Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
One of the programs that they are offering is a Community Emergency Response Team called by the acronym C.E.R.T. Here is a summary from their website:
Hoboken is ready to build its team! Make a Difference! C.E.R.T. CERT training promotes a partnering effort between emergency services and the people that they serve. The goal is for emergency personnel to train members of neighborhoods, community organizations, or workplaces in basic response skills. CERT members are then integrated into the emergency response capability for their area. If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the community's professional response, CERT members can assist others by applying the basic response and organizational skills that they learned during training. These skills can help save and sustain lives following a disaster until help arrives. CERT skills also apply to daily emergencies. CERT members maintain and refine their skills by participating in exercises and activities. They can attend supplemental training opportunities offered by the sponsoring agency and others that further their skill base. Finally, CERT members can volunteer for projects that improve community emergency preparedness. Are you ready to join us? If interested in joining C.E.R.T., please send us your name, address, e-mail and phone number.
By e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
By fax: 201-420-3258
By Mail: City of Hoboken, 94 Washington St. Hoboken, NJ 07030
Attn: CERT TEAM An application will be sent to you
Editor Note: I inqured about an application via email and will let you know when I get a repsonse. This is something I would seriously consider as long as I could make the training sessions which are hopefully at night or on weekends.
Here is the link to info sheet on their website:
Here is a copy in slideshare so you can view in this site:
Editor note: As this site slowly evolves I do believe my focus will be mostly political, and yes progressive and reform minded but from time to time I will show things that interest me as well as community events that can help bring this town closer together. Not quite a mission statement but where I see this headed for now.
Hoboken St. Patty's Day is coming soon though there are rumors that Judy Tripodi is considering cancelling the event. In honor of that I posted a Captain Kirk fight scene that is so horrible that I swear William Shatner was cracking a smile during one section of the fight. One reader submitted this video as an alternative. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section:
Original Post 1/28/2009: This has nothing to do with Hoboken, other than the fact that Hoboken St. Patrick's Day is about one month away and we can be sure that at least a few will get pugilistic during the days festivities. While I am a big fan of Star Trek I have to admit this is one of the more pathetic displays of fighting prowess I have ever seen on T.V. :
Worst Fight Scene Ever (Capt. Kirk)
Editors Note: Keep in mind that this analysis is not necessarily the opinion of the writer of this blog or of the organization Revolt. Citizens should be encouraged to come up with ideas to save money and any such plans must be balanced by the limitations of collective bargaining and arbitration.
Events covered are the recent Republican vote on the stimulus package as well as the removal of Rob Blogejevich from office as Illinois Governor.
My observation: I think it is going to be a lot harder for these comedians to be funny on politics with Bush 43 out of the White House. ◦
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Here is the press release from Dawn Zimmer Sent out this morning:
January 29, 2009
4TH WARD COUNCILWOMAN DAWN ZIMMER ANNOUNCES HER PLANS TO RUN FOR MAYOR
Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer today announced her plans to run for Mayor of Hoboken.
Zimmer said, "I am running for Mayor because we can't afford business as usual. The recent 84% tax increase is just the most visible result of years of wasteful spending and backroom dealing. Our sewers don't work, our traffic doesn't flow, and some neighborhoods have no parks. Despite these challenges, Hoboken is a unique and wonderful City with incredible potential. I will reach beyond the political establishment to draw on the skills, talents and energy of all of our residents to set a new direction for our City. I will bring people together to get things done."
Zimmer went on to say, "Many City offices lack voicemail, won't accept e-mail, and close at 4pm. I will change the old ways: Restore fiscal responsibility, improve customer service, and reduce the tax burden that is crushing our citizens. We need to go cold turkey on financial gimmicks and live within our means. Together we will bring an end to the abuse of PILOTS and one-shot revenues that pretend to balance our budget while mortgaging our future."
As a Councilwoman, Zimmer has led the way, helping expose $10 million in illegal overspending, and working with her council colleagues to set an example and save money by reducing salaries and benefits for elected officials and directors.
A leader on the Council in offering innovative solutions to our flooding problem and pushing for quality of life improvements, Zimmer pledged to make Hoboken a model for the use of new cost-cutting green technology. "We have the potential for major cost-savings in the areas of flood prevention, garbage disposal and energy." Zimmer said, "Hoboken should be leading the way towards a green future, not dragging its feet."
Zimmer believes that Hoboken needs to seize the moment and embrace green technology now to benefit from federal and state grant funds, since it is a priority for the Obama Administration.
