Letter: What is Wrong With Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer?

Hoboken resident Kathy chimes in with an update about our local Mayor Dawn Zimmer – because she felt the need for everyone to hear what the city doesn’t want you to know.

What Zimmer does “right” is actually wrong

First of all, let’s talk about what’s right with her. She’s good at telling people what they want to hear, she comes across as sincere, and she’s great at self promotion and using anything from new city garbage cans to exploiting Hurricane Sandy destruction and bad reality shows to get her face on the internet and across television media.

The major part of her success with some constituents is her ability to communicate their needs in a theoretical way, mind you, not in the true sense of “I hear what you are saying and I will get that done.” No, Dawn Zimmer’s talent is in parroting back what voters want to hear without actually following through. A lot of politicians do this but Dawn Zimmer is especially good at this and I’ve come to the realization that voters (in my case, parents on the playground) believe in Dawn Zimmer’s sincerity because she comes across as excruciatingly plain and timid in person.

She gets criticized for her appearance by many, her lack of grooming, her casual cheap looking apparel, her obvious distaste for professional looking attire and make-up used by most female politicians, however, it’s that Plain Jane, clog and t-shirt-wearing persona that the public mistakenly equates with “sincerity.”

It’s called perception and it’s very powerful. It’s not based on any truths or facts, but it is probably the single most important influence on voters: how they perceive a politician.

2012 was NOT “the year of parks” in Hoboken

So why are so many of us so blue about the state of Hoboken? And once again, I refer to the parents I hang out with at Church Square Park or the friends I dine with in local restaurants, or meet at the dog runs. Already fully in to Dawn’s Zimmer’s fourth year as Mayor and 6th year as a Hoboken politician, why do we feel played, shafted, fooled, cheated?

There are a lot of things wrong with Hoboken and a lot of things we love about Hoboken, some of which have been done away with in recent years, but for many of us, it boils down to our quality of life and falling for Dawn Zimmer’s promise that “2012 would be the year of parks.”

Her defenders will say, Dawn Zimmer couldn’t predict Hurricane Sandy and all her efforts must go towards that and not some park land. Well, that would be a fair statement if Hurricane Sandy struck Hoboken in early 2012 but it didn’t. Dawn Zimmer made her open space promises for six years, and then in January 2012, Dawn Zimmer, wanting to replicate the President’s State of the Union address I guess, made her own State of the City address where she rattled off a long list of promises as if they were already accomplishments. Hurricane Sandy did not hit for another ten months, so what happened to the “Year of Parks” during that time?

This is where Dawn Zimmer’s defenders will shout at us about the great playground equipment that Dawn Zimmer dumped in a few parks around town. Guess what, when Dave Roberts was Mayor, we saw new equipment put in Church Square Park, a new skateboard park, the purchase of 1600 park land, the construction of Pier C park, the renovation of Madison Street Park playground, and new playground equipment put in Columbus Park (funds raised by people supporting the Debbie Williams Memorial Fund).

No one called it the year of parks because 1) playground equipment replacement and park renovation is standard operating procedure for a city and shouldn’t be deemed as an extraordinary accomplishment. 2) land acquisition for parks has been a part of the Hoboken Master Plan for many years (and by the way, Dawn Zimmer failed at building or buying any new park land.) Park maintenance and equipment replacement are expected actions that tax payers should receive without having to ask for it.

Zimmer “Promise” Report Card: F

Let’s talk about Dawn Zimmer’s promises. Here’s what she said in January 2012:

“I believe in Hoboken, 2012 will be known as the year of parks,” (Zimmer promised that 1600 Park, Hoboken Cove, and Frank Sinatra Park will be opened in 2012). “We finally have the approvals we need, and Frank Sinatra Park and Castle Point will be reopened in 2012. We will be bidding out Frank Sinatra Cafe to transform it and make it a go-to destination for our residents and visitors.” – Dawn Zimmer

Hello, Dawn? No. Didn’t happen. No Sinatra Field and no 1600 Park. And don’t blame it on a traffic light. There’s already a light at 16th & Willow and 15th & Park to provide safe access. Dawn Zimmer’s excuse that she needs another traffic light isn’t credible otherwise park activists and parents would have raised the issue over the last ten years. The land for 1600 was acquired over six years ago… and here’s what Dawn Zimmer has done with it:

And I suppose this is the city’s idea of recycled playground equipment:

“My administration will always do everything it can to ensure that new development is done in a way that does not put unacceptable additional strain on our infrastructure or transform our City from the one we love into somebody else’s development dream.” – Dawn Zimmer

If this is true, then why did Dawn Zimmer put up her own NJ Transit plan with a dozen 19-story condo towers and no open space or parks of any kind? How could her terrible plan NOT be a strain on our infrastructure?

