City Council 8/13/2008 – Preview
The Hoboken City Council only meets once in August, but this meeting could easily turn into a second day. There is a jam-packed agenda full of controversy and acrimony on the eve of “The State’s” effort to go to court and wrest control of the city’s finances for the good of the Hudson County machine. Here is your Hoboken411 look at the agenda:
Parks and Open Space Ordinance
The public hearing and final vote on the proposed Parks and Open Space ordinance is on the agenda but will likely be continued to another meeting as the council takes the input from the Planning Board and continues to fine-tune the legislation to make sure it can stick. Councilmen Russo and Giacchi sponsored the ordinance designed to protect undeveloped land earmarked for parks in the Master Plan from turning into high rise condos.
Finally selling the Muni Garage
The third hearing comes before a vote to ratify execution of a purchase and sale agreement and a redeveloper’s agreement for the Municipal Garage site. With the sour grapes lawsuit from failed non-bidder MDK Development practically laughed out of court, the city has the green light to move forward with successful bidder S. Hekemian Group. Watch for the usual political posturing and misinformation from supporters of the MDK bid, who repeatedly (and inaccurately) claim it was equal to SHG’s but for more money. That farce is explained fully here, but Councilman Peter Cammarano and his allies will likely try to keep the myth alive that his favored developer would have been a better choice. After all, there is an election coming up, so why should the hypocrisy stop now?
Mayor Roberts improperly fired JoAnn Serrano from her post at the Hoboken Parking Utility, making way for failed Second Ward council candidate John Corea to take the top spot at the HPU. That led to a lawsuit, and a six-figure payout for Ms. Serrano. Roberts shows he isn’t holding a grudge with his re-appointment of Serrano to her unpaid position on the Library Board of Trustees.
Roberts also has a letter about his “commitment” to solar power alternatives (maybe he means solar power on the beach near his place in Mantoloking.)
Temporary Emergency Appropriations
As Joe Doria goes to court to save Dave Roberts from himself (and brush his mess under the rug) the City Council is being asked to approve millions in Temporary Emergency Appropriations again. They are also being asked to authorize the issuance of tens of millions of dollars in Tax Anticipation Notes which will generate big fees for the well-connected bond counsel Gluck and Walrath as well the firm that places the TANS, likely the ever-present HCDO house firm of NW Financial. Instead of sending out normal tax bills that reflect the true damage caused by Roberts and his overspending, the state will allow the city to borrow money in anticipation of sending out tax bills.
Read much more about tonight’s meeting after the jump…
(Hoboken City Council preview 8/13/2008, continued..)
State Monitor Coming? Who’s the BA?
Since the resignation of Dick England from his role as Business Administrator (he is still the purchasing agent) there has been no BA in Hoboken. The word from the state is they will offer three names of people who could serve as BA and monitor. That is expected to be a farce, with Doria and Turner just waiting for a trusted state employee to retire so they can hand pick her for the job.
Mo DeGennaro vs. Lou Picardo
A resolution on the agenda clears a outstanding disputed tax charge of $283.14 from back in 2004. Mo DeGennaro claims it was paid on time on behalf of the Columbian Towers senior citizen building he manages on Bloomfield Street. Tax Collector Louis Picardo apparently claimed the payment came late, resulting in the charge. The council will be asked to clear the record so DeGennaro can apply for funding for more senior housing on his complex parking lots.
How dirty is Jackson Street Park?
A few years back the Roberts Administration showed it’s dedication to public open space by taking a decrepit old public works garage site and turning it into the Jackson Street “pocket park.” Looks like the may have built a playground on a toxic waste site. Two resolutions on the agenda apply for remediation funds to test and clean up hazardous discharge at the site widely regarded as a sad excuse for a park. Note this is the same Mayor who claimed he would make sure kids would be playing soccer on 1600 Park this year. Yet another broken promise, as there’s also a resolution to apply for remediation funds for that long delayed park.
Redevelop the Police Headquarters???
It’s hard to vote on resolutions and ordinances you’ve never seen, but that doesn’t stop Roberts from putting several items on the agenda that are noted as “will be available at the meeting.” Resolution #16 says it would “Refer a proposed development plan for the Police Department to the Planning Board for review and recommendations.” It looks like Dave Roberts didn’t learn his lesson from the muni garage sale debacle and is looking to do the same with the HPD HQ on Hudson Street. Again he is looking to sell a city property that is in use to plug a budget gap without a plan to relocate the facility. Some people never learn from their mistakes. I wonder how tall Roberts promised his developer buddies they could build on the Police HQ?
New laws, new fees, less parking
Eight ordinances are on the agenda for first reading. The Mayor is looking to raise revenue through new parking meters, higher fees for some parking permits, and new recycling fees for some businesses. That last ordinance is one of those “will be available at the meeting” deals, which means the council hasn’t seen it yet.
There will also be a first reading vote on Councilwoman Beth Mason’s “Ordinance to protect Hoboken residents and taxpayers by reducing conflicts of interest and payments for municipal salaries and multiple benefits” as well as another Mason ordinance designed to open up the process of appointing people to municipal boards beyond the usual players the Mayor picks.
Western Edge Redevelopment Ordinance
When last we left the “public input meetings” on the Western Edge Redevelopment plan, the planners picked by the Mayor were continuing to tout Ursa/Tarragon’s plans for high-rise buildings regardless of public input. The plan itself is not yet public, but we have it on good authority it includes towers up to 16 stories tall. The plan becomes public after the vote tonight, and we will bring you the details in full once we have it. Are there really five votes on the council for another Ursa/Tarragon giveaway?
The meeting begins at 7pm at City Hall. Will it end before NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics tonight? Sign up sheets are put out before the meeting, but if you arrive late don’t be shy. Just put your hand up and say you wish to speak when they begin public comment on the item you came to talk about.