Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hoboken City Council Meeting Preview- January 17, 2018 7pm

Tonight's Hoboken City Council meeting starts off with two closed session items:

1) Hoboken City Hall Security Measures:

Hoboken’s Chief of Police Kenneth F. Ferrante wishes to brief the City Council and Administration on safety and security matters, specifically new security measures at City Hall. One of the reasons to go into closed session is to discuss tactics and techniques utilized in protecting the safety and property of the public, disclosure of which could impair that protection. The City Council wishes to receive the safety and security briefing from Chief Ferrante, which will include discussion of tactics and techniques utilized in protecting the citizens of Hoboken, disclosure of which could impair said protection.

It is unknown whether these measures are related to any specific security threats made towards the Mayor or City Hall generally but some level of security strengthening in these times is likely warranted.

2) Personnel Matters:

This is likely a discussion of the new Deputy Chief of Staff created by new Mayor Ravi Bhalla. Under Mayor Zimmer there was a singular Chief of Staff position in her efforts to reduce the overhead for the Mayor's office and save the taxpayers money as part of her campaign promises. By creating this new position Ravi is asking for an additional slot on the table of organization that requires City Council approval. the discussion will likely revolve around the justification for this new position when in the past just one position seemed to foot the bill.

The two major ordinances for final vote are:

1) Schedule of Classifications for City employees (Table of Organization)


2) Authorization Ballot for reinstating run off elections. Mayor Zimmer vetoed this in one of her final acts as Mayor. The question is WWBD (What will Bhalla do)? It is likely the City Council will have enough votes to override anyway and let the people decide this November at the ballot box.


Two Council resolutions have some significance: 

1) Make Warrington Plaza an open market. This was a Mike Defusco campaign promise. It is unclear to me what jurisdiction Hoboken has and that this could just be a wish list request to NJ Transit.


2) Instant runoff option for elections. NJ has to pass legislation to allow municipal elections to have this option but it has merits vs. winner take all or a separate runoff election.


And this ordinance on first reading: 

Bar Crowd Control Ordinance - requiring minimum security personnel based on capacity for special events like Santa-con. 


Here is an example of one aspect of this legislation. I spoke to several bar restaurant owners and they claim they were not consulted on this before this was put up for first reading. There is the potential I see that these regulations may be onerous for restaurants and bars that do not participate in events like Santa-Con.

A. Security regulations and Crowd Control.
1. Each licensee shall be responsible for operating the licensed premises in a safe and orderly manner. The minimum number and type of security personnel on duty shall be determined by the occupant load of the licensed premises pursuant to the Certificate of Occupancy, Uniform Construction Code, and/or International Fire Code, subject to the following:
a. 100 occupants or less: At a minimum, one door person and one security person. The security person may also serve as the manager to the licensed premises.
b. 101 to 200 occupants: At a minimum, one door person and two security persons. One of the security persons may be a manager.
c. 201 to 300 occupants: At a minimum, one door person and three security persons. One of the security persons may be a manager.
d. 301 to 400 occupants: At a minimum, one door person and four security persons including a security supervisor who may be one of the four security persons. One of the security persons may be a manager.
e. 401 to 500 occupants: At a minimum, one door person and five security persons including a security supervisor who may be one of the five security persons. One of the security persons may be a manager.
f. 501 to 600 occupants: At a minimum, one door person and six security persons including a security supervisor who may be one of the six security persons. One of the security persons may be a manager.
g. 601 to 700 occupants: At a minimum, one door person and seven security persons including a security supervisor who may be one of the seven security persons. One of the security persons may be a manager.
h. 701 to 800 occupants: At a minimum, one door person and eight security persons including a security supervisor who may be one of the eight security persons. One of the security persons may be a manager.
i. 801 occupants and above: At a minimum, one door person and one security person for every one hundred persons as allowed by the occupant load for the licensed premises and one security supervisor for every four security persons. Security supervisors may also be security persons required under this subsection. One of the security persons may be a manager.


Mayor Ravi Bhalla Announces Formation of Public Safety Task Force

From the City of Hoboken's Mayor Office...

Mayor Ravi Bhalla Announces Formation of Public Safety Task Force

Mayor Ravinder S. Bhalla is announcing the formation of the Mayor's Task Force on Public Safety to address violence and quality of life issues resulting from intoxicated bar patrons. The task force includes Police Chief Ferrante, Provisional Fire Chief Crimmins, Police Capt. Pasculli, Police Sgt. Kucz, Police Sgt. Montanez, Health Officer Frank Sasso, Battalion Fire Chief Buoncuore, Fire Captain DiVincent, Business Administrator Marks, Corporation Counsel Aloia, and Environmental Services Director Pellegrini.

"We can no longer ignore the fact that a small number of establishments are creating a big problem for everyone else in the form of violence, property damage, and financial cost,” said Mayor Ravinder S. Bhalla. “When a person comes from out of town and spits in the face of our officers, as has happened numerous times, that is unacceptable. When an officer is assaulted by an inebriated patron and receives a concussion, as happened to Officer Lombardi on Christmas Eve, I will not allow the status quo to continue.”

  • In 2017, there were 277 ABC violations by liquor license holders.
  • Of 133 liquor license holders, more than half received zero Tavern sheets in 2017 and more than ¾ received two or fewer Tavern sheets.
  • Half of all violations in 2017 were issued to just 11 establishments (8% of license holders).
  • Since August 2017, 15 police officers have been attacked, the majority occurring late at night by intoxicated patrons.
  • On SantaCon, 17 bars received Tavern sheets, while the remaining 87% of establishments were not issued violations.

