Friday, October 24, 2014

NJ Assembly: DO it CALIFORNIA-Style


Correct me if I'm wrong: the United States Constitution was written and ratified in Philadelphia, (east coast)- not Malibu (west coast).

Which means, the world’s longest surviving written charter of government, the US Constitution,   ratified in 1788, that burst out of the gate in with these three words: "We the People..." was birthed here (east coast) not there (west coast). 

And three years later in 1791, the Bill of Rights- the first 10 Amendments of the Constitution- were ratified by the state of Virginia (east coast).  Amendment Numero Uno, GA's personal favortie, is this one:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
How great is it that?  The bedrock of American democracy, freedom of speech and religion, was birthed HERE, geographically speaking.

Wait... it gets even better.

GA is a born-and-raised New York City gal, but New Jersey is my home, and it's probably yours, too.  So,  you will be thankful  to hear that New Jersey, of any state, has among the highest protections for speech, in particular, political speech, even greater than those in the U.S.Constitution.  It's true!

Don't believe me? From a recent Hudson County Superior Court ruling:
New Jersey has particularly high regard for the protection of speech, as our State’s Supreme Court has found that New Jersey’s Constitution offers protections “more sweeping in scope than the language of the First Amendment, has supported broader free speech rights than its federal counterpart.” Sisler v. Gannett Co., 104 N.J. 256, 271 (1986). Indeed, our Supreme Court, through rulings, and our Legislature, through lawmaking, “have stressed the vigor with which New Jersey fosters and nurtures speech on matters of public concern. Id. Furthermore, political speech “lies at the core of our constitutional free speech protections.” Mazdabrook Commons Homeowners' Ass'n v. Khan, 210 N.J. 482, 499 (2012)(internal citation and quotation omitted).
Okay, so now that we are reminded of the (geographical) source of  our most fundamental freedom, freedom of speech- HERE, and in particular NEW JERSEY, GA asks:

WHY aren't citizens protected from SLAPP suits HERE (NJ), like they do THERE (CA)?

The almost-good news is that New Jersey, currently one of the states with ZERO  anti-SLAPP legislation, is finally waking up to the need for it.

MSV reported yesterday:
On October 9th, the Assembly Judiciary Committee passed a bill that will provide a measure of relief to defendants and make well-funded entities think twice about filing a SLAPP.  Bill A3505 assesses a $10,000 fine for SLAPP suits brought in bad faith and creates a process for a defendant to obtain quick dismissal and recover his or her costs.
$10,000 fine?  Are they KIDDING?  

Yeah, a $10,000 fine to a wealthy SLAPP underwriter, who can afford to 5 or 6 or 7 figure litigation costs is MEANINGLESS. A slap on the wrist would hurt more.  Sorry, back to the drawing board.  Bill A3505  slaps the SLAPPers with a feather. 

NJ Legislators, humble yourselves and look west.  California knows HOW to SLAP the SLAPPers with powerful and effective legislation. Take a look at THESE statutes among others posted on the California Anti-SLAPP Project web site:

Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16
California’s anti-SLAPP statute provides for a special motion to strike a complaint where the complaint arises from activity exercising the rights of petition and free speech. The statute was first enacted in 1992.

Code of Civil Procedure section 425.18
This statute was enacted primarily to facilitate the recovery by SLAPP victims of their damages through a SLAPPback (malicious prosecution action) against the SLAPP filers and their attorneys after the underlying SLAPP has been dismissed. It provides that the prevailing defendant attorney fee and immediate appeal provisions of the anti-SLAPP law do not apply to SLAPPbacks, and that an anti-SLAPP motion may not be filed against a SLAPPback by a party whose filing or maintenance of the prior cause of action from which the SLAPPback arises was illegal as a matter of law.


How hard would it be to copy those statutes from THERE to  HERE?  Really, just copy-paste.  

It is an absolute DISGRACE that New Jersey is not BETTER protecting it's citizens from frivolous lawsuits designed to chill free speech, like online political discourse, when our own State Constitution elevates free speech protections above those of the U.S. Constitution.  

 Maybe SLAPP victims will have to lobby the state for better legislation.   Here are some folks to contact, to ask for California-style Anti-SLAPP legislation:  

Senator Brian Stack - (201) 721-5263 Email: SenStack@njleg.org
Assemblyman Raj Mukherji- 
(201) 714-4960 Email: AsmMukherji@njleg.org

 (Courtesy of horae on MSV)

Assemblyman
Jon M. Bramnick (R)
(Republican Leader)

DISTRICT OFFICE ADDRESS:
251 North Ave. West
2nd Floor
Westfield, NJ 07090
PHONE NUMBER 908) 232-2073

Senator
Stephen M. Sweeney (D)
(Senate President)

DISTRICT OFFICE ADDRESSES:
935 Kings Highway
Suite 400
West Deptford, NJ 08086

199 East Broadway
1st Floor
Suite G
Salem, NJ 08079
PHONE NUMBERS 856) 251-9801 (West Deptford)
(856) 339-0808 (Salem)

ELECTRONIC MAIL:Contact Your Legislator(s)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Evolution of Reform: The Next Wave

by Gregory Bond
Public School No. 6 at Willow and 11th Streets c. 1907- 1914 (credit: Hoboken Historical Museum)

As someone who's assisted reform slates in every school board and city election since 2009, I've occasionally thought about a future where we'd get past the stark "good versus evil" state of Hoboken politics to arrive at a more nuanced, normal state of political affairs. When I describe Hoboken's bloody knuckle political scene to friends from the Jersey suburbs, they're amazed. They're amazed that millions of dollars were pillaged from the public schools, that the current mayor's private emails were wiretapped, that a sitting councilman agreed to accept a bribe from an FBI informant, that two of our recent mayors (Russo and Cammarano) were jailed for corruption, and that's just a small sample off the top of my head.

