Thursday, February 16, 2017

Optics, Schmoptics?


GA tuned into last night's meeting in the midst of some (unusual) discord on the Council dais.

Unusual because the debate didn't split along the usual partisan lines, but on differences in governing philosophy- differences within the 6-member Reform faction.  In a nutshell, the issue was whether to vote on a Resolution authorizing a $360,000 grant to pay for secure doors on unsecured HHA buildings, or wait to resolve the question of how the grant would be funded.
Resolution "...it has been demonstrated that due to age, the doors at the residential buildings of the HHA pose a significant safety concern to residents; and...  it is estimated by the Executive Director of the HHA that the cost to replace the doors is approximately $360,000; and... the HHA Executive Director and the Hoboken Chief of Police determined replacing the doors is an urgent public safety issue given the age of the doors; and,  ...residents in the HHA have expressed concerns regarding public safety relating to the doors to the HHA and the City; and... the City and its elected officials have an obligation to take all necessary measures to protect the health and safety of all residents of Hoboken; and,... a grant for the door replacement in the HHA allocated from this capital fund would not cause an increase in municipal taxes..."

ALL agreed that the City would find the funding for secure HHA doors; the disagreement was whether or not to VOTE to on the resolution to approve the grant prior to resolving how it would be funded.

And that's where the term "optics" entered the debate and threw kerosene on inflamed tempers;  when one councilperson suggested that the "optics" of pulling the Resolution would be bad and send the wrong message, another councilman attacked any decision based on "optics" would be "political."

What to do?  

Vote and ask questions later?  Or put the brakes on until the funding option is selected?

Well, sometimes "optics" matter.

Imagine: the lock on your Hoboken home's front door is broken, and has been for years.

Imagine: your broken front door attracts people from Hoboken, Jersey City, Union City who find criminal opportunity in your broken front door.

Imagine: every front door on your street has a broken front door, and one of your neighbors has been murdered.

Imagine: you depend upon others to fix your front door lock.

If you had to live this way, would you understand the anxiety HHA residents have for themselves and their children?   Imagine the despair, the feeling that you do not matter  to the institutions that have the power to help you.  In this case the optics of "waiting" vs. "acting" mattered on a psychological and spiritual level.   Putting off the vote would have been a blow to residents living in sub-standard conditions and would only have validated the belief that nobody cares.

So... GA thanks the Council for voting and passing the Resolution last night!  Hooray!

Wonderful things come out of vigorous, public debate, and public input.  

There was one unfortunate moment in an otherwise civil debate;  Councilman DeFusco suggested that Councilman Bhalla sponsored the Resolution because his At-Large election is looming.

That kind of gratuitous, partisan jab reminded GA of the Bad Old Days of partisan infighting on the City Council. It's unbecoming of Mike, and I hope he thinks twice before questioning a colleague's motives on legislation during a public meeting.  Save that for the campaign.

GA Note:  Thank you, Councilman Bhalla for responding immediately to the hospitalized HHA resident who asked for your help on Tuesday afternoon.  You made a difference.

And, my sincere condolences to the Russo family on the loss of their matriarch, Michele Russo.

26 comments:

  1. Councilman DeFusco's remarks were unfortunate, but not unexpected considering his much rumored political ambitions. Councilman Bhalla response was to volunteer to remove his name as sponsor and allow Councilman DeFusco to go on record as sponsor. The point was made repeatedly that the entire City Council was always in favor of funding the new doors in the HHA and the antagonistic political jab the nasty way it was delivered was totally uncalled for, sad and reeks of insecurity.

    It unfortunate that HHA was mismanaged and allowed to deteriorate for so long but hopefully the quality of life the residents can be made better under the new leadership that has been put in place.

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  2. Sad to see that everyone is falling for the "optics" including this article. The fact is that it will take the same amount of time to get those doors in place having passed that resolution last night or having passed that resolution at the next city council meeting (which could have even been a special meeting next week.)

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    1. I know that. Thought I made the point clear that the perception ("optics") of the people who are living in a higher-crime area than most Hobokenites live in, in unsecured buildings was more important than "waiting" to iron out funding. This case is an exception- so whether there is a material difference in the schedule of installed secure doors, I believe it was important to send a message ("optics") to people who have been waiting for years, that they matter, and help is on the way. It's my opinion.

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    2. I don't think any of the City Council or reasonably intelligent person watching the meeting didn't understand the facts or the timetable. The purely political play by DeFusco was only real point of contention.

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  3. I am sorry to hear long time Hoboken activist Helen Hirsh has passed away.

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    1. I didn't hear that- terrible. When did she die?

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    2. I heard earlier this week.

