Council Reorganization Recap
A passing of the torch and the specter of a state financial takeover marked this year’s Hoboken City Council reorganizational meeting. Read on for the Hoboken411 recap.
With all the turmoil surrounding the FY2008 budget battle, the council wanted to move into a new fiscal year as a united body. That meant all the lobbying for President, Vice President, and council designee to the Planning Board went on privately, with decisions made before the meeting began. The goal was for unanimous votes, minus an absent Ruben Ramos.
Giacchi takes the reigns
Outgoing Council President Theresa Castellano nominated Vice President Nino Giacchi to take the gavel, continuing a tradition of changing Presidents every year. Frequent council critic Mo DeGennaro was against the move, and wanted Castellano to remain. Mo said “You can’t settle a budget crisis in Italy or Newark. You need to be here,” referring to Giacchi’s recent vacation and full time work as an attorney out of town. Castellano is almost always in town at her City Discount store on Washington Street.
In taking the reigns, the 6th ward Councilman said he is available, and missed the budget meeting because he was on a family vacation. Giacchi said he would be accessible, has learned the tricks of the trade and looked forward to the new challenge. 3rd ward Councilman Michael Russo nominated Terry LaBruno to be the Vice President. That led to a bit of musical chairs as Castellano left the President’s seat in the middle and returned to the 1st ward seat on the south end of the table, pushing 2nd ward councilwoman Beth Mason over one chair per the council seating chart.
Mason will replace Cammarano on Planning Board
5th ward Councilman Peter Cunningham nominated Beth Mason to be the council’s designee on the Planning Board, saying she would be a great asset to the board with her experience leading the effort to update the Master Plan several years ago. Cunningham noted Mason’s “depth and dedication to do what’s right for Hoboken,” and said it was an honor and privilege to make the “greatly deserved” nomination,
Councilman-at-Large Peter Cammarano has served on the Planning Board for all three years of his term (see story on Planning Board Problems.) Last year, the vote was 6 for Cammarano and 3 for Mason. This year it was unanimous for Mason, who is likely to bring a very different view and approach to the job as several redevelopment areas come up for review,
Uh Oh. Kleinman has a letter from The State.
The optimism of new beginnings was broken up by City Attorney Steve Kleinman, who informed the council he had received a letter from the state Department of Community Affairs that handcuffed the council’s ability to act on some agenda items. The fax said the DCA and Local Finance Board began a “Review and evaluation of… the financial affairs and practices of the city,” and directed the council NOT to vote on any spending in employment contracts, consultant contracts, or new appointments.
Katherine Kinney of Donohue, Gironda and Doria (the firm that the city finance office is outsourced to) said the Finance Department is “Now under state supervision,” though there is no court order or injunction. Despite the council’s vote on a budget Monday, the state is moving forward to appoint a monitor and has banned the council from spending any new money. No expenditures will be allowed without state approval until further notice, and at least until the state review is over sometime in the middle of August, according to Kinney. That led to confusion and debate about which resolutions and ordinances the council could vote on and which it couldn’t.
Public reaction to “State takeover”
When the meeting hits Channel 78 keep an eye out for the public comments made by resident Charles Mancini. The Willow Avenue taxpayer read a long message into the record that ended with sustained applause from the public and the council. Mancini expressed unhappiness with the actions of DCA Commissioner Joe Doria, noting the mess he left behind when he was Mayor of Bayonne and his position as a “career politician” in the Hudson County political power structure.
Mancini said Doria’s remarks characterizing members of the council as “doing nothing but complaining” were “inflammatory” when he was hoping for a balanced, objective opinion. Mancini said the Roberts Administration’s “Centerpiece of discourse is the assignment of blame,” and added he is tired of the “Mayor’s glossy fliers” touting Roberts’ “accomplishments” and criticizing the County and Board of Ed for their spending, saying Roberts was part and parcel of those problems as well as part of the Hudson County power structure.
That’s a brief look at the nearly three hour meeting. The next one is July 16th, unless a special meeting is called between now and then.