Monday, July 22, 2019

The Summer Grist: How much for that city employee to campaign for me?

The summer grist is chewy and the nights are easy in the Mile Square City. It's July but there's no break in the action. Even a blast of summer heat over the weekend doesn't slow Hoboken politics.

In the fifth ward, council candidate Phil Cohen will face opposition but in the meantime, he's fighting on Twitter for a dead relic - protected bike lanes on Washington St. Councilwoman Tiffanie replied to him on her Twitter thread she won't be wasting over $10 million of work on Hoboken's main street to revisit protected bike lanes which don't meet minimum federal guidelines.

There's not enough width available for protected bike lanes unless you empty out the entirety of Washington Street of cars, knock down the buildings and rebuild the main drag wider. Businesses have paid dearly for the delays in the reconstruction project.

Is Mayor Ravi Bhalla planning a stealth Washington St. reconstruction plan that would do further harm to Hoboken's beleaguered business community and disruption on the Mile Square Main Street?

Last week, the City Council held a special meeting to complete outstanding business. One of the items was an ethics reform ordinance co-sponsored by council members Mike DeFusco and Tiffanie Fisher. The proposal seeks to formalize the common-sense notion City employees should not be using taxpayers resources such as computers and equipment for political work during the day on taxpayer time.

The common-sense reform is venomously opposed by Ravi Bhalla's mayor's office. Numerous political operations directed at City Council members and reported exclusively here point to Bhalla's staff acting as nasty political operatives even launching filthy race-baiting attacks at the council during its meetings.

They won't have Big Brother standing over them, only the moral authority of the people so they don't conduct political operations with Hoboken taxpayer money which they apparently indulge online during the day. Et tu Vijay Chaudhuri, John Allen and Jason Freeman?

Who can explain to Ravi Bhalla's staff what public service means?

Vijay Chaudhuri (l) with Councilwoman Emily Jabbour, John Allen, and Jason Freeman.
Forging ahead with political activities out of City Hall on the taxpayer dime?

Both Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour are the lone opponents for the common-sense good government reform in a 7-2 council landslide vote. In addition, there's a mayor's office employee running for political office in the first ward. That's not lost on Mike DeFusco who gains on every front with the reform effort.

Over the weekend, more chatter about the popular e-Scooter program. Changes to the pilot approved in April have seen driver license identification added to registration and abuses have declined in recent weeks. The addition of tags stating children are not allowed to use the motorized devices help but out of towners visiting are less prone to follow the rules and not ride on the sidewalk.

The City Council is pushing for further modifications on safety, education, and revenues for the City. The Bhalla Administration greeted the request icily and says that's underway. Most of their public effort, however, has been in pushing for a non-binding November referendum for political purposes. They desperately need low information voters to support a council ticket this November where almost to a person none have contributed on any Hoboken government issue in their lives. Short of another unclaimed Ravi Terror Flyer, they don't see how to get those low information voters to the polls for their candidates. The City Council crushed the non-binding referendum request not once but twice.

City Council President Jen Giattino launches
her re-election bid tonight at Moran's.

City Council President Jen Giattino will formally launch her re-election bid tonight. Her whirlwind efforts in the past saw her eliminate an incumbent and then the notorious Carmelo Garcia in 2015. The linchpin of reform and good government with a sterling record on and off the council is the beacon of the Reform Movement with Councilman Peter Cunningham departing.

Did Giattio pick up petitions for the first, fourth and fifth wards? A year ago, the ever-transitioning challenged Lindalou Numberscruncher and Bhalla's paid political operative online told everyone Giattino with Cunningham and Fisher took orders from Mike DeFusco and Ruben Ramos on the council. That Big Lie failure morphed to predictions by Bhalla campaign and paid political operatives a ticket of the five would form for November. Caught once again in lies, they continue to repeat them over and over. It's the usual shamelessness Hoboken thought died with Hoboken411.

They're pouring on the bile to cover up being caught dead to rights and show no sign of decency. Being publicly wrong never stops some from further lying to the public. Sad!

Grist for the Mill is MSV's rumor column but its success makes it the most popular column in all the Mile Square City. Have a tasty carrot for Horsey? Send it to and be assured your confidentiality is protected with MSV's State of NJ Shield Law protections upheld repeatedly in Hudson County Superior Court.

City Council President Jen Giattino: REMINDER: Join me tonight at Moran's

Official release:


Dear friends and neighbors,

Please join me tonight for my Re-election Kickoff. I guarantee cooler temperatures and refreshing drinks!

