Monday, September 30, 2019

New Jersey State LGBTQ Caucus Denounces Nancy Pincus for Hateful Rhetoric Directed at the LGBTQ Community

Official release:
Nancy Pincus

A local political blogger in Hoboken recently posted a homophobic attack on Councilman Mike DeFusco, who became the first openly gay candidate to win local office in Hudson County four years ago and is currently running for re-election. The post contains several disturbing references, including that DeFusco is “looking for a date,” doing “chinups in the men’s room stall” and “arm-pit sniffing,” among other salacious attacks. The entire post evokes the troubled history of members of the LGBTQ community being attacked simply for expressing themselves, which is completely out of step with Hoboken’s values as a progressive, welcoming city.  
“The use of homophobic and disturbing language against anyone, including an openly gay councilman, cannot be dismissed or tolerated in any of our neighborhoods,” said Lauren Albrecht, Chair of the New Jersey State Democratic LGBTQ Caucus. “Comments like this are purposely intended to make negative and passive inferences to the LGBTQ community and only aim to set us back in the progress we have made to achieve true equality. Councilman DeFusco has always been a great friend to the LGBTQ community and now it’s time for everyone in Hoboken to take a stand against remarks that attack a public servant for his sexuality.” 
The post was authored by local blogger Nancy Pincus, a paid political operative for Mayor Ravi Bhalla. Pincus has a reputation of working with administration to attack members of the City Council who do not always align with the mayor’s political agenda. 
“It’s an open secret that Nancy Pincus works alongside the Mayor to promote his political agenda on her blog, but using any platform to share remarks that intentionally offend the LGBTQ community is simply unacceptable,” said Councilman Mike DeFusco. “Over the past four years, I’ve been proud to work alongside the administration to advance equality in Hoboken with progressive legislation and open conversations. Unfortunately while the Mayor promotes Hoboken as an accepting city for everyone, he’s complicit in spreading this divisive language by allowing his paid political blogger to make attacks like this from behind a screen. If we wish to continue identifying Hoboken as an inclusive community, we must all take a stand against comments like this, regardless of where we stand politically.” 
The State Democratic LGBTQ Caucus is asking for Councilman DeFusco’s opponent, Mayor Bhalla and his entire council slate to denounce this rhetoric and send a clear message that intolerant speech and discrimination have no home in Hoboken.  

Sign of the Times: Laid off City employee points to Mayor Ravi Bhalla lacking integrity

A City Hall employee, one of four recently named for layoffs out of Mayor Ravi Bhalla's office delivered a citywide message in a public announcement on her last day.

The message announced her departure last week with a pointed and less than veiled commentary about integrity or the lack thereof coming from those in "managerial positions, positions of authority, and those who make final decisions in the City."

City Hall observers and municipal workers sources point to the less than unseemly layoffs being part and parcel of a scorched earth cynical plan constructed out of the mayor's office to blame the City Council.

That political operation, among the latest emanating out of the mayor's office, backfired when the Hoboken municipal unions refused to join the mayor's office in issuing a joint statement blaming the City Council for the four layoffs.

Three additional municipal employees were targeted for a layoff after the mayor's office seeing its budget rolled back to 2017 former mayor Dawn Zimmer levels shifted part of its payroll for several of its political aides with their double-digit raises and six-figure pay stubs over to the legal department and parking authority budgets.

Here is the complete, unedited, public goodbye to Hoboken City Hall last week:


The reference in number three to managerial authority is believed by City Hall insiders a jab at Business Administrator Stephen Marks. He's thought to have drawn up the political layoff list now backfiring.

The big pointed snub though is apparently saved for Mayor Ravi Bhalla who has suffered a string of less than ethical and legal questions about his actions. "It may be an unpopular trait to have these days, but keep in mind that a great leader maintains their integrity, even when it is not profitable for them to do so," in a parting money shot.

Ravi Bhalla is well-known for his leading the Office of Mayor in numerous scorched earth campaigns, his being an eternal one as he seeks a way out out of Hoboken into higher elected office.

Apparently, one former City of Hoboken employee took notice and made a point of it at the exit ramp.

Talking Ed Note: When the City Council refused to approve Ravi Bhalla's three-percent tax increase, it offset the costs in non-essential cost reductions - none of them requiring any layoffs whatsoever.

Council VP Ruben Ramos inquired in a recent meeting if the budget funding municipal employees had been approved previously in this year's budget. City Council President Jen Giattino confirmed it was.

One of the four targeted for a layoff is a woman who is eight months away from her pension.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Ravi Bhalla Dark Money looms as political stunt fails

Hoboken waits in trepeditation as the much-anticipated Ravi Bhalla Dark Money looms over the Mile Square City.

The mayor's political stunt calling for a special meeting last night on a previously tabled resolution in the City Council last Wednesday failed.

Most of the City Council responded by simply not showing up.


Mayor Ravi Bhalla called for the special meeting after a political campaign resolution, claiming it would "enforce" the 2011 pay-to-play ordinance was tabled for further legal review.

The resolution breathlessly talks about enforcement but does nothing of the sort.

Put forward by Bhalla council allies Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour, it only saw council support once again from Ravi-Russo Alliance member Michael Russo.

While Russo showed last night, holding up his end of the Ravi-Russo Alliance deal where no Ravi Bhalla council candidate was put on the ballot to run against him this November; the rest of the City Council refused to play along with the charade.

The resolution, purportedly claiming to uphold "enforcement" of the 2011 pay-to-play ordinance is one Russo himself vehemently and repeatedly oppossed back to 2010.

