Thursday, February 27, 2020

News 12 reports on the Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project

News 12 began telecasting the report seen below on the Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project.

This Saturday at All Saints at 7th and Washington, "Remember the Fires, 1978 - 1983 will be hosted by Rev. Elaine Ellis Thomas where a community discussion is set to take place from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.

In addition to recounting the events at that time by eyewitnesses, Mile Square Theater will have members on hand to cast a dramatic reading by playwright Joseph Gallo from his play "Yuppies Invade My House at Dinnertime" highlighting the fires, many by arson and the gentrification of Hoboken at that time.




The Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project is raising funds for a memorial plaque to be placed this spring at Tommy Olivieri Park at 13th and Willow Avenue. The fundraising is now more than half completed and excess funds will fund a Jersey City project for present day fire victims.

The Hoboken Historical Museum is receiving the community donations on its Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project page:

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Report: Union Dry Dock - A Weehawken way out?

According to a report on the Hudson County View, there may be a way out of the battle between NY Waterway, the current owner of the former Union Dry Dock site and the City of Hoboken.

The solution would involve NY Waterway returning to a spruced up Weehawken location with an unknown amount of cash sweetening the deal.

Since NY Waterway owns Union Dry Dock and the City of Hoboken offered a little more than $13 million, the difference in the cost may be what will induce NY Waterway to return its operations up the road to an enhanced operating facility.

The Hudson County View reports:

The NY Waterway flag joins Old Glory over the Union Dry Dock site.
How much money would Hoboken need to pay to send them back to Weehawken?

Talking Ed Note: Whatever sprucing up a Weehawken terminal for NY Waterway costs, it will very likely be Hoboken forking over the money. Let's hope a Union Dry Dock park won't cost on a per acre basis $100 million like the west side resiliency park.

Sign of the Times: Challenger to Phil Murphy for NJ Governor headlines Hoboken Lincoln Dinner

Former NJ Assemblyman Jack Ciatarelli was the headliner at the Hoboken Lincoln Dinner hosted by the Republican Municipal Committee & the Hudson County Young Republicans. He's joined by Municipal Chair Chris Carbine and NJ State Committeeman Josh Sotomayor Einstein. 

Hudson County View attended the event and filed this report:

Republican gubernatorial hopeful in Jack Ciattarelli proclaimed that Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is "one and done in '21," vowing to fix taxes by restructuring the local business climate and get rid of sanctuary cities.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Hudco Hospital Crisis with Hoboken in the mix

Back in 2011, the one local hospital in Hoboken, the former St. Mary's now Hoboken University Medical Center reached a crisis. The red ink piled up and without state intervention aiding a new buyer the hospital would close.

At the time, the crisis became a political football as a local political faction eyed an opportunity to push for the hospital's closure to use as a political weapon against former Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

St. Mary's hospital was saved with a $55 million bond guarantee underwritten by the City of Hoboken in 2006. In 2011, an effort to identify a buyer saved it from closure in the darkest days.

Fast foward to the present and the current owner and buyer, CarePoint Health is opting out of the business from its private ownership model of three hospitals in Hoboken in Bayonne and Jersey City.

The Hudson Reporter detailed the developments.

For the complete details, please see the Hudson Reporter story: https://hudsonreporter.com/2020/02/15/a-letter-a-meeting-and-three-hospitals-in-crisis/

Monday, February 24, 2020

Nevada Berned down

They've been counting the results for days in Nevada and are starting to get the hang of it. With 96% of the vote counted, here are the latest figures as of this morning in the Democrat Nevada caucus:


It's not clear when the other four percent of the vote will be tallied but we are expecting Iowa results to be completed by midweek.

Nevada is facing similar challenges as Iowa with Mayor Cheat challenging the vote but two delegates are currently added to his column.

On Saturday, South Carolina, the heralded firewall for Democrat & DNC Media frontrunner Joe Biden will make his big stand in that upcoming primary against Bernie Sanders.

The Democrat Party Super PAC moneymen are in the wings and considering additional primary changes for the 2020 nomination. It's a progressive moveable feast.

Should a party name change be in the works as billionaire Mike Bloomberg looks to make an entry?

How does the Plutocrat Party sound?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan passes in 9-0 City Council vote

After much delay and years of haggling and big special interest flexing, the controversial Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan passed last night in the City Council in a 9-0 vote.

There's a collective orgasm coming out of the mayor's office. The skinny? They think the bounty of special interest money will go Mayor Ravi Bhalla's way and not land up with his nemesis, Councilman Mike DeFusco in next year's mayoral race.

After trying to slam one rendition of the redevelopment through last year with zero public input, Ravi Bhalla's office put out this statement celebrating.

“I’m pleased that the most updated version of the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan incorporates the extensive community feedback we’ve received over the past several months. This plan is a win for Hoboken as it provides the framework to both revitalize our downtown region with an emphasis on commercial development, while substantially reducing the size of the overall project and residential density."

The plan saw significant changes along the way but the City Council folded after complaining there was no economic or traffic study only months back and relented to Ravi Bhalla.

Well, good luck getting in and out of Hoboken on the southern end of town or what will now be called the "southern traffic region." Surprise!