Time:  6-8pm 
Click here to RSVP

The more the merrier, so bring your friends and neighbors!


Friday, July 19, 2019

Councilman Ruben Ramos: "PSEG Work 7/26-7/28 and Flooding"

Official release:

Dear friends,

I want to give you a heads up on work PSE&G will be doing next weekend (26th – 28th) that I expect will create significant traffic challenges in Southwest Hoboken.  If you have weekend travel plans or activities you may want to consider that the project is expected to begin at 6pm Friday night and end at 6pm Sunday evening and plan accordingly.  Please see below the message from PSEG:

As part of PSE&G’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its electric system infrastructure, on Friday, July 26, 2019, we will begin 48-hour underground construction at Paterson Avenue in Hoboken, between the Light Rail tracks and Marshall Street. This work is scheduled to start on Friday, July 26, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. and proceed continuously until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 28.

Traffic Impact:
For the duration of the project, the two westbound lanes on Paterson Avenue will be closed. The eastbound lanes will handle single lane traffic in each direction. 

Please be aware there will be some unavoidable sound connected to construction activities. Also, there are no planned electric service outages associated with this project.

We remind you to refrain from going on or near our construction site and ensure all pets and children are not within the PSE&G work zone.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we improve electric service and reliability in your area. If you have any questions, call our Project Hotline at 1-800-901-5035.

Last Night's Rain and Flooding

Twenty years ago a storm like we saw last night would have paralyzed Southwest Hoboken.   We have come a long way since then with significant investments in our water and sewer infrastructure and we will continue to make them.  I have always advocated for flood mitigation efforts dating back to the early 2000's when I supported the NHSA's efforts to develop a flood pump plan.  Since then, I sponsored legislation while I served in the NJ Assembly to create low interest loans post Hurricane Sandy to help communities like Hoboken make needed infrastructure improvements.  I have continued to support our own Hoboken resliency initiatives including the Southwest Resiliency Park, the 7th and Jackson Resiliency Park, and the to be built Northwest Resiliency Park.  We have made a lot of headway, but we still need further investments including the NHSA expanding their capacity and developers making infrastructure investment a priority community giveback in all developments.  This is a problem we can solve if we all work together.   

Please share this with everyone you think might be interested in or affected by this information.  And don’t hesitate to reach out to me at any time to discuss this or any matter that is important to you.   I hope you are enjoying your summer and finding ways to stay !   


Ruben Ramos

Hoboken City Council, 4th Ward

Councilman Mike DeFusco 'summer updates'

Official release:

I hope you and your family are enjoying summer and staying cool and dry.  With a special City Council meeting happening tonight, I wanted to quickly update you on what's been going on in and around Hoboken.... 
I’ve spoken to many of you over the past two months about Hoboken’s eScooter pilot program and it's abundantly clear a rushed roll-out by the mayor has resulted in serious safety concerns. Though I believe eScooters have the ability to revolutionize micro-mobility in Hoboken and am proud to have advocated for this trial program, public safety changes need to be made for eScooters to work. 

Last week, the mayor proposed a non-binding referendum, which would have held no other purpose than to politicize an already controversial issue.  Kicking the can and delaying action now is not going address the immediate safety concerns that are pressing the city today.   I’ve already passed a law on the Council to increase fines for offenders and worked with the City to geofence and reduce speeds along our waterfront, but enforcement still remains an issue.   So, at tonight’s City Council meeting I am sponsoring a resolution requesting the mayor to immediately begin renegotiating sustainable contracts with our eScooter vendors to ensure the providers cover the cost of safety enforcement.  The City needs to be collecting our fair share of revenue for us to promote rider safety through education and assist our hardworking public safety professionals by contributing funds directly to the police department. Starting early with these negotiations is the only way we can properly address the issues faced by the program and decide how to best proceed moving forward. 

In our form of government, the mayor has sole authority to negotiate contracts, with the City Council approving them. As always, the Council is looking to work with Mayor Bhalla and we trust that he’ll send down a better and safer deal for us to vote on as soon as possible. 
Click here to read my interview with The Wall Street Journal on the impact of eScooters

Last month I was proud to support a City budget that put politics aside and Hoboken residents first.  In doing so, we prevented an astronomical tax increase while still making investments in our infrastructure and city services. Checks and balances in any form of government are essential to hold those in office accountable, even when it’s not easy and requires standing up to the mayor to get there. So at tonight’s City Council meeting, I will be sponsoring a comprehensive ethics reform law that will ensure taxpayer funded resources are being used responsibly

Politics should never be permitted to run out of City Hall which is why it’s concerning that our current law allows for city owned computers, phones and other taxpayer funded services to be used for personal and political gain.  The law I am introducing tonight prevents anyone, including myself, from using City Hall resources for anything other than official City business.  Those who work for the taxpayers should be focused on providing the best possible services for all of Hoboken, not advancing their political careers. 

