City Council 7/16/2008 – Preview
Back to work tonight for the Hoboken City Council, or at least back to the work that Mayor Roberts’ pals at the Division of Local Government Services will allow the council to do. The agenda for tonight’s meeting is riddled with notations on which items “The State” will allow the council to vote on. Here is your Hoboken411 preview…
Open/Recreational Space Ordinance Removed
The first item on the agenda is a public hearing and final vote on the zoning ordinance that would protect land currently uses as and/or planned for parks. This includes the SW6 6-acre park in the Fourth Ward and the Henkel/Cognis site in the Fifth Ward. The council is waiting for the Planning Board’s review of the Ordinance and will not be taking up the issue tonight. However, there is a troubling notation on the agenda: Removed – Pending review by DLGS. Why would “The State” be concerned about zoning issues? Some are concerned that Mayor Roberts will use “The State” to try and kill the zoning change which would protect property proposed for parks in the Master Plan that developers want to put high-rise apartment buildings on.
Public Safety Changes Removed
Ordinance changes to the Table of Organization for the Department of Public Safety -including the potential elimination of the positions of Police Chief and Fire Chief – have also been removed “Pending Review by DLGS.” A large number of people from the police and fire departments were at the last meeting when the first reading vote was taken on this, but the Public Hearing and Final Vote will not be done tonight.
Taxi ordinance changes pulled for state review?
The state is supposedly in Hoboken to help clean up (or sweep under the rug) the $12 million budget gap created by Mayor Roberts’ overspending. So how does a minor change in the language of the Hoboken Taxicab ordinance fall in that category? The ordinance seeks to change language to say cabbies must “be at least 18 years of age and have at least one (1) year driving experience” and “possess a valid drivers license and must not have eight (8) or more points”. This minor change has been removed “Pending review by DLGS”. Hmmm…
Getting a handle on public contracts
Two resolutions on the agenda are designed to get the council more involved in financial matters to avoid another debacle like last year. These carry the notation “Pending review by DLGS.” This means the council could approve it only to see “The State” reject it because the Mayor doesn’t like it. The first is a resolution directing the city council to review all Requests for Qualifications and Proposals for the Fiscal Year 2009. Though the council has to approve these professional service contracts, the administration handles the process and tells the council who it wants appointed. The resolution starts a more public process in the selection of experts and professionals.
Council wants to Freeze Promotions
There is also a resolution “Freezing all promotions until final approval of the municipal and parking utility budget for the fiscal year 2009” that is “Pending Review by DLGS.” This is another council-derived resolution that the Mayor is not going to be happy with. Roberts has routinely ignored council calls for a hiring freeze, acting unilaterally to hire people including additional staff for his Public Relations team and someone to post nice things about the Mayor on websites that welcome shills who use multiple screen names to manipulate public perception.
Municipal Garage sale moves forward
One of the ordinances up for introduction will “Ratify execution of a Purchase and Sale Agreement and a Redeveloper’s Agreement with SHG Hoboken Urban Renewal Associates, LLC for the Public Works Garage Property”, which has been approved by DLGS on First Reading only. By the way, word is that the judge practically laughed the lawsuit seeking to block the sale of the Muni Garage out of court. It came up for a hearing and within a half hour the judge issued a verbal ruling dismissing all of MDK’s arguments and agreeing with the city, which was within it’s rights to conduct an open and fair bidding process designed to keep the height of the building to a minimum while still reaching the council’s financial goals. More on this once the transcript of the Judge’s decision becomes available.
Mayor introduces 2009 Spending Plan
Under New Business is the “Submission of the SFY ’09 Spending Plan by Mayor David Roberts”. Whether or not it is worth the paper it is printed on or just as under-funded as last year’s proposal is yet to be seen. Watch for more one-shot revenue items, and perhaps even the sale of more city assets to hide the size of the budget ahead of the Mayoral election in May. Also, watch for “The State” to back Roberts up along the way.
The meeting begins at 7pm at City Hall… Up the stairs and to the left for the big meeting room.