City Council – 9/5/2007 RECAP

10/17/2007 video flashback:

Yep, this meeting was over a month ago, but here’s another glimpse at how the City Council votes (this was about the Pier C funding, which some council members felt was incomplete, and didn’t protect the city financially).

9/6/2007 Recap:

What a downer, nothing earth-shattering transpired, especially compared to the last special council meeting. But here’s a summary:

Veteran’s Memorial – What’s the holdup?

At the beginning of the meeting the council voted to suspend the rules so members of the Hoboken World War II Veterans Memorial Committee could complain about the latest delay holding up construction. The city has apparently been planning a memorial on property it didn’t even know whether or not it owned! Construction Code official Al Arezzo has refused to issue permits for the project because he says the land is property of the Port Authority of NY and NJ, and is outside his jurisdiction.

Committee Chairman Roy Huelbig criticized Mayor Roberts and Community Development Director Fred Bado for the delay, saying they should not have assumed the land was city property, He also wanted to know when they found out it was actually Port Authority land. Mr. Huelbig is a recipient of the Purple Heart for his service in World War II. He said he has spent the last 5 years getting jerked around by the city in an attempt to get the memorial built, and he was clearly very frustrated with the administration.

Veteran Tom Kennedy said some Hoboken veterans who donated money to the memorial fund died waiting to see it built as the city has mishandled the process. Mayor Roberts gave the commission for the work to architect Dean Marchetto, a campaign contributor whose proposal for the 9/11 memorial was rejected by the public. Marchetto’s first proposal was roundly criticized, and his second was considered far too expensive. The project has been scaled down, but is now facing this new delay.

City Business Administrator Dick England told the vets the city is now seeking the proper permits directly from the state Department of Community Affairs, which has taken up residence in Hoboken because of the various investigations into the conduct and relationships of Mr. Arezzo.

Hoboken WWII memorial

READ THE REST OF THE RECAP BELOW…

Temporary Emergency Appropriations

Second ward Councilwoman Beth Mason asked why the Temporary Appropriations offered by the administration were so much larger than those approved by the council in previous years during the same timeframe. She was apparently not impressed with the answer, and was the only member of the council to vote against the spending.

Your Taxes Just Went Up!

Fifth Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham asked why the council was being asked to raise “revised preliminary municipal tax levy” by over $1,000,000.00 over last year to $29,985,555.00. Cunningham suggested the council should stick to last year’s levy and not raise taxes. He said there was no rush to drop the tax bills in the mail, and the council should not be automatically approving more spending without so much as a proposed budget.

Councilwomen Mason and Dawn Zimmer agreed and voted against the tax increase. Peter Cammarano, Ruben Ramos, Terry LaBruno, Nino Giacchi, Mike Russo and Terry Castellano voted for the 2.34% tax levy increase.

Pier C Bonding Moves Forward

In order for the city to borrow money through bonding it has to pass a bond ordinance. The Council votes to consider the ordinance on “First Reading” at one meeting, and then holds a Public Hearing and Final Vote on the ordinance at the next meeting. The administration wants to borrow $21.2 million dollars for the long delayed Pier C Park.

People were confused about why the city would need to borrow so much money for a park that is supposed to be paid for by agencies other than the city. If others are paying, why go to the expense of bonding? The administration claims the city has an $18.2 million commitment from the Port Authority and another $2 million from the state, but it did not supply any supporting documentation to the council that back that up.

Council members Mason, Cunningham, and Zimmer expressed concern about the city ending up holding the bag for the project. When pressed by the new council members, Mr. England had to admit that the “expected” $1 Million grant from Hudson County was not based in fact, but just what they hoped to get. All of these amounts are “expected”, and no provision is made for going over budget on a project that can’t seem to get off the ground.

The debate will continue at the next meeting after the Pier C bond passed on to Second Reading by a vote of 6-2-1. Zimmer said she was voting against it “until the funding is secured”. Ramos and Russo attacked Zimmer and Cunningham for supporting the open space tax, but not approving the Pier C bonding.

Public Hearings ahead for More Bonding

The First Reading on the bond ordinance for borrowing $2.2 million for Parking Utility repairs was approved by a vote of 6-3, while the $2 million dollar bond for road improvements in the Northwest Redevelopment Zone moved forward with 8 yes votes and Beth Mason abstaining due to a lack of information about the bond, which is apparently a “do-over” of the previous road bonding.

Hudson Street Traffic Light

The council voted 9-0 to pass the ordinance needed to actually turn on the traffic light at Hudson and Newark. Apparently it’s been ready for several weeks, but it’s taken this long for the administration to propose the enabling legislation to turn it on. A public hearing will be held at the next meeting.

No More Caucus!

Council President Castellano announced there would be no more 6pm caucus for the council, and that all business will be handled during the regular meetings that begin at 7pm. This comes after Councilwoman Mason noted there have been no minutes taken of the caucus meetings, which is a violation of the state open public meetings law.

