Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hoboken Local Election Results - Finalized by Hudson County - Kids First Sweeps BOE, Election Reforms Pass, and Rent Control Narrowly Upheld

The local Hoboken election results from Tuesday November 6th have finally been certified due to delays from Hurricane Sandy's aftermath.

Here are the certified totals from the Hudson County Clerk's Office (drum roll please):

Jean Marie Mitchell, Ruth McAllister and Thomas Kluepfel of Kids First, the Hoboken BOE slate that was endorsed by Mayor Zimmer won all three Board of Education Seats at stake. Jean Marie Mitchell had only been ahead 6 votes before the provisional and electronic votes were counted as was able to further widen her lead. After the initial machine tally the third seat was the only seat that was still in question. Now the results are finalized and a clean sweep for Kids First and their political allies including Mayor Dawn Zimmer.


Rent control advocates win by a mere 52 votes! (Question #2). This just goes to show every vote can count in Hoboken. The public questions to move municipal elections to November wins easily (3 to 1) and runoffs are eliminated though by a lesser but still significant margin (Questions #3 and #1 respectively).


With these changes the Mayoral election will now be election day in November 2013. The City Council Ward members will also have their terms extended until November of 2015 as well instead of the previous May term. Mayor Zimmer had lobbied for Kids First, a yes vote on election reform questions 1 and 3, and for rejecting Public Question 2 which would have enabled vacancy decontrol. Although the last question was decided by a very close, Mayor Dawn Zimmer has no doubt secured a clean sweep and major victory against her political opponents. In the wake of her tireless efforts in recovering from Hurricane Sandy, is there any real opposition to her getting re-elected next November? Time will tell.

For reference here is the link to the Hudson County Election Results: http://www.hudsoncountyclerk.org/cgi-bin/election.pl
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hoboken Election Results

On the National Stage Barrack Obama was re-elected President of the USA last night. Nate Silver of the NY Times pretty much had it right in the end with his stochastic models indicating an electoral advantage for Barrack Obama which came to fruition.The focus of the this website is local issues so here are the preliminary machine vote results for the Hoboken Questions 1-3 and School Board Elections. There are still a number of absentee and provisional ballots so the results will not be official until the end of the week or later...

Board of Education (3 seats)


  • Kids First (KLM): Ruth McAllister (3,498), Jean Marie Mitchell (3,223 votes), Tom Kluepfel (3,426 votes).
  • Move Forward (NOP): Elizabeth Markevitch (2,844), Anthony Oland (2,512), and Felice Vazquez (2,488).
  • Independent: Patricia Waiters (987).
The slate supported by Mayor Dawn Zimmer has a lead going into the count for absentee and provisional ballots. It looks like honest campaigning and the endorsement of a popular Mayor like Dawn Zimmer certainly helped on the machine vote.

Public Question 1 - Eliminate Runoff elections


Voters decided in favor of elimination runoff elections 60% to 40%.

Public Question 2 - Vacancy Decontrol - Rent Control

Voters narrowly decided to not adopt changes that would have led to vacancy decontrol for buildings with 1-4 rental units 52% to 48%. We will have to wait and see if the absentee and provisional will make a difference in this close outcome.

Public Question 3 - Move Elections to November


"Let the people decide" and decide they have. Hoboken residents overwhelmingly passed this 78% to 22% which moves municipal elections to November. The Mayor's race will now be November 2013 instead of May.


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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hoboken Fair Housing Association - Vote No on Question 2!

The Hoboken Fair Housing Association urges people to vote No on question 2 and keep the current rent control protections in place as they are. It is an essentially human argument.....

Hoboken Fair Housing Association (HFHA) Position:  Vote NO on Hoboken Public Question #2

On the November 6, 2012, Hoboken Public Question #2 (HPQ2) will appear on Hoboken’s election ballot which will ask Hoboken voters to approve or reject amendments to Hoboken’s Rent Control (RC) law which decontrol rents for all new tenants and which permanently eliminate all RC protections for tenants in 1-4 unit buildings and condos.

The wording of HPQ2 is identical to the wording that Mile Square Taxpayer Association (MSTA), the developer/realtor organization that circulated the initiative petition which put the RC amendments on the ballot, put on their initiative petition:

“Shall the City of Hoboken continue annual rental increase protections for current residents of rent controlled properties but allow property owners to negotiate rents for vacant apartments and exempt buildings with one-to-four units and condominium units from the rent leveling ordinance by adopting the proposed amendment to Chapter 155 of the Code of the City of Hoboken?”

HFHA’s position on HPQ2 and the underlying MSTA RC amendments is twofold:

(I.) If approved by the voters on November 6, The MSTA RC amendments will eliminate RC protections for all new tenants.  This elimination of RC protections will destabilize the Hoboken community by encouraging landlords to evict their current tenants and by permanently eliminating a large fraction of Hoboken’s affordable housing.

Here’s what will happen if a majority of the voters approve the RC Amendments by voting “yes” on HPQ2:  Once a current tenant vacates his/her unit either voluntarily or by court ordered eviction:  (1.) Rents are decontrolled can be increased to whatever the landlord wants to charge for every new tenant.  (2.) All 1-4 unit buildings and condos are permanently exempted from Rent Control.

New Jersey State law makes it easy for a landlord to obtain court ordered eviction of tenants from 1-3 unit rental buildings and condos at the end of their lease and from all rental buildings with condo conversion evictions.  Thus, if HPQ2 is approved by the voters, landlords will have the means and financial incentive to evict current tenants or otherwise “convince” them to move “voluntarily” and then jack up the rent to whatever they want for new tenants.  MANY HOBOKEN RENTERS WILL LOSE THEIR HOMES.

(II.) In violation of NJ State Law, the MSTA public question wording that will be on the Nov 6 ballot is so misleading that it will trick many voters into voting against their intent.

