Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'NYWW, Monarch, Scooters & Safety'

Official release:



Dear friends and neighbors, 
A lot of Hoboken related news over the past week or so that I wanted to update you on.  Today’s Jersey Journal cover touches on a couple:
Here are the updates in this newsletter:
  • Former UDD – Judge rules in favor of Hoboken!
  • 18 Story Towers planned for northern edge of Weehawken Cove – planning board meeting tonight
  • Monarch – Mayor announces start of negotiations for a settlement.
  • Sinatra Drive Car Free Sundays approved.
  • EScooters –Mayor agrees to Council’s request for new contract, my most recent discussion with Lime, and upcoming Council vote to ban E-Scooters from Waterfront Walkway.
  • 2nd Ward (and 1st Ward) Safety Improvements Coming! - 14th and Garden Light on its way and 15th and Garden improvements hopefully too!
  • Mobile DMV (aka MVC) Van in Hoboken – Would you want to see this again?
  • Questions on Recent Flash Flooding – Why did we see flooding in areas we have never seen before?  
  • Campaign for Re-Election Updates – Thank you to those who came to support me and have already signed my nominating petition!  New - online donation link.  
FORMER UDD 

For those unaware, NYWW filed a lawsuit against the City to effectively circumvent the City’s land use approval and permitting process and start to build their facility.  Yesterday in Hudson County Superior Court, the Judge ruled in Hoboken’s favor which effectively means that NYWW will have to follow our local rules including a trip to either the zoning or planning board in order to be able to build.  During the hearing, the attorney for NYWW referred to our hardworking Hoboken Police as “Gestapo” in their enforcement tactics and I 100% agree that he/they should make a public apology for their statement.  
The judges ruling doesn’t necessarily mean NYWW will be stopped from building, and keep in mind that if NJ Transit steps in again these rules primarily go out the window, but it does mean that NYWW are not above the law and that we have more time to keep working together and with Governor Murphy to find the best solution.  We haven’t had enough wins on our waterfront in the last several years, but this is one.
MONARCH – PATH TO A SETTLEMENT?

Segueing from above, we have had two recent, and unexpected, positives regarding Monarch.  First, on June 5th, the NJ Supreme Court agreed to review the appeal on the final litigation outstanding – whether Hoboken’s local ordinances banning development on the waterfront for public safety reasons are valid against the Monarch.  This is expected to be heard and/or ruled upon sometime in the next year.  The scuttle bug is that for the NJ Supreme Court to consider this matter – effectively public safety vs. private commercial interests – signals they are leaning more favorable to the public’s interest.  That said, if history is a predictor of the future, I personally think it’s a coin flip at best at this point.  
Second, on July 22nd, the Mayor announced a framework for a potential settlement with the owners of the proposed Monarch(Applied / Shipyard / Ironstate) where the City may receive the Monarch site and a newly designed DPW garage, in exchange for the owners of Monarch getting to develop an amount up to the residential units that are already included in the redevelopment plan approved in 2006 for what is commonly known as the DPW site (above the proposed new garage).  As explained by the mayor to 2ndWard residents at a recent community meeting, the council will vote on this framework at an upcoming meeting (expected to be unanimous in support) and then will begin the due diligence and planning process including a full economic appraisal of both sites to understand the value of the trade and a plan to re-locate the garage during construction.  This process may take up to a further 9-12 months.  But a great start.
CAR FREE SUNDAYS IN AUGUST ON SINATRA DRIVE
At the special council meeting held on 7/18, the City Council passed 9-0 to reinstate Car Free Sundays.  Originally the rush to vote on this was to accommodate all of July and August, but after further review by the administration, it seems that only two Sundays in August will work due to prior events and work schedule.  So mark your calendars:
  • Aug. 11 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sinatra Drive will be closed from Newark Street to Fourth Street including parking restrictions.
  • Aug. 25, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sinatra Drive will be closed from Fourth Street to 11th Street including parking restrictions.
E-SCOOTERS – COUNCIL ASKED AND THE MAYOR (AND LIME) LISTENED

The Council voted unanimously for a resolution that sponsored asking the Mayor to renegotiate the terms of the contracts with both Lime and Ojo for the 6-month PILOT program.  You can read the resolution HERE, but in summary it called for the Mayor to “either renegotiate the existing contract to include a comprehensive plan that ensures safety of Hoboken residents and visitors and includes fair compensation to the City of Hoboken for enforcement and education for the remainder of the trial period, or cancel the existing contracts.