The Long Path to Reform

But you see, this corrupt state of affairs has a very long history in Hudson County, as recounted in the excellent books Five-Finger Discount and Killing the Poormaster. Until recently it was understood that whoever won a majority would loot the taxpayers to reward friends, family and business partners. And this is how Hoboken operated until 2009 when a majority of reformers were elected to the Public School Board, and a reform mayor was elected to City Hall.  At the city level, the path to reform has been rocky. Since 2009, Mayor Zimmer has only had majority support in City Council for two years: between November 2009 and November 2010 when Michael Lenz served as interim Fourth Ward Councilman, and since November 2013 when James Doyle was elected Councilman-at-Large. In contrast, the Kids First reform slate have maintained a majority on the Hoboken School Board since 2009 and not surprisingly, they have accomplished a lot. So much so, that I think we may be on the cusp of a long-awaited change in Hoboken's political climate.

How Corruption Survives

As I've written about elsewhere, Hoboken started to actively encourage gentrification in the mid-80s aiming to refill nearly empty coffers. On the one hand, there was resentment directed towards the "newcomers" that came to occupy the new developments. On the other hand, the money started flowing again. Moreover, the newcomers were, generally-speaking, politically ignorant.

Today's Hoboken is famous as a temporary home to 25-35 year old young professionals, renting shares, getting their careers on-track, partying, meeting life partners, and then moving to the suburbs a few years later to settle down and have families. I can tell you that, as someone who's accompanied candidates door-to-door canvassing over the years, I've been through big rental buildings where virtually no one is registered to vote nor interested in registering to vote. Local politics just isn't on their radar. Hoboken is only a temporary stop on the road of life. And this suited the corrupt powers-that-be perfectly.

Over the years local voting blocs were created and exploited by Hoboken's old established political factions. Some of these blocs still exist, primarily in the city's assisted housing developments and in the Third and Fourth Wards, parts of the city that haven't yet been overrun with new developments. Although these blocs get smaller each year as long-time residents sell and move out, retire to somewhere more affordable, or simply die, they've been a force to reckon with given the relative apathy of the vast majority of Hoboken's population. 

When they're not squabbling amongst themselves and join forces, these blocs can win elections that disrupt and even set back reform. Some examples: in 2010 Tim Occhipinti was elected Fourth Ward Councilman with an unprecedented number of vote-by-mail submissions from paid "campaign workers." In 2011, Michael Russo, fresh from being exposed for agreeing to accept a bribe from an FBI informant, was re-elected Third Ward Councilman. That same year, in a record-low voter turnout, three school board seats were lost to Peter Biancamano, Francis Rhodes-Kearns, and Carmelo Garcia - individuals I shall return to shortly who, needless to say, are no friends of reform.

Plundering The Schools

On the topic of voter apathy, I hope you know that there's an election November 4th. And, along with the inauguration of Cory Booker, which isn't generating much voter interest, there are also three positions up for election on the nine seat Hoboken Public School Board, which should be generating voter interest. Why? Because historically, the school board has served as a big fat loot bag to be plundered and, despite a reform majority since 2009, there are still a lot of people with their eyes on the prize. What might they do if they get their hands on it? We only have to look back to the 2004-06 budget years for a graphic example. When the Kids First reform slate gained a majority in 2009 one of the first things they discovered was a 297 page KPMG audit of the 2004-06 budgets that had been buried by the non-reform majority at the time.

Here are a few of the many KPMG audit "lowlights." Over 1,000 improperly documented employees on payroll, including employees on payroll after termination and even after death. Outsourcing janitorial services while simultaneously retaining 60 janitors on payroll.  Almost $2 million in unapproved vendor overpayments. Expense-paid junkets to Atlantic City for board members and their friends. Tens of thousands of dollars spent on lavish steak dinners, floral arrangements, and "beverages." Even dipping into student-raised funds for non-student expenses. No wonder the audit was hidden. And who were members of the Board majority overseeing all of this? Frank Raia, Francis Rhodes-Kearns (currently running for re-election to the board), and Carmelo Garcia. For those who aren't familiar with Hoboken's political landscape, it's helpful to get to know Frank Raia and Carmelo Garcia a little better because they loom large in this year's School Board election.

Raia, Garcia and Their School Board

Frank "Pupie" Raia is a wealthy local real estate developer, born and raised in Hoboken. You may know him from the lavish public birthday parties he throws for himself every summer in Hoboken's parks. Not only has Raia served on the School Board, but he's also run for Mayor and City Council on numerous occasions.  And when he's not running for office he's helping others run, including School Board slates, most notably in 2011 when Carmelo Garcia, Francis Rhodes-Kearns and Peter Biancamano swept the School Board elections. Raia knows how to leverage his wealth to mobilize voting blocs and this year he's supporting Rhodes-Kearns and Biancamano again. 

