|A vintage picture of Frank “Pupie” Raia hugging it out on upper Washington St. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
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The Mile Square City is number one!
According to Lime, the remaining one of two original piloted e-Scooter companies tried in Hoboken; the Mile Square City is atop the list of its client cities globally generating the most ridership.
That’s a bold statement for an e-Scooter program in major cities like Miami, Paris and over 100 countries around the world.
The overwhelming majority of Hoboken residents want to preserve the program based on a survey appearing yesterday on the Hudson County View.
Official release:Dear Friends and Neighbors, Updates on two (of many) important, current issues in our community… RAILYARDS PROJECT – INFORMATION SESSION MON. 11/25 6PM-8PM
There is an important information session on Monday (tomorrow) evening at the Hoboken Terminal where NJ Transit and LCOR, the developer of the Railyards Project, will available to have conversations in small group settings with residents regarding the proposed changes to the 1.4M square foot Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan. Please try to attend. The open house/information session will be held in the waiting room at Hoboken Terminal from 6:00 until 8:00 pm. I plan to attend at 7pm (I have an earlier conflict).
Official release:After listening to community feedback and working closely with the developers of the proposed Hoboken Railyard project, Councilman Mike DeFusco has secured a plan that guarantees a European-style market will be built during the first phase of construction at the train terminal. Additionally, Councilwoman Vanessa Falco will be introducing an amendment that will designate 20% of all new residential units constructed as part of the project as affordable housing units.
These definitive commitments from the developer, if approved by the City Council, will help small businesses grow in Hoboken, encourage makers and creators to invest in the city and help prevent the most vulnerable residents from being priced out of their hometown.
When it comes to thievery, Hoboken is developing a reputation. Back in the day, the word was to avoid the president named streets, seen as opportune locations for a mugging.
These days, it’s the snatch and grab antics of the local government, up to its ears brimming with, “That’s a nice property you have. Shame if someone took it.”
Snatch and grab is making the City of Hoboken famous, or infamous, depending on how you view the local government’s thirst for seizing property through eminent domain.
Official release:Dear Friends and Neighbors, As I have said before, EScooters were not my issue until two days into our pilot last May when the Lime representative called me and asked how things were going. I was driving in my car at the time and literally shrieked “How is it possible that there are 11 year olds riding on these scooters?!?!?” After that discussion, I sent out what would be my first of many newsletters to you informing you about what was going on with the program, and from that point on this became my issue. Since then I have never strayed from my message: We need to work really hard to make this program work for Hoboken, but for it to work it needs to be safe. That is why a week ago, after joining my Council colleagues Giattino, Cunningham and Russo at lunch with another EScooter company, when Councilman Russo asked if I would join his Parking and Transportation subcommittee (including Cunningham and DeFusco) to tackle how to address the future of EScooters in Hoboken, I said yes. We have our first scheduled meeting this Monday evening. Since then, the mayor’s office reached out and asked if we not only would address the longer term plans, but to also make a recommendation to the mayor for the shorter term plan – aka whether or not we support extending the EScooter pilot which currently ends on November 20th. TO EXTEND OR NOT TO EXTEND, THAT IS THE QUESTION Ripping the band aid off….I can tell you that I will not support the extension of the existing pilot. But… I will continue my work trying to improve the program, now with Councilman Russo, the Council subcommittee, and the administration, and craft both a detailed RFP as well as legislation with the hope that we can have a safe and sustainable program in the future. I 100% support the idea of having a multi-modal system of transportation in Hoboken. I have ridden the EScooters and totally get the functionality and convenience. But also see the safety concerns and risks that need to be better addressed. WHY AM I NOT SUPPORTIVE OF EXTENDING THE EXISTING PILOT? Several reasons. First and foremost because the City of Hoboken has not demonstrated its ability to safely manage this program. From the onset the administration raced to be the first city in New Jersey to onboard EScooters. When they first brought it to the Council to vote on the pilot – the Council was promised both education and enforcement plans prior to launch and neither materialized. Since then, little has been accomplished that was not driven by Council efforts and legislation. Most notably, we debated who is responsible for this at the original meeting where we approved the pilot – whether it was the EScooter companies or the City – and I feel strongly the City needs to lead this but clearly in partnership with our EScooter providers. So we need time to put