HOBOKEN BRIEFS

County worker files lawsuit against Hoboken McDonald’s, alleging discrimination

According to news reports, Hoboken resident Quan Dunlap, 47, has filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s alleging the Hoboken staff discriminated against him because he was African American. Dunlap said he had stopped at the McDonald’s on Third and Washington streets after getting off work at the county’s Department of Public Works. He said that he was allegedly told he would only be served if he didn’t stay to eat at the restaurant.
After getting his food, he told the worker he wanted to speak to a supervisor he said he was told he could only stay to eat for 20 minutes because they were “getting complaints from regular customers about people like me,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit, filed in Hudson County Superior Court by Dunlap’s attorney, Louis Zayas, seeks a jury trial, punitive and compensatory damages, attorney fees and other relief as deemed by the court.
Hoboken McDonald’s did not answer four calls and an email for comment.

Guttenberg resident arrested after altercation with Hoboken Parking Utility employee

Guttenberg resident Francisco Rabelo, 32, was arrested on Aug. 31 at 10:55 p.m. after allegedly assaulting a Hoboken Parking Utility employee, according to a press release from the Hoboken Police Department.
He was charged with aggravated assault, criminal mischief, and resisting arrest.
According to the release, Officers Jason Montalvo and Giovanni Cruzado were sent to the area of First and Bloomfield streets on the report of an assault on a parking utility employee.
Officers arrived to find the victim following Rabelo, whom the officers ordered to stop. The victim told officers he was speaking with Rabelo when he allegedly became irate and knocked the victim’s cellphone to the ground, damaging it. As the officers began to speak with Rabelo he allegedly became aggressive and began to scream at them before allegedly striking Montalvo in the arm as the officer tried to distance himself. A struggle ensued and Rabelo allegedly began to resist the officers’ attempt to place him under arrest.
He was eventually subdued and transported to headquarters for processing.
Due to his behavior, he was transported to the Hoboken University Medical Center for treatment and evaluation.
A warrant complaint was generated and he was transported to the Hudson County Rehabilitation Center after being treated at the hospital.

Calling all volunteers

Hoboken Grace Community Church will host its seventh annual 1Day event on Saturday, Sept. 29 beginning at 9:30 a.m. This year, hundreds are expected to take part in making Hoboken better through a day devoted to community service.
“1Day helps build relationships with people in our community,” said Outreach Director James Sproule. “Whether people are longtime residents or newcomers, 1Day gets people working together to improve the community. Together, we can plant new gardens, paint railings, clean up garbage, and help the local non-profits, who do such great work in town. This is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbors, so invite your friends.”
At 9:30 a.m., volunteers will come together at 301 Garden St. and then spread throughout Hoboken to spend a few hours working on projects. Volunteers will work in small groups to help local organizations, such as the Hoboken Shelter, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Hoboken Housing Authority to clean, paint, organize and more. There will also be projects that take place at many of the city’s parks and playgrounds.
At 1 p.m. after the completion of the projects, the volunteers will come back together for an after-party to celebrate what was accomplished.
To participate in 1Day, sign up at www.1DayHoboken.com or meet Sept. 29, at 9:30 a.m., at 301 Garden St.

