Friday, May 31, 2019

Sign of the Times: Pupie Power pales under Feds pincer pressure


Frank "Pupie" Raia's days as a free man may be numbered

In 2013, the "One Hoboken" slate with council candidate Frank "Pupie" Raia and his fellow
slate underwriter Beth Mason were all smiles. Several guilty pleas of co-conspirators
allegedly directed by Raia according to the Feds may leave his fate twisting in the wind.

The tide is turning in Hoboken on its alleged tradition of buying votes. The first of several dominoes to drop came last fall when Liz "Church Lady" Camis accepted responsibility for her role in what the Feds called a voter bribery scheme.

The next domino tumbled earlier this month when long-time thug Matt Calicchio, a years-long worker most of this decade for former Councilwoman Beth Mason followed suit.

Then yesterday, Raia sidekick Dio Braxton pled to his role in the alleged bribery scheme and flipped. He's pointing a ready finger in the direction of Frank "Pupie" Raia.

June 11th is the scheduled trial date if it makes it that far. If it does Pupie could see his defendant case drown in another crashing tidal wave of "Bluewater Operations."

The rest of this story is premium content and will go out to members Saturday. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Frank "Pupie" Raia sidekick Dio Braxton pleads guilty to voter bribery scheme in Hoboken 2013 election



Official release:


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


HOBOKEN MAN ADMITS CONSPIRING TO PROMOTE A VOTER BRIBERY SCHEME

NEWARK, N.J. – A Hoboken, New Jersey, man today admitted his role in a conspiracy to promote a voter bribery scheme during a municipal election, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced. 

Dio Braxton, 43, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to an indictment charging him with conspiring with Frank Raia and others to use the mail to promote a voter bribery scheme during the 2013 municipal election in Hoboken.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Braxton and others, at Raia’s direction, participated in a scheme to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 each if those voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots in support of Raia’s city council campaign and a rent control referendum that Raia supported. Braxton and others working for Raia provided voters with vote-by-mail applications and then either mailed or delivered the completed applications to the Hudson County Clerk’s office. After the voters completed mail-in ballots, Braxton and others working for Raia either mailed or delivered them to the Hudson County Clerk’s Office. 

After the election, Braxton and others handed out $50 checks to voters from an entity hired by Raia’s Political Action Committee. Before handing the checks to voters, Braxton and others working for Raia required the voters to sign declarations stating that they had worked for the campaign. In reality, many of these voters never actually worked for the campaign and these declarations were merely a way for Braxton, Raia, and others to hide the fact that the voters had been paid for their votes. 
Braxton faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2019. 

Raia was previously indicted on the same charge and is awaiting trial. The charge against him is merely an accusation, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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 guilty plea. 

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.

19-155
  
Defense counsel: Vincent J. LaPaglia Esq., Hoboken


Hoboken needs a bigger public safety push on e-Scooters

Director Ryan Sharpe riding an e-Scooter and not protecting the noggin.
It's an opportunity missed for public education, an uphill battle
in the new world of e-Scooter transportation. Oh yeah, bad form
all around.
Ending week one of the Hoboken e-Scooter pilot allows a chance for evaluation and necessary self-criticism.

The Hoboken pilot didn't kick off too well. Any educational efforts leading into the launch were inadequate with the public response strong in favor and in opposition. All agree continuous education is necessary.

Talking over the weekend to a man and woman traveling on the upper Washington St. sidewalk; it was clear they didn't have any idea they were doing anything wrong. They admitted they hadn't read much other than to get the e-Scooters rolling.

There was the weekend accident on upper Sinatra Drive too. Two young males tossed caution to the wind and opted to test the Darwinian herd thinning program for humans.

Getting the best balance on the standup Lime requires the use of the entire board: the lead foot straight and rear foot perpendicular forming a "T" is best. That's simply not possible with two adult riders where the engineering is intentionally inadequate.

What is missing from the pilot is a coordinated effort by all public officials to encourage the best safety practices, one of which is to wear a helmet. If nothing, it sends a strong positive message to everyone.

People may argue about statistical data with helmets for cycling and as here e-Scooters. What they fail to understand is merely wearing a helmet delivers a strong positive message to riders, pedestrians and drivers alike.

In testing both types of e-Scooters, it's self-evident drivers give a lot more respect when a rider is wearing a helmet. Call it a psychological ploy, tool or what have you. It's clear drivers show far more deference and respect when the helmet appears.

Another problem is teen use or rather, teen abuse. Parents are helping their kids get on board, pardon the pun, illegally and overlook the 18 years old minimum age requirement.

One teen already with e-Scooter in tow tries to help her
friend get illegal access. 
Some think the kids are grabbing scooters from adults but that's not likely the continuing problem. Late yesterday, two teen females were on upper Hudson Street. One rode an e-Scooter up and down the block as another attempted to obtain some registration approval.

