Thursday, January 30, 2020

Historian Dylan Gottlieb presentation on the Hoboken Fires this Sunday

Historian Dylan Gottlieb featured in an article last fall in the Washington Post, "How gentrification caused America's cities to burn" is scheduled to speak on the tragic impact in Hoboken at the Hoboken Historical Museum this Sunday at 4:00 pm.

Last month, Gottlieb did an interview with the Journal of American History discussing his research specific to Hoboken and its residents in the late '70s and early '80s, where 55 residents perished and thousands more were displaced during the period known as the Hoboken Fires.

Here's an excerpt below from the interview, "Hoboken is Burning: A conversation on Gentrification, Arson, and Displacment."


How did you initially come across this story? 
A little over five years ago, I was struggling to get my dissertation off the ground. I had trouble zeroing in on my actors and finding archives that were germane to this very recent era in history. Then I got advice from Andrew Sandoval-Strausz, who was a visiting fellow at the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities at the time. He told me to sit down with the U.S. Census—to really dig into where young professionals were living and working in the 1970s and 1980s. So I used a digital mapping tool to plot the concentration of financial and professional/managerial workers in the New York City metro area over time. Right away, I noticed a growing concentration of finance folks in one small area: Hoboken, New Jersey. What were all these bond traders doing in this small city of brownstones right across from Lower Manhattan? I knew there had to be a story there.
So I reached out to the Hoboken Public Library and Hoboken Historical Museum. Some very helpful archivists helped me dig up back issues of local newspapers—the Jersey Journal and Hudson Dispatch, especially. And nearly immediately, a story emerged: beginning in the late 1970s, there was a string of arson fires at the same time that all of these professionals were moving into the city. Digging more, I found material from tenants’ rights groups that argued that those fires were intentional, set by landlords to drive out rent-controlled tenants, convert buildings to condos, and charge rents five or six times what they’d received before. Later, I discovered that a similar process of arson-for-profit followed yuppies in other places, including in Boston’s Back Bay and on Chicago’s North Side. This was no isolated phenomenon.
The entire interview is available at the link below:

http://www.processhistory.org/hoboken-is-burning-a-conversation-on-gentrification-arson-and-displacement/

Historian Dylan Gottlieb will be speaking at the Hoboken Historical Museum on Sunday at 4:00 pm.

Photos courtesy of the Hoboken Historical Museum

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

“Hoboken is Burning: Gentrification, Arson, and Displacement in the 1970s." - Historian discussion at the Hoboken Historical Museum

Official release:

The Hoboken Historical Museum Revisits Hoboken’s Struggles with Gentrification and Displacement, February 1, 2


February is packed with special events: “Delivered Vacant,” “Hoboken is Burning” talk, Black History Month talk on Paul Robeson, 39th Annual Black Maria Film Festival, and more

The Hoboken Historical Museum sheds light this weekend on a dark chapter in Hoboken history with a pair of events on the topic of gentrification and displacement. 
Nora Jacobson's award-winning documentary about Hoboken's struggles with gentrification and displacement in the late 1980s-early 1990s, "Delivered Vacant," will be screened Saturday, February 1, at 7 pm at the Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson St. Admission is $10 per person ($5 for Museum members & students). Seating is limited, so early arrival is recommended. Learn more>
On Sunday, February 2, at 4 pm the Museum welcomes Dylan Gottlieb, a Princeton scholar, to give a talk titled, “Hoboken is Burning: Gentrification, Arson, and Displacement in the 1970s." Gottlieb is working on his PhD in history at Princeton, and has researched the rash of fires and other tactics that displaced tenants in urban areas so that developers could convert buildings to condos. Admission is $5 per person (free for Museum members & students). Learn more>

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Two arrested in attack and robbery of woman on upper Bloomfield St.

The savage mace-like chemical attack and robbery earlier this month of a woman on upper Bloomfield St. in Hoboken has led to the surprising arrests of two Plainfield men.

The two are facing robbery charges as a third suspect is being pursued, a report on NJ.com reported yesterday:







Talking Ed Note: New details reveal a car was in the vicinity and drove the two men away from the crime scene in Hoboken.

Unrelated: Yesterday, Mayor Ravi Bhalla gave a State of the City speech at the far smaller venue of the Mile Square Theater. Previously, the event has been hosted by Stevens in its far larger auditorium. The university's relationship with Hoboken has been mired in an ugly lawsuit that drags on over parking related matters forcing Ravi Bhalla to move the annual event to a tiny friends only locale.

The $7 million dollar budget deficit explosion first broken here earlier this month apparently was not highlighted nor how Ravi Bhalla intends to fix his budget masterpiece. A number of residents want to know how bad the damage will be to their wallets, others to their livelihood as both tax increases and layoffs are anticipated.