She would change the City's focus on residential development, which she said has resulted in more flooding, more traffic, and a costly increase in demand for City services. Zimmer said, "I believe in a different approach, one that emphasizes responsible commercial development that brings jobs to our community, and helps us create the parks, ball fields and shops that make urban communities thrive. We need to assure that all new development comes with the necessary traffic controls, parking and infrastructure improvements."
Zimmer said she will be unveiling plans and proposals on the major issues facing the City and further outlining her vision for Hoboken as the campaign unfolds.
She will be kicking off her campaign at a fundraiser to be held Thursday night at McSwiggins. A full-time Campaign Manager, Sam Briggs, hits the ground this week. Zimmer will be running with a full slate of at-large council candidates, and will introduce her running mates in the next few weeks.
Councilwoman Zimmer represents the 4th Ward of Hoboken. She is married to Stan Grossbard and has two sons who attend school in Hoboken. ◦
Why should Wall Street get it all?
Congress is discussing an essential emergency stimulus package for the
arts this week. Can you take a sec and fill out this oh-so-easy arts
advocacy email which will automatically be sent to your Congressional
Here is a blurb from that site:
Federal: Urge Congress to Include the Arts in the National Economic Recovery Plan Write to your Members Today!
The arts are essential to the health and vitality of our communities. They enhance community development; spur urban renewal; attract new businesses; draw tourism dollars; and create an environment that attracts skilled, educated workers and builds a robust 21st century workforce. As Congress considers the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, urge them to include the arts and culture so that they can continue to help revitalize America's economy.
We have provided several talking points to help you craft your letter. To use a talking point, simply click the red arrow and the text will be inserted in your letter. You are not required to use all of the talking points. You are strongly urged to offer your own thoughts, stories, and examples to help illustrate the vital need to include the arts and culture sector in national economic recovery efforts.
My take: I do feel the Federal Government needs to support the arts. I would however like to see the initial round of money go to infrastucture like bridges and roads but even more importantly susbtainable forms of energy and new public transportation. The Arts should get their share but the infrastructure needs should have priority since they have the ability to create jobs now and jump start the economy.
Harvey Holzberg, acting CEO made general remarks about the Hospital and where it stands.
Key Points from Harvey:
- Hospitals such as the HUMC are not recession proof and the economic climate is the reason for the 3rd and 4th quarter operating losses.
- It is the goal of the HUMC to operate a Balanced Budget for 2009
- The Hospital has renegotiated with the unions and vendors for a projected savings of at least $3.2 million for 2009 and is looking to cut expenses elsewhere.
- They will institute a voluntary buyout package.
- Layoffs will be a last resort to get an additional savings of $1.5 million.
- Layoffs, if they occur will not include medical personnel such as nurses.
- Key initiatives like the emergency room, Obstetrics will go ahead.
- The emergency room is on schedule for the summer of 2009.
- The deficit last year was $4.3 million.
Another HUMC representative spoke of improving metrics of the Hospital in terms of Quality of Care. The Hospital had been low in certain key metrics in 2007 but has made improvements in such areas and cardiac care and pneumonia.
A few members of the Public were there such as Donna Antonucci and Councilwoman Beth Mason who asked questions about operations. More analysis to come after I have had time to review the financial statements.
Here is a letter from Harvey Holzberg on the financial status of the HUMC to George W. Crimmons Executive Director of the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority:
Here is the Financial Report that was handed out at the meeting:
My initial take: I think Harvey Holzberg is right, Hospitals are not recession proof. It is a good thing that they didn't try and open a plastic surgery unit because then the Hospital would really be in trouble when the yuppies decided to hold of on those face lifts and tummy tucks:). I thought the tone presented by the Hospital was much much more informative than had been in the Special Council meeting. My preliminary action is that the Hospital like many companies faces some tough economic challenges. I as a taxpayer and resident who may someday need their services hope that they do remain solvent. A scaling back of their plans however still remains a distinct possibility.◦
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education
By SAM DILLON
Published: January 28, 2009
Schools, universities and child care centers would receive $150 billion in new spending in the stimulus package scheduled for a vote in Congress.
My Concern: I do support the idea of a stimulus package on the whole but my concern is that Schools like Hoboken who overpay for poor test results would get money and possibly allocate it to additional administration and areas that do not benefit students education. In other words: what checks and balances are there to make sure the money is wisely spent. The stimulus should be constructed in such a way so that school systems like Hoboken and everywhere else properly allocate the funds to improve education and not patronage. ◦
There will be a Special City Council Meeting this Wednesday January 28th at 7PM.
