to use their corroborating evidence in another country.

Tonight, New Jersey voters get another look before deciding who should be representing them as US Senator.

You can watch the NJ Senatorial Debate right here on MSV courtesy of NJTV News tonight at 8:00 pm.




Talking Ed Note: With almost a decade covering government and politics almost everyone in the shadow of the HudCo Machine has a corruption story involving Bob Menendez. One of my favorites is how local officials met with then-Congressman Menendez to discuss how to improve the back end of town on Hoboken's west side.

As the story goes, the local officials wanted to disperse the entrenched poverty and break up an ever-growing generational trap. Menendez as the rumor says from a person in attendance at the meeting rebuked them from any such notion saying, "You don't want to break up YOUR voters."

No poverty pimping politician could state it any clearer.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "I Need Your Feedback - Marijuana and Concrete Bus Stops"

Official release:

 
Dear friends and neighbors:
 
I need your feedback on two topics:
  • Allowing marijuana establishments in Hoboken (if approved by NJ)
  • Extended sidewalk/bumpouts for bus stops on upper Washington
 
MARIJUANA – 
 
We really have not had a public discussion on this.  But at the last City Council meeting, the administration put forth for first reading an ordinance to allow establishments in Hoboken once approved at the state level.  The City Council pulled it from the agenda so no vote was taken.  Here is the quick summary of what was proposed (or you can click on the Jersey Digs article that does a good job):
  • Only 3 “Establishments” allowed in Hoboken.  One in each of three industrial and commercial zoning districts –I-1, I-2 and CBD.  It is not at all allowed in the residential (R-1, R-2 or R-3) districts.  The areas affected are outlined in pink in the attached zoning map.
  • Of note for my 2nd Ward neighbors:  I-1(w) is included in this which is all of the Hudson Tea, Shipyard and Maxwell buildings - odd, since these are 90% residential. 
  • And also of note for friends further south, this would include CBD(H)(CS) which is Court Street - again odd, because Court Street is almost all residential.
  • Establishments as used in the ordinance is an all-encompassing term:  
“MARIJUANA ESTABLISHMENT – An umbrella term that encompasses all facilities used for and/or associated with legal marijuana, including but not limited to, medical marijuana dispensaries, retail marijuana stores, marijuana-infused products manufacturing facilities, marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana testing facilities, and/or marijuana storage facilities."
  • In all cases either a Marijuana Establishment must go to the planning or zoning board which means property owners within 200 feet would receive notice in advance of any hearing/decision; however Marijuana Establishments are being added as permitted uses in the zones indicated above so the boards do not have a lot of leeway to say no in these areas.
  • Marijuana Establishments must have State and Hoboken License to operate.
  • In Hoboken, it will be Director Pelligrini, Director of Health and Human Services who will have oversight of approving and administering licenses which will cost up to $15,000 each.
At the state level, although we don’t have all the details, it looks like marijuana will become legalized, although you will not be able to use it in public.  You must be 21 to purchase.  And it will be taxed at 14% with the potential for local cities to charge their own tax of another 2%.
 
So my thoughts – there are a lot of both pros and cons.  
  • Some pros – economic stimulus and revenue generation for Hoboken.  With 11 million people across the river who cannot purchase marijuana legally, we are a stone’s throw away and that can be good for our local businesses.  I believe the argument about the social injustices of African Americans being much more likely to be arrested for small marijuana offenses and would like to see that stop.  
  • Some cons – 11 million people across the river… all coming to Hoboken, maybe even by car and the potential congestion that causes.  Reconciling how our close-knit community with so many children operates with a huge influx of people buying marijuana for recreational use (I am less bothered by medicinal use).  
I don’t know the right answer, other than we need public input.  Councilman DeFusco chairs the zoning subcommittee (which I am also on along with Councilman Doyle), and has asked that we have a full public meeting before this comes back on the City Council agenda.  
 
EXTENDED SIDEWALKS / BUS STOPS ON UPPER WASHINGTON ST.
 
I, along with Councilman Cunningham and others (including the mayor) have received a number of complaints about the recently installed concrete bus stop/sidewalk extension that was installed at the SW corner of 10thand Washington, in front of Muller Insurance.  There is another one installed on Washington and 8th, and one under construction at 12th.  These are not corner bump outs, but rather effectively they have installed a long extension of the sidewalk instead of just marking the bus stops red, like they did downtown.  I have spoken to the administration who explained that given the streets are wider uptown, although inconsisent in design across our main street, there was room to install this preferred alternative so that buses did not have to dip into towards the sidewalk to pick up passengers.  Now they can just drive straight, stop in front of the curb, and passengers can board the bus.  And the administration has also indicated that there is still sufficient room for both an 11’ travel lane and a 13’ passing lane.    See below the diagram (sorry so small) for the 10th street intersection (the top is west).  The sidewalk extension is highlighted on the south west corner.
 
