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Re: The New York Times: Sinatra’s First, Freed at Last -- The Jersey City Years.

Thanks for that article...

Posted on: 2006/10/23 15:31

Re: Re-Developers have to hire the Jersey City Housing Authority as hiring consultants.
Quite a regular
Quite a regular

Doesn't it also seem a bit unfair that the state/city should give an advantage to people who need help finding and maintaining employment over those that may otherwise be relatively successful construction workers? By this I mean that relatively successful construction workers, who does not live in assisted housing, have a smaller pool of jobs to compete for because the state/city feels the need to "reserve" a certain number of these jobs for people in its care. If this is part of the state's plan to move people out of assisted housing through worker training, i'd be all for it. However, my guess is the jobs allotted to the NJHA workers will be the most unskilled and menial of tasks.

Posted on: 2006/10/23 11:47
I'd go over 12 percent for that

Re: Re-Developers have to hire the Jersey City Housing Authority as hiring consultants.
Home away from home
Home away from home

More bureaucracy to discourage business, seems like the liberal way.

Hiring JC residents is good, but to jump through hoops to meet a quota is inefficient.

Not to sound too cynical but if the JCHA is as efficient as the other JC agencies then this is definitely anti-business.

Posted on: 2006/10/23 11:13

Re: Councilman Steve Fulop runs 26m race for nonprofit: the Hudson County Child Abuse Prevention Cen
Quite a regular
Quite a regular

Thanks for posting this.

I just donated $131 ($5/mile) to support Steve's effort.

He makes it very simple to donate, in pretty much any amount --

Note: I do not work for Steve, don't even live in his district, but I admire his willingness to run a marathon to help abused kids.

Posted on: 2006/10/23 10:36

The New York Times: Sinatra’s First, Freed at Last -- The Jersey City Years.
Home away from home
Home away from home

Sinatra’s First, Freed at Last

By KEVIN COYNE - The New York Times
Published: October 21, 2006

THE most valuable object the late Frank Mane ever owned spent decades in a jumbled drawer in the living room of his apartment here — a heavy 78-r.p.m. disc of “Our Love” that he recorded in 1939, filed casually among newspaper clippings, sheet music, letters and other mementos from his long career as a musician. In the unlikely event that a listener couldn’t recognize the unmistakable voice of the singer, Mr. Mane wrote the name on the label in his spidery black hand: “by Frank Sinatra.”

The two Franks knew each other from WAAT, a small Jersey City radio station where they sometimes performed on live broadcasts. Mr. Mane was older, an alto sax player who had a car and lived in Bayonne. Sinatra was a newlywed, living on Audubon Avenue in Jersey City, which was on Mr. Mane’s way home from the radio station. Both were veterans of the local nightclub circuit, and both were eager for the brighter lights elsewhere.

In March 1939, Mr. Mane had his eye on a job with Clyde Lucas and his California Dons, and he booked some studio time across the river in Manhattan to make an audition record. He assembled a 10-piece band and was rehearsing at the Sicilian Club in Bayonne when Sinatra showed up. “He said, ‘Cheech, could I go to New York with you and sing with the band?’ ” said Mary Mane, recalling the way her husband always told the story. Mr. Mane died at 94 in 1998, just a few months after Sinatra. “So my Frank said, ‘Sure, why not?’ ”

The band recorded four songs, including Rimsky-Korsakov’s breakneck “Flight of the Bumblebee,” an ideal showcase, Mr. Mane thought, for his lightning virtuosity on the saxophone. They still had some time left, so Sinatra stepped to the microphone and started a song that took its melody from Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” — the first time he had ever sung solo in a recording studio:

Our love, I feel it everywhere,

Our love is like an evening prayer. ...

“You can tell it’s him,” Mrs. Mane said as the song played on a portable tape deck, filling the small kitchen of the rented apartment where she and her husband moved in 1969. “His phrasing is the same.”

The record has finally left the living-room drawer and is now at Guernsey’s, the New York auction house that has sold items from the estates of John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley and Mickey Mantle. It will be auctioned in early December.

“Will it go for $20,000, or $200,000, or some multiple of that? God only knows,” said Arlan Ettinger, Guernsey’s president. “What’s so unique here is that it’s the one and only first recording. With most early recordings, there are multiple copies. Something may have come out on an obscure label and only 20 have survived and are in collectors’ hands, but that’s 19 more than Mrs. Mane’s.”

Mr. Mane did get the job with Clyde Lucas and spent the next three years on the road, but he wearied of the travel and returned home to Bayonne, where for the next half-century he led his own more modest bands at ballrooms and nightclubs, weddings and dinner dances. He was still playing when he was 93, and his foot was too swollen to get a black shoe on it, Mrs. Mane said. He wore slippers instead, and put black rubbers on them, and went to the job on a cane.

Just a few months after recording “Our Love” with Mr. Mane, Frank Sinatra was singing with Harry James and saying goodbye to Hudson County. The two Franks didn’t see each other again until 1979, when Sinatra convened a reunion in Atlantic City of some of his old musician friends from his days apprenticing in New Jersey.

“Every casino he played at after that, we were his guests, V.I.P.,” said Mrs. Mane, pointing to an autographed picture of Sinatra among the dozens of photos that make the living-room wall a collage of her husband’s career.

Shortly after the reunion, Mr. Mane made a cassette copy of “Our Love” and sent it to Sinatra, who hadn’t heard it in 40 years. A 1980 thank-you letter from Sinatra hung for years on Mrs. Mane’s wall and will be auctioned along with the record.

Mr. Mane “liked to play the recording for his friends,” said Robert Mandelbaum, a friend of the couple who helped Mrs. Mane arrange for the auction. “He understood its significance, but he never tried to capitalize on it. He wasn’t like that.”

Mrs. Mane is 84 now, gregarious and quick to laugh. “There was always music here,” she said, sweeping her arm across her apartment, where she lives alone, on Social Security. “Since he’s gone, there’s none.”

But on a gray, soggy afternoon, “Our Love” was playing one more time. “That’s my Frank,” she said, her ear tuning first not to the voice that everyone else hears, but to the alto sax. “He had the warmest sound. Everybody told him that.”

E-mail: jersey@nytimes.comNew York Times Link

Posted on: 2006/10/23 10:08

Councilman Steve Fulop runs 26m race for nonprofit: the Hudson County Child Abuse Prevention Center
Home away from home
Home away from home

Councilman runs race for nonprofit
Monday, October 23, 2006

Downtown Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop is running like a man on a mission - and for a good cause.

The 29-year-old Citigroup trader is competing in the Nov. 5 New York Marathon and in the process, raising money for the Hudson County Child Abuse Prevention Center, a Jersey City-based nonprofit that helps prevent the sexual, physical, and emotional abuse of kids.

"They do terrific work for children who can't convey the difficult position they're in," Fulop said about the center. "I just wanted to help."

Fulop has spent the past few weeks collecting pledges from individuals and groups for the 26.2-mile run. His goal is to raise between $12,000 and $20,000 - as of last week, he'd already raised $10,000, he said.

Fulop, who served six months in Iraq as a U.S. Marine, has never run a marathon before. He said he's been waking up every morning at 5 to run about six miles, and does longer distances on weekends.

"The wear and tear on your knees and ankles is pretty difficult," he said. "When you get to those higher levels, your body just starts to hurt."

Peter Herbst, the center's executive director, quipped that Fulop's fund-raising effort was "wonderful - as long as he (Fulop) is doing the running."

