Monday, November 30, 2009

Additional Saratoga Springs Photos

I was reminded of some similarities between my hometown of Saratoga Springs and and Hoboken on my trip up North for Thansgiving. Here are some additional photos of Saratoga Springs NY taken on 11/27/2009 and 11/28/2009:


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Hoboken Christmas Tree Shopping Suggestions 2009

This is by no means a complete list but here are three places in Hoboken in which to get your Christmas trees for those who participate in this holiday celebration.....


Cal's Christmas Trees

St. Joseph Church Parking Lot
(corner of Monroe and Paterson)
201-394-8467

Silletti Brothers

400 Willow Avenue
201-656-4846

Tree Barn

Holy Innocents Church
538 Willow Ave. (Corner of 6th and Willow)
201-216-1180

Hours: Weekdays 9:30am - 10pm; Weekends 8am -10pm


Each of these three locations offers trees like Douglas and Frasier Firs, Balsams, Scotch Pines as well as Christmas accessories such as wreaths, garland and blankets.

If anyone knows of any other places in Hoboken to get Christmas trees or in the interest of diversity menoras for those of the Jewish faith let me know in the comments below or by email at kurt.gardiner@gmail.com. ◦
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My Thanksgiving Trip to Saratoga Springs NY

My Thanksgiving Trip to Saratoga Springs NY

I went upstate NY to visit my parents in Saratoga Springs, NY this Thanksgiving. It was good to meet up with my immediate and extended family. During my trip I remarked at how Saratoga had changed in the last few years. Saratoga is a wonderful town/city to grow up in and it still has an aesthetic appeal that is hard to match anywhere. Like Hoboken, Saratoga Springs has a vibrant night life and high real esate appeal and property values to match. Both cities have gone through a substantial period of gentrification and development yet still seem to have issues with their municipal budgets. More on that later. For those of you who are not familiar with Saratoga here is a very brief primer.....

A Litttle History:

Saratoga Springs was established as a city in 1915, originally formed from part of the Town of Saratoga, which still exists today as a separate municipality. During the 19th century the area's fame as a city of spas significantly increased. In order to accommodate the substantial increase in tourists, more hotels were built including the huge Grand Union Hotel which was demolished some time back. The main drivers for the town's tourism and development have been the the Saratoga Race Course currently and the spas and baths in the 19th Century.


Main Attractions:

The Saratoga Race Course is recognized as the oldest continually operated thoroughbred horse racing course in the country and holds one of the most prestigious racing meets for six weeks from the end of July to Labor Day. The track hosts the prominent Travers Stakes also known as the Midsummer Derby. During the month of August, tens of thousands flock to the track and in the evening the streets of the city teem with restaurant and club goers.

The city is also home to Saratoga Raceway, a separate, smaller race track facility for harness racing which generally operates in the evenings for several months of the year. A casino (also known as the racino) has recently been added to the grounds and houses over 1000 video gaming machines.

Saratoga Spa State Park is situated on more than 2,000 acres. The park is very popular with tourists. The Saratoga Spa State Park includes mineral springs, a spa, automobile museum, reflecting pools,a golf course and other attractions. Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), located on the grounds of the park, is the summer home of the New York City Ballet and also hosts top tier symphony and popular music concerts.

Other Attractions:
Numerous golf Courses including the Saratoga National Golf Club.
More than ten museums including three national museums.
Numerous natural mineral springs.
Treatments at local spas.
Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Saratoga Springs History Museum.
New York State Military Museum
Yaddo Gardens.
Roosevelt Mineral Baths.
Saratoga Lake.

For even more information on Saratoga Springs click on the link below courtesy of http://www.city-data.com/:

http://www.city-data.com/city/Saratoga-Springs-New-York.html

Below are some photos taken during my walk-about on Friday and Saturday in the wonderful city of Saratoga Springs, NY:

I, like Beth Mason may have humble beginnings but at least
I have my own alley way! (Just kidding) The Gardiner this street was
named after is of no relation to me.



Here are just a few shots of Saratoga Springs main street Broadway








Saratoga Springs City Hall



The Historic Adelphi Hotel



This is for "Da Horsey" over at Mile Square View Blog. Given Saratoga's rich horse racing history there are many of these throughout town



Saratoga Springs loves condo developments too.



A Starbucks in a Gentrified city like Saratoga Springs? Go figure.



Entrance to Congress Park



A view of the greens within Congress Park. Nice Fall colors!



Congress Park - The former Canfield Casino



North Broadway - Presigious Homes (out of my price range)





All these new condos and problems with the budget and fire and safety layoffs?
Where have I heard this before?




For a city of about 28,000 people (as of 2005) and a municipal budget of around $35 million it is amazing that Saratoga Springs is having issues with their budget. With all those new condos and property values still very high ( Saratoga Springs still remains a pretty hot real estate market in this recesssion) it confounds me that development has not solved these fiscal issues. Dave Roberts and Anthony Russo please take note! Oops, too late! :).

I wish Hoboken only had the problems that Saratoga Springs has. At least they have parks and a solvent hospital. We as Hobokenites would be in a lot better shape. Still Hoboken has a lot to offer and some of those similarities to my home town are why I chose to move to Hoboken.

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Three New Businesses Nearing Opening on Washington Street

Hoboken seems to have a constant state of flux for many of its businesses. Below are recent photos of businesses on Washington Street that look almost ready to open their doors. Of course, last minute inspections need to be passed,  the Certificate of Occupancy needs to be issued, and any zoning approvals need to be finalized before business can begin. There they go again! Those pesky rules and regulations getting in the way of my Slurpie heaven! :) (Just kidding, I am doing my best to stay away from large amounts of sugar).

7 - Eleven- Equipment such as refrigerators and racks and displays have been delivered and set up based on a sneak peak I got when workers were taking delivery. This store is located at the Southwest corner of 5th and Washington.



Stacks Pancake House and Cafe- This is the site of  a former burger joint Juniors Papaya. As a business that concept didn't do as well as Five Guys, a competitor down the street.  Will the allure of pancakes pack them in like a successful Denny's or an IHOP? Time will tell. This soon to be opened establishment is located between 5th and 6th  on the West side of Washington Street next to East LA.





Oyo Yogurt- This was formerly Mola, a moderately busy coffee shop that turned into an ice cream parlor called Emack and Bolio's when the new owner took over. As a franchise this store never took off and sold very little ice cream. The owner has been paying rent in this closed location for over a year to re-launch his Korean Ice Cream Empire as Oyo which will sell yogurt. Is the future of this owner's financial prosperity to be made selling yogurt? Hopefully the answer is yes for the owner's sake since a boatload of cash has been spent to give this location a go.