Suppose a voter who wants Hoboken to continue RC protections reads the beginning of the MSTA ballot question:  “Shall the City of Hoboken continue annual rental increase protections for current residents of rent controlled properties …”  The voter will naturally assume that he must vote “yes”.  NOTHING COULD BE FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH.  The actual purpose of the HPQ2 initiative is to completely DECONTROL all rents upon vacancy.  Note also that HPQ2 fails to mention that the rent can be increased to whatever the landlord wants to charge for new tenants, but states only that the MSTA amendments will “allow property owners to negotiate rents for vacant apartments”.  In actuality, there is no negotiation involved:  the tenant must pay whatever rent the landlord demands if he wants to rent the unit.

The deceptive wording of the HPQ2 thus fundamentally undermines the democratic electoral process:  voters can be tricked into voting against their intent.
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Mayor Dawn Zimmer on Elections Today - in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Dear Friends ,

Hoboken is emerging from the worst natural disaster in
our history having demonstrated the incredible spirit of
our community.  
Hundreds of people volunteered every day to help their neighbors, literally
saving lives as we struggled together as an extended Hoboken family.  
As I write this, power has been restored in most of the City thanks to the
enormous assistance given to us by President Obama, Governor Christie,
the National Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, and most of all by the
dedicated workers of PSE&G who worked 24/7 to get our antiquated and
badly damaged substations running again as quickly as was humanly possible.  
Some of our neighbors still remain without power and we are continuing
to work hard to identify the reasons and resolve the remaining problems.

It is time to start the long and difficult process of rebuilding
our City and in many cases our homes and our businesses.  

Today is Election Day and the election will go on.  It is
important that despite the turmoil in all of our lives, that
you vote if you can.  
FIND YOUR POLLING PLACE
Polling locations can be easily found by texting 877877 with your
address (street address and 07030 zip code) as the message.  A return
text with your polling location will be received in seconds.

In addition to voting for President, Senator and Congressperson, three
questions critical to our local Hoboken community are on the ballot.  
Especially during this difficult time, it is important to the future of our
community that you make sure that your voices are heard on these three
critically important Hoboken ballot questions.  

SCHOOL BOARD

I strongly urge you to support the Kids First School Board team of
Tom Kluepfel, Jeanne Marie Mitchell and Ruth McCallister  
(K - L - M on the ballot).  

Kids First has our schools finally moving in the right direction.  They have
instituted the sound educational and fiscal practices that are necessary
to make our schools better year after year.  
The process will take time but Kids First is definitely moving our schools
in the right direction and we cannot return to the past practices that led
to the problems the Kids First team is working so hard to address.  

ELECTION REFORM

Please vote YES on Hoboken ballot questions 1 & 3, important
election reforms that would consolidate our municipal elections into a
single election on Election Day in November with the candidate getting
the most votes on that day elected to serve without the need for an
additional runoff election.  
This would replace the current system of having a separate local election
in May followed by an additional runoff election if necessary in June, in
addition to the June primary and the November general election
.  
In 2009 we had 5 elections in 8 months.  If these reforms had been
in place we would have had only two, a June primary and a November
general election.  These important reforms would greatly increase voter
participation and save taxpayer money, as much as $125,000 per
unnecessary election that would be eliminated. 

RENT CONTROL

I will be voting NO on Hoboken Ballot question 2 which proposes
amending our Rent Control law to move toward vacancy decontrol.
In my opinion the proposal, which was developed by a landlord advocacy
group, does not include sufficient protections for existing tenants given
the new financial incentives that would be created to encourage vacancies
so that rents could be raised. 

If your commute has been made more difficult, please vote in
the morning if you can.  The process will likely be much quicker and
that would ensure that a difficult commute doesn't cause you to arrive
home too late to cast your ballot.  

I will be emailing more regularly over the next several months
so that I can keep you updated on how our great City is progressing.  
Sandy has set us back a bit, but Hoboken remains a unique and extraordinary
City and our future remains bright.

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer

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Dean Kemph - Former Hoboken Activist Says Vote No to Question #2 on Rent Control

Former Hoboken resident Dean Kemph and long time activist chimes in on Question #2 which is on the ballot for this election day concerning rent control. A yes vote allows for immediate vacancy control on buildings with 1-4 units. A no vote keeps the current regulation the same...


"Kudos to Mayor Zimmer for her opposition to Hoboken Public Question #2 with regard to rent control.  Although vacancy decontrol, on the surface, may seem to have logical elements to those unaccustomed to Hoboken's long history of landlord transgressions; the amendment, as currently constituted, does little more than lay down a welcome mat for expansion of the tenant harassment, so callously dismissed by Ron Simoncini and the Mile Square Taxpayers Association, that has plagued Hoboken for decades.  I acted as an advocate for dozens of tenants in the past, and I know how real the attempts to intimidate can be.
 
Not only are far stricter penalties with consistent and emphatic enforcement for violations demanded as Dawn suggests; tenants should also be formally and officially advised of their rights under state and local statute so landlords can no longer play on their ignorance. We've all been distracted by this storm, so I don't have time for one of my more colorful rants - but if you've ever given credence to any of my observations before, please pay particular attention to this one.  The deceptive wording of the ordinance, pledging a continuation of tenant protection, is particularly insidious.  There may well be room to move on the rent control issue in Hoboken.  But not this way.
 
Please vote NO on Hoboken Public Question #2."
 
- Dean Kemph

Editor's Note: Dean Kemph is a former Hoboken resident who now resides Weehawken but is still very concerned about the future of Hoboken. He outspoken and dryer than the average flood beleagured Hobokenite as he is a hghlander from the upper topography of Weehaken.

I also agree with Dean in principle. I am no fan of rent control as a public policy intiaitive for affordable housing. It lacks a means test. With that said unwinding the policy has to be done more carefully than what is proposed here. Perhaps a waiting period for condo owners of 3-5 years before units come off rent control would be in order. I have friends in Hoboken who are on fixed incomes and I have concern over how this legislation would effect them. For me it is not only about policy but personal. Rent Control reform should be done more gradually with better protections and waiting periods and that is why I voted no on Public Question 2 this morning. It was a difficult decision but I thought the morally right one. It is also a decision that perhaps goes against my best financial interests personally since I am a condo owner.
 