Note: This meeting will be held at the Howe Center at Stevens Institute of Technology 1 Castle Point on Hudson St. Hoboken , NJ. The meeting will be held at the Skyline Suite on the 4th floor.
The senior design team will present a presentation of economic opportunities at Hoboken.
Click on the picture to read the details:
Normally special meetings are posted in the section on the City's Website with other agendas. It would be nice to see some consistency but at least the meetting was posted as it always is in some fashion. ◦
This is direct from the HUMC's Web page:
HOBOKEN MUNICIPAL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY
JANUARY 28, 2009 MEETING AGENDA
7:00 pm Regular Meeting
1. Open Public Meetings Act Disclosure Statement
3. Pledge of Allegiance
4. Approval of Minutes from the December 2, 2008 Regular Session,
December 2, 2008 Executive Session
5. Executive Session Closed to the Public (IF NECESSARY)
6. Report from the Hospital CEO
7. Committee Reports
Quality/ Patient Safety
8. Finance Report by Ron DiVito
9. New Business
· Resolution Authorizing Payment of Claims
· Resolution Accepting the Credentials Report
· Resolution Accepting the Amendment Medical Staff Bylaws
· Resolution Appointing an Auditor for the 2008 Financial Report
· Resolution Awarding a Contract for Steel Stairs *
· Resolution Approving Change Order No.3 for Contract 3 *
· Resolution Approving Change Order No.3 for Contract 4 *
· Resolution Approving Change Order No.1 for Contract 12 *
· Resolution Approving Change Order No.1 for Contract 8 *
10. Discussion Items
11. Public Comments
12. Adjournment of Meeting
* The asterisk items will be voted on in one vote unless a Commissioner requests that a particular resolution be voted separately.
HOBOKEN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER
308 WILLOW AVENUE, HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY ◦
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Now you can't say that I don't ever publish opposing viewpoints. :)
Here is a recent update on the HUMC's Website from CEO Harvey Holzberg himself:
More Progress at Hoboken UMC
Available Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm,
My take: Progress is indeed being made but I encourage citizens to attend the HUMC tommorow at 7PM to find out about the taxpayer subsidized Hospital and its financial condition. ◦
The annual debauchery fest in Hoboken known as St. Patrick's Day always seems to get a few people's nerves up. The parade is fun but the mess before and after the parade has some residents angry. I can tell you this, since I was working the door last year on that day (one of my many jobs) I didn't see every area but the police did a very good job last year compared to the year before of keeping things in check for the most part. In fact one officer checked in with me several times during the day to make sure everything was OK.
As far as the expected volume on Facebook over 15,000 invitations have been sent out and over 8,200 people have accepted as attending the festivities. Since everyone is not active on Facebook it would be safe to say the parade is as popular as ever.
Here is the event on Facebook for Facebook users:
This confirms what most people have been aware of in this area for over a year in terms of declining prices in property. The market in our area is at least holding better than other parts of the country. This is true of Hoboken, but for how long? The current Hoboken tax situation and budget crises certainly doesn't help. ◦
This is from the City Council Meeting last night. Even though the PILOT agreement for Church Towers was stricken from the agenda 3rd Ward Councilman Russo had something to say about the PILOT. He is a renter there and has testified in the past that his income is below the threshold for eligibility to live there.
My Commentary: As a progressive person politically, I have no issue with subsidized housing provided it is given to those who truly need it. This PILOT coming up for renewal is the perfect time to look into the details of the agreement to see if it is being properly enforced and if the money is being duly collected. There is no need for fear mongering and threatening legitimate tenants (those who need it) from displacement.
On the other hand I did take offence to Mr. Russo's remarks that seemed to imply a professional such as myself or others who pay their fair share of taxes, is engaging in class warfare for simply wanting to get the facts about the PILOT before moving forward. If his remarks were not in fact directed at someone of my mindset or background, then I will let it pass.
The Preliminary information that I have seems to indicate that Church Towers has 402 units and pays $463K in city taxes annually. That would mean an annual property tax payment of $1152 per unit. If this turns out to be wrong I will correct it. The discussion should be how much should the payment should be without impacting the maintenance of the building or impacting those on limited incomes adversely. This could be an opportunity to get more revenue for the City if it done with respect for those who need subsidized housing. To rile up the tenants of those buildings without getting all the facts first is engaging in the very sort of class warfare that Mr. Russo claims is being divisive in this town.
