The six candidates running for mayor met at the Hudson Reporter offices to answer questions about issues from parking to political intimidation. The six running for mayor are Councilman Ravi Bhalla, Council President Jen Giattino, Councilman Michael DeFusco, Freeholder Anthony Romano, business owner Karen Nason, and activist Ronald Bautista.
The debate is available online at https://tinyurl.com/y7ne3w3t.
The Quality of Life Coalition also hosted two debates for city council candidates. They can be viewed at http://www.qlchoboken.org/newsvideo.html.
The QLC will host their mayoral debate on Oct. 25 at Debaun Auditorium.
Hoboken to appeal Monarch court decision
Hoboken will appeal the Oct. 17 decision of the Hudson County Superior Court which ruled the city’s flood control ordinance did not apply to the proposed Monarch development, according to an update from the city.
The developers want to build two 11-story towers near Sinatra Drive and Shipyard Lane, with 78 residential units. The city, the Fund for a Better Waterfront, and the Tea Building Condo Association are involved in litigation to hold the development to a 1997 plan that included three tennis courts and a tennis pavilion on the North Pier.
Chief Judge of the Hudson County Superior Court Peter Bariso said, “Hoboken has provided sufficient support to show the ordinances were likely passed in response to federal and state efforts to prevent future flood damage following Hurricane Sandy.” However, he ruled that the purpose of the state law in question was “to protect landowners and developers from the inequity that occurred when application and approval efforts and expenses were rendered futile by subsequent changes to the ordinance.”
The court determined that the city’s flood safety ordinances could not legally be applied to the developer once the Planning Board’s final approval had been received by the developer.
“In essence, Judge Bariso ruled that the state legislature intended to prioritize the economic interests of property owners and developers over the city’s compelling interest in addressing an important public safety concern,” stated the message from the city. “The city will continue to litigate the matter through the appeals process to the New Jersey Supreme Court, if necessary.”
The city has also sought review by the state Supreme Court of a ruling against the city on separate Monarch-related litigation concerning whether a final Planning Board approval had in fact been automatically granted to the developer.
According to the city the Planning Board did not approve the application and instead rejected it without prejudice due to the pending litigation. That petition requesting review of the ruling has not yet been decided by the Supreme Court. The city has argued that the lower courts did not adequately consider the danger to public safety in granting automatic approval of a project raising public safety concerns, without an actual Planning Board review.
The appeals of the court decisions in these two cases are the only litigation items still pending with respect to the proposed Monarch Development. In August the city said it spent $860,086.52 on Monarch litigation.
DeFusco files ethics complaint against Bhalla
Hoboken mayoral candidate and Councilman Michael DeFusco filed an official ethics complaint against mayoral candidate and At-large Councilman Ravi Bhalla on Oct. 16.
The complaint stems from a 2014 vote Bhalla cast in favor of a redevelopment plan of NJ Transit’s Hoboken Yards property.
The possible conflict is the law firm Bhalla works for, Florio, Perrucci, Steinhart & Fader, was paid over $168,000 that same year by their client NJ Transit.
New Jersey’s local government ethics law states no local government officer or employee shall act in his official capacity in any matter where he, a member of his immediate family, or a business organization in which he has an interest, has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment.
“Hoboken residents deserve to know that their elected officials are free of any conflicts and only have their best interests in mind when they make decisions, but Ravi Bhalla has proven again and again that he can’t meet that standard,” said DeFusco in the press release.
“This is yet the latest desperate political stunt by Mike DeFusco, who is earning a well deserved reputation as the most negative campaigner in the history of Hoboken,” said Rob Horowitz, spokesperson for Ravi Bhalla for Mayor. “Councilman Bhalla has never represented NJ Transit and since he is not an equity partner, he did not and does not personally benefit in any way from the firm’s representation of NJ Transit, which are on personal injury cases having nothing to do with Hoboken politics and government.”
Fisher files complaint against DeFusco for alleged fundraising violation
Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, who has endorsed Council President Jen Giattino for mayor, filed a complaint on the following day on Oct. 17 with the Hoboken City Clerk and Corporation Counsel’s offices stating that DeFusco has violated Hoboken’s local laws which limit political contributions from PAC’s and committees to $500.