Let us revel in a sampling of "Crosstown Traffic."




Scenes from the Debate

If you missed the debate last night, some clips may be illuminating. Here's one short clip.
Joe Biden took a moment to speak out about global warming. Was his clip about the global warming "existential threat" his best moment?

Senator Elizabeth Warren took a tomahawk to tattoo Mike Bloomberg in the head, or was it two?

Mike Bloomberg recovered from the blows taking aim at the biggest socialist millionaire mentioning his lovely dacha on the lake. Bernie Sanders, who no longer rails against millionaires only billionaires since he's the former with three homes.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'Doubled Budget Blues'

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors,
The list of notable news only seems to get bigger in Hoboken, never smaller.  Here is what this newsletter will cover:
  • Tribeca Film Festival Expanding Into Hoboken – mark your calendars for April 15-26 and what we hope will be a number of opportunities to see cutting edge films at the Mile Square Theater and possibly other Hoboken venues.
  • Municipal Fiscal Mess – the problem is almost double what the administration previously shared, our Business Administrator has left, and the decisions around layoffs, tax increases and use of surplus to plug the gap are still in flux.
  • Railyards Development Plan – Improved plan that focuses on the project being commercially anchored; second reading vote coming up tonight (passed on first reading 9-0).
  • Parking Repricing Continues - Meter rate increases on for second reading tonight, with business areas only increasing from $1/hr to $2/hr.  Increase in residential parking permit to $1/week passed and will go into effect in one week and a second vote on reducing this rate for Seniors, Vets and Disabled is tonight.
  • Monarch Update – Settlement plan with new DPW moving forward while awaiting Supreme Court decision.
  • Transportation Alternatives Under Review – plan to upgrade bike and car sharing programs, and determine whether scooter and/or moped sharing make sense for Hoboken.     
  • Road Closed Ahead Signs Coming - to an intersection near you, and one that is two blocks before the actual road closure.
  • 15th Street Safety Improvements – meeting today with City Engineer to discuss near and longer term plans.  
  • Little City Books, Bwe and Park & Bloom now open uptown – Grab a new book, a cup of coffee and some flowers just a few blocks away and support the expansion of three of our local businesses.
TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL EXPANDING INTO HOBOKEN
Let’s start with the fun news.  Hoboken Girl blog reported yesterday that the Tribeca Film Festival will be expanding its events into Hoboken, specifically using our own Mile Square Theatre as one of their venues.  The organizers of the festival, founded by Robert DeNiro after 9/11 as a way to attract visitors back to downtown New York, stated Hoboken’s long term history as a film set (eg. On The Waterfront) is what made them think about Hoboken.  This will also be a great opportunity to support our local businesses and as a current board member of the new Hoboken Business Alliance, I can say we are already looking at ways to be able to do just that during this celebrated event which happens April 15-26.  More to come…

MUNICIPAL FISCAL MESS
Where we last left off, our Business Administrator has left, the administration stated publicly we have a projected deficit of $7.4M and I felt the number was potentially much bigger as the administration was not including in its estimate the impact of city’s use of the surplus to balance the budget/keep taxes low over the last two years.  We had a Revenue, Finance and Infrastructure subcommittee meeting with the administration where we agreed that the starting point for the budget gap has to include the surplus impact on the budget and as such, the gap is in fact just under $14M.  
***Clarifying point - we have been using the phrase budget deficit when we should be using projected budget shortfall or gap.

This gap has now shrunk by approximately $1M to just under $13M with the inclusion of increased PILOT payments that the administration did not previously account for in its estimates, the majority which is from the recently opening of 770 Jackson.  To help give you a visual of what the budget gap looks like in the context of the overall municipal budget, below is a historical summary that I put together.  




As I have stated previously, every year I have asked the administration to prepare a five year forecast for the city and each year I was told that they couldn’t do this.  I learned last week that the administration has finally taken steps to prepare one although to do so, it has hired an outside consultant.  I personally am surprised that this is required and not something the administration can prepare on its own.  IMHO this analysis is something that we should always have as a tool that helps drive the policies of the city.  
As mentioned last time, filling any size budget gap can come from a variety of sources including reducing operating costs, layoffs, increasing revenues and increasing taxes.  All of the above is being considered.  We are also working with Freeholder Romano and the County to determine what, if any, support and/or sharing of services the County can provide to Hoboken given the high amount of County taxes we pay.   More to come…


RAILYARDS DEVELOPMENT PLAN 
UP FOR VOTE AGAIN, THIS TIME ALL COMMERCIAL  
Two weeks ago, the City Council voted 9-0 to introduce the revised Hoboken Railyards Development Plan.  This revised plan 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.  
I feel that this plan is significantly improved vs. the previous plan given that the focus will be on commercial development.  Additionally, based upon some feedback we received from members of the public, some late changes were made to the plan that ultimately allows for better future conversations about the public areas around the terminal.
As a reminder – this is just a plan.  Not an agreement to build.  Once the plan is approved the administration and the City Council subcommittee will work closely with all parties on a developer’s agreement for the actual developments so there will be more opportunity for public input along the way.   

