“I believe they can in the interim entertain the interest of other organizations, particularly those from not-for-profits. I don’t believe this was the right deal for Hoboken or the taxpayers — there was too much politics and money in the process.”

- State Senator Joseph Vitale (September 21, 2011)

New HUMC owners pay $213,000 to lobbyists in 2011

Money can’t but health, but it can buy enough influence to get a sweetheart deal on a hospital…

In September 2011, State Senator Joseph Vitale, Vice Chairman of the Senate Health Committee stated there was too much money and politics involved in the sale process of Hoboken University Medical Center.

Then in October, Al Sullivan, the political columnist for Hoboken’s weekly paper, penned a story detailing how the owners of Bayonne Medical Center were using behind the scenes political dealings to influence the sale of HUMC. However, it is uncertain if Senator Vitale or Sullivan knows just how much money BMC used to influence the sale process.

Financial disclosure documents obtained by Hoboken411 report that the new owners of HUMC paid a whopping $213,000 to the lobbying firm Rosemont Associates. This firm is the home of former United States Senator Robert “The Torch” Torricelli. In addition, this $213,000 is on top of tens-of-thousands of dollars in campaign contributions made by the owners of BMC to politicians all across the state.

Was the HUMC deal in Hoboken “fair and transparent?”

You may remember in 2002, Torricelli suddenly dropped out of a competitive race for reelection after disclosure of allegedly illegal contributions to his campaign by David Chang, a businessman connected to North Korea In case you were worried about Torricelli’s well-being, don’t. It appears “The Torch” landed on his feet and has no problems putting food on the table after what many saw as an embarrassing fall from grace.

Hoboken411 reached out to a source close to another potential buyer Jersey City Medical Center. This source stated that JCMC did not employ any lobbyists to attempt to influence the sale of Hoboken University Medical Center in their favor. The source was upfront and said that a lobbying firm is currently working on a health care bill for JCMC in Trenton, but this source this explicitly stated it did not use any lobbyists with regard to the potential purchase of HUMC.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority say they ran a fair and transparent process to sell the hospital.

However, the bidder who was given the exclusive right to purchase HUMC was evidently spending a lot of money to influence politicians across the state. In fact, the owners of BMC were Rosemont Associates’ highest paying client, paying approximately $63,000 more than any other client.

And in case you were wondering – BMC paid 100 cents on the dollar to lobbyists and campaign contributions, as opposed to Hoboken’s nurses who were paid a fraction of what they were owed in a bankruptcy settlement.

Hoboken411 has asked this question in the past but these latest revelations are echoing loudly, what happened to reform in Hoboken?

Is HUMC primed to kill more patients?

1/25/2012 Update:

A Hoboken411 source wanted to share some information that may concern you all. It’s regarding the owners of the Bayonne Medical Center (who now own HUMC), and the apparent tendency for more patients to die in their care.

He said that, based on raw statistical data, once the new owners took over in Bayonne – the death rate at the hospital skyrocketed – nearly doubling that of Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) despite the two hospitals serving essentially the same demographics.

Not sure I’d be too comfortable with what happens when a hospital is put into the wrong group of hands – sounds like it could be disastrous.

Below are a few charts comparing BMC to JCMC. See some other data below…

“Stawn” On the Warpath!

11/1/2011 Update:

Watch out Hoboken, Mayor Dawn Zimmer is on the war path!

It seems the Mayor was livid that the soon to be new owners of Hoboken University Medical Center have opened up dialog with the four members of the City Council that are not rank and file members of her Green Mean Machine.

It seems the Mayor received a letter yesterday in which the new owners reiterated their commitment to give the “non-Zimmer” City Council members a designee on the new hospital board.

In addition, the letter reiterates the new owners’ desire to “involve the entire Hoboken community,” not just those who blindly follow the Mayor and her Diamond Dealing husband Stan Grossbard. Evidently those involved in the sale process were so amazed at the Shadow Mayor’s sticky involvement they deemed Hoboken’s Worst Couple “Stawn.”

Zimmer’s Rubberstamps Show Their True Colors

After the Council Minority announced the concessions Holdco agreed to, the community got to see some of the Council members’ true colors.

