Month: July 2011

News

Video: Mark Toback outlines the facts on violations

The above video is from the spring when Hoboken Superintendent Mark Toback inherited the problems of an administrator who didn’t follow policy and bragged about it.  You may have heard her tale of woe.

What would Michelle Rhea do?  The former head of DC’s district would come in, make immediate dismissals and demand all monies spent on outside resources for plays be paid back to the taxpayer.

You don’t hear that from those who claim to care about real results do you?  Ah, Hoboken politics, more phony than a three dollar bill at least half the time. Read More...

News

Hudson County and Michele Russo: the “job” gets murkier

Back and forth, back and forth, the County job for Michele Russo remains in a haze, perhaps  intended that way.

Based on a report from a reader who managed to get someone to address the County’s hiring of Michele “five dollars a tow” Russo yesterday, although not officially hired, it’s about to go through.

A Hudson County spokesman didn’t say the hire was official but extolled the virtues of both Michele Russo
and the Russo family ad nauseum.

In a discussion with a county spokesman, the Hoboken resident noted the Russo family hurt on the taxpayers and inquired in this economic climate why no suitable candidate could be found? Read More...

News

Ravi in Review: City Council President progress report

From the desk of Hoboken City Council President Ravi Bhalla:


Dear Friends,
I report with pleasure that we are moving with determination to make our great city a better place.  Here is your update on how the City Council and the Administration are moving Hoboken forward:
Tax Decrease! At the July 20th City Council meeting, the Council adopted a 2011 budget includes an 8% tax decrease in municipal portion of your property taxes. This is great progress in the right direction. While I had hoped for an even greater tax cut, we were able to achieve this decrease while maintaining a budget surplus of approximately 5% of the overall municipal budget. Maintaining this surplus is critical to maintaining a healthy balance sheet so that the city can improve its bond rating.
Moving Elections to November: The City Council passed a law, signed by Mayor Dawn Zimmer on Monday, that moves local elections from May to November. This means that local Hoboken elections will coincide with federal, state and county level elections.  I am proud of this achievement. It is a meaningful reform that will decrease the number of times you have to go to the polls to vote, and save taxpayer dollars associated with multiple elections. Most municipalities in New Jersey hold their elections in November, when people are most acclimated to voting.  With this new law, Hoboken will now also be electing its local leaders in November.
Corner Cars: Under the leadership of Director Ian Sacs, Hoboken implemented the “Corner Cars” program, a public-private partnership with Hertz meant to increase resident transportation choices and reduce the burden of finding parking in Hoboken.  The program has been a tremendous success and has received national acclaim as an innovative approach to address the problem of inadequate parking.  Over 1,600 residents have already signed up for the Corner Cars program.  Yet, for months, the prior City Council failed to officially pass a law to allocate the spaces used for these corner cars.  Fortunately, on July 20th, the City Council passed a measure making the Corner Car spots official and legally permissible.  I look forward to the continued success of this program for the benefit of our residents.
Progress towards a park in southwest Hoboken: The City Council passed a Resolution supporting the Administration’s use of the lawful powers of eminent domain for a park in the southwest of Hoboken.  This resolution is significant because, irrespective of your views on eminent domain, it formally provides the Zimmer Administration with a necessary negotiating tool to finally deliver a park in the southwest of Hoboken.  As a result of this vote, Mayor Zimmer also agreed to repurpose $3 million in county grant money towards the purchase of land in the Southwest.
Saving Our Hospital: An important step was taken towards saving Hoboken University Medical Center last week.  A public hearing was held to determine whether the State Health Commission will recommend that a Certificate of Need be issued by the Commissioner of the State Department of Health, a pre-requisite for the sale of the hospital.  I personally attended the hearing and provided testimony to the Commission imploring them to save our hospital by supporting its sale.  A cross-section of community members and other stakeholders also spoke in favor of saving our hospital.  I am hopeful that soon taxpayers will be relieved of a $52 million debt obligation and the hospital will be sold to a private entity.
Finally, although it does not relate to my public service as your councilman, in the spirit of full disclosure I want to inform you that in my private capacity as an attorney, I was “admonished” by the Disciplinary Review Board.  My admonition was based on the fact that a settlement check was issued to one of my clients prior to the funds clearing my law firm’s trust account.  Although the funds cleared and there was no client loss or complaint, the bank charged my firm a $70 fee.   This $70 fee caused a violation and a finding that my firm’s trust account was not maintained in accordance with court rules.  I have since addressed these record keeping errors by retaining a specialized accountant to review and reconcile my law firm’s trust account on a quarterly basis to ensure its compliance with court rules.
An admonition is the lowest form of attorney discipline.  It is not a finding of dishonesty or fraud, nor is it finding relating to my public service.  Nonetheless, this was an error for which I take full responsibility.  I hope that in my time in public service, you have seen that where I make a mistake, I acknowledge it immediately rather than make excuses or denials, and then take corrective action.
As always, it’s a pleasure to be of a service to you.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at rbhalla@hobokennj.com or call me at 201-647-6090.
News