I eencourage each resident of Hoboken that has not already done so to carefully consider the impact of what a yes vote would mean to certain individuals and vote your conciense. This is a complex social and economic issue.
 
 

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Ron Simoncini Says Vote Yes on Question 2


In the interest of presenting multiple opinions on the hot topic of rent control and Public Question #2 I present the position of Ron Simoncini of the Mile Square Tapayers Association who advocates for vacancy decontrol for building with 1-4 units and a yes vote On Hoboken Question number 2. These are the opinions of Ron and the MSFT and not necessarily the Hoboken Journal. Here is Ron's note......
 
Mayor and Councilmen and Councilwomen:

A YES VOTE ON QUESTION 2 IS RIGHT FOR HOBOKEN

As Hoboken’s elected officials, you have heard a lot about the politics of the rent regulation system in Hoboken, but I am concerned that many of you may not have had the time to sit and reflect on the policy issues related to the upcoming election on November 6th.

Last year most of you encourage your constituents to vote to reform rent control, and I would ask that those of you who have not made a recommendation do the same this year – Vote YES on Question 2.  Some of you already have made comments about Question 2, and you still have time to reconsider your position.  To that end, I respectfully submit MSTA’s full position on Question 2.

BACKGROUND

·     in September of 2009 you started hearings in rent control in Hoboken as a result of phantom violations of the rent leveling ordinance.  You held 6 meetings

·     in January of 2011 you introduced amendments to the ordinance meant to cure the problems created by various applications of the rent leveling ordinance by rent leveling board administrators that had been called by a judge unconstitutional as applied

·     in March 2011 you passed those amendments unanimously

·     in June 2011, after three bites at the apple to certify enough signatures, a group of tenant advocates successfully placed a public question on the ballot to reverse it

·     November 2011 your law was upheld in a vote that turned out 68% in favor and you expressed an interest in continuing to reform rent control.


Your amendments allowed landlords to over come the fact that forms they might have filed were not accepted by the rent leveling office by allowing them to provide alternative proofs that vacancies had occurred, entitling the landlord to an increase of legal rent.  However, continued misadministration by the rent leveling office and stilted policies at the rent leveling board, which is led by self-described tenant advocates, have undermined your will in passing Z-88.

Property owners, and property itself, have an important voice in the future of Hoboken.  The political manipulations related to these interests has spurred a veritable movement in Hoboken that has attracted massive support, including from the 12,000 condominium owners.  The Hoboken Housing Improvement Initiative (H2I2) balances the interests of the City, property owners and tenants, and deserves your support. Attached are the law itself, specifically protecting existing tenants; and our basic position paper.

However, during the campaign unfortunate mischaracterizations about threats from the law have been appearing on illegal campaign posters and illegally distributed materials.  To address these claims specifically, I submit, H2I2:

1) Expressly protects existing tenants with H2I2.

It is fair to protect every existing rent control resident in Hoboken the same as they were the day they moved in. That is completely fair because a deal is a deal.  But moreover, it is necessary to do so, as we have seen that politics explodes into regulatory environments, and we do not want to expose tenants, who are our customers, to the rampant misadministration of the law that we have seen under the tenant-led rent-leveling regime.  Thus, the claim that rent control is ending for tenants is oxymoronic and should not be regarded by you as credible – more than 6600 units will be permanently under rent control when H2I2 passes.  In terms of regulatory severity, even after the passage of H2I2 Hoboken will be among the 25 most restrictive ordinances in New Jersey.

2) Provides property tax reform, reducing the burden on 12,000 households in single-family and condominium properties.   


Your tax assessor affirmed that rent controlled apartments pay reduced property taxes that will be increased by rent control reform.  When units are improved and/or generate more revenue, they are reassessed and pay more.  Currently, single-family and condominium owners subsidize rents in the form of compensating for the undervaluing of rent control properties. Thus, a condo unit that is governed by rent control may pay $20,000 per year in property taxes, but if its owner attempts to rent it out he finds that it remains a rent control property with a co-called legal rent of $500 and in addition he may pay maintenance and upkeep of $600 per month.  It’s unfair.  Patently unfair.

3) Provides equitable status for homeowners and condominium owners while reducing the cost of government.  


It is also fair to the single-family homeowner and the condominium owner to be treated as they are in every other rent control community in the country: as a property owner not subject to rent control.  It is fair to say to the small family property owner of 2-4 units that they are free from undue regulation that inhibits their ability to manage their family’s primary asset. Under intense pressure to convert these properties to condominium – the city has already last 23% of them and more than 12,000 from the rent regulated category since 1983 – releasing them from rent control surely increases that chances that affordable rental housing will remain in Hoboken.  And it is reasonable to remove these properties, which are troublesome to regulate, from the authority of the rent leveling office, which has shown no capacity to adequately administer

4) Balances rent control protection for tenants while encouraging improvements to the housing stock that increase jobs.


It is fair to the professional real estate owner to improve his property and benefit from its value – and fair to every existing tenant to also benefit from those improvements.  Construction related to upgrades to apartments will created needed jobs in Hoboken, adding to economic activity throughout the City.

5) No threat to affordability.  


In a recent survey of 60 new tenants in rent control properties, 58 were from outside of Hoboken and the other two moved from market rate apartments to rent control apartments.  The average income of these 60 households was $74,000.  None of Hoboken’s public housing or senior housing is impacted by H2I2, and with the nature of Hoboken’s incoming tenancy, it cannot be said that rent subsidies are even required.  Exactly who are property owners being asked to subsidize through an unfair tax burden and through devaluation of their properties? People who do not even live here now?

6) Maintains protections against harassment and eviction.   