  • Dave Mello who lives in the 4th Ward called the concessions “bush league.” So pro-bono care for Housing Authority residents who can’t afford it is “bush league?” Or when a high school athlete is injured and can seek rehabilitation at HUMC – is that “bush league?” Very “elitist” for a wanna-be attorney who just can’t seem to ever pass that pesky bar…
  • Council President and Pay-to-Play King Ravi Bhalla also refused to acknowledge that a deal had been reached when the meeting began, even after Assemblywoman Joan Quigley urged him to do so in order to save everyone a lot of time and energy. Instead, Bhalla tricked allowed those in the room to believe the resolution would not pass in order to score cheap political points (the horror!) Bhalla’s profound and condescending arrogance has even raised the ire of long time good government advocate Helen Hirsch.

So how did the deal come about?

Late Friday evening, representatives for Holdco reached out a community leader who has a relationship with the Council Minority to open up discussions. Evidently, Holdco acknowledged the closed door process Zimmer ran and offered to allow them to designate a representative on the hospital board.

The Council members made clear that was a start but they needed an unconditional agreement to keep the hospital open for the 7 years that was promised. In addition, they made clear since Holdco didn’t have to build its own parking facility, they could invest the $12 million they were saving into expanding the hospital. When Holdco hesitated, it was made clear that if the taxpayers were not going to be fairly compensated for the deal – the referendum would move forward starting Monday morning.

This argument was substantiated by sending Holdco the commercial that would begin airing on Monday morning to kick off the petition drive for the referendum.

After getting over the initial shock of what a complete idiot Hoboken Parking Czar Ian Sacs is, Holdco realized they were no longer dealing with the rank amateurs who they took to school at every step the sale process.

They asked for 12 hours to put together a letter that would agree to the concessions being sought.

At around 4:30PM on Sunday, Holdco’s Principal signed off on the letter and the deal was set.

Now take a few minutes and think about how many times Zimmer, Bhalla, and company said the buyer “would not negotiate any further.” If that doesn’t show you Zimmer’s true colors also consider her statements that if the Hospital Sale Closing didn’t take place by Monday, the Hospital would shut down. And then think about how she once again postponed the closing yesterday. More political games from Stawn indeed…

The HUMC commercial that never aired…

Hoboken Council Minority strikes deal to save HUMC

10/30/2011 Update:

The Hoboken City Council Minority, composed of Council Members Theresa Castellano, Beth Mason, Michael Russo, and Tim Occhipinti, and HUMC Holdco, the proposed buyer of the Hoboken hospital, have reached an agreement to enact HUMC Holdco’s parking access agreement immediately in exchange for a written agreement to keep the Hoboken hospital open for at least seven years, a designee on the new Hospital board, and the establishment of several important community health programs. This will allow the sale of the Hoboken hospital to proceed immediately.

These Council members repeatedly attempted to meet with Mayor Zimmer to address the community’s concerns with the sale. However, the Mayor refused, even stating the new owners would not negotiate any aspects of the transaction. The agreement between these City Council members and HUMC Holdco, negotiated through the evening last night and today, flies in the face of the Mayor’s claims. It also demonstrates HUMC Holdco’s willingness to work with all members of Hoboken’s government and its commitment to ensure the concerns of all residents are addressed.

The agreement between these City Council members and HUMC Holdco includes:

  • An unconditional written commitment to keep the hospital open as an acute care facility for seven years.
  • An agreement to allow the City Council Minority to designate an appointee to the new hospital board. This appointment shows the buyer’s commitment to increasing community participation in the future of the hospital and allows all residents to have a voice.
  • The establishment of several community health programs as a give back in exchange for the 99-year parking agreement. These programs include pro bono medical services for low-income residents, a women’s healthcare center, a sports and alternative medicine program, and a senior citizen services program. The parking agreement allows the new owners to save approximately $12 million in costs since they will not have to pay to construct their own parking facility. These programs will compensate the community for this subsidy being provided to the new hospital owner.