The City Council responded to Ravi Bhalla's dog and pony show political stunt by ignoring it altogether.

The mesage volleyed is the City Council is serious about looking into enforcement with a conflict counsel as Mayor Ravi Bhalla went out and solicited an outside legal opinion advising to undo the 2011 ordinance.



Sources within City Hall say the political stunt was immediately undone when Rav Bhalla didn't even bother reaching out to the City Council members asking for their schedule.

Meanwhile, the 2017 Ravi Bhalla campaign spokesman who is the mouthpiece for all his council candidates sits in New England and will launch a campaign attack coordinated with online political operatives in retaliation.

Corporation Counsel Brian Aloia has stated the 2011 ordinance is unenforceable on multiple occasions going back to 2017.

Talking Ed Note: Leading into the meeting and as exclusively predicted here, local party drones controlled by Ravi Bhalla called for the public to waste its time and attend the meeting leading into the November non-partisan City Council ward elections.

A Hoboken Housing Authority commissioner joined the circus and apparently broke board policy in a seething political screed against City Council President Jen Giattino.

Screeching like a Greta, the board member moaned he was victimized by a generic email invitation to her campaign event.

Close observers noted this, along with local party drones, were all coordinated out of the Hoboken mayor's office with some shadowy promised benefit. The Hoboken Nixle alert system was again utilized in the latest violation of its terms against usage for political activity.

Prior to the failed special meeting, Vijay Chaudhuri, the mayor's communication manager and 2017 campaign manager wrote on Facebook the City Council should attend the special meeting and "uphold" the 2011 pay to play ordinance.

The resolution however put up at last week's council meeting and the failed special meeting does no such thing.

The Dog and Pony Show thus dies a fiery but silent death.

The mayor's office was not available for immediate comment; there's more political work to do.



Thursday, September 26, 2019

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "10/7 #MoreVoices Fundraiser & Friendraiser"

Official release:


Dear friends and neighbors –

You know I believe that “More Voices Are Always Better” and election campaigns are a great example!  Please bring your voice and come have a famous La Isla mojito (with our without alcohol) and some amazing Cuban fare with me on Monday October 7th at La Isla Uptown for my #MoreVoices Campaign Fundraising and Friendraising Event!



Although I have had friendraising events before, this is actually the very first official fundraising one I have ever had.  When I ran for election the first time, people were generous with donations to my campaign and I was blessed with an abundance of volunteers.  I did not officially fundraise not because I didn't think I would be a good representative for you, but rather because I was new at campaigning and wasn't sure I was going to be successful at it!  

This time around I am running with more confidence about campaigning, I understand better that people want to show support in different ways, and as importantly, I am proud of the track record we have created together and the path we are on to tackle all that lies ahead.  So with all of this, I am less bashful now about asking for support!

I am asking for a minimum donation as a $25 ticket price.  If this is a difficult time to make that financial commitment, but you would like to provide support in other ways, please just let me know! I am happy to still have you as my guest.  And if you would like to make a larger donation through this site, you can just buy more tickets!  (a workaround because oddly, just by allowing more choices for donation types, eventbrite doubles the admin fees they charge).  If you can't make it and would like to make a donation directly, you can click on the link below.


I use paypal in all cases, but you don't have to have a paypal account.  If you proceed through each page you will find the choice of using a paypal account, or below it you will see the ability to use a debit or credit card.  


Election Day is already just/still 6 weeks from today!  It is both so far yet so close at the same time. It is a lot of work and I definitely could use any help you can give including stuffing envelopes, campaign coordination, helping to get your friends and neighbors to vote, supporting me on social media (you can find me on FacebookTwitter or Instagram), website management, event coordination, door knocking hanging my campaign sign, wearing my t-shirt, carrying my shopping tote, and of course donations.  It definitely takes a village but there is something for everyone! 

I hope to see on the 7th!  Please come be a voice for my campaign, so I can continue to be a voice for you!

TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward

Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”

Councilman Mike DeFusco Secures Study for Municipal Garage, Actively Discussing Revitalization Plans


Official release:

Opponent’s Plan Could Negatively Impact Quality of Life in Neighborhood
As Chairman of both the Southern Development and Zoning Subcommittees, Councilman Mike DeFusco has successfully secured funding to conduct an engineering study to begin making necessary repairs to the Hudson Street municipal garage. Through ongoing discussions, Councilman DeFusco has already explored building a long-overdue public pool and proposed bringing a much-needed community garden to the roof of Municipal Garage D. The funding for the engineering plan was approved as part of a bond ordinance during last week’s City Council meeting. 

“Repairing the municipal garage on Hudson Street is a plan the City Council has already funded as part of much-needed infrastructure investments in the First Ward,” said Councilman Mike DeFusco. “While we await the results of the engineering study, we are actively discussing with stakeholders better and more sustainable uses for the property, but we must always consider neighborhood feedback. I’m happy that my opponent, a political aide to the mayor, recognizes the progress we have made, with the cooperation of the administration, to repair the deteriorating garage. Campaign rhetoric and the business of governing the city should never mesh, but it’s nice to see my opponent support the positive change and placemaking initiatives I’ve already delivered to the First Ward.”

Renderings of the plan Councilman DeFusco has conceptualized, but not yet shared with the community for public input, including a public pool and community garden, are attached. 

A competing plan to create recreation space without consulting professional recommendations nor seeking community input is irresponsible and could negatively impact the quality of life in Hoboken. Residents in the area deserve to have their voices heard about a new public courtyard space that would be built directly below their windows. Councilman DeFusco will host community meetings about the future of the garage when the results of the engineering study are received to responsibly identify how this space can be revitalized, without impacting the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhood. 

