Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Final Frontier

Are lawyers permitted to kiss clients?

Well folks, Horsey broke the news today: Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia's Civil Complaint No. 2   was tossed into the dumpster on December 19, 2014, leaving one lawsuit, The Final Frontier, against The Enterprise.

The Enterprise consists of Mayor Zimmer, HHA Commissioner Dave Mello, HHA Chairwoman Dana Wefer and the spouse of the Mayor, all white people.   How white are they?  


Doesn't say.


Nope.


Yes, but how white?  Like Cafe au lait?  French vanilla ice cream?  Jonny Winter white?  Are white people actually white?  Or a milky blend of primary colors?

I don't know if Zimmer's spouse is white, but he sure is radiant!


GA is heartened to hear that piece of crap (#2) was tossed, because now all eyes and ears are focused on The Final Frontier: the battle against the Enterprise in the Hoboken Federation.

MSV also reported that The Federation has deployed a new weapon to battle The Final Frontier.  Not a laser beam nor death ray.  No, a "demand letter."

As a retired pro se litigant, I know a little about this stuff.  A demand letter is a chance for a Plaintiff to avoid the legal and financial consequences of filing a frivolous lawsuit.  Of course, that action comes after a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo, over a period of months, sometimes years.   GA believes the Federation is dead serious about pursuing the consequences of this latest taxpayer-screwing.  Because since the Federation is funding Enterprise's battle, The Final Frontier - and taxpayers fund the Federation- we are the silent army forced to fight a stupid, frivolous war.

Well, that is MY opinion.  Signing off, Federation Taxpayer GA.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday Matinee: Council Do-Little


Ah, to enjoy the fruits of a long, relaxing holiday weekend....  GA finally cracked open the video editing software I got couple of months ago--the above is my very first feature film!  Sure, it's crude,  choppy, and synched like a 1950's Godzilla movie. But, you know what they say--practice, practice, practice! GA hopes you enjoy the short films, documentaries, etc., integrating film, graphics and animation that I will be posting in the future!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Tail

Tucker, the lost Shi-tzu, credit: Patch.com

He's back ho-ho-home! 

What a nice tail about the kindness of a stranger... She enabled this Hoboken pooch find his family just in time to unwrap his bones under the Christmas tree. What a difference one kindness can make.

Woof, woof!

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to All!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mason Ally Gently Swats Garcia



Ho, ho, ho!   

GA hopes Santa leaves you lots of toys under your tree tonight, and not that nasty stomach virus that knocked me on my ass this week.  Ugh.  Be careful peeps, it is going around.

Well, different (holi)day, same Hoboken (political) drama.

GA was amused to see a known, longtime ally of Councilwoman Beth Mason slug Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia in this week's "Letters to the Editor."

But as slugs go, this was not the brass knuckles kind; it was a tap with a feather pillow.  Because of all the critiques one might make on various controversies which have surrounded the 33rd District  Assemblyman- particularly when he served as the Executive Director of the Hoboken Housing Authority-the Mason ally attacked Garcia on postage rates.

I kid you not!  Here's an excerpt:
Assemblyman Garcia, don’t use first class mail

Dear Editor:

I recently received a letter from Assemblyman Garcia that was addressed to all local businesses. While I appreciate that Assemblyman Garcia made the effort to send out a letter, I was disappointed that the letter was sent by first class mail. 
 The few thousand dollars saved by sending his letter bulk mail would not have made a huge difference in the overall state budget, but it would show that Assemblyman Garcia cares about how our tax dollars are spent. Details matter.

...I encourage the assemblyman to do even better by keeping us informed and spending our tax dollars wisely.

Paul Lichstein
Of course, if Garcia used taxpayer funds for the mailing, then GA agrees with Lichstein. (Don't politicians always send their crap via bulk mail?)

But again, a dispute over postage rates is about as benign critique as one could imagine for this Assemblyman, now on his 3rd iteration of an "ethnic cleansing" lawsuit against "The Enterprise."


Nothing happens by accident in Masonworld.

So, while Mason has publicly supported Garcia and wooed his flock of supporters, such as a freebie to the League of Municipalties in Atlantic City ("two busloads of HHA residents"), could she be dispatching allies to take pot-shots at him?

