Hoboken City Council 2/2/2011: Recap

2/3/2011 Council Meeting Recap:

What would have been a one-hour council meeting in any other town went on for four hours last night at Hoboken City Hall. Here’s the only recap that cuts through the BS:

Rent Control ordinance: pulled, again.

The Rent Control law revisions were on the agenda for First Reading, but new city Rent Leveling Board Attorney Victor Afanador needs more time – and $50,000 – to finish the thing off. This led to the usual screaming and yelling from advocates of tenants and landlords alike. Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s poor management of the City Attorney’s office (3 different Corporation Counsels so far!) continues to put a drag on progress.

Car towed? May have to leave town to get it back!

Hoboken residents who get towed today can at least take solace in the fact that they currently only have to go to the northern part of town to retrieve their vehicle at the local tow yard.

That’s not going to happen in the future, if car-hating city Traffic Director Ian Sacs has anything to do with it. Sacs’ Utopian view of Hoboken includes bike lanes everywhere and cars only available as rentals by the hour (only from his pals at Hertz, not the other guys at Zipcar).

After the city recently went out to bid for towing services, the current contract holder – Hoboken’s own Mile Square Towing – came in as the lowest bidder. Now Sacs wants to re-bid the towing contract so people are forced to travel up to five miles outside of Hoboken to get their towed cars back. 5th ward Councilman Peter Cunningham actually said he didn’t care if people had to go to New York City to retrieve their cars.

Occhipinti moves Mama Johnson Field forward

Just days after getting NJ Transit to stop their bus drivers from clogging one of the worst intersections in the city, 4th ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti is moving forward with yet another of his campaign promises.

Occhipinti secured council support for a feasibility study for improving Mama Johnson Field on the grounds of the Hoboken Housing Authority. The idea is to fix the field so it can be engineered and available for use by more people at more times of day, including some of the non-HHA sports teams that have been displaced from the crumbling fields the Zimmer Administration has failed to repair.

The HHA teams would get a better field, and the non-HHA teams would get a new place to play if the feasibility study is successful.

Zimmer: undermining Pay-to-Play law for political gain?

Major changes in Hoboken law are supposed to be vetted through City Council committees.

Any proposed change in the city’s Pay-to-Play laws are expected to be run by the people who wrote them at People For Open Government, as well as their partners at the Center for Civic Responsibility. The laws have been carefully written to withstand potential court challenges on First Amendment grounds. So far they’ve held up, but Mayor Dawn Zimmer is putting politics ahead of reform by attempting to muddy up Pay-to-Play laws with potentially unconstitutional campaign finance rules that could put the entire ordinance in legal jeopardy.

Why would she do this? If you guessed “politics” and “spring council elections,” you’d be right.

See much more on the truth behind this power grab, after the jump!

Just before the City Council meeting last night, Zimmer slapped 18 pages of proposed law down on the council, and had her henchmen – Cunningham and Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla – demanding an immediate vote.

Council President Beth Mason – a founding member of both Hoboken POG and the NJ Foundation for Open Government – objected to the last minute add-on. Mason noted there is a procedure for proposing new law, and the administration did not meet deadlines for presenting the final ordinance to the council for proper review. Later in the meeting POG President Alice Crozier also indicated her group was not given the opportunity to review the changes to the law they originally sponsored, and noted some of the additions were outside the scope of the original Pay-to-Play ordinance.

What is in the ordinance exactly?

Hoboken’s anti-Pay-to-Play ordinances restrict how much money certain groups who do business with the city can donate to candidates they are seeking contracts from.

If a law firm wants a contract, they are limited in what they can donate under the Public Contractor Pay-to-Play law. If a developer wants a Redevelopment Contract, they are also restricted. Pay-to-Play is restricted only to these groups seeking to do business with the city. As part of normal review of the ordinances, POG has advocated for minor language improvements and changes to keep in sync with the latest state laws. Nobody on this council is likely to oppose such changes after a normal review.

So what happened?

In her contrived and scripted “last-minute dash” to jam this ordinance through, Zimmer took a page out of the Mike Lenz school of political ambush.

