Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Grist for the Mill: Who gave the Hoboken approval to put Beth Mason on the HHA?

When word of the stunning appointment of the notorious Beth Mason to one of seven seats on the Hoboken Housing Authority board came, most reports focused only on the end of term outgoing governor.

Later MSV learned, State Senator Steve Sweeney was the impetus but he's not the representative of Hoboken, Brian Stack is.

The appointment reportedly had to be cleared through the sitting senator and mayor of Union City. The typical approval for a gubernatorial appointment then rests with the mayor of the operating municipality.

As the appointment was officially made last month, it would have reached the ears of Dawn Zimmer. She in turn may have noted her final days punting to Ravi Bhalla and suggest he give his approval.

If the approval came from the mayor-elect last month, what was the reaction to the idea of his and the City's long time nemesis being planted in the vote farming friendly confines of the Hoboken Housing Authority?

Add to the mix, the pointed battles and jabs between Ravi Bhalla and Beth Mason over the years. In 2010 they attacked each other on ethics allegations calling for their respective resignations. Some of the warring carried on for years in a proxy war and into his 2013 council race. Can you say ugly?

What deal could have been made to see Bhalla agree to put Beth Mason into the HHA?

Speaking of deals, who else is anticipating obtaining a job at City Hall? Well, that speaks to who you know and those who say they do point to a deal for someone who ran for mayor last June.

Second council meeting of the year is slated for tonight. While City Hall security upgrades are up for a vote, the only questions may seek answers for the overall cost and effectiveness. More importantly, there are already questions about the early hires compared to the Zimmer administration. It's gone beyond the previous one with two aides to the mayor: John Allen and Jason Freeman. That's one body beyond what the norm has been for eight years or more.

In addition, no matter how you slice it; that cost is way beyond the first term in last administration, less than 40K. Here it's likely more than four times that with Jason Freeman brought in at $85,000 and John Allen higher but at an unknown cost. Don't ask for an answer; it's a national security secret.

The City Council however is likely to question it as soon as tonight.

As for City Hall, questions on who in the Mile Square City gave the green light to see Beth Mason put into the belly of the beast in the HHA returned nothing but crickets. Funny how a couple of well posed questions causes the vault to shut. A zebra has never been so silent.

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.


Official release:


Mayor Ravinder S. Bhalla is announcing the formation of the Mayor's Task Force on Public Safety to address violence and quality of life issues resulting from intoxicated bar patrons. The task force includes Police Chief Ferrante, Provisional Fire Chief Crimmins, Police Capt. Pasculli, Police Sgt. Kucz, Police Sgt. Montanez, Health Officer Frank Sasso, Battalion Fire Chief Buoncuore, Fire Captain DiVincent, Business Administrator Marks, Corporation Counsel Aloia, and Environmental Services Director Pellegrini. 

"We can no longer ignore the fact that a small number of establishments are creating a big problem for everyone else in the form of violence, property damage, and financial cost,” said Mayor Ravinder S. Bhalla. “When a person comes from out of town and spits in the face of our officers, as has happened numerous times, that is unacceptable. When an officer is assaulted by an inebriated patron and receives a concussion, as happened to Officer Lombardi on Christmas Eve, I will not allow the status quo to continue.”

·         In 2017, there were 277 ABC violations by liquor license holders.
·         Of 133 liquor license holders, more than half received zero Tavern sheets in 2017 and more than ¾ received two or fewer Tavern sheets.
·         Half of all violations in 2017 were issued to just 11 establishments (8% of license holders).
·         Since August 2017, 15 police officers have been attacked, the majority occurring late at night by intoxicated patrons.
·         On SantaCon, 17 bars received Tavern sheets, while the remaining 87% of establishments were not issued violations.

"The Mayor’s creation of this task force is not about hurting the bar and restaurant industry in town," said Police Chief Ken Ferrante. "This task force is going to take a deep look into incidents, events, and problem bars that are contributing to a decay of our city's quality of life, causing injuries to our residents, visitors, and police officers, and hurting most of the businesses in town, including a majority of our bars and restaurants. The disruption that SantaCon brought to this great city, its residents, and business owners the week before Christmas and during Hanukkah, just so 10 to 15 percent of our bars can profit, is unacceptable!"

"I fully support this task force as a means to develop policies that protect public safety," said Provisional Fire Chief Brian Crimmins. "I look forward to working with Mayor Bhalla, Chief Ferrante, and community leaders to achieve this goal."

Police Officer and past president of the Hoboken PBA Vincent Lombardi, who suffered a concussion from an assault by an inebriated patron on Christmas Eve, supported the Task Force’s efforts, stating, "The escalation of disorderly and violent behavior by inebriated bar patrons against police officers, of which I am a recent victim, has spawned into a quality of life crisis. I welcome and fully support Mayor Bhalla’s decision in addressing this ugly trend for the sake of officer safety and serenity within our city."

The first step in the Task Force's efforts, based on the recommendation of the Hoboken Fire Department, is to increase the fines levied for overcrowding and other imminent hazards during all high-volume events to the maximum amount permitted by the Uniform Fire Code Statutes and Regulations. Fines for non-compliance will increase to $2,500 for a first offense and $5,000 for subsequent offenses. Additional steps will be taken by the Task Force in the coming weeks.

“At Little City Books we are grateful to Mayor Bhalla for addressing this issue,” said co-owner Kate Jacobs. “On the corner of 1st and Bloomfield, we are surrounded by bars that are generally very good neighbors, keeping our surrounding blocks lively. The ‘Cons,’ however, are severely damaging to the success of our business --  especially SantaCon which occurs on a Saturday before Christmas, a critical day for a low-profit margin business like a bookstore, which should be our most profitable day of the year. On the ‘Con’ days, our staff is harassed and intimidated by drunk people and we have always had to close early, with business down by about 40 percent. Our store is a destination for families with children, and no one brings children into that neighborhood when it is so out of control and vile from morning until night. Curbing the excesses of the ‘Cons’ would be a great thing for our business, for the residents of Hoboken, and for the reputation of the town.”