After the sale’s completion Hoboken taxpayers will be relieved of the $52 million bond guarantee the City agreed to in 2007 to purchase the hospital. The new programs will help expand hospital services and strengthen the hospital’s long term viability. These City Council Members commend HUMC Holdco’s willingness to put the people of Hoboken first.

See letter from HUMC OPCO regarding this last minute deal.

Is Zimmer’s Developer Giveaway Illegal?

10/22/2011 Update:

“Enough is enough,” Mr. Booker said. “Stop giving away our land, millions of dollars’ worth of our property for pennies on the dollar to a small group of connected developers who have sweetheart deals and arrangements with our mayor.”

– The New York Times April 19, 2006

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her City Council Majority want to give away 1,000 parking spots to the Alabama based developer purchasing Hoboken University Medical Center’s land and buildings. A deal that was negotiated in secret with no public input.

However, after spending millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money for politically connected law firms it now appears an essential part of the Hospital sale contract is illegal.

N.J. Statute § 40:60-25.1 states that public land can only be leased for “periods of time not exceeding 50 years.” However, the statute requires that the lease be made only after a competitive bid process.

If the process is not competitive, but instead arbitrarily awarded then the statute states “every such lease so granted on a noncompetitive basis shall terminate not later than 10 years from the date” of inception. The process to lease out the 1,000 parking spots did not include any bid solicitations.

One of the key law firms retained in this sale process is the West Orange based firm of Trenk-DiPasquale. This law firm was home to Newark Mayor Cory Booker before he was elected. Some of the firm’s most prominent attorneys assisted Booker in stopping former Mayor Sharpe James from selling off City land to developers for “pennies on the dollar.”

Why are they now assisting Zimmer in her efforts to sell the hospital property and lease parking for pennies on the dollar?

This parking agreement is required by the Alabama developer in order to finance the hospital’s purchase. It looks like Zimmer’s failure to negotiate with all bidders is coming back to haunt her as this bidder now Hoboken residents over a barrel.

Councilwoman Beth Mason has taken her message to the airwaves with what sources indicate is a massive television buy intended to get the word out about this developer subsidy. She points out that citizens throughout the country are protesting governments subsidizing huge corporations with taxpayers’ money. It urges residents to call Zimmer’s office (201)420-2013 and tell her call off this terrible parking deal.

Tuesday night’s special meeting will see a final vote taken on this issue. You can bet that there will be lots of fireworks!

HUMC “Sale” filled with political messages in Hoboken, NJ

10/7/2011 Update:

As those who follow political deals in Hoboken know that the sale of the Hoboken University Medical Center to a politically connected buyer was approved in U.S. Bankruptcy Court yesterday.

In typical fashion Mayor Dawn Zimmer used this as a way to rewrite history and attempt to smear anyone who dares to disagree with her administration.

Zimmer claims the approval of the sale means no wrong doing was committed on her part. Except this decision was made in Bankruptcy Court, which has no jurisdiction over criminal matters. Perhaps now we have more insight on why Hoboken’s Shadow Mayor Stan Grossbard/Zimmer is a Diamond Dealer instead of a practicing attorney. Clearly the Zimmer Administration is unable to differentiate the powers and jurisdiction that each court holds.

If Zimmer really wants to prove there was no wrong doing she’ll release the depositions provided by her and the Hospital Authority Board members and release all communications she had with the buyer and the Governor’s office throughout the sale.

Until then, her claims of vindication are hollow and meritless.

Zimmer wants an “apology”

Zimmer is also calling on anyone who wanted to shine sunlight on the sale process to apologize. This includes State Senator Loretta Weinberg. Anyone notice that Zimmer refused to call on the Governor to apologize when he said someone should “take a bat” to the 76 year old Weinberg?

Nor did she call for an apology from Hoboken’s Obnoxious Zoning Board Member Nancy Pincus when for various displays of disgusting public conduct.

Zimmer and the Governor exchanged mutual endorsements in this process, but Zimmer also made quite a few enemies across the state. Something tells us this means that payback may come sometime around May 2013!

Where do we go from here?

Yesterday The Star Ledger reported that the new owners plan to expand the Hospital to include a nursing home and medical office suites. This means they will probably look to up-zone the property in advance to pave the way for a huge high rise right smack in the middle of Hoboken.

