Mayor: City's Legal Dept. Looking into B&G Terms of Lease

Da Horsey was first out of the gate last August reporting on the several critical lease violations at the Boys and Girls Club.

Violation No. 1: no annual financial reports had been provided by the B&G to the City:
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 terms to the Boys & Girls Club specifically mandate it demonstrate in an annual report to the Business Administrator how it has complied with requirements using the building, the value and cost of its use in its activities along with the continued demonstration of tax exempt status.
Violation No. 2: the one which has demonstrably harmed the B&G's ability to use their space for the purposes of conducting it's mission during hours of operation, has been subleasing/ renting of whole areas of the building without the City's permission.
 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.
Shortly after Horsey's expose, GA started hearing from unhappy B&G Club parents, and employees, and have written on the impact of subleasing their space on the kids through reduction in services and programs. 

Well, thanks to Amanda Staab from Patch, the attention on the B&G's operations has gotten white hot.

And Staab's headline today is a stunner: Mayor ‘Extremely Concerned’ About Hoboken Boys and Girls Club.

GA's waited to hear that.

Patch reports that last September the mayor had requested financial records and reports on the use of the property from the B&G Club:

All programming and financial records must also be reported to the city’s business administrator. But as of Zimmer’s Sept. 28, 2011 letter, "[the city had] not received any report from the Boys and Girls Club outlining the financials or use of the property."

As a result, the mayor requested "a full and complete accounting of all agreements over the last ten years for the use of the Boys and Girls Club facilities and all revenues received."

"I have been advised that numerous commercial activities have taken place at the Boys and Girls Club," Zimmer wrote, "but the city has never been advised."

She also stated that the facility is not to be used as "an income producing property."
The City did get a response- financial records for the Club from 2006 - 2011, but nothing for 2005 and prior years.

The mayor also indicated the City will not interfere with HoLa's use of the building but wrote in her letter that the City expects rents associated with HoLa sublease and ALL OTHER REVENUE received through commercial use of the premises to be paid to the City, as the building belongs to Hoboken's taxpayers.

Is that being enforced?

This taxpayer would exchange the could of extra bucks in my pocket for the B&G to fufill it's mission:

Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County is a 501(c)3 whose mission is to help young people, especially those who need us most, build strong character and realize their full potential as responsible citizens and leaders.

We do this by providing:
Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County offers that and more. Club programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County is a safe place to learn and grow – all while having fun. It is truly The Positive Place For Kids.
And a truly Positive Place for Kids doesn't turn them away because they're churning cash from their own facility.

Let's see what the City does next.


  1. Long overdue, like a lot of things. Another anticipated hornet's nest, this one. More dot-connection for the FBI, too.

    No matter how this plays out, here's hoping the B&G's Club's youth services come out of it stronger than ever!

    Such a shame, but youth organizations like this--also PAL's---are all too often sadly notorious for functioning as pawns for other agendas.

    Thank goodness Hoboken's Y is under competent, ethical leadership at present.

    But one can only imagine, given Hudson County's machinations, Hoboken's B&G's Club may be an extreme example.

  2. This begs the questions of how and why did the state grant a charter to a school when they only held an illegal sub-lease for a building they didn't own?

    The bogus "dual language" aspect notwithstanding, Zimmer is completely wrong if she truly believes that the city should not interfere with Hola's use of the space. A more reasonable approach would be to give them one more year - at fair market rate for a space that size - to leave and find a new location. If they don't, the incompetent and /or corrupt founders and board haven only themselves to blame.

  3. 1. If the state sees what on its face is a duly executed lease, and I'm sure they were shown a document like that if such is required, that's about as far as they can be expected to go until evidence is presented to suggest malfeasance. That's not the same as saying this lease is in fact proper, but that there would be no reasonably obvious way for the state to tell.

    2. If the HoLa Board entered into the lease in good faith, then the school and especially its students should not be penalized, if possible. We've seen no proof otherwise. I realize you trust Frank Raia about as far as you can throw him. I share that sentiment, but that doesn't mean anything illegal was done in this case, let alone that the Board as a whole acted in bad faith (even if Raia as an individual board member turns out to have done so, and again I've seen nothing to explicitly support that supposition - yet). It seems frequently to be overlooked that in addition to monthly cash rent, HoLa is covering 100% of the costs of substantial improvements to the building, at considerable cost. Taken in total, the school's costs are a lot closer to "fair market" than is often credited.