I’ve always fought to make our local government more transparent and, quite frankly, strengthening our dated ethics laws is personal for me. The mayor has handpicked his own aide, a City Hall insider, to run against me for Council and we’ve already seen this administration abuse the power of executive office. For example, Hoboken residents subscribe to our Nixel alert system to receive emergency alerts -- like last night’s severe storms. Instead, the mayor has used this important communications platform to take cheap political shots at those who have the courage and confidence to speak up and push the administration to do better. 

Now is our chance to take a stand against the misuse of taxpayer dollars and I hope you will join me in supporting this reform to begin restoring a sense of accountability to City Hall. Hoboken deserves leaders who aren’t afraid to speak power to truth and that is exactly why I am continuing the push to make our local government operate more transparently and efficiently. 

The First Ward’s long-overdue dog run is finally open at the municipal garage on Hudson Street between 1st and 2nd.  As a dog owner myself, I’ve spent the past four years advocating to bring more parks like this to Hoboken to keep our city clean and create a more pet-friendly community. Not only is this the first dog run in our ward, but it’s also the first city-owned dog park to have an all turf surface. 

When I began advocating to build this park two years ago, I proposed commissioning a mural for the side of the garage to beautify the rusting parking structure. Now that we’ve accomplished the dog run we need to continue activating underutilized space in Hoboken. With the new arts commission forming, I’m excited to continue engaging local artists and hope to soon activate this piece of municipal property. Let me know what you would like to see painted there!
A conceptual rendering of a proposed mural over our new downtown dog run on Hudson Street


This Fourth of July I enjoyed watching the Macy’s Fireworks in Manhattan, but as the sky lit up over the East River I couldn’t help but fondly remember when Hoboken had a front row seat to a spectacular show. The day once brought visitors from across the tristate area to our city, helping boost sales for local businesses and adding to our cultural cache.

Tonight, I will be introducing a resolution outlining a plan for Hoboken to engage Macy's, Jersey City, New York City and other public and private sponsors to bring a fireworks display back to the Hoboken waterfront next year at minimal or no cost to taxpayers. 


On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of bringing my good friend and renowned cellist Daniel Lelchuk to Hoboken to perform at Columbian Towers, an affordable senior living community in my district, the First Ward. Embracing the arts in Hoboken is essential to create a diverse community and it’s important for us to include people from all walks of life and backgrounds in culturally enriching programs.

Daniel is the assistant Principal cellist of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the seniors really enjoyed learning some of the history behind the classical works. I’m looking forward to bringing more quality music and arts to our seniors and entire city in the years ahead.
As our campaign to keep bringing new energy and new ideas to Hoboken starts heating up ahead of the November City Council elections, I am so grateful for your continued friendship, support and engagement in making the Mile Square a better place. Our campaign has always been a grassroots effort to bring the positive change to Hoboken our city desperately needs.

Whether you’ve supported me in the past or like the fresh energy I have brought to local government, I hope we can continue working together to further the progress we’ve already made in building a better Hoboken. If you’re interested in getting involved in our campaign, please let me know!

As always, should you ever need anything feel free to email me at or call my cell directly at 646.372.4341.
Your Councilman,
Mike DeFusco
Hoboken City Councilman

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Frank Raia announces fight to overturn voter fraud conviction

Announcing his intent to file a motion to overturn his conviction in the Hoboken voter fraud case, Frank Raia will seek to set aside the jury verdict or a new trial.

Raia's defense counsel filed his intent to seek a new trial with the Federal District Court in Newark on July 9th after a jury convicted him for leading a conspiracy with others in a massive bribery pay-for-votes scheme in Hoboken with Vote by Mail ballots and the mail.

According to confessions at trial, Raia directed a group of supporters who sought out Hoboken residents in subsidized housing paying hundreds of those residents $50 each for their votes. 

In the motion notice, defense counsel Alan Zegas indicated he will seek his client's acquittal or alternatively a new trial. Three points alleged the jury verdict is against the weight of evidence at trial, court rulings hindered due process and further grounds determined by counsel.