How big is the Ravi Bhalla budget debacle? Pt. II



An indicator of the paranoia coming out of the mayor's office is the utter silence and inability to tell the Hoboken public the truth on the pending budget deficit.

That number is more tightly kept locked away than the Iowa caucus votes being massaged in the back rooms of the DNC by a Super PAC app. Yup, there's an app for that but not for Hoboken's current budget woes.

The City Council passed the temporary budget under the normal State rules previously, good for several months leeway. Now comes the painful part. Drastic steps are in the works with plans to layoff dozens of municipal workers. A major tax increase is about to hit the table.

Yet, with all these actions contemplated back to late last year, no one can get an official answer on what the actual pending budget deficit number is from Mayor Ravi Bhalla and his now rudderless mayor's office with nary a business administrator in sight.

No doubt the recently departed Stephen Marks knows the actual red ink figure Hoboken is facing in this year's budget. None of these actions from the mayor's office are being taken in a void. Dead men tell no tales and neither do the recently departed.

So transparency aside, what is the magic number?

Let's say it's right in the ballpark of the Hoboken 2009 budget crisis. Do you remember that mess?

That budget snafu came in at $11.7 million. That's the number that Ravi Bhalla is desperate to avoid see matched let along surpassed.

Politics above everything. That's exactly how we got here.

The answer first to premium members. Everyone else, try not to hold your breath and pass out.



Related: The City Council will make its first vote on the latest iteration of the Rail Yards plan downtown. This time, it's likely to see a vote and pass on first reading with a final vote two weeks out.

Let's see how the public reacts.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Co-Founder of Moneyline Telerate, John E. Robinson joins MarketDesk


February 18, 2020 - Hoboken, NJ – MarketDesk, a cutting edge technology platform for content owners distributing financial data for traditional and mobile delivery is proud to announce John E. Robinson joining the company as Head Of Sales and Business Development in the New York Office.

John brings several decades of successful industry experience in the FINTECH, Financial Information, Analytics & Trading Software, & other Financial Industry Technology Solutions sectors. As a former bond salesman, he has a particular specialty in fixed income and securities markets, both domestically and internationally. 

With his extensive industry relationships interfacing with market leaders, C-level decision-makers, and cutting edge financial industry innovators, John's vision and passion willdrive revenues through complex negotiations and new strategic partnerships applying MarketDesk’s innovative and market-proven low latency data delivery solutions. 

MarketDesk CEO Brice Hamon stated, “John Robinson’s history of industry success is a perfect match for MarketDesk’s vision to deliver innovation to our clients who seek to utilize the speed and cost advantages available in the cloud, internet, and mobile technologies as we continue to transform the financial content business.”

John added, “I am very happy and excited to be working not only with my former colleagues, but with a terrific company and a solid product which I believe will prove to be a game changer for our current and future clients.” 

Robinson’s decades-long success will greatly aid in MarketDesk’s vision to provide financial market participants at all levels the market transparency, low latency delivery with the adoption of mobile apps, and internet services never available before. His previous experience has included similar roles at MoneyLine Telerate, TPICAP (formerly Tullet & Tokyo) and the NYSE.

For more on MarketDesk offerings, please see the company website at http://marketdesk.com.

How big is the Ravi Bhalla budget debacle?

It's started to trickle out of the mayor's office. After issuing dozens of layoff notices and hinting at tax increases, the actual number of Mayor Ravi Bhalla's budget debacle is trickling out.




It ain't going to be seven million or seven and a half million. 

Is it $8 million?

Is it $9 million?

Is it $10 million?

Is it $11 million?

Is it 12 million?

Are you friggin' kidding me, 
worst case scenario - $14 million???


More to come. We're going to share the latest and yes, it's bad.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Councilman Phil Cohen: "Hospital Zoning, Art in the Park, and Pet Waste"

Official release:

 
Dear Neighbor,
 
I want to wish each and every one of you a Happy Valentine’s Day and a happy Black History Month. So far this month has already been chock full of excitement. Here are some of the items that have taken place or that I think would interest you to know. 
 
Hospital Zoning
At our City Council meeting last Wednesday evening, my Council colleagues and I unanimously approved on first reading an emergency ordinance to zone our hospital property as a hospital district, to prevent it from being used for future residential development. Although the future of our hospital is once again uncertain, working with Mayor Bhalla’s administration, we are doing our part to help secure a future with a hospital continuing to serve our community.  By acting to diminish the appeal of the hospital’s land to a real estate developer seeking to profit from the hospital’s precarious financial status, we are working to increase the likelihood that the hospital continues to provide critical public health services to our community. To read more click here
 
Spring Recreation
Since 2018, the City has expanded recreation opportunities for children through the re-launch of the flag football program, the introduction of tennis clinics, the expansion of basketball for children with a new division for girls, and this year — a new girls’ volleyball league. 
Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla and the City of Hoboken are pleased to announce the launch of recreation tennis, and for the first time, girls’ volleyball for the spring season. Registration will open on a first-come, first-serve basis for both sports at 12:00 pm on Friday, February 14th and will remain open until March 2nd. To register, visit http://www.hobokennj.gov/register.
 