Inquiring if they knew riding on the sidewalk was illegal, both acknowledged awareness. When it was pointed out the shorter girl was seen riding on the sidewalk the other responded with wallet in hand, "Not me."

How did the access come about? The teen girl murmured, "it's my mother's account."

If the Hoboken e-Scooter pilot is to succeed, everyone is going to need to help be best.

Everyone needs to help to set a culture for success.


Councilman Mike DeFusco to kick off Pride Month

Official release:


Hudson County LGBTQ Caucus Will Host Drag Queen Story Hour, Brunch to Kick Off Pride Month
HOBOKEN, N.J. -- The Hudson County Democratic Organization’s LGBTQ Caucus is hosting a drag queen story hour and brunch on Saturday morning to celebrate the beginning of Pride Month. The event will feature Harmonica Sunbeam, who was recently antagonized by hateful protesters in Hoboken, and will allow for a community dialogue to discuss the prejudices and injustices faced by the LGBTQ community.
“A top priority for the Hudson County Democratic Organization is building a community that celebrates our diversity and is inclusive to every voice,” said HCDO Chairwoman Amy DeGise. “We live in one of the most diverse places in the nation and it is important that we ensure all of our neighbors are treated equally and justly. The LGBTQ community has helped make Hudson County the incredible place it is and June is about recognizing those contributions and accomplishments. I’m looking forward to beginning Pride Month with a celebration of our rich culture and continuing the discussion to build a more inclusive community.”
Saturday’s event will be held at Antique Bar and Bakery in Hoboken.
“The beginning of Pride Month gives us the opportunity to further the discussion of diversity and acceptance in our communities,” said Hoboken Councilman Mike DeFusco, Chairman of the LGBTQ Caucus. “I am proud of the work we have done over the past four years to make Hoboken a more inclusive city and finally achieve a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. As Chairman of the Caucus, I’m excited to work with each of Hudson County’s municipalities so we can better serve the growing LGBTQ population and achieve true equality.”
Councilman DeFusco represents the neighborhood where Saturday’s event will take place and has been in contact with Hoboken’s Office of Emergency Management to ensure additional safety measures are in place for an enjoyable morning.
WHO: The Hudson County Democratic Organization, Chairwoman Amy DeGise, LGBTQ Caucus Chairman and Hoboken Councilman Mike DeFusco, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, Harmonica Sunbeam
WHAT: A Drag Queen Story Hour and brunch to kick off Pride Month
WHERE: Antique Bar and Bakery, 122 Willow Avenue, Hoboken
WHEN: Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to noon

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Councilman Mike DeFusco calls for a waterfront surveillance system to enhance safety

Official release:


Councilman DeFusco: No ‘Smiley Face Killer,’ but Hoboken’s Waterfront needs more security, life-saving initiatives
HOBOKEN -- There may be no “smiley face killer” on the waterfront, but the number of people dying off the shores of Hoboken is still alarming. Law enforcement agencies do not believe foul play was involved in the deaths of 15-20 individuals pulled from the Hudson River in the past eight years, but the continued investigation into the death of an Air Force veteran has left the Hoboken community concerned for their safety. In response, Councilman DeFusco is taking the necessary steps to create a safer waterfront by adding life-saving devices and additional security.
Councilman DeFusco will introduce a resolution during the next City Council meeting that will propose allocating a portion of the community givebacks generated from the pending Hilton Hotel project, for a state of the art surveillance system. Additionally, the resolution stresses the importance of installing life preservers along the Waterfront to assist distressed individuals who may have entered the Hudson River.
“While I have the utmost confidence in the Hoboken Police Department and our County law enforcement partners, I do share some of the concerns raised by residents regarding safety on the Waterfront,” said Councilman DeFusco. “The loss of any life is devastating and the effects can be felt in our community. Any resource that positively assists police, makes residents feel safe or can save a life is invaluable to our community. I have spoken to Mayor Bhalla about making funding for these projects a priority and I am confident that by working together with the City Council we will bring these much-needed safety investments to the Waterfront.”
In the past month, the bodies of two men were discovered off the shores of Hoboken. A thorough surveillance system will help law enforcement collect evidence during their investigation and life preservers have the potential to prevent drowning deaths on the waterfront.

Councilman Peter Cunningham: Union Dry Dock and Coffee with a Cop

Official release:

Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

Two really important engagement initiatives for you and our community.  First, please sign the petition to keep Union Dry Dock from being developed into a refueling station for NY Waterway.  We need more signatures!!  The link is below, and it's quick and simple to do.  It's important to keep the pressure on the Governor's office while NY Waterway mounts a campaign against our efforts.


