Saturday, October 29, 2011

Donna Antonucci- Rally to Save the Hoboken Hospital Sunday October 30th at 6pm at City Hall

Here is an email from citizen activist Donna Antonucci urging residents to attend the Hoboken City Council meeting this Sunday at 6pm. At stake is the future of the Hoboken Hospital that so far to date is in jeopardy as the garage deal needed to complete the sale needs a total of 6 votes. So far the obstructionist minority City Council has said no and risks plunging the City into financial chaos for what is perceived by most honest taxpayers as merely political.

To date the minority members of Mason, Castellano (Terry), Russo and Occhipiniti (nicknamed MORTe which is Italian for death) have failed to do their fiduciary duty to the Hoboken taxpayer. Since their power comes from the mob (of paid for voters) the only thing they understand is the mob, a mob of angry Hoboken taxpayers that is. Thus Donna urges the citizens of Hoboken to sacre some sense into these maniacal, vindictive, irresponsible, childish, petty, lying City Council members to stop playing politics and do the right thing: save the Hoboken Hospital. Will you join? Read on...

Did you call the Council Minority yet? Call again. You can also send a text message.

The Council Minority (Mason, Russo, Castellano and Occhipinti) are set to bankrupt Hoboken.

Your taxes will [increase substaitally] because of their political grandstanding. 
  • Call Beth Mason at 646-339-2991 today to tell her to vote "Yes" on Sunday. If that box is full, call 201-656-7549
  • Call Tim Occhipinti at 917-721-3926 today to tell him to vote "Yes" on Sunday
  • Michael Russo is at 201-401-9687
  • Theresa Castellano is at - (201) 656-9449
We also need you to show up on Sunday at 6:00PM at City Hall to urge them to Vote "YES" on the Hospital Parking Agreement.

Please go to the mic and make a statement that they are destroying Hoboken and to stop. Make it clear you are ready to make them personally responsible for the damage.

This will trigger a $100MM tax liability that will be due immediately. It can trigger a bankruptcy and render your property worthless.

The Hoboken University Hospital is a failing asset that is losing millions of dollars a month. The
taxpayers are on the hook for a $52MM bond that the City backed a few years ago. The hospital board negotiated a deal to sell the hospital to Hold Co, a private company. They have a track record of turning hospitals around.

A hospital needs parking for it to be successful. We want the hospital to succeed and Hold Co insisted on parking. The hospital board agreed to work with the city to give parking access at the mid-town garage as part of the deal - the garage adjacent to the hospital that was built for the hospital.

Since it is municipal property, the City Council needs to passed the Parking Agreement Ordinance that gives Hold Co. access.

The Parking Agreement Ordinance was passed with the 5 votes on the council that support the hospital sale: Bhalla, Cunningham, Marsh, Giattino and Mello. However, an Ordinance normally takes 20 days before it can be implemented. The hospital cannot make payroll next week and will close triggering payment of the bond and all the costs associated with closing the hospital.

It takes 6 votes to pass an emergency measure to implement the Ordinance immediately without having to wait the normal 20 day waiting period to implement an Ordinance. No one in the Council minority supported this measure at the last Council meeting. This bitter move by the Council minority could sink this deal and we, the people, will bear the results of their irresponsible action.

Taxpayers will be on the hook for $52 million plus, and all residents will lose because the hospital will shut down. In addition to the bond, taxpayers will be liable for payroll (which must be paid before the bond). We would also have to pay personnel costs to move existing patients. The estimate is $100MM that will be needed immediately.
We need to show force and voice our opposition to bankrupting the city for political reasons.

The state is also watching and we want them to step in.

Showing up will encourage the state to act. Please come to City Hall on Sunday at 5:30 to sign up to address the Council. The meeting starts at 6:00.

- Donna Antonucci



Peter Cunningham to Hoboken Council Minority - Save the Hospital!

5th Ward City Councilman Peter Cunningham chimes in on the City of Hoboken Hospital situation. There is a special meeting on Sunday October 30th at 6pm to see if one more member of the City Council can pass the garage aggreement to waive the 20 day waiting period as the Hospital is running out of money....

Friends, Family and Neighbors,

And yes again, we are at a very critical juncture in Hoboken's history Tomorrow night at 6pm, City Council Chambers, the minority council will have another opportunity (and perhaps last) to favor the
immediate approval of the necessary parking agreement so the new entity can USE [not own] the mid town garage for it's employees and patients.

It is the final piece to close the hospital financing to save Hoboken's hospital and relieve the City of it's $52 million bond guarantee.  It is a condition to close the transaction which should have happened Wednesday, but the minority council of Mason, Russo, Castellano and Occipiniti voted no!