The Hudson County View covered the event.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'January 2020 in Hoboken'

Official release:

 
Dear friends and neighbors,
 
My apologies that it has been a while since I provided an update on Hoboken happenings.  Like many, I battled a prolonged flu over the holidays and then shortly after have been in Rochester helping my mom through a lengthy hospital stay (just out yesterday and expected to fully recover).  Please know that I have been working hard to still respond to your emails and questions (although have a few more to go) and have been working with my colleagues on many of the issues that our Hoboken is currently facing. 
 
The list is long and the issues are pretty big… As they say “if it’s not one thing its another…”  I am not going to be able to hit all of them here, but let’s get started... 
  • Municipal Budget Deficit – a decade of zero tax increases, rising costs, increased debt and not enough expansion of sustainable revenues…
  • Repricing Parking – one of Hoboken’s most valuable assets - in 2020
  • Hoboken Railyards (LCOR) Project – up for vote again, this time all commercial 
  • Weehawken Cove Boats
  • eScooters and other Micromobility
  • 2020 Council Leadership and committees
  • Peter Cunningham – losing of a sage, end of an era
 
MUNICIPAL BUDGET DEFICIT
A DECADE OF ZERO TAX INCREASES IN A RISING COST ENVIRONMENT HAS CAUGHT UP WITH US
 
We have heard from the administration that the City is facing a significant operating deficit going into the City’s 2020 municipal budget.  Current estimates are $7M+ but I expect the number will grow given our recent reliance on using surplus to fund operations.  It’s not pretty.  By order of magnitude our total budget is about $117M and our tax levy (the portion of the budget that taxpayers are responsible for funding) is $55M.  As the City Council learns more, I will provide much more information including the specific causes and what the implications will be to our community.
  
What we’ve been told so far is that the bulk of the deficit is driven by increased cost of labor - mainly multi-year increases and under-budgeted amounts relating to union contracts as well as increased healthcare and pension costs (some of latter being outside of the city’s control).  These increases were apparently magnified by lower than expected revenues from various sources including our municipal courts.  
 
I have re-reviewed the annual budgets and financials for the years since 2015 and it is clear that labor related costs – which represent approx. 75% (give or take) of our total municipal costs – rose at over 3% annually - which is difficult to sustain with no meaningful increases on the revenue side (including taxes).     
 
Filling any size budget gap can come from a variety of sources including reducing operating costs, layoffs, increasing revenues and increasing taxes.  The city is considering all of the above.  
 
To give you an order of magnitude the following are some bookend/ extreme scenarios:  
  • If the city were only to lay off employees to fully address the shortfall: as noted by the Business Administrator during recent City Council meetings, this would be approximately 80+ people.  And according to conversations I have had with the administration, anything beyond 20-25 would negatively impact the provision of city services to Hoboken residents.
  • If the city were only to increase taxes to fully address the shortfall: this would be a municipal tax increase of 13%+ (all else being equal would translate to a 4%+ overall tax increase).  Take heed that due to state laws, the city cannot increase your taxes this much – according to the administration 12% is the max allowed.
How was this not expected / planned for?  That is the question we will be working to understand better and will revert back when we know more.  I have chaired the Revenue, Finance and Infrastructure subcommittee for the past four years and will be co-Chair with Councilwoman Jabbour this year.  I have repeatedly asked that the administrations to provide five year projections each year to no avail.  After last year’s scrutiny over the budget and tax increase I would not have been surprised to see another increase this year, but a gap of this magnitude was not expected at all.  More to come…
 
REPRICING PARKING – ONE OF HOBOKEN’S MOST VALUABLE ASSETS - IN 2020
 
I will be chairing the Parking and Transportation subcommittee this year.  I wanted to take this on given our community’s concerns about pedestrian safety, need for alternative modes of transportation other than cars, and want for parking to work better for our residents and businesses.  And I am ready to roll up my sleeves and work with all of you, the administration and my fellow councilmembers on these topics and more.  
 
One of the most controversial topics is increasing the pricing for parking in Hoboken.  This has been a long talked about policy change to better price parking, a scarce resource, in Hoboken, but there is no easy path on this topic given the many disparate views across our community:  too few spots for the number of permits that are issued, too many cars for our streets, residents should/shouldn’t park free, the resident permit should/shouldn’t cost more, visitors should pay more/less, residents and employees shouldn’t take up valuable street spaces instead of customers, not enough business permits, make those with garages not able to have resident permit, [don’t] build more municipal garages, remove the need for resident vehicle registration requirement and all that makes us crazy with temporary permits...
 
I am supportive of an increase given the significant demand for parking, the ongoing operational and capital needs of the City, the interest of our residents to see our businesses thrive and the fact that we are basically at capacity on our streets.    
 