The Mayor put a highly questionable – and possibly unconstitutional – new clause in the updated ordinance that has nothing to do with Pay-to-Play law. It was a kind of Trojan Horse designed to embarrass them. The idea was to create a false storyline for her most rabid supporters to claim that the five council members who do not support her in lock-step are against updating the Pay-to-Play law. In a nutshell, the new clause is specifically designed to make it difficult for her opponents to use 100% legal Hoboken Political Committees to raise money for the spring City Council Campaign.

Though Zimmer herself accepted several thousands of dollars from Political Committees in her runs for office, she’s now trying to stop her opponents from doing the same.

Zimmer & Cunningham: Concerned about May elections

The move to limit the amount of money fellow council members can raise for their colleagues from legal, NON-Pay-to-Play sources is seen as a sign Zimmer’s allies and handlers are very concerned about the upcoming election in May.

Zimmer was shocked at how badly she was beaten in her home ward as Mike Lenz lost not only in to overall total, but on the voting machines as well. He lost because there was enough money in the Occhipinti campaign to tell the truth about Michael Lenz to a public that had never elected him. Now with Zimmer’s public approval ratings at all-time lows, she’s trying to make it harder for her opponents to fund their campaigns.

Misusing the term (Wheeling) for political gain

The Zimmer line is her changes will stop “Wheeling” but she and Cunningham either don’t understand what Wheeling is, or hope you – the public – don’t really know what it is, but know that it’s bad and that she is supposedly trying to stop it.

“Wheeling” is when a lawyer with a contract to do business in Hoboken is precluded from making a large campaign contribution, so they “wheel” it by giving the money to a South Jersey political committee, which then turns around and gives the money to the Hoboken candidate. That’s wheeling. Wheeling is not when one Hoboken City Council member has a committee that gives a legal contribution to a candidate for Hoboken City Council.

If Zimmer and Cunningham really want to know how Wheeling works they should ask their ally Ravinder S. Bhalla, who has given several thousands of dollars to political committees that have been suspected of wheeling as part of his Pay-to-Play efforts to secure no-bid legal contracts in cities like Newark and Union City. More on that to come. The ordinance was tabled for discussion in committee.

Have four hours to kill? Watch video archives here.

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21 Comments on "Hoboken City Council 2/2/2011: Recap"

john14
Member
john14

kenon10 most certainly supports anything this administration does, right or wrong. They love recruits like that. Easily pliable. 😕

KenOn10
Member
KenOn10

It sounds like Mile Square was not just the lowest bidder but the only bidder. Think we got the best deal? FWIW, Mile Square is not very convenient for most people in Hoboken. Some places in JC might actually be better.

Always an axe to grind around here…

Alpuj
Member

It is very very common for something to be re-bid if not enough bids (especially if there is only 1) recieved. So if that was the case, then a re-bid isn’t that unusual of a request.[quote comment=”202904″]It sounds like Mile Square was not just the lowest bidder but the bidder. Think we got the best deal? FWIW, Mile Square is not very convenient for most people in Hoboken. Some places in JC might actually be better.Always an axe to grind around here…[/quote]

4th Ward Guardian
Member
4th Ward Guardian

MST is not convenient for most people in Hoboken? Really? Did you seriously write that? Here’s a reality check for you: The seediest tow yards in the worst parts of Jersey City are technically less than 5 miles away. Do you really want young Hoboken women going to high crime areas of Bergen-Lafayette, Greenville and other parts of JC at night to retrieve their vehicles? Ever get lost in a bad part of JC at night? It’s no fun.

Ever try to drive out the JC Lowes on Rt. 440 during rush hour? It’s only 4 miles from the Hoboken City line. It can easily take a half-hour to get there.