Combine Garcia's clouded political future in the NJ Assembly with published rumor that Mason wants to replace him, are her public overtures of support to Garcia calculated duplicity as surrogates peck away at Garcia's Assembly performance?

Garcia's future as Hoboken's 33rd District Assemblyman has been acknowledged as precarious by Politickernj:
Sources say Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, a native of Hoboken who joined the legislature in 2013, is in hot water with that leadership and could be bumped from the party’s main ticket next year. The controversy, insiders say, stems from an almost reputation-devastating incident that took place last year, when Garcia was caught having  secretly audio recorded a lunch meeting he had with the husband of Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, as well as former state Sen. and veteran pol Bernard Kenny. The whole incident was exposed when Garcia, as the city’s Housing Authority Executive Director, tried to sue Zimmer for “ethnic cleansing.”

But the move is said to have roiled state Sen. Brian Stack, Union City mayor and indisputable Hudson County political boss, who brought Garcia into the fold last year on a ticket that featured his own name and Jersey City Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, but who insiders say has now had enough of the “high maintenance” Latino.

It’s not 100 percent he gets thrown off the line — though if I were a betting man I’d bet that he doesn’t come back,” one Democratic source, who requested anonymity, told PolitickerNJ last week about Garcia’s political future.
Lichstein makes a good point- if our tax dollars are paying for the Assemblyman's first class stamps instead of bulk mail rates.

Personally, GA is way more interested tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money spent on generators which, after sitting in an HHA parking lot for nearly 2 years in  shipping materials, we now learn are "not right for the space."

What the HELL does that mean?

GA is curious if any Mason loyalists will tackle bigger questions than postage stamps.

Blogging Hazard

Thursday, December 18, 2014

6 Down, 8 to Go...


..or maybe not.  But first...

Big props to HHA Chairwoman Dana Wefer!

On December 11th, Wefer announced six of the fourteen generators ordered for the HHA with federal grant money after 2012's Superstorm Sandy, would finally be leaving their parking lot!

After 18 months, its not a moment too soon!

Because we remember what the Hoboken Reporter wrote last February:
... HUD said, the generators were delivered in fall on purpose. At the time, HUD, Garcia and the vendor were aware that inclement weather might be looming, but the manufacturer wanted to prove that its new model generator, more powerful than previous iterations, could withstand the elements. 
Surely, HUD didn't deliver the generators two years early to sit for two winters in the parking lot "on purpose."

GA wishes the 6 generators leaving the parking lot a bright future- full of electricity, in their new HHA homes.   Happy trails, big metal friends!

But... there seems to be a problem with other 8.

Here is what Wefer said on the Hudson County View video clip:  "we will be installing six of the generators in the next month... and we're still going to have 8 others that really aren't right for the space."

Aren't "right" for the space?  What does that mean?  What space are they "right" for?

This space?


It was Mayor Zimmer who had pointed out in her May 1, 2013 letter to former HHA Director Carmelo Garcia:


Good catch, Mayor!

The Vision 20-20 contract was awarded without back-up generators!  Wow.

In April 2013, a RPM Development was selected to build Phase I of Vision 2020 as the Executive Director lobbied the City Council for a "resolution of need."

16 back-generators had been ordered, the first installed on a rooftop in June 2013...



... while 14  were delivered to the HHA parking lot but not installed "on purpose" because the manufacturer wanted to show us how their "powerful model" can "withstand the elements!"

Now, in December 2014, 6 can be installed but the other 8 are "not right for the space..."

Does this refer to the need to raise the electric sub- panels?  It doesn't sound like it... it sounds like a design or engineering issue. Generators sit on platforms, outdoors.  Hey, HoboJoe- you out there?

"Not right for the space... "

What a mystery!

Meanwhile, GA hears that residents have grown so fond of the hulking, shrink-wrapped generators that they've organized a going-away party, complete with pony rides and a balloon-animal making clown.

See you there, in the parking lot at Fourth and Harrison.    

Bon voyage!

Monday, December 15, 2014

City to Renegotiate It's Lease with B&G Club

Not a done deal-yet: "Divert" Green Acres Status, renegotiate 50-year Lease agreement with the B&G, HoLa can apply for Variance to expand

What a week! GA was hosting guests from out-of-town (way out-of-town)--Osaka, Japan.

