Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Council votes to buy ads in partisan tabloid


GA cannot lie; last night's meeting was for me, a mixed bag.

It was delightful to see Jen Giattino back as Council President, and at her side, VP David Mello.

Then came the buzzkill. Immediately after, a new council member proposed amending Re-org Resolution No. 4 to include The Hoboken Reporter:
4.* RESOLUTION DESIGNATING OFFICIAL NEWSPAPERS FOR LEGAL ADVERTISEMENTS FOR THE CITY OF HOBOKEN FOR CY2015
This Council member had already spoken with the publisher, who provided an estimated cost of $5K annually.  Note, The Hoboken Reporter does not satisfy the City's requirement for posting legal notices because it does not have a paid circulation. The Hoboken Reporter could only supplement the official newspapers, not replace one of them.

Hence, taxpayers got tapped for $5K-  not a big deal out of a $100M budget.  Right?

What is a big deal is, for years, The Hoboken Reporter has been so overtly hostile toward members of the Zimmer administration (particularly Ravi Bhalla) and the Mayor herself, and has many times inserted itself during elections to influence the election outcome-- against the administration.    For example, this recent column by Al Sullivan was published the weekend before election day.


WHY WOULD THE CITY SPEND A NICKEL TO ADVERTISE IN THIS PARTISAN RAG?  

It's my observation that the Zimmer administration has divorced itself from any relationship at all with the paper.   And now we're buying ads (a.k.a. funding) this partisan tabloid?  That's like buying bullets for a guy taking shots at you.  

Oh yeah, taxpayer-funded bullets.

Hey, that's my opinion.

I am unsure if the Council member discussed this idea with others prior to the meeting; I got the feeling it was just dropped on the table.  Boom!  Anyway, the vote went down, and now the city's policy has been changed.

Well, GA congratulates all of the  appointees, and congratulations to my friend John Branciforte on his full-term ZBA appointment.   I would encourage the Council to choose Dan Weaver for a full seat next time.  Dan is an accomplished architect who has worked for two top US architectural firms.

That's it for now.

Tell me again why a Reform Council should buy ads there?

51 comments:

  1. Must be something in the 2nd ward Drinking water that makes them like to pour money into that rag

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  2. Remember Beth Mason tried to get H411 on the city's list and Carol Marsh put the kibosh on it. H411 is a community website like the Hoboken Reporter is a community paper.

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  3. agree, GA, i don't get it either. i'm officially asking the councilperson responsible to leave a comment here explaining his/her reasoning. we want to know why this happened.

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  4. I think the Hoboken Reporter is an extremely biased piece of trash !
    One has only to review the almost weekly corrections that MSV and GA have to make to try mitigate their extreme political bias and outright fabrications.

    That said even with it's declining readership it is still one of the primary conduits of information in Hoboken where as the two other paid printed daily newspapers that the City Council is legally obligated to post meeting announcements have virtually no readership here. I think in this case having more people see what meetings are happening in Hoboken is important enough to hold our collective noses at the foul stench coming off the messenger.

    It is sad that the Hoboken Reporter did not offer the space free of charge as a service to the people of Hoboken.

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    1. I agree, but they've shown before that they value profit more than anything else.

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  5. A single member of council autocratically discussing the terms of a contract with any business or service provider smacks of impropriety.

    The Reporter does not meet the standards for public notice at any cost, and as a weekly, it is a useless publication in the event that advertising a special meeting 72 hours before the appointed time is necessary.

    The council should rescind this decision.

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    1. Publications have standardized rate cards for ad space so the terms are not what would concern me and no contract was made.
      The issue of timeliness for notice of special meetings is a problem which was brought up and discussed at last night's meeting before the vote.

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    2. Anon at 2:41, if that's the case, then why did this councilman approach them? That's the part that is not right.

      So they discussed the deficiencies and awarded the contract anyway?

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    3. Yes it did. If you watched the video you would know that.

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    4. Sorry but if you actually watched the video of the City Council meeting all would be explained and you could stop with all the drama.