This soon to be re-opened establishment is located between 5th and 6th on the East side of Washington Street next to Piri Piri (513 Washington Street).



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Paintings by Lou Carbone and Joe Borzotta - BAMA Gallery December 3rd, 2009

Local artists Lou Carbone and Joe Borzotta will be exhibiting their works at the BAMA Gallery this coming Thursday starting at 7 PM. Both artists I consider to be very talented and both have their own unique style towards painting.

Music/Arts - Opening
Date: Thursday, December 3, 2009
Time: 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: BAMA Gallery, 10th and Bloomfield Street, Hoboken


Sample painting by Lou Carbone - long time Hoboken resident


Sample painting by Joe Borzotta local artist

To see more works of the artists click on the following links:

http://www.loucarbone.com/ for Lou Carbone



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Hoboken Photo of the Day - Downtown NYC from Pier A

Today's photo features a magnificent view of NYC's downtown area from Pier A Park just taken yesterday right before sunset.



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Hoboken Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony Tuesday December 8th

Here is a little advanced notice for the upcoming Hoboken tree lighting ceremony next week. Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the City of Hoboken invite you to the...




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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving - What parking problem?

Below is a photo from 7th and Washington street this morning. There is plenty of parking available today. At least for this day one can safely say "what parking problem?"




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone ◦
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Happy Tanksgiving! (Pun Intended)


Wishing all my readers a happy Thanksgiving Holiday! You should all be rewarded for putting up with my bad puns from time to time but I must say I got the idea from a fellow civic watchdog Eric Kurta.

Blogging activities are projected to resume this Saturday or Sunday. ◦
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

HUMC Meeting 11-24-2009 - More Video

I have two more clips from the HUMC meeting held to a packed house on Tuesday November 24, 2009.

CFO Ronald Devito, the HUMC CFO goes over the remediation for the 2008 audit findings and gives his status on the ten deliverables:




Beth Mason and Spiros Hatirus go back and forth redarding Beth Mason's questions to the Authority.

It should be noted that Beth did arrive to the meeting late and some of these questions has been asked and answered already. This is just part of the exchange between 2nd Ward Councilwoman Mason and CEO Spiros Hatirus. I did not film the whole thing, just this segment.

While I share Beth's concern for the Hospital and lack of concrete plan as well as some of her frustrations I don't know if her approach is going to get the public any additional information. Trust me, this is not even the worst of the exchange. Beth had her paid videographer there so check wethepeoplereports.com to see if the video of the meeting is eventually posted there.

Here is just a part of the the exchange between Spiros and Beth on the HUMC cash on hand:


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Hoboken's Moody's Bond Rating one level above Junk! (Baa3)

Thanks to Scott Siegel for sending me this Moody's Bond rating document for Hoboken published on April  2009. Below are Scott's comments and the document on Slideshare:

Hoboken has a Moody's rating of Baa3 which is one level above junk. Maybe when HUMC goes belly up we'll be downgraded. The May Moody's report counted on 2 things:

1) HUMC staying open as an ongoing concern.
2) Boatload of cash from NJT to build skyscrapers over the railroad tracks.


This post is more follow up on the HUMC Financial situation and the bonds that Hoboken has guarenteed.



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HUMC Meeting Highlights - Spiros Hatirus CEO of HUMC on Finances

Last night the City of Hoboken's HUMC has its monthly public meeting. Here is condensed video of CEO Spiros Hatirus commenting on the Hospital's financials. I will be publishing a little more on the meeting tonight before the Thanksgiving break.



Spiros Hatirus - CEO of the HUMC
A few things were clarified:

If the hospital were to fail, the City would only be on the hook for the bonds (around $62 Million) and not such things Union contracts of the private entity that provides the hospital services. Kudos to politically active tax-payer Leon Gold for phrasing the question in a matter of fact non-threatening light.

The cash balance or cash on hand figure of $48,000 was a snapshot from a previous month of September. That is a moving figure due to cash inflows and outflows. The month of October it was $165K. In actuality, at points this fund may be up to 2-4 million and that number needs to be understood as a moving target due to checks in transit. Still, the cash on hand is precarious and a larger reserve would be required to set the citizens of Hoboken at ease on the Hospital's financials.

According to Spiros Hatirus the Hospital will need to close a projected revenue gap of $12 million dollars for 2010 and attempt to do it by mostly trimming expenses:

1) Negotiate with Unions.
2) Negotiate for better re-imbursement rates.
3) Seek Affiliation to increase bargaining power over re-imbursement rates.
4) Apply and politic for as much of the $10.7 million stabilization money as possible to help with current operations.
5) Somehow figure out how to get more patients to come to the HUMC rather than go out of town.

The main issue I see with these comments is that layoffs were not the mentioned as a priority. As employee expenses are a big chunk of the expenses these should be on the table. I do understand the sentiment of trying to save jobs but if the hospital is to survive, it must somehow change the way it does business. Perhaps scaling back where it isn't going to do well enough (besides the essential ER which is a loss leader anyway you slice it in an urban area).

A few things still need to be clarified:

Are the HUMC bonds insured? That would mean the City of Hoboken is not necessarily on the hook. The speculative answer given by some of my friends who know more about bonds is probably not.

Are the bonds callable? If they were callable that would mean bond investors could ask for the money at any point in time which could precipitate further financial stress on the hospital.

Update: Answer from reader Katie_Scarlett: "Callable bonds are callable by the the issuer, not the holders. So that is not a concern".
Many hospital workers were there last night and a few citizens to give their support to the Hospital. More on this meeting later tonight.

Perhaps I got a little sense of optimism last night. Primarily this is due to the fact that I assess Spiros Hatirus appears to be genuinely concerned and dedicated to turning the hospital around. I don't see him as a take the money and run type but I have been wrong before. He doesn't have all the answers yet but the record of outside intervention has not been very good in this Hopsital's recent past. Don't get me wrong, I think the Hospital is in a very tough situation now as the economics are just not favorable.  At least I left the meeting with the impression that Spiros will try his best to turn this thing around or fail to do so while sticking it out. A lot of jobs and citizens of Hoboken have a lot riding on this one.

Video has been fixed; sorry for the delay!

Spiros Hatirus on the HUMC financials:


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More Photos - Hoboken to NYC via NY Waterway Commute

Here are some more photos in a Flickr Slideshow of the commute from Hoboken to NYC via the NYC Waterway Ferry to Pier 11. Sorry no pictures of puddles, just the majestic Hudson River and the Waterfront.