Frank Raia (credit: nj.com)


Carmelo Garcia, also Hoboken born and raised, is a career politician, holding positions at the School Board, City, County, and now at the State level as a newly elected Assemblyman. Until recently Garcia was also Executive Director of the Hoboken Housing Authority (HHA), a position he was selected for in 2009. The HHA manages over 1,300 low income housing units across six locations in Hoboken and, historically, Garcia has garnered significant numbers of votes from these blocs, not just for himself but also for candidates he chooses to back. Like Frank Raia, Garcia is also supporting a School Board slate this year consisting of three of his loyal supporters: Brian Murray, Lynn Danzker, and Patricia Waiters.

Carmelo Garcia (credit: nj.com)


I've already mentioned Garcia and Raia's time on the School Board, the same time millions of tax dollars were diverted away from students and classrooms. Why was this happening? 

Raia, a successful businessman, certainly didn't need anyone to pay for his steak dinners. But perhaps it's nothing more than good business sense: why spend your own money when you can spend someone else's? As a real-estate developer, Raia's business partners range from law firms to building contractors, all of whom would appreciate business coming their way. He also has plenty of friends who would appreciate well-paying jobs with benefits. Some notable examples: Hoboken Superintendent of Schools from 2007-2009 Jack Raslowsky, Hoboken Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools from 2007-2009 Anthony Petrosino, School Board Secretary from 2005-2010 David Anthony. All are good friends of Raia's (Raslowsky and Petrosino are boyhood friends, and Anthony was a business partner), all were hired when Raia sat on the school board, and all were provided with excessively generous compensation and benefits. So much so that the Kids First reform majority discovered that both Petrosino's and Anthony's contracts were found to flout State contract laws and guidelines.

The icing on the cake is that both Petrosino and Anthony maintained full-time jobs during their employment with the School Board. Incredibly, court transcripts reveal that Petrosino, during his tenure with the School Board, was also employed by the University of Texas in Austin, rented an apartment in Austin, and had a Texas drivers license. (Interesting side note: Raia and Petrosino are now Board members for a local charter school whose annual budgets and audits are mostly missing from their website.) 

As for Garcia, favors are the currency of politicians, and the School Board provides plenty of opportunities for doling them out. In 2006 Garcia was found guilty of violating the New Jersey School Ethics Act for voting to award a job to his brother, and another job to his boss at the time, former Hudson County Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons. More recently, Garcia was fired from his position as Executive Director of the Hoboken Housing Authority for, you guessed it, lax oversight of the HHA's multi-million dollar budget. A preliminary audit ordered by the recently appointed HHA board reform majority has found, among other things, $3 million of “unjustified non-competitive procurement.” A full audit has yet to be completed.

Despite not holding a School Board majority since 2009, Garcia and Raia still hold out hope that if they persevere, especially in the face of voter apathy, they will eventually regain control of the Board and its budget. This isn't a pipe dream. They swept the Board election in 2011 when only 4,000 people cast votes out of roughly 36,000 eligible voters. They're politically astute and know that this year's election has the hallmarks of a low turnout, winnable election. Now let's take a brief look at their slates and what might be motivating them to run. 

Garcia's Volatile Slate: Murray, Waiters, Danzker

Garcia's slate, consisting of Brian Murray, Patricia Waiters and Lynn Danzker, would explode were it not for Garcia working hard to keep it together. After all, how can Lynne Danzker, who was recently awarded a "Jewish American Heritage Award" by none other than Assemblyman Garcia, be running-mates with Garcia's former paid aide, Patricia Waiters, who made what were considered anti-semetic remarks at an HHA meeting earlier this year, and then recently retracted a public apology for those remarks?

Apart from reprehensible rants at public meetings, Waiters is known as a Hoboken fixture who regularly runs for positions on City Council and the School Board, and speaks frequently at public meetings. And over the past year, the relationship between Garcia and Waiters has been close, as Waiters repeatedly spoke in defense of Garcia at HHA meetings. Waiters' voting base has grown over the years, so one can only assume that Garcia, hoping to garner support from Waiters' base, has instructed Murray and Danzker to ignore Waiters' assertions that there are too many Jews in real-estate and too many Jews appointed to City boards.

Upon receiving her Jewish Heritage Award from Garcia, Danzker stated how proud she was of her religion and her heritage. It boggles the mind how she's managed to rationalize running with Waiters. Danzker and Garcia's kids attend the same charter school that, incidentally, Garcia's wife also works at. And, while Danzker does not have kids in Hoboken's public schools she's known on the Hoboken Moms discussion board for launching multi-font, personal attacks on School Board members, and for consistently misrepresenting the financial relationship between public and charter schools.