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    5. What drama? We don't have a right to find this decision and expenditure dumb?

      Dumb is not drama. Dumb is dumb.

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    6. As in this case needless drama is dumb.

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  6. Sorry for the stupid screen name but why would a Reform member of the council do that to another colleague who was active in helping their election?

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    1. Upon reviewing the video of last night's CC meeting on MSV the reasons for why Councilwoman Fisher made the request are clear and Councilman Bhalla voted to approve as did all of the City Council with little discussion and no drama.
      The City is legally covered by posting meeting notices in three other real daily newspapers with paid subscriptions and the addition of a local handout paper like the Hoboken Reporter is just additional public exposure.




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    2. Well then maybe some council members needed more time off because they must have had a bad hangover.

      There's no need to waste $5,000 of our taxpayer money on the Hudson Distorter!

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  7. The Reporter demonstrated it was for sale vis-à-vis Beth Mason. Maybe the administration should spend more than $5,000 to get favorable coverage.

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  8. What the heck was Tiffanie Fisher thinking? Did she consult anyone about this ahead of the meeting to get context or did she surprise the council with this bright idea?

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    1. Did you take the time to actually watch the video of the meeting before you posted ? If not you should.
      There was no surprise, a written resolution was run past legal council, given to everyone on the Council before the meeting and a rational explanation was given for why it was proposed and then a few brief questions they unanimously approved the resolution.

      I think the operative word in this discussion needs to be rational. As reformers we say we want to be inclusive and transparent then doing things like getting information to the largest numbers of the public is what we should be doing.

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    2. Did the written resolution originally include the Hudson/Hoboken reporter?

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    3. The original resolution sponsored by the City Clerk and did not include the Hoboken Reporter.

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    4. So who added the reporter is giving money to hacks that put out slanted stories and have a very minimal reach.

      It is at best a well meaning but foolish mistake. If Beth Mason, Russo, or Ramos had pushed this we'd flogging them right now. Reform can own up to mistakes, especially a fairly minor one, and this is a mistake. The responsible parties should smarten up.

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    5. Anonymous at 5:08 pm has a point. If this were Mike Russo's idea some of the current defenders of the decision would be going nuts.

      Also, just because the reporter has a higher circulation than the other rags doesn't mean more people read it. I know in my building the pile of papers stays unopened until Monday when the cleaning crew picks them up and throws them out. But we're counted in the circulation numbers.

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  9. The city places ads in The hudson reporter ALL THE TIME folks. The Street Fest, The Halloween Parade, Recycling, and other city announcements that scream they are "BROUGHT TO YOU BY: MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER AND THE HOBOKEN CITY COUNCIL" in Larger Type size than the actual important content.
    Politicians buy publicity wherever they can with OUR TAX MONEY

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    1. That's not disputed. The amended resolution added the HR as a paper of record for legal notices effectively putting them on the city payroll.

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    2. But not legal notices because the reporter does not meet the law mandated requirements to post a legal notice. This is new for the city and there is no reason for it.

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  10. So the city making the public aware of public events and announcements in a local tabloid is a problem for you ? Why ? Should we have secret street fests and surprise parades ?

    Frankly never saw any ad from the City with the brought to you by larger then the headline. I would like to see your proof ?

    In this case the publicity they are buying with OUR TAX MONEY is being used to make government more accessible to a larger group of people. The legal requirements are met with newspapers almost no one in Hoboken reads. Putting it in something that people do read makes perfect sense if you really want to follow the spirt of the law.

    That is a good thing to me.

    I get it the Hoboken Reporter's whole political agenda is biased, often full of lies and sleazy but the fact is is where many people get their information.

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    1. Tune in to the next council meeting as we now fund Hobken411 for $10,000 because, hey, that is where many people get their "information."

      Spirit of the law? The law is satisfied. You want to reach more people, put the notices up on the City of Hoboken Facebook page.

      Total cost? Zero.

      Total monies to enemies of Reform and our community? Zero.

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    2. Know what ?

