Month: June 2014


On tap: Special Meeting of the HHA Wednesday @ City Hall – 7:00 pm

A special meeting of the Hoboken Housing Authority is called for this Wednesday at 7:00 pm in City Council chambers at City Hall.  On the agenda is a single resolution to expand the current special counsel contract.  The special counsel is charged with investigating issues uncovered in the HHA procurement process. A public portion and closed session is listed on the meeting agenda and was noticed last Saturday and today in local media satisfying the requirement of the Public Open Meetings Act. MSV exclusively reported previously millions had been spent on vendors not in any federally approved and mandated process and some of the vendors have made political contributions to HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia last March in the thousands of dollars.

Rebuild Hoboken Relief Fund issues grants to local charities

=&0=& =&1=& Organization raises and distributes over one million dollars At a ceremony on Tuesday evening in Hoboken’s Pier A Park, Rebuild Hoboken Relief Fund 

presented grants to local charities with lingering needs caused by Hurricane Sandy.  Nine Hoboken-based nonprofits each received a check for $7500.  Charities qualifying for aid were:  The American Legion, Hoboken Homeless Shelter, Hoboken YMCA, Jubilee Center and Hoboken Emergency Response Team.  Also, four churches qualified for grants:  Mt Olive, St. Ann’s, Our Lady of Grace and Saints Peter and Paul. This second round of funding brings the total of money raised and distributed by the relief organization to over one million dollars. Read More...


Hoboken smashed with 14.5% tax hike by Hudson County

The saying “elections have consequences” applies and a spring election for an office too many voters don’t know or understand with the title of Freeholder delivered a disaster for Hoboken taxpayers as the county legislative body last night approved a half a billion plus budget with a 14.5% tax hike for the Mile Square City.

This makes your HudCo tax bill the largest of the three two years running. At this rate, it will continue to pull away and within some undetermined years time exceed your local municipal and school taxes combined. Read More...


The Beautiful Game takes over America

On Sunday, a fever took over America. If you were at any public venue with a TV, the cheers, the groans told you something important was going on. Over 24 million people in these United States stopped and looked to Brazil watching the US Mens National Team take a major step toward getting out of the Group of Death.

In the final seconds of injury time, the party ended when a goal was surrendered yielding a tie. So today the US faces perennial power Germany, most likely needing a win or tie to advance into the Round of 16. Read More...


Hoboken411’s attack on council members at Pilsner Haus explodes in his face

Hoboken411 raised its head out of the bunker Monday to launch a zany attack against two council members who were at a packed Pilsner Haus for the World Cup US – Portugal match Sunday.

The only problem as has been the case with Hoboken411’s local political “coverage” is it had no bearing on reality and the “evidence” actually proved opposite of the screed. The days of its notorious iron fisted censored attacks on Hoboken residents, city employees and officials combining lunatic fringe conspiracies, half-truths, distortions and elaborate smears blocking victims from responding has been largely relegated to the past along with his fellow Masonista minions. Read More...


Kingpin: More personal observations on the state of the Mile Square City


Did I get your attention?  I said I have a flair for the dramatic.  “Haters gonna hate”.  If I’m not pissing someone off, I’m not doing
it right.  I found it astonishing that as
the theme of my first column was about Reform not respecting other viewpoints
within reform, most if not all of the negative comments were exactly that.  Where did I represent myself as being an
“insider?  My observations were exactly
that, my observations.  You have a right
to disagree. And things may present themselves, in which I am flat out wrong,
but opinions and observations belong to individuals and these are simply mine.  I again thank the Horsey for allowing me to
express mine in this forum.  I do feel
bad about the way it came across that I was bashing Phil Cohen.  Phil is not a loser.  He was listed on my loser column in regards
to the election he lost.  I also said
Phil is a pioneer for reform, but those words did not resonate with the readers
as much as the negative.  Phil, if you
are reading this, I apologize if my words came across too negative.  You constantly stick your neck out for reform
and spent time campaigning that took time away from being with your
family.  I commend you on your
efforts.  Don’t stop fighting the good

I appreciate the majority of the positive feedback and the
majority of the comments sparked dialogue and conversation, which is exactly my
goal with this column.  I want all voices
heard, not just a select few who feel they have earned that right.  You don’t have to attend City Council
meetings to earn that right, you don’t have to campaign or run for office, you
just have to have the passion to care.  I
have that passion and I assume all of you reading do as well. 