"The Mayor’s creation of this task force is not about hurting the bar and restaurant industry in town," said Police Chief Ken Ferrante. "This task force is going to take a deep look into incidents, events, and problem bars that are contributing to a decay of our city's quality of life, causing injuries to our residents, visitors, and police officers, and hurting most of the businesses in town, including a majority of our bars and restaurants. The disruption that SantaCon brought to this great city, its residents, and business owners the week before Christmas and during Hanukkah, just so 10 to 15 percent of our bars can profit, is unacceptable!"

"I fully support this task force as a means to develop policies that protect public safety," said Provisional Fire Chief Brian Crimmins. "I look forward to working with Mayor Bhalla, Chief Ferrante, and community leaders to achieve this goal."

Police Officer and past president of the Hoboken PBA Vincent Lombardi, who suffered a concussion from an assault by an inebriated patron on Christmas Eve, supported the Task Force’s efforts, stating, "The escalation of disorderly and violent behavior by inebriated bar patrons against police officers, of which I am a recent victim, has spawned into a quality of life crisis. I welcome and fully support Mayor Bhalla’s decision in addressing this ugly trend for the sake of officer safety and serenity within our city."

The first step in the Task Force's efforts, based on the recommendation of the Hoboken Fire Department, is to increase the fines levied for overcrowding and other imminent hazards during all high-volume events to the maximum amount permitted by the Uniform Fire Code Statutes and Regulations. Fines for non-compliance will increase to $2,500 for a first offense and $5,000 for subsequent offenses. Additional steps will be taken by the Task Force in the coming weeks.

“At Little City Books we are grateful to Mayor Bhalla for addressing this issue,” said co-owner Kate Jacobs. “On the corner of 1st and Bloomfield, we are surrounded by bars that are generally very good neighbors, keeping our surrounding blocks lively. The ‘Cons,’ however, are severely damaging to the success of our business --  especially SantaCon which occurs on a Saturday before Christmas, a critical day for a low-profit margin business like a bookstore, which should be our most profitable day of the year. On the ‘Con’ days, our staff is harassed and intimidated by drunk people and we have always had to close early, with business down by about 40 percent. Our store is a destination for families with children, and no one brings children into that neighborhood when it is so out of control and vile from morning until night. Curbing the excesses of the ‘Cons’ would be a great thing for our business, for the residents of Hoboken, and for the reputation of the town.”

My comment: This task force should reach out to all restaurants and bars to ensure solutions make sense especially for the bras and restaurants that do not participate in Santa-con or Lepre-con events.

Monday, January 15, 2018

NJ Transit Suspends Vote on Union Dry Dock - Hoboken Wins Another Round

Mayor Ravi Bhalla with Council President Ruben Ramos
and 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher post meeting press conference.


Mayor Bhalla issued a follow up statement via the City of Hoboken website...

“This is a huge step forward and a continuation of Hoboken’s decades-long efforts to transform our industrial waterfront into public open space,” said Mayor Ravinder S. Bhalla. “Our waterfront is an asset not just to our community, but the entire state, and I will fight tooth and nail to preserve the former Union Dry Dock property as open space. We value NY Waterway and their role in our regional transportation system, and I want to work with them and all stakeholders to find a comprehensive solution that will benefit our entire region. I thank Governor-elect Murphy, Senators Booker and Menendez, Senator Stack, Assemblywoman Chaparro, Assemblyman Mukherji, the Hoboken City Council, and all of the activists and residents who raised their voices and made a difference.”

Original Post:

About 80-100 residents from Hoboken went to NJ Transit HQ in Newark this morning to speak out against the NJ Transit attempt to purchase the Union Dry Dock site. A unified coalition led by Mayor Bhalla, Tiffanie Fisher, Ruben Ramos, Jen Giattino and Jim Doyle from the City Council plus Hoboken residents packed the meeting room.

Before the meeting began an NJ Transit official informed the crowd that the vote for Union Dry Dock was suspended for. the  agenda which prompted loud applause from the Hoboken residents. Heard in the crowd was the chant of "Viva la Resistance"; I wonder which booming baritone shouted that phrase? Lol

Hoboken has won another round but much work remains. In the post meeting press conference Mayor Ravi Bhalla stated that the City of Hoboken has an appraiser and is working to make a direct offer to NY Waterway in the next few weeks. He added he will need the support of the City Council to approve such an offer and that eminent domain should only be used as a last resort. He also added that Hoboken is not against NY Waterway and that the City of Hoboken is willing to work with them to pursue other alternatives.

Two videos are included from the event below....

Mayor Ravi Bhalla speaks out at NJ Transit meeting regarding Union Dry Dock purchase: 

Mayor Ravi Bhalla speaks at Press Conference after NJ Transit meeting regarding Union Dry Dock purchase along with Ruben Ramos and Tiffanie Fisher:

Here are some more photos from the meeting:  

About 80-100 Hoboken residents were ready to voice their concerns at NJ Headquarters Newark but
NJ Transit blinked and pulled the purchase of UDD off the agenda once again. 

Councilman Jim Doyle, Ruben Ramos, Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Jen Giattino from left to right
They were united in the fight against NJ Transit purchasing Union Dry Dock.
Also in attendance were Tiffanie Fisher and Venessa Falco from the Hoboken City Council and former
Councilman Dave Mello who has been quite active since finishing up his second term. 