We hear a lot about the prospect of tenants being harassed and evicted from their homes as a result of the new ordinance. There are layers and layers of reasons why this is not a legitimate concern, but it is certainly true that some people are sincerely afraid.  However, eviction laws in New Jersey are the toughest in the country and they remain exactly as they are under H2I2, including in1-3 unit owner occupied properties.  Every tenant has the right to a perpetual tenancy unless they are using the apartment illegally or they are woefully behind on their rent. 

In addition to eviction and harassment laws, which provide punishments sure to deter violations, tenants are protected by habitability conditions are enforced by the Hoboken Buildings Department.  If anyone is concerned about a lack of attention to the conditions of an apartment, then they should call the building department for an inspection.  The department has the right to punish landlords and enforce the upkeep of every apartment.


During the Z-88 referendum brought by the tenants, we heard the primary problem with reforming rent control is it leads to harassment and eviction.  But no such wave of harassment or eviction occurred under Z-88 and though they are repeating their claim about H2I2, it does not stand to reason that it is legitimate.  There is NO case of a landlord accused of harassment to create a vacancy in Hoboken since the rent leveling law was enacted in 1983.  Surely there has financial motivation, but the scrutiny under which landlords operate and the prospective penalties are adequate protection. 


The most incredible argument I heard against H2I2 from tenants, who often complain about the conditions of aging buildings, is not that improvements to vacancy decontrolled units will go unperformed, but that landlords in Bayonne, which decontrolled its rental housing in 2012, are using improvements to harass tenants. Everyone who has lived through an apartment being repainted knows the improvement takes a little while and is inconvenient, but when it's over you enjoy your living space more.  


Can a group that squeezed more than $10 million in settlements from landlords as a result of phony over-charged claims -- enriching an unscrupulous attorney and providing a windfall for hundreds of tenants -- really be serious that they would fail to protect tenants from being harassed or illegally evicted?

We need to assure tenants that the protections already in place will continue to provide the same legal comfort they always have and hope that those few who have sincere fears will see they are unfounded.  But in reality, those tenants who mistrust landlords and are bent on contentiousness never have to accept that landlords will do the right thing, they just have to accept that the regulatory and policing bodies already in place and already protecting them will continue to do so.

SUMMARY

Laws are about policy and not psychology desert the interests of the people who pay the bulk of property taxes in the town so that new residents moving in can get a discount and the existing tenants can take pleasure in harming the people who own the property and the City in which they live.

You know intellectually that the Yes Vote is fair.  Politically it is perfectly defensible.  I think you all have the courage and the will and the impetus to get behind it and do what is right. Advocate for Yes and reform rent control in a sustainable and equitable way while we have the chance.

H2I2 BASIC POSITION

While protecting every existing tenant identically to their protections when they signed their lease, Hoboken’s current rent leveling ordinance should be reformed to address inequities for property owners who are deprived of the value of their properties and prohibited from improving them.  The Hoboken Housing Improvement Initiative will follow the example of most municipalities in New Jersey by exempting vacated units in condominiums and structures with 1-4 apartments from the rent leveling ordinance and allowing for rents on vacant units in buildings of greater than 4 apartments to be negotiated to the mutual satisfaction of tenants and owners.

There is abundant support for modernizing Hoboken’s rent leveling ordinance, given that:

a)    That the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has set a standard exempting from rent control small properties and that as a result most New Jersey towns exempt buildings with 1-4 units from rent control;
b)    New Jersey tenants are afforded the most stringent anti-harassment, anti-eviction and building conditions legislation in the country, providing ample protection of their rights to occupancy of their apartments.
c)    That contemporary rent control ordinances in similar communities have evolved to reflect the current fiscal, housing and business environments;
d)    That the proven effect of rent control laws is to transfer property tax burdens from multi-family to single-family home owners but not other commercial property owners;
e)    That affordable housing is a worthy social objective, but that rent control is proven to be ineffective at creating or maintaining affordable housing, and that its rewards do not reach the intended beneficiaries;
f)     That the intended beneficiaries of the rent leveling ordinance may be protected based on the tenure of their residency; but that new residents who have not earned the status should not be granted;
g)    That the health of the housing stock is threatened by limiting the income of properties to a point where their upkeep is not practical for the owner;
h)    That current annual increases alone do not permit energy or insurance pass-throughs, resulting in an effective property taking and a multi-family property tax appeal spiral;
i)      That restricting rents can lead to condominium conversion and an effective reduction in affordable housing;
j)      That the administration of rent leveling ordinances should not be unduly burdensome and expensive to the municipality or the property owners;
k)    That violators of the rent leveling ordinance should be subject to penalty of under the law.

As expected, a Superior Court judge affirmed the wording of the question as it appeared on the petitions to also appear on the ballot because it is a critical function of the amendment that there are no changes to existing protections.  As we have seen from the rent leveling office’s performance in Hoboken, any amount of political mischief is possible in the administration of the rent leveling ordinance.   The wording of the question reflects our desire that existing tenants remain as they are until they voluntarily vacate their units.  A deal is a deal.

And finally, the biggest concern we see voiced by tenant advocates is that “subtle” harassment will occur in order that existing tenants vacate their units so owners can achieve higher rents. And yet the Hoboken Fair Housing website acknowledges that there is no change in eviction status as a result of the amendment.  They are asking the voters to accept that all of the other benefits of the amendment should be eschewed in favor of tenants not being worried that anti-eviction law, anti-harassment law, habitability standards laws and the protections afforded by their own elected officials will fail as a result of an apartment owner being able to raise rents marginally more on a vacancy. There is no evidence of such occurances in other New Jersey municipalities, despite that decontrol is unregulated in more than 540 municipalities in New Jersey.