Zegas requested 30 days to file the corresponding motion. Raia will be sentenced in the same federal court on October 3rd. He faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Back on June 25th, Raia, a Hoboken political heavyweight who aspired to one day be mayor of the Mile Square City was convicted for VBM fraud in the 2013 municipal election where he was also a council candidate on the "One Hoboken" ticket.  

A ballot question seeking to loosen rent control in Hoboken was also a target of Raia's efforts according to government witnesses who testified at trial including Beth Mason's former longtime political operative employee, Matt Calicchio.

One of a more than a dozen Raia supporters in the hallway spoke on his phone saying minutes before the verdict, "Matt stabbed Frank in the back." 

Raia's conviction came after about a day of jury deliberations in a weeklong trial, first reported here on 

Testimony at trial and an earlier guilty plea entered last January for illegal VBM activities by a resident of Fox Hill Gardens in the 2015 Hoboken election suggests the federal investigation into voter fraud in the Mile Square City is continuing. 

The controversial 2017 Hoboken election is also thought under scrutiny. A racist terror flyer was deployed several days before that election feigning an appeal to Hoboken voters against then-mayoral candidate Ravi Bhalla. 

Frank Raia and his "One Hoboken" slate backer former councilwoman Beth Mason as seen in this
2013 photo.

Related: The exclusive feature back in early March, "The Feds are everywhere." 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Formulating new political attacks, hey brother, can you spare the time?

For many in Hoboken it's the sound of the waves at the shore, ice cream and time to enjoy the summer weather.

For Mayor Ravi Bhalla and his coterie of political operatives, it's showtime. The show is their latest telephone poll targeting City Council President Jen Giattino for termination in November. 

Will we see a rerun of the hyperpartisanship, street flyers and Ravi Bhalla announcing his ticket will stand up to anyone in the country enforcing US law?

The political telephone poll is morphing, up next: Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher.

The poll questions appear loaded to define best methods for upcoming negative campaign attacks out of the mayor's office. Some of the less than typical questions oddly involve union involvement. 

In 2017, Ravi Bhalla was greatly aided by the construction unions group Stronger Foundations. At a minimum, their $85,000 investment with TV ads on Fox and ESPN played a role in his 32% election night victory.

It's another example of how Hoboken's pay to play laws are inadequate to the overwhelming might of big special interest money with a huge redevelopment project laying in the weeds: NJ Transit.

Putting that all aside, it's unclear if sufficient polling data in any of the wards is obtainable. Don't bet it will not lead to an avalanche of negative campaigning from Ravi Bhalla and his council ticket this fall.

Hoboken should brace for another round of Ravi Bhalla politics as noted by this Horse in 2017:

Talking Ed Note: There's been no denials from Ravi Bhalla nor his former campaign and City Hall communications manager about the illicit raid on the Hudson Tea Building.

Residents continue to talk about his trespassing and then the enforced rule on disturbing the peace. Laws are for the little people.

The rest of this story is premium content and will go out via email to members later today. Last call! 


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Dozens come for a midsummer night's dream for Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher's re-election kickoff

More than 70 people came to the Madison last night for the Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher re-election kickoff.

A very nice turnout for a midsummer night's dream but mere steps away, report of a nightmare ensuing at her Hudson Tea Building buzzed the event.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher took the center of the floor to address a crowd surrounding her at the Madison last night.
Reports say Mayor Ravi Bhalla went to campaign against her at her building against the condo rules and was thrown out. 

Arrivals during the event reported Mayor Ravi Bhalla was inside the building knocking on doors to elicit support for Fisher's opponent and against the rules of the condo association.

Word of the illegal activity being investigated and not ten minutes later, new arrivals said Ravi Bhalla was then seen outside the building, apparently thrown out.

Back at the Madison, Councilwoman Fisher offered remarks on her first term and the successes of the City Council. One she highlighted with some pride, the newly updated Suez water contract which she said would save Hoboken residents $30 million over the previous one.

The crowd reflected a cross-section of Hoboken and a majority of the City Council was in the room at one point or another. Among the current members: City Council President Jen Giattino, First Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, Fourth Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, and Councilwoman at-large Vanessa Falco.

Quite a strong statement reflecting this current council's ability to work together on approving the vast majority of the Bhalla Administration's agenda and often, improving on it before passage.

Other notables in attendance: former council members Dave Mello, Carol Marsh, Hobokenite of the Year winner and former BOE trustee Irene Sobolov, former Hoboken Housing Authority commissioner David Denning and 2015 second ward council candidate Bonnie Murray.

Update: Councilman Peter Cunningham is at the Jersey Shore and missed the Fisher Kickoff but offered, "As I wrote a few days ago, I entrust the legacy of good government to Tiffanie Fisher and Jen Giattino. That's not going to change although I'm out of town and missed last night's event."

