Monday medley: saving the HUMC, No Reform "push poll"



Reform peeps- all of you, watch that video. 

GA's pick- then and now, for the single person most responsible for saving the hospital is the indefatigable Toni Tomarazzo, Chairwoman of the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority (HUMC).  GA spoke to Toni during the hospital sale process; she was literally working 60-70 hours a week- between her fulltime job and steering the process from RFPs through to the sale.  GA wrote back then:
But others were instrumental in saving our hospital, too; it was a true team effort.

Mayor Zimmer, was instrumental- recall how Beth Mason's toady improperly obtained "60,000 emails between Zimmer/HMHA and the buyer" during the hospital sale in order to destroy it (and the city's bond rating.)  Remember, the city's bond rating was perched on the brink of junk bond status if Hoboken's $52M bond debt were not relieved by the hospital sale, forcing Hoboken into bankruptcy.  That is what the Dark Side wanted.

The  all-volunteer HMHA members, who worked tirelessly and  under vicious attack by Beth Mason minions, of course were instrumental to the hospital sale.

So was the Reform City Council: Cunningham, Bhalla, Giattino, Mello and Marsh. Even Flipper Occhipinti, whose 6th vote on October 30, 2011 allowed the sale to go through, was instrumental.

Hence, the "saving" of the HUMC was a Reform achievement, a feather in everyone's cap.  Some feathers are bigger than other feathers.  But still, the process of turning a public asset into private hands was complex, and everyone was instrumental at the right time.

GA will show you an example of both Hoboken City Council President Ravi Bhalla and 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino's participation in saving the HUMC.  

On the evening of July 21, 2011, both Councilperson's testified at a hearing before the New Jersey State Planning Board, asking the Board to approve the hospital's Certificate of Need application. The approval was required  in order to transfer of ownership of  the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority to HUMC Holdco LLC.  Without it, the hospital sale would have tanked. 

Others who testified that night include Mayor Zimmer, Steve Rofsky, Donna Antonucci, Allen Kratz, and Freeholder Anthony Romano.

GA will republish to testimony of the 2017 mayoral candidates, in the order they testified.

Folks can judge for themselves the substance and clarity that our three 2017 mayoral candidates argued to save the hospital at this critical state hearing  in 2011.

MR. BHALLA: Good evening. My name is Ravi Bhalla. First name is R-A-V-I. Last name is spelled B-H-A-L-L-A. I'm a Council Member at Large and the President of the Hoboken City Council. At first, I want to thank you all for your time and having us here today. I'm going to be very brief. Just to give you a sense of what this hospital means to us, it used to be named St. Mary's. Today it's called Hoboken University Medical Center, but it's a part of our community. It's an institution that almost every Hoboken resident uses when they're in a time of need. We cannot, as a community, survive without this hospital being in place from a health care perspective. We cannot survive from a governmental perspective without this hospital. The city has carried a $52 million debt obligation and if this hospital sale does not go through, the hospital will close. There's no other option that's on the table. This sale is critical. This sale is our only option.  You have, you know, Mr. Conroy and Miss Ainora, you have these shiny brochures that have been submitted to members of the public, trying to suggest that we have time to renegotiate a new sale or that there's other buyers. That ship has sailed. That ship has sailed a long time  ago. We had a stakeholders meeting with -- excuse me, a stakeholder committee with a diverse cross-section of members of the community with hours and hours of input, a very diverse group of  bidders, a very competitive process. A very strong perspective buyer was identified and a process of negotiation has been completed. Now we're at the juncture where a decision has to be made, and I strongly, strongly urge you to recommend to the Commissioner that this Certificate of Need be issued. If you don't do it, it's gonna' have an impact on the taxpayers of this town and on the health care needs of this community, so I respectfully thank you for your time and strongly urge you to recommend that a Certificate of Need be issued to the Commissioner. Thank you.

MS. GIATTINO: Hello. My name is Jen Giattino, J-E-N, G-I-A-T-T-I-N-O, and I am here to show my support for the sale of the hospital. I do not think it’s fair for the taxpayers of Hoboken to have this huge financial liability hanging over their head. This hospital has a very special place in my heart. I delivered two of my children here and the doctors were wonderful. The staff was wonderful and the nurses are wonderful. I very much appreciate the fact that both my pediatricians and my personal doctor are affiliated with this hospital.  That all being said, I want to show  my support once again for the sale of this  hospital. Thank you.