In her complaint, Fisher points to the last three ELEC reports filed under both Mike DeFusco for Hoboken Mayor and Team DeFusco for Hoboken accounts which show 15 separate contributions, several having donated more than once, amounting to over $71,000.
The majority of the PAC’s listed are affiliated with labor unions, according to Fisher.
“In 2011, this law was passed specifically to help minimize the role and influence of special interests in our elections and our local government,” she said. I have requested that the law be enforced, and that Councilman DeFusco’s campaigns be fined the maximum amount provided under the law, which is $285,600.”
“The DeFusco Team campaign is in full compliance with all relevant election laws,” stated Ryan Yacco, DeFusco Team campaign manager. “This is nothing but an attempt to distract voters from the real issues at hand in this election and the need to move on from establishment politicians like Jen Giattino who have not delivered what Hoboken needs.”
DeFusco calls out Romano’s alleged lack of disclosure
DeFusco’s campaign also issued a press release stating that Hudson County Freeholder and mayoral candidate Anthony Romano “has seemingly again violated campaign finance reporting laws by failing to file the mandatory 29 Day Pre-Election report with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission for either his mayoral or Freeholder campaigns.”
“This latest example of Anthony Romano ignoring campaign finance law and denying Hoboken voters the right to see who is funding his campaigns is simply outrageous and should be disqualifying for his candidacy,” said DeFusco in the press release.
“Team Romano is in full compliance with election law,” said Romano’s Campaign Manager Pablo Fonseca. “We will continue to focus our campaign on policies and issues relevant to the voters and residents of Hoboken. We have filed our elect reports on time for Romano for Mayor as well as Team Romano.”
According to ELEC filings reviewed by The Hoboken Reporter it appears Romano hasn’t submitted his 29-Day Pre-Election report for his mayoral campaign but he has submitted a report for the joint candidate committee he is sharing with his council slate. It shows a closing balance of just over $2,000 and it does not include disbursement information.
“I can’t control ELEC and what they post and what they don’t post,” said Fonseca. “Sometimes Election Enforcement posts things very quickly and sometimes they don’t.”
Hudson County CASA is seeking volunteers
Learn how to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer and help foster children find safe and permanent homes. The next information session will be held at Little City Books at 100 Bloomfield St., Hoboken, on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
Hudson County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a non-profit organization committed to advocating for the best interests of abused and neglected children. CASA works through trained community volunteers to ensure that needed services and assistance are made available to children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes. Hudson County CASA volunteers are everyday people who make a direct impact in foster children’s lives. They are trusted, dedicated adults who seek to improve children’s well-being. CASA volunteers get to know their assigned child and his or her circumstances and provide valuable information to the court. Judges rely on the volunteers’ recommendations to make the best decisions about the children’s futures.
For further information, visit www.hudsoncountycasa.org .
Comedic fundraiser for animals is this Sunday
On Sunday, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. Celebrate Life Studio, 1200 Park Ave., will host “The dog and Funny Show,” a stand up and sketch comedy show raising funds for Companion Animal Placement Inc.
Companion Animal Placement Inc. works with the Hoboken Animal Hospital to spay and neuter pets that are lost or without a home, and provide other services needed for pets who are abandoned or with homeless owners.
Performers include, Michele Traina, Francesca Day, Alex Cresidk, Michelle Adrienne Slonim, and Kenny Garcia.
Tickets cost $12. For more information email email@example.com or call (646) 302-9547.
Fundraising 5k for Hoboken Shelter announced
The HoBOOken 5K Halloween Run and Scary Scurry Kids’ Run will take place on Saturday Oct, 28. at 10 a.m. at Pier A Park.
Proceeds will benefit The Hoboken Shelter. Last year’s fundraiser raised over $60,000.
As in previous years, runners are encouraged to put together a team, bringing together friends, family and colleagues to complete the course and raise money for the shelter. The top fundraising team will receive dinner for six at Elysian Café, donated by Eugene and Joyce Flinn.