Of Ravi Bhalla's operative Nancy Pincus alleging in her usual conclusive certainty without ever speaking to him, he blew off the event last night Cunningham added, "I guess I should be surprised as I haven't spoken to her (Pincus) but I'm not."

Talking Ed Note: Bhalla communications and former campaign manager Vijay Chaudhuri was contacted about the Hudson Tea Building incident. If a response becomes available, this story will be updated.

Reports also are coming in of a new telephone poll. It has the odor of another Ravi Bhalla funded effort clearly targeting Jen Giattino.

Contrary to propaganda and erroneous efforts from Ravi Bhalla campaign operatives, there is no ticket with Fisher and her council colleagues. There's no fusion ticket, no fusion ticket, no fusion ticket no matter how many times they keep issuing misinformation to the public.

Al Sullivan in the Hudson Reporter had a good column over the weekend but it noted a fusion ticket led by Peter Cunningham. Unfortunately, that claim went down in flames after reported an official release from the 12-year councilman he would not be seeking a fourth term a day earlier.

There's no ticket but the Reform and good government movement live on with good efforts of many.

You'll hear lots of sewer propaganda in a continuous stream of lies in addition to the above-failed one going back months because real Dark Side activities pushing for higher taxes and anti-Semite board appointments come from Ravi Bhalla and his paid political operative. 


Related: Blowing the whistle on Ravi Bhalla earlier this year. You're welcome Hoboken!

Correction: Over 70 folks as it turns out logged in for the Fisher kickoff. The earlier incorrect figure of more than 50 was an estimate.

Councilman Mike DeFusco Brings Renowned Cellist Daniel Lelchuk to Hoboken Senior Building

Official release:

Councilman Mike DeFusco will be sponsoring an evening of music for Hoboken seniors on Tuesday with a performance by renowned cellist Daniel Lelchuk. Lelchuk, a Washington Post featured musician, is the Assistant Principal cellist of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and has performed at prestigious recitals around the world. 
“Embracing the arts in Hoboken is essential to creating a diverse community that encourages makers and creators to invest in our city,” said Councilman DeFusco. “Daniel Lelchuk is a friend and incredible musician who shares in my vision to provide quality music to people from all walks of life and backgrounds. This free event will give our seniors the opportunity to come together for a relaxing evening and I look forward to seeing many of you there.”
WHO: Councilman Mike DeFusco, Daniel Lelchuk, and Hoboken seniors 
WHAT: A performance by cellist Daniel Lelchuk
WHERE: 76 Bloomfield Street, Hoboken 
WHEN: Tuesday, July 16, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Former Councilman Dave Mello reflects on serving with Peter Cunningham

This guest piece comes courtesy of Hoboken Housing Authority Chairman & former City Councilman Dave Mello

I was sad to have just read that my friend and former Hoboken City Council colleague Peter Cunningham will not be seeking a fourth term as the Fifth Ward's City Councilman. I do, however, admire and understand his reasons for not seeking another term.
If I had to select the Council colleague who I most admired, it would be Peter. Peter was ALWAYS open to considering stances on issues that I was passionate about, even if they didn't affect him and his neighbors. Whether it be expanded park space #WestOfWillow, the need to retain more families, or the need to put more dollars towards our water main infrastructure, Peter was always a colleague you could count on to consider your point-of-view, to never be dismissive of an argument, and to lend his unwavering support to a policy fight once he was convinced it was the right way to go.
Peter's leadership around the City's finances was second to none. Political achievement is always a team effort, but Peter was the quarterback, star running back, and fleet-footed wide receiver all rolled up into one, when it came to the team effort to right our City's financial ship. He was the clear MVP of that effort, and all of Hoboken should be grateful for his leadership. Whenever residents read a press release about Hoboken's strong bond rating or reflect back on the former stability of our municipal budget they should remember that it was Peter who led our City to these financial victories. Thank you, Peter!
Peter was also a great friend to the Hoboken Housing Authority and to the Fox Hill community. He brought a lovely garden to Fox Hill, that just this week HHA leaders were telling me remains extremely popular with residents who are always eager to prep their next planting. Again, thank you, Peter!!
I used to kid Peter that serving with him was like having a big brother on the Council; always ready to help, always willing to show you the ropes of local government, and always willing to punch you in the gut if you were acting like an ass or going the wrong way in a political fight! Peter is just that type of tough-love colleague; as great of a colleague as anyone could have. Thank you for that!!!
Since I don't want to "gas him up" anymore (as my students would say), I'll end with this: 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher Campaign Kickoff Monday @ the Madison 6:30 - 8:00