Posted on: 2006/10/23 9:45

Nightclub to be created in historic 300 year old Dutch built Summit House - want to host live music.
Home away from home
Home away from home

Nightclub in historic building?
Monday, October 23, 2006

The oldest building in Jersey City has some changes in its future.

The Summit House, believed to have been built by Dutch settlers more than 300 years ago, was bought last year by former NBA star Terry Dehere and his childhood friend Steve Papas. They opened a Blue Ribbon restaurant in the building - which formerly housed a Laico's restaurant - and now want to add a stage to the building's interior to host live music. They also are applying for an entertainment license, which would allow the restaurant to operate as a nightclub.

However, Dehere told The Jersey Journal, the changes won't mean any renovations or alterations to what's left of the original historic structure.

"This is an addition to what is already established," Dehere said. "The only thing we're trying to do is spruce up our brunch atmosphere."

Providing that the entertainment license is successfully obtained, the stage will accommodate jazz bands, open mic performances and other acts on Sundays and Fridays, according to Dehere.

City officials stated that Dehere and Papas have inquired about applying for an entertainment license that would permit the Blue Ribbon to operate as a nightclub. Currently, the Blue Ribbon does not have such a license, according to Division of Commerce Director Paul Barna.

Entertainment licenses are required by law for any establishment that hosts "any live act, including vocalists, actors, dancers, floor shows, instrumentalists and D.J.'s," according to city officials.

John Gomez, president of the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, did not object to the proposed changes to Summit House.

Posted on: 2006/10/23 9:39

Edited by GrovePath on 2006/10/23 10:01:32
Edited by GrovePath on 2006/10/23 10:02:22

Re-Developers have to hire the Jersey City Housing Authority as hiring consultants.
Home away from home
Home away from home

Redevelopers to be forced to hire Jersey City residents
Monday, October 23, 2006

Developers who agree to rebuild blighted areas in Jersey City have to give more than lip service to hiring local residents: they must contract with the Jersey City Public Housing Authority to ensure residents are put to work, one city official said.

"Your 'best effort' is now going to be working with the (Jersey City) Housing Authority, which has an outstanding track record at putting people to work," said Robert Antonicello, executive director of the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency.

"If the local residents can't benefit by this building boom, we have really done something wrong," he added.

The details are still being hashed out, but within a month, a deal will be in place whereby developers who agree to build in redevelopment areas would have to hire the Jersey City Housing Authority as hiring consultants, Antonicello said.

Using a section of its federal charter as leverage, the Jersey City Housing Authority has managed to get contractors they oversee to hire enough local workers to represent at least 30 percent of a job's "man hours," officials said.

But it's not easy, they added. Meeting the goal requires holding job fairs, monitoring, and in some cases, "hand-holding" would-be workers, said Jersey City Housing Authority Executive Director Maria Maio.

"We always met the goal," said Maio, referring to six multi-million dollar projects the agency has overseen. "The key was closing up the excuses and then monitoring it."

Posted on: 2006/10/23 9:35

Re: Day Care - Downtown

Hi, ErieSt

Is your baby currently with Baby Galileo? How old is he now? I visited them couple hours right before the delivery of my son last December..:) I remembered the environment is ok, but I like the environment in River School better. I probably will stop by some time this week to visit again. I've told them to reserved a spot for us in Feb 2007. Probably my son and your son can be classmates.

I did not know that waiting list for River School is so long. When I worked in Newport, I've called River School at Newport, but they said they preferred resident at newport first and asked me to call the one at exchange place because they do not have waiting list. That's why I was surprised when I visited them 2 weeks ago and they told me they have 75 people on the waiting list.....

Posted on: 2006/10/22 16:49

Re: Day Care - Downtown
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk

We chose Baby Galileo. We liked what we saw when we were visiting places. Like the other poster said the painted windows on other daycares in town gave me the creeps. That and the fact that you couldn't drop unannounced at Smile, for instance, even if you were a parent.

Since then, we've stopped by BG several times and the babies there all seemed well taken care of. It may be silly, but the fact that they have that huge window facing Grove Street makes me feel better. When I had my baby with me and stopped by, the caregivers always showed interest in him and played with him.

We are still waitlisted at River School. I signed up as soon as I had a heartbeat - early December. Crazy. They had a vacancy for a part-time this month but it didn't work for us. Part time there was nearly 1k. BG is about 900 for full time.

I've heard good things about St. Elizabeth's, but we figured the morning routine will be hard as it is without having to drive the baby anywhere.

Posted on: 2006/10/22 11:20

Re: Day Care - Downtown

We live in Society Hill, which is off RT 440. Both my husband and I work in NYC. We take light rail and then transfer PATH in exchange place to get into the City. I work in midtown and my husband works in dowtown Manhanttan. I am looking for daycare for my baby, too. I visited River School in exchange place recently, but they told me that they have 75 people on the waiting list and will try to clean up by the end of this month. However, there is no guarantee and Manager Lisa wants me to keep looking for other options.
Therefore, We want to stop by Sunnyside Academy at Port Liberte yesterday, but we cannot find the place. simonJC, could you tell me where is the daycare location? I drove from Garfield Ave and turn right on Chapel Ave, but I did not see anything like daycare around. Additionally, how is the traffic around the area in the morning rush hour? My housband is afraid that it will take us at least 30 minutes to drive to daycare in the morning rush hour and then another half hour to drive to the light rail parking.

So far We only have a guarantee reservation at Baby Galileo because I still worked in Newport area when I was pregranent and I drove and parked in Newport Mall. The environment looks ok, but a little bit small. However, I got another job in City now so the location is not that convenient to me. Baby is 10 month now and will be only 13 month when we have to drop him to daycare. I don't think it's good idea to take him with me to the daycare in the City, isn't it?

Anyone has better suggestion to us?

Posted on: 2006/10/22 6:29

Jersey City -- Hudson County -- Politics in shades of gray -- The dirty, the clean, and the other.
Home away from home
Home away from home

Get a cup of Java -- It's a long article!

Oh and YES this is a repost -- but Mr. Bonamo has updated the article a bit and put it out again so here it is!
Please don't flame me for the re-post -- I'm very sensitive!

Politics in shades of gray
The history of the dirty, the clean, and prospects for the future

By Mark J. Bonamo -- HUDSON REPORTER -- 10/21/2006

On the Hudson County waterfront, a man who doesn't want you to know his name sits in the back room of a bar. His glittering blue eyes dance as he tells stories about a lifetime of involvement in Hudson County politics. As the stories of various campaigns and convictions over the last 30 years roll off his silver tongue, the longtime county employee stops for a moment and laughs.

"Definitely nine out of 10 commandments were broken," he says with a crooked smile on his face. "What I can say is, I seen all types of illegal action committed, outside of murder. I saw the envelopes come in. They took the cash in and they shared it. Not that good, but they did. The people that the public suspects the least are usually the ones who do the most. It's just the nature of the beast."

He was, and is, corrupt. But he is a free man. And he is among friends.

According to the office of Christopher Christie, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, out of 97 New Jersey political corruption cases where the defendants have either pleaded guilty or have been convicted of politically related charges since 2002, 20 originated in Hudson County.

In the last five years, the following local politicians, from the petty to the powerful, are just a few of those who have been snagged:

- Anthony Russo, a former Hoboken mayor who admitted accepting thousands of dollars in bribes from an accounting firm run by his best friend, and went to jail in 2005. His son Michael, now a councilperson, got teary-eyed at a 2004 council meeting where he voted for campaign reform: "I have seen, firsthand, how this concept affects people."