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Photo of the Day - Pier 11 in NYC Sunset

The Photo of the Day is from Pier11 in NYC  last night around sunset. I am still learning the settings on the new camera but I think this came out ok.




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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC) Presentations Write-up by Adrienne Choma

Here is a belatedly posted writeup on my site from Adrienne Choma of the taxpayer advocacy group in Hoboken known as HobokenRevolt.com. I spoke with Adrienne personally and she said it was fine for me to post it here as well. Adrienne added that she had help from several members of Revolt to ensure her statements and analysis on the HUMC presentations at the last Hoboken City Council meeting held on Monday November 16, 2009 were accurate.

Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC) Presentations write-up by Adrienne Choma

The financial health of the Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC) should be of high interest to all Hoboken taxpayers since three years ago, at the urging of the Mayor Dave Roberts, the City Council approved a $52 million bond for initial capital guaranteed by the City of Hoboken (i.e., the taxpayers).


Recently, HUMC released the conclusions of an independent audit that found that poor financial practices at HUMC led to overgenerous financial predictions, resulting in a $22 million loss in fiscal 2008, significantly higher than budgeted. As a result, HUMC CFO, Ron DeVito, resigned.

Kevin Kramer, Chairman of the Municipal Hospital Authority, and Spiro Hatiras, CEO of HUMC, appeared before the City Council on November 16th to explain the poor financial performance and address questions from the Council on how the hospital administration will ensure better fiscal performance going forward.

If you have not had a chance to hear the presentations by Chairman Kramer and Mr. Hatiras, you may find the following summary of their presentations interesting. If the hospital fails, Hoboken taxpayers will, as always, be the ones to pay.

Kevin Kramer, Chairman, Municipal Hospital Authority

Chairman Kramer reviewed the progress made at HUMC in the last three years. He reported that cutting edge technology, such as new MRI’s and ultrasound equipment, has been acquired. He reported that there are more births at HUMC than ever before (but no specific statistics provided) and that HUMC is truly a “learning” institution, justifying the “university” name (but also without any substantiation of this claim). He presented no information on the financial position of the hospital.

In response to a question from the council, Chairman Kramer described the relationship between HUMC and Hudson Healthcare (HH). He explained that State law requires municipal hospitals to be managed by independent, not-for-profit organizations. HH was created to fulfill this state mandate. All employees at HUMC are employees of HH. Chairman Kramer did not address the questions regarding how HH was selected to be the managing body of HUMC and which other healthcare managing organizations were considered at the time.

Councilwoman Beth Mason asked for financial information on the hospital. 2008 losses are estimated at $22 million, with $17.5 million of that total in cash and $5 million in depreciation expense. The budgeted loss for the year was $5 million. The hospital has cash on hand of only $94,000. HUMC and HH are hopeful of receiving state aid to reduce these losses.

Chairman Kramer could not confirm Councilwoman Mason’s statement that the City of Hoboken is required to totally indemnify HH for all HUMC losses. He indicated that he would need to review the contract with the City.

Chairman Kramer could also not explain why the audit results were not reported in a timely way. When asked to share the corrective action plan (CAP) from the audit and all financial information on the hospital, Chairman Kramer said that HH will provide access to any information “allowed under the law”. Kramer confirmed that the HUMC CEO and CFO are responsible for finalizing and implementing the CAP.

Chairman Kramer bristled when requested to come before the Council to present the CAP, indicating that he was too busy to attend council meetings every two weeks.

Spiro Hatiras, CEO, Hoboken University Medical Center

Mr. Hatiras began his presentation by reminding the Council that he has been in office for only 4.5 months. He was taken by surprise by the magnitude of losses reported by the auditors. Auditors concluded that approximately $9.5 million of booked accounts receivable will not be collected. Also, the hospital booked $3.5 million in state aid that was not received in the fiscal accounting year, resulting in a total cash loss of $17.5 million versus the $9 million that he expected when taking office.

When asked about the reasons for the high losses, Mr. Hatiras offered the following factors:

1) The State of New Jersey pledged financial support through a five year strategic plan, but started cutting back support in year two. The Council commented that further cut backs can and should be expected under the new Christie administration.

2) HUMC has poorly negotiated managed care contracts with the major insurance companies. HUMC collects $7 million less than the average of peer hospitals in the region. Partially, this is due to inadequate leverage in the contract negotiations.

3) 17,500 Hudson County residents seek and receive their medical care outside the county. Retention of 50% of these patients would make all Hudson County hospitals profitable. The lack of resident confidence in the quality of care in Hudson County is a key issue which needs to be addressed.

4) The hospital was a failing proposition even as it was being transferred to municipal ownership. The Franciscans gave Hoboken the hospital and provided $13 million in cash. This was still a great deal for them because it would cost $100 million to shut the hospital down.

Mr. Hatiras placed high reliance on receipt of State aid to get through this financial crisis. He was asked on several occasions during the meeting whether there was a contingency plan in the event State aid does not come through, or if such aid is in an amount lower than projected. Repeatedly, Mr. Hatiras indicated that there was no contingency plan, to which Councilwoman Mason called for the termination of Mr. Hatiras and the entire hospital board. Mr. Hatiras responded that he does not care if his employment is terminated and that although he is not obligated to give the City Council any information, he will cooperate in providing information permissible under law and which, in his judgment, will not place HUMC at a competitive disadvantage.

In a final request for a contingency plan, Mr. Hatiras reaffirmed that there is no short-term plan other than fighting for the anticipated State aid, but offered the the following actions should help stem the losses and bring HH to profitability in 2010:

1) Affiliation of HUMC with another (unidentified) major regional hospital which could entail a take-over of the management contract from HH. Discussions are currently underway. Councilman Michael Russo cautioned that care should be taken in such negotiations since similar proposed collaborations with the hospital he believes is involved ended without consummation.

2) Renegotiating the managed care contracts, even if termination of coverage is necessary to get negotiating leverage (similar to Bayonne).

3) Reduction in expenses, not through lay-offs, but through better management of overtime and use of temporary agency workers.

Responding to inquiries, Mr. Hatiras confirmed that Harvey Holzberg (the former CEO of HUMC) and Ron DeVito (former CFO) are both still on the payroll of HH. Holzberg will be paid through year-end and DeVito will be on the payroll until April 2010. There has been much criticism of the high salaries drawn by Holzberg ($800,000) and DeVito and whether the compensation packages are consistent with not-for-profit organizational standards.