County contract with ICE to be terminated – eventually

Although the details have to be worked out, an agreement between the Hudson County Board of Freeholders and religious leaders who are suing them should lead to the termination of the county contract to house immigration detainees at the county jail and end the lawsuit challenging the validity of the contract. The approximately 800 detainees are there while waiting hearings on alleged immigration issues. There are also approximately 400 criminals in the jail.
Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise announced on Friday that the county would initiate a “Path to Exit” from its contract to hold detainees for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
The detainees are awaiting hearings on alleged violations of federal immigration laws.
Religious leaders from Jersey City and elsewhere filed suit against the county in Superior Court in late August, claiming the county violated the state’s Open Public Meetings Act when the freeholders voted in July to approve the 10-year contract.
The freeholders had originally announced they would delay the vote, then suddenly reversed themselves and put the measure up for a vote without allowing members of the public and immigrant advocates time to comment. Many activists demanded that the county use an opt-out clause to void the contract.
The “Path to Exit” would have the freeholders void the 10-year then vote on a new contract that would phase out the detainee program over a two-year period, with the goal of having no detainees housed in the jail by the end of 2020.
The jail was built to house about 2,000 criminal inmates. Bail reform and other programs have caused the criminal jail population to fall to about 400. The contract with ICE, at $120 per day per detainee, had partly been used to offset the reduction of prisoners at the jail because the facility remains fully staffed. The deal was expected to provide an estimated $35 million a year to the county.
Correctional officers unions and others have raised concerns about doing away with the ICE contract because it would likely lead to significant layoffs.
To compensate for the loss of the detainee population, the county will seek to make agreements with other entities, such as the New Jersey Department of Corrections to house state prisoners in Hudson County instead of immigrants. By seeking agreements to house other prisoners, the county might be able to maintain the current work force.
Freeholder Bill O’Dea warned the county that it may have to reduce staff in the future anyway, because there is a trend away from incarceration and towards providing other means of detaining prisoners such as house arrest and electronic monitoring.
The freeholders anticipate voting on a resolution at their Sept. 13 meeting that would prohibit ICE detainees to be housed at the jail beyond 2020 “without freeholder consent.”
The plan will also direct additional funds from the contract to be spent on services for ICE detainees during this transition period. Presently, free Legal Services are provided to all detainees for their civil detention cases.
The amount, and into what areas those dollars will go, will be worked out in future meetings with the administration, members of the freeholder board and advocates for the detainees. A survey of detainees conducted by advocates may be authorized as part of the plan.
“Just a month ago, I did not see a path that would allow us to move forward on a path to exit,” said County Executive DeGise. “I’m pleased that after what I have heard from state and federal leaders, I believe we have a consensus on how Hudson County can exit the contract in a responsible manner.”
Freeholder Board Chairman Anthony Vainieri, who attended all of the discussions with County staff and the advocates, welcomed the Path to Exit plan.
“Over the last month the county executive, my fellow freeholders, state and federal leaders and local advocates for detainees have worked constructively to make this exit plan possible, and I am proud of the work that has been done to arrive at this point,” said Vainieri. “I will urge my colleagues to support this plan because it represents a humane, reasonable approach.”
One of the most prominent elected officials critical of the county’s contract with ICE, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, welcomed the announcement from the county executive today.
“With this action, the county executive and the freeholders have begun the work of dealing with this issue in keeping with our values, while dealing with the difficult realities of governing at the local level, and I applaud that,” said Mayor Bhalla.

Making healthcare service accessible in a safe environment

Hoboken University Medical Center and Hudson Pride Center hosted their Every Woman Wellness Event last month to make health care services accessible to an underserved community and also make those services available in a safe environment.
“We wanted to reduce barriers and create an inclusive and affirming environment so that LGBTQ people felt safe in a space where they are getting healthcare,” Chief Medical Officer Meika Roberson said.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla said the event was vital to the health of this specific community.
Besides hosting the overall fair, CarePoint Health sponsored a table where participants could have their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels checked. Attendees were also able to have wellness examinations in a private-room setting, as well as participate in stress-relieving yoga or meditation in a group setting.
Ten other agencies or companies were also present at tables in the hospital’s lobby, offering women’s health-related information or services. Those groups included Massage Envy, Damien Fertility Partners, the Hudson Pride Center, Gilead Sciences Inc., Shaka Bowl, Nurturing Life Acupuncture & Wellness, East Coast Advance Plastic Surgery LLC, Hoboken Women’s Wellness, the Schweiger Dermatology Group and Om.Life Wellness Spa.
The fair was held in tandem with the inaugural Hoboken Pride Week and in observance of Hudson Pride Month. The week kicked off with a flag raising ceremony and Bhalla receiving Hudson Pride’s Evolution Award, the first time it has been presented to an elected official.
According to a press release from CarePoint Health there are at least 9 million people in the United States that are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, according to the American Cancer Society. Research confirms that the LGBTQ community has a disproportionate burden of cancer and distinctive risk factors, and that they face additional barriers to accessing healthcare.