As many of you know, the process for the City to divest itself of Hoboken Univ Medical Center has been on going since the Mayor appointed (and the Council confirmed) a series of highly qualified
individuals tasked with this goal in mind - sell the hospital under our conditions (set forth in the Request for Proposal) that would keep this valuable and historic healthcare entity to serve Hoboken and the Hudson County region, and relieve the City and it's taxpayers from the $52 million bond guarantee.

This action tomorrow night is our last chance to save our hospital and relieve us of the guarantee that surely will be exercised if we cannot close this transaction.  Please attend this meeting and/or write your
councilperson/s to demand that they support this measure.  It is our last hope.

[Peter also refers to Dr. Jonatan Metsch's piece published earlier today on the Hoboken Journal]

- Peter Cunningham
5th Ward City Councilman ◦

The Case for Selling the Hospital - by Dr. Jonathan Metsch

It was widely reported that the HUMC sale was close to being finalized after Chris Christie came up with an extra $5 million but the parking agreement for the Hospital sale needed to be passed by a 6-3 super majority on Hoboken's City Council at the last meeting in order to wave the 20 day waiting period before it can go into affect. The issue is simply, the Hospital will not have enough cash to wait that long and will in all likelihood be forced to close. As one hospital official put it "no parking, no hospital".

Without this parking agreement in place on the hospital deal can not be finalized. Mayor Dawn Zimmer is on record saying the hospital will close because it does not have the funding to make the next payroll. If that were to happen the hospital be insolvent and Hoboken might have to declare bankruptcy. 1200 Hospital jobs would be lost, there would be massive municipal layoffs and tax increases.The City of Hoboken could also be put under state supervision.

The Council of No minority of Beth Mason, Tim Occhipinti, Terry Castellano, and Mike Russo  that have been obstructing the Mayor on this deal from day one seem poised to kill the deal. A special meeting this Sunday October 30th at 6pm at Hoboken City Hall has been called and one of them needs to change their mind or the likelihood of this deal falling through is pretty high. Mike Russo accuses the Administration of crying wolf but most intelligent taxpayers that The Hoboken Journal has spoken to are aghast at the shear recklessness and lack of fiduciary duty the Council Minority have displayed here.

Dr. Jonathan Metsch who has served on this HUMC Board for several years for free chimes in with his case for saving the hospital. Read below for his editorial

The Case for Selling the Hospital - by Dr. Jonathan Metsch

On October 7th a federal bankruptcy judge in Newark approved both the settlement agreement between all interested parties, and the sale of the Hospital.

On October 21st, New Jersey's Commissioner of Health and Senior Services issued a Certificate of Need for the transaction, the final necessary regulatory approval to transfer ownership of the Hospital.The transaction's path to closing has been undermined by the City Council minority, where four members have ignored a public policy imperative to get the sale done, and turned the process into a political confrontation focused simply on undermining the Mayor - even if it triggers a the fiscal calamity,that is, an immediate call on the $52 million in City guaranteed bonds.

The City took over the failing Saint Mary Hospital in 2007 using a convoluted governance/ management structure that in large part has led to the current problem. Councilman Russo voted for the City takeover, which was meant to be a short term bridging plan.

A few weeks ago Council members Russo and Mason orchestrated a plan to defeat a self-funding $5 million bond ordinance which was part of the Mayor's exit strategy to privatize the hospital and assure its sustainability.

Last week the same Council members blocked immediate implementation of an ordinance allowing the buyer to lease parking transponders, so the new hospital owners could continue to using the parking garage. Now, the sale cannot be closed until the twenty day clock expires.

As a for-profit entity the Hospital will pay property taxes of well over $500,000 per year!

With the recent public disclosure of three other bids it is important to note that the mythology that Council members Mason and Russo planted about the viability of other offers was just political shenanigans. It was easy for the other bidders to "reinvent" their bids after the selected buyers proposal was posted on the Authority and City web-sites. But they were still deficient proposals.

Nonetheless we are right on the finish line. Governor Christie provided $5 million to add to the amount to be distributed to creditors, additional payments were made by the buyer, and numerous other small steps were identified to fill in the funding gap.

In 2007 after Bon Secours signaled its intention to walk-away from Saint Mary Hospital in Hoboken, and a merger strategy failed to identify a partner, the City of Hoboken, enabled by special state legislation, established the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority which became the owner and governing Board of the hospital. As part of the change of ownership the City guaranteed $52 million in bonds to be used for capital projects. The hospital was renamed Hoboken University Medical Center. (H.U.M.C.) When the '07 Audited Financial Statement was finally issued in September '09 it showed a $23 million loss, followed by a $10 million loss in '08, both bottom lines further adversely exacerbated by significant increases in accounts payable. The hospital was in a "zone of insolvency."

