Thursday, June 27, 2019

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher Announces Re-Election Bid as Hoboken’s Second Ward Representative

Official release:

Dear neighbors, family and friends, 

This July is a special month for me not only because it is the anniversary of when I started calling Hoboken home 25 years ago, but it also marks four years since I decided to throw my hat into the ring and run for City Council as the Second Ward’s representative. It was with the support from many of you that I won my first election and it is your continued support and engagement that has allowed us to accomplish great things together for Hoboken ever since. I would love for you to join me on Monday, July 15th at Madison Bar and Grill to help me celebrate these important July milestones, but more importantly to help me kick off my re-election campaign!
Beginning today, I am officially running for re-election so that we can continue working together to make our Hoboken the best place to live for all of us.
I am incredibly proud of our track record because by working together we have touched on so many issues that have made a positive impact on Hoboken. To name a few: 
  • Saving taxpayers $30 million and putting an end to water main breaks by renegotiating our Suez contract to give Hoboken enough funds to upgrade our entire water system.
  • Making Hoboken’s main street safer, more resilient and beautiful by completing the Washington Street Redesign and bringing back community sidewalk patrols.
  • Defending our waterfront against private and commercial interests so that both the proposed Monarch and the former Union Dry Dock sites are developed as open space for public use and enjoyment.
  • Keeping taxes low and ensuring fiscal discipline as Chair of the Finance and Revenue Committee by eliminating wasteful and excess spending while maintaining essential city services and supporting public safety.
  • Advocating for our most vulnerable and long-standing residents to prevent displacement by hiring a tenant advocate, supporting an amendment to rent control laws that are favorable to tenants and extending PILOTs on low-income housing units. 
  • Executing on a pedestrian safety plan for the 2nd Ward that includes traffic calming initiatives and upgrades to a dozen intersections.
  • Adding a new dog park to the 2nd Ward in a neighborhood that has seen the highest residential and pet density increases throughout the entire city. 
  • Coordinating with the Board of Education to prioritize the massive enrollment wave in our school district, which has seen a 59% increase in grades Pre-K 3 to 6th in just eight years, in all planning and redevelopment actions the City undertakes.
  • Fighting for and securing over $5 million in revenue for our city from private developments, including the Hilton Hotel project, by delivering financial expertise to redevelopment negotiations so the City is no longer the underdog.
  • Supporting greater investment in resiliency as the lead Council voice on Rebuild By Design and backing the resiliency initiatives in the South West and North West Parks. 
We still have more to do, but even more important is what lies ahead. We need to tackle together the issues being created by e-Scooters and create more of a culture of pedestrian safety in Hoboken. We need to find ways to continue supporting the success of local businesses and ensure their longevity in our City.  But the biggest issue to me that lies ahead of us is making sure all future development addresses our community needs and makes sense for Hoboken.  
I feel strongly in the power of working together to reach our common goals, which is why I hope you will join me to celebrate our achievements as I begin my re-election campaign on July 15. I understand some of you may have summer plans, but I am sure I will see you at a community event or knocking on doors with me soon. 
Hoboken deserves leaders who advocate for their neighbors and I truly believe I have successfully been that voice for the past three and a half years.  With your continued support, we can keep working together to protect and improve our Hoboken.
Thank you so much for your support!  Please forward this to everyone you think would be interested and feel free to reach out to me anytime at 201/208-1674.  I hope to see you on the 15th 

Frank Raia political hangover begins with a trail over a decade long

The political hangover in Hoboken is underway after the blockbuster conviction out of federal court in Newark for one Frank Raia.

Cue the Monty Python and the Holy Grail retreat, run awaaayyyyyyyy!

Councilman Mike DeFusco was quickly joined by Councilman Ruben Ramos yesterday in getting ahead of any affiliation with the Pupster. Both elected to announce donations to local causes of Raia political contributions in the immediate aftermath.