I have respected Mr. Russo's voting record recently and in the past but he is going down a slippery slope with this approach on this issue. Just my opinion. ◦
If anyone is looking for a used bicycle or one that might have been stolen, here is the perfect opportunity to get a good deal on a used bike at the City's Bike auction. There will be other municipal vehicles on sale as well including a fire truck with a starting bid of $1,000.
The auction takes place Friday, Jan 30th in the City Hall Court room at 11am.
You can view the items in advance on Thursday, Jan 29th, at the Central Garage, Willow & Observer Highway, from 11am to 3pm.
Over this year the city is expected to reduce its workforce by 65 employees, or 10 percent of all full-time municipal workers.
Today’s reduction affected workers in various departments, said Tripodi, and amounted to less than one percent of the existing workforce. Already, over the past year 43 workers have opted for retirement, bringing the total to 110 over the past five years “This was not based on work performance, rather a move to reach a scale of economy as Hoboken seeks to reduce its budget,” said Mayor Roberts.
Already the city has announced it will discontinue its Cross Town bus service on February 1st, in a move that is expected to save the municipality $200,000 annually.
Another article covers the same thing from a more in depth Real Estate perspective:
Monday, January 26, 2009
Highlights for this week:
There is a Special City Council Meeting on Wednesday with agenda to follow tommorow.
The HUMC is also meeting this Wednesday where there will present their most recent financial statement.
Also, towards the bottom right corner of this site I created a Facebook link so that you can embed my blog in Facebook should you desire to do so. ◦
1. Access to high quality hospital care is essential either from an independent, financially sound, not-for-profit hospital (with no city government ownership or financial guarantees) in Hoboken, or through contractual, service and/or transfer agreements with another area hospital (with no financial subsidies from the City).
2. If the Hospital is financially sound as it has reported to City Hall, then it no longer should be City-owned, but revert to being a 401C3 not-for-profit entity. And the City should be relieved from “guaranteeing” the hospital’s bonds ($52 million).
3. Otherwise, the Hospital should make an immediate public presentation on its financial condition, addressing as well the following issues and questions.
4. If the hospital is NOT financially stable and self-sufficient the New Jersey Commissioner of Health should appoint an arms-length Blue Ribbon Oversight Committee to evaluate the situation and make mandatory recommendations in thirty days. The Report of the Committee should be posted on the web.
5 If the hospital cannot meet its bond payments, what is the impact on the City's finances and property taxes?
6. The first step should be to review the most recent financial report for the period ending December 31, 2008. In the last quarter: Did Accounts Payable increase? Were Accounts Receivable from Medicare and Medicaid accurate or over-stated? Were reserves taken in as revenue appropriate or excessive? Was the “provision for doubtful accounts” accurate or understated?
7. The following advisors should be selected by the Board in a public process: external auditor, executive compensation, corporate compliance. Those selected should have no prior professional relationship with the hospital’s senior management,
8. The CEO’s total compensation should be “at market” and publicly disclosed, with confirmation of appropriateness by a “Reasonableness Letter” from the Executive Compensation consultant.
9. The Search Process for a new CEO, apparently currently underway, should be transparent and allow sufficient time for public review and comment. The City Council should approve the next CEO upon recommendation of the Mayor.
10. The State recently awarded six safety-net hospitals $44 million in Stabilization Fund Grants. How much did the Hospital apply for from the fund and what are the consequences of receiving no award?
11. The Hospital’s Conflict of Interest Policy and Corporate Compliance Plan should be posted on its web site.
12. Payments to physicians and their job descriptions should be posted on the Hospital web site.
13. The Hospital has the longest Medicare length of stay in the State and performed poorly on recently published quality measures. The Hospital’s Corrective Action Plan should be posted on its web site as should quarterly progress reports.
14. Is discussion underway with Hudson County’s other struggling hospitals to regionalize services? Is there a contingency plan in place if the hospital closes?
HOBOKEN TAX REFORM COALITION MISSION AND OBJECTIVES
The mission of HOBOKEN TAX REFORM COALITION, a community-based organization, is:
- to ensure fiscal responsibility and accountability in Hoboken government;
- to reduce waste and eliminate mismanagement in government
- to encourage broad and open policy discussion between citizens and elected officials
- to establish a fair allocation of property taxes among all Hoboken property owners
1) Drive a significant reduction in property taxes without compromising the safety and soundness of Hoboken.