Mayor Zimmer recognized the challenges facing H.U.M.C. and took immediate action beginning in November 2009 when elected Mayor of Hoboken and became a Commissioner on the Authority.

Immediate actions were taken to stabilize the hospital including:

  •  New Commissioners were nominated including a former New Jersey health system CEO, a regulatory/ compliance attorney, a municipal bond underwriter, a bond insurance executive with extensive restructuring experience, and a health care company in-house counsel - all residents of Hoboken.
  • Where previously there had been only a Finance Committee (which did not publish minutes), and a Quality Committee with only one outside Boardmember on it (chaired by an ex-officio physician member), two new committeeswere immediately establish - Audit and Compliance, and Strategic Planning.
  • Playing catch-up to industry "best practices" an operations/financial performance/ quality dashboard was put in place.
  • Having missed the opportunity in '09, an application was made for Health Care Stabilization funding and the State awarded the hospital $7 million in 2010.

Then Mayor/ Commissioner Zimmer established the following goals for the Hospital:

  •  Ensuring that H.U.M.C. remains open as a full service, acute Care hospital providing access to quality medical care for all Hoboken residents and neighboring communities.
  • Maintaining the almost 1200 jobs of our valued hospital staff.
  • Respecting the commitment of the Hospital's medical staff to the Hospital over the recent challenging years.
  • Addressing the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services regionalization objectives of reducing excess capacity and Hudson County hospitals' reliance on extraordinary State financial subsidies
  • Relieving the City of Hoboken from the financial obligation of the bond guarantee while achieving Hospital sustainability by "privatization," that is finding a new owner with access to capital so the Hospital is able to consider new program development, acquire advanced technology, and maintain the facility.

Next, the Hospital Authority chose a financial advisor and special counsel, an RFP Process was established and implemented, proposals were evaluated, and a "buyer" was selected by a unanimous vote of the Authority. Mayor Zimmer established a close working relationship with the Governor's Office, the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, the NJHCFFA, and DCA.

Despite overwhelming legacy issues we are on the cusp of guarantying that H.U.M.C. remains an acute care hospital for all residents of Hoboken, those who work in Hoboken's bustling business community, the thousands of commuters who pass through Hoboken every day, the residents of neighboring communities, and maintains its critical role in emergency preparedness.

"Re-Privatizing" the Hospital will bring it stability, access to capital, and the ability to compete in the hospital marketplace without dependency on state subsidies and cash advances. It will also relieve the City of the bond guarantee, freeing up bond capacity for other necessary and immediate infrastructure improvements.

This Essential Safety-Net Hospital management transformation initiative - hospital sustainability through privatization - will be a "self-sufficiency" model for replication elsewhere in New Jersey.

Under the Mayor's leadership H.U.M.C.'s finances were stabilized, sustainability goals were established, an RFP process for the sale was managed, an Asset Purchase Agreement was negotiated with the buyer, and the transaction was successfully moved through bankruptcy proceedings and the Certificate of Need process.

Although the Hospital is a "third-rail" of Hoboken politics Mayor Zimmer had the courage to tell Hobokenites that the Hospital is on the verge of closure unless this sale is consummated immediately.

The choice is simple. Support the Mayor's actions to navigate around the Council minority's obstructionist tactics. Or Hoboken will no longer have an acute care hospital but a financial meltdown instead.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vote Column C For Change for Kurt Gardiner Freeholder November 8th, 2011

My latest update on my candidacy for Hudson County Freeholder...

Kurt Gardiner for Hudson County Freeholder
Vote Column C for Change on November 8th, 2011
For those of you who may not know me by name, my name is Kurt Gardiner and I am running for Freeholder District 5 in Hudson County this coming November 8th. My opponent, the incumbent Anthony “Stick’ Romano was hand picked by former Hoboken Mayor Dave Roberts to run on the HCDO ticket in 2008 is up for re-election after one three-year term in office. The Office of Freeholder is a county legislative position of which there are 9 seats in total representing Hudson County as whole. The Fifth District consists of Hoboken in its entirety as well as parts of Jersey City Heights. Hudson County taxes make about 1/3 of your property tax bill with School and Municipal/City tax making up the other 2/3ds.

