A joint statement concerning the city’s proposed new contract with Suez Water, which the council is scheduled to vote on this Wednesday, Sept. 6, has been issued by City Council President and mayoral candidate Jen Giattino, Councilman Peter Cunningham, and Councilwoman and chair of the Revenue and Finance subcommittee Tiffanie Fisher.
The council members say the finance and revenue subcommittee and ad hoc infrastructure subcommittee met last week with administrators and their financial consultant.
“The primary purpose of the meeting was to review the administration’s responses to the many questions that were posed by City Council members during the council meeting on Aug. 2 concerning the proposed contract extension between Suez Water and the City of Hoboken,” reads the statement. “During our review and discussion of the administration’s prepared responses, we expressed additional concerns about the proposed contract. And we requested again to be provided with the detailed financial analysis supporting the proposal.”
According to the statement they recommended that the administration take a few steps prior to a council vote on the contract, including “to have a subsequent subcommittee meeting to address the concerns we have raised and for the administration and its consultants to meet with the entire City Council during an executive session to discuss the proposal in detail.”
Both meetings have been scheduled for this week.
“This is a critical and long-term financial and operating contract for Hoboken,” they said in the statement. ”We need to have full transparency and ensure that we are making the right decisions for Hoboken taxpayers and rate payers.”
In a separate press release Mayor Dawn Zimmer asked the council to approve the contract.
The administration says Hoboken’s existing agreement with Suez Water, which extends through 2024, only requires Suez to make $350,000 per year in capital investments in the water system. Experience with the city’s aging infrastructure has show this is less than the amount needed just to make emergency repairs. Under the existing agreement, the city is responsible for repairs exceeding $350,000 per year as well as excess bulk water costs as of 2014. The city’s current liability to Suez under the existing agreement is $8.35 million and is estimated to total $17.8 million through 2024.
According to the press release “the proposed agreement would extend the contract through 2034, forgive the existing liability, and provide an estimated $31 million investment in Hoboken’s water system. The proposed agreement would shift bulk water and capital repair costs from the taxpayer to the ratepayer.”
“Given that the proposed agreement would provide $31 million for urgently needed infrastructure upgrades, I ask the City Council take a vote on this issue at their meeting next week so that my administration can move ahead accordingly,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. ”Under the existing agreement, the city – and by extension every taxpayer – is responsible for excess repair and bulk water costs. Ultimately, that means residents are footing the bill for car washes or laundromats that use millions of gallons of water, while the proposed agreement would make ratepayers responsible for their own water usage.”
According to the press release, the proposed agreement was introduced to the council on July 11, presented and discussed at City Council and subcommittee meetings.
To read the administration’s second set of responses to council members’ questions regarding the proposed agreement, go to www.hobokennj.gov/docs/Suez-Agreement-QA.pdf. Also see our past cover story.
Battling bed bugs in senior building
Freeholder and mayoral candidate Anthony Romano held an “emergency press conference” late on Monday, Aug. 28 to raise concerns about bed bugs and other issues in one of the privately-owned senior housing buildings in Hoboken.
This is the first press conference Romano – who is running simultaneously for Hoboken mayor and for re-election as freeholder – has held in Hoboken in three years, and the first one about a purely Hoboken issue. The election is 10 weeks away.
Romano said he had heard from several residents in the 135-unit building of Columbian Towers who reported problems with bed bugs, cleanliness, unlocked gates, and more. Romano called for a solution to the serious bedbug problem, asking for the city and county health department to exterminate the pests and investigate.
When asked if he had talked to any county or city officials or health officials about the problem before holding the conference at 4 p.m., he said he had only talked to Councilman David Mello, who is on his council slate for election.
Several seniors were invited to the conference to discuss the problem.
Carla Scrudata, a resident of the building for the past eight years, said “the dirt is unbelievable.”
“The gates are left open in the back and the lights are never on in the back of the building,” she added. “It’s a safety hazard.”
Thomasina DeLauronolan, a resident of the building for 18 years said, “I have to sleep in a chair because of the bed bugs. It’s unhealthy.”
“I’ve had to go to the doctor several times because of bites to my body and face,” she added. “I was ravaged.”
According to city spokesman Juan Melli, “The Health Department has received a handful of complaints over the past few months regarding bed bugs, heat, trash, and leaks at 76 Bloomfield St. At this time, most complaints have been abated. Summonses were issued in certain circumstances, fines were assessed ($1,066), and other corrective actions have been taken.”
He added that the health department “has been continuously following up with the management company and their exterminator, which has conducted nearly a dozen treatments at the building so far.”
He added, “We encourage all affected residents to report problems to the Health Department at (201) 420-2375 so that we can thoroughly eradicate the issue.”
Mayor Zimmer offers ways to help the victims of Harvey
Mayor Dawn Zimmer knows what it’s like to cope with a devastating flood, as Superstorm Sandy ravaged Hoboken almost five years ago. Now, viewing the flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey, Zimmer is highlighting ways local residents can help the citizens in Texas.
“When Hoboken was devastated by Sandy, we received an outpouring of support and donations from organizations and volunteers from across the country,” said Zimmer. “I’ve heard from many Hoboken residents who are thinking about everyone impacted in Texas and wanting to know what they can do to help in their time of need.”
The most effective way to help is by making a direct monetary donation to reputable organizations or with a coordinated response to a direct request from a local relief organization. I will be making a donation to the Red Cross, which did tremendous work to help Hoboken recover.”
