Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: "On the Monarch - You Can Count On My Vote"

Official release:

Dear Friends and Neighbors

I want to talk about Monarch with you like we have been doing since 2011

…when we learned that a developer was reneging on their promise to deliver open space to our community and aiming to build two luxury residential towers.  Everyone has their issue that gets them off the couch towards activism and mine was Monarch.  It started me on a path of advocating not only against the Monarch project but for continuing our community's decades-long fight to protect our waterfront from irresponsible development.  This path expanded to include acquiring Union Dry Dock.  Importantly, while I have been on this path for the past eight and a half years, where was my opponent?  She has never been anywhere on this and now suddenly wants to take all of our work together and call it hers.  

Let me get right to the heart of what matters.  Not only will I continue the work with my Council colleagues and the administration to ensure we get an outcome that will receive unanimous support…

You can count on my vote next year for the final development agreement for the Monarch/DPW Garage.

My opponent is telling you the opposite as a way to garner support, but it isn’t her decision.  It is, and always has been mine and I've based my decisions on what was right for our community.

I have always been in this fight with you and for you and always will be. 

I have a long history of fighting against the Monarch as the leading public activist back to 2011.  As co-founder of Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront, as party to the litigation as a Hudson Tea condo board member and as a resident stakeholder like my neighbors.  Previously HTB's role in the litigation made voting on the City Council more complicated.  But now with the litigation fully adjudicated (except for one outstanding ruling) and me leaving my condo board at the end of the year, my path of advocacy is more straightforward.  As you know, I am personally impacted if Monarch is built, which I have always been forthcoming as it relates to all actions I have taken whether as an HTB board member or Council representative.  But also as you know, the impact is not unique to me - I share a view impact with over 500 2nd Ward neighbors and the overcrowding effect in our neighborhood with thousands.  And it was because of our shared circumstances that you asked me to lead you in this fight and elected me to represent you in 2015.  As your council representative, I will continue our fight against the Monarch and I will be voting on the final Monarch settlement next year.  

Now, about my opponents’ plan to build a $50M park on an extended version of the Monarch site – it shows she doesn’t know our ward or how to advocate for us.

What my opponent doesn't get is that what 2nd Ward residents want is for Monarch not to be built.  It is that simple.  And they do not want anything to get in the way of this happening.  In case you were unaware, she is requiring a $50M park be a developer-funded “community give back” as a condition to the agreement.  This is a material change to the terms of the proposal.  It's simply untenable and puts stopping the Monarch project at risk.  Given my twenty plus years of experience in commercial real estate finance, I assure you that if the developer had $50M of potential excess development profits from the Monarch site to build her park, they would instead be racing to build the Monarch and not bothering with a settlement at all.  

My opponent goes further to say that she is willing to fight against her Council colleagues to make her park plan happen, instead of collaborating with her colleagues to deliver what is most important for 2nd Ward residents.  If we once again make it a ward/neighborhood battle like my opponent is proposing, then we will never be successful like we saw in 2016. These are exactly the kind of steps that will kill any chance of a settlement.  And I am not at all supportive of such an uninformed plan that will directly result in ending the chance for finally resolving the Monarch fight that we have been in together since day one.

There is only one waterfront advocate on the ballot for the 2nd Ward and I am once again that candidate, asking for your vote. 

This has always been our fight together.  My advocacy against Monarch is unmatched in our community except for Ron Hine of Fund for Better Waterfront who has been my partner in the fight since day one.  I have always worked with my Council colleagues and the administration to ensure that the interests of 2nd Ward residents were always front and center and that they had the financial and real estate tools to effectively negotiate an outcome that works for everyone.  The framework of the current settlement terms that our mayor negotiated and the Council voted unanimously in support, reflects this.

Open space has been at the core of the Monarch fight and why we are in this fight.  Instead of a pie-in-the-sky, $50M park as a giveback that is impossible to fund and puts the entire settlement at risk, we should be advocating for the buildout of the upland area closest to the road and potentially providng better access to the water by connecting to the adjacent inlet.  This is achievable and can be done at a fraction of the cost my opponent has proposed.  And when I have engaged with my 2nd Ward neighbors, this is what they tell me they would like to see and as a result, is what I have and will continue to actively advocate for.   

To be considered a waterfront activist you actually have to show up…

...which my opponent has never done.  But I always have which I have proven over the years.  This is our issue.  It is why you elected me in 2015.  And there is no one better person to represent you on this issue and make sure that the Monarch project is never built. 