Official release:

Dear neighbors, family, and friends, 
Happy Friday and Happy 25th Anniversary to me – on this date 25 years today, I moved to Hoboken!  What an incredible adventure it has been since then when at 26, I lived in a 4th floor walk-up on Monroe St. between 1st and Newark and worked a zillion hours a week at an Investment Bank in New York.  And now, at the age of 51, with a few more gray hairs and still working many hours per week only now for Hoboken, I wiIl be hosting a Campaign Kick-off Event for re-election to a second term on Hoboken’s City Council as the 2nd Ward representative.  Please RSVP here (FB event) or email me.
Whether you live in the 2nd Ward or elsewhere, please come out on what looks to be a gorgeous summer evening to help me celebrate these milestones.  Drinks and snacks are on me including my single favorite summertime drink - Pimm’s and Lemonade.  And I have a special guest who will be introducing me that night… J
Nominating Petitions
As you probably know, in order to get on the ballot, I need to have nominating petitions signed by 1% of the registered voters in the 2nd Ward.  Last time it required 63 but I was able to get almost 300.  And this time the 2nd Ward grew so much I need 75!  If you are a registered voter in the 2nd ward (click HERE to see boundaries), I would be so honored to have a nominating petition from you – it just requires a signature and an address.  
If you would like to help me get on the ballot, I can bring one to you or you can print the attached and sign and I will come to you to pick up!  Here are some important links to help you with your voter registration if you need to make any changes:
  • Am I registered? - Click HERE
  • Voter registration form - Click HERE
  • Register to Vote By Mail - Click HERE
Special Improvement District
After 2 1/2 hours of discussion at the City Council meeting, the City Council passed an ordinance to establish a city wide Special Improvement District to be called Hoboken Business Alliance.  This is a historic step for Hoboken and resets the trajectory of our business community and local economy.  You know how you hear about all of the improvements going on with businesses in Jersey City?  They are all through SID’s.  I have been working for over 2 years on this and am so proud of all those involved who helped get it to this point.  Some familiar faces were appointed to be the incorporating officers for the new SID – Armando Luis (La Isla and Sparrow Wine), Eugene Flinn (Amanda’s, Elysian Café and Alfalfa), and Donna Garban (Little City Books) and will be leading voices in this initiative.  
Maybe More Open Space & Historic Preservation
In November when you go to the polls there will be two ballot questions for Open Space – one that expands the definition of use to include Historic Preservation and would increase the assessment from $.02 to $.03 per assessed value and the second one that would allow more of the funds to be used for park development (currently limited to 25%).  
Future of EScooters on the Waterfront Walkway
The City Council passed on first reading the ordinance that I sponsored to ban EScooters from our waterfront walkway.  This measure will require City Council approval on second reading in August and approval by the mayor before it can go into effect.  For those unaware, OJO scooters – the ones you sit down on – have announced a self-ban of their scooters on our waterfront walkway. 
Earlier Sunday Morning Cocktails
Good news for some. That Sunday morning Bellini or Bloody Mary can now be had an hour earlier at 10:00 am!
Clinton St. Bike Lane PILOT
This was pulled from the agenda by Councilman Russo, the Chair of the Parking and Transportation committee, to bring back to committee before re-introduction at the next meeting. 
Plastic Bag Ban means All Plastic Bags (and also Styrofoam Containers)
You know those extra thick plastic bags certain retailers are handing out saying they are “reusable”.  Well, soon to be no more.  The council voted unanimously in favor to include all plastic carry out bags in the ban.  Additionally, the ban has been expanded to also include the use and sale of certain single service Expanded Polystyrene (Styrofoam) containers and what is commonly known as packing peanuts.  
Nothing specific other than we expect that the Mayor will be presenting a settlement proposal to the City Council soon.  His office is in the process of setting up some meetings with residents and the City Council to discuss in more detail.  As you know, I have previously taken the position that I have a conflict that keeps me from voting on any proposed settlement given the outcome may affect my view.  There are certain circumstances that may actually allow me to vote given that when I originally ran for office, I ran and was elected on a platform that included fighting against the proposed Monarch.  I won’t know until early fall, but will let everyone know.  That said, just know that I have and will continue to advocate - both as your neighbor and your elected representative -  for a completed public waterfront including the Monarch site and the former Union Dry Dock site.
Special Council Meeting Thursday July 18th at 7pm
Our City Council meeting was long on Wednesday night and we did not get a chance to vote on certain pieces of legislation so we are having a special meeting next Thursday at 7pm to do so.  These include, among others, a resolution on Car Free Sundays on Sinatra Drive, updating our Ethics Ordinance Chapter 29 to Prohibit Politicking on Public Property (including Nixle…), and amendments to the Northwest and Western Edge Redevelopment Plans. 
Peter Cunningham Not Running for Re-Election
Today I was saddened to read that Councilman Peter Cunningham has decided not to run for re-election.  To say that this is a loss for Hoboken is an understatement.  He leaves big shoes to fill.  If you haven't yet read, I would encourage you to read his email he sent this morning.  Councilwoman Giattino and I put out this statement earlier today that reflects our sentiment.  
Councilwomen Giattino and Fisher React to Cunningham Decision Not to Seek New Term, Praise Longtime Colleague
HOBOKEN, NJ -- Hoboken 5th Ward City Council member Peter Cunningham has announced that he will not be seeking re-election this November following three terms on the City Council. Councilwomen Tiffanie Fisher and Jen Giattino, both longtime colleagues and friends of Councilman Cunningham, praised him as a strong, independent voice on the council who has advocated for efficiency, competence and transparency in city government. 
“I first met Peter in 2009, when he was organizing the uptown farmers market and he was the first person to encourage me to run for city council in 2011,” said Councilwoman Jen Giattino. Peter was a true reformer, who was the mastermind behind getting the city’s finances in order. No matter the issue, Peter has always done what he believed was best for the city.  It will be a great loss for Hoboken to no longer have his independent voice on the city council.”
Not only was Councilman Cunningham the first to suggest Giattino run in 2011, but he also joined others including then-Mayor Dawn Zimmer to encourage Fisher to run in 2015.
 “Peter has been the sage, the voice of reason on all decisions we have made on the Council,” said Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher. “At the core of his decision making, and what I respect most about his leadership, is his commitment to always doing what was best for Hoboken and his 5th Ward neighbors. Peter’s judgment and independent voice have had positive impacts on our community and will be missed. I will work hard to continue his legacy of reform, good government and unconditional commitment to Hoboken. I am grateful for his continuing friendship and support and wish he and his family all the best.”
The silver lining of this is that I am hopeful that others within our community who may want to get more involved but didn’t see a pathway will see this as an opportunity to run for office.  If you are that person or you know anyone who lives in the 5th ward, let me know!  Right now there is only one person running and democracy demands that we have choices!
As always, please forward to anyone you think may be interested in this.  And don’t hesitate to email me or call at 201/208-1674 to discuss this or anything else important to you.  Thank you for reading and I hope to see you Monday night at 630 at the Madison Bar and Grill for my Kick-Off event!  