Mason also noted there is plenty of business done during the caucus that doesn’t air on Channel 78, and that shortchanges the taxpayers who are watching their government in action. City Attorney Steven Kleinman said there are several issues with the council’s bylaws that apparently don’t jibe with state law brought to his attention by Mason, and he was working on changes to bring the city into compliance following his conversations with the second ward councilwoman, who is known statewide as an advocate for open public meetings and records.

9/5/2007 PREVIEW:

You’ll find a massive round of new borrowing, more rejected bids, temporary budget appropriations, and a new traffic light among the items on tonight’s City Council meeting agenda. Here’s a preview:

Over $25 Million in Bonding Proposed

Three bond ordinances are being introduced on “First Reading” to the council:

  • $21.2 Million for construction of Pier C Park
  • $2.2 Million for Parking Utility Improvements
  • $2 Million for Road Improvements

The largest is a bond to build the long delayed Pier C Park. The plan to be outlined tonight would have the city borrow the $21.2 million for the construction, and then look to get $18.2 million back from the Port Authority, $2 million from the state, and $1 Million from Hudson County. All of these amounts are “expected”, and no provision is made for going over budget on a project that can’t seem to get off the ground. Already the city has eliminated key items from the original plan, including the sand volleyball court in the original design.

hoboken-pier-c-park-hoboken411.jpg
Read the rest after the Jump!

Parking Utility Borrowing – Why?

Each year the Parking Utility brings in a windfall of three to four million dollars in revenue that the Mayor uses to plug his annual budget gap. Instead of reinvesting that revenue into new parking garages, and fixing the older ones on Hudson Street, the cash is spent to avoid tax increases that would rouse the attention of voters. Instead of using the Parking Utility Revenue to repair the garages, the council is being asked to borrow $2.2 million to get the work done.

Hoboken municipal Parking

More Bonding for Street Paving

Another $2 million dollar bond is being offered for road improvements, again planned for areas in the Northwest Redevelopment Zone where the city failed to negotiate with developers to have them fix the roads next to their new condos. The money will go to fix streets and sidewalks on Grand, Adams, 12th and 13th streets. The work also includes repairing the drainage structures in that area. Streets in the northwest wear the scars of years of heavy equipment used in the construction of new Upper Grand condos. This ordinance follows a $2 million dollar bond approved by the previous council to fix streets just east of this area before the last election.

one-thousand-upper-grand-hoboken-july-2007-4.JPG

Temporary Emergency Budget Appropriations

The first resolution on the agenda allows the city to keep spending “until such time a formal budget is adopted.” This goes on meeting after meeting until the Mayor presents his proposed budget, and the City Council works on it to their satisfaction. The council will also be asked to certify a “revised preliminary municipal tax levy” for the third and fourth quarters of calendar 2007. The tax levy is now just a hair shy of $30 million at $29,985,555.00. It wasn’t all that long ago that the entire budget of Hoboken was $30 million, and now it’s close to $80 million.

More Bids Rejected

The city received four bids ranging from $1.2 million to $2.3 million for the remediation of the Todd Shipyards site at the Weehawken Cove. Since all the bids were more than the city was planning to pay for the environmental cleanup, the administration is asking the council to reject all the bids. Another resolution gives Birdsall Engineering another $24,500.00 for its work at the Todd Shipyard north of 15th and Park.

15th-park-overturn-1.JPG

A $249,000.00 bid to install a fire escape at City Hall will also be rejected. The Fire Escape has been missing since the old building behind city hall was demolished. If this were the case in your building it would probably be deemed uninhabitable.

back-of-hoboken-city-hall-july-12-2007.JPG

New Traffic Light

A lot of people have been asking why the traffic light that was installed at Newark and Hudson still hasn’t been turned on. The answer is because the administration is just now offering the enabling legislation to the council. An ordinance to allow the light will be introduced, with a public hearing planned for the next council meeting. This may seem a little like putting the cart before the horse, because even if a bunch of people came out to oppose the light there is no chance the council will reject the ordinance and take the light down.

hoboken-light-newark-hudson-august-2007.JPG

Petitions and Communications

Mayor David Roberts is reappointing Joseph Crimmins, and appointing Walter Johnson to the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Crimmins is a former chairman of the ZBA. His brother George was Former Mayor Anthony Russo’s Business Administrator, and is now Executive Director of the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority. The police headquarters is named in honor of their father.

police-headquarters.JPG

But who gets Carmelo’s Job?

gonzo-muppet-hoboken.jpgEver since reports surfaced that City Director of Human Services Carmelo Garcia was planning to take a job as Deputy Executive Director at the Hoboken Housing Authority people have been wondering who will get his 6-figure City Hall job. Whomever the Mayor picks will need a majority of votes on the City Council, which may be difficult considering the current makeup of the governing body. There is nothing on the agenda about the position, but people are talking about it.