I took this photo on Saturday.  Against the harsh forces of winter, a few cherry blossoms had sprouted from an otherwise barren tree.

GA admires those rugged little flowers. 

Given warmth, rich soil and bright sun, all flowers may flourish.  Deprive them, and only the rugged survive.

Flowers are like children.

Let's re-cap.  Here is what we have learned recently about Hoboken's Boys & Girls Club:

The membership fee has gone from $15/year to $65 week; that is $2, 860 for 44 weeks of the program (not including 8 weeks of summer camp).  That amounts to an annual increase of $2,795 per child.

GA hears this fee hike has caused  B&G Club kids to leave "in droves".

We've also learned the B&G Club Director is Margarita Garcia, who is on the Faculty & Staff of HoLa as the school's AfterCare and Enrollment Coordinator. 

We know that the Boys and Girl's Club has been sub-leasing their space to HoLa, Dual Language School, which makes B&G Director/HoLa Staff member Garcia landlord and tenant of the space the B&G leases from Hoboken for $2/year. 

Screen caps: 12/15/2014

A GA reader posted the HoLa Aftercare and Enrichment classes rates.  

If those rates are accurate, then sub-lessee HoLa is a regular cash cow for the B&G Club. 

Or is it?  B&G Director Garcia can ask the HoLa Aftercare Coordinator Garcia.

Perhaps B&G Director Garcia can negotiate with HoLa's Aftercare Coordinator Garcia to allot space in the "Enrichment classes" for economically disadvantaged B&G kids and/or kids priced out of B&G club membership, since taxpayers subsidize the building for $2/year.

Oh, one more thing: 123 Jefferson was built with Green Acres public funding and the presence of the Charter is an apparent violation to the Green Acres rules. 

In August 2011 MSV wrote, in part:
The Hoboken Boys and Girls Club has failed to provide required annual reports to the City of Hoboken showing specific compliance requirements serving the community's underprivileged youth. The terms of the agreement are part of a fifty year lease originally created back in the mid 90s.

The complete terms appear in an original ordinance dated November 1994 in City documents. As part of a 50 year agreement, the building at 123 Jefferson Street is leased annually from the City of Hoboken for $2.

The original ordinance states a requirement of the lessee (the Boys & Girls Club) to the City of Hoboken in item 10:

The Lessee agrees to use the facilities for the sole purpose of conducting youth programs and the Lessee activities. It will not rent or lease the facility for commercial purposes without first obtaining City permission nor will any commercial activities be conducted at the facility.


Meanwhile, the building is expanding - to benefit the HoLa school...

Questions on the authorization of these activities and the City's oversight and approval role in the process remains outstanding. Complaints have been going on for months among public school parents including other charter schools on the unfair competitive advantage of a charter school being hosted at the Boys & Girls Club while underprivileged community youth have been bumped out of the building to make way for HoLa.
That was 2011; what's happening now?     

GA has learned the City is on track to "divert" Green Acres status from 123 Jefferson to 16th Street, then re-negotiate its "50 year lease agreement" with the Boys and Girls Club with two parties: the B&G and HoLa.  

I kid you not. The City's 50-year lease to agreement with the Boy's and Girl's Club of America to use the facilities for the sole purpose of conducting youth programs and the Lessee activities is to be canned so the taxpayer-funded building at 123 Jefferson can legally host an expanding Charter school, with its upscale demographic. Of course, all this is contingent upon "diverting" Green Acres status from the site.  

On September 17 2014, the City Council voted 8-0 in favor of the Resolution below (Castellano was absent):

 


Now, read Section 6b of the Tripartite Agreement Hoboken Boys and Girls Club, HOLA, and the City of Hoboken carefully, keeping in mind that Director Garcia is BOTH Parties: HOLA and BGC:
b. Neither HOLA nor BGC may assign, transfer or delegate any of its rights or obligations hereunder without obtaining the prior written consent of the other Parties, which may be withheld for any reason, whether reasonable or unreasonable.
If the City is determined to re-purpose a taxpayer-funded building intended to benefit poor youth and youth programs to a Charter school catering to an upscale demographic (oh yeah, it does...  check out the fees on the "Enrichment classes"), GA implores the City to use it's leverage to negotiate rights for the children of the Boys and Girls Club, including use of facilities and reduced membership fees. 


