The Old Guard demand to more than double the size of the Hoboken Housing Authority has met resistance, most recently when the reform members of the City Council asked for documentation to review Vision 20/20, the controversial proposed expansion in Hoboken.
The request coming after midnight was met with demands for a vote on the first phase and charges by Councilman Michael Russo those who immediately declined to do so were “racist.”
Ruben Ramos, mayoral candidate and his council slate have signed on to the Vision 20/20 plan criticizing the mayor for not approving the first phase presented to her along with the council last week combined in a last minute request for a 30 year PILOT for RPM, the developer of the first building on lower Harrison Street.
The mayor balked at the tactics by HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia responding with a letter questioning the complete process of changing the landscape of the fourth ward and all of Hoboken without any overall plan, funding or ANY review by the Hoboken community. (The mayor has made public input a regular part of any project process in town, from the Viaduct upgrades to parks.)
Garcia responded with a letter of his own and going to the City Council meeting attempting to push the plan ahead there where a midnight resolution was pushed (with no documentation whatsoever) by the Hoboken Sopranos: Michael Russo, Terry Castellano, Tim Occhipinti and Beth Mason.
Both Mason and Russo both have argued against voting on matters where they did not feel they were given adequate advance time to review. Here they were demanding a resolution be passed on a project of huge consequence to all of Hoboken with no review and no documentation!
They took the idea far enough to call for two votes with NOTHING in the way of even a piece of paper on the dais, without a quorum, voted it as “approved” while yelling at City Clerk James Farina who declined to call the roll.
Now Ruben Ramos and his slate: Joe Mindak, Laura Miani and Eduardo Gonzalez have thrown in agreeing that the mayor is out of line for not signing off immediately on Vision 20/20. Gonzalez sits on the HHA board and has consistently backed Carmelo Garcia and his efforts for a massive expansion of the HHA in both the third and fourth ward.
Which should tell you much on how Ramos operates and who his true “kin” are on the issue.
The letter makes a number of criticisms but MSV is focusing on Vision 20/20. Why?
Because there’s so much money to be made involved, the Old Guard is frothing over the mouth about it every other day it seems. Grooming a permanent underclass of voters is an incentive but nothing like the green in the proposed massive HHA expansion which had Councilman Michael Russo calling reform members “racist” as Ma Russo applauded in the back of the City Council.
The letter is chocked with misinformation but let’s focus on what the Old Guard cares about most: the loot they can taste in Vision 20/20. The mayor didn’t actually block a vote, the reform members of the City Council did in refusing to vote past midnight on a massive project with no documentation. Zero.
Ruben Ramsos makes it clear who’s calling the shots on Vision 20/20. He charged the mayor with blocking a midnight resolution on the first phase of the controversial plan. Other than Eduardo Gonzalez who sits on the HHA, do Joe Mindak and Laura Miani know what they have signed up for in backing Ramos’ agenda? Do they think there is any other?
The Ramos letter follows below:
This Tuesday, May 14, marks what would have been Mayoral election day in Hoboken. While this election has been moved to November to streamline the municipal voting process, we would like to review the mayor’s progress as, unless reelected, her term would end on July 1st. Few of the promises to the city of Hoboken during her campaign in 2009 have come to fruition, and we would argue that the City has in fact suffered multiple setbacks under this mayor’s tenure in office. While the administration scrambles to get a few things done in the extra six months they have between now and November, take a moment to consider these unfulfilled promises from Zimmer’s 2009 campaign:
-Develop more parks, ball fields, restaurants and shops and fewer condos
-Fully-fund the city budget by 2010
-Decrease consulting costs and limit legal settlements
-Keep the budget under $89 million, if you do the math on the proposed 10 percent cut to city payroll outlined on her old campaign website
-Hire competent directors and hold them accountable
-Create parks in neighborhoods that don’t have them
-Preserve existing and build new affordable housing
-Secure FEMA grants for stormwater management improvements
-Have more police officers and firefighters on duty
And the reality we are now facing on the eve of her would-be second election in 2013:
-With Sinatra Field, Sinatra Park, and Pier C Park all closed, there are fewer open public parks than when the Mayor took office. With progress on 1600 Park at a standstill, still no soccer field, either.
-The budget is not fully-funded, as highlighted by the recent City Council meeting where $700 thousand for firefighter back-pay was bonded for in an emergency vote
-Legal costs for the city of Hoboken now exceed $2 million, which is more than that of Newark, NJ’s largest city. For the first quarter of 2013 we have already approved contracts for $700k on legal fees – money that would have been available for our firefighters without a need for an emergency vote.
-The budget under Mayor Zimmer has never been less than $99 million, let alone the $89 maximum she promised.
-There are still no parks in the 4th Ward – a promise Zimmer’s been running on since her first City Council election in 2007 – that’s almost six years!
–Mayor Zimmer blocked a vote on Phase I of Vision 20/20, which would have replaced 44 HHA units with modern, flood-resistant, environmentally-friendly affordable housing.
-the lack of a stormwater management plan was made painfully clear when Hoboken was devastated by Sandy, and each time there is a rain shower, like last Wednesday
-Police and Fire patrols have been cut, leading to an increase in destructive fire and forcing the police to choose between fewer on-duty officers and longer hours
Over the next six months, our team will put forth a comprehensive plan to get Hoboken back on the track toward progress and prosperity. We look forward to sharing our vision for Hoboken and hope you will join us in our mission to ensure a bright future for our great city.
Sincerely, Vision for Hoboken Ruben Ramos Jr. for Mayor Joe Mindak for At-Large City Council Laura Miani for At-Large City Council Eduardo Gonzalez for At-Large City Council