Mayor Ravi Bhalla rides with residents to Newark on MLK day in a sign of true grass roots leadership
and professional advocacy for Hoboken regarding Union Dry Dock. 
Editor's Comment:

As a grassroots activist and watchdog I must say that Mayor Ravi Bhalla had a very good day and so did Hoboken even more importantly. Ravi showed media savvy and leadership by being the voice for Hoboken to fight for our quality of life and preservation of our waterfront. As Mayor Ravi does not have full control of the situation but he is showing that the Union Dry Dock is truly a high priority issue for him and this is not just to score political points. As the writer of a blog called the Hoboken Resistance it is Ravi that I felt joined the cause and has resisted a tone deaf agency like NJ Transit and has used many of the assets at his disposal to resist the purchase of Union Dry Dock to date. Those assets include fellow Council members including Council President Ruben Ramos who spoke with Ravi and mentioned that 30 years ago there was limited access to the Hoboken Waterfront and that UDD represents the last 10%. Additionally Ravi showed true collaboration with 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher with a heartfelt thanks for her effort in organizing the many residents that showed up in force to send NJ Transit a message that Hoboken will not go quietly without a fight. Tiffanie in her remarks was modest and said that it was the citizens of Hoboken who made this happen by showing up in so many numbers.

There is no guarantee that this goodwill will continue but today was a sign that Ravi is perhaps willing to move beyond a contentious election and realize that the City Council will likely work with him on issues like this.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mayor Ravi Bhalla to Join The Resistance and Lead Charge Tomorrow to Advocate Against NJ Transit Purchase of Union Dry Dock

Since becoming Mayor of Hoboken, Ravi Bhalla has been a strong public advocate for the right for Hoboken to acquire the Union Dry Dock property and stop NJ Transit from purchasing the property. NJ Transit has postponed their meeting to decide twice now and has rescheduled to MLK day tomorrow. Ravi is planning to ride on a bus with residents tomorrow to go to Newark and advocate for Hoboken once again. He has used the access to media to make the case on behalf of Hoboken over the last two weeks. Here is just a sampling of his public statements....

Ravi Bhalla on Facebook Thursday February 11th:

"DISGRACEFUL. Just learned NJ Transit rescheduled their Board meeting for Monday, MLK Day- a Federal holiday when we should be honoring Dr King’s legacy, not rushing an 11th hour secret deal. Sparked by a bus boycott in Montgomery but I don’t think the dream was supposed to end with a ferry depot in Hoboken!"

He was also quoted in this NY Times article pledging to fight the NJ Transit purchase of the Union Dry Dock:

"Alluding to the possibility of a final-days decision by New Jersey Transit to buy the Union Dry Dock site, he said, 'Any further attempts to subvert this process will be met with fierce resistance from me, and I pledge to use every resource at my disposal to protect Hoboken’s interests.'”

Link to NY Times article:

Press conference from a week ago:

There is no doubt that Ravi Bhalla has publicly spent political capital to stop this proposed purchase by NJ Transit. His predecessor Dawn Zimmer had 8 years to acquire the property but never made it a priority to actually complete the purchase. Ravi Bhalla is left to clean up and try to salvage the legacy of former Mayor Zimmer who some Hoboken residents and politicians blame her for failing to seize the opportunity to secure a contiguous waterfront.

Ravi will also be joined at tomorrow's meeting by at least the following City Council members as of the writing of this post: Tiffanie Fisher, Jen Giattino and Ruben Ramos. If ever an issue in Hoboken had a chance of unifying the Hoboken City Council 9-0 it would be this one except for what Ravi did this weekend. Governor elect Phil Murphy was in Hoboken this weekend to discuss infrastructure but Ravi only invited his two City Council allies Emily Jabbour and Jim Doyle and snubbed the rest of the City Council. For someone who only has a 2-7 City Council and only won 33% percent of the vote he is not behaving like a uniter. Thankfully this very important issue and will unite Hoboken in the short term in spite of Ravi's scorched earth tactics.

From Facebook: Ravi Bhalla with Phil Murphy this weekend. Ravi invited his two Council allies
Jabbour and Doyle but left out the rest. The Union Dry Dock Issue will have to potential
to temporarily unite irrespective of his Machiavellian tactics reminiscent of
Mayor Dawn Zimmer's husband Stan Grossbard,

It appears Ravi has also been joined by Governor Elect Phil Murphy somewhat who said this in an article:

Murphy, a Democrat who is due to be sworn in Tuesday to succeed Republican Gov. Chris Christie, issued a statement blasting the proposed purchase as "irresponsible" in light of the transit agency's struggling finances, and insensitive to Hoboken residents and officials who want the property for a new Hudson River park and the last link in the city's waterfront walkway.

"This deal, being rushed through on the last day of the Christie administration -- and on a federal holiday, no less -- is emblematic of everything the public has come to loathe about NJ Transit and another reason why it needs a complete overhaul," Murphy said in a statement Friday.

"Giving away millions of dollars on the way out the door, when the current system isn't even adequately funded, is simply irresponsible," Murphy added. "Out of fairness to the taxpaying public, this vote must be postponed and NJTransit's board must follow a more thoughtful approach that listens to all voices, including those of local residents and elected officials."


