Hoboken Council Meeting 3/17/2010
3/18/2010 Update #2:
24 hours later – $3.4 million less state aid for FY2011
If you think this year was bad or “not good enough,” then wait till FY 2011 when the State is expected to give $3.4 Million less to the City of Hoboken.
The numbers were released by Governor Christie today – and Hoboken is only on tap to receive $11.1 million (down from $14.5 million this year). Seems like the city has to start making real cuts – in order to keep the ship afloat. Are the Mayor and Council up to the task?
PBA Prez Lombardi reacts to council decision
Hoboken PBA Union President Vince Lombardi gives his reaction to the decision the City Council to vote down the Memo of Understandings agreed to by State Monitor Judy Tripodi:
Archived council meeting video and chat is available after the jump!
(Hoboken March 17th, 2010 City Council Meeting, continued…)
Seven hour marathon once again
The recipe we presented for tonight’s meeting was spot on. But to sum up a couple points briefly:
- The council approved a $100 million dollar budget with practically no tax break for you angry residents – which will certainly go up and up and and…
- The council decided NOT to pass the Police Union agreement for two reasons: One, so that they could “show” a negative number (albeit pennies), and two, so that they could “kick the can down the road” with the Police – which most people agree, will cost much more in the end.
More on all of this and more later…
Budget! Contracts! New and Higher Fees! Cake Boss!
Adoption of the budget, consideration of two Police union contracts, a massive hidden tax increase in the form of new and increased fees, a contract for an HCDO-connected attorney, and an appearance by the Cake Boss top the many items on tonight’s City Council agenda. Tonight’s cake recipe includes: five tablespoons of acrimony, four cups of posturing, ten pounds of hypocrisy, and a just a pinch of transparency. Mix well before placing in City Hall oven for at least six hours. You won’t see a preview this comprehensive anywhere else!
Buddy Valastro commended by the Council
The Cake Boss will make a pilgrimage across the street from Carlo’s Bakery to accept a commendation from Councilwoman Theresa Castellano “for serving as a good will ambassador promoting his First Ward bakery and the City of Hoboken to the world.
Buddy and his team made a record two Hoboken inauguration cakes last year.
Budget public hearing and final vote
With less than three and a half months left in fiscal year 2010, the budget up for approval tonight is more spending history than spending plan. City Hall is selling it as a package that offers an overall tax cut of 0.5%, even though Mayor Dawn Zimmer promised a 25% tax cut. Members of the public will be allowed to express their feelings about the budget for five minutes each at the beginning of the meeting. If you don’t like your tax bill, this is your opportunity to speak up.
Zimmer raises fees on businesses and homeowners
Revenue is down. Raising tax rates is unpopular, so what’s a Mayor who needs more money to do?
Raise fees on a myriad of licenses from restaurants to filmmakers, dog owners and anyone trying to do a little home improvement! 82 different fees will either be raised or introduced in Ordinance Z-31 tonight.
Here’s a sample:
- Plenary Retail License: Rises from $2,000 to $2,400
- Mercantile License: Doubles from $50 to $100
- Minimum Plumbing subcode fee: Doubles from $20 to $40
- Filmaking Permits: Double from $350 to $700
If your building has an elevator, the inspection fees will be going up sharply. Certificates of occupancy will also rise, along with fees for new construction and renovation. Take a look at the ordinance in the meeting package and see how much money you stand to lose.
A public hearing will be held on the
Hoboken tax in sheep’s clothing ordinance tonight before the council takes a final vote.
Police contract agreements up for a vote
As you read here first on Monday morning, the Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the PBA and PSOA bargaining units are on tonight’s agenda. The deals negotiated by Fiscal Monitor Judy Tripodi include givebacks in the areas of health care benefits, prescription drug co-pays, vacation time off, and limits to amount of days off that can be “banked” for payout later. In exchange, the unions negotiated raises in each of the years of the contract.
The vote tonight is pure political theater; Zimmer’s majority is already set to reject the MOA’s. First they’ll give their allies in the Hoboken REVOLT group the opportunity to scream and shout a bit. Watch for Revolters to play their part, but never bring up the fact that Mayor Zimmer and her Council-at-Large slate promised a 25% tax cut that will never happen.
The Hoboken411 Council Preview continues with Applications for Open Space Trust Fund money, a contract for an HCDO-connected law firm, and the latest on the Council Conflict/Pay-to-Pay controversy, BELOW!
Applications for County Open Space Fund cash
Two applications for Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund money (funded by your taxes) are on the agenda. The first requests $1,000,000 for the acquisition of Block 11 in southwest Hoboken.