Increasing the Resident Parking Permit Fee To $1 Per Week
 
At the City Council meeting on 1/15 I introduced, and the Council voted 6-2 in favor of, an ordinance to increase the residential parking permit fee.  This will be voted on second reading at the next City Council meeting on 2/4.  The changes proposed are as follows:
  • 1st car: increase from $.29/wk to $1/wk or $15/yr to $52/yr (~12,000 current permits)
  • 2nd car: increase from $.58/wk to $2/wk or $30/yr to $104/yr (~1,600 current permits)
  • 3rd car:  increase from $1.64/wk to $4/wk or $90/yr to $208/yr (~300 current permits)    
Do I think these will have a significant effect on reducing the number of permits issued?  No.  But maybe for a few.  Others in the administration and on the Council have recommended higher increases that I personally was not comfortable with.  At $1 per week, this is still significantly lower than all other alternatives in Hoboken which range between approximately $35 per week and $75 per week in area garages. 
 
Parking Meter Increases to be Proposed on 2/4 
But Much Less Than Those Proposed and Repealed Last Year
 
If you recall, just over a year ago, the administration proposed increases in meter rates that I voted against because I personally felt they were too much, too fast –in our business areas alone these were from $1/hr to almost $4/hr which many businesses felt kept customers away.  A few months later, just after the new pricing went into effect and residents also claimed that their visitors and family were staying away, the week the 2019 budget was introduced, we had a kerfuffle between the Mayor and the Council and ultimately the City Council voted for what was the better of the two proposals to fully repeal the increases.  I won’t go into the details here again, but if you are interested you can read the email I sent at the time describing what happened.    
 
In a nutshell, I stated that I support increased meter rates in our business districts to help drive turnover of cars to support our businesses.  But what the administration proposed last year increasing from the current $1/hr to almost $4/hr was too drastic.  We will be meeting with members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Special Improvement District this week to get input from our businesses on the increases.  I welcome input from you as well.  The goal is to strike a balance that would incentivize turnover of parking spaces while still not making it too expensive that people will stop visiting Hoboken.  An increase to say $2/hr in our business districts only while leaving the remainder of the city at $1/hr is more in the range of what I would support.  
 
Also – just a clarification for those who may not be aware, if you have a resident parking permit, you can park for free in all of the metered visitor parking areas city wide with white sign with the green letters.  Basically all except our business districts.  I happened to see on social media several people who thought they could not park on the visitor side of the street.
 
Parking Utility – Some Facts to Fix Some Misinformation:
 
  • The Hoboken Parking Utility is a division of the City of Hoboken.  
  • It has about 100 FT & PT (give or take) employees with a broad range of functions including, but not limited to, parking enforcement officers, transportation planners, accounting clerks and HOP bus drivers; its total salary and wages is $4.7M which has been fairly consistent over the past 5 years.
  • In 2019, ~87% of HPU’s budgeted $17.8M revenues were generated from parking related sources: Garage/Lot income, all parking permits, and meter income. This amount / % has been fairly stable over the past five years with declines in 2018. 
  • Out of this, $3.2M is considered surplus (over and above all other HPU expenses) and is contributed to the City’s operating budget as an offset to the municipal tax levy.  Historically this has been $4M+ but was reduced last year.  Without this contribution to the city's budget, municipal taxes would be 6-8% higher.  
 
LCOR / NJ TRANSIT / RAILYARDS PROJECT 
UP FOR VOTE AGAIN, THIS TIME ALL COMMERCIAL  
 
At the end of last year we saw a series of stops and starts on the Hoboken Railyards project.  As I emailed to you at the timethere was a rush to approve a version of the project that was 100% politically driven but thankfully there were not enough votes for the project as presented to move forward.  Since then, discussions have been resuscitated and are now more constructive involving the administration, the developer (LCOR), NJ Transit (property owner) and the Council Subcommittee (chaired by Council President Giattino and includes myself and Councilmembers Ramos and DeFusco).  
 
What was presented at the Special Council meeting on 1/15 was a revised plan that returns the project back to being a commercially anchored project at the heart of Hoboken’s business district.  You can read this informative summary for the changes that have been proposed.  
 
For those who have written to say that they want more affordable housing and were disappointed to see we removed the residential component (and thus the affordable housing component), let me just say that I am fully supportive of building more residential and affordable housing in Hoboken.  But not in the one place that we have the single best chance to attract commercial tenants. We need to look at Hoboken holistically and commercial development cannot happen just anywhere, like residential development can so we need to preserve those locations as much as possible.
 
This plan to me is significantly improved vs. the previous plans but there are probably a few more tweaks that need to happen before our vote on first reading on 2/4.  I welcome any feedback and thoughts that you may have.
 
Also – for those who believe that this site should not be developed, that is not a reasonable assumption.  The statewide political dynamics and the constitutional rights that property owners have to develop are such that this site will be developed.  So we should try to make it work as best as possible for Hoboken.
 