But Hoboken residents should not get ahead of themselves. If you notice, Phil Murphy is not condemning the purchase, just urging it slowed down until he can get in to office. No one is 100% sure what the NJ Transit Board will do tomorrow morning. Governor Phil Murphy has advocated for a major overhaul of NJ Transit leadership demanding many is top posts to resign. It is unclear how that will effect votes.

Message From 2nd Ward Council Woman Fisher - We need a crowd to Stop NJ Transit Purchase of Hoboken Union Dry Dock Tomorrow 9AM

Here is a special note from 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher regarding a crucial NJ Transit meeting at 9 am tomorrow on Martin Luther King Day during Chris Christie's last day in office before new Governor Elect Phil Murphy is sworn in on Tuesday....


A small bus with limited seating for 20 will be available and leaving from 1025 Maxwell Lane at 8:00am.  If you are interested please RSVP to me at, it will be on a first come first serve basis. Please arrive at the bus at 7:45 am.  We expect the meeting to go until about 11:00am and the bus will bring people back to Hoboken.  Mayor Bhalla is expected to join residents on the bus.

Original Post:

We need a crowd at the NJ Transit Ad Hoc Board meeting tomorrow (Monday January 15) at 9am! Mayor Ravi Bhalla has informed us that he believes a large crowd of Hoboken stakeholders will make the difference in the outcome of the meeting.

Hoboken Union Dry Dock - Stop the sale to NJ Transit say Hoboken residents and politicians.

Please join us and let me/us know that you are going by emailing me and or by RSVP'ing "Going" to the Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront FB Event (for those on Facebook). At this time I am aware that I will at least be joined by Mayor Bhalla, Council President Ramos, Council Vice President Giattino, leaders of Fund for a Better Waterfront​, members of Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront​ and several other neighbors and community leaders.

I have not yet confirmed with other council members but am hopeful more will attend. Mayor Bhalla sent an "all hands on deck" request to all of us on the City Council. There are politics behind this meeting and this vote with pressure from our outgoing Governor to pass. But that by no means guarantees that it will. Opposing politics from our incoming Governor contributed to twice rescheduling the meeting due to sudden lack of quorum.

Here are a couple of articles on this -  NJ.COM and APNEWS. What a further delay or a “No” vote gets us is more time. More time to respond. More time to get in a room with all stakeholders. More time to defend our waterfront. And more time to try to work out a solution that allows us to complete our waterfront park plan that has been underway for three decades and at the same time supports further expansion of critical ferry service.

It is reprehensible that we have to consider attending on a day we should be celebrating MLK especially in the current political environment. Thank you Governor Chris Christie! ​NJT headquarters are located in downtown Newark's One Penn Plaza and is easy to get to. If you are driving - I would plan up to 30 minutes but it will probably will take 20 tomorrow. There are two parking lots across and next to the building. If you are taking the PATH, Newark Penn Station is across the street. Please call me (201-208-1674) or email me at  if you have any questions or to let us know you will be attending.

Thank you, Tiffanie Fisher Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward

Engage. Inform. Advocate. “More Voices are Better”

Ravi Bhalla Monthly Political Message Email

Here is an email from the political arm of the Ravi Bhalla Administration. It is a recap of Ravi's first two weeks in office and is republished here. It went out to a number of Hoboken residents on the Mayor's email list but not everyone. Regardless of your support level for this Mayor there are some articles here worth reading. The content is also telling of a current local politician who is definitely trying to increase his statewide political profile in his first month of office.

In fact Ravi is a lot like Jefferson, no not Thomas but more like the Jeffersons, like the TV show theme song, "Movin' on up". Ambition and increasing one's political profile are clearly an objective here, whether it is primarily or secondarily, it does not matter.

Is Ravi like the Jefferson's? - not exactly but he is certainly trying to move on up.
But is it a deluxe apartment in the sky built by Stronger Foundations Union
members at the NJ Transit Site selling out Hoboken for the sake of upwardly
mobile political ambition? For that we will have to wait and see. 

From Mayor Ravi Bhalla: 

Hello Hoboken Citizen,

Hi, and Happy New Year! My name is Theo Siggelakis, Mayor Ravi Bhalla's Finance Director. As 2018 gets underway, I wanted to introduce myself to you and announce a newsletter we hope you will find informative throughout Ravi’s administration as Mayor of the great city of Hoboken, NJ.    

Once a month, I will be sending out a news summary of Ravi’s work in the office, media statements and appearances, commentary, and other interesting items to keep you up to date on how your support for Ravi also supports tangible action in Hoboken and beyond during his service as Mayor. This is meant to be a convenient, short news roundup - just one small way to thank you for your incredible support for Ravi.

As always, feel free to reach out to me or my colleague, Sara Tofighbakhsh, with any questions or feedback. Here’s to four years of strong leadership in Hoboken with Mayor Ravi Bhalla!



Inauguration Day! Ravi was sworn in as Mayor of Hoboken on January 1st, 2018. You can read the Mayor’s Inauguration remarks here. Some of the coverage and commentary on this historic achievement:

Ravi Bhalla makes history as first Sikh mayor in New Jersey – NJTV News, by Briana Vannozzi [VIDEO]

“It’s not just a new year, it’s the start of new leadership and a historic moment in the city of Hoboken.” NOTE: Contains news video segment of the inauguration ceremony, including comments by NJ Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, Attorney General Nominee Gurbir Grewal, and Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

Bhalla becomes first Sikh mayor in Hoboken and N.J. – The Jersey Journal, by Terrence T. McDonald [PHOTO GALLERY]

"In a time of darkness, in a time of distress, in a time when there are headlines about the divisions and the divisiveness and the hatred and the bigotry and the ignorance, Hoboken looked around and said, you know what, we're going to find a qualified and competent, compassionate man of integrity," Booker said. "We're going to find someone who leads with love."

