Letters to the Editor

Here you will find a collection of "letters to the editor" covering a wide range of topics.   

Helen Hirsch: City’s lack of transparency leaves questions

Mayor Zimmer who, with promises of reform, has waved the banner of openness and integrity, has used every technique and opacity of secrecy in the book to hide the facts concerning the choice of the owners of the Bayonne University Medical Center as the only possible candidates as purchasers of HUMC.

When she became involved in the Hoboken Hospital Authority she did nothing to pull the raps of the organization which was established to outwit the legal requirements of a public body to make operations open to the public. She continues this code of secrecy to this day.

Hoboken is embarrassing thanks to these people

Dear Editor:

Hoboken. A national embarrassment in its administration of its police department. A regional embarrassment in its administration of its finances.

So after almost two complete terms as Mayor, and over a decade on the City Council, Dave Roberts has the gall to blame Beth Mason? And to use quotes from such distinguished (Ha!) Hudson County Mayors as Joe Doria and Richard Turner to defend himself?

Did Dave Roberts follow a rabbit through a rabbit hole to some Alice-in-Wonderland place to use fellow Hudson County pols to defend his incompetence? Let's review the facts:

Opening up about Mason's open records requests

Dear Editor:

As the Hoboken Corporation Counsel, I feel obligated to respond to the recent statements made by Councilwoman Elizabeth Mason regarding her lawsuits against the City. Her comments follow her most recent courtroom defeat, in which a respected appellate court found that her requests for public records were vague, inappropriate "fishing expeditions," making it impossible for the City to properly respond.

One person is trying to find out what city is hiding

Dear Editor:

James Madison, chief draftsman of the US Constitution, wrote, "A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

A Long Day's Journey into Light - A Hoboken resident visits the 9/11 memorial at Pier A

A Long Day's Journey into Light

A Hoboken resident visits the 9/11 memorial at Pier A

By: Pamela Ross 

For the past few years, I have been a grateful resident of Hoboken. A refugee from the wrath of Sept. 11, I am still healing. Every day I spend in my adopted "hometown" is a welcome day. My favorite walks are up and down Washington Street or on the river walk. I have found my favorite stores and hangouts. I smile at people on the street. I nod to the denizens of this friendly town. I am beginning to feel like a denizen, myself.

Recently, I went into a local store to find out the exact place of the memorial. Somebody said "Why bother? nobody cares any more."

"What?!?" I wheeled angrily around to face this person. I saw sad eyes and a mournful mouth.

All we `really' need is an emergency hospital here in Hoboken

By way of saving Hoboken's St. Mary Hospital, the City Council is about to kiss goodbye our best chance of keeping an emergency room in town.

Unless it's gone already. Here's the story.

As I reminded readers in a previous letter, when Bon Secours first announced that it was dumping the money-losing hospital, another health care company said it would take over the emergency room. That's really the only hospital facility we need right her in town. But the Mayor made a lot of noise about saving the entire hospital with a city takeover. Hence the plan to stick taxpayers with a fifty million dollar bond. And when taxpayers expressed concern about repaying the bond, he said, `Don't worry; if it's not turning a profit by the end of 2007' - I think now they're saying in two years from now – `we can always sell the property to developers.'

Menendez: Cloud over a candidate

I would hate to see the Republican Party keep control of the U.S. Senate. But in New Jersey, my Democratic Party can't get its act together. This schoolyard name-calling between Bob Me nendez and Tom Kean Jr. is unearthing issues older than many of the neighbors Bob and I share in Hoboken.

City Budget: Let's look at some things the City Council is doing

Dear Editor:
I say kudos to Lane Bajardi and Rick Kamber for rounding up their communities and constantly applying public pressure on City Council to vote in favor of what's best for their communities'.  We should further challenge the Administration and City Council to work harder in creating a balance between what is best for the City of Hoboken when it comes to public policy and the budget. You simply cannot just steam roll the public to fund a deficit!

Board of Education: Horrible display by board members

Dear Editor:
On Tuesday, August 8, 2006, I attended the Hoboken Board of Education monthly meeting – as a citizen of the city of Hoboken and a strong advocate for education; I am writing to express my disheartening concerns regarding the behavior exhibited by the Hoboken Board of Education Trustees with the exception of Theresa Minutillo. First, I would like to commend board member Theresa Minutillo for her leadership initiative in advocating for the "Open Process" – it is my observation that all other board members always engage in dialogue about the "Open Process" but does not take advantage of implementing the process when the opportunity is presented to make progressive changes for the betterment of the children.