After the vote, we were advised that the Mayor agrees with the City Council and will hopefully have a revised contract that is more favorable to Hoboken on the agenda at the 8/7 Council meeting.  
I met with a representative from Lime who concurred that they had been working with the administration for about 2 weeks on contract terms that would be geared toward improved safety.  I don’t have the details but am confident the terms will be better.  I have offered to the administration to provide further input/help on contract terms but they have not yet taken me up on this offer J.
The crux of my discussion with Lime centered around the use of scooters on waterfront walkway.  Although I buy into the idea that our residents who are here every day can learn to ride more respectively through education and enforcement (and just repeated use), I am not convinced that we can make the same impact on those riding EScooters (irresponsibly) on the waterfront walkway who are more apt to be visitors.  I asked that he provide us with more data around ridership in the different areas of Hoboken so we can better understand how best to tailor enforcement, education and safety plans.  
That said, I am still asking my council colleagues to vote on 2nd reading in favor of banning them on the Waterfront Walkway at the meeting on 8/7.
2nd WARD SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS ON THEIR WAY! 

The City announced this week that two new traffic lights will be installed by the end of this summer – at Hudson St. and Hudson Place and at 14th and Garden St.  Although marketed by the administration as part of the Vision Zero program, the approval and plan for these lights actually pre-date this administration (happened under Mayor Zimmer) and even before my time on the City Council.  Because of the cost and the need for County, State and PSEG coordination, they apparently take forever to get installed. That said I met with Director Sharp and City Engineer Kim Craft a few months ago and also spoke with the County to advocate for getting the 14th and Garden light done before the new school year starts.  Everyone was skeptical at the time, but it looks like it is going to happen!  
In response to this great news, I have asked for an update on the new flashing lights for 15th and Garden intersection.  I am told they have been delivered and asked that they be installed, if at all possible, prior to the construction work for the 14th and Garden traffic light – as I expect that traffic will reroute to 15th street during that time.  I await a response but remain optimistic!  
Hopefully the new lights at 15th and Garden will help calm the traffic on 15th Street.  But the recent observations of continuous traffic violations at 15th and Bloom/Washington/Hudson by multiple residents in the area are telling us a different story.  Hoboken PD has recently indicated that they still regularly enforce 15th Street but that there are many similar situations across Hoboken that they rotate through enforcement.  I am coordinating a 15th Street neighborhood meeting with Lt. Petrosino so we can share concerns so let me know if you would be interested in attending.   We haven’t set a date and will not be able to accommodate everyone, but will let you know when we do.  
18 STORY TOWERS ON WEEHAWKEN COVE – MEETING TONIGHT!

For those of you unaware, I have been attending the Weehawken Planning Board meetings for a large scale development being proposed across the Weehawken Cove in Weehawken.  The project is for two 18 story towers connected by a 7 story parking and retail structure all that effectively constitute 100% lot coverage.  I have been attending primarily to better understand (and voice concerns as necessary) the traffic implications to Hoboken as it is being built on Harbor Blvd resulting in increased traffic spilling out into the intersection of 16th and Park.  Additionally, what we discovered is that the developer does not plan to provide access to the northernmost point of what will be the Cove Park part of Rebuild By Design which I raised as an issue.  
There have been a lot of concerns voiced about the project primarily by Weehawken residents as well as by our own waterfront advocates Fund for a Better Waterfront about the height, density, lot coverage, and that it is effectively being built right up to the border of the Hudson River Walkway and the RBD structures.  The entire site will be raised above design flood elevation to minimize public safety concerns, but this has not yet been fully vetted.  As proposed it will be 200ft which is higher than the Hudson Tea Buildings (at ~181ft).  
I plan to attend again this evening – 730pm at Weehawken High School if you would like to join me.   

MOBILE DMV (OR WHAT NJ CALLS MVC) – YES OR NO?