Murray is a local real-estate agent whose business relies on convincing people to move "To the 'Burbs." Not surprisingly, Murray's many speeches focus on scaring parents away from Hoboken by way of citing flawed statistics on violence in Hoboken's public schools. Parents whose children attend Hoboken's schools, including me, say that the schools Murray describes bear no resemblance to the schools their children attend. As for Murray's relationship to Garcia, this summer Murray was spotted in an unruly crowd at City Hall cheering in support of Garcia as Garcia faced ejection from his position at the HHA. Why would Murray choose to publicly support Garcia, especially at the risk of sullying his business reputation? Perhaps the two are simply friends? Or perhaps there's a mutually beneficial relationship based on shared real-estate interests? Before his ouster from the HHA, Garcia initiated a controversial multi-million dollar real-estate development plan, dubbed Vision 2020, to "create a mixed-income sustainable community" in place of existing HHA properties.

Raia's Old School Slate: Biancamano, Rhodes-Kearns

Raia's slate, consisting of School Board incumbents Peter Biancamano and Frances Rhodes-Kearns, is old school compared to Garcia's.  Rhodes-Kearns is a nine year veteran of the School Soard, elected long before the Kids First reform majority took control and cleaned things up. In fact, Rhodes-Kearns was the sole Board signator for the aforementioned, absurdly generous, legally questionable, contracts of Anthony Petrosino and David Anthony. Rhodes-Kearns also has a relationship to disgraced, indicted ex-mayor Peter Cammarano: she was a member of his election slate in 2009.

As for Biancamano, he's been groomed for politics by Raia since Biancamano first ran for School Board in 2011. That year, Raia chaperoned Biancamano everywhere on the campaign trail. And last year Raia and Biancamano were running-mates for City Council. Raia funded that campaign to the tune of $122,000 out of his own pocket. Biancamano is often heard complaining about how much the School Board spends on legal representation, despite the fact that without representation the Board would lose legal battles launched by the likes of Anthony Petrosino. But, as I expect Raia has explained to him, Biancamano surely understands that this is precisely the point.


Underscoring the old school roots of Raia's slate are recent Facebook notes of support from none other than Michael Russo and Michele Russo. Michele Russo, matriarch of the Russo clan, possesses her very own list of unscrupulous dealings, just like her indicted ex-Mayor husband Anthony, and her bribe-agreeable Councilman son Michael. Now that's support that only money can buy.

Parents for Progress

Standing in stark contrast to Raia's and Garcia's slates is the Parents for Progress slate consisting of Monica Stromwall, Sharyn Angley, and Antonio Gray. All three are parents with kids in Hoboken's public schools. Stromwall was unanimously appointed to the School Board at the beginning of the year when Garcia was forced to leave the Board after winning his Assembly seat.

The Parents for Progress slate claim their interest in running for election is simply to ensure that the schools continue to improve. They've got skin in the game and they care. Having spoken briefly with the candidates I was struck by their honesty and integrity. However, I also discovered that they had no knowledge of the School Board's history of corruption. They had no idea of how hard reformers originally fought to get elected to the board, and the significance of Kids First taking a majority in 2009. They had no idea how much the schools have been cleaned up since then, how much money taxpayers have saved despite massive state cutbacks, and how much money has been directed back to school classrooms and students. 

The Next Wave

By their own admission, Stromwall, Angley and Gray are not affiliated with reform, and they most certainly aren't affiliated with any of Hoboken's corruptocrats. Instead, these three represent what I think is the next wave in Hoboken politics, the one I've sometimes daydreamed might finally come to pass. 

Like Hoboken's reformers, Parents for Progress want to make a difference in this city. They like Hoboken and they want to raise families here, not flee "To the 'Burbs" as Brian Murray urges them to do. Unlike the corruptocrats, they don't expect favors or payback but, unlike reformers, they're unaware of Hoboken's recent "good versus evil" political history. Why? Because in just a few years reformers have managed to fix things up enough that more people are choosing to stay in Hoboken longer, and corruption is beginning to fade into the past.


Choosing to stay longer has positive results for Hoboken. Families and property owners pay attention to schools, parks, and taxes and inevitably, they become politically engaged, initially as voters but sometimes even volunteering to serve their community, just as Stromwall, Angley and Gray have. This is why Hoboken's formerly disengaged electorate is beginning to take notice and start participating. And this is what it's going to take to eliminate, once and for all, the long-standing tradition of looting Hoboken's school and city coffers.

While the appearance of the Parents for Progress slate is a positive sign for Hoboken politics, I am concerned that this election will be a particularly harsh one for these political neophytes. Not only is this election guaranteed to have a low turnout, Parents for Progress is being out-campaigned by Garcia's ticket and, naturally, Raia's ticket need not rely on campaigning as they are assured of votes via other, tried and true, methods. (Word on the street is that votes are being bought for $35 this election - a little lower than usual.) So perhaps Parents for Progress will win or perhaps they will lose, but I am willing to bet that we will see more slates like Parents for Progress in School Board and City elections in the years to come. 

Hoboken's demographics keep changing. The ranks of the public schools continue to swell and, while parents still leave Hoboken for the suburbs, it's clear more are choosing to stay every year. It's well known that schools are an important factor in choosing a place to raise a family, so continuing to improve the public schools is fundamental to Hoboken's future success. For this reason be sure to vote Angley, Stromwall and Gray: 2, 3, 5 for Hoboken Board of Education on November 4th. 