That money was lost when County Executive Tom DeGise refused to support the award, and Mayor Dawn Zimmer failed to fight for it.
DeGise and Zimmer were seen at a nearly three-hour meeting at Helmer’s Restaurant last summer before the news broke that the grant was lost. DeGise is an ally of former HCDO Vice-Chairwoman Carol Marsh, and supported Zimmer with cash and campaign help in her race against former Councilman Chris Campos. (He also may have had a hand in getting Michael Lenz his job at the County’s Meadowview Campus.) The second grant application requests $1,000,000 toward the reconstruction of the waterfront walkway north of Fifth Street. The application projects the cost of repairs at $9.8 million.
Speaking of DeGise and Zimmer…
Three new $25,000 contracts for outside Redevelopment Attorneys are on the agenda, and the first has Hudson County politics and payback written all over it. The law firm of McManimon & Scotland is one of the most influential in New Jersey, and Bill Northgrave is their man in Hudson County. 10 years ago Northgrave was Chief of Staff to County Executive Robert Janiszewski before he moved to the office of County Counsel. Janiszewski eventually went to prison on corruption charges. Northgrave was not implicated in any wrongdoing, and joined McManimon & Scotland. Since then he has served as the HCDO’s legal answer to Harvey Keitel’s “Mr. Wolf” character in Pulp Fiction.
- The HCDO needs a private lawyer to protect West New York Mayor Sal Vega from a recall effort? Bill Northgrave is their man.
- The HCDO needs an attorney to help Jersey City council member Nidia Lopez fight charges her primary residence is really in Florida? Get Bill Northgrave on line one.
- HCDO-connected Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell is arrested by the feds on corruption charges? He calls Bill Northgrave for the arraignment.
- Fourth Ward Council Candidate Dawn Zimmer needs an attorney to fight charges of absentee voter fraud that could overturn her election and maybe even send people to jail? The HCDO recommends Bill Northgrave for the job!
And what a job it was. Northgrave represented Zimmer in all the embarrassing depositions that showed the ugly inner workings of a typical Fourth Ward campaign. Instead of seeing the case to its conclusion, Zimmer was advised it would be best to give up her seat and agree to a new election. Now, McManimon and Scotland is back in Hoboken, and getting a $25,000 contract through June 30, 2010 from Mayor Zimmer.
$25k contract #2 goes to Maraziti, Falcon & Healey
A second Special Redevelopment Contract on the agenda goes to Maraziti, Falcon & Healey. If that name is familiar to you it’s probably because of HobokenParks.org founder Leah Healey. She and her husband Jim Doyle have been fighting for parks and against overdevelopment in Hoboken with their time, money and expertise for many years.
Doyle also made a $500 campaign contribution to the Dawn Zimmer for Mayor campaign on 10/27/2009, and served as the Master of Ceremonies for her inauguration. At first glance that may raise some questions about whether this contract is in violation of the Hoboken Public Contracting Reform Ordinance. It isn’t, according to our Hoboken411 investigation. Here’s why…
Healey and Doyle: No P2P Violation here. 411 agrees.
Hoboken411 reached out to Ms. Healy and Mr. Doyle for clarification. Ms. Healey responded:
“Please be advised that I am not a partner in the firm nor in any way associated with the firm of Maraziti Falcon & Healey since 2008. I retired from the firm March 6, 2008 to care for an ill parent. My name is still in the firm name as is often the case even when partners retire. In September 2009, I began working part time as Special Counsel to a mediation firm Corodemus & Corodemus.” –- Leah Healey
Since Ms. Healey has not been a part of the Maraziti, Falcon & Healey firm for over two years, there is no violation of the Hoboken Pay-to-Play ordinance which forbids contributions over $300 by family members of professional services contractors within one year of the contract award. We take Ms. Healey at her well-respected word, and Hoboken411 is happy to clear the air about this before it gets muddled.
When we see a problem, we’ll tell you, like the Hoboken411 exclusive about the conflicts of councilmen Ravi Bhalla and Peter Cunningham after voting to give Paul Condon a city legal contract. That was a very different story.
And speaking of Condon, Bhalla and Cunningham…
Last week Corporation Counsel Michael Kates indicated he would present the City Council with a report on his investigation of the contracts presented to Hoboken Attorney Paul Condon. Kates, who works at the will of Mayor Zimmer, may encourage the council to discuss the business and personal relationships Condon has with Councilmen Bhalla and Cunningham in closed session. If they go behind closed doors, what will that say about the council’s dedication to “transparency”? Tune in to Hoboken411 tonight to watch it all unfold live.
Swing back at 7pm for a doozy of a meeting, live video and chat!
Video and Chat archives
THREE part video – and long 7+ hour chat!