Belfiore plan saves 5 Police jobs
Zimmer team adopts old plan for cops in the HHA; cut layoffs
Under tremendous pressure from the public and PBA, Mayor Dawn Zimmer has agreed to a plan for policing the Hoboken Housing Authority first proposed by Perry Belfiore nearly two years ago.
This proposal will take five police positions off of Zimmer’s chopping block and streamline the way the HHA pays the city for additional police protection. It will also decrease police protection for the rest of the city.
Instead of overtime, the HHA will pay for beat cops
Several years ago, the HHA paid private security contractors for additional patrols, with limited success.
Later, the HHA contracted with the city to hire off-duty police officers to patrol the “projects” to the tune of over $500,000 a year. While the off-duty cops didn’t suffer from the same ethical lapses allegedly involving the security guards, there was always the issue of what the additional overtime hours did to the quality of policing.
Under the HPD’s Outside Empolyment Plan, Police Officers could voluntarily sign up for HHA-paid overtime at to cover late shifts. If no officers signed up, the HHA would be left without additional patrols.
Hoboken Police Housing Bureau proposed
The City would still receive the half million dollars a year in HHA funds to compensate for the manpower, but the officers would be on their regular duty shifts starting the day as fresh as possible.
This plan was supported by other commissioners including City Councilman Mike Russo, but never approved by Zimmer and her City Council majority.
In fact, they refused to re-appoint Belfiore to the board and instead chose another candidate who had given thousands of dollars in contributions to Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign!
Belfiore urged council to do this as late as Sept. 1st
Belfiore was still beating this drum at the September 1st council meeting, where he again proposed it as a means to save police jobs on Zimmer’s chopping block:
Lo and behold! Last night the HHA approved the Belfiore plan, and 5 layoff notices will be rescinded. Here’s where the story goes south. Instead of giving credit where credit is due, Zimmer’s public relations team decided to go political.
See more on the Mayor’s disingenuous effort to give no credit to those who actually proposed the plan, and who and why she did give credit to instead, after the jump!
Deconstructing another twisted Hoboken press release
Now that you know who actually came up with this idea, let’s take a look at what Zimmer’s PR spin team came up with in the form of a press release posted to the city’s website after 8 o’clock last night.
The hype-heavy headline was “City Agreement With Housing Authority Will Establish Police Bureau To Increase Safety, Save Taxpayers Money, And Save Police Jobs.”
Read the truth between the lines
Here’s what it said, and the Hoboken411 Fact Check to go with it.
- “The Hoboken Housing Authority voted unanimously tonight to agree to a shared services agreement with the City of Hoboken to establish a Hoboken Housing Authority Bureau that will work in close coordination and partnership with resident patrols, community groups, development managers, and the HHA Executive Director to effectively reduce crime and aggressively target violations and other conditions that detract from the quality of life for residents in the Hoboken Housing Developments and the surrounding area.”
411 comment: That’s all well and good, but which genius came up with a lead sentence that goes 75 words? Holy run-ons, Batman! Maybe Minister of Misinformation Juan Melli was looking to match 75 words with the $75,000 a year he is being paid? Somebody get an English teacher over to City Hall, stat!
- “Over the last few weeks, a lot of work went into making this happen,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “I’m especially thankful to 4th Ward Councilman Michael Lenz for strongly advocating for the establishment of this Housing Authority Bureau which will improve safety for Housing Authority residents, save taxpayers money, and save five police jobs.”
411 comment: Here’s where the political BS meter goes off the charts! In the third sentence, Zimmer throws a bone to the un-elected councilman up for election in November. The release showed up on Michael Lenz’s election website right after the city released it, making it even more obvious this was a political – and not public informational – communication. Lenz had nothing to do with proposing this plan. ZIPPO!
- “One Police Sergeant and four Patrolmen will be assigned to patrol the Housing Authority area during peak activity hours between 8pm and 4am. Previously, through the volunteer OEP program, off-duty police were paid overtime to patrol the area. This agreement will replace the existing $540,000 OEP program and will not cost the taxpayers of Hoboken anything. By establishing a consistent presence of assigned personnel, the program will improve safety by allowing officers to build ties with the community.”
411 comment: That’s a paragraph Belfiore could have written himself. Nearly two years ago.
- “The agreement also calls for the creation of a Public Safety Resident Council made up of a cross-section of Housing Authority residents who will meet regularly with the Authority’s Executive Director and provide community feedback on police and security issues. In addition, the City will also install a direct telephone line in the office at 4th and Harrison Street for use by Authority residents.”
411 comment: Gosh, a direct line? You mean HHA residents won’t have to go through Ernestine the Operator to reach the city anymore? Don’t be surprised if that “Direct Line” is disconnected after the November election.
- “By empowering residents and giving them a role in improving the quality of life in their community, this agreement will make our City safer while cutting costs,” said Councilman Ravi Bhalla, Chairman of the Public Safety Committee.
411 comment: How does the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee – who admitted at the last council meeting he has never met with Chief Falco to discuss the Police Department – get a quote in the release? Oh yeah, he’s with Zimmer. Politics, again. And again. And again.
- “This was truly a team effort,” added Mayor Zimmer. “I want to thank Public Safety Director Alicea for developing the plan, Police Chief Falco for his active support of this initiative, and Corporation Counsel Tabakin and Housing Authority Director Carmelo Garcia for working closely to iron out the details.”
411 comment: OK, so now Zimmer is spreading more congratulations. Let’s start with Public Safety Director Alicea, who is a leftover from the Peter Cammarano Administration. Alicea spent many years as an HHA commissioner before Zimmer installed Hector Claveria. When Alicea was a commissioner he actually opposed the plan that Zimmer is now giving him partial credit for. Just over one year ago this is how the Tim Carroll reported the story in the local paper:
“Commissioner (and 3rd Ward Councilman) Michael Russo asked whether it would be better to have a dedicated division of the Police Department for the HHA. He said the authority could use the same $540,000 they are spending now on permanent crew of Hoboken’s finest. Alicea agreed, but provided another option. He said the Union City Police Department uses “Class II” officers, or part-timers who work five or six hours per day at a rate reduced from full-time employees. “Class II” officers also do not receive health benefits, Alicea said.– Hoboken Reporter, 9/13/2009
At the time, members of the HHA board questioned whether Class II officers would be any more effective than the old private security details, and Alicea’s suggestion muddied the waters. The important point is that the plan Belfiore and Russo were supporting a year ago is what Zimmer is taking credit for now.
The agreement is subject to approval by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the City Council. Mayor Zimmer has agreed to delay the layoff of five patrolmen pending the approval of this agreement by the City Council on October 6, 2010 and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Five young cops Zimmer put on the chopping block will now be paid for by another branch of Hoboken government, the Housing Authority. Meanwhile, those five officers will no longer be patrolling the rest of the city. Does that make Hoboken safer? Share your opinion in the comments section.
Simply posting spin-filled City Hall press releases without context is at best irresponsible and at worst scurrilous complicity in a conspiracy to defraud the public.
411 will keep bringing facts to the table as long as you keep coming back for more.