“As a lifelong resident of Hoboken and mother of a 4-year-old child, maintaining and improving the quality of life in my hometown is so important to me,” said Marisol Hernandez, a resident of one of the Hudson Street buildings that will be directly impacted by construction at the garage. “It’s concerning to see plans for a recreation facility being tossed around without responsible discussions about how this new public courtyard could shine bright lights into our homes and create additional noise in our neighborhood. Having known Mike for five years, I believe in his plan because he keeps the best interests and the quality of life of all residents in mind when making big decisions like this.” 

Councilman DeFusco is committed to maximizing placemaking initiatives in the First Ward. In the past year, he has successfully advocated for a redevelopment plan that will bring a European Market to Hoboken Terminal, passed legislation that will open the dilapidated kiosks on Pier A, pushed for a responsible public arts program and is looking to revitalize the pocket park at the Garden and Newark Street intersection. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Ravi Bhalla set to go full throttle with the Big Lie

Hoboken's council campaign ward elections are in full swing and the slate put up by Mayor Ravi Bhalla is swinging in an abyss of low brow cynical politics directed out of the Hoboken mayor's office.

Time to amp up and double down with the Big Lie technique.

No, it's not Halloween but Ravi Bhalla wants low information voter
treats turned over right now. Time to hype an "all hallows" special meeting
and its sole chest-thumping resolution. It's a sorry place Hoboken finds itself.

Tomorrow, a cravenly cynical resolution put up by the eternal Bhalla for Something Better Campaign is seeking to score political points with low information voters in a wasteful display of taxpayer resources as Ravi Bhalla demanded a special meeting.

Some suspect he's enlisting his drones at the local party committee to join the fray and amp up the hype too.

Everyone in the know is yawning at the inert resolution blathering about enforcement on Hoboken campaign expenditures that lacks an enforcement provision and failed to exert itself in over eight years.

The Corporation Counsel, Brian Aloia since 2017 has admitted as much saying the enforcement provision is unenforceable multiple times.

The sole instance where the Hoboken Law Department tried in a letter to former Councilwoman Beth Mason was ignored back in 2013. No attempt of any kind has ensued since.

The original Ravi Bhalla plan to unwind the 2011 pay-to-play ordinance was foiled, thoroughly covered and exposed here. As usual, it's about money and trying to build a bigger campaign war chest.

The mayor's office with Councilmembers Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour is sponsoring the "let's make some noise" resolution want you to believe they will ride in and save the day sparing Hoboken from... whatever. Et tu Jim?

The P.T. Barnum line about "a sucker born every minute comes to mind."

The insult with a completely wasteful special meeting, braying to low-information Hoboken voters is on par with the insult to Hoboken taxpayers. You're all being played, for suckers.

This is the Ravi Bhalla New Old Guard and they want to take us back. Maybe with the Ravi-Russo Alliance working hand in hand, they are creating a 21st-century version and will.

Take a glimpse of Hoboken corruption past to see what may be in store:



More to come.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Councilman Peter Cunningham endorses Tim Crowell for 5th ward council

Official release:


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope everyone enjoyed the summer with friends and family and is now settled into the school year.  This year, the fall season brings the upcoming city council elections in November.

Since making my announcement earlier this summer not to seek a fourth term, I have heard from many of you wishing me well and thanking me for my time served.  It has been a pleasure hearing from you all and thank you very much for your kind words, faith, confidence and support for me over the years.  Hoboken has always been a city that appreciates and recognizes the sacrifices of its public servants.  The City of Hoboken and in particular the 5th Ward has validated that point, and I thank you all again!!

With that being said, many have asked, “who will run to fill your seat?”  As indicated in my announcement, I was not “anointing” a successor.  However as hoped, many potential candidates came forward over the last month or so to ask for advice, support, and endorsement.  I’ve been very happy to offer my advice.  Support and endorsement, however, are quite different.

I have always been proud of my practical approach to listening to my constituents, supporting progressive policies and legislative matters with a fairly conservative budgetary approach.  For instance, I like the prudent use of debt with a healthy surplus and understand that good credit earns good financing rates.  This is especially important given Hoboken’s continued need to finance necessary and expensive capital projects.  Because development is critical to the 5th ward and the City’s overall economic success, it must be exercised and managed very carefully.   It directly impacts our quality of life, traffic, and transportation.  Thoughtful knowledge and discussion of these issues are a must.  I have worked to fulfill this responsibility and have not tolerated political nonsense that often muddles these issues.

Lastly, I am also proud of the independence I have exercised as a councilperson. I have always supported the Mayor when it’s best for Hoboken and challenged the Mayor when I don’t agree. Mayor Bhalla’s statements that “he needs a council he can work with” is in actuality a plea for a council that will “rubber stamp” his agenda. Let’s look at the facts:  I have supported 95% of his agenda.  Recently, I was NOT supportive of his proposed tax increase for his office’s outsized increase in staffing for what I deemed to be for political purposes.  Mayor Zimmer got along just fine with staffing levels in her office.  I do call into question the distractions of Mayor Bhalla’s second job and the need for additional staffing in the Mayor’s Office.  However, I wholeheartedly supported the Mayor on the use of eminent domain for Union Dry Dock.   

It’s for all these reasons I am endorsing Tim Crowell (pronounced kroll) for 5th Ward City Council.  There are three candidates in the race, and he is by far the most independent, ethical and professional of the three.  Tim is an experienced professional, married with two kids at the Brandt Public School. He’s an independent thinker with a financial/real estate background and no political experience.  He’s given back to the communities where he lives and works and has what I believe to have very high ethical standards.  I like his no-nonsense practical approach to all matters affecting the 5th Ward and the City of Hoboken.  

