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Re: Former Jersey City council candidate Lori Serrano pleads not guilty
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Former Jersey City council candidate argues federal prosecutors targeted her because she's a Democrat

Wednesday, March 21, 2012, 5:16 PM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Lawyers for Lori Serrano, the Jersey City City Council candidate arrested in the 2009 corruption sweep, argue in a new court filing that Serrano’s mail-fraud indictment should be dismissed, saying the U.S. Attorney’s Office discriminated against her because she is a Democrat.

Serrano, and other Operation Bid Rig III defendants, were arrested and prosecuted so Gov. Chris Christie, the former U.S. Attorney and then gubernatorial candidate, could gain an “unfair advantage” over Democrats in the 2009 state election, the March 19 motion reads.

Serrano, a former Jersey City Housing Authority chair, is charged with not reporting a $5,000 cash payment from confidential informant Solomon Dwek on campaign-finance documents.

“Prior to her meeting with government agent Dwek, she was never identified as one who would take bribes,” reads the 13-page motion. “With no history of public office, there was no legitimate reason for her to be targeted.”

Serrano’s lawyers also argue that there is no merit to the mail fraud charge, which stems from federal prosecutors’ assertion that she mailed a “materially false” campaign report that did not have any reference to the Dwek payment.

The indictment contains no specifics that lend it “constitutional muster,” the motion reads.

Serrano was originally charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of right, an indictment that was thrown out after a federal judge ruled in May 2010 that candidates for public office cannot be charged with corruption under the federal Hobbs Act.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office subsequently filed a superseding indictment charging Serrano with mail fraud. She pleaded not guilty in federal court in December.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on Serrano’s motion.

Both sides are due in court again in May. A specific date has not been set. ... y_city_council_can_5.html

Posted on: 2012/3/23 18:58

Re: Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini -- convicted of bribery
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Former Jersey City deputy mayor scheduled to report to prison has been hospitalized, her attorney says

Wednesday, March 21, 2012, 3:19 PM
By Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal

Less than two weeks before she was to enter federal prison, the attorney for corrupt former Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini said today that she is hospitalized due to several strokes
and other health issues suffered following recent knee surgery.

"During her recovery from the knee surgery she developed a series of mini-strokes and an irregular heartbeat that has been difficult to control with medication, so she has been re-hospitalized," said attorney, Peter Willis.

The former burlesque dancer yis also experiencing erratic blood pressure, he said.

The 76-year-old was one of more than 40 people arrested in July 2009 as part of the massive federal Bid Rig III probe. The former treasure for the Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy's reelection campaign in 2009 was accused of accepting campaign contributions from FBI informant Solomon Dwek in exchange for a promise of helping him get approvals for his supposed real estate deals.

In February 2010, she was convicted of two counts of bribery for accepting two $10,000 contributions. Key evidence presented by prosecutors at trial was testimony by Dwek and the hidden videos he recorded. Four months later, Beldini was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to surrender to a Texas prison.

Beldini remained free on bail but after losing an appeal last September, prosecutors filed a motion to revoke her bail. Willis then filed a motion requesting the court stay her sentence indefinitely due her numerous health problems. He said she needs medications that may not be available in prison and has an abnormal heart beat that could require a pacemaker soon.
In his ruling, US District Court Jose Linares said Beldini will get adequate care in prison and set April 3 for her surrender.

Willis said Beldini underwent knee surgery about a year ago and afterward had continuing recurrences of blood infections that affected the knee. About 10 days ago she was admitted to have the knee operated and to get antibiotics intravenously, Willis said, adding that afterward, she suffered the health issues requiring her ongoing hospitalization.

Willis said by the end of the week he will file a new motion asking Linares to stay Beldini's sentence again.

The US Attorney's Office could not immediately be reached to comment on this matter. ... _city_deputy_mayo_11.html

Posted on: 2012/3/22 14:19

Jersey City holds hearing about Comcast's effort to take over channel 1
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Jersey City holds hearing Wednesday about Comcast's effort to take over channel 1

March 19, 2012, 3:00 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

The future of JC1TV, the channel Jersey City uses to air City Council meetings and other governmental programming, is at stake as the city begins negotiating its new franchise agreement with Comcast.

The cable giant’s current 15-year agreement with the city is set to expire in May 2013, and Comcast wants to gain control of channel 1 in Jersey City so it can offer it for its On Demand programming. In every other Comcast system in New Jersey, channel 1 is dedicated to On Demand, according to a Comcast spokesman.

Jersey City negotiated control of channel 1 when the city received its current deal with Comcast back in 1998. City officials want to retain the channel, saying they have spent the last two decades branding the station as the one for Jersey City residents to find city-centric programming.

“If people have any interests in civics in Jersey City, they know to turn on channel 1,” said city Clerk Robert Byrne.

On Wednesday, the city will hold a public hearing on the Comcast agreement. Byrne urged residents to come offer their praise or criticism of the cable company.

Comcast spokesman Jeff Alexander confirmed Comcast would like to use channel 1 for its On Demand programming, and move JC1TV elsewhere.

“For some time, we have been interested in bringing the service to channel 1, and have proposed relocating the city’s public information and government channel to another position on the lineup,” Alexander said.

The channel, no matter where it’s located, would still be available to all Comcast subscribers in Jersey City.

The public hearing on Comcast begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday in the council chambers at City Hall, 280 Grove St. ... y_holds_hearing_wedn.html

Posted on: 2012/3/20 10:26

Re: In New Jersey, a Battle Over a Fluoridation Bill - fluoride will be added to Jersey City water
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Should NJ add fluoride to water?
Legislators will vote on mandate popular in other states

by Adriana Rambay Fernández
Hudson Reporter staff writer
Mar 11, 2012

Heated debate has ensued in the last few weeks about pending legislation to inject fluoride into New Jersey's water. The legislation has passed through both legislative health committees and will soon move to the Assembly floor for a vote.

Sponsors of the bi-partisan legislation have said that adding fluoride to public water will reduce the prevalence of tooth decay, but opponents argue against the measure, citing the cost, potential health risks, and lack of choice in the matter if the state mandates the practice.

Local advocacy groups are attempting to thwart the legislature’s efforts to “medicate the water supply,” calling fluoride a toxic chemical that can not be regulated once it enters the public water system.

Introduced in the 1940s

New Jersey ranks 49 out of 50 states, second to last to Hawaii, in its percentage of population that drinks fluoridated public water at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended therapeutic level of one part per million, according to the New Jersey American Dental Association.