The council caucus begins at 6pm, followed by the regular meeting at 7pm. Walk up the front steps of City Hall and make a left toward the Council Chambers.

90 Responses

  1. Colonblow says:

    [quote comment=”42731″]However, Colonblow, Krewedetat, Katie Scarlett, FAP just have nothing positive to say other then negative attacks on people they don’t like. [/quote]

    Correction: I don’t like when elected representatives fail to represent the best interests of the residents and the city. With power comes responsibility, and I have yet to see a pattern of responsible leadership from the majority of this Council.

    [quote comment=”42731″]It is a shame this site has become something other then what it was intented to be.[/quote]

    This site has provided a voice of megaphone proportions for revealing the pathology within our Administration. And until changes are made and we find their representation acceptable, the voice will surely remain.

  2. westy says:

    Sorry upyours, I can’t buy into your fantasy.

    I too suported Carol Marsh and still do.

    The facts show Michael Russo made a deal with Mayor Roberts and sold out Carol Marsh and endorsed and campaigned with Mayor David Roberts against Carol Marsh.

    I put CC Russo and CC Castalano with CC Cammarano, etc because they have publicly said they are together and campaigned together when they defected from HCDO together to Brian Stack.
    They work in unison on the CC, so yes I and most others view them as the same.

    Michael Russo is in office because his father’s political machine put him on the ticket as replacement for his father’s CC seat when he was caught taking hundreds of thousans of dollars in bribes from a developer. To discount that is odd.

    Since you brought it up. The long standing legal contract with a firm Mr. Kenny is partner, was to finish ongoing legal work and was approved at a reduced rate. I don’t remember that ever being done before?

    The real question on Hoboken finances is not who voted for the latest “emergency funding” last week to keep the city above the sea of red ink it is floating in but why Hoboken has to keep lurching from one “emergency funding” to the next.

    With CC Russo heading R&F and his Uncle as CFO I think they need to be taking some blame and not taking bows for a job well done.

    The views of the majority of people on this site is exactly what it intended to be. You may not like them but they real and honest, something Hoboken has needed for long time.

    I have posted it many times I look at the individual candidates and decide if I can trust and support them.
    I did that with Beth, Carol, Dawn and Peter and so far I think I picked the right people.

  3. Colonblow says:

    [quote comment=”42738″]The real question on Hoboken finances is not who voted for the latest “emergency funding” last week to keep the city above the sea of red ink it is floating in but why Hoboken has to keep lurching from one “emergency funding” to the next. With CC Russo heading R&F and his Uncle as CFO I think they need to be taking some blame and not taking bows for a job well done.
    [/quote]

    100% agree Westy.
    To hear Mike Russo have the audacity to sternly tell a consitutent who questioned the same fiscal negligence, “WE.HAVE.IT.UNDER.CONTROL” when in fact the very definition of emergency appropriations signifies lack of control is the unacceptable malicious representation I refer to.

  4. beamrider9 says:

    [quote comment=”42731″]
    … one really long paragraph …
    [/quote]

    Cry me a river. The stench eminating from the corrupt, self-serving council members (like Russo, Castellano, etc) has always been there – and now because of this site, many more people know about it. Whatever you think H411 is “supposed” to be, by informing so many people, it’s succeeded in its mission and then some.

  5. estevens says:

    From the Hoboken Flood Forum column:

    [quote comment=”48816″]it is remarkable that campos and russo continue to speak in public. each and every time they open their mouths i see people watching and then chuckle. i can only assume they laugh for the same reason i do; the more time voters hear how stupid they are the less likely they will vote for them!
    the recording and broadcasting of the council meetings is the very best thing that could have happened to hoboken. i hope Dawn can cobble together the best of campos for her campaign, and then broadcast it on one of those trucks campos tortured us with for a few weeks last time! take the medicine, right campos? ha ha ha …how about clips of the rage and tiraids from russo? then splice the moronic claims by cammarano…and finally to a repeating clip of castellano saying “that’s a shame…that’s a shame…that’s a shame…that’s a shame…”
    ha ha ha ha genius.[/quote]

    Done.

  6. Westful says:

    [quote comment=”48925″]From the Hoboken Flood Forum column:

    Done.[/quote]

    What’s done?

  7. estevens says:

    [quote comment=”49098″][quote comment=”48925″]From the Hoboken Flood Forum column:

    Done.[/quote]

    What’s done?[/quote]

    The clip. Above.

  8. FAP says:

    I remember that. I also recall how 2 million dollars of the funding that Mike Russo was counting on was never even applied for. They had to amend the plan at the next meeting.

    Gosh I’m glad he’s on top of things.

  9. Katie_Scarlett says:

    So I guess my question then, about Mike is:
    Is he retarded or just stupid?

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