“We have a contractor in place to upgrade the playgrounds at Jackson Street Park, Jefferson Park, and Legion Park on Willow Avenue. At Stevens Park, we’re looking to resurface the little league field, upgrade the playground, and install an indoor batting cage. Church Square Park, Mamma Johnson Field, and all our dog runs will all be upgraded this year.” – Dawn Zimmer

No upgraded dog runs.

Sure she dumped some new equipment in some current parks and also took away some vital play areas for certain age groups. I love Kompan playground equipment and think it’s fantastic in the New York parks and Jersey City’s Newport Green, but that’s because they are large parks which had the advantage of being planned by professionals with true vision and talent. Dawn Zimmer’s public meetings are meant to give us the illusion that we’re on to something special, but really, these meetings are nothing more than a hodge-podge of select vocal people who can attend the ill-timed meetings and Dawn Zimmer’s wholly incompetent City Directors and staff. This would explain why Church Square Park is a bigger mess than it was before Dawn Zimmer got into the mix. I’m dumb-founded that a woman who claims to be an open space advocate could take a historic park that at the turn of the last century had a beautiful fountain, healthy trees, and lush greenery, and instead of restoring it, contribute to it’s destruction and crazy patchwork design.

“Many of you know that I started my political career fighting for a park in Southwest Hoboken where I live. So I am particularly happy that in 2012 we will be making a down payment on that Southwest Park by acquiring a substantial piece of property using a $3 million county grant and a portion of the $20 million park bond approved by the City Council.” – Dawn Zimmer

So Dawn Zimmer started her career fighting for a park in Southwest Hoboken, and six years later she has yet to buy an inch of land there for a park. That’s called incompetence. Let’s hope she’s not waiting to use these same tired lines for her 2013 race, but we already know the answer to that.

“Another essential achievement of 2011: My Administration worked closely with North Hudson Sewerage Authority to finally get the Observer Highway flood pump online. This essential infrastructure is already helping to alleviate our City’s 100-year old flooding problem. Congratulations to Chairman Richard Wolff, Executive Director Fred Pocci, and the entire board of North Hudson Sewerage Authority. Thank you to John Nastasi, a Stevens professor, architect, and Hoboken resident, for working with the City and North Hudson to design the exterior of the pump. As a Councilperson, I advocated strongly to make certain that this was the first pump to be built. The original 4-pump plan scheduled this most important pump last, meaning the Southwest, the area with the worst flooding would have had to wait in line to receive the relief it needed. This pump is important, but we are going to keep going to solve our City’s flooding problem completely. That’s why I brought in EmNet to install sensors, and now we have data before and after the pump was installed.

The data the sensors have provided will save our City millions as we create affordable and effective flooding solutions.” – Dawn Zimmer

Okay, this isn’t directly related to Dawn Zimmer’s open space promises, but I had to throw it in because it’s ironically amusing in a very distressing way. Not only has the single pump not relieved flooding in the southwest part of town, the $300,000 that Dawn Zimmer spent on “flood sensors” over the last three years hasn’t provided us with any effective flood solutions. And here’s what the City and the sewerage authority have done with the great Hoboken waterfront walkway that was built by the county last year:


Has Hoboken become Pottersville?

And on a final note, after watching It’s A Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve, I’ve come to realize that thanks to Dawn Zimmer, Hoboken has become closer to Pottersville than we’re willing to admit.

After Hurricane Sandy, the Boys & Girls Club of Hoboken was in dire need of help, money and repair work. Prior to the storm, Dawn Zimmer had already notified them that she would be cutting off the $10,000 contribution from the city. What I don’t understand is how she could turn around and then give the YMCA $600,000. The YMCA provides low-income housing for just about 70 men in need. That’s nice, but the Boys & Girls Club provides safe refuge, meals, and mentoring for several hundred at-risk children in Hoboken. How does Mayor Potter, I mean Zimmer, defend this obvious inequity?

Never buying Dawn Zimmer’s false sincerity again (can’t afford it!!!),

Kathy P.

P S. Thanks to the Katie Couric show, not Dawn Zimmer, the Boys & Girls Club got the renovation and help it needed.