Michigan was the first state to fluoridate the water supply in 1945 after scientists discovered that people living near water supplies with higher levels of fluoride had less cavities. Fluoride was introduced into the New York City water supply in 1964.

In the 1970s, Jersey City water was fluoridated for a number of years before the practice was stopped due to opposition. As a Jersey City councilman in 2002, current Mayor Jerramiah Healy sought to return fluoridation and introduced a resolution that was never enacted upon.

Only 13 percent of New Jerseyans drink fluoridated water, according to data from the CDC. Several communities in Gloucester, Monmouth, and Somerset counties, among others, currently fluoridate their water.

Link to tooth decay

Almost all water contains fluoride, which is a naturally occurring mineral. But at low levels it is not sufficient enough to prevent tooth decay. Studies have shown that fluoridation of water can reduce tooth decay by about 60 percent. Despite the prevalence of fluoride in a number of products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and gels, the CDC continues to recommend fluoridating water and listed it as one of the 10 most valuable public health measures of the 20th century.

Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) said in a statement, “By fluoridating our public water supplies we can directly improve the dental health of all New Jerseyans in the least expensive and most effective way possible. He is the chairman of the Senate Health Committee and sponsor of the bill.

Fear of risks

There are some downsides of fluoridation, even according to the CDC.

According to the CDC, children under age 8 and younger exposed to excessive amounts of fluoride have an increased chance of developing pits in the tooth enamel. Excessive consumption of fluoride over a lifetime may increase the likelihood of bone fractures, and may lead to pain and tenderness of the bone, a condition called skeletal fluorosis. According to the EPA, it is likely that some children 8 and younger are exposed to too much fluoride, at least occasionally while their teeth are forming, because of their high fluid intake relative to their body weight and/or because of high natural levels of fluoride in their local drinking water.

However, the CDC claims that as long as you follow toothbrush guidelines for your child, it is highly unlikely that they will become overexposed to fluoride. Children under 2 years of age should not brush with fluoride.

Fluoride opponents argue that there is very little control over how much fluoride a person consumes, due to its availability in teas and products made with fluoridated water. They say it shouldn’t be increased for everyone regardless of age and health. They also claim that the benefits of fluoride are topical, and thus provides little benefit if ingested in water.

Costly, or cost-saving?

The New Jersey Dental Association, using CDC estimates, determined that fluoridating New Jersey’s public water supply would net an estimated savings of $108 million annually, or more than $2 million per week, in dental treatment costs.

On the other hand, some Water Utility companies oppose the use of fluoride due to the added cost they estimate in the hundreds of thousands to millions – a cost that could be passed to costumers.

“Start-up capital expenses would be $1 billion to $2 billion on the drinking water side and $3 billion to $5 billion on the wastewater treatment side,” said Ron Farr of the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission during a Senate hearing last month.

Assemblyman Herb Conaway, a major sponsor of the bill – who has fought for fluoridation for eight years – said it saves money in other ways. "Water fluoridation is a safe and effective way to prevent cavities in children and adults and saves money that would otherwise be spent on dental care by families and governments,” he said.

Conaway is a practicing physician and chairman of the Assembly Health Committee.

Proponents like Conaway also claim that fluoridation would benefit low-income families who cannot afford regular dentist check-ups. ... popular-in-other-states-?

Posted on: 2012/3/18 19:15

In New Jersey, a Battle Over a Fluoridation Bill - fluoride will be added to Jersey City water
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In New Jersey, a Battle Over a Fluoridation Bill, and the Facts

The New York Times
Published: March 2, 2012

For all its renown as an engine of pharmaceutical and biotechnology progress, New Jersey has long lagged in what public health officials call one of the 10 biggest health advances of the last century: fluoridating its water.

While 72 percent of Americans get their water from public systems that add fluoride, just 14 percent of New Jersey residents do, placing the state next to last, ahead of only Hawaii, and far behind nearby New York (72 percent), Pennsylvania (54 percent) and Connecticut (90 percent).

A bill in the Legislature would change that, requiring all public water systems in New Jersey to add fluoride to the supply. But while the proposal has won support from a host of medical groups, it has proved unusually politically charged.

Similar bills have failed in the state since 2005, under pressure from the public utilities lobby and municipalities that argue that fluoridation costs too much, environmentalists who say it pollutes the water supply, and antifluoride activists who argue that it causes cancer, lowers I.Q. and amounts to government-forced medicine.

Public health officials argue that the evidence does not support any of those arguments — and to the contrary, that fluoridating the water is the single best weapon in fighting tooth decay, the most prevalent disease among children.

But they also say they are fighting a proliferation of misleading information. While conspiracy theories about fluoride in public water supplies have circulated since the early days of the John Birch Society, they now thrive online, where anyone, with a little help from Google, can suddenly become a medical authority.

“In the age of the Internet, it’s very easy to spread many of these rumors,” said Barbara F. Gooch, the associate director for science in the Oral Health Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “People go looking for information about why this is bad, and they find it pretty easily.”

So while William Bailey, the acting director of the Oral Health Division and the chief dental officer of the United States Public Health Service, calls it “the ideal public health measure,” opponents online argue the unproven allegation that the Nazis used fluoride to sedate concentration camp victims.

Jennifer DiOrio, a high school teacher who lives in Bedminster, said she began reading about fluoride online recently after a neighbor mentioned concerns, and now she tells colleagues and others the dangers of the legislation. “They are medicating us without our consent, and it’s unethical and illegal,” she said.

Grand Rapids, Mich., became the first community in the United States to fluoridate its water, in 1945. The practice spread after a study showed that children there had 50 percent to 70 percent less tooth decay over the next 15 years than children in communities without fluoridated water.

Since then, many other studies have shown that adding fluoride to water decreases tooth decay by an additional 25 percent, on top of the benefit from twice-a-day brushing, for children and adults. Water providers would typically pass on the cost to customers, but the C.D.C. says that every dollar spent on fluoridating water saves $38 in dental costs.

The federal government’s Healthy People 2020 initiative aims to have 80 percent of Americans receiving fluoridated water within the next eight years. Twelve states have laws providing for statewide fluoridation, the C.D.C. said.

In New Jersey, water providers typically serve several towns, meaning that all must agree to fluoridate their water — and typically they do not.

Opponents and supporters of the fluoride legislation believe it has a higher chance of passing this year, in part because it has bipartisan sponsorship. Gov. Chris Christie has not said whether he would sign the bill if it passed.