I’ve never had my car towed by MST, but if I did I could walk there from the 4th ward. To save time I could jump on the 2nd street light rail and get off at 9th street. Hell, I could even spend $5 on a 3 minute cab ride. It’s ridiculous to say MST isn’t convenient to Hobokenites. Somebody at City Hall (Sacs?) has a beef with MST and/or has a bidder in mind they want to steer this to. Nothing changes but the faces.[quote comment=”202904″]It sounds like Mile Square was not just the lowest bidder but the bidder. Think we got the best deal? FWIW, Mile Square is not very convenient for most people in Hoboken. Some places in JC might actually be better.Always an axe to grind around here…[/quote]

KenOn10
Member
KenOn10
You could walk from the 4th ward to MST… then you’d find you have to go the police station to for paperwork to get your car released. Google maps has a walk from HPD to MST as 1.7 miles, taking 33 minutes. Hop on the 126, walk from 15th, still takes 20 minutes and you know what? It isn’t Mr. Rogers Neighborhood back there either. <> Think so? If you have proof, do us all a favor and air it out. Otherwise, lay off the innuendo and let them take more bids. MST might even have to drop their bid to compete. [quote comment=”202912″]MST is not convenient for most people in Hoboken? Really? Did you seriously write that? Here’s a reality check for you: The seediest tow yards in the worst parts of Jersey City are technically less than 5 miles away. Do you really want young Hoboken women going to high crime areas of Bergen-Lafayette, Greenville and other parts of JC at night to retrieve their vehicles? Ever get lost in a bad part of JC at night? It’s no fun.Ever try to drive out the JC Lowes on Rt. 440 during rush hour? It’s only 4 miles from the Hoboken City line. It can easily take a half-hour to get there.I’ve never had my car towed by MST, but if I did I could walk there from the 4th ward. To save time I could jump on the 2nd street light rail and get off at 9th street.… Read more »
4th Ward Guardian
Member
4th Ward Guardian
Listen Mr. Fearmonger, there’s not a single square inch of my city I’m afraid to walk through. Anybody who needs Google Maps to get around Hoboken is beyond hope. My guess is Mr. On10 lives in the upper crust brownstone-lined 5th ward. Lots of great people uptown, but also lots of snobs like Peter Cunningham who look down on the rest of the city. Just because Mile Square Towing isn’t surrounded by brownstones doesn’t mean it’s in a dangerous area. It’s parking lots, the sewer plant, Carpe Diem, the new movie theater, and the new biergarden on the way. Hardly Hunts Point! There’s nothing in Hoboken anything like the worst parts of Jersey City. The HHA looks like Trump Riverside South compared to parts of Greenville and Bergen-Lafayette where you might have to go get your towed car if Sacs has his way.[quote comment=”202922″]You could walk from the 4th ward to MST… then you’d find you have to go the police station to for paperwork to get your car released. Google maps has a walk from HPD to MST as 1.7 miles, taking 33 minutes. Hop on the 126, walk from 15th, still takes 20 minutes and you know what? It isn’t Mr. Rogers Neighborhood back there either. Think so? If you have proof, do us all a favor and air it out. Otherwise, lay off the innuendo and let them take more bids. MST might even have to drop their bid to compete. [/quote]
KenOn10
Member
KenOn10

Wow, it’s like you know me all my life! I AM a fear-mongering snob who looks down on the rest of the city!

You partisans see everything in black-and-white… i.e. Sacs was appointed by Zimmer, who opposes your man Occhi… so anything and everything Sacs does or thinks about doing must be evil. Spare me.

[quote comment=”202927″]Listen Mr. Fearmonger, there’s not a single square inch of my city I’m afraid to walk through. Anybody who needs Google Maps to get around Hoboken is beyond hope. My guess is Mr. On10 lives in the upper crust brownstone-lined 5th ward. Lots of great people uptown, but also lots of snobs like Peter Cunningham who look down on the rest of the city. Just because Mile Square Towing isn’t surrounded by brownstones doesn’t mean it’s in a dangerous area. It’s parking lots, the sewer plant, Carpe Diem, the new movie theater, and the new biergarden on the way. Hardly Hunts Point!There’s nothing in Hoboken anything like the worst parts of Jersey City. The HHA looks like Trump Riverside South compared to parts of Greenville and Bergen-Lafayette where you might have to go get your towed car if Sacs has his way.

