Stuiver out as Hoboken Housing Authority chairman, Davis voted in with fanfare
Hoboken Housing Authority residents cheered as Robert Davis III, a longtime city resident, was elected the Authority's new board chairman on Thursday by a 4-3 vote.
Davis was nominated by HHA Commissioner Jean Rodriguez. Outgoing chairman Jake Stuiver nominated Greg Lincoln, but the measure was defeated also by a 4-3 vote.
“I'm excited, I'm nervous, and my priority is going to be to bring everything back to the people,” said Davis after the vote.
The housing authority's bylaws require it to elect a new chairman (or reelect the sitting chairman) and vice chairman each year. Stuiver also recently moved out of town.
The vice-chair position remained open as of the end of the meeting, due to deadlocked votes on nominees Commissioner Rodriguez and Commissioner and Councilman-at-Large David Mello.
After Stuiver stated a few months ago that he was moving to Pennsylvania, it was assumed he would step down as chairman, though nothing in the bylaws states that the chairman must be a resident of the municipality.
Before the vote took place, Debra Morrissette, a representative of the Columbus Gardens resident advisor board, submitted a petition requesting that the new director be a Hoboken resident.
Residents jeered Stuiver as he left the meeting immediately following the vote, and cheered for Davis as he took Stuiver's seat.
“Rob is one of us, he's there when we need him,” said one Housing Authority resident, who wished to remain nameless. “He's the type of person we need, not someone like Jake.”
Stuiver is an ally of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, and was part of Zimmer's majority on the all-volunteer housing board. But Zimmer’s power on the board diminished when Judy Burrell, who usually voted with Stuiver, broke that trend on Thursday and voted in favor of Davis rather than Lincoln.
Stuiver’s faction of the board has been criticizing HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia's work, which does not sit well with some HHA residents.
Sandra Smith, a HHA resident, said that she felt that the Housing Authority has been manipulated for political purposes in the past year, and expressed hope that Davis would change that.
“It's felt like we've been downgraded,” she said. “As residents, we should know what's going on but we always get the tail end. Rob is going to do great things for us.”
33rd District Assembly candidate drops out
Hoboken Councilman Ravi Bhalla, a candidate for the 33rd District Assembly race, has dropped out. The 33rd District includes Union City, Weehawken, Hoboken, and part of Jersey City.
Bhalla would have faced candidates endorsed by State Sen. Brian Stack in the June Democratic primary. It appeared as though he might get a better chance when five Hoboken residents filed a lawsuit to remove one of Stack’s Assembly candidates, Carmelo Garcia, from the race – but the state Supreme Court refused to hear the suit on Tuesday (see links below to prior stories about this controversy).
Late on Wednesday, Bhalla sent out a release announcing his decision, and dropping out of the race. He had harsh words for Garcia, but said nothing about Stack in the release.
He wrote, “My decision is driven by yesterday's refusal by the New Jersey Supreme Court to consider a challenge to Hoboken Housing Authority Director Carmelo Garcia's candidacy to serve in the State Assembly, while simultaneously serving as Executive Director of the HHA. As a result, it is not prudent to expend substantial resources in continuing my candidacy now. At a minimum, Director Garcia's candidacy is a blatant violation of the spirit of both federal and state laws intended to address the kind of conflict of interest represented by Mr. Garcia's candidacy. The residents of the HHA are completely dependent on the federal program administered by Mr. Garcia, leaving them particularly vulnerable to the consequences of the conflict of interest created by Mr. Garcia's candidacy, and ultimately his dual office holding since Mr. Garcia has stated that he intends to retain both positions.”
He added, “Mr. Garcia holds a highly paid, full-time public position running the Hoboken Housing Authority with a current salary of $157,500, increasing to over $172,500 over the next two years. In addition, he would receive a $49,000 salary as an Assemblyman and receives a $5,000 stipend as an aide to another elected official. … His contract with the HHA already provides him with a staggering 44 paid days off per year (almost 9 weeks - 21 vacation days, 21 sick days and 2 personal days). It is hard to fathom how he can take additional paid time off to perform his legislative responsibilities while also performing his full time responsibilities to the HHA.”
He said he wants to focus on remaining a councilman and helping his ally, Mayor Dawn Zimmer, get re-elected.
Discount cards for veterans available Wednesday, May 16 in Hoboken
Attention, Hudson County veterans. On Wed., May 15 from noon to 3 p.m. veteran discount cards will be available at the Hoboken Elks Club, located at 1005 Washington St.