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  4. The cost is fully funded by a trust fund dedicated for affordable housing including things like this so its hard to understand what the real motive was behind the demand (not suggestion) for a delay. It kinda seemed like a contrived reason to me, and certainly doesn't explain why delaying this particular matter was so incredibly important to a couple of council people. I have no idea what was really going on - likely pretty inside baseball - but if you believe it was about funding sources then I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

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  5. That's right anonymous, 4:02 there are details surrounding this that the public does not know about, although I suspect that the Mayor is fully aware of those reasons but decided it was more important to get the election brownie points instead and gladly threw Jen, Peter, Tiffanie and Jim under the proverbial bus in order to get them. Shame on her.

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    1. So if there are "details" the public doesn't know why did the councilmembers trying to delay this not share those "details" with the public? Had they done so and if those "details" justified the delay perhaps two of their council colleagues would have agreed with them.

      I'm confused about the comment about the mayor throwing people under the bus. This would be easier for us who are not "in the know" to follow if you would share these mysterious secret "details," explain why they were kept secret and elaborate on your comment about the mayor.

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  6. The real story is actually that the mayor throwing up a resolution authorizing 500k without sending through commitee. This is actually why Giattino and Fischer were irked and DeFusco questioned the timing.

    No one on the Council questioned the need to allocate money, just the way it was forced suddenly on them.

    Facts are important.

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  7. Defensive much Anonymous 4:54? Do you know every grant the city is applying for in connection in connection with rebuild by design, police and fire safety equipment, road and infrastructure improvements? Do you know every plan or negotiation the city is involved with? Do you have full information on everything that is being considered at the parking & transportation subcommittee, or public safety committee? I'm just curious.

    Do you really think Russo and Ramos would have changed their vote regardless of the information? With a city council divide a-brewing and a flame they can fan?

    Do you really think Mello who is desperate to stay on the mayor's council ticket would go against the Mayor regardless of the reason?

    Were you were listening Councilwoman Giattino stated that she had proposed that the resolution be reworded so that it reflected both a commitment to funding the doors and the American Legion without tying the funding to the Capital Improvement Fund and the Mayor had refused? Were you listening when Councilwoman Fisher stated that there were many affordable housing needs and they wanted to make sure that all of them were addressed in the best way possible? Why wouldn't the Mayor agree with that?

    Do you think Councilpersons Doyle, Cunningham, Fisher and Giattino couldn't have had a good reason for not wanting to not review this further? Are you suggesting that those councilpersons don't want to fund these items?

    Do you think that whatever their reasons, that they wouldn't have shared them with the Mayor and if they did, could it be that the Mayor was more interested in an election talking point than actually serving the needs of of the HHA residents?a

    Are you suggesting that Bhalla and Mello's little speeches weren't pre-planned to shut down Giattino? What about the Marine View dwelling police chief speaking, for the first time EVER as a member of the public? How did that happen?

    I'm certainly not privvy to insider baseball, but I trust Fisher, Cunningham, Doyle and Giattino much more than I trust Zimmer, Bhalla, Mello, Russo, Ramos and DeFusco.

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    1. Wow! quite the long winded but revealing diatribe. Thank you for sharing your "not inside baseball" passionate perspective.

      You do know that Cunningham voted with Bhalla, Ramos, Melo etc.? don't you? Of course you do since you seem to have listened really carefully to the discussion and seem strongly invested in it. So I'm curious why you have included Cunningham in the team you trust given that when the rubber hit the road he wasn't on your team?

      Of course, the teams you describe don't actually exist though it is curious why an anonymous poster would be trying to create the narrative that they do.

      Things that make you go hmmm. But thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work!

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    2. I love the crazed paranoia, overreaction, negativity and down right bitchyness of some being expressed on what is at it's core a trivial matter. .

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    3. Ha-Ha, a response worthy of Kellyanne Conway.

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    4. How so? She tends to shovel BS. I called it out.

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  8. DeFusco's ambition will bite him eventually... it's just so blatant...and tactless. Amateur politics.

    Did you hear Mike's been thinking about redeveloping Newark St for years?

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    1. It is very easy to say you are thinking about doing something but much more difficult to actually accomplish something. Just say'n.

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    2. Present.

      Maybe if DeFusco was actually getting things accomplished instead of just being present...

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  9. All talk no action.

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  10. Kinda sad to watch someone shoot themselves the foot (or head). C'mon, Mike, get your shit together before you lose everything.

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  11. DeFusco is going to end Zimmer's reign of terror. Reform's collapse will come from within. Peace Stawn.

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    1. Fascinating- the Russo obit-spammer (you) is nothing more than a partisan political HACK. Only a partisan political piece of garbage (you) would defile an obit. Pat yourself on the back, schmuck.

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    2. LOL, @1:53. how exactly is a twice elected mayor with a high approval rating any sort of "reign of terror"?? you've been watching too much of the cheeto-in-chief's press conference.

      also, a (most likely sad/angry drunken) comment posted at almost 2:00 am??? you know what that spells? L-O-S-E-R.

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    3. I really don't think a developer puppet stands much of a chance against Zimmer.

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