Art in the Park
On February 11th registration began for Hoboken’s popular Art in the Park program, a six-week creative arts program this summer for children ages 1-4 years of age. You can sign up at www.hobokennj.gov/register.
This picture of Anna, 17 years ago, shows how much my family has enjoyed this terrific program which is run so well by Nora Martínez DeBenedetto. Though Anna is in college now, our Art in the Park program is still here, going strong and better than ever!
It’s not too soon to plan for our fun Art in the Park program.  Register today!
 
Pet Waste Station Adoption 
Note the empty roll on our 11th Street pet waste station, which I personally “adopted”, and which used to have 200 bags. It’s pretty clear that our pet waste station is being well-used, and our 11th Street sidewalks look pretty clear too! 🐕 🐶 💩 🐕 🐶
This initiative from Mayor Bhalla’s administration seems to be working well. Let me know if you would like to adopt a Pet Waste Station if you don’t have one nearby, and we will follow-up or visit www.hobokennj.gov/petwaste for more information. Let’s keep our streets clean together! 
 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Mayor Ravi Bhalla issues dozens of layoff notices and readies higher taxes

A slew of municipal layoff notices in the dozens hit the street with the mayor's office preparing a budget expected to deplete millions more this year from the surplus and an inevitable tax increase higher than the one he proposed last year.

Welcome to the world of Mayor Ravi Bhalla's Hoboken.

An economic boom is underway across the country but in the Mile Square City, its depression era municipal job cuts, splurging on the surplus and a fat tax increase for Hoboken taxpayers.

How'd this happen? Let us dial back a single calendar year. What were Ravi Bhalla and the office of mayor doing? Rolling out a three-percent tax increase to residents while issuing themselves fat double-digit raises.

Later that spring, the City Council would go line by line and identify areas for additional savings in an effort to roll back the Ravi Bhalla tax increase to less than a little over one-percent.

How did Ravi Bhalla and his office respond? They took the battle to Trenton in an effort to counter any of the City Council's reasonable spending reductions.

So here Hoboken sits staring at a blank wall asking why?

Mayor Ravi Bhalla scooting 

The rest of this story is premium content and will go out to members this week.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Bern this!

Bernie Sanders (D) wins the New Hampshire primary.


Denied a caucus win in Iowa early last week, Bernie Sanders would not be stopped from an evening victory declaration in the New Hampshire primary this time.

Announcing his objective to transform America, Sanders topped all Democrat Party candidates with over 76,000 votes in the New Hampshire primary last night.

In second was red diaper baby challenger, former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg boosted by his Iowa victory declaration under a cloud of irregularities yet unresolved and leaving the Associated Press unable to declare a victor there.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar saw an upswing to third as she attempted to stake out a middle position among candidates burying fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren to fourth place.

Warren coming off a fifth place finish in Pocahontas County Iowa last week and third overall saw her presidential ambitions stumble in New Hampshire as she sinks to a 1024 to 1 long shot.

Further down the list, the mainstream or DNC Media's declared frontrunner, former VP Joe Biden cratered, this time coming in fifth and earning zero delegates for the Democratic nomination as predicted here.

Biden blew off his last New Hampshire event flying to South Carolina where he hopes to mobilize a stronger showing. He'll look to rescesitate his campaign with his unique pitch to voters. He called one New Hampshire student a "lying dog-faced pony soldier" in a public forum over the weekend.

With about 90% of the tallies counted late Monday, the Associated Press published the results:



Elsewhere, former New York City mayor, Mike Bloomberg (D) who has spent approximately $300 million to date in his presidential bid is lying in wait to make an outright purchase of the Democrat Party. He's set to spend many hundreds of millions more in an outright oligarch-like bid unseen in US political history.


On the Republican side, President Trump easily won the New Hampshire primary against nominal opposition.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Joshua Sotomayor Einstein: Breaking down the Ravi Bhalla bait and switch

Joshua Sotomayor Einstein breaks down the bait and switch Mayor Ravi Bhalla offered in his State of the City speech. At the time of submission, the Bhalla Budget Debacle was thought in the area of $7.5 million and not the potentially worse range surfacing in the last City Council meeting, $14 million.

In his “State of the City” address, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla continued the age-old tradition of touting initiatives began under the past administrations as personal victories, highlighting policy initiatives that are beyond the power of the municipality, using a Band-Aid approach to major issues, and ignoring the elephant in the room – the $7.5 million dollar budget hole. Masked as an apolitical update on city developments, the thinly veiled partisan speech was a sad, though not unexpected, continuation of Bhalla’s addiction to politics-as-usual. 
The mayor began his talk on infrastructure by hyping the North West Park, a six acre public space with a $100 million plus price tag that could have been free to the tax payer had city hall let an apartment complex be built on half an acre, but for which the city decided to spend the public’s money on. (The cisterns being built under the park have been brought up time and time again as a panacea against another horrific flooding, but the fact remains that as water runs towards the lowest point, in another massive flood situation, the cisterns {which will fill} will not magically elevate most of Hoboken above sea level.)