      You hysterical, but not in a good way.

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  11. I agree with 5:41 PM. Hoboken's website, and Facebook are a much better reach than the Reporter.

    I was extremely confused by the lovefest the new 2nd ward councilwoman served up for Mason at her last meeting. This further confuses me. I hope the new 2nd ward councilwoman realizes that a lot of support she received in the 2nd ward was based on complete disgust with Beth Mason's performance and the thought of an old guard puppet sliding in to replace her.

    If I were her I would constantly ask myself, "What would Beth Mason do?" and then do the exact opposite

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    1. I am of the opinion that all those media venues would be useful in reaching the public. The Hoboken Reporter is a way to reach those without internet access.
      I have no affection for Beth Mason, her methods or politics.
      I think Tiffany Fisher showed she had class in thanking her predecessor for her service.

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    2. Fawning over was completely unnecessary. Jen Giattino had it perfect when I believe she said, "I wish you luck in the future". Anything past that was undeserved after what Mason has done.

      And as for the Hudson Reporter I believe GA and Horse have hinted that some people at the HR played a lot bigger part in the SLAPP over the last few years among other hit pieces.

      411 and the HR should be avoided at all costs. With no oxygen or attention they'll die off ideally

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    3. I didn't see any fawning.

      I dislike Beth Mason for many, many legitimate reasons but like it or not she did do some good things for Second Ward residents even if they were done for self serving reasons.

      I have no doubt that some people at the HR were complicit in the SLAPP suit.

      I think getting more information to people in Hoboken helps the reformers more than the 4 or 5K will help or hurt the HR.




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    4. I can't name a thing Beth did for the second ward. And neither could beth. When she listed her proudest accomplishments one of the top things was a petition her handlers came up with on gun control

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  12. I read the Hoboken Reporter every week.
    I would wager that everyone who posts on this blog does too.
    I do not like some of what I read in the Hoboken Reporter.
    I am of the opinion that the more reliable information that is disseminated to as many people as possible, in as many venues as possible only helps those of us who value good, open government and consider ourselves as part of the reform movement in Hoboken.
    I am also of the opinion that the City Council did the right thing.

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  13. I think a number of people were surprised and disappointed by Councilwoman Fischer's first meeting. One meeting is not a career and I'm sure as she gains her footing she will impress.

    As a strong Fischer supporter I'm glad people are willing to voice their feelings, I'm sure she'll hear them and improve as a council member.

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    1. I am sure she would be disappointed in you too, if she knew who you were..

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  14. Do we really think that blogs should replace real newspapers?

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    1. Not at all. I think a number of people here are making the argument that the Reporter is about as "real" a paper as Hoboken 411 is an unbiased outlet when it pretends to be.

      Jersey Journal and star ledger are legitimate newspapers and I hope they flourish

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    2. No. The Hoboken Reporter is as much a propaganda outlet as Hoboken411. According it any status or legitimacy by the Council adding it to real newspapers as a Hoboken 'official paper for legal notices' is ridiculous- an insult to the public servants the paper has tried to destroy.

      BTW, without the official council recognition, nothing is stopping the city from placing ads there. It is mystifying to me why the council would mix in that rag, which does not meet the legal criteria for a paper-of-record, on a meaningful resolution.

      IMO it is a slap in the face to public officials it has tried to embarrass or otherwise destroy, some of whom sit on the council. My opinion.

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    3. And you're an UNBIASED news source? The level of your own narcism, bullying any descent and interjecting snide remarks is very much like another site that used to do that....

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    4. Anon-8:56. Really? I disagree with quite a few comments on this thread, have I "bullied" anyone? I recall posting that "reasonable minds can disagree."

      The caption on this blog is "One gal's musings on the Hoboken political scene." I think any reasonable reader would discern that "musings" means you will find opinion and commentary here. If you don't like it, don't read it.

      I think the "other site" still does that- he banned me, but unfortunately, the proprietor lost his ghostwriter(s) in a foolish, self-destructive lawsuit trying to destroy free speech in Hoboken. Sound familiar?