Hoboken Housing Improvement Initiative Ordinance Amendment


WHEREAS: the residents of the City of Hoboken will benefit from the continuation of rent control that protects tenants from unreasonable annual rental increases; and
WHEREAS: it is important to provide incentive to property owners within the City of Hoboken to maintain and improve their property so that stable property values may be fostered; and
WHEREAS: the adoption of this amendment to the City of Hoboken’s Rent Control Ordinance will protect the interests of both tenants and landlords;
BE IT ADOPTED that Chapter 155 of the Ordinances of the City of Hoboken are amended:
1) Upon the voluntary, uncoerced vacation or court ordered eviction of any tenant in occupancy in a condominium unit, or in a building containing four or less rental units, such condominium unit, or unit within a four or less rental unit structure, shall be permanently exempt from further application of the Hoboken Rent Leveling Ordinance.     
2)  a.     Vacancy Decontrol. Upon the voluntary, uncoerced vacation or court ordered eviction of any other tenant for which rent increases are controlled by the terms of the City of Hoboken’s Rent Leveling Ordinance a landlord may negotiate a rental with the proposed new tenant at a mutually agreeable level between the landlord and the proposed tenant.
      b.     The landlord must file with the Rent Leveling Office, and provide a copy to the tenant in occupancy, if any, a "Vacancy Decontrol Certification" within fifteen (15) days after entering into a lease agreement and accepting a deposit from a new tenant, which shall include the following information:
        1.     Property address;
        2.     Apartment number;
        3.     Vacating tenant's monthly base rent;
        4.     New tenant's monthly rent;
        5.     Name of landlord;
        6.     Address of landlord;
        7.     Telephone number of landlord;
        8.     A statement of the owner or manager certifying that the vacancy was uncoerced or as a result of court ordered eviction.

      c.     Vacancy Decontrol Certifications and the statement provided to any tenant then in occupancy, shall be deemed approved by the Rent Leveling Office unless a written objection is filed by the tenant with the Rent Leveling Office and served upon the landlord, within ten (10) days of the landlord filing a complete certification. In the event an objection is filed, a hearing shall be conducted by the Rent Leveling Board within thirty days. At such hearing the burden shall be on the person filing the objection to establish that the landlord has not complied with the provisions of Section 2(b) herein.
      d.     Once a unit has been rented to a new tenant, it shall be subject to the remaining provisions of the chapter and any future rental increases for the duration of the tenants’ occupancy are limited to those increases permitted under this chapter.
      e.     Notwithstanding the provisions of the ordinance that require the filing of an annual registration statement, the filing of a Vacancy Decontrol Certification at the beginning of a lease term shall be deemed sufficient registration of the rental amounts for the given lease term.
      f.     Anti-Harassment Provision. It shall be unlawful for a landlord, or his agents, to willfully do or commit or cause to be done or committed any of the following: any harassment, intimidation or other similar action to a tenant with the intent to have a tenant vacate the rental unit; any reduction by the landlord in services which causes the tenant to vacate the premises; and any vacation of the premises which is coerced; provided, however, that this provision shall not limit a landlord, or his agents, from any act specifically authorized under the laws of the State of New Jersey.
       g.     Violation Anti-Harassment Provision. A willful violation of this subsection shall subject the landlord to: (i) on the first offense, loss of privilege to apply for vacancy decontrol at the subject property for a period of not less than one (1) year; (ii) on the second offense, loss of privilege to apply for vacancy decontrol at the subject property for a period of not less than two (2) years; (iii) upon a finding of any further offenses, loss of privilege to apply for vacancy decontrol at the subject property for a period of five (5) years. The complaint for violation of this provision shall be brought in the Municipal Court for the City of Hoboken.
(Ord. No. _____)

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Councilman Peter Cunningham Supports Kids First and Yes to Election Reform Questions #1 and #3

Here is a message from the highly civic minded and professional 5th Ward City Councilman Peter Cunningham on elections today. Hoboken's 5th Ward residents are generally happy with Peter's Stewardship and concern  for all residents whether they live in brownstones or reside at Fox Hills:

Good evening friends, family and neighbors,

I hope we are beginning to see some improvement in our lives as we assess, give thanks and continue to support those around us less fortunate.  As we continue to pick up the pieces from the wrath of Sandy, the below note from the Administration highlights the following:

Power issues, tomorrow's elections, public transportation, FEMA claims, donations, garbage pick up and parking regulations.


Besides the all important presidential election tomorrow, there are several local issues on the ballot of importance. 
SCHOOL BOARDS:  As many of you know, I have worked with the Kids First team for years.  Many thanks to all who have supported these great leaders and policy makers which continue to cut waste, improve the efficiency, eliminate patronage, introduce new programs, improve public school education and increase our property values by putting Kids First.

Please see their most recent flyer below, and vote K-L-M for Kluepfel, Mitchell & McAllister. 
I can guarantee you that the other slate supported by the minority council members and financed with contributions that violate campaign finance reform we passed last year will attempt voter fraud.  They will try to take advantage of the hurricane and possible low voter turn out as a result.  Please vote, as all polling locations are powered up and ready to go! 





Public Question Number 3:  I favor moving the elections to November (like the school board election tomorrow) and eliminating the run off.  Consolidating elections in November makes it easier to vote, and increase voter turn out.  A much higher voter turn out mitigates the abuses like what we've seen with hundreds of illegal absentee ballots.  It also reduces taxpayer costs associated with multiple elections. 

Public Question Number 1:
  Would eliminate the need for a runoff election (currently if you don't get to 50% of the vote as a municipal candidate the first go-around, you have to run in an additional and unnecessary election a couple weeks later - something that has never changed the course of a Hoboken Mayoral race), while Question 3 would move the elections from May to November.  Please VOTE YES to BOTH questions 1 and 3

Thank you for your indulgence.  Let me know if you have any additional questions, and please pass on as you see fit.


- Peter

Peter Cunnigham 5th Ward Councilman City of Hoboken 



Release from Hoboken City Hall on November 5th....