Finally – you will hear political rhetoric about who is responsible for this project.  The mayor says it is the City Council’s responsibility as the Redevelopment Agency and the Council says it is the mayor's/administration's given only he/they can direct internal (Department of Community Development) and external (lawyers, consultants etc.) resources to create all of the necessary documents.  The reality it is it both.  And what Council President Giattino did over the past two months is bring all parties into the discussion to work together.  It is the only way we are going to get the best outcome for Hoboken and I applaud her for this.   #MoreVoices.  
 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Peter Cunningham earns the "Key to the City" for 12 years of distinguished council service

City Council President Jen Giattino did the honors, and an honor it was at the last regular City Council meeting awarding Peter Cunningham a three-term councilman the key to the City of Hoboken.

Director Leo Pellegrini also attended the preliminaries to share in an award to the 12-year councilman who was known as the rock-solid voice for Reform and much needed financial leadership and expertise.

He blew the whistle and loudly on the million-dollar quarter's scandal disappearing out of the Parking Utility, refused to surrender on political cynicism trying to see the local hospital destroyed and bankrupting the City in the process.

Cunningham emphasized his focus on "good government" and "best practices" praising the changes implemented. He pointed to Police Chief Ken Ferrante and Fire Chief Brian Crimmins as examples of great leaders in the Mile Square City.

He closed his remarks urging the City Council to "keep it going."

The video begins with the awards and remarks by Peter Cunningham.



Talking Ed Note: Peter Cunningham was in recent years, the elder statesman of the Reform Movement. He kept that focus as much changed around him and never wavered on his focus for what's best for Hoboken.

One of many great moments came in leading the City Council to push ahead and get to the bottom of the disappeared million dollars in quarters from the Hoboken parking meters. When Old Guard efforts tried to sweep it under the rug, he bellowed in opposition "there's money going out the back door."

Of course, in the end, he was completely correct.

It is one of the moments I will remember in best illustrating who Peter Cunningham was and how well he served the Mile Square City.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Massive Rail Yard Redevelopment vote halted until February 5th

In a surprising development, the vote anticipated tonight by a Special City Council meeting on the controversial Rail Yard redevelopment will not take place after all.

According to an email released earlier today, Councilman Mike DeFusco requested changes to the plan addressing the traffic impact in downtown Hoboken.

He submitted a complaint, however, over the lack of transparency in a holiday weekend notification of the pending vote by Mayor Ravi Bhalla noting his administration had done the exact same thing last year.

Public backlash erupted when Ravi Bhalla failed to notify the public of a pending vote on the massive redevelopment before retreating and providing short notice with a public meeting for comment by Hoboken residents.



City Council President Jen Giattino reportedly stated a pending date for a vote on the revised redevelopment is scheduled for February 5th.

Our colleague at Hudson County View reported further details the story at the link.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Mayor's Office back to setting Hoboken up on massive redevelopment downtown

Here's the very late notice that comes only a day before the Wednesday night meeting where a City Council vote will be held on the controversial Hoboken Yard Redevelopment.

The warning has been sounded last years and years ago and local activists surrounding the decades-long battle over development are stunned at how this massive redevelopment is being shoveled at Hoboken residents.

There are some changes since the public backlash against Mayor Ravi Bhalla and the non-transparent efforts he attempted in passing the amendments. He would later point at and attempt to blame the council for his efforts with the well-connected statewide big construction special interests.

While a councilman, Ravi Bhalla's client was NJ Transit. This was pointed out as problematic here during the 2017 mayoral election. While conflicted from voting and stopped only by his colleagues, Ravi Bhalla's relationship obtaining the endorsement of other big construction special interests was a further warning sign. Those statewide big construction special interests reared its head again backing Ravi Bhalla's failed council slate last November.

Enough of the Hoboken public responded at the polls and late last year to stymie these big construction efforts and see some changes, albeit limited in their scope and permanence.

Among the current changes in the redevelopment:

A "starting point" 200-foot tower at the base of Hudson Street downtown pegged at 13 stories.
An alternative 300-foot tower is connected to unstated community improvements.

It's unclear what community offerings would merit consideration for the 300-foot tower.

A second downtown tower, pegged at 330 feet is slated for commercial converting from residential. This is a major change in line with the previous administration's focus on seeing more commercial and less residential especially in business-friendly areas near the Lackawanna Terminal.

In addition, this site proposes 269 parking spaces. There's no question this will severely impact Hoboken's quality of life and wreak havoc on traffic with the limited artery of movement in and out of downtown. Although a transit and traffic study was raised in the City Council, there's been no effort to conduct an impact study on Hoboken.

The clock is running out, as planned and Hoboken is not the primary beneficiary.

See more here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/iavmhs7admti6t0/200115_Hoboken-Yard-Redevelopment-Plan-Amendment_For%20SC%20Review.pdf?dl=0



Agency Logo
Monday January 20, 2020, 5:00 PM

City of Hoboken, NJ

Community: Special City Council meeting on Wednesday regarding proposed amendment to Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan

Dear Horsey,

The Hoboken City Council will host a Special City Council meeting on Wednesday, January 22 at 7:00 pm to consider an amendment to the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan. If the amendment is adopted on first reading, it will be considered on second reading at the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

The Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan, which was originally adopted by the Hoboken City Council in 2014, provided a plan vision and framework for transit-oriented development in the area adjacent to the New Jersey Transit Rail Yard. The proposed amendment recognizes the proposed location of the Rebuild by Design flood protection structure, which will lie within the redevelopment area. The proposed amendment, which provides for less overall development as compared to the 2014 plan, can be found in draft format by clicking here.