Second, tomorrow morning at 8am, I will host with the Mayor and Chief Ferrante, Coffee with a Cop at Anthony Davids.
Wednesday, May 29nd, 2019, from 8am-930am
Anthony David’s at 953 Bloomfield Street
Host: Councilman Peter Cunningham

In Attendance with Chief Ken Ferrante will be Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Captain Tory Pasculli (Training and Administrative commander), Lieutenant John Petrosino (Traffic Commander), Sergeant Jonathan Butler (Day street supervisor), Officer Dylan Archilla (Traffic officer and member of the Hudson County regional Collision Team, and recent recipient of a Hudson County 200 Club Valor Award).

This is a great national initiative that Chief Ferrante has been at the forefront to enhance the relationship between our Police Department and community on local issues and how we can all work together to solve them.  These have been a great success throughout Hoboken, and hope to see you there tomorrow morning.  

Please circulate and let me know if you have any questions!!
-- 
Peter Cunningham

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Illegal dual Sinatra e-Scooter riders lead to a crash and ambulance

MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE

Sunday afternoon, two men in their early twenties coasted by on a scooter designed for one. As they went by upper Hudson turning south on Sinatra Drive, they received an unsolicited warning.

"That's dangerous and illegal," a voice called out.

The taller man, a passenger, turned around and gave a smug stare.
"You could get a summons too," came the audible response.
More smugness from the rear "passenger" on the e-scooter suffering abuse.

Not 20 yards down the roadway, the driver began to make erratic movements to and fro. Was it intentional or due to the uneven section of the road?

Then seconds later both were suddenly airborne then spinning face first to the asphalt. Splat!

The rear passenger was spread eagle in the middle of the roadway. Oncoming cars saw the brazen act of attempted Darwinian suicide and stopped.

Post-crash, the driver of an e-Scooter (r) gets up before he heads to the curb to sit back down.

The driver lay in a crumpled heap rolled over, got slowly to his feet and headed to the right wall. His passenger gathered himself from a prone position and joined him before returning to look for something.

Was it broken teeth? The scooter was pushed to the same side and more words echoed out, "Good job guys," echoed off in the distance.

The two men fell to chattering among themselves as onlookers paused and stared. Then that familiar voice emerged minutes later asking if medical assistance was required. A smug answer from the taller passenger once again. Something curt about keep moving along.

Two women across the way near the pivot of Sinatra and Maxwell Dr. pointed out the driver of the scooter seemed unstable. He gripped the wall for a couple of minutes joined by his passenger friend who may have encouraged the stunt.

"You're alright dude," the taller "passenger" on the e-Scooter tells his friend who grips the wall. Apparently not.

"You're alright dude," he could be overheard saying. His friend didn't echo the sentiment and walked over to the curb and sat down. He remained sitting for a minute and then tried to get up. The top portion of his shirt was now covered in blood, perhaps coming from his mouth.

The passenger friend assured him once again, he was alright. The driver didn't appear convinced and once again moved to the curb and sat down between two parked cars a second time. This pattern repeated itself yet a third time.

One of the two women observers said maybe an ambulance needed to be called anyway. The voice said, "Perhaps they'll take advice better from you." The other woman said, "Hey ain't you the Horsey?"

Not ten minutes later, an ambulance arrived stopping traffic and likely tending to at least one of the two illegal dual scooter riders who ignored warnings seconds before their serious crash.

The Lime e-scooter was reported in stable condition and ready to re-enter service.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla showing bad form and worse, a bad example on an e-Scooter.
He's testing it without a helmet, setting a bad example for others.

Talking Ed Note: The e-Scooter program is a big hit but even with improved behavior; there remain problems with some people ignoring the rules and riding in tandem on devices engineered for only one person. What's scarier is that there are some parents doing this with young children.

Others are illegally riding on the sidewalk. When told it's clear they aren't reading. They learn only enough to get going.

While a helmet is not required, it's clearly advisable as on a bicycle. Hoboken e-Scooters will not be mocked.

This cautionary tale can be shared on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Friday, May 24, 2019

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "E-Scooters: How are kids getting access?"

Official release:


 
Dear friends and neighbors:
This is a follow up to the email I sent yesterday E-Scooters: to be or not to be.  First, a reminder again to take responsibility for your actions and the potential impact you are having to your neighbors and on the PILOT.  I spoke with Hoboken Police Chief Ferrante just now and he said that things seem to be calming some, but there are still plenty of instances of unsafe behavior being reported.  Here are a few updates:
  • As of this writing, I have confirmed with Chief Ferrante that there have been no reported injuries.  That doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of near hits (near misses as a term makes no sense...) because there still are.
  • Reports of unsafe riding have come down since day one.
  • Observations of underage riders has only increased.  
  • People are still parking in places that are disruptive to pedestrians (although I saw more evidence of improvement).
  • And there is almost no observation of anyone wearing helmets notwithstanding it is required by Lime.
Regarding the underage use which is one of the biggest concerns cited by many of you ... if you have or know a child/teen who has ridden a scooter, please let me know how they gained access and I will pass along to Lime.  When I spoke with Lime two days ago, Ms. Shapiro indicated that the only way a child/teen could access is if they have a credit card and ID or their parents set it up for them. I challenged that as I said I don't know many parents that would allow this. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Team Bhalla appeals to virtue signaling, cult of personality and "stuff"

A good turnout Tuesday at 10th and Willow begins the long march to November and Mayor Ravi Bhalla's political options out of Hoboken.