His campaign is underway, and I encourage you to reach out to him at tim@timforhoboken.org.  I ask that you give him a chance to tell you how he stands ready to keep our legacy of keeping the 5th Ward and Hoboken moving forward.  Please forward to your friends and neighbors.

Peter Cunningham
Hoboken’s 5th Ward City Councilman
cunninghamforhoboken@gmail.com


To learn more about Tim Crowell see: https://timforhoboken.org


Monday, September 23, 2019

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: North End Meeting 9/24, e-Scooter Restrictions

Offiical release:

 
Dear friends and neighbors – 
 
Happy First Day of Fall!  As someone who is generally glass half full, but helms from Rochester NY, to me this just means the beginning of 7 months of cold… but with an October birthday, fall is still my favorite season nonetheless!
 
 
A few important things I wanted to share with you:
 
Important Meeting on the Plans for the North End Redevelopment Area
  • When:  9/24 (Tuesday), 630-830
  • Where: Elysian Charter School, SW Corner of 15th and Garden
As I knock on doors and talk with people, I still hear from most of you about issues relating to overdevelopment and population growth.  
 
“Too many cars already on the road”  
“Not enough active/recreation space to meet the demands of today’s population of kids and adults”  
“We need to build new schools” 
“Impossible to get in and out of Hoboken”  
“There is no uptown municipal parking” 
“Taxes. Taxes. Taxes.” 
“When are we getting that uptown light rail station?”  
“Uptown bus lines are so long…” 
“Our uptown businesses are dying” 
 
I know that at least one of these resonates with each person who reads this.  That is how pervasive the concern is.  And not planning the North End correctly means the risk of exacerbating each one of those concerns.  We need community voices, not just property owners, to determine what works for Hoboken. That is how important this meeting is so I hope you can attend to learn, share your views, and be a voice for the future of our community.
 
e-Scooter Restrictions Approved 9-0 – Now All About Enforcement 
 
At our meeting last Wednesday, the City Council approved unanimously legislation to restrict e-Scooter’s from our parks and on the upper and lower waterfront areas.  Specifically as defined in paragraphs J & T of the ordinance the restricted area is: 
 
the portion of the Waterfront Walkway that begins at the North End of Sinatra Park running south to the municipal border including but not limited to the promenade area adjacent to Blue Eyes CafĂ© nor the portion of the Waterfront Walkway that begins at the south end of the Skateboard Park and runs north to the Municipal Border.  This prohibition shall not include bike lanes or roadways along the Waterfront Walkway”.
 
If you get a chance, please take time to watch the meeting either online or on Facebook to see the discussion of the e-Scooters.  At least the first three speakers.  Our neighbor who, while pushing her three month old in a stroller, was hit by an e-Scooter begins speaking at 7:08:22 (on Facebook, at minute 38:50 online).  After her, there are speakers relating to a 2nd year Stevens student who is visually impaired.  Her guide speaks first, and she speaks second beginning at 7:17:29 (on FB, minute 48 online).  She tells her own personal story of how her walking stick does not find a Lime e-Scooter because of its shape and as a result she walked into ones left in the middle of the sidewalk three times and injured herself.  But the most heartbreaking aspect of this is when she says “She has lost her independence and now must use a guide wherever she goes”. Accessibility and ADA – another aspect of this program that just wasn’t thought through enough before it was launched.  And one that is critical for us to get right.  

Overall the Council gave indications it will not extend the pilot on November 20th.  If there is a vote, I will be voting not to extend.  Why?  A combination of wet/snowy weather and inability to enforce.  Much of what we discussed was how these new regulations, or any of our e-Scooter regulations, be better enforced?  For now, I am hoping that Lime will be “geofencing” the prohibited areas which they have the technology to do.  Longer term, if an e-Scooter program resurfaces, we need a definitive and better solution to enforcement than we currently have.  
 
For those reading this who are supportive of e-Scooters, and even angry about the direction of the e-Scooter program or just the restriction itself, know that I am committed to continuing to work closely with the City to craft a better plan for them than we have right now.  One that supports mobility, has effective enforcement of irresponsible riding, keeps them out of the hands of children, has more organized parking and severe penalties for impairing accessibility, and whatever else necessary to keep residents, riders and visitors as safe as possible.  And this to me requires a few months, a public meeting, and a new Request for Proposal to be sent out more widely so we can get the best practices, best insights and best terms available.
 
NFL Sunday’s and Rampant DWI’s
 
I don’t know about you, but this year it feels like every Sunday feels more like Leprecon most evidenced by the multiple DWI’s that are occurring in town.  Last week there were 5 on Sunday including accidents (a couple relating to late Saturday night), and yesterday there was one that terrorized the areas near 7th and Bloomfield St.  All people who do not live in Hoboken.  To me, driving while intoxicated is probably the single most dangerous thing that can happen on our narrow, pedestrian and children-filled, Hoboken roads.  Thankfully no one was injured, this time.  But we need to do more to stop this from happening.  Yes, I am sure my critics will say these are just words at this point, but I will be raising with my Council colleagues, our Hoboken Police, and my fellow Hoboken Business Alliance board members to think about what more we can do to curtail this practice.  In this instance, the enforcement side is strong (thank you Hoboken Police!).  It is the prohibition side that isn’t.
 