- Robert Janiszewski, the Hudson County Executive from 1998 to 2001, now sits in a Kentucky federal prison for extortion and tax evasion.

- One day in 1996, Patrick Cecala, the then-secretary to Hoboken's Alcohol Beverage Control Board and former school board member who had no prior criminal record, asked a woman for a $1,000 bribe to smooth the process of getting a liquor license in Hudson County's most bar-packed town. He later explained, "One thousand dollars was just a round number. I just could have used $1,000 cash in my pocket."

- Peter Perez, a former North Bergen parks and recreation commissioner, pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks from an air conditioning contractor who had town contacts. The contractor also did work on officials' private homes.

If political corruption makes New Jersey a national joke, then Hudson County is the punch line. For nearly a century, the 62 square miles hard by the west bank of the Hudson have been looked at as the spot where the cancer began eating the Garden State body politic alive.

What fuels the fire of Hudson County political corruption? Is there an ingrained culture here that knows no rival, and if so, can it change?

Whether it's only gossip among the state's newcomers or the sticking point in the current statewide U.S. Senate election, the answers are needed now more than ever.

Frank Hague's ghost

It's hard to talk about Hudson County corruption without mentioning the infamous man who ruled Jersey City for 30 years.

Frank "Boss" Hague was mayor of Jersey City from 1917 to 1947. Born in 1876 to Irish immigrant parents, he grew up tough in "the Horseshoe," a long-gone tenement neighborhood near what became the entrance to the Holland Tunnel.

Expelled from school as an incorrigible 13-year-old, Hague's natural political skills vaulted him through the ranks of the Hudson County Democratic Party.

He was elected Jersey City's public safety commissioner in 1916 as a reformer - and used his position as head of the police and fire departments to build the rock-solid base and patronage system that would consolidate his power.

While he cleaned up the police force and lowered the crime rate, he also recruited a group of plainclothes policemen from the Horseshoe to be "Zeppelins," a secret surveillance squad within the police force who had a fierce loyalty to him.

Riding a tide of simmering Catholic anger at the previous Protestant control of the city, plus the need for safer streets, Hague was unanimously elected mayor by the city commission government within a year.

Hague's machine employed the now-familiar political methods of canvassing, telephoning voters and transporting voters to the polls, establishing the famed Hudson County Democratic "get out the vote" apparatus that is still revered and feared in New Jersey politics.

Between 1916 and 1940, Democrats won six of nine gubernatorial elections, most due to huge Hudson County electoral landslides.

Federal funds from allies such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt flowed into Jersey City. Through his ward leaders, Hague created a unique form of municipal socialism that provided needed services for his constituents at the height of the Depression.

When Hague said "I am the law" in Jersey City, he meant it.

Corruption continues

But after World War II, returning veterans increasingly felt locked out by Hague's machine. And ethnic groups outside Hague's Irish power base felt neglected. Hague's strong-arm tactics and long vacations in Florida and Paris alienated working-class residents.

As a result, Hague's appointed successor, his nephew, lost to a reform slate led by John V. Kenny in 1949. (Ironically, Kenny, who also billed himself as a reformer, was himself later indicted for conspiracy and extortion.)

Hague died a millionaire in a Manhattan apartment in 1956, unable to return to his former seat of power, out of fear of being subpoenaed over the kickback schemes that made him rich. In fact, before his death, he was served with a subpoena in a $3 million kickback suit brought by city employees in an attempt to recover funds. Hague never paid back a dime.

Historian Thomas Fleming called Hague's mayoralty a "blend of violence and benevolence" where order was maintained by "justice at the end of a nightstick," a slogan Hague liked to use himself.

Despite his rough reputation and use of voter fraud involving a misused state voter registration law, Hague was never indicted and never spent a day in jail.

Although his Jersey City mayoral salary never exceeded $8,000 a year and he had no other source of legitimate income, at the time of his death, his wealth was estimated at more than $10 million.

Next 'reformer' took $3.5M

Hague was dead, but the boilerplate he set up for Hudson County politicians was alive and well. Kenny set up his own satrapy in Hudson County. Mayor of Jersey City until 1953, Kenny remained the power behind the country throne until 1971, when he and Mayor Thomas Whelan were indicted and convicted as members of the "Hudson County Eight" for conspiracy and extortion for taking $3.5 million in kickbacks in exchange for county construction contracts.

When Robert Janiszewski became Hudson County Executive in 1988, it was hoped that he was the true reformer Hudson County had been waiting for.

But "Bobby J" was destined to disappoint.

Janiszewski abruptly resigned from office in 2001, and it was subsequently revealed that he had secretly worked as an informer for the federal government since late 2000. They had quietly arrested him in Atlantic City regarding extortion and asked him to wear a wire to catch other politicians and contractors.

His testimony brought down officials including Nidia Davila-Colon, a five-term Hudson County freeholder, who received a 2.5-year jail term for passing more than $10,000 in bribes to Janiszewski to ensure that her then-boyfriend, psychiatrist Dr. Oscar Sandoval, would receive lucrative county contracts. Sandoval became an FBI informant and was never charged.

Janiszewski ultimately paid a price himself. He pleaded guilty in 2002 to extortion and tax evasion, admitting he had accepted over $100,000 in bribes. He was sentenced in 2005 to 41 months in federal prison, and is currently serving time in Kentucky.

Proven guilty? Says who?

While many convicted Hudson County officials remain mum, former Jersey City Mayor Gerald McCann, better known as Gerry, is more than willing to talk.

A decade before Janiszewski experienced his legal woes, McCann, the mayor of Jersey City from 1981 to 1985 and again from 1989 to 1992, faced his own day in court for criminal fraud and tax evasion that took place in his private business dealings while he was not in office.

After his fall, Janiszewski expressed remorse for his actions, but McCann is cynical.

"Do you really think people go into public service to serve the public?" he said. "There are hundreds of other ways to do it. Why do people like Jon Corzine want to become governor and Tom Kean Jr. want to become U.S. senator? It's the power."

He added, "It's the only thing that they didn't have. They had money, but they didn't have power. Sometimes when power becomes almost absolute, then the potential for corruption occurs."

But besides the major players like Hague who were looking to feather their nests, what about politicians who get involved in small-time government? What makes them cross the line?

"A councilman in a small town is not necessarily looking for power," McCann conceded. "But there are people who believe that the problems that occur in a small town can be resolved if they themselves get elected. Once these people become decision makers, the people who want to become the beneficiaries of their new power start to get them to cross over, whether it's paying bribes or getting kickbacks."

He added, "Campaign contributions are part of the same thing. No one can get anybody to volunteer anymore because they think everybody is corrupt. It becomes self-perpetuating. In order to move up the chain in politics, you have to live in the gray. There are a lot of people more than willing to live in the gray. Gray is very close to black."

Besides the major arrests in Hudson County politics over the last few years, like Janiszewski and Russo, there have been smaller busts, like politicians who used campaign funds for jobs for relatives, or accepted a jet ski from a contractor.

Mayor: 'Temptations are astronomical'

For instance, Peter LaVilla served as the mayor of Guttenberg, a tiny four-by-12-block waterfront enclave bordered by North Bergen and West New York, from 1996 to 2000. He pleaded guilty in 2003 to misappropriation of campaign funds.

What happened, LaVilla said in a recent interview, was that during a 1999 campaign against Robert Janiszewski for county executive, he took out $63,000 worth of advertising in the now-defunct senior citizen newspaper that he owned. He didn't report those funds as income, and the IRS came after him. He said he no longer had the paperwork to prove his innocence, so he pleaded guilty.