In the end, the taxpayers did receive a huge benefit because the $52 million in bonds will be paid off. But what remains to be seen is what effect that will have on the future of Hoboken.

Only time will tell.

JNESO Nurses withdraw Objections

10/6/2011 Update:

Yesterday, HUMC creditors agreed to a $10.2 million dollar bankruptcy settlement (out of $34 million). The only remaining roadblock in bankruptcy court today was the objections to the settlement and sale by the JNESO Nurses Union.

Today, the nurses withdrew their objections, paving the way for the sale.

What other roadblocks may come down the road (allegation of fraud, etc) remain to be seen.

P3 says Zimmer lied & misrepresented facts

9/29/2011 Update:

Recently, Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s office released information which claimed to justify why other proposals for HUMC were not considered. However, Geoff Teed who represents Paradigm Physician Partners (P3), said Zimmer conveniently used outdated proposals for her own political gain – and failed to disclose what is currently on the table.

He wrote:

“For the record, I believe in Mayor Zimmer’s attempt to “Correct the Record Regarding Hospital Sale” she misrepresents the following:

  1. The proposal Mayor Zimmer shared with respect to P3 is our initial response to the public RFP announced by the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority (HUMC) in July of 2010. At that time, P3′s offer of a management agreement with financing was intended as a sensible alternative to liquidating the hospital (which was on the table as an option), nothing more. In the attached Supplemental proposal submitted on Dec 10, 2010 we included an asset purchase agreement. The details of the three options offered are in the proposal document.
  2. P3′s investors remain prepared to finance this transaction assuming the seller is cooperative, willing to put aside politics and hostility, and conduct negotiations in good faith. P3′s proposal is very rich in that we are now proposing (over six months later) to assume the $35M in creditor’s claims–neither the existence of which nor the magnitude of which was known at the time we made our supplemental proposal. P3′s total deal consideration is over $120M ($51.6M + $11M (bonds & interest) + $25M (working capital & improvements) + $35M (creditor’s claims.) A transaction of this magnitude reasonably requires the supporting documentation for our investors to have the confidence that this transaction is feasible and secure. To date, we have been limited to exactly one guided tour of HUMC and despite many repeated requests by our team, we were never granted access to the level of financial and operating details necessary to develop a pro forma with enough depth to secure a firm capital commitment and letter of credit from our investors. Our investors are still waiting for the opportunity to make that commitment, but need to know that the HMHA is interested in selling it to them.
  3. P3 has not owned a hospital since, as a corporate entity, we are relatively young; howeverer, P3′s executive team consists of highly qualified CEOs who have transformed hospitals from far worse financial condition and in far worse demographic regions and P3 executives have completed several hundred million dollar hospital and health system transactions.
  4. Moreover, although our investors will own all the relevant properties constituting HUMC (not unlike the current proposal by Holdco). P3 will be operating the hospital as a nonprofit with the option to repurchase the hospital to ensure that it will remain a community health care asset in perpetuity.”

SEE THE FULL PROPOSAL HERE.

According to Zimmer: HUMC to lose 14% of workforce

1124 of 1300 Jobs retained at HUMC Hospital in Hoboken

And even more spin & misrepresentation… Throughout the whole HUMC Hospital sale debacle, Mayor Dawn Zimmer repeatedly said that 1300 jobs would be lost if the funding wasn’t provided for the bankruptcy negotiation. Over and over “1,300 jobs will be lost!” Zimmer has thrown a lot of different numbers out to the public over the last two weeks, and the figures change with each new piece of spin she puts out. Sounds like the work of a very disingenuous and self-serving politician.

Even NJ Governor Chris Christie echoed her same numbers: “It is completely unacceptable that the city council placed local politics ahead of the 1300 employees at the Hoboken University Medical Center and the people in the community who rely on the critical services provided by this hospital.”

Zimmer recently announced if the bankruptcy proceedings go through, and the sale is completed – that 1,127 jobs were offered (1,124 accepted) to HUMC employees overall – a nearly 14% reduction in jobs!

What happened to the other 170?

How does HUMC stay afloat past doomsday? Whose money?