I am 100% committed to running a positive campaign
 
I spoke with a neighbor last night who said he appreciates my newsletters, and in particular that they usually have an objective and constructive tone.  And I want you to know that I try to be that way all the time and 98% of the time it is pretty easy given we are mostly just talking about policy issues.  But I did say back to this person that I am reserving my right to not always be that way, and specifically when I need to defend myself against negative politicking or campaigning.  Rhetoric, propaganda and whisper campaigns can be ugly and dishonest, especially around elections, and sometimes I just need to make you aware of it.  Out of the 140ish emails I sent in the past 21 months I think I only sent two that were like this.
 
But in the interest of full disclosure, my stomach is churning about the potential, defamatory “October Surprise” attacks like we saw in the 2017 elections.  For clarity, do I think my opponent will issue them?  No I do not.  Although negative comments about me has been part of her campaign so far, I am confident she would not stoop so low as to send out attack ads.  If there are attacks, I think they will come from a Super Pac or Independent Expenditure like we saw in 2017 and that we hear is being formed to attack certain incumbents (including me).  Hopefully I will be wrong, but all I can do is ask you to keep it on your radar and if you see or hear anything, please consider the source, the purpose and definitely let me know.
 
 
Campaign season is heating up and like it or not, you will start seeing more of me - and more things with me on them - posters, bags, t-shirts, buttons, you name it.  If you want to reserve yours just let me know!  Nowhere does campaign season better than Hoboken.  Notwithstanding the above, it is way more fun and energizing than not.  Regardless who you support, be part of it!  Pick your team.  Engage with candidates.  It is all of our voices together that elevate the game, the experience, and the outcome.  
 
As always, please forward to anyone you think may be interested in this.  And feel free to email me at hoboken2nd@gmail.com or call me at 201/208-1674 to discuss what you have read or anything else that is important to you.  If you are interested in donating to my campaign you can do so online HERE.  Thank you again for this amazing opportunity to serve you and for your support.  I will continue to work hard, every day, to earn your vote on November 5th. 
 
I hope to see all of you tomorrow night at 630pm at the North End meeting!
 
 
TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
 
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”

Hoboken's youngest council candidate focused on local transportation issues

The uptown fifth ward of Hoboken covering the northwest portion of the Mile Square City is suffering growing pains as any other.

The long bus lines in the morning with people trying to make their way to work is a recurring problem; one that prompted Nicola Maganuco to begin the twitter account HobokenCommuter more than a year ago.

Seeing no solution or as he notes, since no one on the City Council or the mayor's office lives with the issue, Nick, as he goes by with friends, decided to throw his hat in the ring last July via his Twitter account.

The exclusive story was reported here.

Nicola Maganuco, a finance professional in the fifth ward is one of three candidates vying to replace the departing
Councilman Peter Cunningham who is exiting public work after three terms.

The 27-year-old financial professional who came to Hoboken in early 2016 is one of three candidates vying for the City Council seat Councilman Peter Cunningham is exiting after 12 years and three terms.

It promises to be one of the most interesting and competitive races with Phil Cohen and Tim Crowell rounding out the field.

Originally from Wayne, NJ, Maganuco came to Hoboken for a better quality of life commuting into Manhattan. He discovered there were some problems getting to the office from uptown Hoboken.

"It inspired me to create Hoboken commuter. It's my way telling the mayor and City Council nothing was being done but no one reacted, no one responded," he says.

The issue has become he says the "root of my campaign." He's hitting the fifth ward neighborhood heavily and talking to residents who share a similar concern. Maganuco also wants to see tech solutions added to the Mile Square transportation mix like in New York City with express uptown pickups on Clinton St, with western bus routes and smart tech featured in bus shelters.

"They have it in New York City, we should too," he adds matter of factly.

Another issue neighbors discuss frequently Maganuco says is an old but familiar refrain on development or what many would call over development. "We have to be smart about it. We have too much residential and it has implications on transit and our quality of life."

More commercial and retail shops are what Maganuco is looking to see implemented in Hoboken's future. He has some ideas on seeing it happen. "A boulevard (west) and added retail will make this side of town more welcoming like Pier 13," he suggests.

As he's hit the campaign trail Maganuco hears a lot about the e-Scooter pilot. Prior to the banning of the Ojo e-Scooter, he said in this interview, "People are extremely concerned for their kids and their own safety." 

Calling the six-month pilot a "net benefit" Maganuco believes the program can work for Hoboken with "more enforcement and education." He adds that most use public transportation in Hoboken and the e-Scooters can be helpful to the mix. 

"We need to see someone who can advocate for commuters," he emphasized adding, "and be the voice of commuters."

Of his two fifth ward council opposition, Maganuco stakes out his position to the voters concluding, I'm the only one that's running on a cause.

Talking Ed Note: Nick Maganuco looks like the prototype of a candidate who gets into local government for all the right reasons. While he became interested in local government with Councilman Mike DeFusco's ascent, it would be categorically unfair to consider him an extension of the first ward councilman. 

He's already seen what happens to an independent candidate who enters into Hoboken politics and knows what it's like personally to be targeted by political operatives of Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

More to come.

9/24 Vote Jen Again Fundraiser! And new Vote By Mail legislation

Official release:


 
 

Dear friends and neighbors,
Please join me for some fun at my re-election launch fundraiser!
  • WHEN: Tuesday, September 24
  • WHERE 80 River Hoboken (in the location of the former Cadillac Cantina) 80 River Street, Hoboken
  • TIME: 6pm - 8pm
As many of you know the hardest thing for me to do is to ask for money but campaigns cost money. You have always been so generous supporting me. Each and every one of you makes a difference.  Will you support me with a donation of $25 or more? Checks payable to Jen Giattino for 6th Ward or you can DONATE ONLINE. 