Friday, December 5, 2014

Hoboken's Boy & Girl Club

 2009 at the B&G Club pool

"To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens"
- The Boys & Girls Club of America's Mission Statement


The evisceration of Hoboken's Boy(s) & Girl(s) Club at 123 Jefferson Street is a story told in numbers.

Because one of many ways to empty a building of its poor occupants (a non-profit), is to jack up membership fees into strata its members cannot afford.  Now, if the tenant is a non-profit serving low-income children, and employs as it's Director, the Aftercare and Enrichment Coordinator of  it's sub-lessee, an expanding Charter school, then the fee-raising is especially pernicious.  Because one may elect not to pursue grants nor corporate sponsorship nor fundraising required to keep the non-profit membership fees affordable.  No, in fact, one may preside over the astronomical jacking-up of fees, effectively depopulating the non-profit to make way for the expanding Charter School, happening  seamlessly under her 'oversight.' 

This is the story of Hoboken's Boy(s) & Girl(s) Club.

A parent GA knows paid Hoboken's B&G Club a $15/year membership fee from 2008- 2010. 

Here is a sampling of current B&G Club fees, which cover after-school services, from around the U.S...
Metro Atlanta B&G Club   $50/year
Greater Milwaukee B& G Club  $5/year
B&G Clubs of Chicago  $20/year
B&G Club of San Francisco  $10/year
B&G Clubs of Southeastern Michigan  (Detroit) $50/ year
B&G Clubs of Greater Washington (D.C.)  $25/year
B&G Clubs of Mississippi Delta $25/year
B&G Clubs of East Los Angeles  $10/year
B&G Clubs of Hudson County  $2,860/year* (*$65/wk)
In a few years, the Hoboken B&G's membership fee went from $0.34/week to $65/week.*  
(*44 weeks of after-school care, not including B&G Club summer camp)

GA verified 2014 fees with the Hudson County B&G Club (the same as Jersey City)- $65/week plus $75 for registration.

 HC B&G Club Online Fundraiser
The fees are also noted on Hudson County B&G Clubs Razz.com fundraising web page.

This fee increase overlaps the time the B&G began sharing space with HoLa and the reported diminution in services for B&G children.  

In 2008, the B&G Club program had 140 kids.  How many are there now?

Many of the B&G clubs across America state:"No child is ever turned away for inability to pay."   In a few short years, our B&G Club has purported to sublease its space to offset costs but instead, hiked its fees to exclude the kids it used to serve.

Hoboken is home (and future home) to leading corporations, like John Wiley & Sons, Marsh and McLennan, Sumitomo Trust and Banking, Mizuho Securities, Thomson Reuters, Octapharma, Bank of America, Pearson, Td Bank, Burgiss... and more.   Have any of these corporations been asked to sponsor the B&G?  What is B&G Director Garcia doing to 'bring back' the kids priced out of the B&G Club?    

Remember the screaming and hollering that rose up in 2010 when Mayor Zimmer vetoed a City Council repeal of a $25 recreation fee?       

Tim Occhipinti described the $25 recreation fee as a "tax on families" and Mike Russo cried, "The majority of people are just going say they can't afford it... you're either for taxing the children or you're against taxing the children."   

The B&G Club is in Timmy's Ward.  What did Timmy have to say when the B&G fees went through the roof and kids "left in droves"?  What did he say?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Losing "People Like Me"



This statement by HoLa Board President Barbara Martinez has revived questions about whether the attitude of a school's board translate into a selective admissions policy to suppress 'low income' admissions.

True or not, Martinez appears to be bartering a more-inclusive admissions policy in exchange for an uncontested expansion to the 7th and 8th grades, which the Hoboken School Board is challenging in court.  The comment suggests it is "the Hoboken Board of Education" who "wants to see a low-income preference" in admissions and not Martinez, President of HoLa's School Board.

Is that true?

I don't know.  Maybe she just pegado a su pie en la boca- and who hasn't stuck their zapato where it doesn't belong?  

To err is human...

