HOBOKEN BRIEFS

Council members defend colleague after union attack ad

Elec 825, an affiliate of the Local 825 Operating Engineers union, ran an attack ad on local TV against a Hoboken councilman two weeks ago, a strange move since the councilman isn’t even up for election.

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The union ran an ad criticizing Hoboken Councilman Jim Doyle for his “No” vote on the proposed Hilton hotel in Hoboken on Oct. 17 Doyle was the only council member who voted “no.” He voted that way even though he usually supports the administration’s initiatives.

The ad said Doyle “abandoned Hoboken’s children” for voting against the plan.

“The commercial was both troubling in its attack on Jim for his vote as it was in its messaging to all Hoboken elected officials – vote ‘yes’ or else,” said Councilman Peter Cunningham in a press release on Oct. 29. “This type of bullying by a union, or any large contributor, will not be tolerated. ”

The hotel currently proposed is 20 percent larger than what was previously passed by the City Council in April 2017, which Doyle stated he did not support.

“Jim, along with then-Councilman Bhalla before he was elected mayor, consistently voted for a more moderate hotel.  Jim, however, held to his beliefs, voted accordingly, and should not have to be subjected to such public threats,” said Council Vice President Jen Giattino in the press release.

The redevelopment agreement is with KMS Development, which plans to put a 20-story Hilton on the property behind the post office at 89 River St. The council vote was to approve the redevelopment plan. Construction may start as soon 2019.

Hoboken resident pleads guilty in vote-by-mail scheme

Hoboken resident Lizaida Camis, 55, has pleaded guilty to participation in a 2013 voter bribery scheme, according to an announcement by U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

Carpenito said Camis pleaded guilty on Nov. 8 before U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to an indictment charging her with conspiracy to use the mail to promote a voter bribery scheme during the 2013 municipal election in Hoboken.

Former city council candidate Frank Raia and campaign worker Dio Braxton have been indicted on similar charges.

According to the same announcement, Camis, Braxton, and others “at former Hoboken City Council candidate Frank Raia’s direction, [allegedly] agreed to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 each if those voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots for the November 2013 Hoboken municipal election.”

Camis and others allegedly provided these voters with vote-by-mail applications and then delivered the completed applications to the Hudson County Clerk’s office.

The Nov. 8 announcement also states that after the mail-in ballots were delivered to the voters, “Camis and others went to the voters’ residences and, in some cases, allegedly instructed the voters to vote for a rent control referendum that Raia supported.”

They then allegedly promised the voters they would be paid $50 for casting their mail-in ballots and told them that they could pick up their checks after the election at an office Raia owned.

“Bank records show that voters who interacted with Camis and Braxton received $50 checks from an entity associated with Raia,” the announcement states.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 21, 2019.

Hoboken City Council votes to remove Planning Board member

After a two-hour public hearing held during their Nov. 7  meeting, the City Council voted to remove Gary Holtzman from the Hoboken Planning Board with a 6-2-1 vote. Councilman Michael DeFusco abstained.

Holtzman was an unpaid volunteer on the board and had served since 2011.

The council’s reason was that Holtzman sent an email to developers, architects, and real estate professionals that included a list of 16 attorneys who could potentially represent applicants before the board.

Holtzman said that the list was compiled because Bob Matule, a local land-use attorney who often came before the board, was retiring and many people had asked for suggestions for a land use attorney.

Members of the council said they felt the email opened the city to potential risk and litigation. For instance, an applicant who didn’t use one of the land use attorneys on the list might feel he or she was at a disadvantage.

During the hearing, Holtzman said, “If I’m guilty of anything at all, it’s of trying to help applicants have a good experience dealing with the planning and zoning boards and expedite and improve the process for everyone involved.”

Holtzman said that in hindsight, compiling the list of attorneys and emailing it was the result of a good intention but bad execution.

Two council members who voted against removing Holtzman, Councilman Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour, who ran with Mayor Ravi Bhalla last year. Those who voted for removing him are often politically opposed to Bhalla.

For a more detailed story on the hearing, look to the Nov. 22 edition of The Hoboken Reporter.

Rockin’ Redwings march to victory in competitions

The Hoboken school district’s Rockin’ Redwings marching band placed in several competitions last month.

They won a first place trophy in the Class A Competition at the West Orange Marching Festival on Oct. 6.

They followed this performance by earning a 77.2 rating and a Silver Award at the highly competitive Wayne Hills Marching Festival on Oct. 20.

The Rockin’ Redwings earned their highest score of the season and an “Excellent” rating during the state ratings portion of the Bloomfield Marching Band Festival on Oct. 28

Marching Band Director Dave Stasiak attributes this year’s successes to a number of factors, including an expanded group of support staff and a larger student population.

Several skilled high school musicians, such as drum major Amiah Edmondson, captain Mariah Torres, and lieutenant Jared De la Rosa, have also helped to improve the musicianship of the band and will audition for Northern New Jersey’s Region I Honor Band after marching season.

The Rockin’ Redwings are also scheduled to perform once again in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. in 2019. For more information visit the Rockin’ Redwings on the web at www.rockinredwings.com.

City expands composting program 

In partnership with Community Compost Company, the city now offers free weekly curbside pickup of food scraps for local businesses and schools. The city also now offers a free compost drop off site for Hoboken residents. To get started, businesses and schools should take the short business compost pickup survey at www.hobokennj.gov/compost. To register for residential compost pickup service go to www.communitycompostco.com

The city will also visit local businesses to discuss waste disposal operations if requested. For any questions on composting or to schedule a visit, please contact Dave Calamoneri at dcalamoneri@hobokennj.gov or 201.420.2000 x4000.

A book of dreams about Bob Dylan

Mary Lee Kortes has compiled a book of dreams that musicians have had about Bob Dylan. She’ll present the book Friday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m., at Little City Books, 100 Bloomfield St., Hoboken.

With her will be Hoboken’s Guitar Bar All Stars Jim Mastro, Boo Reiners and Patrick Conlon and special guests Warren Zanes, Dave Schramm, Glenn Mercer of the Feelies, Elena Skye, Richard Barone (Bongos), The Kennedys, and Laura Cantrell.

Tickets are $40 in advance on line or in store. For more information call (201) 626-7323, or visit https://www.littlecitybooks.com/dreaming-dylan-115-dreams-about-bob

Hoboken Artists’ Studio Tour drew many

The  Artists’ Studio Tour on Saturday, Nov. 3 and Sunday, Nov. 4 drew hundreds of visitors to the city’s art studios, restaurants, and other creative venues to enjoy paintings, photography, fashion, music, and all other art forms. The free event ran both days from noon to 6 p.m.

Especially popular were two former factory buildings that now hold artist lofts and businesses: the Neumann Leather building near the city’s southern border, and 720 Monroe St. But there were also numerous individual workshops, apartments, and businesses to visit, including eight galleries.

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