I'm proud to represent the 6th Ward on the City Council and, with your continued support, will be honored to keep working together on what matters most to all of us, Hoboken. My focus has always been, and will continue to be, on improving quality of life issues, working to keep taxes low, helping those who have less, supporting our local businesses, and protecting our neighborhood feel that makes Hoboken so special. 
 
Thank you for your continued support and I look forward to seeing you on the 24th!
 
If you voted by mail in 2016-2018 you will automatically be receiving a vote by mail every year unless you wish to opt-out. If you have any questions please reach out. 
 
-Jen 
201.780.6779
Vote Jen Again

Campaign Kick-Off Event for 3-4-5 for Hoboken School Board!

Official release:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We hope you can join us as we kick off our campaign for Hoboken School Board!  We are excited to share with the community why we feel 3-4-5 is the right team to serve our school district.  

Monday, September 23rd, 2019
6:30-8:30pm
Frankie and Ava's Italian Eatery
208 Washington Street

We look forward to seeing you all,
Alex De La Torre (#3)
Joyce Simons (#4)
Sheillah Dallara (#5)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

EXCLUSIVE: Mayor Ravi Bhalla calls for partisan special meeting for non-binding resolution


Seeks campaign material for "enforcement" in non-binding pay-to-play resolution

Ravi Bhalla asks City Council: "Tell me how to do my job!" 

Weeks leading into council ward elections, Mayor Ravi Bhalla called for a special meeting this Thursday for a partisan campaign-driven resolution claiming to "enforce" the 2011 Pay-to-Play ordinance.

Last week's non-binding resolution calls for enforcement of the 2011 pay-to-play ordinance Bhalla's Corporation Counsel Brian Aloia previously declared unenforceable.

Neither the mayor's office nor Aloia has offered any new analysis of how the 2011 ordinance can be enforced in the balance of 2019.

Ravi Bhalla makes a campaign play calling for a special meeting
solely for a non-binding resolution leading into November council elections.

Wednesday night, Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher noted the disparity and called for an outside conflict counsel to review the matter. Her council colleagues agreed to move to table the resolution in a 6-3 vote.

The Bhalla Administration months prior, trotted out a small Hoboken municipal union as cover and obtained an outside legal analysis as a pretext to cripple if not do away with the 2011 ordinance in future legislative action. The ordinance currently limits political committees and unions from making political contributions in Hoboken above $500.

At the Wednesday council meeting, the non-binding resolution calling for enforcement of the 2011 pay-to-play ordinance saw objection to further legal analysis by councilmembers Jim Doyle, Emily Jabbour and Michael Russo of the Ravi-Russo Alliance.

The mayor's office notification for a special meeting Thursday came during business hours Friday using the citywide Nixle system.

The City Council has repeatedly chastised the Bhalla Administration for illegally using the city alert-emergency system for political purposes. It recently passed legislation calling for city employees to refrain from politicking during work hours.

The City Council last month passed a measure with a veto-proof majority Ravi Bhalla declined to sign but became effective without his signature.

Talking Ed Note: Some find too much irony in all this campaigning out of the mayor's office wondering if Ravi Bhalla is really asking the City Council to do his job?

But why is this partisan campaign gamesmanship being done during business hours on the taxpayer dime?

Vijay Chaudhuri, communications manager in the mayor's office is invited but will not be available for comment. The former 2017 campaign manager for the Bhalla for mayor campaign is likely very busy with campaign chores from now until November.

Close political observers of Hoboken City Hall note the focus with the non-binding resolution is not enforcement but a campaign play as Councilman Michael DeFusco has exceeded the contribution limits in 2017 and 2019; contributions Bhalla himself seeks for his campaign war chest in a future election of his choice.

The rest of this exclusive report goes out to premium members this weekend.

Friday, September 20, 2019

City of Hoboken to take Academy Bus property downtown in latest eminent domain

Hoboken Patch reports the newest city land acquisition "Hoboken Will Use Eminent Domain to Seize Bus Company's Property."

The sub-headline states former mayor Dawn Zimmer accused Academy Bus of trying to force Hoboken into an "out-of-scale, traffic-generating development deal" on the City."

On Wednesday the City of Hoboken filed legal documents to take the land currently owned by Academy Bus for $5.3 million. The eminent domain process, however, will determine the final price.

The acre of land seized will join nearly an acre across the street with the existing Southwest Park or Southwest Plaza as some call the open space.

No additional taxes are anticipated according to the mayor's office with existing taxpayer funding provided through $1 million from a Hudson County Trust, $900,000 through the State Green Acres fund and the existing Open Space Trust tax fund in Hoboken.

It's unclear what the final cost to renovate and build on the additional acre of space will total.

The eminent domain action means discussions Academy Bus held with the City of Hoboken, Mayor Ravi Bhalla and BoE school officials for a multi-development use on the location with a proposed park and space for a new public school are terminally ended.

A rendering of the proposed Academy Bus plan for downtown Hoboken at the site of its downtown office originally included
a paid-for public park and public school. 

For more on this story, see Hoboken Patch at the link:
https://patch.com/new-jersey/hoboken/hoboken-will-use-eminent-domain-seize-bus-company-s-property

Talking Ed Note: Dawn Zimmer originally pushed for a Southwest Park a decade ago joining a group of Hoboken residents who had been advocating for one. A see-saw City Hall battle ensued over years until a parking lot was eventually converted by eminent domain with the critical decisive vote coming from City Council President Jen Giattino.