    3. In the case there is a bad actor or a whole Board full of them, then the sanctions should apply to those parties, but not others. Said another way, guilt by association and collective punishment, particularly of students and their families, is inappropriate. The state can remove an entire board or compel a board to remove certain members if circumstances so call. But as to closing a school or forcing it out on the street, they aren't going to do that unless the students themselves are being failed in the education being provided to them, or at least they are going to first try other means to solve the problems. If B&G has acted improperly in subletting use of the building, and in the case that HoLa's total costs, including the costs they are footing for the improvements to the building, can be shown to be so low as to be considered outside of what is reasonable, then I think it would be fair to expect HoLa to bear some additional cost after a reasonable interval. (In that case, were I on the HoLa Board, I would explore suing B&G for any such cost incurred.) But "market" cost for HoLa's use of space at the 123 Jefferson building is, I think, very different from what some people imagine.

    4. You may not agree with the principle behind dual language education, and that is your right. However, there is an enormous quantity of scientific research to support it as valuable in ways that go far beyond teaching a new language. Dual-language education is not one small group's cockamamie idea. ("Cockamamie" is Yiddish, by the way; the best translation to Spanish I can find is "disparatada," which means "crazy." But I digress.)

    Whether HoLa is doing a good job accomplishing its educational task, whether its Board is doing a proper job, and whether the Boys & Girls Club is living up to its agreement with Hoboken, are all legitimate questions, and questions in which I am very personally invested as an HoLa parent. Let the light shine brightly. However, whatever the answers are, they do not make 176 children and their families appropriate targets for summary punishment.

    1. Hoboken Diary, I certainly understand your concern about the possible implications of these HOLA/B&G Club revelations for the education of your child. On the other hand, as your own blog seems to indicate, you have a pretty solid understanding of the "players" in Hoboken and the "games" they have been playing for a long time and continue to play even today wherever they are left to their own devices. The fact that Pupie Raia and Anthony Petrosino are on the HOLA board should have given you pause and made you think twice whether or not you want to associate your child's education with these sorts of questionable characters.

      From what has been reported, HOLA not only holds a lease at the B&G Club that may be illegal, but also the rent HOLA is paying has been reported to be substantially below going market rate. Again, you as a HOLA parent should have questioned the HOLA board about the reasons for this favorable arrangement. You know the saying: "There is no free lunch."

      I personally fully endorse the "clean-up" efforts that the current administration is putting forth. The fact that HOLA may be affected by this process is unfortunate from the point of view of the parents and pupils, but the parents have nobody but themselves to blame for having hitched the educational fate of their children to well known shady characters.

  4. Hoboken Diary -

    If the state was deceived by Hola's founders, that does not mean the school should be allowed to continue its operations at this building which we are all subsidizing. Gaming the system, a common technique used by the old guard, was used here for the creation of Hola and it should not be allowed to continue its operations at the current site.

    You may call this punishment but that is an irrational distortion of the truth. Lying and stealing can be met with consequences when they are found out and the board of the Boys and Girls Club share in the blame. Your anger should be with the boards of Hola and the Boys & Girls Club, not your neighbors and the current city administration.

    The parents, like yourself, who enrolled their children in Hola thought they were making good choices - but they had choices, public schools, other charter schools or, when finances allow, private or parochial schools. The parents who relied upon the facility and services of the Boys and Girls club did not have choices and this valuable social service has been extremely diminished or taken away from those children and families. Those children are loved and cherished by their parents too.

    Yes, the science seems to support the value of dual lanquage education, but when that language is Spanish in a population where many already speak it, albeit substandardly, including influential families whose children are enrolled at Hola, it makes it clear what the intent was. We're not that naive.

    You know what else has empirical evidence to support it? The value of after-school programs, group activities and good nuturition for those kids who would not have easy access to those things. Hola's presence at the Boys and Girls Club has taken that away from too many for too long. It's time to end this unethical and illegal lease as quickly and painlessly as possible and restore the Boys and Girls programs fully.

    We wish you well in your search for a new location for Hola. Next time, don't listen to the old guard and hire the right attorney.

  5. To be honest, I still see nothing beyond speculation that HoLa has done wrong here, and it is evident that B&G feels their agreement with the city affords them the right to generate income to cover operating costs of the building (or so they claim). B&G has been subletting for years, long before HoLa existed. It was no secret. This needs to play out further, I feel. Further, whatever B&G's agreement with the City may require, as a denizen of the neighborhood I know the building was tremendously underutilized pre-HoLa. HoLa has expanded the usable space significantly at its cost and most of its time in the building is outside B&G hours.