the right framework in place and I think this is possible. Winter. Dark, early nights. Slushy streets. Snowy sidewalks. Increased pot holes. Small wheels. Bad combination for Hoboken. I met with Lime who has indicated they have experience in other northern markets, but none like Hoboken with narrow streets and sidewalks and 60,000 pedestrians in one square mile. I don’t believe Hoboken should be an experiment and especially without having the right safety and enforcement framework in place (see first and foremost above…). Not enough progress, and not quickly enough. We banned EScooters from the upper and lower waterfront and our parks two months ago. And still, Lime has not put geo-fencing technology in place to facilitate this. I asked for data on ridership along the waterfront (where we saw the most reckless riding), but were not given this. In both cases EScooter providers were not financially incentivized to accomodate our requests. In the case of the latter, we moved to put the ban in place along the waterfront and parks. Don’t get me wrong, I think Lime has made a lot of positive efforts to improve safety and work with the City but at the end of the day, their interests are not aligned enough with ours under our existing contract and we do not have an enforcement or recourse framework to change this. It is 100% the honor system which is not how a program like this should be managed. No effort to obtain injury statistics. As late as a few weeks ago, the administration still had not yet begun an effort to obtain or centralize information on injuries. We know people are getting hurt. Seriously hurt. We hear about it from many sources. And we should understand better when, why, how and how serious. Why? So we can identify what changes we may need to make to improve safety. And so the public can be better informed on what the risks are to riding in Hoboken. Hopefully this is something the Council subcommittee can help tackle. A needed break to reset terms. Lime made a critical error when they said that Hoboken is their best market in the world. They should have kept this as their secret! Because what that means – and what we are experiencing – is that every other EScooter company out there wants to be in Hoboken. I have spoken to several and what that really means is that Hoboken has the best chance at getting the best terms – including safety, efficiency, and financial – if we talk to all of them and make this competitive. WHAT DO HOBOKEN RESIDENTS WANT? Most want a safe program. Only some don’t want a program at all. And only some want to see it continue without requiring additional safety improvements. Where does this come from? While the City will be releasing the results of its survey next week, this information comes from a few sources that all seem to be consistent. Councilman Russo emailed a poll to thousands of people and I understand that over 3,000 people responded including many of you. I don’t have the specifics in front of me but I understand that ~40% want to keep the program, ~25% want it to go away, with the remainder willing to keep it with improved safety and operational measures. Hoboken Girl also did an unofficial poll that seem to also suggest that most want to keep the program with necessary operational and safety improvements. These results are not a surprise to me – last June, after about a month into the program, this topic was polled (with a smaller universe) and only 20% wanted to keep them (it was early days…), and 20% wanted to get rid of them, and the middle 60% was willing to consider them if we could make them safe. So over the past few months, with the safety measures that I led the Council to put in place including reducing the speed along the waterfront, requiring ID to keep kids off them, and ultimately reducing irresponsible riding through the waterfront and park ban, it is no surprise that numbers supporting them have improved. Anecdotally I can tell you that I asked almost every 2nd ward resident who I met during the campaign, and the results seemed consistent again. Given the 2nd ward abuts the northern waterfront, after we put the waterfront and park restrictions in place, I did hear from more people that the program seemed to feel better with less irresponsible riding. But I can tell you that I often hear from people who live more towards the western side of Hoboken, that there is a sense that there is no enforcement and the irresponsible riding – riding on sidewalks, through stop signs and in the wrong direction on streets – is more prevalent. To me, the biggest takeaway from all of this feedback is that we have to do more to improve safety and other operational issues like leaving them on the sidewalk in order for this program to work for most people. As I mentioned in my newsletter last week, we approved on first reading an ordinance that would ban leaving EScooters in the public right of way (sidewalks). The ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Russo, does not specify a plan for where they can be left, but with more time we can work out this detail including daylighting on street corners and corrals. WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED IN DISCUSSIONS WITH ESCOOTER COMPANIES A lot. There is much more that can be done and we are just getting started with these conversations. Not only can we ensure better contract terms that include many of the below, but we can actually make our laws reflect these requirements.