Zimmer also said vehemently over and over – that without a sale, October 7th was the drop-dead date – and the hospital would have to cease operating because it would have run out of money.

Now, that date miraculously has been pushed back to October 17th.

Where is the money coming from? Or are they just going to refuse to pay even more bills? If outstanding debt is part of the bankruptcy negotiations, how will this extra time play into the financial equation?

Additionally – NJ Senator Loretta Weinberg couldn’t find where the openness and transparency lived, saying “Some of us are still trying to find out where the Governor suddenly found a new $5 million to add to the $11 million already in the budget for the Hoboken sale. Nice to have a bundle of $5 million stashed away in a state that couldn’t afford to fully fund poor women’s access to health care.”

Nurses getting screwed? What about Council hypocrisy?

Virginia Treacy – the head of the JNESO Nurses Union – who called the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority “Morally Bankrupt” recently – reminded everyone that beyond the $3,700,000 in unpaid sick, holiday, and vacation time, that the union took a 10% pay cut back in 2009 “to keep the hospital afloat,” and were promised those wages would be re-instated at the beginning of 2011. That didn’t happen yet as well.

And some icing on the cake. Councilman At-large Dave Mello has supported this bludgeoning of hospital union workers, and while the rest of the world faces job cuts, his NYC Teacher’s Union got a 4.3% pay raise while students in his school are performing poorly!

How do you trust a person who plays both sides of the fence for personal and political gain?

As the world turns in Hoboken…

HUMC Nurses File Subpoena for Depositions

9/26/2011 Update:

On Saturday evening, attorneys for HUMC nurses filed a subpoena requesting the depositions given by Dawn Zimmer, Toni Tomarrazo, and the rest of the Hospital Authority board. The subpoena also requests all information produced by Hudson Healthcare, the Hospital Authority, HUMC Holdco, and the City of Hoboken. Could there be any interesting emails from Zimmer’s confidential aides Dan Bryan or Juan Melli to the Governor’s Office in these documents?

Zimmer and company have done everything within their power to keep this information from seeing the light of day, but they may now have to release it. These subpoenas could mean there is no settlement between the Hospital Authority and the Creditors’ Committee, despite Zimmer’s promise to get this deal done.

If Zimmer withdraws the City’s offer to sell the hospital and closes the doors then the settlement objection that appears to be coming from the nurses would be moot and the damaging information Zimmer had to provide would stay confidential.

Perhaps this could be why Zimmer refuses to acknowledge other bidder such as P3 or the Jersey City Medical Center? Sources close to this story say the Jersey City Medical Center would agree to a deed restriction in the sale contract to hold them to their agreement to keep HUMC open as an acute care facility. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a bidder that puts their money where their mouth is?

Whether Zimmer announces the sale is off today or tries another stall tactic – expect lots of spin from taxpayer funded PR machine. Her and her husband Stan Grossbard were conspicuous in their absence from the Blue Mass honoring Hoboken’s police and fireman on Saturday. Also, some of the internet commenters commonly believed to be Mr. Grossbard-Zimmer were also very quiet over the weekend. Hoboken’s first couple, referred to by some residents as “Stawn,” were probably holed up with Michael Lenz and Tony Soares trying to figure out the best way to spin the collapse of this hot and cold deal.

Zimmer may believe she is in good hands with Lenz and Soares, but even they are starting to realize how toxic this deal has become. Anyone else notice how Carol Marsh and Peter Cunningham broke with the Zimmer Majority to support a deed restriction at the City Council meeting? Many believe Lenz and Marsh are getting ready to make a move on Zimmer before the 2013 elections. Marsh is said to be furious over the tax abatement promise in the Hospital Sale Contract and the other gaping holes that could cause her to have to vote on a possibility of the hospital becoming luxury condominiums. Evidently Marsh is afraid this could further damage her “reformer credentials” with her shrinking anti-development base. Who knows maybe Lenz may even give Zimmer a push in the wrong right direction to make sure this deal puts an end to her politically.

Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC) Historical Updates

To make it easier to scroll, click to expand updates by year, dating back to 2009.



Hoboken NJ

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