FREEHOLDER ROMANO: Yes. Good evening, one and all. I hear so many good things being said here, but my concern -- since there is a time limit I'll focus on a few issues.  Number one, most importantly, we  need a hospital here in Hoboken. We need a full separate operating hospital as seen from, going back many years when it was St. Mary's to the present, when it served during 9/11 for the bringing of victims and injured police, fire and other emergency people here to be treated. The nurses and the staff in this hospital have taken a pay hit. We need to preserve their jobs. I say this not only as the County Representative, but as a Police Captain that has dealt with some of the finest staff, medical, clerk and otherwise in this state and we hope that their jobs are not in jeopardy. We ask that you try to do the best you can to keep all these positions. Another concern is the coverage. Obviously the Horizon Blue Cross and the services that, that we, as municipal workers, employees of the hospital, Board of Education, Housing Authority, Stevens, we are all worried that they're not going to be honored. That's another issue we hope will be negotiated. I was talking to Mickey McCabe and I hope Mickey's going to step up and help our ambulance core. We need the help.  I'm asking, I'm actually begging and hoping that you'll consider, when you're going to decide to terminate positions, what these people have sacrificed here that work in this facility. The doctors, the nurses have fought to 24 keep this hospital going. They have sacrificed a lot and we hope that you will take this into consideration. It's a very important -- it's an artery. I refer a lot of times to St. Mary's for emotional reasons, HUMC or HUMC, whatever you want to call it, as the key to this region, not just as an emergency care facility, but as a full operating hospital, with many young people that have decided to have their babies in our fine. Labor and Delivery section of the hospital, so again, I ask on behalf of all the people that -- obviously we know that this is the last formality. I know we at the county level were not involved in the ongoing process, but we hear different things and we hope we can all work together. It's beheld on you all to hopefully work with all of us at all levels of government. We look forward to trying to alleviate this situation. We all hope that we can work together. I could be contacted any time, day or night, if anything I could ever do. Good luck. Thank you

Stick's pretty good, huh?  Maybe we should get used to calling him Mayor Romano?


The only reason GA brings this up this topic is to offset a burst of false accusations about a Bhalla "push-poll" disseminated online this weekend.  GA read the hyperventilating, alarmist rhetoric of a "push poll... targeting Jen" and feared a Swibinski-esque dirty trick.

I reached out to Bhalla on who was doing a push-poll. He said,  "I don't do push polls. It's a slimy and ineffective campaign tactic. And an insult to the intelligence of our residents."

As it turned out, no one was push-polling.

For peeps who may not understand what a "push poll" is, push polls are not 'real' polls.  They do not serve to measure public opinion or gather data. Push polls are generally used as a smear tactic to sway voters with negative/ false information about a particular candidate; they can be very effective. A famous example is the push-poll conducted against GOP Presidential Primary candidate John McCain in South Carolina. In 2000, John McCain was favored to win South Carolina, which would likely have thwarted the presidential aspirations of George W. Bush.  Bush's evil brain, Karl Rove, killed McCain's nomination with a push poll.
Enough said?  That is a push poll.  The New York Times' "What is a Push Poll?" explains push-polling pretty well, and the difference between push-polling and conventional positive/negative message polling .

Hence, this weekend's paranoid apoplexy over conventional opinion/message polling- a poll testing positive and negative messaging about Bhalla, at best shows a misunderstanding of political polling. At worst, it was a deliberate smear.  Let's not play that way, let's save it for the Dark Side. 

To wrap up on a positive note, after Reform 'split' into two camps, Ravi Bhalla invited Peter Cunningham to submit poll questions.  You heard that right.  Bhalla extended the offer to the other Reform campaign to join the poll. The invitation to join the poll was a kind gesture to the opposing Reform camp who appears to be behind in fundraising.  Polls are not cheap. More importantly, this was a good faith offer to share data- helpful to all of Reform to see the strengths and weaknesses of each respective candidate.

Bhalla's offer was not rebuffed.  Nor did the campaign submit poll questions. GA contacted  Peter Cunningham, he chose  not to comment.


  1. Wow.

    "To wrap up on a positive note, after Reform 'split' into two camps, Ravi Bhalla invited Peter Cunningham to submit poll questions. You heard that right. Bhalla extended the offer to the other Reform campaign to join the poll."