Yesterday, our Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro arranged for the State to bring both the Motor Vehicle Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services to Hoboken.  From 10am to 2pm the MVC parked two buses adjacent to City Hall and over 100 Hoboken residents came to renew their license or registration or any other matter (other than driving tests and picking up plates).  And many also stopped at the table to better understand the myriad of state services available, that many are completely unaware of, to help with such issues at addiction, mental health and aging.  I stopped by to see the event and what I saw were, and I am not overstating this when I say it, but smiles of joy and excitement.  I spoke with several people who partook in the services and they were just elated on having these in Hoboken.
I spoke with Assemblywoman Chaparro and Tanya from the MVC about if this can come back, how often and whether we could also have one uptown (or even in the back of Hoboken).  They said if there was demand, they would definitely come again and I advocated to have one of the two MVC buses be stationed uptown.  So I can give her feedback on whether there is demand for it, please let me know if you would attend this next time.  I definitely will!
QUESTIONS ARISE ABOUT RECENT FLOODING EVENTS

Two weeks ago the City once again saw Citywide flooding from a heavy rainstorm.  With so much focus on and investment in resiliency in our community, people have the expectation that flooding events should no longer occur and unfortunately, that is not the case.  The mayor put out this explanation after the most recent event describing how our flood pumps and resiliency parks have helped to alleviate flooding in every day rain events vs. years ago.  But certain rain events still overwhelm our system where rain comes in faster than it can be pumped out – but that our pumps will still drain flooded areas faster than previously.  I saw this recently with before and after pictures an hour apart at the intersection of 15th and Park which is a heavily flooded area.
That said… I heard from neighbors this last time who live in areas that typically don’t flood, that their basements flooded.  Specifically the 1200 Block of Garden St. and the 1000 block of Hudson St.  They all indicated that this is only a recent change – in the past few years.  Both are not in flood zones and are above flood elevation so are experiencing flooding from underground, from our CSO system being overwhelmed.  So what suddenly causes this?  Is it just unique torrential rain events?  Is it that our system is somehow constrained?  Is it that our system is at capacity?  I have reached out to the NHSA to understand better.  If you feel like this describes you as well – that you are suddenly experiencing flooding that had never existed previously, please let me know.  Also, I know that many of you experience it all the time as you live in areas that are low lying.  And answers to these questions may also help your areas as well. 
RE-ELECTION UPDATE/WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT ME

Thank you to the 70+ people who joined me for my Kick-Off event at The Madison Bar and Grill on July 15th.  It was a perfect evening all around made special by my father introducing me.  

My re-election campaign is officially underway and I have been speaking with 2nd Ward neighbors and collecting nominating petitions to get on the ballot.  If you would like to support me, whether you are a 2nd Ward resident or not, here are several ways:
  • Help me get on the ballot by signing a nominating petition (attached):  If you are a 2nd Ward resident and registered voter, you can fill out a nominating petition for me.  It's easy, just write your address at the top, and sign and print your name.  I can bring one to you or you can print the attached and sign and I will come to you to pick up! Thank you to everyone who already has!  
  • Be an Ambassador for my campaign:  Telling everyone you know in the 2nd Ward that they should vote for me.  And when we get closer to Election Day, helping to make sure they do.
  • Introduce me to 2nd Ward friends and neighbors:  This we can do one-on-one or even in a group setting at my home or yours.  Just let me know how we can best make this happen! 
  • Contribute to my campaign:  Thank you to those of you who have been kind enough to contribute to my campaign both with services and financially.  For those of you who have asked already and those of you I am officially asking: 
Please donate to my campaign at the link below:


When I ran in 2015, I spent approximately $22,000 to reach potential voters.  I didn’t actively ask for contributions (although I received about $10,000) because (a) I felt uncomfortable (still do) and (b) I thought I wouldn’t win because of not knowing how to campaign.  This time around, I am more confident not only in my ability to campaign but also in the record we have created together in getting important things done in Hoboken.  And this time around I realize that I both want and need your support to continue tackling all of the important issues that lie ahead.  So thank you in advance for considering contributing to my campaign
I wanted to share with you a couple of my takeaways from my Kick-Off event.  First – this re-election is a team effort.  I am doing this with and for you and all of the rest of the residents in our special community but it is specifically your engagement – those who came that night and your future efforts - that makes it worth it and makes it all happen.  Second – when I looked across the room, what I saw were people from all corners of the 2nd ward, all corners of Hoboken, different political parties, different socio-economic backgrounds, and some people who have not been in the same room together because of historic local political divisions.  