Board of Education: Steam roll over due process

 Dear Editor:

Last Tuesday's School Board meeting opened with Jack Raslowsky resigning his board seat in the hope of becoming Superintendent of Schools. Then, without allowing any discussion, Board President Jimmy Farina tried to hand-pick a defeated board candidate to fill Raslowsky's seat.

City Council did the right thing by voting against eminent domain for Grand Street

Dear Editor:
In a letter published in the August 20th issue of The Hoboken Reporter, Luis Torres charges that City Council members who defeated the ordinance authorizing the city to use eminent domain to seize the two businesses at 1012-22 and 1032-40 of having "caved into special interests to thwart redevelopment." What Mr. Torres neglects to mention is that the "special interests" in this case are the people who live on the block and don't want to see its unique character spoiled by tasteless, oversized condo buildings, its trees and cobblestones ripped up by construction vehicles, its limited access blocked with endless traffic jams, and the end ` of any parking on the street by family and friends from out of town.

Mayor Roberts has his facts wrong

Mayor Roberts, last week, in a published advertisement stated "we have identified seven acres of land in the southwest section of Hoboken as the next park site." As usual, the Mayor appears to be getting his facts wrong.

Proud to be a Hoboken resident

Hoboken is a unique urban environment, featuring the best of the "old world" and the invigorating spirit of a new generation. Our streets are abundant with residents of all ages and we continue to embrace the traditions of our founding over 150 years ago.

Mayor Roberts mistakes 'promises' for 'achievements'

Last week, the Hoboken Reporter published an advertisement from Mayor Roberts in which he pats himself on the back for all he has achieved. Unfortunately, the Mayor seems to mistake promises for achievements. Not one of his "achievements" has, as yet, actually been achieved. The Mayor will earn the credit he seeks only if, and when, his "achievements" become real.

Surprise! by Richard Kamber

Hoboken Reporter

Dear Editor:

This week's mess at the Garden Street automated garage at 916 Garden should come as no surprise. In 2002, after 33 years of providing parking structures across Hoboken, the old Hoboken Parking Authority was closed. Despite repeated promises "not to raid the piggybank" the $8 million surplus it had saved was used to close a gap in the city's budget. (This practice of liquidating Hoboken's assets to cover structural deficits in the municipal budget has continued ever since.)

At the urging of Carol Marsh and Tony Soares, Hoboken then hired Leonard Bier, an independent parking consultant, to interview candidates to head the newly formed Hoboken Parking Utility. Four finalists were selected, but none was hired. Instead the job went to John Corea, a defeated candidate for city council. What were his credentials? According to the Hoboken Reporter (February 1, 2004), Corea had no professional experience in parking. He had been a member of the New York Stock Exchange before being found guilty of improper trading and banned for life from trading on the exchange.

Since taking the helm of the Parking Utility, Corea has not been able to prevent a string of operational failures. Now, according to the Hoboken Reporter, he is quarrelling with the operators of the Garden Street garage, Robotic Parking Systems. Robotic Parking has said--in the most graphic terms - they can no longer work with him.

One of the keys to good city government is to make sure that managerial positions are filled with experienced, conscientious, and honest professionals. The cost of doing otherwise is waste and a breakdown of important services. It now appears likely that the Garden Street garage will be shut down by August 1st and 314 cars turned out on to our crowded streets. Even if the immediate crisis is avoided, the prospects for dramatic improvements in management are dim.

What to do? The first step is to transfer responsibility for running the Parking Utility to an interim director. Leonard Bier, who was on the right track three years ago, might be a good choice. The second step is to run an honest search for the best possible candidate and hire that person. The third step is to do the same throughout Hoboken city government.

Richard Kamber 

Parking issues By Al Bozulic

Hoboken Reporter

Parking issues 

Dear Editor:

The articles in your July 22nd issue about the ill-fated robotic parking garage as well as the parking officers suspended for ticketing the "politically connected" only proves that the Hoboken Parking Utility is in serious need of reform. However, there are additional parking issues that should be addressed: the excessive towing fees for illegally-parked cars, the inconvenience posed by temporary paper No-Parking signs, and the serious need for additional white parking lines to be painted. The citizens of today's Hoboken should not stand by and let the HPU play the same games anymore at our expense.

