Former Hoboken Mayor Cammarano, others fined $95K for election violations
The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) has fined a former Hoboken mayor, his mayoral slate, and their campaign manager for allegedly not reporting more than $1 million in contributions.
According to the Nov. 13 New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission decision, former mayor Peter Cammarano III as well as running mates Angel Alicea, Raul Morales, Vincent Addeo, and campaign manager Lucy Truglio have been fined $95,330.
“The Respondents’ Joint Candidate Committee (‘JCC’) failed to timely report over $1,000,000 in runoff election transactions, and some of the required information was
still unreported as of the date of the court’s opinion. There are also charges of knowingly accepting excessive contributions,” states the decision.
This comes after Cammarano, who served for 22 days as mayor, was sentenced to two years in prison in 2010 after he reportedly accepted $25,000 in cash bribes. He was arrested three weeks into his term in 2009, and then-councilwoman Dawn Zimmer took over.
Cammarano was one of over 60 public officials apprehended as part of Operation Bid Rig, a statewide federal investigation into political corruption.
Two businesses challenge proposed Hoboken hotel
According to reports, two Hoboken businesses are suing the city, Mayor Ravi Bhalla, the Hoboken City Council, and KMS Development Partners over the approval of the proposed Hilton hotel along the downtown waterfront. The hotel is set to go on parking lot property next to the main branch of the Hoboken Post Office.
Hoboken Land Building LP and Hoboken Holdings LP, both located within a block of the approved hotel, filed the suit on Nov. 15 in Hudson County Superior Court seeking to have the resolutions pertaining to the redevelopment agreement declared null and void.
The suit stems from the givebacks the city will receive as a result of approving the hotel plan, including $2 million to renovate the Hoboken Community Center at the former YMCA property (see page 3 for related story), $1 million to improve infrastructure along First Street, $165,000 for infrastructure in adjacent neighborhoods, $1 million endowment to the Hoboken Public Education Foundation, $484,000 to the Hoboken Public Charter Schools, and $200,000 for Hoboken’s Affordable Housing Trust.
The reports state that the businesses believe the givebacks are an obvious quid pro quo and promote favoritism and cronyism. They also say the city is without the legal authority to require that a redeveloper make a payment to the Hoboken Public Education Foundation, as it is a non-government entity.
They also note that attendees at a recent City Council meeting — at which the vote was held — had to go through security individually, and were only admitted right at 7 p.m. when the meeting began. Thus, some had to miss the beginning of the council meeting.
Raia, Braxton plead not guilty in a vote-by-mail scheme
According to reports, former Hoboken Councilman Frank Raia and Hoboken resident Dio Braxton pleaded not guilty on Nov. 15 on charges related to an alleged vote-by-mail scheme in 2013. (See prior editions for stories on the alleged scheme.)
Raia and Braxton were released on a $100,000 unsecured bond, according to NJ.com.
In 2013 Raia allegedly directed Braxton and another Hoboken resident, Lizaida Camis, in a vote by mail bribery scheme in which some voters were allegedly paid $50 to cast mail-in ballots and vote a certain way.
Raia was on the ballot for a council seat and also supported a municipal referendum to weaken the city’s rent control laws.
Camis, 55, who has already pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to promote a voter-bribery scheme, has not yet been sentenced. She faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Two high-ranking City Hall employees move on
The city administration has announced the upcoming departures of Director of Community Development Brandy Forbes and Communications Manager Santiago Melli-Huber.
Director Forbes, who has worked for the city since 2009, will spend her last day in Hoboken City Hall on Dec. 7.
Spokesperson Melli-Huber, who was hired in March of this year, will serve his last day on Dec. 14.
“I greatly appreciate the service to our mile-square that both Santiago and Brandy demonstrated during their tenure working for the city,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla in a press release. “I wish them well on their next endeavor and in their professional careers.”
According to the city press release, replacements for both positions will be announced before the New Year.
Residents invited to Climate Action Plan meeting; last day for survey
Hoboken residents are invited to a community meeting to discuss the city’s Climate Action Plan currently under development. The meeting is scheduled for on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Multi-Service Center, at 124 Grand St.
The Climate Action Plan will outline the city’s path to carbon neutrality by 2027. As part of this effort, the city is currently quantifying Hoboken’s baseline of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
On Nov. 1 residents met to discuss potential climate actions and have since been invited to review the presentation and take an online survey to help the city gather information. The online survey ends Nov. 30 and can be found at www.hobokennj.gov/climateactionplan.
Hoboken Charter School Teacher wins Mentor of the Year at robotics tournament
On Saturday, Nov. 16, the Hoboken Charter School sent three middle school teams to the Montclair Society of Engineers New Jersey First Lego League Qualifying Tournament.
HCS robotics advisor and middle school math teacher Christopher Kunkel won the Mentor of the Year award at the tournament. Kunkel was nominated by Hoboken Charter School students for this award for his dedication to the school’s robotics program, which he established ten years ago.
HCS teams have been working since the summer to design and build a robot to earn points in this year’s game, “Into Orbit.” Teams were also responsible for creating a project around a solution to a problem associated with long-term space travel. The fifth grade team won the Judges’ Award for their work on their project. The judges commended the team for creating a website to share information about their team and the project.
The seventh and eighth grade team won the Robot Design Award for their advanced coding using sensors. The team also earned an invitation to the state championship later this year.
Hudson County Community College to offer $15 minimum wage
After Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise issued an executive order granting a $15 per hour minimum wage for all non-union county employees, Hudson County Community College (HCCC) President Chris Reber announced the university has done the same.
HCCC adopted a resolution to pay all non-union employees – including part-time staff – the $15 per hour minimum pay. The HCCC Board of Trustees approved implementing the wage increase resolution at its Nov. 20 meeting.
Jersey City Medical Center announces community events calendar
JCMC has announced its most recent calendar of community events, open to the public and covering everything from support groups for cardiac and cancer patients, shopping for healthy food on a budget, quitting smoking and, of course, BINGO. For more information on the medical center’s community events, visit https://www.rwjbh.org/site-search/?C=community+events.
The General Cancer Support Group, beginning Nov. 21, meets from 1-2 p.m. on the 3rd Wednesday of every month, and is designed to provide positive support for women who are currently being treated for, or are survivors of breast cancer. For more information, call Katherine Fromm (201) 915-2073.
The Let’s Talk Nutrition Healthy Shopping Nutritional Support Group (Bilingual), beginning Nov. 21 and meeting from 12 -1 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month. For more information, call Candice Pimentel (201) 984-1591 or (201) 424-3226.
The Thanksgiving Feeding Program with the Philippine Nurses Association takes place on Nov. 25 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. For more information, contact Cristina.Campaner@rwjbh.org
The Jersey City Medical Center Cardiac Support Group begins meeting on Nov. 26 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. on the last Monday of every month. For more information, contact Susan Weiss, RN, MS: at (201) 384-2751 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The hospital’s Bingo Night Social hosted by JCMC Patient Navigation begins Nov. 29 from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. and meets on the fourth Thursday of every month. For more information, call Kimberly Dawson at (201) 388-6000.