2) Set standards for smart PILOTs that improve the fiscal condition of the City.
3) Remove the taxpayer guarantee to the Hoboken University Medical Center.
4) Force the initiation of a property revaluation as per current law.
5) Act as a fiscal watchdog / public advocate for the taxpayers of Hoboken.
NY Water Way Commute 1/23/2009 from Kurt Gardiner on Vimeo. ◦
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Carly also followed up with an article on whether the Hospital should have bailed out in the first place. In the article Beth Mason was quoted as being disappointed that the City Council was not notified of the likelihood of layoffs:
Here is my take: I have always supported Beth Mason's position on the HUMC. Some type of analysis was needed to determine whether or not the Hospital's business plan was viable for market conditions even before the overall collapse of the economy in 2008. Many feel that a scaled down version of the hospital and no guarantee by the City would have been a much better solution. Supporters of David Roberts plan like Peter Cammarano called Beth names like paranoid when she questioned the Hospital's finances early in 2008. Haven't we already learned the lesson of using capital funds (or selling City Assets) to fund operating expenses?
The HUMC did that very same thing and their most recent report had everything looking strong. An understandable downturn in the economy for the last quarter is one thing (probably affecting other hospitals) but I do suspect that the shaky finances of the Hospital have been there for some time.
Don't get me wrong, I am not happy with the Hospital having financial difficulty and workers possibly getting laid off. I was hoping too like Roberts that the Hospital would be a success for if it is not I might have to just foot the bill along with all other taxpayers. With that said you don't make key decisions without a grasp of economic viability. Cutting ribbons and promising steak dinners is a fanciful way to run a City, it is just no way professionally manage one. Many who voted for him in 2005 should have seen this all coming. What do you expect from a bon vivant with a penchant for ceremony?
More and more the Robert's legacy is looking like that of Bush, using fear to get the public to go along with bad decisions and deals (HUMC and the $52 million bond, Holzberg's $800,000 salary and bad business model vs. Iraq, 4,000 plus dead soldiers, Halliburton and the financial rape of the Federal Government with no bid contracts). Bush/Roberts, it is just incompetence on different scales.
Here is Peter Cammarano speaking out on those who don't trust the financial picture of the HUMC as presented at the special City Council meeting back on June 2nd, 2008:
Here is a little fun graphic to remind readers a little skepticism is always healthy...
After watching this my advice to Peter Cammarano is, you are a little too trusting of authority figures. Do your home work and validate what is being said. Honest questioning is not paranoia. I am not sure he will be able win over many reformers with his record on such matters as these. He might be better off running as the establishment candidate. The problem is, The Establishment is crumbling.
The HUMC Authority is meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. The budget is scheduled to be released at that time. Enter at the emergency room entrance and go to Assumption Hall where the meeting will be. ◦
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Please Join Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer
For a Party & Fundraiser
Thursday, February 5th,
6:30 - 8:30pm at McSwiggins
(1st Street & Bloomfield)
Appetizers, Open Bar for Beer, Wine, & Two Refreshing New Drinks
"the Dawnarita" & "the Zimmertini"
$35.00 - Get to Know Dawn
$250.00 - Sponsor
Checks payable to Dawn Zimmer for Council
RSVP to DawnZimmer@gmail.com
Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer
59 Madison Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Editors note: For any other candidates for Hoboken City Council or Mayor want to make an annoucement for a fundraiser, campaign kickoff, special event please email me at email@example.com and I will do my best to publish expeditiously. ◦
Here’s the letter that got rejected:
“It’s always a concern when violent crime invades a community. It is especially concerning when our government leaders seem desperate and suggest the public form vigilante groups to police the streets. But that is exactly what Dawn Zimmer recommended - along with creating a community garden - when she attended Wednesday’s Crime Prevention Meeting."
Read the rest of the untrue letter on Hoboken411:
Concerned 4th Ward Citizen”
Friday, January 23, 2009
See this article that covers the heated words between Councilwoman Terry Labruno and Donna Antonucci:
Here are the video highlights from the Hoboken City Hall Meeting of both citizen activist Donna Antonucci and Acting Fire Chief Blohm. I try to focus on the key speakers and give you the full 5 minutes of their public comments where possible. I am still learning about how to process video more efficiently but here goes:
Donna Antonucci Taxpayer and Citizen Activist:
Acting Fire Chief Blohm Part 1 of 2:
Acting Fire Chief Blohm Part 2 of 2:
Question: Is there anything wrong with wanting to question the need for the number of firemen or their level of compensation in order to guarantee that the Public safety is in no way jeopardized? After all, taxpayers are stakeholders too, right?