The state’s League of Municipalities has opposed the bill, concerned about the cost of what it calls an unfunded mandate. The New Jersey Utilities Association testified against it, arguing that it “is known to have adverse health effects in certain quantities” and that it would cost water companies anywhere from $400,000 to $64 million.

“We think the cost benefit is not there,” said Karen Alexander, the president of the association.

Many opponents say their information has come online, from national groups like the Fluoride Action Network and Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, which argue that fluoridation would cost $5 billion statewide. On their Web sites, the groups argue that fluoridation would lead to fluorosis, a rare staining of the teeth. They say fluoride has many adverse health effects, including bone cancer, and no proven benefit.

But public health officials say that the National Academy of Sciences examined the studies linking fluoride to lowered I.Q. and could not substantiate them. Similarly, two large and recent studies, one from Harvard and the National Cancer Institute, the other in California, found no link between fluoride and bone cancer. Fluorosis in the United States, they say, tends to be barely visible.

“The opposition can point to one or two studies that say this or that,” said Dr. Bailey, of the C.D.C. “We look at the overall weight of the evidence and what expert panels have said.”

There are several ways to fluoridate water, depending on the water system, said Kip Duchon, the national fluoride engineer for the C.D.C. But they are not cost-prohibitive, and most are simple, he said.

Jared Martin, 27, who started a No Fluoride New Jersey page on Facebook after reading about the bill and fluoride online, acknowledged that there was evidence to support fluoridation.

“That’s the thing,” he said. “When you’re searching the Internet, it depends where you’re looking.” But he was made suspicious, as were many opponents, when the federal Department of Health and Human Services revised the recommended level of fluoride in water to avoid the possibility that children would receive too much. The recommended level had been 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter; the department last year advised that it not exceed the lower end of that range.

In the last four years, about 200 municipalities nationwide have stopped fluoridating the water. Antifluoride groups cite this as evidence that more people are acknowledging the dangers.

But many of those places ceased for financial, not health, reasons. And nationwide, the trend has been toward more people receiving fluoridated water. San Diego, long the largest city not to fluoridate, began doing so last year. Atlantic City also did so, citing the health benefits.

Some opponents argue that the state could less expensively fight tooth disease by promoting good toothbrushing or fluoride treatments in schools.

But Senator Joe Vitale, a sponsor of the legislation in New Jersey, said, “That’s not going to happen in cities like Newark or Camden or Paterson, where they can barely keep the lights on.”

Cavan Brunsden, a pediatric dentist in Old Bridge and a supporter of the bill, noted that many states went further — New York, for instance, has begun requiring dental visits as a condition of attending school.

Not fluoridating the water, he said, is “an egregious example of the state not fulfilling the health care needs of its citizens.”

“It reduces decay whether you live in Newark or Short Hills,” he said. “Science has proven it. It’s unfortunate that science isn’t part of the debate.” ... ts.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

Posted on: 2012/3/18 19:13

Re: Jersey City Medical Center CEO says Christ Hospital takeover 'a recipe for disaster,' offers to buy
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Buyer for Christ Hospital in Jersey City to be chosen Monday

March 16, 2012, 3:03 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

The likely new owner of Christ Hospital in Jersey City will be revealed at a live auction on Monday.

The 140-year-old medical facility on Palisade Avenue filed for bankruptcy protection last month, almost immediately after a deal to be acquired by for-profit chain Prime Healthcare Services fell through.

On Monday, an auction at the Morristown offices of Christ Hospital attorneys will decide which bidder will acquire the financially beleaguered medical center.

Among the reported bidders are the Jersey City Medical Center, partnering with Bloomfield-based Community Healthcare Associates; Hudson Holdco, owners of Hoboken University Medical Center and Bayonne Medical Center; and the owners of Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center.

CHA and JCMC officials say what’s at stake is the future of health care in Hudson County.

“Christ has to stay viable for Jersey City to continue to have high-quality health care,” JCMC CEO Joe Scott told The Jersey Journal last week.

Scott said he thinks JCMC can staff about 150 beds at Christ Hospital, in addition to moving JCMC’s pediatric-care staff there and consolidating some other services.

“One hospital, two campuses. That’s our vision,” he said.

Bill Colgan, a managing partner of CHA, noted that the JCMC/CHA bid for Christ Hospital is the only offer that would keep the hospital a nonprofit institution. CHA’s vision of the future of Christ Hospital is similar to the hospital’s current role in the community, Colgan said.

“There’s no talk about any immediate change,” he said.

CHA, which would own Christ Hospital and lease a portion to JCMC, owns two medical facilities: the Barnert Medical Arts Complex in Paterson and the William B. Kessler Memorial Hospital in Hammonton.

Richard Lipski, a Woodcliff Lake-based anesthesiologist whose MHA LLC owns Meadowlands Hospital, said his plan for Christ Hospital is similar to his plan for Meadowlands, which MHA acquired in 2010 from the owners of JCMC for $17.55 million.

Lipski said MHA turned a struggling nonprofit into a successful for-profit hospital, and it can do the same for Christ Hospital.

“We know how to organize, and we hope we can succeed there, too,” he said.

Hudson Holdco did not return requests for comment.

Renee Steinhagen, who heads the nonprofit law center NJ Appleseed, said she favors JCMC’s bid to acquire Christ Hospital. She noted that she hasn’t seen the specifics of the bids.

“I want it to remain a nonprofit operated in the model of the way Jersey City (Medical Center) has been operating,” she said. “The models of the for-profits that we’re faced with are not models of for-profits that I endorse.”

NJ Appleseed opposed the proposed Prime takeover and Hudson Holdco’s bid for HUMC.

After Monday’s auction, a hearing to confirm the results will be held Tuesday at 2 p.m. in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, 50 Walnut St., in Newark. According to Scott, the bankruptcy judge can accept the winning bid or reject it. ... christ_hospital_in_j.html

Posted on: 2012/3/16 15:21

Goldman Sachs on Jersey City waterfront 'tense' after negative remarks by departing executive
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Workers say Goldman Sachs on Jersey City waterfront 'tense' after negative remarks by departing exec

March 16, 2012, 3:00 AM
By Stephanie Musat/ For The Jersey Journal

The atmosphere at Goldman Sachs offices on the Jersey City waterfront has been “tense” since a Goldman executive director, Greg Smith, blasted the company on Wednesday in a New York Times op-ed piece and quit his lucrative post.

Smith described a company that he says has lost its way, is only interested in making money, and has managing directors who refer to their clients as “muppets.”