Word from GA:Thank you, Greg!   Greg's blogs are What's up with Hoboken and Yo Gregory!  Watch the Issues . He is the creative force behind numerous original videos- check them out on Yo Gregory!   

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Forgive Me

Loans to 2009 Mason Team for One Hoboken: All is forgiven.

You're welcome!

That's a lot of forgiveness- better late than never!   What about 2011?

Election day was May 10, 2011, but from the looks of things, the campaign never ended...

This spreadsheet shows the cash flow in and out of Mason's 2011 campaign coffers, from the first report filed on May 2, 2011 until the last, on July 28, 2014.   

Woooosh and swoosh!


Last May GA pointed out a couple of facts about  the timing  and expenditures by this campaign after the May 10, 2011 election --as reported to ELEC.

Remember this? 


Wow, look at all of that cash Councilwoman Mason gave "in-kind" to Cutting Edge Communications, up until 2014. 


It looks like the state revoked Cutting Edge Communications LLC on July 16, 2012?

So if Cutting Edge has not "existed" as a business entity since 2012, where was all of this money going, and for what?  



Friday, October 17, 2014

HoLa Declines to Correct Homepage?

top panel: source Hoboken Schools Blog,
bottom panel: HoLa web site home page

Well, see above. 

Boo hissGA's a meanie!

No, I am not.  I am a fan of honest debate.

So with a looming School Board race, it is curious that after at least two requests to HoLa's top banana to correct the information on it's web site stating INCORRECTLY that Charters are "funded by the state" and not out of the local tax levy, said banana has chosen to leave the misinformation there.

Strange, no?

Here's the TRUTH from a source familiar with the state funding formula:    
 All schools in NJ are funded from their local tax levy (charters included).   Aside from "Abbott" funding, a district can get only get State funds for three reasons:
  1. Special Needs students
  2. English language learners
  3. Students impacted by poverty (free or reduced lunch)
Hoboken District Schools receive a large portion of State funding because we educate students in those categories.  HoLa receives NO State funds as they do not meet state criteria for funding. 

Usually one district in a municipality, Hoboken School district has FOUR on the same local levy!
GA calls on Lynn Danzker, School Board candidate and running-mate of Brian Murray and Patty Waiters and an HoLa parent, to ensure the public that the debate about school funding will be an honest one, efforts to mislead the public on school funding will be corrected, and the serious matter of school funding will not exploited for political attacks by her campaign.

According to The Hoboken Schools Blog,  two requests to correct HoLa's website have been ignored.
 So why is it that HoLa's website states that Charter schools are funded by the State?
If you look closely at this page from HoLa's budget you can clearly see that they receive ZERO state funding.  So why is this misinformation allowed to stay on HoLa's website and mislead their parents and our community?  

I have publicly asked Executive Director Jen Sargent twice to correct this error and to post the facts. My request was ignored both times.  I will ask her a third time.  

You can see that in the budget year 2015/2016 the local contribution from the district budget to HoLa will increase from $3,074,439 to 3,423,538 an additional $349,099 for next year's budget.  I assume that this $349,000 will fund the educational costs for next year's 22 7th graders.
 
What services, programs or positions will the district schools have to cut in order to come up with the additional allocation of $349,099?  That's anyone's guess and as a district parent I am greatly concerned about it.  Pitting families against each other I'm sure was not the intent of this funding formula but what more can families do then to advocate for their children.  This can only be done when the facts are provided and not lies.

Please Ms. Sargent revise your statement to accurately reflect the truth, Charter Schools are funded by the local district budget and are not State funded.  

How about it? 

Correct the misinformation on your home page. Call up your vendor, "SharpSchool © 2004-2014 Education Web Hosting & Content Management Solutions" and have them make the correction. 

GA thinks it sets a terrible example for our kids if the educators and administrators of their schools are not honest with parents.

In fact,  the state's funding formula sucks and pits parents against each other.

ALL parents from all schools should UNITE to lobby the state together to fix the funding formula so that charter expansions don't drain district school funding.

Am I right, people?

Declining to 'put out' truth during election season to support a false narrative used by School Board candidates is simply put, unethical.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Phony Baloney: Mason Failed to Fund Monarch Battle TWICE


She was FOR it, before she was AGAINST it.

The Monarch Project, that is.

Should collective amnesia befall the 50,000 residents of Hoboken, then none of us will remember this: 

FEBRUARY 23, 2012


Nor this:

JULY 13, 2013

Otherwise, the rest of us remember them well.

Mason's 2nd Ward constituents know that politics comes before their best interest- until election season.   

Bring out the poinsettias!   Bag the chocolates!  Fill those sacks with frozen turkeys!  And don't forget the "Mason Civic League" label!

But in fact, when Tea Building and Shipyard residents needed their elected representative to fund the battle against the Monarch development project, where was Mason?    AWOL

So you mean that Mason ducked a City Council vote on funding the legal battle against the Monarch project (she could have called her vote in if unable to be there in person), then voted in-person AGAINST funding the legal battle?

YES.

Facing re-election next year, all of a sudden she's opposing the Monarch project.  What do you think of that, kitty?