[/quote]

escaped68
Member

I’m very familiar with the parts of jersey city that you are talking about. so, I’ll give you a little advice if your car gets towed and put in a lot in indian country leave it your life is worth more then any car.[quote comment=”202927″]Listen Mr. Fearmonger, there’s not a single square inch of my city I’m afraid to walk through. Anybody who needs Google Maps to get around Hoboken is beyond hope. My guess is Mr. On10 lives in the upper crust brownstone-lined 5th ward. Lots of great people uptown, but also lots of snobs like Peter Cunningham who look down on the rest of the city. Just because Mile Square Towing isn’t surrounded by brownstones doesn’t mean it’s in a dangerous area. It’s parking lots, the sewer plant, Carpe Diem, the new movie theater, and the new biergarden on the way. Hardly Hunts Point!There’s nothing in Hoboken anything like the worst parts of Jersey City. The HHA looks like Trump Riverside South compared to parts of Greenville and Bergen-Lafayette where you might have to go get your towed car if Sacs has his way.

[/quote]

HobokenMutz
Member
HobokenMutz

Pay-to-Play is when a vendor, contractor, or other professional service makes campaign contributions to public officials, party officials, or parties themselves, and receives political benefits such as no-bid government contracts, political appointments or nominations, special access or other favors.

There have been plenty of political appointments made to candidates who wrote big check during the last election cycle. Here are some of the most disgusting examples of pay-to-play:

Jake Stuiver contributed $3,850 to Dawn Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign and was appointed to the Hoboken Housing Authority.

Keith Furman contributed $3,681 to Dawn Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign and was appointed to the Planning Board.

James Aibel contributed $3,000 to Dawn Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign and was appointed to the Zoning Board.

Phil Cohen contributed $2,300 to Dawn Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign and was appointed to the Zoning Board.

Jonathan Metsch contributed $1,500 to Dawn Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign and was appointed to Swine Flu Task Force and Hoboken Hospital Authority.

Forde Prigot contributed $950 to Dawn Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign and was appointed to the Library Board.

Perhaps the Mayor should reform how the City sells off seats on our boards instead of using taxpayer money to fight political opponents!

Tunamelt
Member

Regarding Metsch – I just reviewed the ELEC reports online – his overall contributions to Dawn Zimmer in 2009 equal $2,000. [quote comment=”202900″]Pay-to-Play is when a vendor, contractor, or other professional service makes campaign contributions to public officials, party officials, or parties themselves, and receives political benefits such as no-bid government contracts, political appointments or nominations, special access or other favors. There have been plenty of political appointments made to candidates who wrote big check during the last election cycle. Here are some of the most disgusting examples of pay-to-play:Jake Stuiver contributed $3,850 to Dawn Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign and was appointed to the Hoboken Housing Authority.Keith Furman contributed $3,681 to Dawn Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign and was appointed to the Planning Board. James Aibel contributed $3,000 to Dawn Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign and was appointed to the Zoning Board. Phil Cohen contributed $2,300 to Dawn Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign and was appointed to the Zoning Board. Jonathan Metsch contributed $1,500 to Dawn Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign and was appointed to Swine Flu Task Force and Hoboken Hospital Authority.Forde Prigot contributed $950 to Dawn Zimmer’s Mayoral campaign and was appointed to the Library Board. Perhaps the Mayor should reform how the City sells off seats on our boards instead of using taxpayer money to fight political opponents![/quote]

4th Ward Guardian
Member
4th Ward Guardian

Thank you Councilman Occhipinti for continuing to put the 4th ward first! Fixing Mama Johnson field so it can be enjoyed by everyone in the city is a great idea. Hoboken needs more high quality playing fields on terra firma. It’s stupid to waste another 12-20 million dollars repairing a soccer field on a crumbling pier that wil just have to be fixed again in another 10 or 20 years. Just look at what they’re telling us about Pier A. They told us they built it to be indestructible and now a decade later they want us to stick another 3-5 million dollars into it! We need parks on dry land.

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