“Hoboken Reform is very diverse and we share
this wonderful place we call home with other reformers that may not necessarily
be in the same place in life.  It’s their
home too, their businesses, their livelihood. We can not agree on everything,
but we have to get past the point that if you disagree with anything of the
current administration and create a voice of dissention, you must be a paid
operative of Mason.”

I reiterate this.

I’m trying to create dialogue and throughout the course of
my column my viewpoints will become quite apparent, but there isn’t a checklist
to make sure I qualify for reform.  Reform
is diverse.  We are Republicans,
Democrats, Libertarians and Independents. 
We are 3rd generation business owners, newly weds expecting
their first-born child and artists who have studio space in Newman-Leather for
20 years.   I believe in good, honest
government, the kind of government that Dawn Zimmer and her council allies and
Kids First have brought to Hoboken.  My
credentials are simple.  The Horsey
vouches for me.  You have put your trust
in him and now please trust he has done his diligence prior to allowing me to
contribute to MSV. 
After 100 comments on the first attempt, I’ve spent time
wondering what I should write about next? 
Should I discuss my thoughts on rent control, on parking or why I had a
problem with Phil Cohen as the freeholder candidate?  There were tons of comments on who I am, what
I stand for, what do I believe in?  Am I
a reformer if I have a relationship with bar owners or can have a civil
conversation with Terry Castillano?  Carmelo
Garcia’s actions trouble me as much as the rest of you, but do I dare criticize
the current administration? I know the current culture is instant gratification
or if you are not with us, you are against us, but it is because of these
conclusions that I write this column.  Reform
is built on anti-corruption, good government and a belief that Hoboken can be
everything we believe it can be.  Reform
is not about public vs. charter schools, rent control vs. fair market value or
pro vs. anti development.  These are
important topics in which legitimate arguments can form from both sides.  But where is that debate?  Is it fair to say HOLA is a very successful
program, but it sucks that in order to get off the ground they had to involve
Frank Raia?  It’s a shame that Garcia and
Ramos have a presence within HOLA, but some of the parents there don’t care
about Hoboken politics, they just know that their child is speaking better
Spanish at 9 than they ever did. 

Is all reform against the St. Paddy’s Parade?  Could it be on a Sunday, could it be on
Sinatra Drive, could the bars agree to start serving alcohol at a later
hour?  As long as there is no discussion,
there will be no compromise.  Is it
possible to create an “event tax” in which a portion of alcohol sales help pay towards
safety, security and sanitation?  There
is a whole group of Irish Hobokenites wanting to form their own Parade
committee and don’t know or care who Helen Cunning is.   What about Rent Control?  I have friends in town who have lived in
Hoboken forever and are in rent control apartments.  I don’t want to see them displaced.  Low-income housing is what the HHA is for, or
what it should be for.  Unfortunately in
Hoboken, the HHA is exploited and there are many who live in Church Towers and
Marine View who do not need affordable housing. 
Let’s tackle that and I bet that diffuses the rent control hot topic a
bit.  But, there is enough dialogue about
Rent Control; I’ll leave that to another thread.  Since I mentioned the HHA, is anyone else
concerned that the $230 Million for Rebuild By Design came from HUD?  Our only HUD employee in town is Carmelo
Garcia.  What involvement will he have in
the handling of those funds?  Keep up the
good work Dana.  Seems like last weeks
HHA meeting continues to move things in the right direction. 

All I hear from this administration is quality of life.  But whose? 
Do you not care about the 25-year-old renter?  Did you live in Hoboken when you were
25?  Did you dance on barstools, stay out
till 2AM?  How about a 40-year-old single
homeowner?  Are they not part of reform
because they don’t have kids and have priorities other than more parks and
playgrounds?  Being involved with reform
as a property owner caring about property value is no less noble than being
part of reform because you want a new park for your kids.  The families of Hoboken use several parks and
fields including a beautifully renovated Sinatra Field and several updates to
the Little League field.  The single
community of Hoboken uses the bars and nightlife.  I see many Facebook likes when there is a Top
10 in Hoboken involving singles and the nightlife, but so many anti-bar
comments when it comes to “Quality of Life” issues.  Councilwoman Giattino was able to draft an
ordinance for the outdoor cafés that took in consideration bar owners and
residents.  At the end, most people found
the legislation appropriate.