Two Goldman employees, who asked to remain anonymous, said yesterday the op-ed rocked the Jersey City office because it was so unexpected.

“I heard of the letter after it exploded online,” said one employee. “It was hard to read. It made our company look really bad. It’s going to take a lot of damage control.”

The employee said he takes his work very seriously and only makes decisions that are in the best interest of his clients.

He said he found the “muppet” claim very disturbing.

“I truly believe that this decline in the firm’s moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-term survival,” Smith wrote.

Another Goldman Sachs employee said it was shocking to read the content of the letter, but he believes the company’s reputation will be still be positive.

“We serve our clients in the best way we can,” he said. “The language he used in the letter was harsh, but that’s Smith’s opinion.”

The Washington Post reported that Goldman Sachs shares dropped 3.4 percent in New York trading yesterday. ... y_goldman_sachs_on_j.html

Posted on: 2012/3/16 15:19

Re: Red light traffic camera
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Jersey City installs sixth set of red-light cameras at Duncan Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard

March 16, 2012, 3:00 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald - The Jersey Journal

Jersey City’s sixth set of red-light cameras was activated at Duncan Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard this morning just after midnight, giving motorists 30 days until they start receiving tickets for blowing through a red light there.

The city is in the process of installing the cameras at 11 of the city’s most dangerous intersections. Previous intersections approved for the cameras include Kennedy Boulevard and Communipaw Avenue and Jersey Avenue and 18th Street.

Though city officials expect to net $7 million annually once all the cameras are installed, they have stressed that their primary goal is safety.

“The intent of our road-safety program is to get drivers to obey traffic signals,” said Police Chief Thomas Comey. “The purpose of this program is to improve public safety and reduce collisions resulting from red-light violations.”

Motorists can also receive tickets for not coming to a full stop before turning right on red at the intersections.

The trial period for the Duncan Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard cameras ends on April 15.

The remaining intersections with activated red-light cameras are: Newark and Tonnelle avenues; Sip Avenue and Routes 1 and Montgomery and Merseles streets. ... y_installs_sixth_set.html

Posted on: 2012/3/16 15:14

Re: Journal Square two apartment towers - 54 & 38 stories
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Jersey City signals it wants developer of massive Journal Square project to act, or face default

March 10, 2012, 3:03 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald - The Jersey Journal

In April 2009, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy stood on a 1.5-acre site adjacent to the Journal Square PATH station and hailed an imminent twin tower project as a “great step forward” for the city.

The project two towers, one 58 stories and the other 38, sitting atop a seven-story retail and parking base with a rooftop terrace would begin later that year, and be completed in three years.

It’s now three years later and the site remains vacant, save for weeds and the occasional soda can or beer bottle surrounded by metal fencing.

The twin tower project appears to be nothing more than a dim fantasy, but that may all change soon. City officials say they want the heart of the city to see the same kind of development that’s occurred Downtown.

“Journal Square is really the next area, and Journal Square is primed and ready for a project,” said Jersey City Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Bob Antonicello.

For years, the Journal Square project was stalled, with main investor Multi-Employer Property Trust (MEPT), of Washington, D.C., blaming the poor economy for its inability to find a partner to help it with financing, according to Antonicello.

After missing an August 2011 deadline to put a shovel in the ground, and then missing a second deadline of Dec. 31, 2011, MEPT has until April Fool’s Day to get the project started in earnest, Antonicello said.

“The issue that we had really with MEPT was this process was kind of ready, aim, aim, aim, aim ... and they never fired the gun to actually go vertical,” he said.

MEPT did not return a request for comment.

If the April 1 deadline passes without movement on the project, MEPT will be in default of its agreement with the JCRA, and the city agency can find someone else to help realize the long-awaited proposal, Antonicello added.

Healy said he stands by the JCRA’s latest bid to move the project forward.

“The redevelopment of Journal Square is a major priority for this administration and we support any and all actions that the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency takes so that construction may begin as soon as possible,” Healy said.

The proposal consists of 50,000 square feet of retail space on the basement, ground and second levels; 330,000 square feet of parking on five levels; and 1.24 million square feet of residential space, including about 1,500 units. ... y_signals_it_wants_d.html

Posted on: 2012/3/10 13:03

Bayonne Board of Ed passes proposed budget that will hike school taxes by 2 percent
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Bayonne Board of Ed passes proposed budget that will hike school taxes by 2 percent

March 04, 2012, 7:00 PM
By Andrew Steadman - The Jersey Journal

The Board of Education has adopted an operating budget for the upcoming school year that will raise school taxes by 2 percent for the average property owner.

The increase represents the first hike the in the local school tax levy in the past four years, district officials said.

The 2 percent hike was prompted by a diminution in federal aid, a 250-student enrollment increase, and having surplus money than in previous years; and it is the highest increase allowed under state law, officials said.

At a special meeting on Thursday , the Bayonne Board of Education adopted a proposed $113.5 million operating budget that calls for $58.2 million to be raised from local taxpayers, a $1.1 million increase in the school tax levy over the current budget year, which ends June 30.

The $113.5 million figure represents a slight decrease from the current year's $114 million operating budget. But the current budget contains a $1.8 million one-shot federal grant and more than $3 million in surplus revenue, money the proposed new budget will not contain, according to district accountant Brian Buckley.

Board of Education president William Lawson said a lack of state funding was another factor influencing the Board's decision to raise the tax levy.

"This district is the most under-funded district in the state of New Jersey, according to their own formula," Lawson said.

Bayonne schools will receive $52.8 million in state aid for the 2012-2013 school year, a 5.6 percent increase over the current year. But district Business Administrator Leo Smith said that the combined federal and state aid figure was around $59 million four years ago.

The proposed budget must still be approved by the Lawson said the proposed budget still must be approved by the Hudson County office of the state Department of Education and reviewed by the Board of School Estimate on March 28, Lawson said.

The Board of School Estimate, comprised of Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith, City Council members Debra Czerwienski and Ray Greaves, and Board of Education members Lawson and Michael Masone, can remove appropriations from the budget but cannot add spending, officials said. ... ard_of_education_pas.html

Posted on: 2012/3/10 12:30

Re: Jersey City Medical Center CEO says Christ Hospital takeover 'a recipe for disaster,' offers to buy
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Freeholders: Jersey City's Christ Hospital must stay open as acute care facility

Friday, March 09, 2012, 1:42 AM
By Charles Hack/The Jersey Journal

The Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously passed a resolution tonight in support of keeping Christ Hospital in Jersey City Heights open and operating as an acute care hospital.