Dawn Zimmer expressed unhappiness when the development options proposed by Academy Bus for a privately paid park with school facilities became public late last year. This year, Zimmer and her husband, Stan Grossbard, put their home up for sale with a seven-figure price tag in the vicinity of the Academy Bus proposal as exclusively reported here.

Word of the Academy Bus offering late last year circulated with false accusations made against councilmembers who were not involved by Ravi Bhalla's online paid political operative. The two falsely accused, Tiffanie Fisher and Jen Giattino were not affiliated near the downtown ward and had no role in the discussions between Academy Bus and Ravi Bhalla's office.

Ravi Bhalla earlier this year feigned ignorance of the matter and distanced himself from the negotiations of the Academy Bus proposal pointing to others.

Later, Academy Bus demanded that Ravi Bhalla's office have a designee in attendance on any future negotiations with their development offer to build apartments, a park, and school.

While their home was not sold, the earlier Zimmer NIMBY alert was heard loud and clear in a reported heated phone call to Ravi Bhalla.

Academy Bus had attempted good faith negotiations with the mayor's office and district BOE officials. Those efforts are officially ended pending the final price for their decades-owned property.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Councilwoman Fisher Thanks Colleagues for Unanimously Backing eScooter Restrictions at Public Parks, Waterfront Walkways

Official release:


Councilwoman pledges to continue working for pedestrian safety
The Hoboken City Council voted unanimously last night in favor of a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher restricting eScooters from all city parks as well as the Northern and Southern Waterfront Walkways. A steadfast advocate for pedestrian safety, Councilwoman Fisher has been an outspoken critic of the eScooter program, relaying constituent concerns about unsafe operations by riders, lack of effective enforcement and safety issues. Councilwoman Fisher led the efforts for a revised contract with Lime, the city's lone remaining eScooter provider, that guarantees more revenue for the city to be used for enforcement actions.
Councilwoman Fisher is issuing the following statement:
"I would like to thank my colleagues for joining me in moving to restrict eScooters from our city parks and Waterfront Walkways, building on the continued efforts this City Council and the administration have undertaken to protect pedestrians, especially children and families walking in our public spaces. While there are clearly mobility benefits offered by the eScooter program, the simple fact is that until residents feel safe walking in our city we must continue working to make the program safer. I will continue working with my colleagues to institute stricter safety requirements wherever needed, while also working to identify ways to enhance enforcement and relieve the burden on Hoboken’s police and continuing to build out supportive infrastructure like bike lanes and road improvements. Last night was the first real public discussion we have had on the EScooter pilot and I appreciate everyone who came to speak and share their experiences.  As we continue to evaluate the program, input from everyone is critical so we can decide how best to make this work for Hoboken, or not.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Lime on the Line

Tonight the City Council will examine additional restrictions on the very popular and widely used e-Scooters introduced in a six-month pilot by Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

It's the last of the two companies in the pilot as the mayor revoked the other, Ojo, when a reported underage or "undocumented" user rode on the sidewalk and crashed into a woman. The woman also had a baby stroller. Ravi Bhalla revoked the contract of Ojo the same day as his prerogative.

Lime is now alone facing more regulation from the City Council tonight. As of August, Lime reported the e-Scooters were a huge success in Hoboken registering over 250,000 rides.

Last week, Lime introduced its latest generation of e-Scooter with new safety enhancements featuring a larger platform, wheels and a new data screen. Further restrictions in the waterfront areas are up for a vote tonight. Lime asked users to tell the City Council their support.

Although I don't work for Lime, on occasion I've used the e-Scooters and I support Mayor Ravi Bhalla's pilot and see there's been a significant and dramatic improvement by users. Hoboken is the perfect environment for e-Scooters being a square mile.

Previously, the waterfront area, perhaps the most popular for e-Scooters has seen a significant reduction in usage. This is due to the fun factor all but eliminated with the speeds geo-controlled down more than 50% to eight miles per hour. Basically, an overweight grandmother can be seen slowly jogging past people on an e-Scooter making the rider look utterly ridiculous. They're not likely to continue riding at the increased pricing already jacked up by the City.

Complainers being what they are, parked Limes even off by a foot are described in catastrophic terms as being the end of the world. Conversations with these people are not dissimilar to talking to a Worker's Party member in Greenwich Village back in the days of the Soviet Union. Nothing you say is going to make an iota of difference to these folks including the dramatic improvements in rider behavior since the e-Scooter introduction in May.

The e-Scooter education value is ongoing and there's been a more than modest improvement by users but there's always going to be people who will pass a red light or make a bad decision as you will see on bicycles or yes, pedestrians.

The e-Scooter pilot has a couple of months left. No one should be surprised that Hoboken at the end of the six month period is the biggest success globally but removes the carbon-friendly transportation from use entirely.

The killjoy element for regulation in Hoboken is what it is.




Update: The City Council Wednesday night as expected passed the additional safety measures with a 9-0 unanimous vote. Among them, the Lime e-scooters will be programmed and not be capable of working in the pedestrian walkways of the waterfront.

A resident who had their stroller hit by an underage 13-year-old illegal driver of Ojo discussed at length how the incident occurred with an Ojo e-Scooter running into her double-wide stroller and ricocheting into her leg. She asked for more safety and careful usage by e-Scooter riders recounting her unhappiness in succeeding days.

Not much discussion about the illegal driver or any penalty for a family member who set up the ride leading to the incident in the meeting. An account may have been revoked but later the vendor, Ojo saw all Hoboken service halted.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Horse Sense: Dark Money & Hoboken dirty deeds done dirt cheap

It's election season in Hoboken and sadly, the time of year when the bad character of individuals comes to the fore among those who seek or hold power.