Or is it the tone of speakers like Donna take that makes the fire, police and teachers union react to her her so negatively? Or is it that they know she is hitting on some truths that best be left unknown or uncovered?
Just questions to think about. I will write an opinion piece sometime in the next week after I have had some time to digest the latest dialogs and facts. ◦
Here is the link of the document on the Port Authority Website:
Click here for the story in the Hoboken Reporter.... ◦
Also one reader asked an interesting question:
I have a question about the mayoral poll. Which Tom Foley?
A. Tom Foley, the lawyer who ran for 6th Ward 2 years ago.
B. Tom Foley, who works as officer of senior citizens services and is an active member of the Elks.
The Answer is A, the Tom Foley that ran against Nino Giacchi and Bill Noonan for 6th Ward Councilman two years ago. Are the results of this poll based on a misunderstanding of which Tom Foley I was referring too? I know the elder Tom Foley is quite the popular Elks Club member so it could be possible that Hoboken has its very own political phenomenon called "The Tom Foley Effect".
I wanted to write and share my thoughts on an incident at Wednesday night's Council meeting, and the approach I think Hoboken needs to take to get through this crisis. Overall, we cannot cut our budget without addressing personnel issues, including staff levels, salary levels, and benefits. Talks have begun with unions that represent our public safety officials, and I believe the City and elected officials must set the example of shared sacrifice. At the February 4th City Council meeting I intend to re-introduce measures to cut salary levels for the City Council, mayor and directors, as well as introduce a health insurance premium co-pay.
Wednesday night's City Council meeting demonstrated the raw emotions breaking our City apart. A concerned resident, Donna Antonucci, had her attempt to express her ideas quickly deteriorate into a shouting match with Councilwoman La Bruno. I appreciate that Councilwoman LaBruno publicly apologized. But I hope that in the future our Council President will step in sooner to ensure that discussions stay civil and proceed in an orderly way. Ms. Antonucci should not have been asked to leave the Council Chambers.
Hoboken cannot allow this crisis to rip our town apart. As we reflect on Wednesday night's meeting, we must all work to move beyond our own self interest. We've got to think about this crisis as a fire in our City. Just as we volunteer, donate or work our hardest as public safety officials to help victims in a disaster without thinking twice, we each have to give of ourselves to get through this financial disaster. We all have to give up something to get through this crisis.
Hoboken taxpayers from the born and raised to the newcomers have all sacrificed with the 84 percent tax increase. This tax increase strikes everyone and we all must work together to reduce the tax burden.
Hopefully at the February 4th Council meeting, the City Council will pass the measures I introduced earlier this month to reduce our Council salaries, the mayor's salary and directors' salaries and to establish premium health insurance co-pays for the City Council. We must tighten our belts to get through this crisis. Instead of attacking and blaming one another, we elected and city officials have to ask ourselves what we can give up to help Hoboken not only survive, but thrive. This town's a gem, as one member of the public stated. Now let's all do what we can to protect our gem and make it shine.
Thank you. ◦
HOBOKEN PILOTs - Principles
1. We support Workforce housing as an essential component of Hoboken's residential real estate portfolio.
2. A transparent and thorough review of all existing PILOTS should be undertaken immediately to ensure compliance with the terms of the agreements, and approval of any new PILOTs should be thorough and transparent, with a clear articulation of community benefit.
3. The CT PILOT has expired. There is no clear basis to claim that continuation of PILOT payments on a month-to-month basis constitutes an "implied" contract.
4. According to the CT management company, the CT mortgage has been paid and there may be no ongoing relationship with HUD or identification of an alternative HUD program which might cover CT.
5. Therefore, the City could be extending a PILOT for private property without an understanding of whether workforce housing will continue or what the community benefit would be from the PILOT.
6. A Council vote on "extension" of the expired CT PILOT should not be rushed until all legal, policy and community benefit issues have been reviewed.
7. However, if the Council approves a CT PILOT: the terms should be for a limited period of time and mandate that the owners continue the building as Workforce housing as long as the PILOT is in effect; that it be precluded from flipping the building to a Condo or taking any other actions that remove Workforce Housing tenants in good standing, or in any way generate a "windfall" profit for the owners; and that reasonable terms be included to allow for cost of living adjustments to payments made to the City.