Assemblywoman Joan Quigley helped Mr. Hatiras explain how HH came to manage HUMC. She indicated that when St. Mary’s Hospital was being transferred to municipal ownership, it was deemed that there were no qualified not-for-profit management companies to run the hospital, as required by State law. At the request of Mayor Dave Roberts, Mr. Holzberg was recruited to create HH to manage HUMC. ◦
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Clearview Hoboken Cinemas Movie Playlist for Tuesday, Nov 24

I for one want to see the new Clearview Hoboken Cinemas succeed (parking or no parking). Thus here is a free plug on what is playing at the Cinema as of today Tuesday, Nov 24 2009.

I find the seating to be very comfortable which means something given my size. I have seen a movie in each of the two larger theaters and the visual and audio are very good. At some point I hope to see a movie in the smaller theaters as well. The location is great for a movie buff like me that lives in midtown. It is a nice walk over and back to see a movie without going into Manhattan.


For the most up to date Showtimes click on this link below:

http://movies.yahoo.com/showtimes-tickets/theaters/10061-clearview-hoboken-cinemas/

Location: 409-415 14th Street Hoboken, NJ 07030
Phone:(201) 710-5581



View of main entrance on 14th Street
2012 - PG-13, 158 min

3:10 pm 6:30 pm 9:50 pm

Blind Side, The - PG-13, 126 min

1:30 pm 4:30 pm 7:30 pm 10:20 pm

Disney's A Christmas Carol in Disney Digital 3D - PG, 96 min

1:50 pm 4:15 pm 6:50 pm 9:20 pm

George Michaels: Live in London -  NR

Starts on Thu, Dec 3

Men Who Stare at Goats, The - R, 90 min

2:45 pm 5:15 pm 7:40 pm 10:15 pm

Old Dogs - PG, 88 min

Starts on Wed, Nov 25

Twilight Saga: New Moon, The - PG-13, 130 min

1:00 pm 4:00 pm 7:00 pm 10:00 pm ◦
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HUMC Meeting Tonight at 7PM



Tonight there is a a public meeting at 7PM at the HUMC. The hot topic promises to be the state of the Hospitals's Finances. Here is some reference materials in the meantime. I will add more information to this post later in the afternoon. I, along with The Hoboken Horse blog plan to cover this important meeting.

Below is a link to a October story in the Hoboken Journal where Dawn Zimmer Releases HUMC 2008 Audit Findings:

http://thehobokenjournal.blogspot.com/2009/10/dawn-zimmer-responds-to-release-of-humc.html

Here are the attachments for that Audit release:

HUMC_grant_cover_memo.pdf
HeatherHowardCommissioner.pdf
LOR_08_Final.pdf
HMHA_full_2008_report.pdf
Full_Synopsis_hoboken_2008.pdf

Below is a story I did with the help of Scott Siegel in May on what appearred to be some Financial gimmickery on the part of the HUMC with respect to the bonding and interest only payments all the way to the year 2027:

http://thehobokenjournal.blogspot.com/2009/05/humc-refinances-bond-interest-only.html


Here is a recent article from Timothy J. Carol of the Hoboken Reporter where he interviews CEO Spiros Hatirus on the Hospitals stituation . "The State has to pay up" - Spiros Hatirus :

http://tinyurl.com/ygekorm


Reader Katie_Scarlett has provided links to documents on each of the Hospital Bonds:

1) $40,465,000 City of Hoboken Guaranteed Hospital Revenue Bonds, Series 2007A (Federally Taxable)(Convertible to Tax-Exempt) and  $11,170,000 City of Hoboken Guaranteed Hospital Revenue Bonds, Series 2007B (Federally Taxable)
First Bond Issue - $52 Million Total


2) Below were short term debt obligations issued in 2008 to the tune of $9,720,000:
Series 2008 - $9,720,000 in total

3) These were issued to pay the above off:

Series 2009 - $9,720,000 in total

4) Supplement explaining the Bond Insurance Ratings Downgrade and the underlying junk bond status of Hoboken:

2009 Supplement and Bond Rating Downgrade

For those of you who "know" all about bonds, the CUSIPs are posted on at least a few of those Official Statements. Happy researching! :) ◦
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Photos of the Day - The SLR Experiment

I took a couple of night shots with the new camera. Surely a professional would scoff at the quality but the lighting is such much better with an SLR camera than a point and click off the shelf camera. Next time I must read the manual first.







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Monday, November 23, 2009

Hoboken Journal Gets New Camera for Better Paparazzi-like Content in the Future

Actually, in the headline I was just kidding about the Paparazzi part but I felt it was time to get a better camera to take shots at the various events I cover. The camera I selected was the Nikon D90 due to its performance and the upper limit of the price point of what I was willing to spend. It is an SLR 12.1 MP camera with HD video capabilities as well. The kit I got came with an 18-105mm lens which should provide me some versatility initially. With the less expensive Cannon Powershot I was using I was not able to get good photos from a distance in poor lighting. With this new camera hopefully I will be able to get better pictures to accompany stories on this and for personal occasions as well.

Since I am a complete amateur when it comes to digital SLR photography, I will accept any free advice from more experienced photographers as to how to work this thing. Let the experimentation begin!



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Hoboken 411's PageViews Plummet from 2008 to 2009

Some readers of my blog have shared with me some observations of Hoboken411.com and its  precipitous drop in pageviews from 2008 to 2009. Alexa.com is a website that measures website traffic globally as well as in the US.

Here is a breakdown in the stats from Alexa.com :

Total Reach actually seems to be going up a bit. Perhaps this is due to search engine placement. At least there is some good news. The rest however is not so good from a website that needs to maximize impressions in order to make money from advertising:



Total PageViews took a sharp nosedive after Q1 2009:




Page Views per User took a sharp nosedive after Q1 2009 from 15 to about 2. This metric is a reflection that users  that do come don't click on as many articles as before or to come back and comment. It looks like the erratic and arbitrary bannings of many commenters on his site has really made his site more shallowly read from previous years such as 2008. :



Bounce percetntage has gone form 30% in 2008 to well over 60% in 2009. This is the percentage of users
that only see one page.



And correspondingly, time gone down on his site has gone down as well from over 25 minutes in 2008 to less than 3 minutes in 2009:



So how is the site growing in reach even though its traffick is less deep? The answer is Search placement seems to be a much greater source of traffic than it was before. Proper search engine placement can really drive traffic but is the majority of this local? If not, advertisers should take heed that they are possibly paying for ads that are not read as much by Hoboken residents as before as a percentage of total traffic.