    Can a better job be done in sharing? No doubt. Let's try to improve rather than explode. My own reading of what has come out in this process is that much of the problem as to services for B&G children is about B&G management rather than availability of space. Their decision to serve Kool-Aid, let alone to prepare it in a utility sink, if true, is not about HoLa. B&G should be using HoLa (and other) rental money to pay for more hot meals and the staff to serve them, not cut back. HoLa is not responsible for that sort of decision if that's what's going on.

    If the lease is illegal - I think it is too early to reach that conclusion - it may become appropriate for HoLa to find a new home. But it should not be done in a way that is punitive, even if the Board failed to show due diligence. And again, while the base rent is low, the capital investment HoLa is making in the building as part of the deal and should not be ignored and is of substantial value to the community. If the landlord were Hoboken (and maybe it will so be!), it is not obvious to me it would be a bad arrangement for the City to make just the kind of deal with HoLa as B&G did - a concession on rent in return for capital improvement.

  6. Whatever my personal knowledge may be, in fact I do not feel it is reasonable to expect that every parent should be expected to conduct a detailed investigation. The school was vetted by the State going in, and the State ultimately responsible for making sure the school operates in a legitimate way, which includes responding to allegations of impropriety. While I think the Hoboken BoE is in far better hands now than has been the case historically, you can't tell me there isn't still a lot of garbage to clean up there, more than a little chaos, and the sort of mix of good and bad teachers one sees in any school system, private included. We as parents take risks wherever we send our children to school - think of the mayhem recently at Brearly, let alone PS 87 and in LA! The solution is support, rooting out the bad actors, and not collective punishment. Of course I take responsibility for my decisions in this regard, but the State also has responsibilities to me as a citizen, and I do in fact put a good deal of trust in its institutions while keeping my eyes open; on some level we all need to do that if we are going to live in this society.

    I don't follow about a Spanish language immersion school being problematic in this case (i.e., because of some of the well-connected parents). Including children who speak the "target" language (in this case Spanish) substantially aids the efficacy of the learning environment. The school also has a substantial English language curriculum (seriously beefed up by the new Director), the weight of which increases steadily with grade level. Learning a language is about modeling. You need people who speak it to learn it, and if some of them are your peers it's going to work better. However, very few children at HoLa have fluency in Spanish - I wish there were more, so my son would use Spanish at recess and lunch and not just in the classroom. I can't think of a better second language for an American than Spanish. Mandarin and others arguably equally good, but Hoboken doesn't have a Mandarin charter (yet). For me, this is not about a strategic choice of a second language for the world my child will live in as an adult, but rather a way to enhance the flexibility of his intellect. That there happens to be lots of daily resource for him to encounter the language in real life serves that end. Mandarin wouldn't do that in Hoboken in 2012.

    Of course the presence of Raia and Petrosino on the Board gave me pause. However, Raia does give substantial money to worthy charitable causes and Petrosino is knowledgeable about childhood education. It's what Raia SHOULD be doing, to sit on a charter board and give the school lots of money. It's what Petrosino SHOULD be doing, to sit on a charter board and offer his counsel on childhood education. The "influential" members of the Hoboken community with children in the School have in my observation been generous, honest, and upright to a fault. They want a good education for their children, too. It's hard for me to be cut and dry on these things. But don't get the idea that your points aren't well taken.

    I think HoLa is a valuable institution and worth having in our community. I am glad it was founded and that it strives to provide a high quality education. If there are bad actors they should be rooted out; we have yet to see. But let's keep the school as long as it fixes any problems and gives a good education to its students.

    1. Wow! Do you get dizzy from all that spinning? An illegal lease, no matter how it came into being, is still illegal and must be terminated as swiftly as possible. There are other charter schools in town that had to scramble for space and guess what? They did it!

      The Boys and Girls Club's building is owned by the citizens of Hoboken and even if they could rent it out, which they cannot, it should be at fair market rate - not even close to what you're paying.

      "Improvements" to the structure, a publicly owned building - with no competitive bidding for the construction - is not a justification for anything.

      HoLa may be a dual language school, but you're also teaching your students the international language of corruption, grafting, low morals and a lack of ethics - a tongue many locals, including people on your board and associated with your school are fluent in.

      Corrupción es el mismo en todos los idiomas. Además, el dialecto de Puerto Rico no es español.

  7. Well, I'll just throw this one into the mix: the HoLa Charter stated: "by year 3 and beyond we ideally hope to be in another facility."

    The Charter proposed 2 years at the B&G while searching for a permanent location.

    Has any effort to follow the Charter been made?

  8. My understanding is that they are intending to expand through further out-building in order to accommodate the full K-5 enrollment approved in the initial charter. I don't know if any effort was made to find an alternative location. It seems to me they found a solution to make the building work by building out, or at least they think they have! Plans change. In principle, all things being equal, I see no problem with that.