Freeholders voted to pass the resolution at their Board meeting at the Administration Building Annex, 567 Pavonia Avenue.

The resolution stated the community hospital has provided an "invaluable and irreplaceable service" to Jersey City and surrounding area.

Last month Christ Hospital filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court after the California-based for-profit Prime Healthcare Services withdrew a bid to acquire the hospital.

A request for new bids went out recently to seek new buyers to acquire the hospital.

"We will no longer be accepting the closure of any health facility, especially Christ Hospital," Freeholder Chairman Eliu Rivera said at the meeting. "As long as it continues to provide quality health care for the residents of Hudson County we have no problem, but anyone who wants to build luxury condos or whatever will have a tough fight."

The resolution also supports the aims of the Save Christ Hospital coalition, a group that has opposed the sale of the hospital to a for-profit entity.

The group wants an "open, public process with meaningful community participation" in the reorganization or sale of the hospital and members want the hospital to remain as a health care facility "in perpetuity."

"This is a unique issue," said the group's president Paul Bellan-Boyer, before the freeholders took a vote. "People from all over the county have come together on it, remarkably, because of how important the hospital is."

Freeholder Bill O’Dea predicted "dire" consequences if the hospital were to close.

"We’ve had two hospitals in the city close in recent years, which means we have cut the amount of coverage to 250,00 people," said Freeholder Bill O’Dea.

"The travel time for people that live in this area and people who live in the Heights to the closest acute care medical facility if the hospital (Christ Hospital) were to close would result in deadly and dire results," O'Dea added.

St. Francis Hospital in Hamilton Park closed in 2002 and Liberty Health's Greenville closed in 2008. St. Francis was converted into luxury condominiums and the former Greenville hospital is set to become a charter school. ... s_jersey_citys_chris.html

Posted on: 2012/3/10 0:23

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Jersey City Takes A Flying Leap Toward Powerhouse Renovation

March 9, 2012 -
By Antoinette Martin

JERSEY CITY-A crucial step toward stabilization and redevelopment of the downtown Powerhouse structure was achieved as a specialized engineering firm using the tallest available crane accomplished inspection of 200-foot tall smokestacks in anticipation of installing a new roof below them.

“Today was a milestone for both the Powerhouse and all those concerned about this magnificent structure,” says Bob Antonicello, the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency’s executive director, when the specialized crane arrived two weeks ago.

The 1908 Powerhouse, which houses a PATH substation, is envisioned as iconic centerpiece for a $100 million redevelopment project creating an arts and entertainment district in and around the building. The area is to have shops, markets, galleries, performance space and “alternative” office space in a pedestrian-friendly environment, according to the plans.

The first step, though was JCRA launching a multi-year program to stop further deterioration of the long-abandoned structure, which despite its inherent Romanesque Revival-style glory had become an eyesore with large trees growing out the windows and a crumbling roof. Over two years, all of the building’s monumental windows were boarded and sealed.

The issue then became, according to agency project manager Mary Noonan: “How could we find out if the smokestacks were in good enough shape to proceed with replacing the roof?” Beyer, Blinder, Belle, the New York-based architect for the project, brought in an engineering group called Vertical Access, which used a crane that is one of three in the world, and the only one of its size in the United States. Engineers aboard the crane conducted visual and camera inspections of both the exterior and interior of the towering stacks, Noon said. They are expected to report the results to the agency next month.

The enormous brick structure, situated near the 55-story Trump Plaza Residences tower built in 2008, was originally the powerhouse for the Hudson & Manhattan.

The JRCA and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey are working on an agreement that would transfer full ownership of the building to the agency in return for a replacement site for the PATH substation. ... se-Renovation-319483.html

Posted on: 2012/3/10 0:19

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State Supreme Court rules Jersey City and 911 operators shielded from suit filed by victim of 2005 family massacre

March 09, 2012, 11:19 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

The state Supreme Court delivered a huge legal victory to Jersey City yesterday, ruling unanimously that the city and its 911 operators cannot be found negligent in the case of a Jersey City boy who was stabbed multiple times in a 2005 attack that killed his mother and siblings.

The state Legislature has decided that the overall benefits of an enhanced 911 system require that public entities and their employees be shielded from costly lawsuits for negligent mistakes, the court decided.

Justice Barry T. Albin wrote in the decision that the Appellate Division erred in ruling that 911 operators are not entitled to immunity for careless mistakes made when dispatching police, fire, or first-aid personnel to the scene of an emergency, but that the operators are immune for such mistakes when assisting the police in an ongoing investigation. The ruling reversed the Appellate Division and held that 911 operators the in Wilson case as well as the city itself "are immune for any negligence causing civil damage to plaintiffs."

The civil suit against the city and two 911 operators was filed by Paris Wilson, the young boy who was attacked along with his mother and two siblings inside their Wegman Parkway apartment on Sept. 20, 2005. A man in a neighboring apartment called 911 about someone screaming “next door,” but he gave operators an incorrect address.

The Wilsons lived at 207 Wegman Parkway, which has an alternate address at 185 Martin Luther King Drive. The man who called 911 gave the address as 185 Wegman Parkway, according to yesterday’s ruling. When the police went to that address, they found an unoccupied home, and left.

It wasn’t until 30 hours after the attack that Wilson, who survived being stabbed in the arm, chest and side, was able to call 911 and give authorities the proper address. He was 9 years old at the time.

Dwayne Wilson, Paris Wilson’s uncle, pleaded guilty in September 2010 to three counts of aggravated manslaughter for the attack, and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

In the suit, Paris Wilson accuses the city and the 911 operators of engaging in negligence, gross negligence, or wanton and willful disregard for the safety of others. The suit claims that delays caused by the 911 operators contributed to the death of his mother, Marcia Wilson, 35, and sister Dartagania and brother DeQuan, who were both 11.

A trial court dismissed the charges against the defendants, which originally included a dispatcher and two police officers. An appellate court in August 2010 allowed the suit to move forward against the city and the 911 operators. Yesterday’s decision reverses that ruling.

In the ruling, Albin remands the suit back to the appellate court to decide whether the 911 operators’ actions “constituted wanton and willful disregard for the safety of persons,” which would deny them protection under the state’s immunity statute.

City officials hailed the court’s decision.

“This was a tragic incident, but we are satisfied with this decision because the taxpayers should not bear the brunt of this horrible event for which neither the city nor any of its workers bore any responsibility,” Mayor Jerramiah Healy said in a statement.