At a time when divisive politics are attacking our spirit everywhere, it was refreshing and inspiring to see how politics can also be positive and unifying.  And a few who joined that night shared with me that they felt the same way.  
Our community is so special because of all the voices in it.  And we are best when we are unified and working together not divided and working against each other.  And if I can be one of the voices that brings people together, then I will have done the best job for our community that I could ever hope to do.  

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.  And a special thank you to the team at the Madison Bar and Grill for setting the perfect stage to Kick Off my campaign!  Let’s do this, together! 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Hudson Superior Court: No bypassing Hoboken zoning and planning boards for NY Waterway

A NY Waterway lawsuit seeking to bypass the local Hoboken board process for its marine operations was denied in Hudson Superior Court yesterday.

The ruling means NY Waterway will continue with its plans to convert Union Dry Dock into a maintenance facility for its ferries serving thousands of Hoboken residents among others but the Hoboken Zoning and Planning Boards will remain involved in their respective roles in the process.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla saluted the decision by Judge Jeffrey Jablonski stating Hoboken will renew efforts to seize the NY Waterway property by use of eminent domain. Previous efforts by the Hoboken City Council in 2017 were rescinded in 2018 with the threat of higher eminent domain powers held by NJ Transit.

The court decision "puts us one step closer to making this a reality," the mayor claimed.

A City attorney at the hearing, Christopher Miller called the lawsuit by NY Waterway to bypass local approvals premature and declared any legal action in advance of the City of Hoboken's acting on permits sought by the ferry operator inappropriate.

The following video report from Hudson Superior Court comes courtesy of the Hudson County View:



Talking Ed Note: The City of Hoboken beats back an accelerated effort by NY Waterway to clear the path for operations at the former Union Dry Dock. Neither eminent domain actions by Hoboken City Hall nor repeated declarations of victory, however, changes the status quo.

So, we're in for much kabuki theater and circular eminent domain actions up the ladder signifying, wait for it.... nothing. In the end, there will need to be some common ground found.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Hudson Reporter reduces reporting staff 60%

Three of the five reporters at the Hudson Reporter suffered layoffs last week as reported by the New Jersey Globe.

Among them is senior political reporter Al Sullivan.

The New Jersey Globe remarked on his departure writing,

"The loss of Sullivan, a longtime fixture on the political scene, continues a recent loss of institutional knowledge of Hudson County politics that included the retirement of Jersey Journal legend Augie Torres and the departure of Terrence McDonald, who left the Journal to cover Bergen County for The (Bergen) Record."

The article further discusses the reductions and points to the newspaper's origins by real estate developer Joe Barry in 1983.

The lights dimmed on the former site of the Hudson Reporter at 14th Street and Washington in Hoboken.
New ownership made layoffs to more than half of its reporting staff covering Hudson County last week.

The departure of Al Sullivan means this Hoboken Horse is now the senior institutional political writer in the Mile Square City. Over the years, an untidy relationship with the former staff of the Hudson Reporter led to an often contentious battle over reporting accuracy, political controllers and alliances.

For most of its years under the former editors, the hostility toward the Hoboken Reform Movement was openly vented. A number of fine reporters, however, came through the ranks pushing back, notably Ray Smith and Timothy Carroll.

Their reporting often came up against the political considerations of editors but they continually pressed to break beyond the limitations.

One notable highlight is the topic of voter fraud in Hoboken. Both Timothy J. Carroll and Ray Smith leveraged exclusive reporting here on the practice pushing the issue out of the shadows.

Carroll would depart the Hudson Reporter and immediately brought statewide attention with his story on voter fraud highlighting the chronic use of absentee (Vote by Mail) ballots.

Similarly, after the 2010 Hoboken fourth ward election, Ray Smith would detail the disproportionate number of paid campaign workers in a small ward election.