So in conclusion, to paraphrase "Cyberfuhrer" Perry Klaussen with his banning and censoring of the "political crazies" has really made his site shallow in terms of page/views per user and that has very likely drastically reduced his number of impressions that he can give to advertisers. His Stalinistic approach to his commenting policy, delayed comment posts and outright censorship has really drove away a large portion of his prior hard-core reader base. Hoboken 411 used to be a place where you could freely exchange your opinions but now consturcitve commenting as well as total commenting is way down. One could feel pity but he brought in on himself. Oh the self-destructive power of a warped mind.

As for my blog, I am not even in that universe. I don't even rank in the top 100,000 websites on Alexa in the US in order to have a graph which once again shows in the battle for total views. I am far behind and can't really be considered competition with respect to traffic. While I would like to grow my traffic I don't need to because my blog is just a hobby. To this day I fail to understand the antipathy I recieved from Hoboken 411's Perry Klaussen (before I let him have it) about me creating a blog to produce my own viewpoints. Maybe  there is one word that could explain it afterall; PARANOIA.

Feel free to post your thoughts below on the Fall of the Hoboken Roman Cyber Empire.... ◦
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Parking Violators - Edible Parking Arrangements?

One anonymous reader who is a taxpayer in the First Ward sent in these two photos of parking violations from one vendor that they have noticed repeatedly happen recently. Below is their brief write-up and photos; one showing shows a daytime violation and the other shows an overnight parking incident.

Dear HJ,

Since Edible Arrangements opened, I've noticed that the company delivery truck parks illegally in City Hall-only spots, and often over night. Yet the truck is never ticketed. Do they have special privileges with City Hall? Do they have a special parking permit? It doesn't make sense to me, particularly because the truck isn't just parked for a few minutes (while perhaps they're running in the store to collect more product) - it's parked overnight and for several hours at a time during the day. It would help to understand why Edible Arrangements is allowed to park in spaces designated for City Hall vehicles, Police vehicles, and fire trucks only. Does this mean other local businesses can also park in the City Hall parking?

Thanks for any input.

1st Ward taxpayer





My comments:

I would normally hesitate to post such pictures since local businesses need to sometime stand to unload goods and every parking violation can not simply be caught. Both the police and HPU can not be everywhere at all times. However, after querying the reader they told me that this keeps happening with the same vehicle.

Chime in your thoughts below in the comments section for your opinion on remediation or indifference... ◦
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Video Fun - Baby Digging the Fleetwood Mac

Life can't be all about politics and neither is this blog in its entirety even though the focus is on that part of Hoboken here at this site. With the baby boom in Hoboken reaching historical heights it is good to have a few kid related topics on this site as well.

I get a kick out of this video as the baby starts out cranky but a little Fleetwood Mac on the iPhone from mommy immediately calms it down. When mommy takes the music away  the poor little fella gets all ornery again. The power of music is amazing sometimes. This is sure to be another viral hit.



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Phil Cohen on Dawn Zimmer's Inauguration Yesterday

Phil Cohen on Dawn Zimmer's Inauguration Yesterday

Phil Cohen sent this to me for publication on yesterday's Mayoral inauguration ceremony for Dawn Zimmer:

Yesterday's inauguration was a great and historic moment for our city.

Yesterday we celebrated the inauguration of our mayor, Dawn Zimmer. Dawn is not only the first woman mayor ever elected in Hoboken's history, but she is the first woman ever elected mayor of any municipality in Hudson County's history. Dawn is also the first Jewish mayor ever to serve Hoboken. I am proud of our Mayor and I am proud of our city.

Rather than accepting gifts from developers, political organizations or special interests to fund her inauguration committee, Mayor Zimmer has set the tone for her new administration by asking for inaugural donations to be made to the "Adopt a Hoboken Soldier Foundation" which is a not for profit foundation that provides necessities and comforts to Hoboken soldiers who are serving our country overseas. Donations can be mailed to the American Legion, 308 2nd Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030. Adopt a Hoboken Soldier is currently working on packages for Thanksgiving and for Christmas.

It was also quite moving to see Senator Menendez prioritize being with us in Hoboken at the moment when our city is set on course for real change, reform and good government on the same day that he had to be in Washington, D.C. and cast one of the critical 60 votes to allow debate on health care reform to continue. The order of the agenda was changed so that Senator Menendez could speak first, and head directly to Washington to represent New Jersey on a critical vote. Senator Menendez's commitment to Hoboken and to supporting our new Mayor were appreciated by the hundreds of people who attended the ceremonies at Hoboken High School.

Now let's work together, for all of us.

Congratulations, Dawn. Congratulations Hoboken.

- Phil Cohen ◦
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Text of Inaugural Speech by Mayor Dawn Zimmer

Below is the written copy of Dawn Zimmer's Inauguration speech sent to me by Keith Furman who did a masterful job in getting every aspect of the ceremony spot on. Kudos to Keith Furman for a logistical masterpiece as organizer of the event. Here is the intro from Keith and the speech below:

Attached is a copy of Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s Inaugural Address from Saturday, November 21’s Public Inauguration Ceremony. The ceremony took place at Hoboken High School and included distinguished speakers United States Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) , U.S. Representative Albio Sires (D-13th District, NJ), Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, and Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano.

Text of Inaugural Speech by Mayor Dawn Zimmer
Hoboken High School November 21, 2009



Thank you Sandra for that wonderful introduction.

My fellow citizens of Hoboken:

What a year. What. A. Year.

I know you’re ready for a new beginning. And I know you voted for a new beginning, no matter who you voted for in this past election.

It's been an unforgettable year of campaigns, and while it is always a good thing when citizens are engaged in our civic process, a year of campaigns in which we are focused on what divides us can cause us to forget that we have so much that unites us.

Because when you get to the heart of what each and every candidate was campaigning on, you will see that while there are clearly differences in approach, we have a shared vision for Hoboken’s future.

Every candidate agreed that our taxes are too high and that our government needs to do more with less.

Every candidate called for restoring faith in a government of honesty and accountability.

Every candidate viewed Hoboken’s character and diversity as a treasure to be nurtured and maintained.

Every candidate looked forward to a future in which cars, pedestrians and bicycles could safely and easily travel our streets to access new parks, and streets that are no longer flooded.

Now that the election process is over, and we're no longer counting ballots, we can start counting what unites us -- the causes we believe in to achieve a brighter future for the town we love so much, and the challenges we will tackle together, as a community.

For 'community' is a value we cannot forsake, especially in the tough times we have ahead.

We have many problems, problems that were not created overnight. Problems that will not be solved overnight.

But I know -- given all the causes and challenges that we agreed upon in the last election -- that the burden will be a little easier to bear if we can work together to address the many issues facing our City.