City Council President Jen Giattino calls for public meeting on the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan on Wednesday night




Monday, January 20, 2020

MLK Day

              






Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'Uptown mugging'

Official release:

 
Dear friends and neighbors,  
 
A number of you have reached out to me about the frightening incident that happened last night.  If you were not aware, one of our neighbors was mugged while walking on the 1200 block of Bloomfield St. at approximately 9:06 pm last night.  There were two attackers who sprayed her with pepper spray and then stole her back pack.  She was taken to the hospital and released.
 
I have been in contact with Chief Ferrante today about this and he has assured me that Hoboken PD are using every possible resource available to them to find the culprits.  If you think you know anything – for example, if you have a security camera that may cover any of the sidewalks in the areas/blocks surrounding the incident (the east side of Bloomfield, mid block), please call/email any of the following (all callers may remain anonymous):
  • General police number 201-420-2100
This is the official description of the incident:  
 
“At about 9:06 PM, a female was robbed of her back pack. The incident occurred on Bloomfield Street between 12th and 13th Street. There were two male actors involved. One actor was wearing black down winter jacket, black pants with a white stripe down the side, and white sneakers. The second actor was wearing a black hooded sweat shirt, black winter jacket, black pants, and black sneakers. One of the actors sprayed the victim in the face with some type of pepper spray. After being sprayed, the same actor grabbed the victim’s back pack and forcefully pulls it away from her. The actors were last seen fleeing southbound from the area. “
 
The questions you asked me today were mainly about getting more of an uptown police presence including a walking patrol.  Please note that I have been advocating and speaking with Chief Ferrante about this for the past four years in the context of package theft, intersections and pedestrian safety, and of course e-Scooters.  We did see the Sidewalk Patrol pilot program this summer and more traffic presence across the second ward which were a direct result of these discussions.  That being said, in my discussions with the Chief he has pointed to his resource constraints - the 34% decline in police since 2009 – as the primary reason we do not see more police city wide.  And that how his resources have been allocated have driven the historic, low crime rates.  
  
Does that give you enough comfort today?  Of course not.  We are all hoping this is an isolated event, and one where the culprits will be caught ASAP.   Chief Ferrante and his team are very focused on finding the assailants and ensuring we do not have to face this again.  
 
 
Please know that I will be continuing to advocate for more police resources in the 2nd ward as I always have.  And please keep our neighbor in your thoughts as she heals from this traumatic event.  As always, please forward to anyone you think may be interested in receiving this.  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.  
 
TiffanieFisher
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
 
Engage. Inform. Advocate.
“More Voices are Better”

Saturday, January 18, 2020

One woman's real march for freedom


The story of real oppression and a Muslim American shares hers.


Thursday, January 16, 2020

SNEAKY LAME DUCK CONDO BAN HURTS SMALL HOMEOWNERS – ESPECIALLY SENIORS – AND LIMITS TAX COLLECTION

Official release:

            JERSEY CITY, NJ – A last-minute addition to the “lame duck” legislative session – introduced on Wednesday – will ban condominium conversion in Hudson County, shattering the values of 2 and 3 family homes.
            The bill (S-2957), which poses as a means of preserving affordable housing, will never achieve its objective according to Joseph Hottendorf, Executive Vice President of the Liberty Board of Realtors (see filmed interview at www.njresidentsfirst.com).   
            The Liberty Board of Realtors studied recent conversion activity in the Jersey City Heights, finding that 135-160 two- and three-family properties were converted over the last three years when values increased more than 40% and generated an additional $2 million each year when properties became owned by residents and were reassessed.
            The Jersey City Property Owners Association reviewed the data and included it in a recent ad campaign to alert legislators and residents that the law will not accomplish its intentions and have devastating impacts, especially to seniors who planning on using the value of their homes to fund their retirements.  
            “This bill is a prime example of the stench emanated by Lame Ducks,” says Ron Simoncini, Executive Director of JCPOA. “This is a mess in 5 different ways, including that it deprives every Hudson County municipality of home rule over its property rights.  It is unconscionable that we have not heard from one local mayor or council on this bill – they probably don’t even realize they just lost home rule.
            “The only saving grace is that the bill is probably unconstitutional because in the author’s zeal to quash capitalism, they neglected to recognize that this law violates equal protection statutes.”
            Other negative impacts include accelerating the decay of housing stock by freezing values, leaving no incentive to upgrade or maintain properties – especially if the properties are rent-controlled.    
            “It is embarrassing that the Legislature itself failed to look hard enough at this to realize that its impacts are contrary to its intentions.  And they don’t even see that this is not a Hudson County-centric issue:  when people who need affordable housing can’t find it in Hudson, they are going to migrate elsewhere, bringing the social impacts and obligations to services with them.  So, if Legislators thought was “we should support this out of courtesy to its Hudson County origins,” they just bought Hudson County’s problems.”