Well folks, if you need transportation to the meeting on October 28, please do not hesitate to call the Beth Mason at 201-916-8244, or if you wish to donate your organs please do not hesitate to click here.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hoboken Police Refuse to Give Brice Copy of Mason Complaint



In a scene right out of a Franz Kafka novel, a Hoboken resident defending a complaint against him in Hoboken Municipal Court was denied a copy of the allegations he is charged with-- by the Hoboken Police Department!

Yes, it's true.

GA will fill in the blanks.

The Accused is Perennial Thorn in the ass of the Dark Side, Roman BriceThe Accuser is 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason, a frequent subject of Brice's  political coverage on MSV.

Does it make sense now?

Because the Hoboken Police Department does share police complaints with their "friends"- oh, GA can show you that, but not today.

Had Brice identified himself as the proprietor of a smear blog that regularly attacks Reform and (for example) juxtaposes photos of Mayor Zimmer with monkeys, the police complaint would have arrived with flowers and a box of chocolates. In an email.

This is absolute, outrageous misconduct.

A Hoboken resident defending himself in Court against allegations in a police report and the legal authorities who took the complaint will not give him a copy? 

GA believes this conduct should be reported to the New Jersey State Commision of Investigation (S.C.I.).   SCI is an " independent fact-finding agency whose mission is to expose organized crime, public corruption and waste and to recommend reforms in the service of the citizens of New Jersey. 

How about reforming the HPD so that ACCUSED are given copies of Complaints filed against them?  Click HERE to inform the SCI about Kafkaesque- hijinks in Hoboken.

You know what this is about, people?

It's about creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, where members of Reform cannot attend public meetings, participate in volunteer service for Hoboken or SERVE A SUBPOENA without FEAR of ginned-up "harassment" charges.   Of course, this is all passively encouraged by a police department that does not provide The Accused with a copy of the allegations against him or her.

Now, GA believes there are good and honest police in Hoboken.  So why didn't they give Brice  a copy of the Mason "harassment" complaint?

Brice has no way to know what version of "facts" Mason told the HPD. How is he supposed to defend himself in Court?  

Yes, people. GA is reminded of the brilliant Orsen Welles adaptation of Kafka's, The Trial.
The Trial (1924) is about a man, Josef K, who is arrested and put on trial, but never explained why.  The film opens with an allegory from the novel, which encapsulates the novel’s central point: a man goes to a city containing the “law”, but a guard at the gate warns him not to enter. The man obeys, but spends his entire life persuading the guard to let him in. Just before the man dies, the guard says that this door was made just for him, but now he must close it. The story itself begins with Josef awakened at 6:15 AM by two inspectors who inform him that he’s arrested and suspiciously scrutinizes all of his words. Although under arrest, he is not taken into custody and the inspectors interrogate him intermittently during his daily routine. As he goes through his normal activities, everyone he talks to speaks to him as though he is guilty of something, just as the inspectors do, and he continually attempts to defend himself. At the end of the film, two inspectors throw Josef into a pit, toss in dynamite, and Josef dies in the explosion. 
No such dramatic endings in Hoboken, like exploding horses.

But the point is every subject of a police complaint in Hoboken who requests a copy of the complaint should be given one, no matter WHO they are.  No excuses.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Curious Complaint

City Council voted to renew Condon contract on February 17, 2010 , the first Hoboken411 hack-attack was 9 days later on February 26

GA has obtained a copy of the Judge's decison in Ravinder Bhalla, Petitioner vs The Local Finance Board, Respondent, posted in full below.

The decision includes an excerpt from the original May 20, 2010 Belfiore complaint:


What do you think?

This excerpt raises questions for GA about the genesis of the complaint: "local internet sites." 

The only "local internet site" bloviating  about "uncovering" alleged impropriety was Hoboken411, with this "exclusive" on February 26, 2010:


Was the garbage routinely published on Hoboken411 really the springboard for this 4-year frivolous 'ethics' complaint?

Did the so-called Hoboken411 'journalist' even interview the subjects of his article: Mr. Bhalla, Mr. Condon, Mr. Cunningham and Mrs. Cunningham, or did the 'journalist' hope this gossipy-drek would ignite an internet brush-fire to consume the reputations and careers of his subjects?

Did the so-called 'journalist' using Bhalla, Condon,and the Cunninghams for online target practice ever use journalistic 'best practices' in the writing of this malicious gossip posing as 'news'?

Let the Judge answer:


"unsubstantiated innuendo" = YELLOW JOURNALISM
 
The alarming part is how a malicious "unsubstantiated innuendo" seed planted by HACK-journalism on "local internet sites" appears to have blossomed into a 4-year frivolous complaint which has arguably damaged the reputation of it's victim, Councilman Bhalla.

MSV has a breaking story that Mr. Belfiore has taken another swing at his favorite pinata- Ravi Bhalla, with an ELEC complaint.

Well, here's what the Judge had to say about the last one:



The complete decision:

Monday, October 13, 2014

BoE Prez Answers Cheap, Political Attack Letter

Different day, Same sh*t- Campaign leadership that brought the Third Reich into a Hoboken School Board Election with the infamous "Nazi Truck"

Well folks, mean season is upon us.