Our greatest challenge is taking control of the runaway train that is our city’s finances. Hoboken’s tax burden is too high, and we must increase efficiency and cut spending to reduce taxes.

As your mayor, I promise not to rely on gimmicks, but to govern effectively and openly.

On Thursday at a mayor's luncheon during the League of Municipalities conference, I had the honor of hearing Governor Corzine and Governor-elect Christie come together to speak candidly about the challenges facing our state, and our cities and towns.

Our governor-elect made his position clear when he said, "We can only solve our problems if we move from asking, 'What's in it for me?' to, 'What's in it for us?'"

Individually we will all have to give up something to get through the tough times ahead for our City, but ultimately, at the end of the day, all Hoboken residents will benefit.

City Hall should be a beacon for our residents—a place where they know they can find an ally, employees who they can trust, and a system that gets results.

It must be a place where the rules are fair, and apply equally to everyone.

Sadly, that hasn't always been the case, and I know that any success my administration has, will flow from earning the trust of our citizens... by proving that their government works for them and not for itself.

We must set the standard for government openness, so that our citizens understand the process through which decisions are made, and the reasoning behind them.

My young administration has already begun organizing city records, and we are going to post them online so that anyone who wants to access information can have it with a few strokes of a keyboard.

(For anyone who's ever been to the 3rd floor of City Hall, a room filled nearly floor to ceiling with records from years ago, you know that we've got a lot of work to do....)

But we will be accountable to you…. That is the contract government is based upon.

We all know that a community is bigger than the body that governs it, so with the promise that we will be accountable to you, I ask that we all start by being more accountable to each other.

This is our city and we ought to take pride in it, to keep our streets clean and our neighbors safe.

One of my highest priorities as mayor is to protect the character of Hoboken. Our city is a mile-square treasure, with neighborhoods and a small-town feel that is unique to this section of New Jersey.

We must never allow that to be taken away by projects like the massive redevelopment plan proposed by New Jersey Transit.

I am not saying I oppose all development in Hoboken, but I am saying I oppose irresponsible development. The proposed 70-story tower that would permanently alter our city’s character is not responsible development…. adding 7,000 residents to just one neighborhood by constructing eight or nine 45-story buildings—increasing our population by 15%— is not responsible development.

Yet there is legislation in Trenton that would take away our right to control the destiny of our city.

That is wrong. And if we are divided, it may succeed….

My firm opposition to New Jersey Transit’s massive redevelopment plan is something I talked about in my campaigns in May, in June and in November.

It is something that the other candidates and I agreed upon in May, in June and in November.

It’s a concern that I heard voiced from residents over and over again, and so I ask that you join me in our efforts to stop this.

We will fight. We will fight. And together, we will win.

Rather than monstrous projects that will forever destroy the charming character of our landscape, the Hoboken we believe in supports balanced development….

Development that brings our city new jobs, places to play ball, restaurants and shops to continue building on the lively community that makes Hoboken Hoboken.

Because I know that we can all agree how crucial it is to maintain the diversity of this city—that it’s a big part of why we all love this place so much….

Because, whether you are Old Hoboken or New Hoboken, it’s time we start preaching One Hoboken, where people from all walks of life can afford to live comfortably in vibrant neighborhoods and enjoy their lives.

It is easy to get discouraged when things do not change as fast or as easily as we would like them to.

The problems we have today will take time to resolve, and there will be setbacks. But we cannot let the temporary failures of today distract us from what we can achieve tomorrow.

We must always stay focused on the incredible future of our town, and come together to fight for what's best for our city.

Hoboken, the turnaround starts today.

The last three years have been an incredible journey for me. I went from speaking out at my first city Council meeting with my voice cracking and my hands shaking, to standing before you today.

I have always believed that you really never know where life is going to take you. Growing up, my mom used to talk to me about how each choice you make leads you in a new direction you might not expect. She would say, 'Way leads to way.'

In Hoboken we say, Election leads to Election. Three years ago I was a complete political novice. As I naively threw myself into the frying pan of Hoboken politics to fight for balanced development, little did I know that my journey would involve such hard work, but also such reward.

Hoboken, I have never felt more honored than when you chose me to lead this great city.

There are so many people I need to thank.….

First, I’d like to thank all of you for being here today.

I want to thank Keith Furman the Chairman of my inauguration committee, for putting his entire life and full-time job aside to organize every detail of this event.

I want to thank Forde Prigot, Joe Branco, Sam Briggs and the many people who volunteered to donate their time and efforts to making today a success.

Thank you to Sandra Smith and John Carey for speaking today, and a special thanks to Jim Doyle for serving on extremely short notice as our master of ceremonies.

I'd like to take a moment to honor former mayors Steve Cappiello and Pat Pasculli who are here with us here today. I'm also grateful to our Senator Bob Menendez, Congressman Albio Sires, our state Senator Brian Stack (who could not make it today, but is here in Hoboken delivering turkeys), our Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, and Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, and Freeholder Anthony Romano for being here with us today. Thank you for coming and I look forward to working with all of you as we advocate for a better future.

I’d very much like to recognize my friends and colleagues, the members of our City Council including Ravi Bhalla, Theresa Castellano, Peter Cunningham, Nino Giacchi, Carol Marsh, Dave Mello, Michael Lenz, Beth Mason, and Michael Russo. We won’t always agree on everything, but I know that we can work together because we all love our City.

I want to thank all the people who made today so extraordinary including the Hoboken High School band, you sound great, thank you.

Thank you to the children of the Jubilee Center for leading us in the pledge of allegiance and Shirley Dennis for singing the national anthem. A special thanks to the Fire and Police Departments for the display of colors.

Thank you to Superintendent Carter and the School Board for making this wonderful facility available to us, and to Christina Anderson for these beautiful flower arrangements. Thank you to the Hudson County Parks Dept. for opening Columbus Park for this event, and thank you to Buddy and Carlos Bakery for the special inaugural cake that we will soon enjoy in the park.

And thank you to Derek Ladson and the Fire Dance Squad for the terrific performance you are about to see.

Finally, I am eternally grateful to my husband Stan, and my children, Jacob and Alex, for their incredible support as together we rode the roller coaster filled with trials and tribulations to bring change to our community.

And to everyone assembled here, I want you to know how much I look forward to working with you over the next three and a half years.

Now, the work begins.

I ran as a voice for change, independent of the old politics of pitting one section of Hoboken against another. I believe we can and will make the changes necessary to turn Hoboken around, while at the same time, preserving what is best about our city. And that is making sure its future includes all of its great people.