Last month, Frank "Pupie" Raia was convicted in Newark federal court for directing a massive voter bribery ring in Hoboken's subsidized housing using the Vote by Mail ballots as a centerpiece of the scheme.

Talking Ed Note: Al Sullivan will be looking for a new home to take his fine writing skills and decades-long institutional knowledge. Hopefully, he makes a soft landing where he can make a bigger impact.

The Soprano State pols certainly need scrutinizing eyes.

Friday, July 26, 2019

BREAKING: Nicola Maganuco for Fifth Ward City Council?

MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE


A voice emerges in the Hoboken summer "announcing" intent to add a choice in the Hoboken fifth ward council election this November?

No conversation with this potential candidate to date but this tweet by #HobokenCommuter urges residents that the Mile Square City needs "an advocate for improved quality on public transportation."

They may have a point. The tweet with currently hundreds of Hoboken followers adds:

Vote for Nicola Maganuco for Hoboken City Council 5th Ward.


Talking Ed Note: Did Hoboken's council race in the fifth ward just get hotter? Peter Cunningham needs to have a chat with one Nicola Maganuco. Whatever Mr. Maganuco does, he should avoid any communication (typically via text harassment) with Ravi Bhalla's paid political operative at all cost. He will be savaged and lied about at the Cave if a candidate soon enough.

Well Hoboken, one thing we can be sure about. This news will keep the political operatives in the mayor's office busy doing work today: just not for the people of Hoboken. It's what FacePunchers do!

Related: Hudson County View followed the Hobokenhorse.com exclusive today and confirms Nick Maganuco will vie for the fifth ward council seat this November:

https://hudsoncountyview.com/with-cunningham-out-of-hobokens-5th-ward-race-maganuco-looks-to-challenge-cohen/

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Municipal Garage Monarch

Horse Sense Editorial:

Deal or steal?

Hoboken's replacement to the Municipal Garage? Part of what you see is what's on tap. Maybe.
It's what you don't see that counts?

The devil is in the details but the required topline strokes are missing in the "settlement" that isn't a settlement at all as announced by Mayor Ravi Bhalla with the Barry Bros. of Ironstate Development, re: Applied/the Shipyard.

From a basic vanilla standpoint, an exchange developing at the site of the Municipal Garage downtown is preferable to the waterfront in the northeast corner of town.

That isn't saying much.

Even missing topline numbers on the real estate valuations of both the pier uptown and the municipal garage land downtown leaves many to wonder when the basic facts of the working proposal (not a settlement) will be provided and relevant answers fleshed out.

The answer? Don't hold your breath as a quick look at the first three words out of the mayor's office makes abundantly clear the intent to deceive the public:
The Hoboken public has reason to be skeptical about the deal being touted by Mayor Ravi Bhalla and the Barry Brothers flipping the Monarch Towers for the highly desireable land at the City of Hoboken Municipal Garage. 

The City Council is most definitely going to be handed a limited declaration of some kind between Ravi Bhalla and the Barry Bros. to vote on in its August meeting.

The public, however, will likely be as in the dark on the devilish details as the City Council.

A Hail Mary pass received by the New Jersey Supreme Court means there's a better option possible for Hoboken. No deal should be made before their hearing and decision but politically it's far more beneficial to Ravi Bhalla and the Barry Brothers to pull off their deal sooner.

There's no need to rush anything. Hoboken has been conned and ripped off with developer scams long enough.

For an idea what the Barrys have in mind, just take a look across the way in downtown Jersey City. Thousands and thousands of units in high rise buildings with Jersey City jacked to the point its education system was left operating with a $100 million deficit.

The Hoboken public and the City Council need to cast a wary eye on the political ambitions married between Ravi Bhalla and the Barrys. For Hoboken, this could be a match made in hell.

Be vigilant. Oh and, raise hell.