 
For clarity in case you hear otherwise, the City Council did not approve this plan.  We approved a modification sans bike lanes but never actually had the revised plans that would have shown these so they are a surprise to all of us.  We have asked the administration to pause to discuss this design choice.  But in the interim, I welcome your thoughts.
 
 
Thank you in advance for providing feedback.  I would also encourage you to write to other council members and the administration on both.  As always, if you have any further questions or want to discuss this or anything else, please feel free to call me at 201/208-1674 or email me.   
 
TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
 
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”
 
PSS - Hotel detox and further City updates still coming next...

Monday, October 22, 2018

Hoboken for sale: Mayor Ravi Bhalla touts the long-feared NJ Transit development

MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE

The ink isn't dry on the internet pixels with the Hoboken Hilton Hotel agreement last week and Mayor Ravi Bhalla all but announced bigger development coming to Hoboken with an NJ Transit redevelopment in downtown Hoboken.

In an editorial submission published far outside the Mile Square City on NorthJersey.com, Mayor Ravi Bhalla glowingly writes about the prospect of the NJ Transit redevelopment "can be the shot in the arm" to "restore NJ Transit" and "make" it a "leader in job creation" for New Jersey.

Residents began sharing the Friday article with each other over the weekend deeply concerned another Bhalla backdoor deal will follow with millions in goodies doled out to divide and undermine any community and council opposition.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla, construction unions and NJ Transit's man at City Hall? His op-ed appearing nowhere in Hoboken but in NorthJersey.com sounded warning bells across the Mile Square City over the weekend.

Among the benefits, Ravi Bhalla's pro-NJ Transit development editorial claims are $150 million to NJ Transit, upgrades to the downtown terminal and plaza, a new bus station, upgraded Ferry Terminal building and business space earmarked for emerging companies.

Residents are already sharing the North Jersey.com article noting Hoboken itself is not the focused priority. Nor do they see Bhalla's NJ Transit promotion as standing with the City of Hoboken residents who have long opposed any large-scale downtown redevelopment.

Former Councilman Dave Mello, the current chairman of the Hoboken Housing Authority who served on the council with Bhalla in Hoboken's now-defunct Reform coalition sounded ominous warnings on the NorthJersey.com story.


The two-term councilman went on to decry passing a negotiated agreement in subcommittee saying he felt a gun had been placed to his head. At the time, it was thought the land where NJ Transit sits could be completely removed from Hoboken oversight and influence by the State. The implied threat led to an eventual approval where former mayor Dawn Zimmer agreed to a scaled-down NJ Transit redevelopment with no 20 plus story buildings.

Over the weekend, Councilman Peter Cunningham who also served as an ally with Bhalla for eight years on the council decried the mayor's recent actions for his lack of collaboration and flip-flop on the hotel. Last year Bhalla opposed the Hilton Hotel and then not a year later privately negotiated a taller hotel adding 20% more density. 

The deal was sweetened with several million dollars from the hotel developer to Hoboken non-profits, a formula some political observers expect will be used again to ram a secret agreement quickly through the city council.

NJ construction unions part of a Super PAC called Stronger Foundations backed Ravi Bhalla last year for mayor and are calling the NJ Transit redevelopment in Hoboken a win-win

Questions swirling around some of those construction unions suggest they may have decisively aided last year's Ravi Bhalla mayoral victory with 32% of the vote using the highly controversial and widely reported Ravi Bhalla terror flyer. Those rumors have lingered since last November's election and are rampant in City Hall, local government and law enforcement. 


Bhalla was a law partner in the law firm of Florio Perucci Steinhardt which counted NJ Transit as a client. He was conflicted as a result from participating on related matters on the City Council leading into last year's venomous mayoral election. As Hoboken mayor, he no longer faces those barriers.

The local 825 union touted the "success" of the LCOR NJ Transit Hoboken redevelopment plan last year on its website.

Talking Ed Note: Earlier this month, MSV warned the redevelopment template put forward by Mayor Ravi Bhalla would be cynically bringing the NJ Transit redevelopment to the Mile Square City in "How Ravi astroturfed Hoboken."

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "Today and Tomorrow in Hoboken!"