Hoboken’s first Sikh mayor sworn in – NY PIX 11, by Aliza Chasan [VIDEO]

“I am proud, humbled and honored to be your mayor,” Bhalla said. “I look forward to getting to work on behalf of our residents.” NOTE: Scroll down for a video interview with Ravi about his plans to improve Hoboken as Mayor.

Victories to savor for Sikhs & us all – NY Daily News, Opinion by Simran Jeet Singh

“When my parents first moved here, they could not have imagined that one day a major city in New Jersey would elect a Sikh with a turban and beard. And knowing now that my daughter will grow up with civic heroes who share her background and look like her father gives me hope that she will view her Sikh identity as an asset rather than as a liability.”

Fighting to Save Hoboken’s Waterfront for Hoboken's Residents:

Park or Shipyard? Hoboken Waterfront Dispute Simmers – Associated Press, by David Porter

Less than two weeks into his first term, the new mayor of Hoboken is locked in a tug of war with the nation's third-largest transit system over a parcel of land on the city's picturesque waterfront.

David and Goliath fight brewing over ferry deal with NJ Transit – NJ Advance Media, by Steve Strunsky

"The Hoboken waterfront is the crown jewel of the State of New Jersey," said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. "People from all over the world come to our city to enjoy the waterfront and the breathtaking views that it offers." Referring to Gov. Christie Christie's departure from office on Jan. 20, Bhalla criticized the plan by the transit agency he controls as being "rushed at the 11th hour of an outgoing administration."

In Christie’s Last Days, Hoboken Waterfront Tussle Drags On – The New York Times, by Patrick McGeehan

Alluding to the possibility of a final-days decision by New Jersey Transit to buy the Union Dry Dock site, [Mayor Bhalla] said, “Any further attempts to subvert this process will be met with fierce resistance from me, and I pledge to use every resource at my disposal to protect Hoboken’s interests.”

NJ Transit's MLK Day Meeting Is Disgraceful: Hoboken Mayor – Hoboken Patch, by Eric Kiefer

When Hoboken Mayor Ravinder Bhalla learned that NJ Transit rescheduled a much-anticipated board meeting from Friday to Monday – Martin Luther King Jr. Day – he had one word for the decision: "disgraceful."

Hoboken: Officially a Fair and Welcoming City:

In 1st executive order, Bhalla declares Hoboken ‘a fair and welcoming city’ – Hudson County View, by John Heinis [VIDEO]

In his first executive order, new Mayor Ravi Bhalla declared Hoboken “a fair and welcoming city” as many city officials and advocates applauded the action earlier this afternoon. “The Hoboken we know and love was built by immigrants and today is sustained by immigrants. Many of the immigrants who found a home in Hoboken sailed past Lady Liberty and her poem welcoming ‘your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’” Bhalla said at the presser held inside the mayor’s office.

Hoboken sends 'welcoming' sign to immigrants in first act of new mayor – The Jersey Journal, by Terrence T. McDonald

Bhalla signed the order today surrounded by local officials, including Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante, who will issue a police directive to implement the policies set forth in the order. Amol Sinha, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Jersey Journal it is "extremely significant" that Bhalla's executive order is his first action as mayor. "It allows Hoboken to live up to its potential of being a truly welcoming city," Sinha said.

Supporting the LGBTQ Community:

Fulop, Bhalla stress that LGBTQ community should be proud of who they are – Hudson County View, by Marc Bussanich

“I went to public schools in New Jersey, and as a Sikh American, I looked different growing up and wasn’t like other school children in my class and I was a victim of school bullying just as many LGBTQ students have been,” said Bhalla. “It’s not an easy experience to be different, to be isolated, to feel like there’s no one there. But what I learned is that when you look different or love different, the reaction if you’re under attack is not to hide who you are, but to be proud of who you are, and that’s what gave me strength.”

Improving Public Safety - End SantaCon in Hoboken:

Rich in 'blood money,' SantaCon faces review for possible ban – The Jersey Journal, by Terrence T. McDonald

"This is not what Hoboken's about," Bhalla told NJ Advance Media in an interview Monday. "This is not consistent with our reputation as a growing, family-friendly city." Bhalla added that it was unfair to Hoboken taxpayers and police officers to be burdened and physically assaulted by a largely out-of-town crowd encouraged to drink heavily.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Former Zimmer Chief of Staff Daniel Bryan becomes Gov. Phil Murphy's Deputy Communications Director

Daniel Bryan, who formally served as Chief of Staff to former Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer has become Press Secretary and Deputy Communications Director for Governor Phil Murphy. Bryan was a senior adviser on the Murphy campaign early on so this should come as no surprise. Congratulations Dan! Well done and you put in a lot of hard work in to deserve this position.

Still no announcement has been made regarding former Mayor Dawn Zimmer who was an early Phil Murphy ally. It has been speculated by some that there was the potential for her to be given a position on the Phil Murphy team as well but so far no dice.