LaVilla did six months of probation, paid a large fine, and has gone back to working as a screenwriter and a documentary filmmaker.

"The temptations are astronomical," he said, remembering his time in office. "There's always a fine line between what is legitimate and what is not legitimate. As mayor, I made four grand a year. I couldn't live on that. I had to have other income. If you have a contractor and he wants to get some business from the town, and he says things like 'Hey, can I take you to lunch?' that's where the fine line comes in. Do you pick up the tab?"

When asked about the politicians he served alongside in the 1990s, LaVilla declined to mention names, but said, "You're having a fundraiser, you send the ABC company two tickets, and they buy them, is that a violation? Because the temptations are so great, it's up to the individual who is in office to take care of due diligence and be above board."

Really low salaries

The great disparity in mayoral incomes in Hudson County seems to be one of the problems. (See sidebar.) Guttenberg's current mayor earns $7,640 a year, but the town budget is approximately $12.8 million. That means that a $7,000-a-year mayor is giving out millions of dollars in contracts.

The CEO of a $12.8 million company certainly would earn more than $7,640.

What's worse, the mayors in North Bergen, West New York and Union City draw incredibly low mayoral salaries to deal with high budgets. Union City Mayor Brian Stack gets $16,000 for a town with an $80.2 million budget. North Bergen's Nicholas Sacco gets only $15,000 for $71.2 million. According to Jersey City City Clerk Robert Byrne, some of the towns, like Union City and West New York, technically consider the mayoralty a part-time job.

Stack, Sacco, and West New York Mayor Albio Sires have state legislative jobs as well, making one wonder if they have time to do both jobs to the best of their abilities.

After a while, low-paid politicians tend to do one of two things: Seek another job at the same time - like assemblyman or county executive - or give contracts to friends and start asking for cash back over dinner.

'I didn't do anything corrupt'

As for McCann, he drew a fine line between black and white until he finally left a distinct gray smudge. He was convicted in December of 1991 of defrauding a South Florida bank. He was charged with having diverted for personal gain at least $267,000 of a $300,000 investment the bank entrusted to him in 1986 and 1987 to develop a marina at Liberty State Park in Jersey City.

He was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison and ultimately served 24 months.

When asked if he felt he did anything wrong, his answer was Jersey City blunt.

"I absolutely do not believe anything that I did was illegal," he said. "The power of the prosecutor's office got me. I didn't do anything corrupt. Corruption is when you are in a public position, and you do something to violate that trust. I was convicted for things that occurred when I wasn't the mayor. I'm very proud of what I achieved as mayor. I can show you the development at Newport, Harsimus Cove, Exchange Place, Grove Street, the light rail, and the new homes where Roosevelt Stadium was. If you have a legacy, it's what you've achieved in your own life. You can't point to one person, including Frank Hague, who did more."

It fell off back of a truck

Not everyone agrees with McCann's assessment.

"Dream on, Gerry," said Jersey City native and published author Helene Stapinski. "Those buildings on the waterfront would have been built sooner and better, without him."

Stapinski's critically acclaimed memoir Five-Finger Discount chronicled her coming of age in a Jersey City where personal and political corruption were often intertwined, including among some of her relatives.

Stapinski's frustration with McCann and the rest of Hudson County's ruling political class comes from both early observation and subtle cooperation. Stapinski describes growing up with the concept of "SWAG" - which stood for Stolen Without A Gun.

"Swag was a socially acceptable way of taking what wasn't yours, mostly stuff to live on," she said. "Your socks and underwear just fell off the back of a truck."

Stapinski detailed, in her book, how her father brought home frozen seafood not normally seen in working-class Jersey City homes from his job at Union Terminal Cold Storage.

"There were a lot of lobster tails on my table growing up," she said. "The thievery among the common folk happened because it trickled down from above. When you were bringing Ivory Soap home from the job, that's peanuts compared to what Hague was doing."

What might start with ripping off one's boss ballooned into bigger misdeeds.

"I used to think that [politics] were unimportant and that I didn't have to vote," the current Brooklyn resident said recently. "But the older you get, the more you see. Politicians are making the laws, and they are breaking the laws. They are defining what happens on a large scale and for the long-term future. If the schools are poorly run because of corrupt politics, the Yuppies will leave. This makes me really want to vote three times, which you can do in Hudson County sometimes."

Stapinski wondered aloud if New Jersey voters will actually pull the lever for any Hudson County politician running for statewide office.

"Hudson County was such a power magnet in statewide politics, but that time is all gone," she said. "It's more of an albatross now. Even the whiff of Hudson County makes people itchy."

In the shadows

The man in the back room of the bar on the waterfront is just the type of Hudson County resident who makes people reach for calamine lotion.

His desire for anonymity is based on a certain practicality. "I would not like to expose my family to this," said Mr. C (not his real initial). "You never get complimented on something like this. There is always something that backfires. I'm almost done, and will leave this life with my pension."

The man's description of the life he lived and witnessed is murky at best.

"You could say I was more involved in south Hudson, but helped others in north Hudson," he says. "I was mainly a county person, so Bobby Janiszewski was whom I supported the most. Basically, we all get recycled."

Around Bobby J, the man saw the same cycle over and over, deals made in various shades of green.

"Corruption might be dressed differently, but it is mainly the same," Mr. C said. "Kickbacks are always in cash, unless the other people are dumb and make some kind of gift that is tangible. Major law firms always get the big contracts. Unnecessary jobs go to workers who support the campaigns. If you were to actually hold interviews for some major jobs, three-fourths of the individuals would never get the job."

In the last few years, statewide "pay to play" laws have cut the ability for contractors to donate to municipal and county governments. Recently, reformers have tried to adapt those laws to local school boards as well.

Mr. C believes that people are fooling themselves if they think legislative measures to stem corruption are anything more than a futile finger in a dike.

"If a law is made, it is made mostly by lawyers," Mr. C said. "They are the same people who find ways around the law. Pay-to-play laws appease the public, but that will never change who gets contracts and whose friend gets a job."

Christie's anti-corruption campaign

Christopher Christie was appointed U.S. Attorney for New Jersey by President George W. Bush in December 2001. His stance against corruption has resulted in 97 successful prosecutions of both elected officials and other participants in illegal activities, including contractors, who are part of the circle of corruption.

Christie has received bipartisan accolades for his work, in part because officials of both the red and blue persuasion have been subject to his purple bruises.

Former Republican Essex County Executive James Treffinger, for instance, was brought up on corruption charges in 2002 when Treffinger was a leading G.O.P. contender for the U.S. Senate.

Recently, Christie was the driving force behind the legal effort that led former Democratic State Senate President John Lynch to plead guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion. At a Sept. 15 press conference following Lynch's plea, Christie spoke about the struggle against corruption in New Jersey.

"At this point, this is an old story," he said. "This office will continue to be vigilant about going after anyone who violates the law and betrays the public trust. Absolutely no one in New Jersey is above the law."

The advocate

Donald Scarinci knows the law. In the early 1970s, the politically connected attorney was editor of the school newspaper at Union Hill High School around the time U.S. Senator and current senatorial candidate Robert Menendez was student body president.

The two men formed a friendship that lasted while both served as aides to Union City Mayor and State Sen. William Musto. Musto's political career would come to a close in 1982 after his federal conviction on racketeering charges. Menendez was among those who testified against him.

Menendez went on to build a political career that took him to Musto's mayoral chair, the state assembly, the state senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and finally, after his appointment in January by Governor Jon Corzine, to the U.S. Senate. At the same time, Scarinci's law practice also grew, becoming one of the most influential in the state.