    Maybe Ravi, if given a chance, could have a different dynamic with the Council than Dawn. Good digging for facts GA. Would like to hear Peter's response and/or see any correspondence.

  2. I think as people consider the noise surrounding Ravi and Jen's candidacy, its important to take note that nobody except MSV has proclaimed anyone to be the "true candidate of reform." Neither Ravi nor Jen have publicly made that claim and the Mayor made it clear that her endorsement of Ravi was just that - her personal endorsement - nothing more nothing less. The Mayor speaks for the Mayor, not for "reform," just as Peter Cunningham and Tiffanie Fisher have given Jen their personal individual endorsements. Again, nothing more, nothing less. They do not speak for any fictional "majority" or anything larger than themselves.

    Those who respect the opinions of the Mayor and those Council people will no doubt factor those endorsements into their views and they should, but nobody has been appointed the official spokesman for a movement or a political party called "reform" even if a certain Horse has sought to neigh in.

    The Horse believes that Jen is a worthier candidate. That is his opinion and he is certainly entitled to that. Perhaps some day he will share with his readers some actual policy or governing philosophy based reasons instead of continuing his tired fictional narrative of "true reform" rising up as one to support Jen.

    On another front, does anyone know who the "reform" candidates for school board will be and who will be choosing them and when? Should all of "reform" be getting behind a single ticket as usual despite the opacity that surrounds the process through which the ticket is chosen?

    The Mayor has always made clear through her support that no matter how uncomfortable she or others may be with the lack of transparency and lack of broad participation in the process, she believes we should unite behind a single ticket. Even when she has publicly disagreed with some of the ticket's important positions like the HoLa lawsuit, she has endorsed and campaigned for a ticket chosen by others, which the press always referred to as "Zimmer's ticket," and the voting public always understood as such, even though she had no role is choosing it.

    Something for folks to think about as they reflect on the consistency, or lack thereof, of their positions about "unity."

    1. I simply see a group of people who were never crazy about Zimmer and/or Ravi to begin with- some of them are my friends- and now, without Zimmer, this faction has materialized into a natural anti-Ravi constituency; a small, albeit passionate group. In talks with some of them, prior to the 'split'- they said Ravi was unelectable. I can only assume those who said that have short historical memories.

      Anyone who claims the mantle of reform is simply a romanticizing jackass. Leaders emerge organically. Reform is going through an identity crisis, not a "rebirth."

    2. Numberscruncher... please dig through Horsey's site.
      His political views are pretty apparent and explain his rah rah ing for Jen.

  3. I am happy @numberscruncher raised the opacity of how Kids First tickets are chosen. It's my understanding that Dawn, Ravi, Jen and others have never had any visibility into who chooses the ticket and how. In that context it is rich that some of them would raise visibility and process as concerns. If Dawn, after working with Jen, said, "I'd like you to be the next Mayor and I will endorse you," I'd dare say Jen would have no issue with process. Reform is not a party, unlike the Democratic Party which has by-laws and a process for choosing leadership. My educated guess what they there was no process either that the Mayor followed when she endorsed Jen or Tiffanie for Council. She endorsed and they were grateful, like Ravi is now. I think it's telling that now they would raise process issues, when they don't like the result. I know they said they will support the best candidate in the Fall and reform will have one candidate on the ballot, but sadly I am getting the feeling that was never really true. I think Jen just wants to be Mayor and her people are talking about process as an entry point to live their ambition since they have no real division on ideas.

    Being sober and realistic, if I was a betting person, I think with a reform split that Anthony Romano has the best chance of being Mayor. We're also going to have to deal with the split in Kids First loyalties, and when Jen and Ravi cannibalize each other, unfortunately split Reform
    fights for Council seats in 2019. Realistically this is where the split could go. Peter has been in office for 3 terms, he would be running for a 4th term after his support led to the handing away of the Mayorship. Tiffanie would have splitting the Dem Party in town and handed the Mayorship away as the mainstays of her resume. And Jen...

    This all sounds doom and gloom but we should be clear-eyed about scenarios that are foreseeable. It will be an ugly fight in the fall and after if we remain divided. People will unnecessarily be forced to choose sides. What bothers me most, getting back to a recurring theme, is that this is really about process not substance, unlike 2009. Running two candidates is not necessary if our leaders get it together since there is no real division on ideas.

  4. In other news.... horse+pillow is hilarious.


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