County holds off on federal grant for immigration enforcement

Honoring a request made by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, Hudson County has put a hold on spending of a $237,449 federal grant that would have forced the county to assist in immigration enforcement. This comes in conjunction with a lawsuit New Jersey and five other states has filed against U.S. Justice Department tying federal aid to help with immigration enforcement.
The funds were scheduled to be distributed to Bayonne, North Bergen, and West New York for various enforcement activities.
Freeholder Bill O’Dea said the Board of Freeholders will review the situation “but it is my understanding everything is on hold,” he said.
Also, along with Freeholder Joel Torres, last month, O’Dea voted against renewing the county’s contract for housing immigration detainees at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny, a 10-year, $10 million contract renewal. It has drawn fire from activists throughout the county and the state.
However, the majority of the freeholders have allowed the contract to stand.
The Hoboken City Council unanimously approved a last-minute resolution on Aug 1 urging the county Board of Freeholders to terminate that $10 million contract.
Many of the 800 detainees held at the jail are not there because of crimes or immigration violations, but because they’re being detained by ICE for confirmation or legal status or other matters. The jail also has approximately 400 traditional prisoners held on criminal charges.
Under the new contract, the county will receive $120 per day per detainee held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny. This is a $10 increase from the previous contract.
The Hoboken resolution also cited six deaths that had occurred at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in the past two years, including four suicides. It also mentions visits and detainee interviews conducted by nonprofit Human Rights First, who labeled the facility as “inhumane.”
Members of the Hoboken community attended last week’s freeholder meeting. Read the story in the Jersey City Reporter starting Sunday at hudsonreporter.com.

Hoboken public hearing transcript now available

The transcript for the July 18 public hearing hosted by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers about the NY Waterway permit application on Union Dry Dock is now available online.
NY Waterway plans to turn the former Union Dry Dock property on the waterfront into their ferry homeport, where maintenance and refueling will take place. They purchased the property in November. But city officials would like the property to be open space for the public.
During the public hearing that was held at DeBaun auditorium, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers heard from over 65 officials and members of the public, the majority of whom spoke against NY Waterway’s permit application. They cited health, environmental, and quality-of-life concerns.
To read about the hearing, see our article at https://tinyurl.com/largeturnout.
The transcript is 174 pages long. It can be found at https://tinyurl.com/armypubhear.

Delegation from Villalba Puerto Rico welcomed

On Friday, Aug. 10, the city welcomed Villalba Puerto Rico Mayor Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz and members of his staff as park of a mayoral exchange program.
Hernández Ortiz and his staff toured Hoboken to learn about the impacts of Hurricane Sandy and how Hoboken accessed public and private funds to rebuild the city.
Earlier this summer, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla traveled to Villalba to see how the mountain town was affected by Hurricane Maria and what unique challenges its residents now face.
The exchange program is funded by Open Society Foundations and comes at no cost to taxpayers.
“We all remember the devastating impact Hurricane Sandy had on our city,” said Bhalla. “Nearly a year after Hurricane Maria, Villalba still needs help. Sadly, our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico have been abandoned by a federal government that has shirked its responsibility to the island. I hope that our insight and experience can help the people of Villalba get back on their feet.”
Throughout the day, Hernández Ortiz and his staff met with various state and municipal experts who will work with him on financial and logistical strategies for recovery.

Hoboken Comedy Festival seeks new talent

From Sept. 24 through Sept. 30 The Hoboken Comedy Festival will take place at various venues throughout the city.
The creators of the festival are asking for comedians to submit a six-minute video online at www.HobokenComedyFestival.org before Sept. 1 to be considered for the New Talent portion of this year’s festival.
This year, 24 New Talent Performers will be given the opportunity to perform.
On each weekday show, one of them will win another performance on one of the weekend shows, judged by a panel of industry bookers and professionals. The four selected to perform again will then have an opportunity to perform on Sunday and be considered the overall funniest New Talent Performer of the festival.
Along with the New Talent slots in the festival there are 11 headliner performances.
Comedy alums from the festival include Amy Schumer, Artie Lange, Pete Davidson, Jermaine Fowler, Nate Bargatze, Carlos Mencia, Mark Normand, Judah Friedlander, Todd Barry, and more.
This year marks the ninth annual festival. It also supports animal welfare through its partnership with the Liberty Humane Society. Each show will donate $1 per head to the society.
For more information about submitting a video, performing, getting involved, or attending, see www.HobokenComedyFestival.org.

Route 495 lane closures will affect traffic for at least two years

The state DOT was set to close traffic lanes on Route 495 starting Aug. 10. The shutdowns are part of a massive $90.3 million, state-funded rehabilitation project on the Route 495 Bridge.
The 31st Street ramp from JFK Boulevard to 495 westbound in North Bergen will be closed on some days. Traffic will be detoured onto Paterson Plank Road. On the 17th, one lane on 495 will be closed 24/7 in both directions. This will severely limit roadway capacity.
Work on the span includes repairing and reconstructing the bridge deck, replacing and strengthening its deteriorated structural steel, and repairing and painting the substructure. The project’s first phase began in September of 2017 with local street improvements.
The entire project is projected to finish around summer 2021. Motorists are advised to consider alternative routes during that time, such as the George Washington Bridge, Holland Tunnel, public transportation, or carpooling. For more information, email the DOT at DOTOutreachRT495@dot.nj.gov, or call (201) 408-8495.

Funding for school sustainability projects announced

Sustainable Jersey for Schools announced $180,000 in new funding for 50 grants to be awarded to schools and districts. Applications are due on Oct. 31 for this cycle of the Sustainable Jersey for Schools Grants Program.
The 2018 Sustainable Jersey for Schools Grants Program cycle funded by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) will award ten $10,000 grants to school districts or schools and forty $2,000 grants to support school green teams.
For more information about the Grants Program and details on how to apply, visit the Grants and Resources page of www.sustainablejerseyschools.com or follow this link: http://bit.ly/2018NJEAGrantsCycle.