City Council Reorganization Recap
While yesterday was a “historic” day in Hoboken (with the Inauguration of the new Mayor & Council members) – there was “regular business” to tend to….
City Council Reorg Recap
Speaker after speaker at the inauguration of the new Mayor and City Council members repeated the same theme: “It’s time to work together to make a better Hoboken.”
Stevens Institute President Hal Raveche said it’s not time to advance the council’s agenda or the Mayor’s agenda, but the Hoboken agenda.
Council members and the Mayor alike echoed this sentiment like a “sandwich special of the day,” but there were still a few pieces of inauguration cake left as the new council majority showed just how unwilling they really were to work with the new Mayor. The honeymoon ended as quickly as it started (if there even was one beyond the post-election rhetoric.)
Here’s a recap of the reorganization meeting:
First order of business: New Council President
As widely expected, losing Mayoral candidate Dawn Zimmer was chosen to replace Nino Giacchi as Council President. The nomination was made by Beth Mason and seconded by Mike Russo, with a unanimous vote.
Peter Cunningham was elected Vice President and newly seated member Dave Mello was chosen to “represent the City Council on the Planning Board.” Most of the resolutions were the usual fiscal year-beginning housekeeping items that every council has to do. State Monitor Judy Tripodi said work was underway on the new budget with details ahead later this summer.
Some of the council meeting dates were moved around as well, with the next meeting finally scheduled for July 22nd.
Public notice posting causes consternation
Cities are legally mandated to post public notices in two daily newspapers. The problem is – very few members of the public actually see them anymore.
Since there is only one in Hudson County (that hardly anyone in Hoboken reads anyway), the council designated the Jersey City tabloid along with one of the other papers published outside the county who only run Hoboken stories involving the old SWAT Team.
Beth Mason recognized that more Hobokenites get their information from the web than they do from NJ newspapers, and made a motion to include Hoboken411 and other websites for legal notice advertising.
The new council majority balked at the move, led by Ravi Bhalla (who used Hoboken411 to advertise his law firm) and Carol Marsh, who is apparently still bitter about the truthful retrospective of her political alliance flip-flopping.
Getting Hoboken’s legal notices delivered directly to the largest readership in Hoboken is apparently not as important to these new council members as buttering up their tender, fragile egos.
Hey guys – what happened to “transparency,” “communication” and “we can’t ignore what has made Hoboken great?” SHAME on all of you!
Three Ordinances on the agenda
The first ordinance was a leftover involving the laws governing Doggy Day Care and Boarding services. It had moved through committee, so it was supported on First Reading, with a Public Hearing scheduled for the next meeting. The second ordinance was the annual housekeeping item regarding the establishment of the salaries of the Mayor, City Council and Department Heads. Zimmer balked at it saying the council “had not been given enough time to review it.” She had it pulled and there was no vote. Good job – “think about it” more, Dawn! (Try some Gingko Biloba – it works wonders!)
The Mayor appoints the directors, and the council has “Advice and Consent” to vote against the appointments. Zimmer suggested an “Ad Hoc” subcommittee be set up to “review” any of Mayor Cammarano’s yet-to-be announced appointments. Others say that is the council’s job as a whole to be done in public session and should not be done in an ad-hoc manner. The point may be moot anyway since Judy Tripodi will have the final say.
So much for “working together!”
The third ordinance placed on the agenda was seen as the new majority’s “declaration of war” on Cammarano, as well as the power of the Mayor’s office itself. What Dawn Zimmer couldn’t accomplish at the ballot box she’s looking to do through constitutional change. The ordinance “Establishing the Hoboken City Council as the appointment authority for the Hoboken Zoning Board and confirming the governing body’s role as the City Redevelopment Agency” (say that three times fast) came up for first reading and divided the council.
Former President Nino Giacchi noted that the ordinance had not gone through committee, and that a change in the law this substantial should receive proper review. Although Zimmer pulled the previous ordinance because she claimed she “did not have time to review it,” she rejected Giacchi’s exact same point on the ordinance sponsored by her buddy Mello. (“Contradiction Panini” must have been the sandwich of the day…)
Mason also spoke up, noting that the ordinance should not include both the Zoning Board and the Redevelopment Authority, which are two separate entities. If the council did nothing they would still be the sole redevelopment agency.
Dividing the government right out of the box
Russo spoke up in agreement that a vote should be put off until committee review, noting this was not in the “spirit of cooperation” with the new Mayor that the new council members had claimed to support.
He said he’d rather see the first meeting of the year continue the spirit of cooperation, not destroy it.
Mello rudely rejected the arguments and refused to table the ordinance, forcing the council members Mason, Giacchi, Russo, and Theresa Castellano to vote no while the Zimmer/Cunningham/Bhalla/Marsh/Mello robot-factory voted yes.
A public hearing will be held at the next meeting. Instead of a month of cooperation, 5 members of the council decided go with confrontation right out of the gate, appealing to their angriest (and loudest) supporters/groupies.
And away we go… comment below and strap in for a bumpy ride ahead.