Councilman Ruben Ramos: "Important Upcoming Meetings for Fourth Ward"

Official release:

 
 
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season!  A few community meetings have been scheduled that I hope you will attend:  
  • First meeting will be held on January 30th in the basement conference room in City Hall.  Purpose of this meeting is to discuss the potential future uses of the PSE&G Marshall Street substation.  
  • Second meeting is Coffee with a Cop with Chief Ferrante and members of the Hoboken Police Department.  This will be held February 2nd at Northern Soul from 9-10:30 am and will be an open discussion to discuss Hoboken Police Department initiatives to keep our city safe.
 
Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns!  Thanks! 
 
 
Councilman Ruben Ramos
Hoboken City Council, 4th Ward
Real Leadership for a Better Hoboken

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

What will happen with Ravi Bhalla's $7 million budget deficit?

How will Mayor Ravi Bhalla deal with his seven million dollar deficit?

It's not going away and no excise fees for parking will fix it.


So Mayor Ravi Bhalla is going to tell Hoboken...

Show me your money?! 

The City Council will play with the edges revising a parking fee for residents but it's too little too late.

More to come... The rest of this story will go out to members by email this week.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Sign of the Times: Fake Spartacus takes a spill

Cory Booker, a US Senator, (D-NJ) ended his 2020 campaign efforts to become US president announcing the end to his quest yesterday.

Cory Booker opts for his scary Spartacus face at a DC hearing but it didn't quite catch on with Democrat voters.

Booker's departure comes after an earlier presidential endorsement from Mayor Ravi Bhalla and other NJ politicos failed to ignite wider support among Democrats. His exit before the primaries are set to begin in Iowa next month ends a host of political aspirations in the Soprano State.

A former mayor of Newark, some of his administrative staff later came to Hoboken and put in stints at City Hall under former mayor Dawn Zimmer.

Booker returns to the US Senate where he will be a participant voting in the upcoming impeachment trial which originated with a whistleblower complaint allegedly by CIA analyst Eric Ciaramella, using second hand "evidence" accepted under intel IG Michael Atkinson.

That odd hearsay alteration saw secret House testimony by that investigator general who came out of the problematic FBI National Security Division (NSD) which perpetuated the Russia Collusion Hoax using a string of falsified FISA applications with the purchased Steele Dossier for secret warrants applied in spying into the Trump campaign and presidency. (Atkinson's testimony remains secret and withheld in the House away from public view and is a major point of controversy and under investigation.)

Although as a sitting Senator Booker will hear and vote on the impeachment trial, among the current crop of Senate candidates running for president, he will no longer be one. He's been critical in recent days of the next Democrat Party debate scheduled for tonight where all the contenders on the stage are white. 

Described as irate days earlier, Booker said of the Democrat Party debate criteria of which he would not play a part tonight, "These thresholds have effectively kept people of color from the national stage."

Another non-white candidate in the US Senate, Kamala Harris who is of Jamaican and Indian descent, also failed to gain support among Democrats and ended her presidential campaign earlier.

President Trump weighed in on the potential 2020 matchup with Booker that won't happen:

Monday, January 13, 2020

Ravi-Russo Alliance vs. the HudCo Machine for Freeholder seat

The revived Ravi-Russo Alliance, inert for all of a minute before Councilman Michael Russo set his eyes on bumping off Anthony "Stick" Romano, the current Freeholder for Hoboken and Jersey City Heights.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla is flushed out in the open with a non-denial denial even as State Senator Brian Stack is locked on board to bump off Stick.

Cue the writers at Russo.corruption.com. An addendum may be in order shortly. Maybe they'll write the crib notes in the Hoboken mayor's office. "It's a marriage of Hoboken's future," they might deign.

Hey, a deal is a deal. And who loves doing deals more than Ravi Bhalla and Michael Russo?

Russo who has been sending out emails to a citywide list of Hoboken residents no longer is aiming for a long shot mayoral bid in 2021. He's got his eyes on the Freeholder seat and a one-way ticket out of town.

As first reported exclusively here a week ago; the wheels are turning and Mikie Squared is thinking why make it an election; let's make it my coronation.

The only problem, Stick Romano isn't looking to step aside and neither is the HudCo Machine.

Ravi Bhalla isn't looking for another side gig but he's in on a side deal with Michael Russo.
They're aiming to take the freeholder seat from incumbent Anthony Stick Romano.

On the Hudson County View, an end of year fundraiser was highlighted showing strong HudCo support for Romano late last year. A story following up the report here last Friday highlights Romano inviting Michael Russo to support him again.