NOVEMBER 5 UPDATE FOR HOBOKEN RESIDENTS

Power
All 3 substations in Hoboken have been repaired and energized. If you still do not have power, contact PSE&G by calling 800-436-7734 or through MyAccount at www.pseg.com so they can troubleshoot. There may be issues between the substation and your home (tap lines, transformers, service drops, etc), or you may need to contact an electrician to inspect and potentially repair the electrical panel or wiring within your building. The City has a team of electricians to check on equipment and make sure it is functioning and safe before power can be restored to buildings. This is a necessary step in order to restore power to those remaining buildings. If you still do not have power, call the Hoboken Utility Help Line (9am-5pm) at 214-561-0671/0672/0674/0675 and we will put your address on a list for inspections. Once an electrician becomes available, we will then dispatch them to your site. The City also strongly encourages individuals to coordinate to have their own electrician do this inspection and submit the inspection verification form in order to notify the City that the site has been inspected.  Those forms for your electrician to fill out for verification are located at: www.hobokennj.org/sandy/Construction-Electrical.pdf
 
If using a City deployed inspector, the City will pay for the initial assessment, but any repairs that are necessary will need to be coordinated and paid for by the property owner.  Property owners may be able to be reimbursed by FEMA for such expenses. Similar processes will be required for restoring gas service.

Election
The Election will be held for Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Voting hours are 6am to 8pm.

Voting will take place at usual polling locations EXCEPT for Ward 4, District 5. The Boys & Girls Club sustained major damage so the 4-5 polling location will be relocated to the Multi Service Center (124 Grand St). The polling location at 3-3 (15 Church Towers) will have power and WILL NOT move.
 
Options to find your polling location:
· Visit: www.hobokennj.org/departments/city-clerk/voter-information/
· Text your address to 877-877
· Polling location locator: https://voter.njsvrs.com/PublicAccess/jsp/PollPlace/PollPlaceSearch.jsp

In Hoboken, in addition to voting for federal offices, voters will also vote for school board and three local ballot questions related to moving local elections to November, rent control, and eliminating runoff elections.

Public Transportation
· Beginning Tuesday, November 6th, limited PATH service will run on the Journal Square - 33 Street line from 5 a.m. through 10 p.m., seven days a week. Trains will not stop at Christopher Street or 9th Street stations.Trains do not stop in Hoboken, but Hoboken residents can walk or bike to Newport along the Waterfront Walkway.
· NJ TRANSIT doubled the number of buses on Monday and is working with the FTA to add more buses on Tuesday to alleviate crowding.
· NY Waterway has resumed normal weekday bus and ferry service from 14th Street and Hoboken Terminal.
· Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will be operating with limited service between Tonnelle Avenue and Hoboken Terminal in Hoboken, and with shuttle service from Hoboken Terminal to Marin Blvd. in Jersey City on 20 minute intervals.
· All pedestrian access to Hoboken Terminal is from the waterfront ONLY.
 
Disaster Relief (FEMA)
 
If you suffered damage from Hurricane Sandy, it is absolutely essential that you register for disaster assistance from FEMA. Document (photos, etc) the damage and save receipts.
 
· Call: 800-621-FEMA (3362)
· Online: www.disasterassistance.gov.
 
Decontamination
 
If you have oil contamination, fumes, etc, write to complaints@hudsonregionalhealth.org with your name, address, phone and description.
 
Food & Beverage Sales
 
Establishments must be inspected and cleared for opening prior to establishing operation. Please contact: The Hoboken Health Department, 94 Washington Street, 3rd Floor, Hoboken, NJ 07030. (201) 420-2375. Although you must call for an inspection, we would also prefer that you email the Health Department as well: fsasso@hobokennj.org.
 
Garbage
 
Trash pickup has resumed. Additional trucks have been brought in to supplement crews. Please be patient while crews work as quickly as possible and postpone throwing out large amounts of trash unless necessary. Damaged furniture can be left at curb. Separate white goods (appliances) into separate pile. They must be recycled. NO electronics. No hazardous waste.
 
Donations
 
Donations to the Rebuild Hoboken Relief Fund can be made online or by mail. For information visit: www.rebuildhoboken.org. Please – no more donations of supplies. We are fully stocked and in the process of sorting and distributing supplies. Please donate to other communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
 
Ragamuffin Parade
The City of Hoboken wants to make sure that all Hoboken children have the chance to participate in Halloween. As a result, since power has not yet been completely restored at this time, we are rescheduling the Ragamuffin parade for this Monday, November 12, 2012. The time and additional details will be announced shortly.
 
Parking
Parking enforcement is suspended through Monday, November 12, 2012 at 8pm. If your car was damaged by flooding, please have it towed as quickly as possible.
 
Schools
 
Hoboken public schools are closed on Tuesday. ◦
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Councilman Dave Mello on the Elections Today

Hoboken City Councilman Dave Mello who resides in the 4th Ward and is clearly the more informed and smarter of the two City Councilmen that represent Hoboken from that Ward shares his thoughts on election day....



Please be sure to vote today, and please consider three very important local issues. Our President for the next four years is not the only important question we'll be considering today.

Please vote "YES" on HOBOKEN PUBLIC QUESTION #1 and on HOBOKEN PUBLIC QUESTION #3

By doing so, you'll eliminate these low turnout, overly cumbersome local May and June elections that we have so regularly seen in Hoboken. As a Social Studies teacher, I know very well that we've been taught from a young age to vote in November. We teachers don't teach lessons about May and June elections. People who haven't wanted to best for Hoboken desperately want our transient population deciding important local issues at a time when you're more likely to stay home and not vote. It is voter suppression, plain and simple. So, please put an end to this bizarre practice, and vote "YES" on Hoboken Public Questions #1 and #3.

Please support the Kids First slate, and vote for "K", "L", and "M"

I'm supporting the Kids First Slate of Tom Kluepfel, Jean Marie Mitchell, and Ruthie McCallister because I don't want to see our schools and classrooms regress. As a teacher in my 12th year of service to at-risk children, I appreciate that this slate truly does put the kids first. They DON'T see the massive school board budget as a patronage piggy bank for financing unnecessary jobs for friends. They DO understand that our school funds need to be invested in the classroom first and foremost, and that at risk kids simply need as many resources as possible if we are to move their education and performance in the right direction. As a South Bronx teacher, I know all too well that schools need to fill the learning gap that too many kids enter classrooms burdened by. Only by putting the kids first, and making sure the overwhelming majority of budget spending remains in the classroom, can we hope to ensure that all of our kids succeed.