Call it the backup plan if he's trapped in the Mile Square City forcing a run for re-election in 2021.

The current City Council will never back Ravi Bhalla's broken promises like his second job with a
politically connected Republican law firm. It's one real reason he wants compliant replacements.

Officially, the campaign is for a November council slate for six ward seats. On this ticket with the exception of Phil Cohen, nary a single individual is known to the wider community. There's nothing in the way of ever backing The Reform Movement, fighting on any important Hoboken issue let alone any issue in this decade on behalf of the Mile Square City.

They are being hailed as "new energy" with blank resumes. It resembles what you'd typically see back in the bad old days of an Old Guard BoE slate. Faces appear and mouth proclamations about their commitment to education and the children. After election and defeat, they go back to what they did before their announced candidacy. They'd never even show up at a BoE meeting.

Despite that similarity, Ravi Bhalla put up his best face, the one accustomed to feeding the public whoppers, big, fat and indistinguishable from his ugly mayoral campaign in 2017.

Referring to Peter Cunningham, Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher, Ravi Bhalla issued this limp fabrication: "I don't know what happened. I'll be honest with you, I don't know what happened but something happened where we came to a point where I realized that new leadership is needed."

It was in that very same space only little more than two months into his term as mayor in 2017 where Ravi Bhalla announced he would seek to eliminate any vestiges of Reform and the good government leadership trio and turn out the incumbents (with the exception of ally Michael Russo in the third ward. A deal is a deal.)

And the mob cheered as history was vanquished, Year One begins. Pol Pot couldn't do it any better.

The political messaging against reality continued with Ravi Bhalla congratulating himself and his Administration for Mayor Dawn Zimmer's accomplishments. First for her double A financial rating but claiming "we stabilized our finances" even as he's repeatedly been pushing a three percent tax increase after a landslide 8-1 council vote reducing it to a mere one percent.

In over eight years as mayor, Dawn Zimmer kept taxes flat. It was one of her greatest accomplishments. Ravi Bhalla continues fighting for his fatter tax increase. He's lobbying Trenton hard to overturn domestic sovereignty and local rule to make it happen.

On the pending Hoboken budget, Ravi Bhalla even brought out George DeStefano, the official town CFO who hasn't been heard from on a budget in about forever. Uncle George (of the Russo Clan) did make this election day appearance in what a County Board of Elections official declared a major election violation.

Even with 95% of an agenda passed by the City Council with success on the Suez water contract being a major accomplishment because of the existing council, the mayor is seeking compliant legislative replacement parts.

Eyeing November, those accomplishments will pose a major obstacle. The Hudson County View inquired if the Team Bhalla slate is swept, what does it mean for him? He talked about "family" and his office welcoming the council members.

Well, that's an improvement over throwing councilwomen out of City Hall.

One can only hope any municipal council family isn't treated as poorly as in this exclusive story.

How to treat your City Council "family," a primer by Mayor Ravi Bhalla.  

Talking Ed Note: Councilwoman Emily Jabbour was featured with some mic time and said the replacements were needed so they could get "stuff." One imagines it must be "good" stuff.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'The scoop on the Hoboken e-Scooters pilot'