    Oracle, you may feel the charges being made against B&G (and HoLa) are already settled, but that's dependent on quite a lot of speculation. Your moniker notwithstanding, I suspect your powers of prophesy are a lot closer to mine than to those of Pythia.

    But my main points are that the State approved this charter, the educational principles are sound (whatever your issues with Puerto Rican Spanish may be), and families enrolled their children in good faith. If there are problems to solve - and that remains unproven - the solution isn't to drop a bomb. But in any case, let's see what are the facts before we choose the weapon of mass destruction.

    I don't know about you, but I have myself made deals with landlords to trade improvement for rent concessions. You are making assumptions about HoLa's deal with B&G based on lack of facts. I don't have numbers for you so I can't prove the deal is reasonably close to "fair market," whatever that means in the case of a building such as this. Do you have numbers? Please post them if you do. The HoLa budget is a matter of public record and can be obtained from the State. I see a lot of accusations, but not much homework being done by those levying the accusations.

    My understanding is that Raia volunteered (i.e., no compensation) to oversee the renovations. I am unaware that a charter needs to go through the sort of formal bidding processes that a BoE school might. I can't cite law on this. Can you? It's a good question. I'd like to know the answer. But until I see a clear answer I can't presume mendacity.

    Assuming it was legal for Raia to do what he did (and non-profit board members serve volunteer functions all the time - I have a ton of experience of the non-profit world), of course work was probably sent to his preferred vendors. Now you may not LIKE that Raia got involved in this way. Assuming this is even accurate (I don't know, but it seems likely), that does not make it illegal UNLESS A BIDDING PROCESS IS REQUIRED BY LAW. If it is required, then I want to see how HoLa handled that. Those making the accusations need to do more than ... accuse, at least for me to buy it.

    Another area of reasonable concern would be whether the vendors who did the actual work on the building either did poor work or overcharged. If you have solid information to demonstrate that, I want to know. More homework. (I actually think my son gets too much homework; he won't be able to help with the research as he doesn't have time.)

    You don't LIKE Frank Raia. I don't either. I also don't LIKE David H. Koch, or the political causes he supports, and I think he should be paying a lot more taxes. But he is an extraordinary patron of classical ballet, and I'm glad of that. Someone else will have the same sort of negative feelings about George Soros, though few would object to the $50M he gave to Millennium Promise. Richard Nixon, who was a crook, did some good things, and except that Ted Kennedy, of all people, couldn't manage to say yes, Nixon would have signed a health care law much like the one Obama signed decades later.

  9. Is this spin? Perhaps, but not my definition. I call it humanity. Nixon got what he deserved. Maybe Raia will, maybe not. But that doesn't mean he never did anything good.

    My son is currently fascinated with the "Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde." If you haven't read it recently, do! It's only about 50 pages; I'm sure there is a free on-line version. The thing is that Jekyll and Hyde are not opposites. Hyde is PART of Jekyll; the potion draws out just that part, or suppresses everything else. What makes Stevenson's work a masterpiece is that he shows the struggle of a REAL person (including his good AND bad attributes) with his purely evil side.

    There are, rarely, people like Hyde, who never do anything good. Hitler? Thank goodness people like that are extraordinarily rare. There are about as many people who only ever do good. Then there are the rest of us. Some of us are better than others; some of us are pretty awful. But when we choose to judge, we must be careful because even the awful ones can do some good things.

    If Hitler were on the board of HoLa, I'd be outa there. He's not. Nor is he a major patron of the New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre, and for now I'll continue to enjoy their performances and be glad of Koch's patronage. And I'm glad we have diplomatic relations with China. I still don't like Wagner's music, but not because Hitler did - I just don't think it's nearly as good as some people think.

    But in all seriousness, HoLa doesn't have much to pillage. If you have any idea of how insufficient funding is for charters in New Jersey, you know that. The real action is at the BoE, home of a budget that dwarfs that of HoLa AND has a nearly $1M surplus to boot. Raia - demonstrably - could be sitting again on the BoE given the success of his slate at the last election, and the more you believe he bought that election (I do because of the way he talks about farming votes, his own public words, are so suggestive), the more obviously true that is. But he withdrew because he couldn't sit on the HoLa board and the BoE according to statute. He could have quit the HoLa board, but he didn't. Puzzling. I honestly can't think of any good reason other than that he wanted to help HoLa out. I know I haven't convinced you! I struggle with the conclusion myself, but I need more documentation to take the opposite side in this case.


Post a Comment