Bhalla then reiterated his support for a light rail stop north of the viaduct, a plan the Port Authority has had on the books since 2014. On the regular water main breaks, resultant flooding, and the perennial sink holes Hoboken faces from an ancient water delivery system, the mayor celebrated his as-of-yet-unfinished goal of replacing 2.7 miles of water mains, less than 6% of the entire system, by the end of 2020.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla, can you be censured by the public?
After infrastructure, Mayor Bhalla spent a significant amount of his political speech peddling his “Zero Vision” agenda of making life more difficult for residents by killing parking spots, narrowing Hoboken’s already anorexic roadways with barrier based bike lanes, (often driven over) curb bump-outs, and adding the equivalent of thousands of new “micro” vehicles for which traffic rules are rarely if ever enforced. The barrier based bike lanes, which were resoundingly rejected by the public during the open discussions in the run up to the botched Washington Street redevelopment, had their second debut at a community meeting in October of 2019 to a chorus of residents, cyclists included, again rejecting them.
Though Bhalla seemingly actually believes shrinking the streetscape while clogging it with thousands of unpoliced scooter-ists will result in fewer accidents rather than increase roadway chaos; he has conveniently set his goal of zero injuries and fatalities long after he is likely out of office (2030). Peddling the falsehood that there is such a thing as a free lunch, the mayor practically begged for applause when he mentioned that the municipal bus service known as the “Hop” is “free of charge for residents,” as if residents were not already paying for the city bus through taxes.
Next up was the mayors attempted national-level virtue signaling in which he attacked President Trump for not upholding the Paris Accords, a non-treaty never brought by President Obama to the Senate for ratification. Once again, Bhalla put the goal posts for his supposedly sincerely held priority of having the city government go carbon neutral far into the future – 2050. Continuing the topic of faux environmentalism, the mayor pivoted to his ban on the formerly recyclable shopping bags abusing the English language by maintaining his incorrect labeling of them as “single use.” Interestingly, Bhalla failed to bring up the new municipal public dog waste bag stations that have popped up around town which offer free plastic dog waste bags. This, even though many residents once saved their recyclable shopping bags for re-use, disposing of dog waste among them.
Based on the amount of time given the varied topics the mayor spoke on, one could be forgiven for thinking Hoboken was but until recently an urban-hellscape-meets-concrete-prison devoid of any parks or public space rather than the beautiful charming city that it has been for decades. Though opponents of individual property rights have celebrated the seizing of the New York Waterway marina property at the old Union Dry Dock as a fait accompli, Mayor Bhalla acknowledged the theft is not yet a done deal, stating that “I would be remiss if I did not reiterate my administrations unwavering commitment to securing Union Dry Dock to create a water front park.” Of course, tens of thousands of Hoboken residents are satisfied with Hoboken’s already existing parks and public spaces encompassing 90% of the waterfront and do not want the taxpayer to pay $30-60 million dollars in eminent domain compensation, legal fees, and park construction costs. 
The mayors next topic was that of businesses in Hoboken, during which he counterintuitively claimed both that business life in town needed “revitalization” while implying it was doing well. Bhalla ignored the dozens of empty store fronts on Washington Street and across town, as well as the reputation City Hall has of making life needlessly difficult for small business owners but did mention the recently created Special Improvement District (SID). Like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face, the city budget, which allegedly included beautification and cultural events, such as the SID is supposed to engage in, did not shrink nor were pre-existing municipal funds transferred to the SID. Rather the Hoboken SID, which unlike any other SID across New Jersey covers the entire municipality, charges yet another tax on many commercial and residential properties in order to “support” business. 
The full list of the mayors factually challenged fairy tales is too long to continue. But the highlight was Bhalla’s assertion that he has a “fiscally responsibly approach to spending” as if the long list of items he claimed credit for had not needlessly cost Hoboken resident’s through tax increases, hiking permit fees, a predatory parking authority that is used to pad the municipal budget, and much more. Hoboken deserves better than the politics-as-usual, parks above all else, political patronage, and virtue signaling agenda of a mayor committed to doubling down on the same poor practices which resulted in the Hoboken budget hole of $7.5 million. Fortunately, Bhalla will likely be a one term mayor, unfortunately for Hoboken, it’s going to be a while until the next mayoral election in 2021.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Report on the demise of the Lepers?

Courtesy of the local CBS affiliate:




The Battle of the Lepers means more than a mere bar crawl. There's bragging rights and that's politics as the City Council will affirm and likely implement some form of taxation on the bars promoting these bar crawls.

Who will be screaming for credit no matter how it fares in 2021?

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Horse Sense: Hoboken enters a BA quagmire

The departure of Business Administrator Stephen Marks with his resignation this month closes the chapter to a Hoboken where financial stability and low taxes were a benchmark.

Following in the footsteps of the very able Quentin Wiest, Marks learned from someone who mastered the details, saw the big picture and acted decisively to keep the City's numbers in the black. As one example, Hoboken saved two million dollars when it made the bold move to self-insure its health plan for employees and retirees.

Stephen Marks
The biggest downside in a move such as this? You can only reap those benefits once and then the genie keeps rearing its head. So how do you maintain cost controls in a small NJ municipality?

Wiest departed Hoboken in the fall of 2016 and Marks took over without the same business experience but walked into some emerging problems.