8. In summary: a CT PILOT would be a "Standstill" agreement to continue to operate the building as if it was still under the initial PILOT, and as if all HUD and other original legal requirements remain in effect.
9. The Council should state that a CT PILOT is not a precedent for other PILOTs when they expire, and that each situation must be reviewed separately and distinctly. ◦
I made a mistake on the PPT. Instead of using the Battalion Chief and Captain incomes when calculating saves, I used the Firefighter average of $41K a year which is less than 1/3 of the salary of a BC and almost exactly 1/3 of a Captains pay.
The save to bring the HFD to a 1:5 ratio of management to non-management would be $5.5MM ongoing.
I am going to send a note to the council with these. I sat next to Chief Blohm after I spoke and he also pointed out another line on the budget where I would find another $91K spent on the Safer grant. He also pointed out that the $10.3MM in healthcare costs would not only cover the 542 full time employees but retirees as well. I don't have the number of retirees but note such on the document and will add that to the denominator when I get it.
Despite the outburst last night, this has started the dialogue on the detail as I had hoped.
My take: After the well documented outburst I witnessed for myself Donna and Acting Chief Blohm sitting right next to each other and having a civil conversation and at one point even having a mutual laugh together. It is these frank discussions with cooler heads that will help Hoboken heal the division that is before us. Both taxpayers and public employees must work to understand what is needed to run this town and reduce unecessary expenses accordingly. I hear the public employees loud and clear on the sacrifices that they make but in the fiscal crisis that is affecting Hoboken and the country as a whole it has become apparent that Hoboken can no longer do business as usual.This isn't just comming from me, the State of New Jersey is urging all scholl districts and municipalities to tighten their belts. I feel if the tax burden was indeed shared more equally, there would be a much better spirit of cooperation. ◦
TRENTON — In an effort to get as much money as possible for New Jersey from an estimated $825 billion federal stimulus plan being considered by Congress, Gov. Jon S. Corzine on Wednesday announced he formed a committee to study the emerging stimulus legislation and advise the state’s congressional delegation on how to help shape it. (Scott Goldstein, NJ Biz)
Read the whole article below:
My take: If Hudson County gets its fair share of the money will this stimulus just go to prop up the systemic patronage that we have or will it go to short term capital projects that improve our infrastructure and give immediate jobs? To me that is the key question. ◦
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I appreciate the recognition for what I am trying to accomplish, publish the facts first and then the opinions after that. Being a blog I am just trying to augment coverage and thank the acknowledgement from one of the Hudson region's newspapers. ◦
Quincy Jones has started a petition to ask President Obama to appoint a Secretary of the Arts. While many other countries have had Ministers of Art or Culture for centuries, The United States has never created such a position. We in the arts need this--and the country needs the arts--now more than ever. Please take a moment to sign this important petition and then pass it on to your friends and colleagues.
Here is the online petition if you think we should create that position:
Yesterday, in honor of the Inauguration of our 44th President, a brief video introduction from the party chairman, Jeff Barnes, and a trailer for the documentary was posted on the website. Both are results of the documentary that was covered in an article that ran in the (Jersey Journal and Star Ledger in December) and is about people and events around and during the 2008 Presidential Election in Hoboken.
In the next few weeks the full documentary along with a video series called "I am a Democrat Because" will be posted on the site for its official launch.
If you have any questions about the website or media project, please feel free to e-mail or call me.
Ms. Ryn Melberg
Here is the recap of other lines of business:
1.* Affirming the appointment of James Ronga as Director of Environmental
Eric Kurta spoke up about a prior conviction of James Ronga and whether or not that should disqualify him from that position. This matter was appropriately discussed in closed session after the rest of the meeting was concluded.
See this link https://www6.state.nj.us/DOC_Inmate/inmatesearch.jsp and search for yourself. Important note: This website makes no claim that James Ronga is indeed the person listed in the NJ Department of Corrections Database, just that there is a person with the same name as him and simmilar profile (age and race) listed on their website. Do not assume because there is a name match that this is the same person. I just wanted to give credence to Mr. Kurta's statement since I know he always checks his facts.