Friday, July 12, 2019

Councilman Peter Cunningham: 'I took on corruption; now it's time after 12 years for someone new'

Official release:

Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

I was elected to the Hoboken City Council on June 2007 at a time of tremendous change in our Mile Square City.  We launched an exciting period of reform and transitioned from the old days of corruption and mismanagement. Dawn Zimmer fought two runoffs in the summer and Fall of 2007, and, as a new member of City Council, I led the reform efforts legislatively in what turned out to be the beginning of the most amazing time in Hoboken’s local government history.  In 2009, as City Council President, we instituted unprecedented financial and economic reform in Hoboken City government. 

I understood that corruption had the potential to ruin our City.  The primary examples included a Director and a Mayor going off to jail, and a Councilman caught on tape willing to accept a bribe.  We went from State Supervision to attaining one of the top credit ratings in New Jersey.  We financed critical projects to support our infrastructure and build parks.  As Chair of the Revenue and Finance Committee of the Council working closely with Mayor Zimmer’s appointments I selected, we built a solid, sustainable financial infrastructure.  My experience in and knowledge of best practices in public finance was critical to these efforts. 

I am also proud of the difficult campaigns for new Council members and the continuing re-elections of Mayor Zimmer.  These were hard-fought races which insured that reform efforts were not only temporary but a lasting foundation for good government in Hoboken.  Of particular pride is the appointment of our Zoning Board and its leadership in responsibly examining all aspects of development.  Other proud moments include saving our hospital and the community garden built at Fox Hill Gardens by the efforts of our broad 5th Ward community two years ago.  