Wilson’s attorney did not return a phone call requesting comment. ... eme_court_rules_jers.html

Posted on: 2012/3/9 12:32

Re: Did the NYPD Conduct A Widespread Surveillance of Jersey City Muslims?
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NJ interfaith leaders speak out on NYPD tactics

Associated Press - March 8, 2012, 4:35 p.m. ET

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — New Jersey Muslim leaders joined with other religious officials Thursday in demanding reassurance from authorities that no one is being spied on because of their faith, as calls for an investigation into NYPD surveillance activities in New Jersey continued to grow, and the U.S. attorney general said he was reviewing the matter.

At an event in Jersey City featuring mosque, synagogue and church leaders, several said they were in solidarity with Muslims who felt that reports of the New York Police Department conducting surveillance of mosques and Muslim student groups in New Jersey and elsewhere had crossed the line beyond acceptable counter-terrorism methods.

"We as people of faith need to speak out to the police, and to any other organizations which we trust to take care of our security, to make sure that they understand that we do not feel more secure when they are singling out Muslims, or any group of any faith, as a so-called measure of our security," said Rabbi Elliott Tepperman of Bnai Keshet in Montclair. "We ask them to keep us all secure, regardless of faith, and to investigate people who are doing bad things, not people because they are of one religion or another."

Archbishop of Newark Rev. John J. Myers said in a statement that although authorities were tasked with keeping the public safe, they needed to do so within the confines of the law and without infringing on people's religious freedoms.

Meanwhile in Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder said during questioning at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing that he was disturbed by what he'd read about the New York Police Department conducting surveillance of mosques and Islamic student organizations in New Jersey. Holder said he was reviewing the matter, including letters from New Jersey officials complaining that they were kept in the dark about the surveillance.

The New York police monitored Muslims in New Jersey at businesses and their mosques in a surveillance operation that was disclosed recently by The Associated Press in a series of news stories.

New Jersey's top FBI official said Wednesday some of the NYPD's activities in New Jersey had undermined trust and hard-fought relationships between Muslims and law enforcement in the state. Special Agent in Charge of the Newark Division, Michael Ward, said the NYPD had been a valuable member of a Joint Terrorism Task Force but that it was problematic that he didn't know the extent of NYPD operations conducted by its intelligence unit outside the confines of the task force.

Ward had initially been invited to speak at a Paterson mosque Thursday, but mosque leaders postponed the meeting.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as NYPD officials, have defended their activities in New Jersey as legal and warranted.

Bloomberg said Thursday at a mayors' conference in Chicago that the NYPD had a "daunting task" and had to be perfect every day to prevent terrorism.

He called the NYPD the best police department in the world and said 14 attacks had been stopped since 9/11, without anybody dying.

Mohamed El Filali, executive director of the Islamic Center of Passaic County who organized the interfaith press conference Thursday at St. Peter's College in Jersey City, said he appreciated the head of the FBI and other law enforcement officers saying they wanted to maintain good relationships with Muslims in the wake of the NYPD revelations, but that words could only go so far.

"Open forums are good, but an investigation is a lot better," El Filali said. "Hopefully the attorney general is collecting the information quick enough so a formal investigation will quench our desire for definite answers."

Associated Press writers Pete Yost in Washington and Don Babwin in Chicago contributed to this report

Posted on: 2012/3/9 12:27

Re: Corruption indictments hit Louis Manzo and brother Ronald -- charges they accepted $27,500 in bribes
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Political Insider: Manzo says he would like to return to his hometown
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March 03, 2012, 5:24 PM
By Agustin C. Torres - The Jersey Journal
PHOTO: Terence McDonald - The Jersey Journal

He sat in the corner booth of the VIP diner in Jersey City looking just a tad grayer than the rainy Thursday.

Former assemblyman and longtime city politico Louis Manzo was dressed in his seasonal attire -- a gray v-neck sweater over a baby blue button-down shirt and a red-pattern tie. Manzo seemed relaxed, and he should be, after a U.S. District Judge dismissed the indictment against him, last month. He had been one of 46 people arrested by the FBI on either corruption or money laundering charges in 2009.

On the way to the diner booth, he had been stopped by a waitress and several customers in the Journal Square diner who recognized him and shook his hand.

He drove up from the Jersey shore where he has been living with his mother during his legal ordeal. Running for mayor had cost him a personal fortune of more than $1 million. Right after the unsuccessful campaign for mayor came the arrest and indictment. It was followed by 2 1/2 years of legal defense, and despite a break in legal costs, it still led to the loss of his Brunswick Towers home and any employment opportunity -- even at a fast food joint.

It was the first time I had chance to meet him when it wasn't behind a federal court room railing.

His disposition was sunnier than the weather, but also nostalgic.

"I drove down by my old neighborhood," he said. "It looks the same." This was on West Side Avenue down by St. Al's, a nice area near the entrance to Lincoln Park.
"I'd like to come back to live here, once I can afford to move," said Manzo who finds the winters along the coast a bit boring and prefers the hustle and bustle of returning "bennies" in the summer.

"This is my hometown," he said. "The energy and people -- I love it here."

Manzo's mood is different from the days after his indictment. Listening to him on the telephone then was like being a volunteer on a suicide hotline, except I was the wrong guy to offer help.

"I wanted to end it all," Manzo said at the diner. "How could I face anyone after the federal government said attacked my integrity? I had no life left."

I felt bad when he talked that way down the shore -- "the indictment is the punishment," he says.

Once, he was on a cellphone walking on a boardwalk in Belmar when talk about the undiscovered country started. I suggested that if he felt that strong about it, then go ahead and do it with flair -- swim to France. It was dark humor.

"Don't think I wouldn't," he'd respond.

And yet, here he was at the VIP. I asked: Did anyone talk to him after the arrests?

He thought about this for a second. Manzo said that in the early days of his legal troubles, when he felt lowest, he credits his former chief of staff in the Legislature, Mark Albiez, with keeping him focused on dealing with his legal problems, while former colleagues and friends treated him as an outcast, as if he never existed. Albiez is now chief of staff for Union City Mayor and Sen. Brian Stack. Manzo and Stack were not the friendliest after his failed election campaign in 2009. The Union City mayor thought the Jersey City politician had a better shot at running for county executive and Manzo felt he didn't receive much, if any, support.

Since the end of his legal headache, Manzo has been in demand among other defense attorneys whose clients are still fighting their Operation Bid Rig III indictments. Manzo seems to have found some purpose by becoming an expert on this federal case, but he doesn't see a big future as some kind of paralegal.