Councilman DeFusco Will Advocate for Public Arts Space as Part of Monarch Development Agreement

Official release:

Councilman Mike DeFusco is working to bring a live music and performing arts center to Hoboken as part of the city’s tentative agreement to relocate the waterfront Monarch project to the First Ward. A strong advocate for responsible and innovative development, Councilman DeFusco believes the pending deal will bring much-needed quality of life improvements to a portion of Downtown Hoboken that has been neglected for far too long. The agreement includes the construction of a new enclosed DPW garage to reduce noise in the neighborhood, investments in downtown infrastructure and bringing new retail space to Observer Highway, allowing small businesses to continue investing in Hoboken.
Councilman DeFusco is committed to working collaboratively with the administration to finalize a development agreement that will benefit his district while protecting the integrity of Hoboken’s waterfront. A similar project is already being constructed in Montclair by the same developer, Ironstate Development Company, proving these innovative mixed-use building can successfully re-identify a community as a cultural hub for arts and dining. 
“Preserving our waterfront as open public space and reinvesting in the arts have always been and still remain top priorities for me,” said Councilman Mike DeFusco. “The city’s new tentative agreement with the Monarch developer is an opportunity to activate a grossly neglected neighborhood in the First Ward, make critical infrastructure investments without any cost to taxpayers and bring new public arts programs to our city. Hoboken has already spent years entrenched in legal battles with the Monarch developer, accomplishing little more than accumulating costly legal bills, and I believe relocating this project can put an end to an issue that has plagued our city for nearly a decade. We achieve the best possible outcome when the ward council member and administration work collaboratively to identify the best possible solutions and I’m proud that is exactly what we plan to accomplish.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Jen Giattino Kickoff at Moran's - wall to wall support!

Last night torrential thunderstorms turned Hoboken streets into gushers of water but the kickoff for Councilwoman Jen Giattino surprisingly flooded with supporters.

Hosted at Moran's, the popular Irish pub opened its doors on a day typically closed to a torrential flood of support for the popular two-term councilwoman.

Dozens came out in monsoon-like conditions, packing Moran's wall to wall giving a kickstart to the sixth ward council race for Councilwoman Giattino, the popular City Council President

The wall-to-wall scene at Moran's last night for Councilwoman Jen Giattino's re-election kickoff last night.
Wild Horses couldn't keep them away and neither could flash flooding thunderstorms. 

Giattino will put her record of success on and off the City Council up for a vote in November.

Uptown a "coincidental" event as Mayor Ravi Bhalla held a meeting on negotiations with Ironstate Development, re the Barrys who are seeking the Municipal Garage site in exchange for developing on the shaky pier of the proposed Monarch towers. The preliminary settlement details are limited with no transparency in the basics like valuations for the properties.

It's another reason why Giattino's experience is so crucial on behalf of Hoboken. The City Council will need to muster everything in its arsenal to sort through a potential deal that could severely alter the landscape of downtown Hoboken.

They will likely face the inevitable stonewalling and political posturing for an immediate vote in the dead of summer next month as Ravi Bhalla will try to slam through approval with election season underway. Six of the nine City Council seats are up for election this November.

This decade, Hoboken has seen some high-stress situations such as the failing local hospital which was facing sabotage and ruin from the Beth Mason - Michael Russo hydra in 2011 to the massive Bijou development which will change the transportation landscape in West Hoboken and beyond.

Through it all, Jen Giattino has been an important and often critical vote for common sense. She was instrumental in leading an update of Hoboken pay-to-play laws even as they were surmounted by massive special interest money from outside the town in the controversial 2017 mayoral election.

Fast forward two years and Jen Giattino has led a successful City Council as President getting through much good for Hoboken while keeping a check on Ravi Bhalla's excesses, thirst for higher taxes and his shady second job hounding for municipal contracts with a Republican law firm.

Last night, Hoboken showed come rain or shine, they'll stand with Jen Giattino. Now the battle royale for the soul of Hoboken and its future begins.

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 smartyjones@me.com 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!

-Jen

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 !   

Regards,

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.... 
 
IMPROVING eSCOOTER SAFETY
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

TAKING POLITICS OUT OF CITY HALL
 
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. 

 
 🐶 DOWNTOWN DOG RUN 🐶
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

FIREWORKS ON HOBOKEN'S WATERFRONT?

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. 

MUSIC FOR OUR SENIORS

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 Mike4Hoboken@yahoo.com or call my cell directly at 646.372.4341.
Your Councilman,
Mike DeFusco
Hoboken City Councilman