Hoboken is facing a $7 million dollar budget deficit. The way it's talked about from the mayor's office, it sounds like a meteor landed on City Hall and it was just bad luck the hot rock crashed into the Mile Square City.

Reality says different. Hoboken knew revenues were down for obvious reasons in parking and the Municipal Court. The construction on Washington St. led to a seven figure drop in revenues and with the lengthy delays it could have been worse.

While Mayor Ravi Bhalla accelerated the Washington Street reconstruction faring better than it had under former mayor Dawn Zimmer, was it a secret revenues would be impacted? Hardly, and those projections are known to the mayor's office as they were incurred over many months. So why was nothing done about it?

Well, as we're beginning to learn something was done. Ravi Bhalla spent money on his office like a drunken sailor coming in to port for holiday. He created a much-heralded "Constituent Office" insulating himself from the public as he collected on his second job, landed HudCo legal contracts for his Republican law firm friends and took trips fundraising with an eye on his next political job.

The mayor's office budget increased almost 50% and fat double-digit raises went to his inner circle who spent more time promoting the boss than implementing savings on plummeting revenues. This when they weren't orchestrating vile political attacks on members of the City Council and anyone deemed an "Enemy of the State."

Marks himself got caught up in this "bow or be destroyed" mentality. Some insiders claim he was the person giving the order to City Hall security to throw out City Council President Jen Giattino and Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher who were sighted on the third floor trying to help a resident at the rent office.

Now Hoboken needs to look ahead and find a new Business Administrator. The circumstances will make it harder but at this late stage in the budget cycle, the attraction will be less than appetizing. Some luck will be needed and some common sense overdue from the mayor's office.

Let's hope that political reality finally hits home.

In the interim, good luck to Stephen Marks who had some good years before the lean years.

A report on the budget dilemma from the City Council meeting last night:



Talking Ed Note: Meanwhile, the details on the Ravi Bhalla budget deficit are getting worse.

According to the report on Hudson County View:

"While outgoing Business Administrator Stephen Marks announced last month that the budget deficit was in the ballpark of $7 million, Fisher said that the actual figure should exceed $10 million and could actually approach $14 million."

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Feds: Louis Picardo sentenced to 12 months for tax evasion

Official release:

USAO NJ Seal 3
United States AttorneyDistrict of New Jersey

A Hoboken-based accountant was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for evading more than $914,000 in taxes on income he earned from his accounting practice and various rental properties he owned, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Louis Picardo, 64, of Hoboken, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty to an information charging him with four counts of income tax evasion. U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler imposed the sentence on Feb. 4, 2020 in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Picardo served as the Tax Collector in Hoboken between 1973 and 2008 and was a partner in Cannarozzi & Picardo LLC, a Hoboken-based accounting firm. Picardo also was a member of multiple entities (the “Picardo Entities”) that managed both commercial and residential properties in Hudson County. Picardo failed to report approximately $3,725,853 in taxable income that he collected from Cannarozzi & Picardo and the Picardo Entities on federal income tax returns he filed with the IRS for the tax years 2012 to 2015, resulting in a tax loss to the United States of approximately $914,908.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Chesler sentenced Picardo to two years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $914,908.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, with the investigation leading to the sentence.

The government is represented by Assistant United States Attorney Sean Farrell of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division and Rahul Agarwal, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.
20-050

Councilman Mike DeFusco Will Introduce Ordinance to Mandate Permitting Process for Pub Crawls

Official release:

Councilman Mike DeFusco is sponsoring sweeping legislation that will establish a better system to manage pub crawls and create additional oversight when these events come to Hoboken. As part of the ordinance that will be introduced during Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, participating bars and businesses will be required to pay an application and permit fee. The revenue generated through this process will be used to directly offset the skyrocketing costs of public safety enforcement and environmental cleanup associated with holiday pub crawls. 
Additionally, the ordinance would allow bar owners to utilize their outdoor cafe space during certain hours on pub crawl days, which allows for them to responsibly serve more patrons and offset the costs of the permit.
“Holiday pub crawls have long been a nuisance to the quality of life in my downtown neighborhood,” said Councilman Mike DeFusco. “While we cannot limit a person’s right to visit multiple bars in celebration of a holiday, we as a city cannot afford to foot the bill for additional safety and cleanup costs, especially as this administration continues to overspend and put Hoboken in a multi-million financial deficit. Introducing a commonsense permitting process will ensure the city recoups some of the operational costs for pub crawls. Many of Hoboken’s bar owners rely on high traffic days to meet their bottom line for the year and this proposed legislation will incentivize owners and help them, succeed while not over burdening taxpayers.”
Councilman DeFusco first proposed legislation that would regulate pub crawls following last year’s LepreCon, which resulted in six arrests, 12 tickets and 322 calls for emergency services. Despite receiving initial support from the City Council and the approval of residents most directly impacted by pub crawls, the measure was stalled by the administration to push their own political agenda. Since last year’s LepreCon, two additional pub holiday pub crawls have taken place in Hoboken, putting taxpayers on the hook for upwards of $200,000 in additional security and cleanup costs. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Partial results released in the Democrat Iowa Caucus

It's sure to anger many many people as the candidate with investment in the Shadow app is released in the lead with more than a third of the tabulation yet outstanding. (Or so they say.)