Former Hooboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer not part of Murphy Senior Leadership Team:

Moving on up- Daniel Bryan now part of Gov. Phil Murphy's Communications Team
Link to Dan Bryan Appointment Announcement:

Hoboken Seeks Applicants for Rebuild by Design Citizens Advisory Group

This announcement is from the City of Hoboken. This is a positive step continuing on the good practice of Mayor Dawn Zimmer trying to include citizens in the loop for key initiatives like park design. People interested should apply by the end of January.

Hoboken Seeks Applicants For Rebuild By design Citizens Advisory Group

As the Rebuild by Design-Hudson River project enters the design phase, the City of Hoboken is seeking applications from members of the Hoboken community interested in participating in Hoboken’s Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) for the project.

Apply online at:

Hoboken NW Park Conceptual Layout
Applications should be submitted by January 31st, 2018. The volunteer term will be approximately 2 years, less if the design advances expediently. CAG members are expected to be full participants in the process, including attendance at a minimum number of meetings. A wait list will be created for interested citizens to replace any CAG members who are unable to fully participate in the process.

The Rebuild by Design Citizen Outreach Plan provides additional information on the purpose of the CAG:

The purpose of the CAG is to provide a forum for exchange of information between the Outreach Subcommittee and key citizens and citizen groups representative of that community. CAG members will be responsible for bringing issues and concerns to the table as well as sharing information from the Executive Steering Committee and NJDEP with their constituents, including members of vulnerable populations. The CAGs will be composed of representatives from a variety of communities within each town. The mayors and/or their representatives will be responsible for working with the NJDEP Constituent Services Manager to identify members of their communities who will populate the CAG in each of the three cities. Each CAG will communicate with the Outreach Subcommittee representative(s) of t heir town, who will bring issues and information to the larger Executive Steering Committee. CAG members will supplement the knowledge of local government officials or their delegates about the project areas and provide input on ideas, problems, observations and solutions. Specifically, CAG members will be expected to:

•        Share information about Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge project goals and objectives with their constituents;
•        Share the processes and procedures that will be followed in implementing the project;
•        Determine what community priorities or concerns exist about the project as it develops;
•        Bring the priorities, issues and concerns of the larger community to the attention of the Outreach Subcommittee, and
•        Share with the Outreach Subcommittee and project team what local networks DEP should use to establish and maintain a dialogue.

The role of the NJDEP will be to provide project updates, explain processes and procedures on the various phases of the project, solicit input from stakeholders and the public, and answer questions during CAG meetings. The role of the mayors will be to host the CAG meetings and general public meetings, and work with the NJDEP Constituent Services Manager and RBD Project Team on the logistics and scheduling of meetings. At major milestones, the three municipal-level CAGs may convene to meet together as one large group, identified as the Regional CAG. The NJDEP will notice all Regional CAG meetings on the NJDEP’s OFHRRM website and inform the public signed up for the NJDEP email listserv. All the NJDEP’s Regional CAG meetings are by invitation only to Regional CAG members; however they are open to the public to observe.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

WTF? - Former Vitriolic Hoboken City Councilwoman Beth Mason Appointed to HHA via Chris Christie

Breaking news like this usually elicits abbreviations like SMH, OMG and my all time favorite WTF. Hold on to your horses Hobokenites, this news is like a bad nightmare but real. This is potentially bad news for Dawn Zimmer, Stan Grossbard, Mayor Ravi Bhalla, the Hoboken taxpayer, but more importantly the HHA residents themselves.

Hoboken's Very Own Beth "Cruella Deville" Mason is back on the HHA Board
thanks to departing Republican Governor Chris Christie

Beth Mason Appointed to Hoboken HHA via Chris Christie

Former two term City Councilwoman Beth Mason is back in the game in Hoboken politics with an Appointment to the Hoboken Housing Authority or HHA. This appointment was made by the Governor of NJ Chris Christie and had been vacant for a while but was finally filled by him in his final rounds of appointments before Phil Murphy takes over next week.

Beth Mason had served on the Hoboken City Council for two terms from 2007 to 2015 and then stepped down. She was briefly City Council President and ran for Mayor in 2009 twice unsuccessfully. During her tenure she was known for her obstructionism where she nearly sabotaged to HUMC privatization deal, blocked Washington Street revamping in 2013, was involved in a BOE campaign that featured a Nazi truck, was fined by ELEC for numerous reporting violations, threatened to sue private citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights on the dais at City Hall, and helped fund former HHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia's vitriolic campaign against Jen Giattino in 2015. This is just a sampling of some of her less than stellar work on behalf of Hoboken, err, I mean her attempt at political advancement.

Why Did Chris Christie Make the Appointment?

We can speculate but we don't know. What I do know is it was not because Beth Mason personally gave to Republicans in NJ. Her entire contribution records from the NJ ELEC site show no actual contributions to Republicans. She confined her contributions to Non-partisan races in Hoboken and elsewhere and contributed only to Democratic candidates in the state.

Did Christie want to stick it to Dawn Zimmer who he had a falling out with? Perhaps, but this appointment was part of a large batch of appointments by Chris Christie as shown in the link below. I am not sure if Hoboken is high enough on the departing Governor's radar. Most likely, Beth Mason lobbied for this position and used her connections to get the appointment irrespective of her Democratic affiliations.

Chris Christie Press Release - Final Apointments

More important is how this will effect HHA residents? To be determined.

Beth Mason's Political Contribution History NJ (No Republican Donations):

What Will Impact to HHA be with Beth Mason on the Board?