In the current U.S. Senate election, Scarinci very recently had to sever ties with Menendez's campaign after a 1999 telephone conversation was released in which Scarinci was recorded using Menendez's name to gain political leverage.

Scarinci said recently that he believes Hudson County simply gets an unfair rap.

"I've been involved in Hudson County politics and government since 1972," Scarinci said. "It is mythology that Hudson County is more corrupt than anywhere else. It has nothing to do with anything that has happened since the days of Frank Hague. The reality is that there are fewer instances of public corruption in Hudson County than in 50 percent of the other counties in the state of New Jersey. Bad people will do bad things."

He added, "Just because there are a few bad people like Gerry McCann and Bob Janiszewski doesn't mean all public officials are bad. You haven't had people stealing public money in Hudson County since the Musto trial in 1982. Wall Street would not be developing the waterfront if they had the concept that Hudson County was a corrupt place. I think the perception is based on folklore."

He said the perception is also based in something even darker than local legend.

"The idea has its foundation more in racism and prejudice than in any reality," he said. " 'Hudson County' to some people becomes a euphemism for Latinos, in the same way that 'Essex County' becomes a euphemism for African-Americans. When people want to suggest that the people from Hudson County are above-average corrupt, I think that there is a very large element of bigotry and racism in that kind of remark."

Scarinci defended his friend Menendez as a true reformer.

"He demonstrated by his actions that he is a reformer," he said. "He testified against his mentor Musto, who was a personal and a political disappointment to him. Several people who were indicted with Musto were members of organized crime. Bob Menendez testified against them. That took courage. I saw him wear the bullet-proof vest [during the trial]."

Corruption issue affects Senate race

The question of ethics has recently become a major campaign issue for the Nov. 7 midterm elections. While Menendez's side has tried to portray him as someone who would stand up to President Bush, Republican challenger Tom Kean Jr. has depicted him in ads as just another corrupt Hudson County politician.

Menendez has had to fend off several corruption allegations in recent weeks. These criticisms have included that while in the House of Representatives, Menendez leased a building he owned to a Union City nonprofit agency for which he helped win federal funds.

But Tom Kean Jr.'s campaign had to deal with an ethics accusation after Menendez's campaign discovered that a researcher working for Kean's chief campaign consultant was digging for dirt on Menendez through an exchange of letters with the infamous Bobby Janiszewski. Janiszewski apparently wrote the letters from the confines of a federal prison cell in Kentucky.

See next week's paper for more on the campaign.

A policy perspective

Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers and a longtime observer of New Jersey politics, said there are cultural and structural reasons for the county's corruption.

"Hudson County deserves every bit of its reputation," he said. "One of the things about Menendez, particularly after he turned state's evidence against Billy Musto, was that he stood out as the glowing exception, proof that a reformer could come out of Hudson County. But then again, Frank Hague and Bobby Janiszewski originally were reformers too."

He noted, "The low state of public rectitude in Hudson County tends to rub off on people who try to escape its clutches."

Baker said the problem starts with having too many politicians. He cites county executives, positions that not all states have.

"The center [of power] is never as powerful as the collective might of the 21 county chairs," he said. "Office double dipping has to be abolished. It tends to monopolize elective offices. It's a dangerous concentration of power. Pay-to-play legislation also has to be passed."

But Baker worried that some of it is ingrained.

"There are also cultural factors that will only change over the long run," he said. "A lot of the politics of Hudson County is tribal in that political ties are intermingled with ethnic ties. The more Hudson County becomes a desirable place for upper-middle-class people to live, the more that leads to the demographic transformation of Hudson County. The waterfront communities offer probably the best hope for reform."

What can be done?

It appears, from observers' comments and even politicians' own suggestions, that some waves of change are coming, but more has to be done. Suggestions include:

- Consider banning dual office holding. This move would provide more assurance that elected officials are not prey to conflicts of interest, and that running for office is seen as a path to public service, not personal enrichment. It also means separate officials will have more time to do the job better. However, not everyone agrees that dual office-holding is always bad. Scarinci says: "I think a legislator who is also a mayor, or a freeholder or a county executive, brings something to the table at the state legislature. In Trenton, they truly know what state laws mean at the local level. There's no evil in a $12,000-a-year mayor being a state senator."

- Increase mayoral salaries for towns with large budgets. If mayors are ultimately controlling large sums of money without commensurate compensation, this becomes an inducement to steal. For instance, in 2003, former Hoboken Mayor Anthony Russo was indicted for having given kickbacks to an accounting firm run by his best friend, the late Joseph Lisa. Lisa's firm had earned more than $5 million in contracts from Hoboken in just a few years.

- Consolidate towns and town services. New Jersey currently has 566 separate municipalities. Through carefully considered regionalization, the number of towns and municipal positions would decrease, and with it opportunities for influence-peddling and fiscal temptation.

- Ban "pay-to-play" at every level of New Jersey government, including redevelopment agencies. "Pay-to-play" is the practice of giving professional service contracts to campaign contributors. Such practices can result in politicians approving overly expensive or unnecessary projects in exchange for campaign support. Giving someone a government contract in exchange for a political donation is illegal, but often it is difficult to prove. "Pay to play" laws cut out the possibility of that happening by saying that a business contributing a certain amount cannot get a contract. The state legislature should close loopholes in the laws.

- Institute a zero-tolerance policy on the acceptance of gifts. Current ethics laws forbid legislators from accepting gifts worth more than $250 in total value from any single source for anything related to their official jobs. Instead, legislators should be banned from receiving any gift of any value whatsoever from lobbyists, government affairs agents, or anyone else.

- Combine the Joint Legislative Commission on Ethical Standards into the new state Ethics Commission. Merging these two commissions would centralize and provide a vehicle for consistent and rigorous enforcement of the state's ethics laws.

- Make the new Uniform Ethics Code compulsory for the legislature and local governments. While more and more municipalities have taken up the cause of ethics reform, a clear, consistent approach must be taken regarding the application, control, supervision and enforcement of stronger ethics standards.

- End pension-padding. This practice allows for the promotion of state officials immediately before retirement, allowing them to receive a public pension based on the higher salary of a position that they never held. Convicted corruption offenders can sometimes still get their pensions.

- More aggressive investigations. Newly confirmed New Jersey Attorney General Stuart Rabner, who helped prosecute Janiszewski as an assistant U.S. attorney under Christie's leadership, can continue to work with Christie in this vein.

- Don't state corruption rumors as facts. As Hoboken Councilman Michael Cricco said at a 2004 council meeting, "This is Hudson County. It seems like we're already guilty before we even do anything." The unfair stereotype of every politician being corrupt is often spread by cynical new residents, or by campaign hopefuls hoping to gain office by slandering the other side. It paints hundreds of local public servants, unpaid board members and volunteers with the same brush, sometimes solely because they grew up here. The stereotype becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because only career politicians will be willing to undertake the name-calling that comes with holding these positions.

- Voters should reward and punish at the ballot box. On the grass-roots level and on Election Day, voters should remember who has been doing the right thing, and who hasn't.

Young councilman reflects on potential change

Will reforms like the above work?

Jersey City Councilman Steven Fulop, 29, was raised in Edison. He moved to the Jersey City waterfront for the same reason many other new Hudson County residents did.

"I was working at Goldman Sachs," he said. "Goldman was moving their building to Jersey City. You get a lot of the benefits of being close to Manhattan, but at the same time all the benefits of being in Jersey. It just kind of made sense."