Frank Raia chats in the back of City Council chambers with Michelle Russo
as his VBM soldier Dio Braxton center watches a 2011 council meeting.
Raia's political influence was directly connected to his VBM activities during elections.

Calls for others to join in have been met with steely silence. Frank Raia's money and ensuing political influence was a staple of Hoboken politics. In the wards where the Hoboken Housing Authority and senior buildings reside, his Vote by Mail operational power extended deep and Hoboken political incumbents and climbers paid homage.

With the exception of Jen Giattino in the sixth ward, Tiffanie Fisher in the second and mostly Peter Cunningham in the fifth ward, almost every other ward officeholder was engaged, influenced or beholden going back more than a decade to the ever-expanding political ego residing within Frank Raia and his checkbook.

Yesterday, the Jersey Journal dug into the history of Raia's influence with the rampant use of Vote by Mail ballots. The usage greatly expanded through laws enacted under former NJ Governor Jon Corzine in 2009. Spanning the rise of Pupie power more than a decade back, the story points to Mayor Ravi Bhalla most recently and his praise of Raia back to Dawn Zimmer more than a decade ago.

Raia’s influence was widespread and he had many political alliances over the years. As a councilman in 2016, Mayor Ravi Bhalla called Raia an asset to the city. And former Mayor Dawn Zimmer backed him for his run for county freeholder in 2008.

Back to 2007, ELEC campaign reports show Hoboken elections replete with campaigns paying Hoboken residents $37.50 to $50 on average with campaign "captains" or local organizers recruiting within the Hoboken Housing Authority earning hundreds and on rare occasions, thousands more.

The examples are legion in Hoboken municipal and Board of Education campaigns in almost every election year since. Some of the witnesses appearing in the federal trial appear on various campaign reports over years. From Dawn Zimmer in 2007 and 2009 to Tim Occhipinti in 2015 and Mike DeFusco in 2017, the Hoboken tradition using Vote by Mail in questionable voter tallies is seen over and over.

As one example, Tracy Stepherson who testified to her $50 payment in the 2013 Hoboken election appears repeatedly on Dawn Zimmer ELEC reports in the 2009 election cycle.

That year, Hoboken saw two elections for mayor, one in the spring and one in the fall with the departure of 30-day mayor Peter Cammarano arrested for receiving $25,000 in bribes from an FBI informant posing as, wait for it... a developer.

But the pattern is self-explanatory. Here's one November payment for $100 for "Get Out the Vote Support" in early November:

Yet another payment, this one for $50 later in the same month:

And yet another for $40.

Another Hoboken resident who testified also appears on a 2009 Dawn Zimmer campaign report, Latasha Swinton:

Although some repeatedly point to Raia and Zimmer in an elevator on video back in 2007, he was an opposition candidate for mayor against Zimmer in 2009. So while Raia is most often the common link in all these payments, it's not always the case.

Hoboken acted as if it was immune to any law enforcement across many years as the rampant epidemic of Vote by Mail abuses dramatically grew.

Talking Ed Note: The Feds are clamping down in Hoboken so all those paid political operatives pushing their party line might want to be more mindful of their own glass houses. The only thing saving some is the statute of limitations.

For months, there's been an effort pointing at Councilman Ruben Ramos alleging he was the candidate who Matt Calicchio worked for in 2015. Ludicrous on its face, it didn't stop their foaming. Those efforts from the Ravi Bhalla campaign and paid political operatives have not diminished with their being wrong since.

They've morphed with a "we'll get them" yet as they seek to target the core remnants of the demolished Reform Movement: Jen Giattino, Tiffanie Fisher and Peter Cunningham for their Hoboken-centered stance on the issues.

A year ago, the same political operatives claimed all three took orders on the council but now it's a different kind of tarnish they wish to inflict leading to the November ward elections.

None of them however are on record at any public event calling Frank Raia an "asset to Hoboken."
Only Ravi Bhalla can stand up and own that declaration.