City Council Preview 4/7/2010
Meeting over by midnight!
Average length meeting tonight – with the highlight being some members council getting shamed for even thinking about limiting the right to speak of the constituents they serve.
See video replays and chat transcript after the story!
What’s on tap for the City Council tonight? Over $4 million in new spending and borrowing, changing Public Comment rules to silence critics, and rewarding more allies with Zoning Board seats. Read on for details…
$2.1 million in new spending added to the FY2010 budget
Just three weeks ago the council adopted a $99.8 million dollar budget with no real tax relief. Turns out that wasn’t the end of it!
24 (that’s right – twenty four) “Special Revenue Items” to be inserted into the FY2010 budget are on the agenda tonight totaling nearly $2,125,000. Most of these are grants and awards that are many months, even years old. Why weren’t they included in the budget? Critics say Dawn Zimmer and Fiscal Monitor Judy Tripodi wanted the budget to “appear” to come in under $100 million. These “new” items send it toward $102 million, but long after news-rag headlines about the budget have been written.
Nearly $2 million more in borrowing
The way this City Council goes out for new bonding every other meeting you’d think the Council President might be in Municipal Bond deal business. (Oh yeah, he is!) Anyway, up for introduction and first reading tonight is a $1,550,000 bond issue to construct a “prefabricated steel building” for use as the new public works garage. Where they’re going to put this prefab steel building is still a mystery. City Hall spies tell me a nearly done deal to build a new garage in the Fourth Ward was killed by Mayor Zimmer out of fear it would place appointed councilman Michael Lenz’s November Special Election in jeopardy. The city was supposed to vacate the Observer Highway garage by June 30th.
There’s also a bond ordinance appropriating $425,000 for “Various Capital Improvements and Other Related Expenses” on the agenda. This includes $185,000 for Zimmer’s pet “Flood Sensor” project, and $240,000 for Fire House backup generators.
3 more Zoning Board seats up for bid
The council’s so-called “Open Process” to name members of the Zoning Board has led to a lot of grumbling. Dog-and-pony shows with dozens of candidates have led to exclusive appointments of high-dollar Zimmer team campaign contributors. The first appointments were given to Zimmer attack dog Tony Soares and James Aibel, who gave $3000 to support Zimmer’s Mayoral campaigns. Aibel’s wife Beverly Savage also gave $2000 to Peter Cunningham’s council bid. Phil Cohen gave $3600 to Zimmer’s campaigns and was next in line for the Zoning Board. He’s second only to Keith Furman, who gave $3681 and got a Planning Board seat.
Then there’s recent Zoning Board appointee Nancy Pincus. Unlike all the other candidates, Pincus didn’t even need to show up to the meeting where she was appointed. She was apparently too busy churning out vile “grafix” attacking Zimmer’s opponents. Pincus’ latest stomach-turning work includes pictures of School Board candidates Photoshopped so they appear to be swimming in human excrement. That’s not your typical political satire. That’s downright disgusting. Pincus’ repeated abhorrent behavior wouldn’t be worth mentioning if not for the fact she’s been rewarded for it with a Zoning Board seat.
Who will get the nod for the three Zoning Board seats tonight? Will it be multiple-thousand dollar donors like Aibel and Cohen or multiple-screen name wannabe political players like Soares and Pincus? Tune in tonight to find out.
And of course, there’s the “Silence Dissent” resolution
Hoboken411 went into great detail yesterday about the cunning move by Cunningham and Carol Marsh to pass new rules severely curtailing the public’s right to speak (and what they can say) at council meetings.