Beth Mason has a history of spending a lot of money. It is likely that HHA residents will get free food and other services such as free burials (she actually offered this service years ago) from Beth Mason and that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is possible Beth processed the results of the last fractious Hoboken election and wants to build up a political base to possibly take another shot at elected Hoboken office. If you only need 33% to get elected anyone with a big war chest has a shot. Correct?

Based on my experience Beth Mason is not solely doing this for altruistic reasons but is most likely committing her time to get back in the political game in Hoboken. With Beth Mason, any act of charity always has strings attached.

Beth Mason with political ally Carmelo Garcia who had his contract terminated for cause
as Executive Director and sued potentially getting $700K if HUD approves settlement.

The Board on the HHA consists of seven members and two are historically allies of departed HHA Director Carmelo Garcia. With Beth on the Board that makes three and only one more vote would be needed to flip control to a Beth Mason majority. If Beth Mason had such a majority the true nightmare scenario would be Carmelo Garcia not only gets his $700k settlement but is able to get back as Executive Director.

We will have to see what happens but the nightmare scenario is a real possibility. Let us hope it does not come to fruition.

Link to original Hudson Reporter article: 

Hudson Reporter - Beth Mason Appointed to HHA via Chris Christie

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Important Update from Mayor Bhalla on NJ Transit Plans to Aquire Union Dry Dock For Ferry Maintenance Facility

From the Mayor's Office via interim communication person Juan Melli on behalf of Ravi Bhalla...

Important Update from Mayor Bhalla on NJ Transit Plans to
Aquire Union Dry Dock For Ferry Maintenance Facility

Hoboken Union Dry Dock Site
Today the NJ Transit Board of Directors was scheduled to vote on purchasing the Union Dry Dock property and leasing the property back to NY Waterway for use as a ferry maintenance and refueling facility. The meeting was abruptly cancelled due to a lack of quorum. Following the cancelled meeting, NJ Transit issued a notice for a rescheduled board meeting at 10am on Friday, January 12, 2018.

 “Today was a tremendous victory for Hoboken, and more importantly, for good government,” said Mayor Ravinder S. Bhalla. “Hitting the pause button on this rushed and ill-conceived plan provides NJ Transit the opportunity, under the leadership of the incoming Murphy Administration, to begin a deliberative and transparent planning process that considers input from all stakeholders, including the public. Any further attempts to subvert this process will be met with fierce resistance from me, and I pledge to use every resource at my disposal to protect Hoboken’s interests.

Thank you to Governor-elect Murphy, who understood the need for local voices to be heard on this matter. Thank you to Senator Menendez and Senator Booker for their advocacy. And a big thank you to Senator Stack, Assemblywoman Chaparro, Assemblyman Mukherji, the Hoboken City Council Members, and all of the advocates and residents who have been united on this issue.”

My Editorial Comment:

I have four basic points on this issue in response to this press release and here they are....

1) If it is affordable to do so Hoboken should  try to buy the property and continue the idea of completing the contiguous waterfront. Mayor Zimmer had 8 years to do so but it was never a high priority for her. Ahead of it on her priority list was HUMC, SW Park, NW Park, Washington Street and many other projects. You can't do them all as they say. On this I see eye to eye along with Tiffanie Fisher, Jen Giattino, Peter Cunningham and now new Mayor Ravi Bhalla to at least give this approach to take a shot and see if we can block NY Waterway's proposal.

2) Is the Union Dry Dock affordable with NJ Transit threatening to use eminent domain and relocation costs? It might be that the City of Hoboken can't afford the potential steep price tag. In that case I would support some sort of right of way compromise and limitation of bus parking.

3) How is a delay in a meeting only pushed back a major victory? Let us not count our chickens before they are hatched. Only the end result is what matters.

Old adage: Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.

4) 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher should have at least been mentioned by name. She has been out front on this issue and even went to Trenton last week with Ravi to advocate on behalf of Hoboken residents. Same goes for Councilwoman Jen Giattino who did not attend but has been very active in her advocacy as well. Why they were left out by name is bad form if you want to be considered a uniter.

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla Somewhat Weak First Week in Review

The Hoboken Resistance hopes you had a happy holiday season. I took some time off and enjoyed not worrying about Hoboken politics for a few weeks. It is now time to get back to business.

Last week Ravi Bhalla began his first week as Mayor of Hoboken. Here is a brief recap so far of key moments...

The Sold Out Inaugural Ceremony and Focus Outside of Hoboken:

Ravi Bhalla was sworn in on January 1st in a sold out ceremony at Hoboken's High School. Numerous high profile dignitaries attended including New Jersey US Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez among many others. Both US Senators spoke of the historic significance of electing a Sikh Mayor in this current political climate. This significance is not lost on this author as well but ultimately the Mayor of Hoboken will be judged on his or her handling of local issues and not national ones like identity politics or immigration. If you want to make Hoboken a "Welcoming City" focus on finishing Washington Street first.

The notoriety of his Inauguration  is obviously a plus for Ravi's political profile but it remains to be seen what that will translate into for the sake of Hoboken and not just Ravi's own political advancement. Certain key issues about Hoboken will come down to WWPMD (What will Phil Murphy do) like NJ Transit Redevelopment and the Union Dry Dock. We will have to see how this develops but the stakes are huge and will determine how Hoboken develops going forward.