We’ve seen the consequences of divisiveness in our political system and the desire to ground out our opponents. We’ve seen how craven people can be when they think our backs are turned. We don't want that, and we won't tolerate that anymore.

I ran for mayor with independence and I will be beholden to no interest but the best interest for Hoboken.

And I promise to be an inclusive mayor, who runs a dedicated City Hall that treats everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Hoboken we have great challenges ahead of us. I believe we will meet them.

We can.

We must.

And together, we will.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! ◦
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More Zimmer Inauguration Video Clips

Here are more video clips of Dawn Zimmer's Historic Inauguration as the first female Mayor of Hoboken yesterday:

Mayor Dawn Zimmer Speech Part 1 of 2:



Mayor Dawn Zimmer Speech Part 2 of 2:



Long Time Resident and Distiguished Vietnam War Vet John Carey's Speech:



New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez's Speech:


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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dawn Zimmer is Sworn in - Video

Here is the video segment of Dawn Zimmer being sworn in today at her Inauguration Ceremony acknowledging her election as Hoboken Mayor. I am processing her main speech next and it will come in two parts.


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Dawn Zimmer Inauguration Photos

Here are some photos from the Inauguration Ceremony of Dawn Zimmer for Hoboken Mayor that was held today. Thanks to Peter B. for the two photos with Dawn and "The Cake Boss".


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Dawn Zimmer Inauguration Video Recap

Below is the complete video of the Dawn Zimmer Inauguration Ceremony held this Saturday starting at 2pm. Despite the efforts of Klever Perry Klaussen (proprietor of Hoboken 411 and backer of losing Mayoral candidates Peter Cammarano and Beth Mason) to direct people away from the High School and generally from Hoboken this weekend from a post this morning, the event was very well attended with about 550 people present in the 700 people plus High School Auditorium.

It will hopefully be a Dawn of a new day in Hoboken politics. Time will tell if Dawn is able to stabilize Hoboken and move it forward. She at least has the trust of Senator Menendez, Anthony Romano and other officials who truly feel Dawn has integrity and can be trusted to move this City forward.

Kudos to Patrick and others from Hoboken City Hall to put this video on US Stream. I will be processing key segments of the event on You Tube later.

For now, here is the entire ceremony video:


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Dawn Zimmer Inauguration Saturday November 21st at 2PM - Today!

Additional Update 11/21/2009:

United States Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) will be among the distinguished speakers at the Public Inauguration for Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Other distinguished speakers include U.S. Representative Albio Sires (D-13th District, NJ), Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, and Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano.

WHEN: Today, Saturday, November 21 @ 2 pm
WHERE: Hoboken High School Auditorium - 800 Clinton St.

Update 11/21/2009: The inauguration is today at 2PM. If you haven't yet made a reservation that is ok but it is recommended that you get there early to get the best seats possible that still remain. 

Original Post 11/20/2009:
Hoboken Mayor Zimmer's Inauguration Committee Releases Final Details for Saturday's Event

This Saturday at 2:00 PM at Hoboken High School (800 Clinton Street, Hoboken, NJ), Dawn Zimmer will be publicly sworn in as the City of Hoboken’s 38th Mayor. The ceremony is open to the public and seats will be available for all who wish to attend on a first come, first served basis. Numerous state and local elected officials are expected to attend the event, which will last about one hour.

A reception will follow in Columbus Park (900 Clinton Street, Hoboken, NJ), featuring hot apple cider, dessert and a special inaugural cake provided by Hoboken’s own Carlo’s Bakery, better known as “The Cake Boss” on TLC.

For those who cannot attend, the ceremony is scheduled to be streamed live on http://www.zimmerinauguration.com/. After the event, the ceremony will be available for online on-demand viewing and will air on Cablevision Local Access Channel 78.

Ms. Zimmer is the first woman to be elected as Mayor in all of Hudson County. She was elected on November 3 by a wide margin. Zimmer’s election completes Hoboken’s transition following the corruption scandal that resulted in the resignation of Peter Cammarano on July 31st, just one month after he had been sworn in as Mayor. Ms. Zimmer, former City Council President, had served as Acting Mayor since Mr. Cammarano’s resignation, helping to guide Hoboken through a difficult and tumultuous time.

Mayor Zimmer has requested that, in lieu of donations to her Inauguration Committee, those who wish to express support contribute what they can to the Adopt a Hoboken Soldier, a foundation that provides necessities and comfort to Hoboken soldiers serving overseas. Additional information is available at http://www.zimmerinauguration.com/
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Reader Photo - Weird Real Estate Want Ad

Today's reader photo submission is a weird Real Estate Want Ad. Any desperate sellers out there want to give someone a new home at bargain price? Probably not, but it never hurts to ask.:)



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Friday, November 20, 2009

Hoboken Journal Stats


I figured this would be a good checkpoint to assess where my site is in terms of traffic and let the readers know where we are at. Projecting out to the end of November my site is averaging about 9,600 visits and about 20,000 page views per month. Certainly modest in size but also the moniker "hardly read" doesn't apply anymore either.

More importantly, over the last three weeks comments have averaged about 150 per week. On my best day of over 100 comments that  would project out to 52,000 comments per year which is on par with another well trafficked blog that has not been much of a news site lately.

Considering my status as a part time and politically oriented blog (i.e.niche) those numbers are not too bad. However, there is always room for improvement.

Here are some ideas that I would like to eventually get to do to improve this site:

1) Go to WordPress for publishing. It is simply more robust than Blogger.
2) Go to three columns. One for main news and two columns for useful links and RSS feeds from other sites.
3) Go to tabbed columns. In addition to the main news there could be some with other topics.
4) Improved Commenting Signup Process. That would help drive traffic.
5) Most Recent Posts. Find or develop a widget to display those in a better way than the current archival method.
6) Most Recent Comments. I have that now but need a better widget.
7) Improved design elements. I want to stay with a similar green theme but make the site look flashier.
8) Add a Hoboken Journal logo. Ideas welcome on a volunteer basis.
9) More robust analytics. More for me but will allow me to better see traffic trends.
10) Better linkage to other social media.

Those are the aggregation of the possible improvements I have heard so far. Please email me at kurt.gardiner@gmail.com for any other constructive comments or comment below this thread. ◦
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BOE Audit Results - More than Two Dozen Irregularities

Today here is a story from Hoboken Now's Amy Sara Clark on the recently released BOE Audit. Here is an excerpt:

Scathing audit of Hoboken Board of Education shows more than two dozen irregularities

Auditors released a scathing audit of the Hoboken Board of EducationTuesday that cited more than two dozen irregularities, including themisuse of candy-sale funds, incorrect approval of overtime and thepayment of administrators out of funds meant for instructors.