Recently, the Hoboken Reporter published a letter signed by the wife of "Parents for Change" Campaign Manager [Brian Murray-Patty Waiters- Lynn Dansker] captioned, "Poor Kids CAN Learn."
  
The purported author, who 'forgot' to disclose her personal relationship to Murray-Waiters' campaign manager, took big swings at School Board President Ruth Tyroler- swings aimed below the belt.  

The letter accused Tyroler of calling "poor kids" ineducable, then issued a supremely disingenuous defense of "children from low income families" for remarks that Ms. Tyroler never made:
Do I believe that there is some merit to the idea that some (not all) children from low income families may (not always) have less academic support and rigor at home, and that by not having as much academic support at home this (may) influence overall academic success and test scores? Yes I believe that support for education in the home increases a child’s likelihood of success. Do I believe children from lower income families cannot learn, cannot succeed? NO! And focusing on this point of view does not help us create strategies to overcome real challenges.
GA cannot think of anything 'lower' than publishing false, disparaging statements about kids from "low income families" by a School Board campaign- except for maybe using a Nazi Truck to attack a public school parent (what a coincidence! Murray-Waiters' 2014 campaign manager co-managed 2012's 'Move Forward' the Nazi Truckin' School Board campaign ).

One must question the character of a School Board campaign that uses its manager's wife as a proxy, or campaign leadership that has attacked a district mom* on a Nazi Truck.   (*me) 

One more: the campaign should sign their own names to their trash.

Well, that's my opinion.  Which is protected by the First Amendment and New Jersey State Constitution. 

GA was glad to see Ms. Tyroler respond to a character assassination in this week's HR.  In fact, MS. Tyrolers letter reminds us of all the great things the School Board has accomplished, in spite of its bitter, mean-spirited and IGNORANT opposition.

GA will reprint Ms. Tyroler's response in full:


Dear Editor:

I am writing to reply Mrs. Branco’s odd letter which made wild and false accusations against me and the Hoboken Public School District.

The salacious title she chooses “Poor kids can learn” was followed by bizarre conjecture and innuendo made up out of the whole cloth. The only conclusion I can make is that she did it to purposely mislead those in the public about me and the Hoboken School District. The letter then continues with Mrs. Branco contradicting her own premise against me by claiming that she also understands that the effects of poverty can impact a child's academic success.

Yes, then we (and other education experts) agree, poverty can impact student success. Not limit - impact!

It is with this understanding that I have worked hard over the past five years to provide the children of the Hoboken Public School district with the tools they need to fill the gaps and provide a challenging and supportive school environment specifically to negate this possible impact.

We lengthened the school day, increased free, after school tutoring and provided up to date materials and technology equally across all district schools. We increased both remedial and enrichment programming with the implementation of response to intervention beginning in Kindergarten to catch struggling readers, aim to assist students in the upper grades regain credits and added many gifted and college level programs across the district.

We have also provided many ways for parents to receive the information and assistance they need to help their child in school.

Parents can now easily interact with teachers and staff, get real time information of their child's progress and benefit from the strengthened PTO’s, which often provide informational workshops.

We have provided full support to all staff, students and parents in implementing these and other initiatives and created a warm, positive atmosphere throughout all our schools where the high expectations have been met with great results.



It is certainly unfortunate that Mrs. Branco has attacked me and the district in such a way, but I am grateful for the opportunity to set the record straight. If anyone wishes to speak to me directly about my views and the district’s progress, please feel free to contact me at ruth.tyroler@hoboken.k12.nj.us.


With kind regards,
Ruthy Tyroler
President,
Hoboken Board of Education

Thank you Ruthy, for all of the great things you have done for our district kids- you and those who have WORKED TOGETHER to advance the schools so much in the past couple of years. 
The worst possible result for our kids is electing bitter, LOW ROAD travelin' political partisans to divide our Board and STOP the progress the BoE has made since 2009.  
  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bhalla Judge Lets Loose


Don't believe everything you read.

But you know, but there are some things you have to see to believe-  like the 67-page transcript of the July 2, 2014 hearing in the matter of Ravinder Bhalla, Petitioner vs The Local Finance Board, Respondent.

Oh, my!  The judge, the Honorable James A. Geraghty, is a hoot. 
  
GA will break it down for you.

On May 10, 2010 a "well known political opponent" of Councilman Ravi Bhalla filed a complaint with the Local Finance Board.  The complaint was about Bhalla's, February 17, 2010 vote on a consent agenda item- extending the 2008 contract of another firm which co-leases office space with Bhalla.  Note, Bhalla only voted on the consent agenda after receiving then-Corporation Counsel Michael Kates' advice that there was no conflict.

Hit it, Judge!

Ravinder Bhalla  vs The Local Finance Board -pages 12, 13

"Nitwit"?  Only nitwits would vote "NO" on a consent agenda?

NITWITS
.
(Don't blame me.  Tell it to the judge!)

Things we know:  (1) Hoboken has four nitwits who have voted "NO" on at least one consent agenda,  (2) Ravi Bhalla is not a nitwit.

Next:

Ravinder Bhalla  vs The Local Finance Board -page 23

Who is the Judge talking about?