Please forward this to everyone you know who shares our view on the importance of fighting against the Monarch project.  And please let me know if you have any questions on this or anything else that is important to you.  You can email me or call me anytime at 201/208-1674. 
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
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Ravi Bhalla issues desperate Big Lies on his Stronger Foundations Massive Redevelopment

In a long, defensive email to a list collected by former Dawn Zimmer, Mayor Ravi Bhalla's makes a desperate gambit to stem the backlash from both his and his big construction PAC allies' gigantic NJ Transit plan for downtown Hoboken.

The original political plan to force the City Council to approve the Bhalla - Stronger Foundations redevelopment backfired as community activists recoiled at the attempt to shove it down their and the Hoboken public's throats without so much as a single public meeting or public notification.

In response to last week's hastily issued public meeting prior to a council meeting with the hope of a final approving vote, Ravi Bhalla and his council slate backed and endorsed by his allies, the powerful statewide construction union PAC, Stronger Foundations; the Big Lie is being deployed, desperately and repeatedly.

Ravi Bhalla attempts to deflect far smaller contributions to other council members unrelated to Stronger Foundations and their endorsement of his slate: Migdalia Pagan Milano, Nora Debenedetto, Phil Cohen and Cristin Cricco Powell.

While pointing to excessive political contributions to Councilman Mike DeFusco, ones he badly covets for himself; Ravi Bhalla never mentions Stronger Foundations, their major contributions to himself back to 2017 and his council slate running into the many tens of thousands of dollars.

Stronger Foundations and that PAC's endorsement for almost all of his council slate in November's council elections goes completely unmentioned. Let's call this a tangible lie of omission.

The Big Lie is deployed to blame the council for his putting up the redevelopment for council approval. That doesn't happen without his approval but he wants to deceive the public into thinking he's not behind it.

That, of course, would be major news to his allies in the Stronger Foundations PAC.

The letter starts saying he is "committed to limiting large scale overdevelopment." If Ravi Bhalla believed those choice words, why did he try to keep his NJ Transit redevelopment plan from the public?

He also has in this second release on the topic claimed credit for City Council vote being canceled last week. At the Multi-Service Center meeting, however, Director Chris Brown announced there would be a vote the following day on the redevelopment plan and was immediately countered by Councilwoman Jen Giattino who said there would absolutely not be a City Council vote the next day. The crowd applauded her response to the Bhalla Administration.

As a mayor who has repeatedly used and been admonished for illicitly using the Nixle alert system for politics and most recently, for a non-binding purely political resolution sponsored by Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour making empty noises on the 2011 pay-to-play ordinance, why nothing on the biggest redevelopment plan in living Hoboken history?

Because this IS the Ravi Bhalla - Stronger Foundations NJ Transit Plan.

Of course, Ravi Bhalla won't admit that it was their political decision to push their huge redevelopment before the election and try to intimidate City Council members into voting an approval. But that gambit as this failed. The City Council recoiled from any vote without the public seeing an opportunity to discuss the impact.

City Council President Jen Giattino publicly inquired why there was nothing but silence out of the mayor's office with the Nixle system. Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher noted there was nothing by way of any feasibility or traffic study on any of this.

Is the Hoboken public to believe this occurred out of the mayor's office by sheer coincidence?

Perhaps the biggest canard is the true two-stage scope of the Bhalla - Stronger Foundations NJ Transit redevelopment. The initial size is 1.4 million square feet. So at the onset, it's smaller but the second stage (unstated) is another 1.3 million square feet.

Round it up to three-million square feet as that is what friendly developer HudCo mayors do and the Bhalla - Stronger Foundations NJ Transit redevelopment plan is fully 50% larger than what former mayor Dawn Zimmer was willing to do.

This, without even getting into the details backtracking from her vision with a 28-story residential building built to the sky over 300 feet high.

At the mid-October Planning Board meeting, Ravi Bhalla showed up with the Bhalla - Stronger Foundations on its agenda.

But he didn't just show up. Ravi Bhalla was there subbing out Councilman Jim Doyle with his vote. Is the Hoboken public suppose to believe this was an accident or that Ravi Bhalla was there to ensure the strongest endorsement of the Bhalla - Stronger Foundations NJ Transit redevelopment?

The mayor's office thinks the Hoboken public is stupid. Their exhibition here is one of contempt.

Don't believe the Big Lies.