"The only people left in this thing are two minority women -- (unsuccessful City Council candidates) Lori Serrano and LaVern Webb-Washington," he said. "I will do what I can to keep them out of jail."

Manzo said someone like Webb-Washington has no chance in the legal system. He said that while other people have private defense attorneys waiting for them in the courtroom, Webb-Washington waits at the defendant's table for her public defender to make an appearance -- she doesn't seem to be a priority.

Manzo is beating the "there is corruption in the U.S. Attorney's Office" drum and he doesn't intend to stop pounding it. There were hints, although he would not

confirm it, that there may be a lawsuit against the federal government to recover legal fees. I see a potential lawsuit as another opportunity for Manzo to get his charges against the feds into a public record.

He passionately expresses his sour feelings about prosecutors and the FBI, although he said the agents who came to arrest him were very kind and polite by not handcuffing him until they reached the federal vehicle that fateful July 23, 2009. His lament that day -- other than the arrest -- was that he was one of the last to arrive at the federal building in Newark and the bagels, juice and coffee spread for the defendants was gone.

During a long and convincing monologue at the diner on prosecutorial misconduct, I looked under the table. He asked what I was doing and I smiled and told him that I wanted to see if he really needed a soap box while seated.

So what will Manzo do now? "I'll probably do some writing," he said. A first draft of a book on the inside of the Operation Big Rig sting and his dealings with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI is nearly completed.

If he moves back to Jersey City, would he also return to local politics, run for office again?

"Who would want me after this?" he laughed.


-- In 2004, New Jersey was ranked 43rd in the nation as to female representation in the state legislatures, according to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), which has tracked this sort of thing since 1975, according to Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics.

With the appointment of three women to fill vacant seats in the Assembly, the Garden State has risen to 10th, its first appearance in the top ten since CAWP, an Eagleton off-shoot, tracked national figures. Women hold 11 seats -- eight Democrats and three Republicans -- in the Senate and 24 seats -- 15 Democrats and nine Republicans -- in the Assembly.

"New Jersey's success demonstrates how women can build their numbers," says CAWP Director Debbie Walsh. " ... They're leveraging professional experience and community involvement to show they're winners. And they're learning how politics works at the local, county and state levels, getting to know the decision-makers and power brokers so they're well-positioned when a vacancy occurs."

Two of the three add-ons are Republicans who were appointed to fill vacancies caused by the deaths of Republican assemblymen. Betty Lou DeCroce replaces her late husband, Assemblyman Alex DeCroce, while Donna Simon fills the seat of Assemblyman Pete Biondi, who died after being re-elected. Both women will have to run in special elections in 2012 for the remainder of the terms, which end in January 2014.

Simon was a member of the Readington Township Committee, while DeCroce was a deputy commissioner of community affairs in Gov. Chris Christie's administration.

Gabriela Mosquera, a Democrat who won an Assembly race in the 2011 elections, was removed for not meeting the state's residency requirement. Suddenly she was the obvious candidate to fill the 4th District seat on an interim basis. She will have to run in a special election in November 2012 to keep her seat.

It sounds like Jersey politics as usual, male or female.

-- I see the administration of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy pulled out that old nugget mined by the late Mayor Glenn Cunningham. It was announced that there are plans for a "mini-city" to rise up along Route 440 on 100 acres of chromium-tainted land.

We must be within a year of the next municipal election -- May 2013, yup.

Do you remember just before the May 2009 election, when a tent went next to the vacant lot where the old Hotel on the Square stood. While it rained before mostly labor union members, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez stood under the tent and endorsed Healy for mayor and both of them talked about the skyscraper of steel and glass that would be constructed.

The lot is still empty -- like the promises.

Remember the "Vision for Journal Square" development public presentations. We were getting a Champs-Elysees face-lift. Chumps-this-way is more like it.

How's that Powerhouse Arts District going?

The reason you got this "mini-city" announcement is because we are about to get mesmerized by a lot of smoke and mirrors for months, right up to next May's race. Also, Healy and company did not like the criticism that all those wonderful things he mentioned in his State of the City speech only made the city's Downtown look good.

Look for many ribbon cuttings, pseudo feel-good press releases, and extra number of senior citizen picnics.

Healy already managed to postpone the reval until after the election for glaringly obvious reasons. Although, those Mercer Street folks who live near Snooki and JWoww may have benefitted by the reval, if it held on time.

I'm waiting for when it's announced that the mayor is close to coming up with cures for the top three diseases facing mankind. There's a lot of catching up to do after a decade of nada accomplished.

One tip: If you want something done for your neighborhood, now is the time to ask City Hall.

-- On March 12 Congressman Bill Pascrell, who will be battling U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman for the new 9th District that includes Secaucus and part of Kearny, is hosting a fund-raiser. It is Pascrell's annual St. Patrick's Celebration at The Brownstone in Paterson. There are three donation levels, $300, $500 and a $1,000 PAC sponsorship.

Hudson County should be well-represented. I expect, of course, Joe Waks, the Bayonne Municipal Service director and former Pascrell staff member, to show up, more than likely Freeholders Bill O'Dea and Jeff Dublin, North Bergen Mayor and Sen. Nick Sacco, and others. Anyone who says they ain't going, let me know.

Pascrell says a couple of guests from Pennsylvania will attend. They are Congressmen Robert Brady and Mike Doyle, both Democrats, of course.

-- Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith must be doing a rain dance and praying for heavy wet weather today. A judge has given the Bayonne Tenant Organization time to get new signatures and refile their petition seeking a referendum on the future of the city's rent-control ordinance.

The City Council adopted a vacancy decontrol ordinance in November. The measure allows landlords to remove an apartment from rent control restrictions after a tenant moves or is legally evicted. The tenants' group are trying to kill that legislation that is being heavily backed by developers and real estate interests.

They have until next Friday to get 850 signatures and submitted 1,000 in December. City officials said the petitions were no good because the group only had their name on the cover page instead of every page.

Saturdays are a good day to collect signatures in front of supermarkets and other shopping areas. I'm amazed. In the past, an elected official who supports such legislation could kiss his political career good-bye.

Now its rain praying time. ... insider_manzo_says_h.html

Posted on: 2012/3/3 19:52

Re: 'Jersey Shore' Spin-Off in Jersey City
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Snooki, JWoww to film Jersey Shore finale special in New York tomorrow

March 03, 2012, 3:42 PM
By Stephanie Musat - The Jersey Journal

Any Snooki or JWoww sightings in Jersey City will be limited tomorrow as Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Jenni "JWoww" Farley will be filming the season finale special/recap to "Jersey Shore" in New York.