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:
It has been both a short and long 48 hours (as of this writing).  By now I am sure all of you have had at least one direct experience with our new E-Scooters – whether witnessing a safety breach or riding one or both.  Here is just one example of the many that I witnessed myself over the last two days of people running straight through stop signs (click to watch the short video):
The volume of emails, calls and messages I have received has been exceptional given the short duration.  Hoboken PD has indicted they received over 1,000 emails to traffic@hobokepd.org in the first day.  Like those I received, the majority, but not all, are from people who are concerned, against, opposed, and/or want to see the E-Scooters thrown in the river.  And I would say that I personally fell into that camp as well.  A few have told me they are fun or cool.  Truth be told, I have not yet ridden one mainly because I lack confidence in my own abilities to stay upright on one, but I will give it the ole college try soon.
I am not writing to tell you what you already know.  That the rollout was terrible, lacking the education and enforcement plans and a commitment to safety that had been promised to the City Council when we voted 8-1 on the PILOT (for clarity – I voted ‘Yes’ only after I introduced and we discussed the topics of education and enforcement and we received the promises from the administration and HPD). Or that it seems like everyone in town lost their manners, marbles and respect for their neighbors in the last two days with these EScooters – whether ignoring stop signs and traffic lights, riding on sidewalks (illegal) and the wrong way on one way streets (always illegal), letting their teens have their sign-in and riding through Church Square Park (minimum age is 18, riding in parks is illegal), or letting their six year old join them on the scooter without a helmet (or even with one! Illegal!) and then just leaving scooters in the middle of sidewalks and directly in front of entrances to buildings.  Seriously… WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED?!?!?!?!?
Day one was ridiculous but behaviors seemed to improve some on day two – I saw plenty of people riding safely, still a minority though.   And we learned more.  We learned that there were 2,500 rides on day one by 1,700 people that traveled over 2,700 miles.  That is a lot given these were only on 250 scooters (these stats just for the Lime E-Scooters).  That means people seem to like riding them.  
We also learned that most people still don’t know what the rules are because their only way of knowing was if they happened to pass by the Lime table near Pier A, read the signs on the Lime scooter itself, or read the city's informative nixle alert/email (that didn’t go out until the end of the first day of the pilot).  So we confirmed what we already knew which was that we need education and enforcement for this to have any chance at success.  
But I actually learned the most in my 40 minute conversation with Shari Shapiro of Lime yesterday afternoon and also reading the state legislation for the first time.  She called to ask me if she could address any questions or concerns and she got an earful from me.  But to her credit, she was patient, listened and provided a lot of information that I wasn’t previously aware of that I think is helpful.  
The conversation started with me asking about how Lime can make sure our youth cannot access the scooters.  We ended with a long list of suggestions and recommendations on what Lime can and should do as quickly as possible to meet the needs of Hoboken, which may be different than other communities they serve.  Here is a summary of some of what we discussed:
  • Kids/teens access to scooters: First and foremost, no one under 18, according to NJ STATE LAW, can ride E-Scooters.  Lime’s own website is inconsistent with this and says those under 16 can ride with the permission of parents.  I suggested they update their website.  Ms. Shapiro indicated that the only way kids can access scooters is if a parent/adult gives them access as they need a credit card and a valid ID to register.  I told her that many teens have credit cards and asked whether anyone on their end was actually verifying the ID at Lime.  She needed to confirm the second part.  We also discussed ways they can ultimately revoke user's privileges if found they have allowed those under 18 to use the EScooter on the adult's account.  This is still a working discussion.
  • Continuous Education.  Lime did have a table near the PATH and will be there this week to help inform people about the safe usage of their E-Scooters.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t helpful for all of those who found Lime scooters across the city with no guidance or instructions.  Lime indicted they will have tables across the city this weekend and for the few upcoming weekends.
  • Rules of the Road.  This is a big one to me.  Everyone who registers to use a Lime E-Scooter is required to give an email.  And Lime will be sending regular (currently daily) emails to these users reminding them the rules of the road.  Below is their "Day Two" email, and I provided guidance for their future ones which I hope will include reference to no riding in parks, and no one allowed under 18 on the bikes, or privileges can be revoked:
“As you know, the Hoboken program is a pilot. To make scooters a permanent option here, we need you to ride respectfully, following all the rules of the road, and paying special attention to these priorities:
  • Never ride on the sidewalk
  • Always yield to pedestrians
  • Obey all stop signs, traffic signals, and other rules of the road (like a bike or car)
  • Only travel in the direction of traffic (not the wrong way down one-way streets)
  • Never block sidewalks or crosswalks when parking a Lime scooter (park next to the curb)
Our staff is here to answer any questions:
Tuesday-Friday, May 28 @ 14th Ferry Terminal, Saturday, June 1 @ Pier A
For any questions, comments or concerns, please reach out to our team directly by emailing support@li.me, calling 1-888-LIME-345 or texting 1-888-546-3345"
  • Ability to “catch” riders in parks and revoke privileges.  Another big one.  Lime can see where people are going.  I have already received from friends screenshots of the paths they took riding the E-Scooter.  Ms. Shapiro indicated they have made parks “red” on their App to show where their E-Scooters are not allowed.  She also indicated that they can use rider information to send individual riders notes about going through areas where they are not allowed and if the actions continue their privileges can be revoked.  BIG BROTHER LIME is definitely watching.  But this is a great feature to help ensure people are using the E-Scooters safely.
  • Working on the ability to “catch” riders riding the wrong direction down our network of one-way streets. Ms. Shapiro was not sure if Lime's system is set up to match paths traveled with street direction but she is looking into it.  Given the technology of mapping and GPS, I believe it can happen and could function similarly as mentioned above – where the system could catch people riding in the wrong direction.  
  • Sidewalk riding.  The state legislation says that E-Scooters and E-Bikes are NOT ALLOWED ON SIDEWALKS!  Ms. Shapiro confirmed this and are actively repeating this in their education.  So not only are the new E-Scooters in this, but so are the E-Bikes that you often see delivery people using on our sidewalks.  The state legislation specifically says where E-Scooters and E-Bikes can go:  “A low-speed electric bicycle or low-speed electric scooter, as defined in R.S.39:1-1, may be operated on the streets, highways, roadways, and bicycle paths of this State.”
  • Parking the E-Scooters.  Here the state legislation is also clear on where you can park them: “may be parked on a sidewalk provided that the low-speed electric bicycle or low-speed electric scooter does not impede the normal movement of pedestrian or other traffic upon the sidewalk”.  If you are reading this and riding the scooters, please just follow the simple rule of RESPECTING OTHERS.  If you are going to park it on a sidewalk, park it away from where people walk.  The city provided a great illustration on its website showing examples:  