Russo who sent out another email to a list of Hoboken residents inquiring on their thoughts about the business district incentive plan passed in the council last year, is ratcheting up his conditions for running for freeholder. Apparently, he sees defeat with the support of Brian Stack and Ravi Bhalla versus the HudCo machine.

This as Ravi Bhalla lamely attempts to pretend he's not already enjoined with Brian Stack backing Russo's bid. An earlier effort by Bhalla to see Romano resign and replaced with one of his mayoral office patronage hires backfired as Romano balked.

Russo however wants HudCo to drop its support for Romano and make a Freeholder run a cakewalk.

In the 2017 race for Freeholder, Romano ran against perennial candidate Patricia Waiters trouncing her in a lopsided election.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Einstein For Hudson Republican Chairman Launches Fundraising Campaign

Official release:

NJ GOP State Committeeman Joshua Sotomayor Einstein launched his official campaign fundraising page today (https://politics.raisethemoney.com/jsotomayor-einstein)
Sotomayor Einstein kicked off his campaign for Hudson County Republican Chairman to a packed room at Mulligan’s Pub in December. At the campaign launch was local media, the Pulse with Peter B., and a host of supporters, friends, and well-wishers. Sotomayor Einstein’s campaign is a grassroots effort to transform the local county GOP from a paper fiction into a real and active county level Republican Party.
Sotomayor Einstein stated that “each Hudson County Republican has a lot to offer our fellow residents, taxpayers, and voters; we need a GOP that is loud and proud, that exposes Democratic Party corruption rather than aids it, and that shows the people of our county a better way.” He continued, “with great partners such as the Hispanic Republicans of North Jersey, the Hudson County Young Republicans, Young Americans for Liberty, the Hoboken Municipal Republican Committee, and others, I have organized rallies, public debates, op-eds, speeches, activist trainings, street fair tabling, speakers, dinners and other events. Together we can build a Hudson County Republican Party that does the same, supports Republican values, and much, much more.”

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

US ATTORNEY'S OFFICE IN NJ TO APPEAL FRANK RAIA'S THREE MONTH SENTENCE

MILE SQUARE VIEW EXCLUSIVE

Department of Justice in Newark will appeal Frank Raia's three month sentence for voter fraud activities

A notice of appeal has been filed by the Department of Justice in the US Attorney's office with the US  District Court surrounding the three month sentence issued to Frank Raia last month.

Raia who goes by the nickname "Pupie," was convicted last summer for undertaking a conspiracy using his social club underlings to buy votes using Vote by Mails across mostly Hoboken Housing Authority buildings in 2013.

Word of the notice of appeal was confirmed earlier this afternoon with the DOJ spokesman in Newark. A motion detailing the appeal of Raia's three month sentence will follow.

Rumors yesterday began circulating that "Pupie" wants less time in the clink than the three months sentencing for leading a Hoboken voter fraud ring. That may or may not be true but failed to get the actual facts.

It's unclear for the moment if the defense for Rai filed a similar appeal seeking a reduction in his three month sentence or in response to the Feds notice of appeal.

After both the DOJ and defense make their respective court filings, a legal decision will assess Raia's sentence issued by Judge William J. Martini.


Frank "Pupie" Raia in 2013 during the time of the notorious "One Hoboken" campaign with his
pal, former councilwoman Beth Mason 

Separately, a Raia solider, Dio Braxton, who earlier pleaded guilty for his role in the pay for Vote by Mail scheme awaits sentencing. His earlier sentencing date last year had been decoupled from Raia.

This story is breaking hard.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Ravi-Russo Alliance Reborn with upcoming "Russo for Freeholder" campaign

After the November election, the predict here the Ravi-Russo Alliance would end proved true as Councilman Michael Russo began immediately organizing to see replaced Ravi Bhalla as Hoboken mayor in 2021.

But the two deal-loving Hoboken officials left the door ajar and with a never-say-die attitude are now back together eyeing elimination of Anthony "Stick" Romano, the county legislative Freeholder up for re-election this year.

Russo who wanted to be a mayoral candidate next year is lining up a double endorsement for Freeholder from Ravi Bhalla and Brian Stack, the Union City mayor who also doubles as a state senator reliable independent sources report.



The rest of this story is premium content and went out earlier to members.



Related: Ravi Bhalla's shocking $7 million budget deficit could translate into 80 layoffs according to a late weekend story from the Hudson County View.

Of course, no one expects there will be 80 layoffs. It's just one extreme depicted in the mess Ravi Bhalla built where tax increases will in the end be part of his solution.

How did this occur? Well, Ravi Bhalla does have a second job and many of the items called problematic were not overnight issues like 600K in less parking revenues with the long months efforts to rebuild Washington Street.

Much of these figures were months in the making and there was no effort by Ravi Bhalla and his Administration to address ANY of it while his fattened mayoral office sucked up fat salaries and massive double-digit raises. 