That Jen Girl does clean: announces local clean up effort this Sunday

Greetings from Jen Giattino for City Council

From the desk of 6th ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino:

Please join me and my family on Sunday July 31st at 10am in Church Square Park for a community wide “CLEAN IT UP HOBOKEN” Day.
Most Hoboken residents are unaware that there is an ordinance regarding the distribution and postings of handbills and circulars. The ordinance states “no person shall throw, cast or distribute any handbill, circular, card or other advertising matter whatsoever, in or upon any street, public place, front yard, on any vehicle, or any place on a pole or public sign“. However, everywhere we turn we see advertisements posted on utility poles and boxes, stuck on car windshields, and littering our sidewalks, streets and open spaces. It is time to make Hoboken more aware about this issue. It is time we come together as a community and start to clean up our streets. The Department of Environmental Services is working on the enforcement of this ordinance. 


“CLEAN IT UP –  HOBOKEN” is not only about raising awareness but encouraging a joint effort between city employees and their community. Read More...

News

Freeholder Anthony Romano and Challenger Kurt Gardiner agree on two debates

The Hoboken Journal announces:

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Anthony “Stick” Romano and Kurt “The Giant” Gardiner have agreed to two debates for the upcoming Freeholder race coming this November. We both did so through a trusted intermediary who was offered the carrot and chomping at the bit for open debates (hint). The dates will be set after Labor Day. The debate will consist of one forum and one TV interview/debate at a County TV Show. Both campaigns will work out the exact format after the Summer. Stay tuned. Read More...

News

Councilman Tim Occhipinti supports Raia’s petition effort

Not surprisingly, Tim Occhipinti also came out publicly to support the petition by Frank “Pupie” Raia to reverse November municipal elections.

What’s fascinating is since Tim Occhipinti’s controversial election where problems were forwarded to the highest state law enforcement agency in New Jersey – the Attorney General’s Office, there’s never been any hesitancy to move on “5 majority members of the city council deciding,” for the public.

Occhipinti never thought a 5-4 vote necessitated a public referendum, or paused to act with any consensus on any issue whatsoever.  It was full steam(roller) ahead with the new Beth Russo “majority” – this even with no word from the AG’s office on the problems with his election.  Those issues forwarded by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office have not led to any bill of health since. Read More...

News

Old Guard going to the mattresses to reverse November municipal election voting

The ink isn’t even dry since the last City Council meeting with its action to move the May municipal elections to November and the word on the street is a petition to reverse the action is well underway.


While the Hoboken St. Ann’s feast was affected by extreme heat, yesterday’s break in the weather allowed for some electioneering.  Perennial Hoboken candidate Frank Raia, a developer who has marshaled efforts against Mayor Zimmer and her supporters in recent elections is leading the way.  He’s personally been working to obtain signatures.  The raw total is claimed to be well over 1,000.

Read More...

News

Michele Russo fait accompli: Starts job “immediately”

According to a story on the Jersey Journal/Hoboken Now, Michele Russo has indeed won the job for the County.  The story also notes she is to start immediately.

Michele Russo is described as Anthony Russo’s ex-wife, but MSV thinks it’s an error.

The photo there also looks vaguely familiar:
http://www.nj.com/hobokennow/index.ssf/2011/07/ex-wife_of_former_mayor_michel.html

Horsey will look into that too.

Hey did you folks call the County Executive Tom DeGise?  Apparently not enough did. Read More...

News

Insider: Michele Russo awaits official word, no start date for job

Yesterday’s Hudson Reporter story by Al Sullivan announcing a county job for Michele Russo may be premature.  A source with knowledge on the situation stated no official decision had been rendered on officially extending a job offer.  The paperwork for the position of managing housekeeping at the Jersey City County building however, was already submitted..

A final decision including a sign off must come from the Hudson County County Executive, Tom DeGuise.

A link on the current County Executive notes in his first day in office back to 2002 he submitted legislation to the county board to create an Ethics Oversight Board in Hudson  County. Read More...

News

Michele Russo cleans up with new gig – scoring benefits

Michele Russo, mother of 3rd ward Councilman Mike Russo is reported to have landed a plum gig as head of housekeeping at the County Plaza Building in New Jersey.

The new job, noted by Al Sullivan in the Hudson Reporter earlier today is rumored to come with a salary of approximately $50,000 – and health care benefits.

Sources independently confirmed the benefits were the plum sought after ex-mayor and felon Anthony Russo was detected illicitly receiving them since 2005 and had been removed from the city health plan last spring. The reinstatement occurred during Mayor Dave Roberts’ watch, after Russo had been released from prison for extortion. Read More...