Here are first round vote tallies (likely prior to realignment when candidates below 15% give voters an opportunity to choose a secondary candidate in another vote).

View this as the raw vote (first round) and not the preferred and limited buffered percentage of votes above. More details on how this data works is available at the link.




Talking Ed Note: "Moscow, we have a problem." This is not the anticipated approved red diaper baby. It's another one.

So when will the full actual votes and delegate counts get released? They will be delayed deep into the night after the State of the Union, guaranteed. This is the politically insider approved release which is all you will be fed right now.

Democrat Election Disaster in Iowa

In a crisis no one predicted for the Iowa Caucus and well into the dead of night in the midnight hour; there are no election results available for the Democrat Party candidates.

On the Republican side, President Donald Trump set a record turnout for incumbent presidents in Iowa while earning over 97% of the vote.

Let's repeat. NO results for Democrat candidates in an election from the smallish state of Iowa running a caucus.



40% of the vote was confirmed tallied according to anecdotal polling sources but nothing by way of results was being reported from Iowa Democrat officials in the literal midnight hour.

Those same anecdotal reports say Senator Bernie Sanders was doing "very well" but the anticipated match up from a Joe Biden challenge were not materializing.

The Iowa caucus process states people who show up are counted only if their candidate exceeds 15%. If the candidate fails to make that viable figure, those voters in attendance may elect to join another campaign in a second realignment or not at all.

The model was expected by pollsters to help Joe Biden close a gap with the much speculated leader in Bernie Sanders.

There was just one major problem. It wasn't happening. Anecdotal evidence suggests in four key precincts under close observation Joe Biden was not picking up realignment votes of voters.

The candidates sweeping up those realignment votes are reportedly Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Peter Buttegieg.

A crisis of confidence is breaking out as a midnight letter reportedly sent from the Joe Biden campaign urges the Iowa Democrat Party to withhold ALL RESULTS until issues in the counting of votes are evaluated AND then reported to the campaigns FIRST.

Delayed election results only to campaigns but not the public?

A near midnight call between campaign and state Democrat official via NBC was reported this way:

"Sources confirm the Iowa Dems hung up on the campaigns as campaigns pressed for more information about the issues with reporting and when they would receive more data/results."


The New York Times "Live" coverage page had nothing but zeroes all night.




Then, a little past midnight a mere trickle of votes finally appeared. Then that too disappeared.





Lookout! Hot mic on MSNBC, "What an effin disaster."



Talking Ed Note: Candidates are giving speeches in Iowa but much like the public have no actual tallies just a mere trickle of votes.

Buttegieg said the vote "shocked the nation" in an unintended statement of irony as he declared his campaign "victorious" moving on to New Hampshire.

Half the country is being fed the idea that reality holds no objective fact whatsoever. This is an incredible level of incompetence but it's far more than that.

A vote tally of ZERO tells you that and the Soviet Union would not try to pull this scam off.

The prediction here was Joe Biden finishing in fourth place with Sanders winning the Iowa caucus. Senator Amy Klobuchar is claiming in the dead of night she will finish ahead of Joe Biden (post midnight).

But we're in uncharted waters of election credibility with questions of Monty Python proportions here. How do you say Russia election interference in Monty Pythonese?

Anyone who embraces any "security" or "hack" explanation for a manual process in the Iowa caucus is not dealing with a full deck.

Trending on Twitter after the midnight hour: #TomPerezResign. Perez is the chair of the Democrat National Committee (DNC).

Sunrise Update: The sun is rising and there's nary a precinct result coming out of Iowa for any of the Democrat campaigns. Nada. Nunca. Nothing.

Having done election integrity work several times, there's clearly no reasonable explanation why a vote with perhaps 40,000 total involved can't be properly tabulated based on submitted details manually. A caucus by definition is a manual process.

There is however much bellowing about an app called... wait for it.... The Shadow app. Its creation is tied to the former campaign manager of Hillary Clinton and underwritten by the one candidate who declared victory last night with zero percentage of the vote tabulated: Pete Buttegieg.

Bernie Sanders certainly had boots on the ground observing the process after his controversial loss in 2016 to Hillary Clinton. For Iowa precincts tied, it's decided by a coin flip. Sanders went 0 for 6 in coin flips to Hillary Clinton in 2016. How's that magical coin looking this morning?

From the people who brought you the Russia Collusion Hoax. The more you know...


Hours earlier, the Sanders campaign shared its data collected (obviously manual).  It shows a likely pending victory for him, second place for Mayor Peter and third place for Elizabeth Warren.

According to the Bernie Bro data (above), Joe Biden is next nosing out Amy Kloburcher. How any of this sizes up to the Democratic Party officials in Iowa is any one's guess at the moment. They issued a bizarre statement first about election integrity, then stating there was no "hack" before finally hanging up on the campaigns and refusing to say anything about when the actual election results would be available.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Councilman Phil Cohen launches his community website with Hoboken updates

Official release:

 
Dear Neighbor,
 
It is such an honor to serve the people of the Fifth Ward and to represent our community. I am energized by the work and the challenges that lie ahead and enjoy working for you. I am building good working relationships with my Council colleagues as well as Mayor Bhalla and his administration to best represent your interests and to keep our great city on track.  