- Geo-fencing can be done within 10 feet. So you cannot GeoFence a specific sidewalk. But you can geo-fence a wider area like a park.
Official release:Dear Friends and Neighbors, Many thanks to all of you who participated in the recent Council elections. While the Council candidate I endorsed, Tim Crowell, was not successful, I commend him for doing a great job with such short notice and mostly personal funds spent to mount a campaign against a well-funded and known opponent in Phil Cohen. I also want to recognize the sacrifices all candidates made in putting themselves out there, taking time away from their families to deliver their message to the constituents. It’s really hard work – I know. Congratulations to Phil, and I hope he represents the 5th Ward well. What happens in the near term around big development in Hoboken is critical to the future of our city. There are a lot of upcoming projects including the Rail Yards, SW Hoboken, and North Hoboken. At last Wednesday’s council meeting, I experienced what may come when upon Councilman Defusco’s request, Council President Giattino pulled the massive out of scale Rail Yard Redevelopment from the agenda. This was an amendment put forth by the Bhalla Administration that’s much larger, and residential heavy, than what we approved in 2014. Russo made a motion to override, and Russo, Defusco, Falco, Doyle and Jabbour supported hearing the Rail Yard project. Ramos abstained, and Fisher, Giattino, and I voted no. Remember, we’ve seen no feasibility, transportation, or shadow studies on this amendment. Russo, Jabbour and Phil Cohen (along with Bhalla’s council candidates) accepted union contributions in support of the Rail Yard Plan. Links to the election reports are below. I am concerned about Phil’s support of big development going forward, and I hope you are too. https://www.elec.state.nj.us/ELECReport/SearchCandidate.aspx Once you launch the above link, you can search by candidate. Cohen, for instance, has contributions from three different unions listed on page 6. https://www.elec.state.nj.us/ELECReport/SearchCandidate.aspx Once you launch the above link, you will see the team Bhalla contributions. On page 6, you will see union contributions which I believe are driving big development decisions, and flirting with our local pay to play laws. https://www.elec.state.nj.us/ELECReport/SearchCandidate.aspx These are contributions received after the 2017 elections. It’s interesting to note Jabbour’s contribution from Local 825. Operating Engineers Local 825 is strongly behind the Rail Yard Development Project. There will be a community forum hosted by the developer, LCOR (not the City) on November 25th at Hoboken Terminal from 6-8pm to discuss the plan amendments. Beyond my term in office, I assure you I will be watching and reporting on how the new City Council votes on development related matters. I strongly feel the majority of the Council are beholden to developers and the unions, and as a result, our city and our quality of life will likely suffer. Thank you for your support for the past twelve years. It was and will always be my privilege to serve you. Peter
A short reprieve in the sentencing for Frank Raia convicted last July in federal court for directing a 2013 voter bribery conspiracy in Hoboken is rescheduled to November 19th.
The delay in sentencing is the third as he will be joined at the new sentencing date by soldier Dio Braxton who pleaded guilty for his role in voter fraud activities in the same 2013 Hoboken election.
|Frank “Pupie” Raia chats with Michelle Russo in this exclusive
2011 photo at a City Council meeting as Dio Braxton (front) looks on.
Hudson County View first published the update on the rescheduled sentencing date and highlighted how Raia was undone by his friends and political associates of his social club on Jefferson Street.