In addition to the Red Cross (Text HARVEY to 90999 to give $10 or visit www.RedCross.org to give more), other organizations that are playing an important role in the relief effort include the United Way ( www.unitedwayhouston.org/flood ), Salvation Army (www.salvationarmyusa.org/), and Heart to Heart ( http://www.hearttoheart.org ), to name a few. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has also set up the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund ( https://ghcf.org/hurricane-relief/). FEMA has set up a page with information on how to help: https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2017/08/29/how-help-disaster-survivors-texas .
Lawyer writes letter questioning whether mayoral candidate can run for two positions at once
Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano is running for reelection in November and simultaneously running for mayor of Hoboken.
North Bergen lawyer Eric Dixon, representing what he said was a “confidential client,” wrote a letter to the Hudson County clerk and state attorney general questioning whether Romano can run for both offices.
In the Aug. 22 certified letter, Dixon wrote, “My client requests your office immediately examine and rule on the legality of the candidacy of a current county freeholder candidate, already nominated by primary to appear on this November’s general election ballot, for a second elected office the candidate is reportedly seeking.”
He wrote, “It is my view that this candidate is not merely prohibited from holding two elected offices, but also prohibited from being a candidate for two elected offices in the same election.”
He said, “In addition, the adverse consequences of this dual candidacy will be severe to residents of the jurisdictions in which this candidate seeks two offices; if he wins both contests, residents – his constituents – would be deprived of all representation for one full year in the one office the candidate would be prevented from accepting.”
Dixon adds, “That is because the law would deem a vacancy to exist in the one office he declines, and the law states such a vacancy would not be filled until a special election held at the next general electing in November 2018.”
The letter additionally outlines specific sections of state law that Romano’s dual candidacy may violate, including NJ Revised Statute 19:3-5.1 which states that no candidate may appear twice on a ballot for offices that which the state constitution would prohibit “the simultaneous holding” thereof.
Candidates have until Sept. 5 to file their petitions for Mayor of Hoboken.
Six people are running for mayor of Hoboken. Freeholder Romano and Councilman Michael DeFusco are said to be splitting the same base.
DeFusco said, “The possibility that Hoboken’s representative on the freeholder board could remain vacant for up to a year until a special election, or that our seat could be appointed by politicians, not elected by the voters, is a chance that we simply can not take. Hoboken needs more representation, not less…it is shocking that Freeholder Romano would ask Hoboken residents to accept that outcome.”
Angelo Valente files petitions for Hoboken City Council
Angelo Valente filed his petitions to run as an independent candidate for City Council on Aug. 30. He’s the chair of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and was a councilman in the 1980s. Valente, a lifelong Hoboken resident, first announced his candidacy last month.
He is not running with any of the six mayoral slates.
DeFusco’s team files Hoboken council petitions
Councilman and mayoral candidate Mike DeFusco and his council-at-large slate of Michael Flett, Andrew Impastato, and Vanessa Falco each filed their official nominating petitions on Aug. 30, making them the first trio of council candidates to file as a slate.
The elections for mayor, City Council at-large seats, and school board takes place in November.
DeFusco, who had previously filed 564 petitions in July, submitted an additional 250 petitions for a total of 814.
Michael Flett filed 526 petitions, Andrew Impastato filed 540 petitions, and Vanessa Falco filed 518 petitions.
“I believe that our council team of Michael Flett, Andrew Impastato and Vanessa Falco is a true representation of the best of our city and I know that they each possess the diverse range of experiences and perspectives necessary to ensure that all Hoboken residents feel well represented on the council,” said DeFusco in a press release.
For more information about the DeFusco Team visit mikedefusco.com.
CarePoint reaches new agreement with Horizon Blue Cross
CarePoint Health announced that it has reached a new three-year rate agreement with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ).
Effective Oct. 1, CarePoint Health-Bayonne Medical Center, CarePoint Health-Christ Hospital in Jersey City and CarePoint Health-Hoboken University Medical Center will return to the Horizon Hospital Network.
The new rate agreement means that Horizon BCBSNJ members for all products, including the NJ State Health Benefits Program (SHBP), will once again be able to access CarePoint health care facilities on an in-network basis, including elective and emergency procedures.
“We are excited to partner with Horizon to move healthcare forward in Northern New Jersey,” said CarePoint Health CEO, Jeff Mandler. “This agreement allows CarePoint to continue to invest in our people and infrastructure while ensuring care for the most vulnerable among us.”
Always call your insurance or medical provider to confirm any information as to whether they will accept your insurance.
CarePoint donates funds for Hurricane Harvey relief
CarePoint Health announced Thursday Aug. 31 that it is raising funds for Hurricane Harvey relief by supporting Team Rubicon.
The company, which has hospitals in Hoboken, Bayonne, and Jersey City, is making a corporate donation and employees are personally supporting Team Rubicon and other charities providing relief.
Team Rubicon is a nonprofit organization that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.
They are currently deployed in Houston, Texas conducting floodwater rescue operations in Harris and Galveston counties.
“It is important for us all to come together as a community to support the ongoing efforts to deal with the effects of Hurricane Harvey,” said CEO of CarePoint Health Jeff Mandler. “We are all too familiar with the damage brought by coastal storms and want to do our part to enable organizations like Team Rubicon to help conduct rescue and recoveries in the affected areas.”