Problem 1: Towing Fees. Mile Square Towing is contracted by the city to tow cars that are illegally parked. They charge an incredulous $80 towing fee as well as $25 per day for storage. This is unreasonable, since they don't notify the car owner after towing but expect them to guess. Their customer service and storage area are substandard at best. It would be of interest to know what kind of contractual relationship they have with the city. And what happens if they cause vehicle damage during towing, as that robotic garage did when those cars fell down and got destroyed!

Problem 2: Paper white 'temporary no parking' signs that pop up everywhere. Sometimes they are put on trees, are partially obscured, or are not put up enough time in advance to warn people adequately. Just what are the regulations on use of these signs, and why does it seem that every construction project in town is using them to take up valuable sidewalk space for their trucks? Example: you park your Mercedes in a legal spot, go out of town for two days, and you return to find a white no-parking sign and your car is gone, only to make way for a flatbed cement truck!

Problem 3: Parking Lines. It would be helpful to get new white lines painted on many sidewalks to better indicate the legal parking range for cars, as well as to paint white dividing lines at diagonal parking areas so as to increase the available number of spots. Often many cars parking diagonally take up two spots because there are no dividing lines, and it is difficult to gauge a proper separation between cars.

A group of citizens should organize a committee to discuss parking issues and proper solutions to the city council. Most committees in City Hall are politically appointed, so we need new ideas to come from outside the political spectrum because the problems cannot be solved by more empty election promises. Anyone interested in forming such a group can email me at: hobokenparkingissues@yahoo.com

Al Bozulic

Hoboken's Finest snubbed by Mayor

By nature of our work and routine 24-hour vehicle patrol schedule, police officers are first to arrive on scene, especially on reports of working fires. The immediate duties of police officers on fire scene are to quickly assess the situation; immediately evacuate all people who might be at serious risk from within the burning building and those surrounding it; maintain traffic and crowd control. This allows for responding firefighters to focus attention on extinguishing the fire while utilizing their training, skills, equipment and advanced breathing apparatus to enter the burning structure to rescue those who may be trapped within.

Safety & Security of Hoboken at Risk

Safety & Security of Hoboken at Risk
June 6, 2006

Dear Hoboken Reporter:

On behalf of the police officers of the Hoboken Police Department’s PBA, I am compelled to bring to your attention a serious public safety dilemma. At present Hoboken’s police force is dangerously deficient in patrol officer staffing. Mayor Roberts, all City Council members and the Public Safety Committee were made aware of this dire situation and placed on notice in recent communications from the PBA.

Eminent Domain: When is enough, enough?

Dear Editor:
Does Councilman Cricco expect Hoboken residents to pick up the pom-poms and cheer along with him at the wonderful philanthropy being displayed by (surprise, surprise two of the mayor's biggest contributors) URSA/Tarragon? We finally have some developers giving back to the community that made them rich and now the city council wants us to believe that we are indebted to them? The band has been paid. Don't get me wrong, I applaud "givebacks" (not boondoggles) and consider them long overdue but how much money have the various developers made in our city? In addition, is this a display of pure altruism or just the mere fact that many residents are sick and tired of developers getting their way and giving back very little for the huge profits they make? Maybe URSA/Tarragon decided it would actually be cost effective to invest a small fraction of the money they have made back into the community. You know...good PR and all that. Oh, but let us all applaud and kowtow now along with the rest of the city council. Do they think us that inept?

Eminent Domain: An open letter to the Hoboken City Council: Eminent Domain Grand Street Hoboken

Dear Editor:
Having just listened to a taped recording of the closed session of the Hoboken City Council meeting held back on March 1, 2006, I feel compelled to correct some misimpressions seemingly held by several council members.

Eminent domain can affect you, too

Dear Editor:
Thank you for highlighting Hoboken's current eminent domain issue on the front page of last week's Reporter. While many homeowners (houses or condominium) may think that the issue of eminent domain does not affect them I am writing to say it does.

You may think your home is safe from eminent domain, but is it? Unless you live in a six-story building (five stories apts/condos over one story garage) with full or nearly full lot coverage, your home could be put in a redevelopment zone. According to Tom Jennemann's article (3/5/06), "Redevelopment, according to state law is a zoning term that means there is an area within the municipality that is not being used to its full potential." Your neighborhood is not zoned for five over one, not to worry.