What Fulop did after he made the move to Jersey City was more unusual. He enlisted in the Marines after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and temporarily left Wall Street in 2003 to serve a tour with Marines in Iraq.

Shortly after his return, he entered politics. Fulop stunned many local political observers by winning the downtown Jersey City council seat in 2005 over the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO)-backed incumbent Junior Maldonado.

When looking at the question of campaign contribution reform, Fulop offered some cautionary comments.

"If the reforms are not done in a way that would affect the county organizations as well, you will inadvertently adversely affect the reform candidates, because you won't give them the same access to funds the other side is going to have times 10," he said. "Jersey City adopted the state's pay-to-play reform package. Now some groups have come forward and said that they want a kind of pay-to-play law that would restrict developers from giving money to any Jersey City candidates. The premise is good, but if you do that, you restrict the money that somebody can get independently, but you can't restrict a developer from giving the money to the HCDO, which will ultimately give to the candidates that they choose."

Fulop continued, "Reform should go further to include not only banning dual public-office holding, but also holding two jobs that are paid for by taxpayer dollars in any capacity. Here in Hudson County, we are one of the biggest violators of this. Taxpayers paying one salary should be enough."

One more idea

But why is it that even politicians who originally run for office as "reformers" wind up covered in sludge?

Fulop thinks self-imposed term limits might avoid this fate.

"What I'd like to do is have an impact in the near term, and then I think that I'm done," he said. "You go back to the private sector, say that you served the public, and that's it. When you stay in office for too long, that's when things start to go awry."

And sadly, he agrees that some people duck local politics because of the reputation for corruption, causing a vicious cycle.

"You can't say everybody is corrupt and evil here," he said, "because that's surely not the case. We're headed in the right direction. In Hoboken, we have some young council people with fresh ideas coming from the private sector. In Jersey City, we're moving that way. You need the residents to put the right people in elected office, and then you need those elected officials to do the responsible thing. Part of the problem is that we still have the mentality that if you're good at hanging campaign signs, then you might qualify for some senior-level position, which is ridiculous. We're long past that mentality. So you either recognize that and get involved with change and progress, or you're going to have to get out of the way."

He added, "Change can be forced, or change can be embraced. Either way, we'll take it."

To comment on this story, e-mail Mark J. Bonamo at
Click here for Link to the Reporter

Posted on: 2006/10/21 14:38

Re: JC Reporter article on JC artists
Home away from home
Home away from home


JCReporter wrote:
Hello this is JC Reporter (aka Ricardo Kaulessar from the Jersey City Reporter). ...a little plug, please check out the Delivered Vacant screening tonight.

Really? Tonight?

I am surprised that BrightMomments didn't ever plug this!

JK - we are going!

Posted on: 2006/10/21 11:24

JC Reporter article on JC artists
Quite a regular
Quite a regular

Hello this is JC Reporter (aka Ricardo Kaulessar from the Jersey City Reporter). Here is my recent article on the artists and the city's impact upon them. Figured it would be an interesting topic to cover in light of the Artists Studio Tour this weekend. For all those going to shows, enjoy.
And a little plug, please check out the Delivered Vacant screening tonight.

How does Jersey City itself impact art?

Painter, sculptor, and others speak on impact

Ricardo Kaulessar
Reporter staff writer

Artist Ibou Ndoye has taken all the invitations and flyers he's received for local art shows in the past four years and created a 16-by-8 foot installation called "Community Stapled Cards" - artwork that is in itself a testament to Jersey City's growing arts community.

This weekend (Oct. 21-22), Ndoye will be one of more than 500 artists at 100 venues displaying their works in the 16th annual Jersey City Artists Studio Tour. It is estimated that at least 70 percent of the artists exhibiting their work are Jersey City residents.

The growth of largest annual art event in the city may say something about the impact of Jersey City upon the art scene in the New York/New Jersey.

But what about the impact of Jersey City upon artists themselves - does the state's second largest city have an influence upon how art is created within its borders?

The city as a muse

Milena Filipova is a Bulgarian painter who has called home the Paulus Hook section of Jersey City since 2002. Her art has taken her throughout the world, as she has resided in Rome, Philadelphia and Baltimore in the past 10 years.

But Jersey City has seeped into work most prominently, as she has displayed in her home studio, oil and watercolor renderings of various sections of her adopted city.

There's the impressionist exuberance of Van Vorst Park in one corner and the vibrant seascape of Black Magic, a depiction of a boat docked in the Liberty Marina.

"I would take walks around the neighborhood and I started seeing these beautiful landscapes that I wanted to paint," said Filipova.

Filipova said what also helped her were the new residents moving into her neighborhood who started commissioning her to paint pictures of their homes or condos.

Another painter who has let Jersey City seep through in his work is Orlando Cuevas, a longtime Jersey City resident who over the years has created sculpture and painting of buildings such as the old Hudson and Manhattan Powerhouse on Washington Street and other downtown apartment complexes.

Singing his praises were fellow artist and Jersey City resident Duda Penteado.

"I love his art depicting the day-to-day of Jersey City," said Penteado. "I myself am not attracted to the Jersey City architecture, but I take inspiration in how Orlando see Jersey City in his work."

A sense of community

Paul Sullivan moved to Jersey City in 1997 with his wife Barbara Landes. The couple was among the last residents of 111 First St., the former home of the P. Lorillard Tobacco Co., which was transformed into the city's premier art complex in the 15 years until to its closing in May 2005.

Sullivan is the current president of the Jersey City-based non-profit arts organization Pro Arts.

Sullivan sees "Jersey City is a big, small town" and that for him is a good thing.

"Everybody knows each other here in Jersey City and that fosters a very strong, creative community," said Sullivan who is a sculptor. "And that community is still growing."

Ibou Ndoye came to Jersey City at the end of 2001. A native of the West African country of Senegal, Ndoye specializes in glass painting. But rather than painting on clean sheets of regularly shaped glass, Ndoye has created a new art form by breaking and layering the glass with other materials including copper wire, broken bottles, wood, bone, and animal skin.

Ndoye's work will be shown at five different venues during the art tour. He sees the influence of Jersey City just from what he has experienced every year taking part in the tour.

"It is about networking and that for me is Jersey City is about - a great artist networking community," said Iboye. "It reminds me of when I was in Africa; I was in a very strong art community."

Duda Penteado has for the past 10 years made his home in Jersey City. Originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Penteado works in a variety of mediums such as canvas, wood, printmaking and video installations.

Penteado has received acclaim in recent years for his work, Beauty for Ashes, an artistic reaction to 9/11 consisting of painting and sculpture. Much of the artwork is modeled after the legendary artist Pablo Picasso's famous painting Guernica - a reaction to the bombing of a Spanish village in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.

Penetado said it is the international flavor of Jersey City that makes him comfortable with practicing his art here.

"50 different communities from different counties, you learn from so many different styles," said Penteado. "Yet it so close and you do have a sense of neighborhood."

Proximity to the Big Apple

Penteado said also he is fortunate to be an artist living across from New York City, considered next to Paris to be the premiere art center of the world.

"I am fortunate that I can go to the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art), which is right across the river," said Penteado. "Whenever I go back to Brazil to speak, I meet up with art students who tell me that wish they could live in the New York area so they can be close to MOMA."

But on a more serious note, Penteado spoke of Jersey City having a full view of what happened on 9/11.

"I don't I would have created Beauty for Ashes the same way if I didn't see it up close as I did that day and that was from living in Jersey City," said Penteado.

Filipova said it is the new people moving from New York City, especially those with financial backgrounds, that has had an immense impact.