Twelve years is a good long time to serve on City Council, and I am more than proud of my accomplishments.  I can say, from my perspective, I have made this City proud of who it was, who it is today, and who it will be into the future.  With that being said and after careful thought with family and friends, I have decided to not run for re-election this year.  I must now devote increased time to my professional life and more importantly, my responsibilities as a husband and a father.  I entrust my legacy to my council colleagues Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher.  We need to stay grounded in the foundation of reform initiated twelve years ago and remain committed to good government.  Politics is always inherent to the process, but healthy debates about policy should always be respected and encouraged.   

As you can see, I am not “anointing” the next 5th Ward Councilperson which was done by the previous Mayor.  While some close friends believe I should, it would be hypocritical.  I believe a strong, independent candidate will emerge, and I look forward to working hard to ensure his or her election.   

I look forward to hearing from you as the democratic process begins right here, right now with you.  Please be sure to circulate to all your friends and neighbors, and let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks, Peter

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Sign of the Times: The Mikie Dilemma

Councilman Michael Russo, an unannounced anticipated third ward council candidate for re-election in 2019 is surrounded with magical numbers.

In 2015, his campaign reports state he loaned his unopposed re-election bid $15,000. It appears that the full amount was utilized to fund over 240 "campaign workers" during that election, mostly at $50 per pop.

All but 20 of those alleged campaign workers voted by mail in a remarkable similarity to the $15,000 check Frank Raia paid out for similar activities in 2013.

It's a Sign of the Times.

Talking Ed Note: Last night, Councilman Russo flipped his vote rejoining Ravi Bhalla's efforts for a non-binding November referendum on e-Scooters. The measure again utterly failed in a 6-3 vote and is maybe one of the last significant votes in the Ravi-Russo Alliance. That's for another day.

The big July summer issue went out to premium members by email yesterday. If you didn't receive yours for any reason drop a note to

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Councilman DeFusco pushes ethics reform halting political campaigning on taxpayer time

Official release:

Councilman DeFusco to Introduce Sweeping Ethics Reform Proposal 
Councilman Mike DeFusco will be introducing a comprehensive new ethics reform proposal during Wednesday’s City Council meeting to ensure taxpayer money and resources are not being misused for personal or political gain. The ordinance, co-sponsored by Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, will bar any public official from using the city’s Nixel alert system to promote a political agenda and will create additional oversight to prevent city employees from performing political campaigning activities during working hours. 
“Misusing taxpayer-funded government resources not only wastes taxpayers’ money, it compromises the integrity of our democracy,” said Councilman DeFusco. “Our city government and employees should be exclusively focused on delivering the best, most efficient services possible for our residents, not on political advancement. This legislation is essential to begin restoring a sense of accountability in our city government and it will help all residents have confidence that every one of their tax dollars is being used properly and responsibly.” 

Councilwoman Jen Giattino: "Join me at my Re-election Kickoff July 22"

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors,
I am excited to announce that I will be running run for a new term to continue representing the 6th Ward in November’s City Council election. Please join my family and me to help launch my campaign at Moran's on Monday, July 22 at 6pmClick here to RSVP or email me.
I have strived to cultivate a reputation as an advocate for our neighborhood and pride myself on being accessible to my constituents for problem-solving while providing independent, responsible leadership on the City Council.  Serving the residents of Hoboken is something I take very seriously and our community deserves a true advocate who will always do whatever they can to deliver to residents. I also am someone who can make the tough decisions on what’s best for our city without bowing to political pressure. I look forward to walking door to door and connecting with friends and neighbors and building towards a victory in November.
In 2011, with support from many of you, I was elected to the City Council and since then my peers have elected me City Council President four times reflecting what I believe is my dedication to public service and willingness to be a consensus builder and leader. I partnered with Mayor Dawn Zimmer on numerous initiatives, from passing the ambitious Rebuild by Design resiliency plan after Hurricane Sandy to instituting a stronger ethics code for city officials to creating new open space like South West Park and Northwest Resiliency Park (BASF).
My focus has been and will continue to be, on improving quality of life issues and protecting our neighborhood feel that makes Hoboken so special.  With your input, I have supported zoning changes to preserve the historic character of the community, added loading zones to neighborhoods, began advocating for Union Dry Dock to be added to the open space plan in 2012, brought necessary upgrades to city parks (grass in Church Square) and secured $250,000 from the County for dog park upgrades.  Recently, I have worked to reduce homelessness in Hoboken, ensure that local nonprofits are able to continue operating and fix a loophole in the city’s rent control law to protect tenants. 
I have been proud to be your representative on the City Council and, with your continued support, will be honored to keep working together on what matters most to all of us, Hoboken.    
I look forward to seeing you at my kick-off!