Please vote "NO" on HOBOKEN PUBLIC QUESTION #2

Our local rent control laws still need adjustment. However, this public question will destroy any semblance of rent control in this city by exempting condo buildings. I agree that small landlords should not be burdened by rent control laws that are too harsh. But there's a much better way to accomplish this than via support of this public question. So, please vote "NO" on Hoboken Public Question #2, but "YES" on Questions #1 and #3 (regarding a full move to a single fall election).

And most importantly of all, vote today, and vote in Hoboken. It's where you live, and it's where you should vote.


- City Councilman at Large Dave Mello and 4th Ward Resident


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Monday, November 5, 2012

Another Kids First Update for Election Day - Get Your T-shirts

Here is another update from Kids First on election day tomorrow......



Dear Friends,
We hope this finds you safe and well. Like many of us, you may be without power and focused on the immediate needs of your family. However, the Election is still happening on November 6th and it is important to vote for things that will shape our community for years to come. In three short years Kids First is making a difference and we can’t afford to go back to the days of waste and corruption. 
If you can, we need your help to Get Out the Vote:
Drop by 626 Bloomfield, Monday from 4PM to 9 PM, and Tuesday starting at 7 AM, to grab a Kids First T-shirt, a Kids First button and Kids First voter information cards. Hold a campaign sign. Hand out literature. Only an hour of your time will make a difference in this very close election where every vote counts! 
Regular polling places will be open on Election day and your vote will count!  Polls will be open from 6am to 8pm. Either on machine ballot (if power) or paper ballot (if no power). If your regular polling location has changed, signs will direct you to your new location.
You can find your regular polling location by texting 877-877. Enter your street address along with Hoboken, NJ in the message. Hit  send and you will receive a return text with your voting location. 
If you absolutely can’t make it to the polls you can vote by email or fax. Here are the instructions: http://nj.gov/state/elections/election-directives.html
Remember to Vote Columns K-L-M for the Kids First Team of Tom, Jean Marie and Ruthy. Kids First has the support of Mayor Zimmer!
Finally, PLEASE forward this email to your friends and neighbors. Spread the word about Kids First!


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Hoboken Councilman Ravi Bhalla on Tommorow's Elections

Hoboken Councilman Ravi Bhalla has his thoughts and opinions on Tomorrow's elections with respect to local issues:


Dear Neighbors,

I am sure most of you are still recovering from the devastating effects of Sandy, and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as we continue to work together to rebuild Hoboken in this time of need.

I understand it is very hard to focus on an election in such challenging times. However, while this crisis will pass, many of the local issues we can vote on tomorrow will have an impact long into our future. For this reason, I am strongly urging you to go to the polls and vote tomorrow, November 6th.

In addition to the Presidential Election, there are important local issues that you will have a chance to vote on, and I write to briefly inform you about these issues. Voting on local issues is where you can have the biggest impact tomorrow!

School Board- VOTE for KIDS FIRST: Tom Kluepfel, Ruth McCallister and Jean Marie Mitchell.

In the Board of Education election on tomorrow, I strongly urge you to vote for the Kids First team of Jean Marie Mitchell, Thomas Kleupfel, and Ruth McCallister.  As a proud parent of two children, including a daughter in the school district, I am personally invested in ensuring Hoboken's children receive the best possible education to prepare themselves for the future.   Over the years I have become intimately aware of the great work the Kids First team has been doing in improving the quality of education in the classrooms, rooting out waste and patronage, and spending our tax dollars responsibly. So I ask you to continue the progress and support these three wonderful candidates.

PLEASE NOTE: even if you do not have children in the public school system, the quality and strength of our schools impacts the entire community. A substantial portion of your property taxes (your hard earned money!) is allocated towards the Hoboken school district. Successful schools will also attract more families, improve our quality of life and have a positive effect on property values. So even if you do not have a child in the public school system, it is in your direct interests to have a successful school district.

Local Questions 1&3, ELECTION REFORM: VOTE YES!

There are two very important referendum ballot questions - Local Question 1 and Local Question 3, on which I would strongly urge you to vote YES tomorrow.   Currently, local elections for Mayor and City Council are held in May, and if no one receives over 50% of the vote, a second runoff election is held. Why is there an election in the middle of May and June? I have no idea, but frankly it makes no sense. This is our chance to change it! By voting YES on Local Questions 1 & 3, local elections will be moved to November, on the same date as federal and state elections, and there will be a single election. This is a common sense reform that will reduce trips to the polls, increase voter turnout, and save tax dollars associated with extra election days. So before leaving the voting booth on November 6th, remember to vote YES on Local Questions 1 & 3.

Local Question 2: Rent Control: VOTE NO!

I urge you to vote NO on Local Question 2 regarding a change to our Rent Control laws, and here is why: the proposed change does with a sledgehammer what we should be doing with a scalpel, through thoughtful legislation. I strongly believe that Hoboken should be a "live where you work" community where all residents irrespective of their income can find an affordable apartment. This referendum question will significantly erode this objective through the gradual elimination of affordable apartments in Hoboken.

Property owners claim that rent control is defective because wealthy residents are able to live in rent controlled apartments at rents well below what they can afford. Here's a solution to that problem: place an income-eligibility requirement into the law as they do in New York City.  There, a property owner may submit an Income Verification Form to their tenant and if the federal adjusted gross income for the household exceeds $175,000, the property owner can apply to have the unit decontrolled.   There is no reason we cannot consider a similar reform rather than decontrolling thousands of units for those that may need rent control's protections, as this referendum question will do upon vacancy of the current tenant.