 
Ribbon-cutting for great new businesses in the 5th Ward
 

I attended the opening of a brand new location for Bwe Kafe, Park & Bloom, and Little City Books, all of which are amazing additions to the neighborhood at 1401 Adams Street, at the corner of 14th and Adams Streets. Very proud that these locally-owned Hoboken businesses are succeeding and providing important services to our neighborhoods “West of Willow” and will further revitalize our growing northern redevelopment zone. 
 
PLEASE JOIN ME FOR COFFEE WITH COHEN ON MONDAY MORNING!

If you haven’t seen the new Bwe Kafe (or even if you have), let me treat you to some coffee ☕️ and croissants 🥐 at the February Coffee with Cohen on Monday, February 3rd from 7:30 to 9:00 am. Come for coffee, croissants, and conversation. I hope to see there! You can RSVP for this free event, here: 

Hoboken is the 1st City in New Jersey to Call on Elected Officials at Every Level to Reunify Migrant Families, End Migrant Detention, and Afford Families Due Process In Immigration Proceedings

I am proud that the first resolution that I sponsored as a Councilman resulted in Hoboken becoming the first city in New Jersey (and 4th municipality in the State) to pass a resolution calling on Congress and our state and federal representatives to reunite migrant families and afford them dignity, meaningful legal representation and due process in immigration proceedings. 
 
I was gratified that this resolution had the unanimous support of my council colleagues as well as every one of the many public speakers who appeared at the Council’s meeting of November 15th. I was proud to partner with New Jersey ACLU on this resolution as well as many committed advocates for asylees and social justice who live in our great City. 
The United States has a long and proud history of welcoming migrants and providing asylum to those fleeing violence or persecution in their countries of origin. In our nation of immigrants, where our diversity is our strength, the inhumane, unlawful treatment of migrants and the separation of their families is a national shame. 
 
Thank you to the passionate and eloquent Hoboken residents who spoke out at the January 15th Council meeting and to my Council colleagues who unanimously supported the resolution calling for the reunification of migrant families, and affording them due process in immigration proceedings.
A link to a video of my statement in support of this resolution can be found here:  https://youtu.be/2jEBP5Mxnos

Sensory Hallways Dedication Honoring Shirael Pollack at Wallace School


On January 12, I was honored to attend the dedication of Sensory Hallways at the Wallace School. This very special initiative was developed in part to honor the legacy of our friend and inspiration, Shirael Pollack, Co-Founder, and President of the Hoboken Public Education Foundation. It was beautiful to see her being honored in a way that will help so many students be even better learners in the Hoboken School District for which Shirael was such a passionate advocate. 

This is the year of the Census. 
 

The council approved a resolution on January 15th seeking to encourage participation citywide. The resolution encourages all residents to participate in the upcoming census process and supports the work of Hoboken’s Complete Count Committee to ensure that the city has a complete and accurate 2020 Census count. April 1, 2020, is now a “Census Day of Action” to encourage a City-wide Census response. 
 
I am glad to support the important 2020 census effort and announce that Hoboken’s Complete Count Committee will be holding a “Lunch and Learn” event with my friends at Fox Hill Gardens on February 7 from 11 to 12:30. The Census is hiring folks (18 and older) to do door knocking (the most fun activity there is in Hoboken if you ask me!) on flexible schedules for $22/hour! Anyone interested can click on the City’s Census page (www.hobokennj.gov/census) for more information. 

Hoboken Parking Permits
 
I will always support smart ways that we can increase revenues fairly, that make good public policy, such as increasing the cost of an annual parking permit, which has been unchanged at $15 a year for more than 15 years. Even when we were not staring at a large budget shortfall, I have always favored revisiting the annual rate for registering a car to park for free on our streets. If we were a beach town we would charge hundreds of dollars for seasonal beach tags; if we were a suburban town, we would charge hundreds of dollars for recreation fees for beautiful fields; but our most coveted commodity is free street parking, and we are charging a little more than a quarter a week for people to store their cars on the street. This makes no sense! Instead of encouraging people to have fewer cars, or keeping them in lots off of the city streets, we are incentivizing people to have multiple cars — making our city more congested — making traffic worse — and making finding a parking spot even more impossible than it should be. 
 
While I am not a member of the Parking and Transportation Committee that selected the new annual price at $52/year, I supported the resolution on First Reading on January 15. Nobody likes to raise the prices of permits, but $15/year in a town where there are thousands of more vehicles than there are street parking spots makes no sense at all. Let’s govern smart and avoid unnecessary tax increases by raising revenues in a way consistent with good public policy. 
 
If I can ever be of any assistance you, please do not hesitate to contact me at HobokenPhil@gmail.com 
 
Thanks, and best wishes to you and your family,
Phil Cohen
5th Ward Councilman
City of Hoboken, New Jersey
P.S. You can learn more about my ideas for Hoboken on my campaign website,