Eminent Domain: Leave my peaceful and quiet block alone!

Leave my peaceful and quiet block alone!
03/13/2006 Hoboken Reporter

Dear Editor:

I am a resident of 1021 Grand Street for eight years and during that time I have fallen in love not only with its quiet, quaint charm but also the industrial nature of its surroundings.

The serene, cobblestone street is an anomaly in Hoboken where almost every block is overcrowded with double-parked automobiles and luxury condominiums built partially to expand Hoboken's tax base while padding developers' pockets.

Imminent eminent

Dear Editor:

Robert Moses Eminent domained his way through New York City, doing "good" as he saw it, but the view of history is that he was a destructive force killing "living" neighborhoods, and if only some of his work could be undone. Even the loss of one street, built over by the WTC, was severely missed, and with the Towers gone, the local people want it back.

The people who would use "eminent domain", what with it being the irrevocable tool that it is, really should pay attention to the history of its use. The lesson being that you are never as smart as you think that you are. You can be utterly blind to something that you have undervalued.

City Budget: Why should innocent property owners pay for Hoboken's financial mistakes?

Dear Editor:

What an utterly asinine thing for Councilman Michael Cricco to infer that "it's time to pay the band" by taking property from innocent owners through eminent domain. Why should these particular owners have to pay the piper for years of financial mismanagement by successive city administrations, administrations that Mr. Cricco has been a part of and has supported on almost every issue.

Eminent Domain: Dismayed at City Council's response over eminent domain in Hoboken

Dear Editor:

I am writing this in reference to "Eminent Domain hits Hoboken" article published in your March 5th edition.

Having attended the council meetings where these ordinances have been discussed, I have been extremely dismayed at the City Council's response to this issue. Rather than siding with the residents' wishes, their response has been that they cannot do anything about the issue and that their solution has simply been to attempt to change the image of the project rather than the project itself.

Look at all of this escessive spending

Dear Editor:

After a holiday respite, I returned to reading about our municipal government in the local newspapers and found that, well, not much had changed.

First, the local daily reported a week or so ago that despite the fact that Hoboken is one of the smallest cities in Hudson County, the two highest paid municipal employees in the County are our Fire Chief, John Cassesa, and our Police Chief, Carmen LaBruno. In fact, according to the report, Mr. LaBruno is the highest paid police chief in the nation. That's a stunner. It would mean he earns more than, say, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, whose police force is at least a hundred of times larger and who is responsible for America's most important counter-terrorism efforts. I'm sure being police chief of any city is no easy job, but is Hoboken's police chief really worth more than Ray Kelly?

Second, I read that the School Board filled its soon-to-be-vacant business administrator slot with an assistant administrator earning more than $100,000 per year. One would assume that when a new permanent administrator is selected, he or she will earn at least as much as the assistant, saddling the taxpayer with more than $200,000 in executive salaries sitting atop the school system. In addition, I read that Patrick Gagliardi, the Superintendent, will probably be bought out of his contract, at the cost of several hundred thousand dollars. The School Board had just extended that contract this Spring, in the heat of the Mayoral and School Board campaigns, a decision that appears to have been politically motivated, was otherwise unnecessary at the time (since the contract was nowhere near expiring), and will now impose substantial severance costs on Hoboken's taxpayers. And then, as if that was not enough, I learned that David Anthony, a longtime Board member, is taking the Secretary's position, at a $37,000 salary, presumably to help the Board to keep track of all this spending, but that someone must have forgotten to check to see if the position was actually vacant. Apparently, it is not vacant, and so now we have two School Board Secretaries. With all of this money dancing around, is anyone paying attention to the interests of the students?

Lastly, not to be outdone, I read that our City's leader, David Roberts, at over $124,000, is the Hudson County salary king of mayors, earning $25,000 more than the mayor of Jersey City, one of the largest cities in our state. Mr. Roberts campaigned for re-election last Spring on a platform of fiscal responsibility. If, after five years as Mayor, his own salary level and those of other City officials are any indication, one has to wonder about that promise. Maybe he meant he'll be more responsible next year?

I think I'll go back to ignoring the newspapers for awhile. It's less painful that way, at least until the tax bill arrives.