“It was just shocking,” said Board of Education trustee Maureen Sullivan.

In a random sampling, auditors found two cases in which funds raisedby students through candy sales and other activities were used toreimburse teachers for stolen iPods – to the tune of $400 each.

In addition, overtime was being improperly approved by consultants, instead of employees, auditor Dieter Lerch said at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

Auditors also found that stipends to several employees were either notapproved by the board or did not have other necessary documentation.Sullivan said in most of those cases the work was likely being done,despite the lack of documentation, but that interim Superintendent Peter E. Carter said he would conduct a thorough investigation to make sure.


To see Donna Antonucci's analysis on her local blog click here. Kudos to Donna for being the first I know of to make it available online:
http://www.donnaforhoboken.com/2009/11/hoboken-boe-2009-audit.html

Below is the Management Assessment and Full Audit Report on Slideshare:


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Beth Mason on the Last City Council Meeting

Below is the latest email from Beth Mason on the key issues of the last City Council meeting:

Dear Friend,

I am writing to you today with a recap of Monday night's City Council meeting, which lasted over seven hours. Below are a few of the major issues covered at the meeting.


Hoboken University Medical Center

During the meeting we were given the opportunity to question representatives of Hoboken University Medical Center. As many of you are aware I have always expressed great concern over the hospital's finances. I am even more concerned after Monday's meeting. Last year the hospital lost $22.3 million and is projected to lose another $11 million this year. When I questioned CEO Spiros Hatiras about how he plans to keep the hospital running with such a disastrous financial picture, he explained that he expects the hospital to receive $10.7 million is "stabilization funding" from the state. Unfortunately, Mr. Hatiras said the hospital does not have a contingency plan in the event the state does not provide the hospital with that amount of funding. I truly believe the only way to save the hospital is to make serious budget cuts and start at the top.

4th Ward Council Seat

When Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer was elected Mayor she resigned her 4th Ward Council seat. Last night the City Council appointed Michael Lenz to be the new 4th Ward Councilman by a vote of 4-3-1. I abstained last night from voting for Councilman Lenz and would like to take this opportunity to explain my vote. First and foremost, my vote was not against Mr. Lenz, but rather a vote against the process in which he was appointed. I do not believe the selection process was as open, transparent and inclusive as it could have been. I truly do believe that the residents of the 4th Ward deserve a representative on the City Council, which is why I proposed holding a Special Meeting in their ward, and allowing residents who were interested in the position to be able to submit their resumes and have the opportunity to speak to City Council and their fellow residents. This also would have allowed many of the residents who are too busy to attend City Council meetings at City Hall to attend one right in their own ward. Several residents who spoke also felt this way. However, Mayor Zimmer and the Council majority rejected this idea and called for a vote instead and unanimously supported Michael Lenz. I look forward to working with him on the City Council.


Salary Cuts

Also on the agenda was an ordinance, which I sponsored, that would cut the salaries of the Mayor, City Council, and City Directors by 15%. However, the ordinance was voted down by my City Council colleagues. The residents of our city were hit last year with the biggest tax increase in Hoboken's history. The only way to provide serious tax relief is to make budget cuts and start at the top. Currently many of our City Directors are paid salaries that are scaled for Manhattan rather than Hoboken. In a few weeks the Mayor is expected to present her budget to the City Council and I will continue to fight for more cuts, so taxpayers get the relief they deserve.

My Comments:

The HUMC:

Beth and her husband Ricky were right about the HUMC all along. They were convinced that the Hospital Plan was not a good business plan and let the public know very early in the process. Ricky Mason, being a bankruptcy attorney in one of the nation's most prestigious law firms did research and using his judgement and experience knew the plan to restore the Hospital wasn't on sound footing from the get go. This I feel must be said by me as the editor of this blog since credit must be given where credit is due. Earlier today I posted a video of Peter Cammarano castigating the naysayers of the HUMC plan including Beth. Beth Mason was right all along and "Patronage Peter" was downright gullible or lying through his teeth all along. .

Beth is also conceptually correct in that cuts needs to be made ASAP especially at the the top. The problem is that the contracts need to be reviewed since I will be willing to make a bet that the Roberts Administration gave the Hospital Authority a very generous contract and probably has poison pills all over it. I hope I am wrong. One way to get rid of the current management would be to see if there is a failure to perform clause in the contract. Pretty standard stuff but do you think the Dave Roberts Administration included it? We shall see. That would give the city an out to possibly bring in another management team to unwind the assets and perhaps preserve the parts that are working. The Hospital in its present form can't exist.


4th Ward Council Seat:

On the other hand, I have no issue with the City Council vote putting Michael Lenz in the 4th Ward seat temporarily until the next election. If the shoe was on the other foot I am sure Beth Mason had she won the election woudl have expedited putting Ines Garcia-Keim or one of her other political supporters in the Second Ward Seat as expeditiously as possible. To the victor go the spoils. The 4th Ward special election will allow the public to give their input by voting in the 4th Ward Council person until the expiration of that term in 2011. It should not necessarily be the same process that appoints Directors. The City Council has statutory authority to make temporary appointments and it has the right to do so expeditiously. The 4th Ward deserves representation. If you don't Michael Lenz then that is fine. I know in that past he has ticked of many who have opposed reform and quite frankly that is to be expected. I judge him to be quite informed on the issues and his expertise on the budget should be a help to the City Council.

Salary Cuts:

The mayor's salary down to $87,000 a year? That is what Beth Mason recommended in the last meeting. Absolutely nuts I tell you my readers. At $103K , Dawn Zimmer's Mayoral salary is already down $26K from the zenith of the nice bump up Peter Camamrano gave himself at $129K just this last July. It is already lower than every fire and police captain, the City Clerk and probably some sergeants too. First of all if the goal to cut employee expenses by 25% you don't need to cut salaries 25%. You can trim benefits like Health Insurance and Hoboken is self-insured so that cut is a no-brainer. You can also use attrition as well.

While I am all for additional tax relief you can't cut Director's salaries too much or you won't be able to attract the appropriate talent. This reads as sour grapes and an attempt to handicap the Zimmer Administration in getting the help it needs. Peter Cammarano created additional Director positions and Beth Mason had no problem then.

If Beth wants to truly help the taxpayer, she can re-open the Church Square towers PILOT issue and have those who can afford to pay more into the PILOT that goes back to the City. That would be a good start. ◦
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