Update on e-Scooters and how to remove sidewalk threats

The e-Scooters are a boomlet of transport within Hoboken but there's a learning curve for users. Some will have to learn the hard way.

Some riders do not want to use the roadways as intended and obligated under ordinance. They are riding on the sidewalk and creating a nuisance and danger to pedestrians and themselves.

Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante offered this report:

If you see someone riding on the sidewalk you can take a photo and then send it with the time and location to the Hoboken Police Department and to the e-Scooter company. A video is not needed but may be useful.

The resident offender can then be fined and see their account suspended or revoked. Since the e-scooters are equipped with GPS, a photo alone with the time and location of the occurrence will see identified the alleged criminal in question. HPD is collecting all responses and video when submitted.

This is the Soprano State. Help criminals find their destiny. Send the HPD and e-scooter company the photo with time and location and watch the bulk of problems with e-scooters on sidewalks disappear.

For the Hoboken Police Dept: Traffic@hobokenpd.org
For Lime (stand up green e-Scooter)  support@li.me For OJO (seated blue e-Scooter)  Jchandler@p3gm.com


Councilman Ruben Ramos: "PSEG Work Paused After Trees Removed on Jackson St."

Official release:


Dear friends,

Just like many residents in the neighborhood, I'm very disturbed and alarmed that PSE&G has cut down approximately a dozen seemingly healthy, mature trees located primarily along the 100 block of Jackson Street.  Although initially approved by the city, I am grateful that after being alerted to this, the administration has changed course and has paused all work on Madison and Jackson until a new plan is agreed that will minimize destruction to the trees. 

In a city like Hoboken trees and green space are essential for our quality of life. I’m appreciative of the efforts of everyone committed to making sure this situation is made right and that these trees are replaced with new ones that are of a similar quality to the trees cut down. Accordingly, PSEG will be replacing trees they remove on a 3:1 ratio. 

As part of this project, work had been underway by PSE&G to pull wires on Jackson Street between First and Seventh and set up new poles.  This work has been paused as well and when it returns, be aware each block will be closed to traffic, one at a time, as the crews move along the road.

You can find out more about this project here including the city’s recent action to pause the work until a better solution can be identified.  I will be working with my Council colleagues to address the policies that led to this unfortunate situation and make sure something like this will not happen again.

Thank you for your advocacy and patience during this projects.  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. 

Regards,

Ruben Ramos
Hoboken City Council, 4th Ward
*Please follow me on Facebook and Twitter to see more updates on Hoboken.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Scooter rules - it's the law

Yesterday, the explosively charming weather took many out of their global cooling wet funk timed with the launch of Lime e-Scooters.

First encounter, two people, a man and a woman midday on Washington St. uptown. He was trying to get the device going south - with the woman on board!

Illegal.

A 15 minute Horsey ride on Sinatra Drive saw a lot of people zipping around. It was like an infestation of locusts. Rather harmless all in all with many grins coasting by.

Later in the day, however, more and more people took to the street or rather, the sidewalks. That's illegal! None seen wearing a helmet other than the sighting of one Horse on Sinatra Drive gloved over front hooves.

There were zero education efforts other than the City website by the Ravi Bhalla Administration. By day's end, the Hoboken Police Department received almost 1,000 complaints with illegal actions by Lime riders across town: riding the opposite way on one-way streets, doubling up on the one person devices and ignoring traffic signals.

This is the Soprano State after all. Yesterday, Hoboken singlehandedly lived up to the billing.

Here's the sane advice offered courtesy of the Hoboken Police Department.