To receive a card, you must bring a copy of your DD 214 form, certification of military service, driver’s license, or utility bill.
Mile Square Theatre to present ‘7th Inning Stretch’
The Mile Square Theatre will present its 11th annual play, “7th Inning Stretch: 7 10-Minute Plays About Baseball,” starting Friday, May 17 and running through Sun., May 19.
Performances will be held at 8 p.m. on Friday, 7 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday, and will take place at the Monroe Theater Space at the Monroe Center for the Arts, located at 720 Monroe Street, 2nd floor (free parking!).
Adult tickets cost $25, senior/student tickets cost $18, and tickets for the Saturday performance’s Triple Play Party, which will include drinks and food from Hoboken’s best restaurants, cost $50.
This year, the 7th Inning Stretch will include original works by playwrights Brooke Berman, Eric Conger, Edith Freni, Jay Koepke, Neil LaBute, Jon Marans, and Mat Smart
Housing Authority to hold health fair May 18
The Hoboken Housing Authority will host its 8th Annual Community Health & Wellness Fair on May 18 from noon to 3 p.m. at Mama Johnson Ball Field at the corner of Fourth and Jackson streets. The day will be filled with health information and activities for the entire family. On-site health screenings, food, entertainment and family fun will keep everyone busy while learning about a healthy lifestyle. Vendors and volunteers are needed. To register call Luis Acevedo, ROSS/Resident Service Coordinator, or Shawna Oliver at 201-798-0370 ext. 2172 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or Lisa Dortch at email@example.com.
Post office will ‘stamp out hunger’ on Saturday
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D–NJ), Rep. Albio Sires (NJ–8) and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer joined the city’s postmaster general Art Tate on the steps of the main branch of the Hoboken Post Office Friday afternoon to kick off the post office’s annual “Stamp Out Hunger” campaign, which has collected 1.2 billion pounds of donated food for hungry Americans since 1993. Postal workers will collect food donations for soup kitchens and food pantries along their routes on May 11. Leave non-perishable food donations by your local mailbox.
Monroe Center for the Arts hosting Open Studio
On Sun., May 19 from noon to 6 p.m., the Monroe Center for the Arts will present its annual Open Studio, with artists, musicians, an outdoor stage food stalls, and entertainment for the entire family. There will also be a ribbon cutting of Art on the Fence, an outdoor mural project near the waterfront on the same day.
The Monroe Center for the Arts is located at 720 Monroe Street. Admission is free, and so is parking.
For more information, call (201) 795-5000.
Menendez, Sires and Zimmer announce new hazard mitigation legislation
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D–NJ) and Rep. Albio Sires (NJ–8th Dist.) joined Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer on the corner of Garden Street and Newark Street Friday morning to announce a new piece of legislation that would expand hazard mitigation funds for states, like New Jersey, that adhere to certain construction codes.
The Safe Building Codes Incentive Act would re-allocate the Federal Emergency Management Association’s (FEMA) hazard mitigation funds so that states that enforce the International Code Council’s (ICC) building codes would be given 4 percent more grant money than states which do not. Currently, New Jersey is one of 16 states that employ the ICC’s codes.
In the six months since Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, nearly $1.4 billion in relief funding has been offered through FEMA, so, according to Menendez, “4 percent is a lot of money.”
The new law would not only help Sandy victims apply for business and residential grants to help them recover, but would also allow residents to make retroactive home improvements in order to protect them against the next superstorm. For instance, one could apply for a grant to move electrical boxes or furnaces above flood levels.
“We want to give residents the opportunity to make their homes better and stronger than before the storm,” said Menendez.
After thanking Menendez and Sires for introducing the legislation, Zimmer announced that $50,000 grants are now available to Hoboken business owners, and residential grants will soon be made available.
Sires, a former mayor of West New York, said that he and Menendez, a former mayor of Union City, understood exactly what Zimmer has been going through, and their experiences in municipal politics inspired them to introduce the legislation.
“We need to do what we can to help, we want to make sure that this bill gets through,” he said.
Sires and Menendez said that they expected minimal political roadblocks in Congress in pushing through the legislation. Menendez noted that because 16 states stand to gain significantly from its passage, the issue had become more “red, white and blue” than simply Democrat and Republican.
“We’re very confident because we’ve got bipartisan support for this,” said Sires.