The reasons I am running are quite straightforward:

1)   Hoboken was taxed $46 million in 2010 and received pennies on the dollar back in services. Hoboken is being financially pillaged by every other municipality at the County level. It really is fiscal piracy. Romano has passed all three bloated County Budgets while Freeholder.
2)   Hoboken needs an independent representative that will finally advocate for Hoboken taxpayers rather than sit idly by and take directive from County bosses. These are the same County bosses that donated to my opponent’s campaign war chest at his recent fundraiser.
3)   My campaign will at least give Hoboken voters a choice. Up until early June, Anthony “I love the Russos” Romano was planning on running unopposed until I stepped into the ring. “An election without a choice is not democracy but rather a coronation”.
4)   I feel I have issues that are worth discussing such as operational audits and viewing government from a serviced based architecture rather than a patronage based one which has been the dominant viewpoint of the County for decades. This political patronage has led to the creation of low show and now shows jobs that make our County Government more inefficient than it should be.
5)   It is my hope that my campaign will create more awareness about Hudson County issues and how they affect Hoboken and Jersey City Heights. This is not about my future as a politician but rather the core issues I am running on. As an independent going against an entrenched political machine, I am aware that I am a long shot to win this race. However, this election is just a beginning and not an end. I will continue to try to peel away at the smelly onion that is Hudson County Government to expose how little it serves the constituents of Hoboken and even Jersey City Heights.
6)   Anthony “Stick” Romano is allied with the political opponents of the Hoboken taxpayer. He is an ally of Mike Russo, Terry Castellano, Carmelo Garcia, Tim Occhipinti, Frank “Pupie” Raia, and third place 2009 Mayoral Reject Beth Mason. Beth Mason and her money have tried everything to sabotage the Hospital deal which would cost the Hoboken taxpayers greatly should it fail. It is a shame to see these political “friends” of Anthony “Stick” Romano have such disregard for the Hoboken taxpayer just to make the Mayor look bad. He even had the audacity to Award Beth Mason the Columbus Park Italian woman in the year which was a real slap in the face to the tireless efforts of Toni Tomarazzo who as chair of The HUMC Board and has used her skill to work on saving the hospital while Mason spewed her venom and spent her money.
7)   It would appear my opponent doesn’t want to talk about the issues. My opponent had initially challenged me to two debates which I gladly accepted before the Labor Day Holiday. Now however, it would appear he is trying to back out of the debates now that political handlers like Jaime Cryan are involved in his campaign. It is a shame it appears that his campaign doesn’t want the issues brought to light and host an open discussion on them. Very undemocratic.

Hoboken gets "no giggity" from our current
Freeholder Anthony "Stick/Quagmire" Romano
8)   Anthony Romano isn’t raising the bar that much. During the 5 term 15 year reign of error by Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons (another Anthony Romano political ally) prior to Romano, Hoboken got the short end of the stick as well when it came to county services. That didn’t stop Maurice from pocketing large contracts for various municipal entities such as the Hoboken BOE and North Hudson Sewer Authority just to name a few. Anthony might not be pocketing contracts himself but somehow Michelle Russo almost seemed to land a County job she had no prior experience in.“Stick” remained silent but the resulting controversy eventually led to the offer being withdrawn. It was seem what is good for the goose isn’t always what is good for the gander. Stick comes from a long line of Hudson County yes men that are inserted into power so that Hoboken’s money can be divvied up among the others. Very little has changed. So a couple of roads got paved. What about Washington Street ? That should be a County Road ! Are we supposed to kiss his feet because Hudson Street got repaved after more than a decade?
9)   I am a taxpayer not subsidized by government. Anthony Romano lives in Marine View Plaza which was designed as middle income housing to assist people who want to stay in Hoboken and need a break on rent. Despite having now a substantially larger income than the average resident there he still remains in that facility. This is not at all illegal but shows how my opponent feels entitled to governmental services he no longer needs. As an elected official he should set a better example and let someone else who needs the lower rent. I have no problem with assisting lower income people with respect to housing but I will maintain that all assistance for housing should be means tested. How Anthony Romano doesn’t get point and lead by example is beyond me.
10)  End the Quagmire.
Quag-mire (noun)

1. An area of miry or boggy ground whose surface yields under the tread; a bog.
2. A situation from which extrication is very difficult: a quagmire of financial indebtedness.
3. Anthony “Stick” Romano’s nickname in some circles.
4. A Family Guy character that is a lothario stuck in the free love 70’s  and says stupid things like giggity giggity. Amusing to some perhaps but not that useful. 
5. Another three years of Anthony “Stick” Romano as Freeholder of Hudson County District 5.

Stop the self mutilating taxpayer insanity and vote Kurt Gardiner Row C for Change and a County Tax Cut on November 8th. Go to for more information.