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    5. My two cents: I do not think anyone on this thread has ever tried to equate the Hoboken Reporter to the "real" newspapers that the City Council is legally obligated to post announcements for meetings.

      What was said is that the Hoboken Reporter is read by many more people in Hoboken then those other publications and placing additional City public notices in the publication would make people aware of what is going on in their city.

      All of the negative comments about the Hoboken Reporter on this thread are absolutely justified.

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    6. I hear Pravda is well read, too.

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  15. 5K for the year? still won't make up in income loss from Checkbook Betty

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  16. It's understandable that some would feel Councilwoman Fischer's actions have a bit of tone-deafness to them, especially those victimized by the Reporter's lies and innuendos. Most of us are grateful her predecessor is gone and hopefully she will learn the nuances as her term goes on.

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    1. Exactly. I'm more concerned now that supports will attack people who criticize her than for her making additional mistakes.

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  17. I am writing to respond to “Anon: Jan 5, 2:12 PM” and to provide some color behind my support for adding the Hoboken Reporter to the list of official newspapers. I am not looking for you to agree or disagree, but would like to just give you some better information around my actions to help inform your views.

    For those who do not know me that well, I feel strongly that the public should be better connected with its local government. I see this differently than the concept of “transparency”, a word that now has a negative connotation given my predecessor’s use of it. I see “better connected” as an active effort to share the activities of our government with the public to help facilitate increased public involvement. This was a key theme in my campaign and will also be during my term.

    I initiated the idea to add the HR as an official newspaper because, regardless of the views on its content, the HR is read by many Hoboken residents and considered to be our community newspaper. I agree there are other ways to extend reach including Facebook and Nixel and the City’s website – all of which I also hope will expand over time as well. However at Monday’s meeting, we had to approve official newspapers for the City, and this was the first chance to fix something that I have perceived as being broken for a while.
    Prior to the meeting, I spoke with all but one of my fellow City Council members and all were supportive so long as the potential costs were not high and it was legal – as mentioned on this board, there was a concern whether or not the HR could qualify as an "official" paper. Additionally, a concern was also raised about biases in HR’s reporting, but ultimately all were ok with the decision, as evidenced by their unanimous vote, with making the potential public’s benefit a priority over their own personal experience.

    With these constraints in hand, I began my “research” to see what could be possible. Counsel for the City confirmed that the HR could be an official newspaper, just not the ONLY newspaper given it does not meet criteria for legal notice requirements. I did speak with the HR to see what practices were used by our neighboring towns and whether HR’s costs were comparable to other official papers. I did not negotiate any actual pricing arrangements. The $5k that I mentioned at Monday’s meeting is a high end estimate of what potential costs might be of adding the HR. Hopefully, the costs will be closer to zero as many of the HR ads will be replace those in one of the other papers.

    This idea did not come out of the blue. I have had experiences where it was obvious the public was not given enough of a chance to participate because of ineffective notices. At ZBA meetings for what were seemingly controversial applications, and no members of the public were present. Or at the Special Meeting to approve the Western Edge redevelopment plan (which met a 48 hour notice requirement with a Sunday placement in the Bergen Record) which was primarily attended by only those having a direct economic interest. I have also had experiences that shows the HR’s potential reach – during my campaign I was amazed at how many people mentioned they had read the Letters to the Editor I have written.

    Before the HR was added, notices have only been placed in hard to find locations of periodicals that are not well read by Hoboken residents. So one could actually argue that our legal advertising budget is being spent in a way that does satisfy the spirit of what public benefit notices are meant to provide and actually limits the public’s benefit to checking a necessary regulatory box. To me, the Hoboken Reporter offers the opportunity to actually place notices in a more easy to find location of a more often read periodical.

    Hopefully the public will not see this as a waste of money, but rather a better use of money.

    I would really welcome any further thoughts you might have on trying to improve the connection between the government and the public.

    Thank you for reading this.

    Tiffanie Fisher
    2nd Ward City Councilwoman

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