Dark Money is being sounded in ever-louder warnings and there's a significant basis for it with a Hoboken vendor alleged at its center.



As Mayor Ravi Bhalla attempts to fulfill his desire for absolute power over all aspects of Hoboken governance, the before, during and after patterns of behavior is revealing.

In the 2017 mayoral election, one of the dirtiest witnessed in these parts in some time, dark money blew in days before the election in a big way.

As it turned out, the Ravi Terror Flyer was not only key in the election, it was instrumental to Ravi Bhalla eking out a win with under 33% of the vote.

In the first City Council meeting after the election, Councilman Mike DeFusco attempted to unify Hoboken backing an investigation to sort out those who were behind the dirty deed.

In response, Ravi Bhalla, in his last meeting as a councilman pointedly refused. He said Mike DeFusco had not been exonerated. He failed to note he nor his allies had been exonerated either. After going on a victimization tour, he declared the matter over and said there would be no further comment.

How convenient.

DeFusco, on the other hand, raised money with his family toward an investigative effort. The Hoboken Police Department received tips from the community but that investigation stalled as lots of whispers surfaced about dark money forces.

Everyone in City Hall, every Hoboken government insider, shadow mayor wannabe and every single person in the Hoboken mayor's office knows about the dark money force behind the terror flyer in 2017. The only difference is those who learned about it later and those who knew when the dirty deed went down.

The Feds struck a hammer blow against Hoboken voter fraud hard obtaining convictions in the 2013 election, an indictment with the promise of more to come in 2015 and the echoes of 2017 fluttering in the distance. Voter fraud in Hoboken is DOA but dark money is very much alive.

Notwithstanding politics, political party or personal beliefs, the terror flyer in the 2017 mayoral race was an attack on all Hoboken. The Boys of Summer need to break up that dirty political operation. Those involved should be exposed and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

All those who knowingly and willingly engage as political operatives, paid or unpaid, and continue to push lies into the Hoboken community about the origins of the Terror Flyer should see full exposure and accountability as well.

Now it's election season and Hoboken appears about to be terrorized again. You'll see a pattern emerge. What is old is new again. These leopards don't change their spots.

There's another big reveal coming. Listen to the howls for blood and listen to them proclaim their victimization even as they victimize others and the Mile Square City.

It's what they do and who they are. Smart'en up.

This Horse Sense editorial is dedicated to those who fight dark money near and far, especially City Hall.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "E-Scooters - More Enforcement Coming'

Official release:

 
Dear friends and neighbors – 
 
This week the discussion on the future of E-Scooters in Hoboken came to a head when one of our neighbors was pushing her 3 month old in a stroller on a sidewalk near 8th and Clinton and was hit by an Ojo E-Scooter driven by a teen.  Thankfully, she had no serious physical injuries other than a bruised leg and the baby was ok.  It goes without saying that this paints the worst picture (with the best possible outcome) that we all fear.   Although mom and baby are physically ok thankfully, the entire family is still dealing with the aftershock and the many “what ifs.”  In response to this accident, Mayor Bhalla announced first on Twitter that he was terminating the contract with Ojo.  Although I think there is more and different that needs to be done, I applauded this decision because we needed a bold move to happen.  
 
IMPORTANT WEDNESDAY VOTE ON PARK AND WATERFRONT WALKWAY BAN
 
Before I continue with more EScooter updates below, I would like to invite you to the City Council meeting on Wednesday night at 7pm at City Hall.  
 
The City Council will be voting on 2nd reading to ban EScooters from all City Parks as well as the Northern and Southern Waterfront Walkways (the areas where there are adjacent bike/multi use lanes where EScooters can and should be ridden).  If you can’t make in person, you can watch live on Facebook or online.  You would think this is an easy law to get behind - given EScooters and kids don't mix well - but because of the upcoming elections/political environment, I have less confidence that this is the slam dunk it should be.  So write your council person, come to the meeting, and let us know your views – whatever they are – on this.  I understand Ojo's CEO will be at the meeting, and as of this writing, our neighbor who was in the accident described above plans to attend as well.
 
Back to the update on EScooters….
 
MY POSITION ON E-SCOOTERS
 
Let me start by saying that my position continues to be informed by the feedback I get from many of you.  I believe:
  • We need to do as much as possible to try to make E-Scooters work in Hoboken, but in order for them to work residents need to feel safe.  And currently they just don’t.
  • It is a little more than a “few bad eggs” ruining it for everyone and that we HAVE TO GET THEM OFF THE SIDEWALKS.  
  • Anything with a motor should be banned from the Waterfront Walkway and Parks which is consistent with the State Law that has the intent of separating them from densely populated pedestrian areas (thus the sidewalk ban).  As mentioned above, we are voting to make this law at the meeting Wednesday night.
  • That the current arrangement with LIME is not sustainable – although better than when it started, we need a contract where an E-scooter provider, among other things, is financially liable for reckless riding.  
  • The City needs to do much more than it has been doing to ensure safety.
  • The City currently does not have the wherewithal to support an E-Scooter program in Hoboken through the snowy/slushy/wet winters. 
  • We should not extend the pilot in November.  I have already communicated this to our Transportation Director Sharp.
All this said, it sounds like I want to kill the E-Scooter program permanently.  And I don’t…not yet.  I think we need to continue with safety improvements – like Wednesday’s vote - during this pilot, but we take the winter off to work on what we need to see happen in order to potentially launch again in the spring.  Last time the goal of the administration was to be “first” with a program in NJ.  I think a better goal is to have a program that is “right” for Hoboken (or not have anything).