Shades of the million-dollar deficits a decade ago. Many Hoboken residents remember how that turned out. The State of NJ took financial control over the Mile Square City with the late Judy Tripodi acting as the financial state monitor back in 2009.

Friday, January 3, 2020

It's Jen, yet again!

In a surprising development, Councilwoman Jen Giattino was unanimously voted by her council colleagues to serve again as Council President.

Not only is the councilwoman serving in a back-to-back role again, it's her fifth time selected by her council colleagues in her eight plus years on the City Council.

Councilwoman Jen Giattino being sworn-in last night for the fifth time as City Council President.
photo courtesy the Hudson County View

Councilwoman Vanessa Falco was unanimously voted to be Council Vice President. It's a first for Hoboken as she's the first African-American to serve in the council leadership.

Councilwoman Vanessa Falco takes the oath of office being sworn-in as City Council Vice President.

Councilman Jim Doyle was similarly selected by unanimous vote to sit on the hospital board of Hoboken University Medical Center. The City Council voted to approve a pending sale of the hospital to RWJ Barnabas Health.

In another unanimous vote, Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher will sit as the council designate for Hoboken's new special improvement district business group.

Talking Ed Note: The City Council meeting ending before 8:30 but the era of good feeling didn't last as discussion arose about potential layoffs and tax increases.

The City finance director confirmed a $7 million dollar deficit. The likelihood of both coming into play is high.

The early word on this came yesterday exclusively on HobokenHorse:
"Mayor's office: Deploy the Patronage Protection!"

More to come...

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Mayor's office: Deploy the Patronage Protection!

"Patronage Protection" action foreshadows Mayor Ravi Bhalla's upcoming tax increase and layoffs

As the new year slowly begins to unfold with Hoboken joining the flow, the City Council will recommence with its first meeting of the year tonight.

It promises to be a very challenging year.

The shakeout after last November's council ward elections is taking shape which saw Mayor Ravi Bhalla lose almost every single council seat he vied for across the Mile Square. More bad news is coming.

With no one paying attention at the close of 2019, the mayor's office announced the titles of Chief of Staff would be eliminated and see both its members: John Allen and Jason Freeman, dispersed with other duties and titles.

Banner year for layoffs and tax increases are reportedly on tap.

The moves appear to keep their six-figure salaries intact. John Allen has seen boosts since 2017, reportedly paying him $125,000 ballpark and in excess of the mayor's annual salary while Jason Freeman's combined salary with stipends is in the vicinity of $100,000.

The Hudson County View covered the shuffle with the mayor's office praising themselves as John Allen was officially renamed assistant corporation counsel and Jason Freeman to a newly created title, director for operations.

Only Vijay Chaudhuri, the former campaign manager for the controversial 2017 Bhalla for Mayor campaign remains in his current communications role. From the public perspective, he spends most of his time publicly attacking City Council members and others who don't submit to the will of his boss while failing to notify the public on major issues like the NJ Transit Redevelopment Plan. That massive redevelopment was sponsored by the mayor's office last fall before spiraling into failure in a public backlash.

What the mayor's office isn't explaining is why any of this is necessary. If it seems like it was only yesterday Mayor Ravi Bhalla was arguing he could spend money as he wished above and beyond for multiple staff and Chiefs of Staff, it's because it was.

When Ravi Bhalla announced he was increasing mayoral staffing 50% to the previous administration, (this in addition to another new office with multiple municipal employees being created to handle constituent services), the City Council balked. Business Administrator Steve Marks said the money could be spent however the mayor wished as available. Corporation Council Brian Aloia supported the move saying the City Council could not legally limit the higher costs imposed by Ravi Bhalla to taxpayers.

Some connect the additions to Ravi Bhalla's second job with a NJ based Republican law firm where he collects $60,000 in annual salary plus commissions to land new business which apparently appears in the form of HudCo legal government contracts.

In tandem the three roles occupied by Allen, Chaudhuri and Freeman, aka the Face Punchers for their in your face attacks on anyone who publicly failed to take a knee before the boss are collecting over $300,000 in annual salaries not including benefits.

By way of comparison when she started, former mayor Dawn Zimmer had two very effective mayoral staffers making not much more than $100,000 combined.

Fat double-digit raises went to the Face Punchers as Ravi Bhalla pushed for his three percent tax increase last spring. The City Council pared spending across the budget reducing his tax increase last year. The mayor's office countered by splitting the Face Puncher's costs into other departments like parking and legal.

Inside City Hall, the whispers throughout the building acknowledge the odd end-of-year announcement out of the mayor's office has less to do with restructuring and more with patronage protection.

"Ravi Bhalla learned nothing from his last budget," said an informed source who pointed to bigger troubles with municipal worker layoffs and Hoboken taxpayers facing a significant increase this year.

That sentiment was echoed by others up and down City Hall.

The rest of this article is premium content and will go out to members later today.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year!






"Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, forever and ever."