HHA Chairwoman: ‘Carmelo Garcia will again attempt to hijack board’s check signing authority’


HHA ED Carmelo Garcia to attempt another power grab to use HHA Board’s check signing authority at special meeting

Chairwoman Dana Wefer commented on the recent issue of checks issued in the HHA and the problems created by HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia. It’s been moved here to a more prominent position for the public.

I know there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about what is going on with the checks at the HHA, so I hope that this comment will clarify what is going on and the steps the Board is taking, and has taken, to rectify this situation. 

When the Board reorganized in May and I was elected Chair, we should have been presented with a resolution to change the signatories on the HHA’s accounts. However, the Executive Director did not present such a resolution to us in May. 

In June, the Director put a resolution on our agenda concerning the signatories on the accounts. However, that resolution provided that the bank would honor all checks “regardless of by whom or by what means the above facsimile signature(s) thereon may have been affixed thereto.” There was no dollar limit on the checks that could use facsimile signatures. In addition, the entire resolution concerned only facsimile signatures. Commissioner Mello and I were uncomfortable giving carte blanche to the Director to affix our signatures to any and all checks. At the meeting, we asked Mr. Wenzel, the attorney, if we could amend the Resolution to get rid of the troubling language. He advised that the resolution was so riddled with the word “facsimile” that the best route would be to vote on an entirely new resolution. The Director had left the meeting early, so the Board was not able to ask him questions about the resolution. Accordingly, the Board tabled the Resolu tion. 

The very next morning, June 13th, I emailed the Director and asked him for: 1) prior HHA resolutions concerning bank signatories and 2) for the contact information of our account executive at PNC. He did not respond with that information. I followed up on this request in writing on June 17th and again on June 19th. On June 20th, I drafted an email to the Director, and copied the entire Board, concerning the fact that he had failed to respond to any my requests for information so that we could move forward and that we needed to call a Special Meeting to deal with this issue. 

At that point, he finally responded with the PNC bank rep’s information, but he still has not provided any prior resolutions. Requests to the Director to forward the email where PNC originally sent the Resolution and all other correspondence with PNC has gone unanswered. The Director informed the Board that all of his contact with PNC has been over the phone. PNC has refused to discuss the matter with me thus far because I am not part of the “business structure.” 

Late Friday I received a phone call from the Hoboken Reporter saying that they had received a press release issued by Teamsters Local 97. The press release apparently stated that the Director had told them that I was holding the checks. I don’t know if the bank accounts have been frozen. If that is the case, the Board has not been informed. It is difficult to imagine why the bank accounts would be frozen for nonpayment just a week after the Board had approved payment. 

I am in possession of the checks. In my capacity as a volunteer Board member, I analyzed and signed several hundred checks in 6 days. Last Thursday I emailed the Director and told him that the checks were ready to be picked up and asking for clarifications on a few checks. I emailed the Director again on Friday telling him the checks were ready for pick up. He has not even acknowledged that I said the checks are ready. 

I’m flabbergasted at what is happening with the check and bills at the HHA. I reached out to the Director all last week so we could work towards resolving this situation and I have gone above and beyond trying to reach out to the Bank and get a template resolution so we can move forward. Though the Director is now on vacation, we are working to put together a Special Meeting so we can change the bank signatories. Unfortunately, the Director has written to the Board and informed them that he will present the same resolution at the Special Meeting, which would give him carte blanche to use my and Commissioner Mello’s signatures on checks. I have asked Mr. Daglian to draft a resolution that would not authorize the Director to use our facsimile signatures on all checks. 

That is where we stand now. I and other members of the Board are working hard on getting this situation resolved, but it’s been difficult. We will endeavor to keep the public, HHA employees, and HHA vendors apprised of what’s going on as it unfolds. 



Jessica Coco suffers another break-in, robbery and car vandalism


Another day and more criminal acts against Jessica Coco is the word in the HHA with the latest attacks coming simultaneously on both her home and car.

Last Thursday, a break-in and robbery at Coco’s lower Jackson Street apartment in the HHA left her more upset than similar incidents previous as items of sentimental value were taken.

Coco is an activist within the HHA who voiced skepticism then opposition to the controversial undocumented massive redevelopment plan downtown proposed by HHA Executive Developer Carmelo Garcia called Vision 20/20. No Master Plan has ever been presented to the public. Read More...