Councilman Peter Cunningham: "Less than a day and already issues with scooters"

Official release:

I'm sure many of you are aware of the release below about the "scooter" madness that hit our streets today.  I was in favor of bringing the scooters to Hoboken on the condition that we could ensure they were operated safely on our street.  In fact, I negotiated with members of the council more closely aligned with the mayor to reduce the number of scooters to rent to make it more manageable for Hoboken Police to enforce the rules, as well to ensure we collected data on their "illegal" use.  I support more than 90% of the Mayor's agenda.  To gain my support, the scooter rental resolution had to be negotiated to get it passed.

There will be an important meeting tomorrow morning (so I am told) to discuss ways to ensure that there is no day two of reckless riding of scooters the wrong way, on sidewalks, through the parks, and on the grass - all without a helmet.  Representatives from the scooter companies will be present along with the Admin and HPD.  It is unclear if any City Council members will be present.  It is astonishing that nobody was hurt today, but the potential as many of you know was extremely high.  These scooter companies have the ability to provide important data on illegal use to support HPD.


I look forward to reporting the results of this meeting, among other issues of interest.  

Thanks, 
Peter


           

Monday, May 20, 2019

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "2nd Ward Pedestrian Safety Improvements Coming to You!"

Official release:


 
Dear friends and neighbors:
With a new Suez water contract now in place and the redesign of Washington St. just about completed, PEDESTRIAN SAFETY sits alone atop the list of the issues that I hear the most from you – mainly relating to our intersections.  I can tell you the entire City Council and the administration are focused on this.  And although we have seen many improvements citywide, there is still a lot to do.  Like many of you, I am eager to see the Vision Zero plan the city will be rolling out shortly.  
 
But for today, I want to update you on some intersections in the 2nd ward that have been my main focus.  For those who receive this who do not live in the 2nd ward, I am 100% certain that you will still walk, ride or drive through these intersections at some point so these will also impact you.
 
14th / Shipyard
 
This is an intersection that has pretended to not be an intersection.  With only two cross walks, no clear direction for pedestrians, being in the path towards a main transportation hub, and located in a neighborhood that has had the highest growth in density in the city… it is an understatement to say this intersection needed an upgrade.  
 
At the 5/1 Council meeting, a resolution was introduced to re-do this intersection, but I asked to carry the proposal one meeting because I was concerned the plan was incomplete as it was from 2014, before many of the large buildings in the area were built.  I was particularly concerned the plan called for only three crosswalks instead of four which turned out to be the case:  
 
 
Parking and Transportation Director Ryan Sharp and City Engineer Kimbrly Craft agreed with me that it needed a refreshed view so we met me last week to review the intersection and working together, we revised the plan that has now since been approved at the 5/15 City Council meeting.  This new plan now completes the intersection, adds a few street parking spaces on the north side of 14th between Hudson and Shipyard (replacing a travel lane) which also provides the added benefit of narrowing the street.  Additionally, Director Sharp and Ms. Craft recommended adding a striped median (not raised) in the middle of the street to further give the impression of a narrow travel lane that helps to slow traffic in the area.  Oh, and this, along with others intersection improvements across town are funded by a grant from the state!  A win-win-win outcome!
 

 
15th / Garden
 
All I can say here is finally.   After advocating for safety improvements at this intersection till I was blue in the face, I was told that a solution is imminent.  Director Sharp and Ms. Craft informed two weeks ago that they have ordered RRFB’s – Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon Crosswalk System - for the cross walks at this intersection.  This would be a solar powered rapid flashing light combined with school crossing signage - something like the picture below.  The lights would be triggered as pedestrians approach the intersection.  I don’t yet have an ETA for these, just that they are ordered and on their way.
 
 
This intersection is where a main thoroughfare (15th Street) meets a main pedestrian route (Elysian Charter, Harborside Park and the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway) without any signal devices or effective signage.  And is the intersection that I get the single most calls about.  Why not speed bumps you ask?  Not supported for high traffic volumes and are noisy.  Why not a stop sign?  Too close to the traffic light/left arrows at 15th and Park.  Why not a traffic table (elevated intersection)?  This is actually coming in the future as part of Rebuild By Design.
 
14th / Garden
 
A traffic signal is underway, with the hopes of it being installed before the end of summer / beginning of new school year.  
 
 
This has been slow moving since it was approved in 2015. It is a County intersection and project and the bidding for the project is currently underway.  Director Sharp and Ms. Craft estimated timing to be approximately 5 months from right now, highly depending on PSEG when they ultimate activate the light.  We agreed that we will all be asking the various parties (County and PSEG) to target having this light installed and up and running before Labor Day and the start of the new school year.  I would encourage you to email Freeholder Anthony Romano at aromano@hcnj.us and tell him how badly we want this done before school starts (cc: me).
 
14th / Willow
 
Hoboken Police Chief Ferrante stated at the Council meeting on April 17th, that this intersection is by far the most dangerous in the City.  
 