"It used to be I would sell all work in Manhattan," he said, "and most times I still do, but I now I have a market for my work here amongst my neighbors."

Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at

Posted on: 2006/10/21 11:12

Re: Please stop the huge 9/11 memorial at LSP - it will ruin the park's views of the Manhattan skyli
Home away from home
Home away from home

Hi Ricardo,



JCReporter wrote:
Hello this is JC Reporter (aka Ricardo Kaulessar from the Jersey City Reporter). Here is my recent article on the LSP Memorial. I would wait for GrovePath to post but I think GrovePath needs a break every so often from the busy job posting articles for our reading pleasure Enjoy.

Posted on: 2006/10/21 11:03

Re: Please stop the huge 9/11 memorial at LSP - it will ruin the park's views of the Manhattan skyline!
Quite a regular
Quite a regular

Hello this is JC Reporter (aka Ricardo Kaulessar from the Jersey City Reporter). Here is my recent article on the LSP Memorial. I would wait for GrovePath to post but I think GrovePath needs a break every so often from the busy job posting articles for our reading pleasure Enjoy.

Lawsuit may hinder state 9/11 memorial

Park group slams Corzine for approval of 'Empty Sky'

Ricardo Kaulessar
Reporter staff writer

Local residents who think the proposed "Empty Sky" statewide 9/11 memorial will block too much of the views from Liberty State Park became even more irate earlier this month when Gov. Jon Corzine gave his public approval for it to be built there.

Now, the Friends of Liberty State Park (FOLSP), a local volunteer group that has helped oversee the preservation of the park since 1988, plan to bring a lawsuit to stop construction of the 30-foot-high memorial until other designs and new locations in the park are considered.

In addition, state Assemblyman Louis Manzo will introduce a bill Monday that could stop future memorials from being built without a more public process.

A jury including victims' relatives chose the memorial out of 320 entries submitted in 2004 as part of the New Jersey Memorial Design Competition, which former Gov. James McGreevey initiated.

However, there were no public hearings at the time.

Corzine at first had been reticent to state his stance on the $12 million memorial, instead deferring to the state's Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the operation of the park.

But after many recent letters and a public hearing spurred by activists in July, Corzine had to comment.

The state received bids from construction companies by its Oct. 11 deadline, and recently leveled the mound of the dirt at the memorial site to create the memorial's base.

Defending his creation

"Empty Sky" is slated to be have two 30-foot high, 200-foot long stainless steel walls perched on a 10-foot high grassy knoll.

The memorial will be placed at the northeast end of Liberty State Park, in the plaza area near the old Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal.

The designer of the memorial is New York City architect Frederic Schwartz. Schwartz is also the designer of another 9/11 memorial in Westchester County, as well as the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

Assemblyman Manzo recently complained that the memorial is not a "tribute to victims of 9/11 but to the artist," but in an interview last week, Schwartz disagreed, saying it is "a fitting tribute."

"I am doing this project not for the governor," he said, "but for those who lost loved ones on 9/11 - the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, and children."

Manzo's bills

Manzo on Monday will introduce, in front of the State Assembly's Environment and Solid Waste Committee, a bill requiring the state to hold a local public hearing prior to any major development in a state park.

Manzo said the bill came about as a result of the 9/11 memorial being placed at its current location. The only hearing was held recently after activists complained.

"Governor McGreevey signed an executive order that pushed the project through with very little public notice," he said, "creating the problems we have now."

The bill will be introduced, then go before the state Assembly and Senate.

Friends becoming legal foes

Sam Pesin, of the FOLSP, said last week. "It is a sad failure of Governor Corzine's leadership that he did not listen to the heartfelt opposition. He's sending a terrible message about the democratic process."

He said the lawsuit will be filed either at the end of the month or in mid-November, but he couldn't offer any further details until it is filed.

Pesin said he still "urges people to continue to write their local officials" about their opposition.

Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at

Posted on: 2006/10/21 10:56

Re: JUST TWO MUCH? -- State ed boss may put kibosh on Epps' double-duty
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk

Wow, this guy makes $270k and he needs to have another $1000 a month for his housing expenses, come one that is ridiculous. I understand you need to throw some money to get quality people into a crummy school district but at some point it becomes excessive. And what results has this guy produced? I need a job like that.

I am glad they upped our property taxes to pay for this guys salary.

Posted on: 2006/10/21 9:58

Re: JUST TWO MUCH? -- State ed boss may put kibosh on Epps' double-duty
Home away from home
Home away from home

Epps' pay hike irks Sussex pol
Saturday, October 21, 2006

Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose, R-Sussex, expressed outrage yesterday over the nearly $10,000 pay hike that Jersey City Superintendent of Schools Charles T. Epps Jr. was recently given.

"Every taxpayer in New Jersey should be offended that a man who has abused tax dollars for personal pleasure and who has demonstrated poor judgment on a number of occasions is being rewarded with a pay raise," McHose said in a written statement. "How many of our state's residents would get a $10,000 pay hike from their employer for making bad decisions?"

The Jersey Journal reported Wednesday that acting Commissioner of Education Lucille Davy signed off on a 41/2 percent pay hike, worth $9,473 retroactive to July 1, for Epps, having concluded he had performed his job "satisfactorily."

The raise brings Epps' superintendent's salary to $219,993. He also receives a $1,000-a-month housing allowance and earns $49,000 a year as a state assemblyman representing Bayonne and Jersey City.

Earlier this year, Epps, who was appointed by the state, reimbursed the school district roughly $5,000 after it was revealed he and an associate had lived high on the hog in England at taxpayers' expense for a few days prior to a school-related conference.

Other questions were raised when it was learned that Epps had contributed to the campaign account of Jeff Dublin, a Hudson County freeholder who also sits on the Jersey City School Board. As a school board member, Dublin filled out an anonymous, written performance evaluation of Epps that was sent to the state Department of Education.

Posted on: 2006/10/21 9:47

Home away from home
Home away from home


Binky wrote:
The City has to start by putting more trash cans on the street and emptying them. There are at least three threads open right now about this on the site. If we all complained to the politicians instead of just to each other it might happen. Clean streets are a sign of a civilized society.

Have there been any changes so far? The last thread I remember reading about the trash can issue is that the city had actually removed cans from several street corners allegedly because many residents are putting their house garbage in them.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with that, as long as the garbage is placed inside the cans. I've brought down a small shopping bag or two of smelly garbage (ie, leftover fish or other seafood) that can't wait until the regular semi-weekly trash pickup. I've also cleaned up my car and brought the bag to the nearest corner garbage can. Luckily though, all three trash cans on my block are still there.

As far as the inevitable strain on the rest of our infrastructure, what has the city officially said about its capacity to support it? Heavier traffic is a given, but I doubt we'll be seeing a rise in power outages. I don't know about brown water, though I'm thinking our water pressure will decrease? Any experts out there have an informed guess on this?

What about schools? I know we have the brand-spanking new elementary and middle school on Bright. I'm thinking that it's at capacity right now, so where will the new residents' kids be attending school? What about high school? They can't all get into Academic, and besides Prep, what other private schools (especially ones for girls or at least co-ed) are there in downtown?

Posted on: 2006/10/21 8:48

Home away from home
Home away from home

The City has to start by putting more trash cans on the street and emptying them. There are at least three threads open right now about this on the site. If we all complained to the politicians instead of just to each other it might happen. Clean streets are a sign of a civilized society.

Posted on: 2006/10/21 8:39

Home away from home
Home away from home

"Despite Jersey City's street-cleaning program, the JCMUA annually collects approximately 62,500 cubic feet of trash and grit at its treatment plants. Additionally, more than 72,000 cubic feet of material is removed from the City's catch basins through scheduled maintenance."