Ravinder Bhalla  vs The Local Finance Board -pages 54, 55


Mister B-E-L-L-A-F-O-U-R-I?

I don't know anyone by that name, but he sure sounds like a crackpot.

Ravinder Bhalla  vs The Local Finance Board -page 61

"Every town has crackpots." Ain't it the truth, Judge!

Some towns even have crackpots that show up at meetings to attack enemies of a particular member of the City Council- like shouting, "you're a SHAM!" or rhetorically tarring and feathering members of the public and unpaid, volunteer board members!

Some ranting and raving City Council crackpots even bear easels!  Others moonlight as screwballs.

Ravinder Bhalla  vs The Local Finance Board -pages 34, 35

Exactly!

Boy, that Judge is not only a man of the law, he is wise.

Because in a town where screwballs and crackpots hijack public meetings to rant, rave and file frivolous complaints against their political targets--complaints which their VICTIMS are forced to defend and which HURT their victims' children, these uncivil activities discourage  people of good will and talent from participating in their government and performing any kind of public service that invites the attention of said crackpots and village idiots.

Oh yeah, the complaint was dismissed.  

Congratulations, Ravi!  

Good Guys -1, Zeroes- 0.

 Bhalla celebrates victory with friends

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Nice at the City Council

GA checked in on last night's City Council meeting, and was pleasantly surprised by the decorum on the dais (or for Tim: DUH-corum).

It's true!  Last night there was no shouting, insult-swapping or  attacking Corporation Counsel...


Not even one Councilman telling another to go home and cut eye-holes in his pillowcase like the KKK...



In fact, no battles over Vision 20/20 with one Councilman challenging another to live at the HHA...

Russo: Move into a unit (HHA), move into a unit then we'll talk!

Mello: Let somebody move into your unit (Church Towers), let somebody move into your unit!  Desegregate your building!   (addressing HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia) You want to talk about the conversations... who do you think burned out people's families?   Director, why don't  you talk about who burned down peoples families 20 years ago? Why don't we have those comments?

Russo: Let's have them, Councilman!

Mello: Be my guest, Director!

 Russo: Where were you when the shootings were going on?  Where were you when the stabbings were going on?

 Mello: Director, why don't you talk about whose funeral you refused to go to because you because you blame him for the burnings?

Russo: You're a joke!

Mello: You're a joke in a segregated complex!

Holy cow!

To boot, last night there was no stomping off the dais before a vote, no hissy fits, no attacks on members of the public- not even a single City Council member getting busted for emailing a confidential request from Corporation Counsel  to a political operative!  



What gives?

To tell the truth, GA likes it. The decorum and DUH-corum. 

Yes, Tim comported himself well, too. Take that, evil candy cane!


GA has one suggestion- for the videographer.

Is it possible to cut Terry completely out of the frame and maybe zoom in a little more on Jim Doyle?   Like, maybe just shoot him and forget the rest of them?

Am I right, ladies*?

hubba hubba

*kiddin', Leah-girlfriend!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What's this really about?

February 2011: Last words from Hoboken's Blockbuster at 412 Washington St. 
photo: Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal

Yesterday, Horsey broke the news about proposed legislation on deck tonight at the City Council that will impact every business in the city of Hoboken.

That's right, every business.

In short, tonight's resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Beth Mason and co-sponsored by Terry Castellano proposes an ordinance requiring all Hoboken businesses with 10 or more employees to provide paid employee sick leave, and those with less than 10 employees to accrue sick time which may be compensated.


:
 page 135: excerpt of Mason-Castellano proposed Ordinance 

And what is the process for taking paid or unpaid sick time?  

page 139:   Mason-Castellano proposed ordinance

How do employees settle disputes with employers over the new sick time policy?

Through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ("Department") or the "any Court of competent jurisdiction."

page 142:   Mason-Castellano proposed ordinance

Do you smell a stunt?

This legislation was not written to succeed; it was meant to adorn a bumper sticker or resume for higher office, perhaps even impress a gubernatorial candidate.  It is pure populist rhetoric, with no thought to the economic  impact on the small business community and overall economic impact on the City of Hoboken.

A serious piece of legislation would have been preceded by studying the economic impacts on small businesses and dialogue with the business community.  This is overtly lop-sided legislation, punitive to Hoboken's business community, forcing compliance under threat of federal intervention, without addressing the economic impacts on our small business community.

Have Mason-Castellano proposed a way for businesses to offset the added cost of their proposal, perhaps with a tax break?   Of course not.

It was only a few short years ago, Dark Side politicos were bemoaning empty storefronts on Washington Street, and dumping fault for the struggling business climate on the Mayor.   On March 25, 2011, Dark Side politico Mike Novak told the Wall Street Journal:


For the past few years, the partisan overtones of Hoboken's struggle to attract business to Hoboken were inescapable. Many of those empty storefronts now have tenants. The City is now proposing a redesign and upgrade to Washington Street aimed at boosting the small business community, which needs 'bi-partisan' support (six votes) to pass.

Hence, it is curious timing to drop this resolution which adds hardship to small businesses in Hoboken, without proposing relief to offset added costs. 

At the end of the day, increasing costs of running a business are passed on to the consumer, one way or another.

2015 can't come soon enough.