Here are the two counts listed back in 1994 on NJ Department of Corrections Website:
1 count/merged count of :2C:37-2 Gambling/Promoting /4
1 count/merged count of :2C:20-4 Theft by Deception
Bigger Questions: Should Hoboken tighten their requirements for new hires by doing more extensive criminal background searches for non-public safety positions? And are these offences listed enough to disqualify a candidate from this Director level position? I feel if someone has done the time they should be allowed to move forward and rebuild their life and reputation.
2.* Authorizing an agreement with Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc. for Emergency
This is for a contingency for a snow storm of greater than 6" inches. Hoboken is having a hard time getting certified drivers for the plows so outsourcing this seemed to make sense to most residents and the council once their questions were answered. The price is $14K for 12 hours with 8 pieces of equipment, labor included in case we get a large snowstorm.
3.* Authorizing Hoboken to leverage with Hudson County for purposes of 2009 - 2010 PARIS Application.
I stepped out of the room for this one. If anyone else knows what transpired during my bio break send a comment or email me.
4.* Granting permission to MCI to install telecommunications facilities along, under and over the public right-of-way of the City of Hoboken.
This $40K grant would allow for archival of records, telecom fiber optic wire installed and converting some records to electronic format using college interns.
Introduction and First Reading
AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND AND SUPPLEMENT CHAPTER 190 OF THE
ADMINISTRATION CODE OF THE CITY OF HOBOKEN, ENTITLED “VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC”. (DR-390)
Some members of the council spoke of lowering a couple of the fines. Two fines were lowered and this will move to second reading. If I heard correctly there is a chance some of the other fines might be adjusted as well. Jon Correa of the HPU said these fines have not been adjusted for over 5 years but the State surcharge has gone up so that each year that passes Hoboken gets less money per ticket.
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING THE CODE OF THE CITY OF HOBOKEN TO ESTABLISH A DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE AND FINANCE. (DR-391)
This was tabled by the council until some they can get some answers to questions they asked. ◦
It was a relatively light agenda but there were many speakers regarding the tax increase and Church Towers.
The Second reading and final vote on two bonds $1.9 Million for Road Improvements (DR-388) and $2.2 Million for Parking Utility Improvements was pulled from final vote when a question was asked whether or not the bonds had actually been issued. This will be postponed to the next meeting and hopefully this and other concerns would be addressed. The main line of reasoning was if the City has already payed the bill and the bonds have not yet been issued, then why bond? Donald Pelicano had stated his objection to any bonding on the Parking Authority when he spoke during the public portion. He didn't see the reason for it given the revenues that the Utility has been able to generate over the years.
Originally these two ordinances were supposed to be a formality since the assumption was that the money had already been spent against the bond. My take: I hope the bills have already been paid since this would be another area where the City could save almost $4 million.
The highlight of the evening was when Council Woman Terry Labruno and citizen activist Donna Antonucci went at it verbally after Donna had spoken about the numbers regarding what the City spends on firefighters. Here is the video of the outburst:
Sorry for the poor camera skills, the adrenaline was getting to me.
It is important to note that Terry Labruno later apologized about her outburst. Also, Donna Antonucci was also talking and even laughing at one point with Acting Fire Chief Blohm after they had both stated their case in the public portion. Tempers did cool down after a while.
More on the meeting to come later. ◦
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Potential Mayor Candidates:
They have all filed a D-1 form for the municipal election but as of today no one has formally announced their initent to run for Mayor.
Potential City Council Candidates:
Note: Ruben Ramos and Terry Labruno have filed their D-1 form since 2007 but have not indicated that they have any plans to run for City Council or Mayor.
To check on this later this week and the next few weeks, go to http://www.elec.state.nj.us/ to see who else has filed in Hoboken for the municipal election. ◦
Here are my comments:
1) It has PILOTS for luxury condos. For those of us who are paying more than our fair share in taxes (non-piloted households) these agreements may give Hoboken more Municipal income in the short term but in the long term they push the tax burden unfairly to those that either live in brownstones or walk up apartments.
2) Hudson County has a 2 year glut of housing inventory, granted a lot of that housing that is proposed won't come on line for some time but the economic situation currently needs to be taken into account.
3) Hoboken's infrastructure can't handle what it has now. I don't see enough assurances that there will be enough givebacks or beefing up of the sewer electric services, roads that we need to handle this.
4) Time and time again., the Roberts administration thinks they can develop themselves into a balanced budget. It has not worked so far and it will not work now. Some aspects of this are very positive and certainly some improvement and open space is warranted, I just think the scale of the towers is too much for this town.