There are also prizes for individual fundraising. The top prize is an overnight stay at the W Hotel in Hoboken.
The Scary Scurry Kids’ Run will take place at 11 a.m. for children ages two to eight for a race down the grass at Peir A Park.
There will be awards for costumes in various categories.
Prior to the race kickoff at 11 a.m. there will be songs from PreSchool of Rock.
There will also be food from Surf Taco and other vendors, including Bean Vault Coffee and Insomnia Cookies.
Participants are encouraged to register online and registration closes Thursday, Oct. 26 at 11:59 p.m.
Registration is $35 for adults and $15 for children. On race day, it will go up to $40 for adults and $20 for children.
To register go to http://hobooken5k.com/.
Residents invited to 5 year Sandy anniversary event
The city and the Hoboken Historical Museum invite residents and visitors to an open-house event to come together as a community to reflect on Superstorm Sandy and the 5-year anniversary.
The event will take place on Sunday, Oct. 29 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson Street.
Residents and visitors are invited to view Sandy-related materials, sign the museum’s 5-year anniversary reflection book, and enjoy hot beverages and desserts together.
The Turquoise Cup, a pottery craft studio from the Monroe Center that recently fully reopened after being hit by Superstorm Sandy, will also be providing children and adults with the opportunity to create their own pottery artwork.
Meet famous ballet dancers at book signing
On Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. Little City Books, the Mile Square Theater, and Hoboken Children’s Theater, will host a reading, signing, and conversation with professional Ballet dancers David Hallberg and Misty Copeland.
The two will discuss Hallberg’s memoir “A Body of Work.”
The reading will take place at the Mile Square Theater at 1400 Clinton St.
The ticket price is purchase of one book which can be preordered at http://www.littlecitybooks.com/event/abt-principal-dancer-david-hallberg-misty-copeland and costs $28.00.
Fundraiser announced for Hoboken High School Girls Soccer Program
On Friday Nov. 17 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. the Hoboken Soccer Patrons, a local nonprofit, will host Hoboken’s first “Pasta Cup” to raise funds for the girls soccer program at Hoboken High School.
The first annual Hoboken Italian “Pasta Cup” will have top local resteraunts competing with their signature pasta dishes to win the Pasta Cup for Best in Hoboken.
Resteraunts include, Blue Eyes, Augustinos, Tratttoria Saporito, Leo’s Grandevous, Johnny Pepperoni, Otto Strata, Margherita’s, Luca Brasi, Grand Vin, San Guiseppe, and Rosticeria Da GiGi.
Attendees will vote on the restaurants pasta dishes and all food , wine, beer, and non alcoholic beverages are included with the ticket purchase.
Tickets cost $30 in advance and $40 at the door.
Tickets can be purchased at www.hobokenitalianpastacup.eventbrite.com.
Public input needed for new park
Hoboken has begun its planning process for the Northwest Resiliency Park by launching a project website, online survey, listening session dates, and public design meeting date.
The public design meeting will be held on Thursday Nov. 30 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Wallace School cafeteria at 1100 Willow Ave.
All interested in providing input in the survey go to www.hobokennj.gov/nwparksurvey.
The project website can be viewed at www.hobokennj.gov/nwpark.
Correction on factual error in last week’s cover story
Last week the Hoboken Reporter published an article on the mayoral debate the Hudson Reporter hosted in its office on Tuesday Oct. 10.
The article titled "Tensions flare during Hoboken mayoral debate" mistakenly states that candidate and At - large Councilman Ravi Bhalla would separate the department of environmental services and the department of health and human services currently overseen by Director Leo Pellegrini.
Bhalla actually stated he would keep the structure as is.
“With respect to Freeholder Romano and Council President Giattino stating that we shouldn’t have one director running two offices, I frankly think it's an insult to Director Pellegrini and the time and service he has put into the community in running two departments, one man, successfully," said Bhalla. "He has been able to cut costs and save tax dollars by consolidating two departments; he has done a great job of it. I would keep that structure there.”