Staggering number. I have lived in 5 diffent cities and I have never seen the amount of people who willfully toss wrapers, cans, etc. as they stroll down the street. Does this piss you off too? I have seen parents, with kids in tow, throw trash right on the ground and keep on going. On numerous occasions I have said, "Hey, you dropped something" Or, if it's a kid, I will say, "Ya know, the world is not your trash can." I can only assume, since the streets are cleaned twice a week that theses litter-bugs see no problem with clogging our catch basins and making Jersey City look bad. The authorites need to crack down on people throwing trash on the streets. Start issuing tickets.

Another thing - we all know thousands of new residents, over the next few years, will call Jersey City home. How will this effect our power grid, sewage systems and trash? Not to mention our two lane roadways. Aren't many of these enfrastructures old and dated? We hear about power outages, brown water, grid lock....Perhaps, I am being naive and the authorites are taking this all into account. I also found the statement below regarding the United Water Service contract interesting......."reduce its long term indeptedness by 14M......" Wonder where this money really went?

"Jersey City, New Jersey. Signed a five-year contract with United Water Services for the the management, operation and maintenance of its entire water system. The agreement is designed to enable the city's public utility to reduce its long term indebtedness by $14 million over the contract's term."

City Hall, Jersey City
Robert Lombard, Business Administrator
280 Grove Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
Ph. (201) 547-5148
Fax (201) 547-4833

Posted on: 2006/10/21 8:24

Re: Folding bicycles
Home away from home
Home away from home

MediaAvid or anyone with a 20" wheel Dahon folders: Bags are often overpriced but I found a great deal on a bike bag. Dahon makes 20" bikes that are sold in Canada under the name Avenir -- ((( I think designknobs Aviner bike was stolen and I googled the brand and found this bike shop))) anyway it's a nice store in Toronto -- the owner sold me a couple of these bags, I think they are made by Dahon but a slightly older style, they fit the Dahon wonderfully! They are great for the subway during rush hour -- or to take into fancy places or to avoid the stares -- looks like music gear or something -- the price is far below the $59.99 they charge here in the states -- it is only $29 "Canadia" like $23 american!

The shipping was fast and cheap and of course there is no tax!

They are not allowed to ship bikes outside of Canada because of an agreement they have with Dahon but they can and DO ship bags!

link for bayview bike shop - Toronto

Posted on: 2006/10/20 16:02

Re: Folding bicycles
Quite a regular
Quite a regular

Hey FastEddie

I don't remember giving you permission to post my picture online. I might have to talk to my lawyer now to see if I have any recourse.

I know you're all jealous . Chicks love a guy who rides.

Posted on: 2006/10/20 15:51

Re: Folding bicycles
Home away from home
Home away from home

Posted on: 2006/10/20 13:47

Re: Whole Foods sought for Downtown
Quite a regular
Quite a regular

Whole Foods, Wegman's, Fairway, even Trader Joes, I'll take any one of them.

And, btw, regarding whole paycheck, the Shop Rite is not particularly cheap. Even the Pathmark is more expensive than the fancy versions of the same chain stores in the suburbs . . .

Posted on: 2006/10/20 12:36

Re: Want property tax reform? Consider municipal consolidations mergers- Jersey City, Hoboken & Bayonne?
Quite a regular
Quite a regular

I think the municipal consolidations idea is FANTASTIC. And, the Newark history is right on (so I understand). In fact, I think those of us in Hudson don't even understand the true value of such consolidations because we live in cities that are, arguably, big enough to have their own systems. NJ's real problem is the HUGE number of little towns all over the state that EACH have their own schools, town government, police department, fire department, etc. I mean this is not Montana, these towns are smushed up right next to eachother. Consolidation would be SO much more efficient and we could even leave Hoboken alone so we wouldn;t have to win them over and they are far from the "worst" example.

Ever since the state supreme court decision that said the at least some NJ property taxes had to be spread around for schools in poorer areas statewide (read, JC) we are all in this together, at least to a certain extent. If the smaller towns costs were lower, they could both cut their property taxes by part of the reduction and the rest could be spread around more effectively. You, know, to us

Posted on: 2006/10/20 12:24

Re: Want property tax reform? Consider municipal consolidations mergers- Jersey City, Hoboken & Bayonne?
Just can't stay away
Just can't stay away

If I am correct there is something like 500 plus independent muncipalities in New Jersey, that all have there own police, fire, ambulance, school etc. services.
This is why cities like Newark fell apart.
Orginally Newark consisted of most of Essex county before the oranges, irvington, bellville ,etc. split off into their own cities in the late 19th century. It was Newark's failure to consolidate all it's suburbs that led to it's downfall. So Newark was left with a huge expensive infrastructure to pay for all the suburban commuters, without the tax base to support it. Basically New Jersey went the opposite route of New York City, and split up into increasingly smaller towns.
If all of Hudson County, Bayonne, Jersey City, Union City and Hoboken got together and merged into one City - let's call it Hudson City, then people's average tax bills would go down signifigantly, because the cost of maintaining the infrastructure would go down. However, I think you are right, Hoboken would never give up their mayor and school system, even though it would be less expensive for Hoboken Taxpayers...

Posted on: 2006/10/20 11:36

Re: Folding bicycles
Quite a regular
Quite a regular

I purchased a Dahon bike and have had it for a few weeks now. i am very pleased with it. I take a fast ride down the hill and head to Hoboken and am there in 5 minutes. My total commute now compared to the one with the bus is 10-20 minutes faster. The best part is not having to sit or stand in an overcrowded bus or waiting and wondering if the bus is even going to show up let along leave on time.

Posted on: 2006/10/20 11:21

Re: Want property tax reform? Consider municipal consolidations mergers- Jersey City, Hoboken & Bayo
Home away from home
Home away from home

From what I've read, the problem is, and what Manzo tries to address, that NJ taxes are regressive rather than progressive, that RE taxes cost the middle class and the poor more, while income taxes hit the rich more. According to this website posted by niceguyeddie, our overall taxload isn't high, it's simply unfairly distributed and enforced. The actual rates are so high because so many weasel out of paying.

"- New Jersey’s surprisingly low state and local tax burden, as calculated by the Tax Foundation, is a powerful signal that the state’s tax system is riddled with credits, deductions and exemptions. With corporate and individual tax rates at 9 percent (without the surtax) and 8.97 percent respectively, New Jersey should be on the top of the tax burden ranks. It is not because its tax systems are riddled with holes."

This table
says we are only 0.2% above national average in tax burden.

My point is that there's lots of hyperbole thrown around about our taxes, most of it false and inflammatory stuff about how we are overtaxed.

As for mergers, hahahahahaha!!. just like people will say all politicians are rascal and should be thrown out, except their congressman, they'll say mergers are a great idea but would never give up their local gov't. There's just too much graft and nepotism opportunities there for that to happen. Hoboken giving up its Mayor would be like a Texas town giving up football.

Posted on: 2006/10/20 11:20

Re: Want property tax reform? Consider municipal consolidations mergers- Jersey City, Hoboken & Bayo
Just can't stay away
Just can't stay away


NNJR wrote:
I will support and vote *anyone* running against Manzo. He is what is wrong with the Democratic party. His only solution for a fiscal problem is to raise taxes.

If you read the story again, Manzo's proposal to raise the income tax and using part of it to pay for schools could slice overall taxes for 95 percent of residents.

Posted on: 2006/10/20 11:15

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