Anyway, Martinez' offer puts into play other statements she has made which may support or contradict arguments on both sides of the pending litigation.  Such as this letter written in January 2009; according to Hoboken411 where it was posted, the letter was "sent to various members of the Board of Education, as well as the Superintendent and staff:"
“I’ve taken the past two days off of work (I’m a reporter at the WSJ) because the Hola program is so important to my family. Today I spent a lot of time outside Conners and Wallace – getting signatures of people who would be thrilled to send their kids to a dual-language immersion program. 

I met many Hispanic and African-American moms this morning whose faces lit up when I told them their children could be fully literate in two languages by the time they are in third grade. Many are planning to attend our information session this Sunday at Jubilee Center. 

 BUT I AM SO VERY CONCERNED THAT YOU ARE DECIDING TO TABLE THIS PROGRAM FOR THE TIME BEING. 


The private school my daughter attends needs to know in early February whether she will be returning in September 2009 for first grade. What am I supposed to tell them? 

By the way, they want me to give them $1,000 if I want them to hold her spot. Several weeks after that, I have to commit to a full-year’s tuition. What am I supposed to do? 

Parents in Hoboken are making their decisions for next year NOW. If you put this off again you may lose people like me. 
Yippee
My stomach has been in a knot for the past two months as the entire city debates this valuable program. 

How much more talk is needed? 

Jen and Camille have told me they are willing to walk away from the money, the contract, etc. They are stripping away all the non-essentials from their budget. There won’t be a need for an RFQ. They won’t be getting a cent. 

Why can’t we put this to bed already? 

PLEASE. Take action on this so we can get our school started. Or if the action is negative, at least we can move on with our lives and make other plans. But to make us wait like this, for no apparently good reason, is quite unnerving and cruel. 

 Sorry to sound so dramatic – but this is really something that will affect my daughter’s future. 

Thank you, 
Barbara Martinez
While Leon Gold was pilloried for his politically-incorrect remarks, comments like Martinez' "...if you put this off you will lose people like me" and "Now all our friends will stay in Hoboken!" are greeted with silence.

Why is that?

Don't shoot the messenger, folks.   This incident comes on the heels of a rumor GA just heard that Hoboken's Boys and Girls Club  fees have caused kids to leave "...in droves."

On top of that, GA was told the Boys and Girls Club Director, Margarita Garcia, also holds the position as HoLa's Aftercare and Enrichment Coordinator

How isn't this a conflict-of-interest, when the B&G Club rents space to HoLa?  The B&G Club employee, Garcia, negotiates rent with a tenant, HoLa, who (also) employs her?     They are both paid positions.   If the B&G had to hike fees beyond the affordability of the low-income kids they are supposed to serve, is Garcia really in a position to negotiate a more competitive rent with herself?

It appears to GA that some of Hoboken's poorest kids have paid "so all our friends can stay in Hoboken!"    

Monday, December 1, 2014

She said WHAT?


The Carlo Davis article in this week's HR "Do over? State will review approval of charter school expansion"  summarized two starkly divergent sets of facts in a pending legal action between HoLa and the Hoboken BoE.  Representing HoLa in the piece was the Dual Language school's spokesperson and Board President, Barbara Martinez.  

It was this Martinez quote that made GA say "Whaaaat?"
"If the Hoboken Board of Education wants to see a low-income preference in HoLa's lottery.... all it has to do is drop the lawsuit"
Apparently, I'm not the only one who reacted that way.  A reader wrote:
Why cant hola use a low income preference until the lawsuit is dropped? and if they could have done this before, why didnt they-why did they wait until a lawsuit occurred to implement a low income preference? and  Are they allowed to use low income preference or is she full of ****? 
Now, GA has not followed this particular issue nor what BoE lawyer Eric Harrison alleges in his brief is HoLa's resistance to incorporating low-income preference into its admissions, but... 

If "low-income preference" is a civil rights issue, then why would Martinez hold redress to a socioeconomic inequity hostage to what the Board of Education does or doesn't do? 

Unless this is legal advice, it absolutely smells.

True or not, Martinez appears to be dangling the educational options for low-income kids as leverage in HoLa's battle with the Board of Education 

GA would caution Martinez from making reckless statements during litigation which will come back to bite her in the cuelo.