Ricky Mason

Join me in my choice & vote for Mike Russo for mayor

As elected officials, we are often asked to speak on behalf of candidates. For me, every one of these opportunities is a privilege and an honor. I take great pride in my choice for Hoboken's next Mayor Mike Russo.

I am also proud to call Mike my cousin, godson, friend, council colleague, but that's not why I am voting for him. If family and friends were the criteria for voting, in a town as small as Hoboken, we all would be hard pressed to pull the lever for just one person. There is a long list of Mike's impressive accomplishments both personal and professional. Beginning with achieving Eagle Scout rank in the early years, than his outstanding academic career, leading to a Master's Degree in Physical Therapy and his being elected to the seat of Councilman of the third ward.

City Budget: Open letter to the Honorable David Roberts

Dear Mayor Roberts:

The purpose of this letter is to summarize the consensus of the Advisory Committee that you convened to discuss with you the fiscal alternatives that the City of Hoboken is currently considering. The Advisory Committee represents a cross section of large and small business owners as well as policy-makers.

City Budget: New bond proposal will provide a win-win situation for our city

Dear Editor:

Soon, I will formally present a rough draft of my 2004 municipal budget to the City Council through a series of workshops. This is the earliest in years that our City Council will have the opportunity to review our spending plan and provide their recommendations.

While I would like to hold off on specifics until I meet with each council member individually, I would like to share some highlights that I strongly believe will be beneficial to our community. As I previously announced, the budget will be significantly lower than last year's and will maintain a stabilized tax rate.

City Budget: Has David washed his hands like Pontius "Pilot" Payments In Lieu of Taxes

Dear Editor:

It is rare these days I agree with anything Mayor David Roberts does. His recent reversal of his position on Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS), places us in agreement on how to lower property taxes, lower rents determined by property taxes and increase ratables in Hoboken. Increased ratables have always been a sound method of holding the line on property tax increases. The greater the ratables the larger amount of taxes paid by developers and large projects instead of individual homeowners or those with a small number of apartments to rent.

City Budget: OK, let's look at what Roberts has done - and hasn't

In his letter in the Oct. 27 issue, Hoboken's Chief Financial Officer Michael Lenz asks that the we judge the Roberts administration "on what we do". I agree. Let's look at their fiscal record.

Councilman Roberts used to rail against high spending at the Board of Education. Yet in the last election, Mayor Roberts took no position on the budget? How should we view his silence?

The Campos 'hoax' is not evidence of change

The Campos 'hoax' is not evidence of change 
10/21/2001 Hoboken Reporter

Dear Editor:

I would be remiss if I did not submit a letter regarding the controversy that is surrounding the coming special election in the fourth ward of Hoboken. The residents of this patch of the city have been behind the "Iron Curtain" for at least the last four decades.

Lynda Walker decided it was time to stand up for the people in government housing who have been the pawns of the chess game called Hoboken Housing Authority, and she was given the opportunity by being nominated as a commissioner to the board. All of this and she decided to run for the ward seat as well. I give her credit; she is a strong black woman who would have made a great addition to the council as a woman and a minority. She was pushed off the Hoboken United trolley metaphorically by a number of aggressive wannabes shortly after they arrived in office.

Residents here have been told how to vote and whom to vote for since their parents first settled here. Clearly, there has been minimal if any civic and civil interaction between the politicos and the residents for as long as I can remember, and I have lived here for over 40 years. The landscape proves this as it has been a mess until politicians and relatives bought up all the land that would be blighted and condemned and made "new cheaply constructed housing."

The article by Tom Jennemann recalls it all happening again with the appointment of Chris Campos to the interim 4th Ward seat on the city council. If truth were told, Mr. Campos has not nor has he ever wanted to be involved in Hoboken politics. He left the city to pursue his education and only came back to visit relatives who helped raise him. Not being very interested in Hoboken, he's never even registered to vote in city, state or national elections. This is unusual in itself as Hoboken High's politically involved staff registers you as soon as you turn 18. I guess he couldn't get out fast enough.

Now, the present politicos would have you believe that he is the next great thing that will "change the 4th Ward." I bristle over this, as these same people would have started a war if former mayor Anthony Russo and his supporters had perpetrated this hoax on Hoboken in the last election. You can't have selective democracy, folks; either you work for change or you are still part of the problem.

Karen O'Shea