 
After speaking with Freeholder Romano earlier that week who indicated the County (it is their intersection) was prepared to review the intersection once they received direction from the City, I co-sponsored with Councilman Cunningham a resolution formally recommending that the County make the following changes and do further review of the intersection.  
  • Remove all parking spaces in front of Trader Joe’s up through the traffic light at 13th / Rite Aid and convert to a second travel lane; 
  • Insert bollards / delineator posts along the center double line directly in front of the entrance into the Harlow / Trader Joe’s parking garage – approximately 200 feet from the intersection of Willow Avenue and 14th Street to create a physical barrier to prohibit left turns into and out of the Harlow / Trader Joe’s parking garag; and 
  • Review with Hoboken Police Department the accidents at and near the intersection of Willow Avenue and 14th Street and the configuration of the eastbound turning lanes on the Viaduct / 14th Street to recommend further changes to improve safety.
Freeholder Romano let me know last week that the County has received this request and is undertaking the review of this intersection.
 
14th / Hudson 
 
Have you ever just stood at this intersection waiting for the crosswalk sign to change to “walk” and it just never does?  Well, the issue here is that you have to actually press the button to make that happen.  One would think that it happens automatically as well, but apparently it does not.  I have asked the County to address this and change to automatic which I am told they will take care of. 
 
 
15th / Willow and 15th / Park - Traffic Light Timing
 
Remember when the timing of these lights magically seemed to coordinate to make getting across 15th and out of town easier?  And then it suddenly and annoyingly stopped?  I have informed the County who believe the change may relate to a reset that occurred at Willow and 19th and are looking into it.
 
Pier 13 / Sinatra North
 
The next step at this intersection is to do a warrant analysis to determine if a stop sign is warranted.  When Director Sharp and Ms. Craft visited me last week, we reviewed this intersection as well and they committed to installing new temporary "stop for pedestrian signs" and to work with the County to perform the necessary analysis during the busiest pedestrian times (weekends).  I have also asked Lt. Petrosino to increase patrols around Pier 13 on the weekends as we get into the busy summer season.  
 
Up next... 
 
I have discussed other traffic intersections with Director Sharp, Ms. Craft and the County and will hope to have more updates on these soon.  These include 9th and Washington where buses have difficult navigating the left turn up to Stevens; 11th and Hudson, a tough and confusing intersection that makes it wrought with safety concerns; 12th and Shipyard which suffers similary to 14th and Shipyard, frustrated by the double parking on 12th between Shipyard and Hudson; and 14th and Park where people speed to try to make the light before it turns and where I have spoken with the city about adding a visor or louver to the traffic lights to limit the visibility of the light until the driver is closer to the approach.  
 
If I have missed an intersection, please let me know.  I think we all are aware that there seems to be a general lack of stopping for pedestrians at intersections in Hoboken and not enough enforcement.  A number of improvements were made on the residential streets north of 12th to help improve visibility at the crosswalks, but that hasnt stopped people from parking in the crosswalks and speeding through stop signs.  At 15th and Bloomfield, one of my neighbors was hit by a car in the middle of the day while he was crossing 15th.  The car was speeding up Bloomfield and did not stop at 15th.  Thankfully it wasn't more serious, but he did require a hospital visit and had a broken leg.  
 
Culture of Safety 
 
I believe strongly that we are lacking and need to create a "Culture of Safety" in Hoboken.  Where EVERYONE does their part - drivers, riders, and pedestrians.  Some of the simple things we can all do starting today to do our part:
 
(from Street Smart NJ)
 
Once the City's Vision Zero plan is launched, which is a very public process including input from many, I plan to take an active role with my focus being on what we will do to educate those in and who enter our community that "Hoboken Takes Safety Seriously" and that "We Are A Pedestrian Town Where Pedestrian Safety Comes First". 
 
Shifting gears a little... thank you to everyone who helped support providing six homes for homeless veterans in Hoboken.  The event Saturday night at the new American Legion Post 107 was a huge success - they raised almost $50,000!  They still have another $50,000 to go to finish the project so if you are interested in supporting them email me or Commander John Carey at AmericanLegion107NJ@aol.com.  The biggest moment of the night though was when Hoboken's treasure Vinny Wassman, who at 94 is Hoboken's oldest veteran, led the crowd in a spirited rendition of Grand Old Flag.   If you don't know Vinny, you should.  Click the picture below of Vinny (and beloved Charlie who runs Bingo at the Senior Center) to see...
 
 
We really live in a special community.  heart
 
 
Pedestrian safety touches all of us.  So please forward this to everyone you think would want to know about these updates.  And as always, feel free to reach out via email, text or phone (201-208-1674) about this or anything else important to you.      
Best wishes,