Official release:

 
Dear friends and neighbors:
 
Just wanted to push out to you a few more happenings around Hoboken this weekend.  A little of everything…  I am going to lead with two easy ways to be charitable and supportive in your own community:
 
DONATE SPORTS EQUIPMENT – Sunday 5-9pm – new and lightly used.
If you or your children have any equipment that either hasn’t been used or maybe just a couple of times and is still in great condition, bring it to the Hoboken little league field tomorrow from 5-9.  Or, if you are headed to Target or Walmart, just by something new.  Our neighbors are collecting these to send to the kids in Villalba Puerto Rico, a town and now a Hoboken Sister City, that was devastated by Hurricane Maria and is still rebuilding every day.  This is a super easy way to give.  The list of what they are looking for is below.   
 
 
 
Support Breast Cancer and HHS Class of 2019 today!  Powder Puff Football Game at Hoboken High.  12:00 Noon
Brings me back to my own High School experience.  Leaving to attend now!
Hoboken Harvest Festival – Today 11-4 at Pier A.  One of Hoboken’s best festivals of the year…
Just around the corner…First ever First Street Block Party – Today 11-4 on first between Willow and Park!  
 
32nd Annual Hoboken House Tour to benefit the Hoboken Historical Museum.  Sunday 10-4.
This is one of MY favorite events.  It is a great way to walk around the city with so many neighbors, peek inside some beautiful homes that you would not normally get to see, and support our precious Hoboken Museum.  Click picture for ticket info.
  
 
As always, if you have any further questions or want to discuss this or anything else, please feel free to call me at 201/208-1674 or email me.   Have a wonderful weekend!
 
TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
 
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”
 
PSS - Hotel detox and further City updates to come next...

Councilman Peter Cunningham blasts Mayor Ravi Bhalla for flip-flopping & lack of collaboration

Official release:

Dear Friends and Family, 

As many of you may have heard, the City Council voted 8-1 on Wednesday night to build a hotel at the site of the Post Office on the waterfront.  The press release below discusses the terms of the vote.  

I have been a huge proponent of the Hotel for many years, and have served with patience on this committee longer than any other council person. With the addition, over time, of supportive council members, Giattino, Fisher, and DeFusco the project finally gained momentum.  Although Councilman Bhalla was a member, he was not supportive and rarely attended committee meetings.    At times, it seemed he was there to stop the project most likely because Mayor Zimmer was not supportive.  Last year, Councilman Bhalla voted no on the hotel because it was too high.

Times have certainly changed!!  Over the last couple of months, the Mayor negotiated exclusively with the developer on a bigger hotel and $3 Million in cash for two nonprofits.  Actually, it was learned at our Council meeting that most, if not all, of the negotiating with the developer was not with the Mayor, but with his Chief and Deputy Chief of Staff.  Really?  Fortunately, as you all know from my last communication, the council committee then insisted on additional funding for affordable housing, our Charter Schools, infrastructure and an upfront payment for the Hoboken Community Center (the YMCA).

It is a shame that the Mayor refused to communicate and collaborate throughout the process.  I believe strongly that further negotiations could have increased the overall benefits of the hotel.  If the Mayor wasn't so reclusive and focused on self-aggrandizement, and worked productively with the council from the outset, fantastic things could have happened. 

In the end, I am very excited and pleased that the Mayor realized the importance of this project, but sadly, I think we understand its significance for different reasons.  The City has additional projects to complete, and I hope this is a lesson of how important it is that we work together for the benefit of Hoboken.  

Please read the following statement drafted by the Administration and City Council Subcommittee formed to collaborate with the Administration on this important project.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher on helping Hoboken business

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:
I have been working with the administration in a number of ways to come up with business supportive / pro-Hoboken events and in particular targeting the upcoming holiday season.  We are hoping to roll out some of these ideas in a couple of weeks.   We have seen our local businesses really suffer as a result of the challenging retail environment made worse by the prolonged Washington St. project.  So more to come... But until then something organic is happening - we are seeing our local businesses take matters into their own hands and I really hope you can go out and support their efforts!  Here are two that are up and coming:
TONIGHT:  The first Third Thursday event (say it 10 times fast...) that my uptown business neighbors have organized to encourage people to come out and shop a little later... I have heard often from people that they wished stores would be open later during the week, and tonight they are!  This is an initiative that we are looking to expand more broadly in Hoboken but tonight it starts uptown on Washington St. between 12th and 13th.  
 
SATURDAY - First ever First Street Block Party on first street between Willow and Park!  Shopping, art, music, food and good times!
 
I hope you can take the time to attend one or both of these events.  Even if you aren't looking to buy anything at that moment, make the trek out to tell your neighbors "I support you and if you succeed we all succeed!".  We are all in this together! 
As always, if you have any further questions or want to discuss this or anything else, please feel free to call me at 201/208-1674 or email me.  
TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
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PS - Hotel detox and further City updates to come next...