Hoboken's New Mayor Ravi Bhalla - Screen Capture from HCV

More coverage of the ceremony are on Hudson County View with link below:

Coverage of Ravi's Swearing in on Hudson County View

The City Council Appointments and Consequences of Scorched Earth Political Campaigning:

The following key appointments were made to Hoboken's Public Boards. Ravi Bhalla had essentially no say as Mayor on the City Council appointments and the vote largely fell 2-7 against his favor.

  • Ruben Ramos appointed to City Council President.
  • Jen Giattino appointed to City Council Vice President.
  • Mike Defusco appointed to City Council Planning Board Representative replacing Jim Doyle.
  • Jim Aibel re-appointed to Zoning Board of Adjustment. Notably Phil Cohen, a key Ravi Bhalla ally was not re-appointed or even nominated. 
  • Antonio Grana  re-appointed to Zoning Board of Adjustment. 
  • Steve Firestone, Cory Johnson, and Ann Graham appointed as alternates to Zoning Board of Adjustment. 
  • Tony Soares was appointed to represent Hoboken on the NHSA (North Hudson Sewer Authority) once again. Tony replaces Brian Assadourian on the Board who was a key personal Ravi Bhalla ally and close personal friends of both Mayor Zimmer and her husband Stan Grossbard. This was accomplished despite all the belly aching from Civil Discourse Disruptor Grafix Avenger who spewed all kinds of venom about putting Tony back on the board. I am on the board and all I can say is that Tony Soares has been a good advocate on the Board and displayed nothing but professionalism while on the board. Whatever you think of his political views outside of the board that is fine. I look forward to working with Tony once again and value his input with respect to the NHSA. 
Tony Soares - Back on the NHSA! Bye bye Brian! - Elections have consequences

This is an example of how Ravi Bhalla may have won the Mayor seat but lost the City Council majority. The City Council appointments are made by the City Council and not the Mayor and this shows the limitations on what Ravi will be able to do if he can't get a Council majority on key votes or a super majority for bonding to be the infrastructure Mayor he desires to be.  He will have to be more open than Zimmer in his approach to the City Council and will not be able to be "Ram it Ravi" but rather "Reconciliation Ravi." The choice is his. What path will he choose?

Santa-Con - Disgrace on the Uptick:

Ravi Bhalla as Mayor elect spoke out against the the debauchery of Santa-con, the seminal drunken douchebag drinking event that has replaced Leprecon as the number on public nuisance in Hoboken sponsored by a mere 13 bars. It is all fine and well to speak out against the event but it still remains unlcear what Hoboken can do legislatively or administratively other than crack down on capacity of bars and shut them down for violations. We will see what real solutions Ravi proposes rather than rhetoric on Twitter. It is my hope the City Council will cooperate with any viable solutions out of the Mayor's office but keep in mind State regulations on liquor licences will drive what can be done ultimately. 

Two For the Price of Three Times a Single Chief of Staff: 

Jason Freeman is to be appointed as Deputy Chief of Staff for a reported $85,000 per anum. This is in addition to failed City Council Candidate John Allen who was appointed to the position of Chief of Staff. There is no official confirmation of his salary but something north of $100k per year is likely. When Dan Bryan became "Chief of Staff" he was in the range of $50k or lower when he started. The question is why is an assistant necessary now? The result of this a potential threefold cost to staff the position when Mayor Zimmer first started. If you add in a potential new Constituent Services Director and staff you could be adding over $500K to the Mayor's Office budget. The question is and remains are these expenditures necessary or just an extension of the old Hudson County Patronage Playbook - the one perfected by County Executive Tom "Who ate my Hoboken Cheese" Degise ? Time will tell. 

Snow Removal:

I give the incoming Mayor a B for the first snow storm of the year in terms of snow removal efficacy. We had over 12 inches and blizzard like winds and thus it was a tough task. The side streets were plowed but not a cleanly as in the last storms under Zimmer. Just one more pass would have brought the performance up a bit. The Hoboken Horse gives Ravi a B+ for snow removal this storm. Perhaps he had some carrots before opining his opinion. Horses facing the glue factory are apparently less stringent in grading than project managers who run websites. In the end no one gives a horses ass what I or the Hoboken Horse think about snow removal as long as the damn roads get plowed. Good to see this facet of government is still effective.

Union Dry Dock: 

Mayor elect Ravi Bhalla, his council allies and Council persons Giattino, Cunningham, and Fisher seem to be in synch in trying to prevent NY Waterway and NJ Transit from making the Union Dry Dock a hub for ferries on Hoboken's valuable waterfront. It remains to be seen if Hoboken will ultimately have any control on the decision or not. Key is this is Governor Phil Murphy and the balancing of Mass Transit vs. Hoboken's quality of life issues. Once again its WWPMD - What will Phil Murphy Do?

Will the War on Cars Continue?:

Ravi Bhalla did not initiate the Washington Street repair project but as the new Mayor of Hoboken he will be expected to close it out. The project is not even close to be on schedule and there are penalties for the contractor that will incur per diem to the winning bidder if the project is not completed on time. Much has been made about the excessive use of curb bump outs on Washington Street by many Hoboken residents. Perhaps as one citizen suggested they amend the contract to not include curb bumpouts past 7th Street, the project could actually get done sooner. It will still be behind schedule in all likelihood. Is 2019 the new realistic completion date? Yikes! 

Bumpouts are one thing but will we see the current Disney-fication with additional bollards as well? I give you Ravi Bollards Hoboken. All in jest. Happy parking!

Ravi Bollards? Yikes! Happy Parking Hoboken.