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Guest of the Stable: Scott Siegel



Mike Lenz Vs. Tim Occhipinti
The Battle For Hoboken’s Future

I am one of the few people in Hoboken who are a friend of both Mike Lenz and Tim Occhipinti. If James Sanford had stayed in I would probably be the only one to be friends of all 3.  I am disappointed when people such as KHoboken (who I agree with 99% of the time) use words like TIMMAY. Reformers should leave name calling to the machine and stick to the issues, which is our strongpoint. So let’s compare the issues.


1)    The Budget:
Mike: Mike is the foremost budget expert I have ever known. His knowledge on details and structure is amazing. He understands that Hudson County taxes are set by an “equalization rate” formula and not by political fiat. Mike comprehends that a surplus is not just a “rainy day fund” but is mandatory to achieve a solid bond rating so we can prudently finance our debt by matching assets to liabilities. A 5-10% reserve is what experts recommend for such action. For example a paved road should last 7 years. Therefore you bond the cost over 7 years, not annually. Hoboken finally has a true, fully funded budget.
Tim: His repetition of the Mason camp’s false $20mm surplus shows that budgets are clearly not his strong point. His lack of understanding on the equalization rate is appalling. Can you imagine if Tim’s world existed? Jersey City would slash their tax rate and sock it to affluent Hoboken in a heartbeat.  Tim once again parodies the Mason/Russo line of reckless financing through the Hudson County note pool. Notes are 1 year instruments. It’s akin to financing a home with a one year adjustable mortgage instead of prudently financing it over 25-30 years. Think about all the homeowners who faced foreclosure by doing exactly this.
2)    Taxes:
Mike: Mike and his team have reduced the municipal levy (the only thing we can control) from $60mm to $57mm a drop of 5%. On December 2nd when demotions and police retirements take effect we should see another decrease of approximately $1.5mm (annualized), or a net  9.25% decrease. They have also prudently reserved $8.5mm for potential expenses such as retro pay, health care increases, tax appeals, lawsuit liability, etc. Mike bravely stood by our Mayor and giving the police a choice- retirements or layoffs. Despite the massive intimidation the Mayor and Mike would not roll over and that’s why taxpayers will see substantial tax relief while almost no one else in NJ will. Mike’s team also supports Mayor Zimmer and Governor Christie’s “tool kit” which has limited a tax rise to 2% (with 5 exceptions, vs. the prior 4% with 13).
Tim: If Tim and the Mason/Russo alliance had their way there would have been no layoffs. He does not seem to understand that over 75% of our budget is personnel. You can’t provide the kind of tax relief cited without addressing this area. By siding with the police over taxpayers Tim has shown that he is not serious about providing meaningful tax relief. By returning the surplus to the taxpayers Tim and his allies will force an equivalent tax rise next year via the factors cited above. Tim criticized Mayor Zimmer for bravely crossing the partisan divide and for siding with taxpayers over unions.
3)    Development:
Mike: Mike has consistently sided with the sensible development crowd. Even if you didn’t like the Mayor’s plan for the NW Edge, it significantly reduced the height and density form the Roberts plan supported by Tim’s team.  Mike opposed Fire Chief Casessa’s plan for a 12 story project on Observer Highway. His opponents supported it. The only thing his opponents can conjure up of is Kyle Engler receiving a one story variance (from 3 to 4 stories). Not exactly a skyscraper. I Tim: Since Tim has never publically spoken of his ideas on development, except to say he is in favor of “smart development” I can only guess. His allies have consistently backed the skyscrapers that we see on Observer Highway and my neighborhood. I would not be surprised if developers such as Mr. Cassesa strongly back Tim. Tim did speak in favor of Peter Camaranno maintaining sole power of zoning board appointments. With 3 zoning positions expiring in December, this is clearly an important reason to vote for Mike.
4)    Ethics:
Mike: For too long the reform movement played the same game with absentees for paid workers. The opposition keeps referring to past elections, but not this one. Mike put forward a “clean campaign pledge” repudiating past actions.
Tim: Tim has not only refused to sign the pledge but is employing the same tactics seen in years past. His Elec form lists 80 individuals who coincidently reside in Housing Authority. Amazingly, all have also Voted By Mail! Expect that list to grow exponentially by November 2nd.
5)    Flooding:
Mike: Mike and Mayor Zimmer led the charge to place the first wet water pump in the 4th Ward, sponsored by Mike. It was slated to go there last. Recognizing that we have limited funds Mike also backed the Emnet sensor technology which will identify exactly where the biggest problems lie so we can use our scarce funds wisely to reduce the flooding even further.
Tim: Tim has given no credit to Mike for the pump and opposed the Emnet project. He does support catch basins as do I, but this would have only a marginal effect vs. the pump.
6)    The Proxy Battle:
Mike: Mike is clearly a supporter of Mayor Zimmer and her team. They have cut the budget, stood against over development and are trying to control spiraling labor costs. A vote for Mike will keep Mayor Zimmer’s agenda in place.
Tim: Tim is essentially backed by the same team that supported Peter Camaranno, better known as the “machine”.  This is not to say that Tim and the others are corrupt like Peter. It is clearly a different vision for Hoboken than what reformers believe in and will return council control to prior majority with Michael Russo most likely becoming the next City Council President.

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