I also often hear that property owners have no incentive to upgrade rent controlled units because the rent rolls are so low as to not allow them the means to do so. There's also a solution to this issue already within the rent control ordinance: apply for a hardship increase. Every landlord that can demonstrate they are not receiving a fair return on the investment of their property may apply before the Rent Control Board for a hardship increase, and there is no reason property owners should not take advantage of that benefit if they feel they are not getting enough value from their property.

Regarding exempting smaller buildings, I would be willing to consider an exemption of smaller buildings, but this ballot proposal includes bringing buildings with 10 units or more to market after a tenant vacates, which I do not support.

As you can see, this amendment is way overbroad. The problem is a complex one and requires a more nuanced approach if we are to maintain our current stock of affordable housing units within Hoboken, while also being fair to property owners. We can do it through further legislative reforms. But this ballot question simply shifts the law way too far to one side, so I ask you to vote NO on the Rent Control ballot question.

PLEASE PRINT OUT THIS EMAIL AND FORWARD IT TO YOUR FRIENDS. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO GET THE WORD OUT FOR TOMORROW's ELECTION!

Thank you for reading this far into my email. If you have any problems voting tomorrow, please call me on my cell at 201-647-6090 and I will try to assist you.

Sincerely,
Ravi S. Bhalla
Councilman-at-Large

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Kids First 2012 BOE Election Update - Endorsed by Mator Zimmer

Election Day is tomorrow and people will be voting on the presidential election as well as one senate seat, Congress and several ballot initiatives. Another election is the Hoboken District School Board with 3 seats up. Mayor Zimmer has shown her dedication to Hoboken with her tireless efforts towards recovery with Hurricane Sandy. She endorses Kid's First and I as editor of the Hoboken Journal hope that you will do the same. Kid's First approaches BOE issues the same way Mayor Zimmer does by putting the interests of the community first. Please consider voting KLM on Tuesday November 6th to keep our district schools on the path to improvement....



Dear Friends,
We hope this finds you safe and well. Like many of us, you may be without power and focused on the immediate needs of your family. However, the Election is still happening on November 6th and it is important to vote for things that will shape our community for years to come. In three short years Kids First is making a difference and we can’t afford to go back to the days of waste and corruption. 
If you can, we need your help to Get Out the Vote:
Drop by 626 Bloomfield, Monday from 4PM to 9 PM, and Tuesday starting at 7 AM, to grab a Kids First T-shirt, a Kids First button and Kids First voter information cards. Hold a campaign sign. Hand out literature. Only an hour of your time will make a difference in this very close election where every vote counts! 
Regular polling places will be open on Election day and your vote will count!  Polls will be open from 6am to 8pm. Either on machine ballot (if power) or paper ballot (if no power). If your regular polling location has changed, signs will direct you to your new location.
You can find your regular polling location by texting 877-877. Enter your street address along with Hoboken, NJ in the message. Hit  send and you will receive a return text with your voting location. 
If you absolutely can’t make it to the polls you can vote by email or fax. Here are the instructions: http://nj.gov/state/elections/election-directives.html
Remember to Vote Columns K-L-M for the Kids First Team of Tom, Jean Marie and Ruthy. Kids First has the support of Mayor Zimmer!
Finally, PLEASE forward this email to your friends and neighbors. Spread the word about Kids First!

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Christie Administration Announces E-Mail and Fax Voting Available to New Jerseyans Displaced by Hurricane Sandy

Christie Administration Announces E-Mail and Fax Voting Available to New Jerseyans Displaced by Hurricane Sandy

Already Available to Military and Overseas Voters, State Opens Electronic Voting System
to Make Voting More Accessible to Citizens Displaced by Hurricane Sandy
and First Responders Assisting in Recovery Efforts


Trenton, NJ – The New Jersey Department of State has issued a directive today to county elections officials to permit New Jersey registered voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy to vote electronically. This directive also is intended to assist displaced first responders, whose tireless recovery efforts away from home has made voting a challenge.

“This has been an extraordinary storm that has created unthinkable destruction across our state and we know many people have questions about how and where to cast their vote in Tuesday’s election. To help alleviate pressure on polling places, we encourage voters to either use electronic voting or the extended hours at county offices to cast their vote,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. “Despite the widespread damage Hurricane Sandy has caused, New Jersey is committed to working through the enormous obstacles before us to hold an open and transparent election befitting our state and the resiliency of its citizens.”

To vote electronically, displaced voters may submit a mail-in ballot application either by e-mail or fax to their county clerk. Once an application is approved, the clerk will electronically send a ballot to the voter by either fax or e-mail in accordance to the voter’s preference. Voters must return their electronic ballot – by fax or email – no later than November 6, 2012, at 8 p.m.

Voters can download a mail-in ballot application for their county by visiting http://nj.gov/state/elections/voting-information-vote-by-mail.html. A list of county clerk websites, phone numbers and fax numbers are available by visiting http://nj.gov/state/elections/voting-information-local-officials.html.

Separate directives issued today enable displaced voters and first responders to vote by provisional ballot at a polling place in a county other than the voter’s county of registration. The deadline for county clerks to receive mail-in ballots has been extended to November 19, 2012, for any ballot postmarked on or before November 5, 2012. Mail-in ballots post marked later than November 5 will not be accepted.

County elections officials have also been directed to print a sufficient number of provisional and emergency ballots to accommodate voters.

Voters are encouraged to take advantage of extended office hours at county elections offices to cast their vote early and in-person. Registered voters can obtain and cast their ballot in-person at their county elections office up until 3 pm Tuesday. County election offices are to remain open, at a minimum, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm throughout the weekend, until November 5. Voters that have a mail-in ballot and choose to deliver their ballot to the county elections office in person must present their completed ballot to their county elections office no later than the close of polls on Tuesday.

Information is also available by calling 1-877-NJVOTER.

Here is the link to the Hudson County Clerk's Office for more details on voting in Hudson County which Hoboken is a part of: http://www.hudsoncountyclerk.org/

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