The two will join six of the eight cast members at MTV Studios to recap the last season, reminisce about their antics, and possibly reveal some more information about their spin-off that they are currently filming out of a firehouse on Mercer Street.

Filming begins at 4:30 p.m. and tickets are sold out.

Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and Ronnie Ortiz-Magro will not be at the shoot.

Here's the description of the show from MTV:

Join Amy Paffrath and the cast as you're invited to mingle, ask questions, and interact with Pauly D., Vinny, Snooki, Deena, Sammi, and Jwoww as we shoot the season finale special to the biggest show on television.

Come prepared to have a great time and be on television! You'll make the club scene feel real, acting as the eye candy at the party as we shoot each finale segment. The evening will also feature; food, drinks, trivia, games, a special raffle and much more. Not to mention a sneak peek at the season finale and a special preview of "The Pauly D Project" and the new season of "Punk'd".

Come party with us. With this cast of characters, you never know just how outrageous Jersey can get! ... ww_to_film_jersey_sh.html

Posted on: 2012/3/3 19:23

Jersey City artist to be featured in upcoming episode of "The Simpsons"
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Jersey City artist to be featured in upcoming episode of "The Simpsons"

March 02, 2012, 7:49 PM
By Stephanie Musat - For The Jersey Journal

Jersey City artist Ron English is getting the yellow treatment as he is transformed into a Simpsons character for an upcoming episode of The Simpsons, airing Sunday on FOX.

English is joining Robbie Conal, Shepard Fairey and Kenny Scharf as the four artists get characterized for the episode titled "Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart" - a parody of 2010's documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

The documentary follows a French immigrant and his obsession with street art.

English, who uses his art as a cultural commentary, has been recognized as one of the top modern artists today. He has taken heat and found himself in dicey circumstances for transforming commercial billboards into socio-political messages. McDonald's, for one, has been in the line of fire of English's wrath. English's Ronald "McSupersize" paintings got prominent play in the popular documentary "Super Size Me."

"I want to make art that has a political signifcance but isn't a political cartoon," he told The Jersey Journal in a previous interview. "My intent is for it to be more universal and less dogmatic."

English found his way to Jersey City after rents for studio and living space in New York City rose through the roof.

"It went from $4,000 to $12,000 a month," he said. "Since my wife and I had many good friends here and wanted to raise our kids in a nicer environment with parks, we decided to move here."

No matter where he's doing his art, English says it reaches many more eyes than ever before, including his first appearance on the show. ... y_artist_to_be_featu.html

Posted on: 2012/3/3 19:16

Jersey City swears in 27-year-old lobbyist as new deputy mayor
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Jersey City swears in 27-year-old lobbyist as new deputy mayor

March 02, 2012, 5:31 PM
By Terrence T. McDonald - The Jersey Journal

Jersey City lobbyist Raj Mukherji, chair of the Jersey City Housing Authority, was sworn-in as the city’s newest deputy mayor in a ceremony at City Hall today.

Mukherji, 27, of Ogden Avenue, said he hopes he can help the city attract capital investments and jobs, in addition to funds from Trenton and Washington D.C.

“Everyone's suffering right now: businesses, unions, the taxpayers,” he said. “But I think there are creative ways that we think outside the box that we can find solutions.”
Mukherji, a managing partner of lobbying firm Impact NJ and a U.S. Marine, officially replaces Leona Beldini, who was arrested in the massive 2009 corruption sweep and sentenced to three years in prison after she was found guilty of accepting $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions.
When he was appointed to the JCHA, he replaced Lori Serrano, who was later arrested in the same sweep that ensnared Beldini. Serrano, awaiting trial on one count of mail fraud, has pleaded not guilty.

Asked how he feels following in the footsteps of two Operation Bid Rig III defendants, Mukherji said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift.”
Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy noted that the appointment of Mukherji, who is of South Asian descent, is a nod to Jersey City’s burgeoning Asian population, which represents about 24 percent of the city, up from 16 percent a decade ago, according to Census figures.

“Raj’s extensive public-affairs experience will enable him to effectively advocate for our city in Trenton and Washington,” Healy said. "His service at the Jersey City Housing Authority has shown him to be a tireless public servant and consensus builder."

Jersey City’s other deputy mayor, Kabili Tayari, earns a $110,056 salary, but Mukherji said he will only take $1 annually for his new role, citing “the austere economic climate.” He also said he will decline the city car he is eligible to receive.

“Fortunately, I’ve been blessed in my young adult private-sector career to be in a position where I’m able to do that,” Mukherji said.

Mukherji has contributed in recent years to the campaigns of some Hudson County politicos, like state Sen. Sandra B. Cunningham and Assemblyman Ruben Ramos. He contributed $2,500 to Healy’s 2009 mayoral campaign, $100 below the legal limit. ... y_swears_in_27-year-.html

Posted on: 2012/3/3 0:28

Re: Jersey City officials to host public meeting on crime concerns
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Jersey City mayor and police chief to address public's public safety concerns at meeting Thursday

February 28, 2012, 3:00 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy and Police City Tom Comey are hosting a public meeting this Thursday to address public-safety issues, and to unveil the city’s new Community Response Team.

It will be the first of two “town hall-type” meetings city officials pledged to hold in response to a recent wave of complaints about crime from residents and some City Council members.

The Community Response Team, comprised of the 17 officers promoted last week to detective, will address public safety and quality-of-life concerns, city officials said.

Rebutting the residents’ and council members’ complaints about crime, Healy, Comey and other city officials have stressed that FBI and State Police figures show a decrease in violent crime in recent years.

Comey said he believes the Community Response Team will help “narrow the gap” between how city officials view crime statistics and how residents perceive them. The team will stay involved in an investigation from start to finish, and will be able to brief the community when it can, he said.

“We’re hoping that this will be a good step in at least narrowing that gap,” he said.

In the meantime, city officials hope to add to the police ranks, which have been depleted by a wave of retirements, Comey said.

Thursday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the council chambers at City Hall, 280 Grove St. ... mayor_and_police_c_1.html

Posted on: 2012/2/29 10:19

Re: Bayside Redevlopment Plan
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Jersey City has big plans for 100 acres on West Side along Hackensack River

February 29, 2012, 3:03 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Up to 8,100 residential units.

As much as 1 million square feet of office space.

Some 23 acres of open space.

Those are just some of the proposed features of Bayfront, a transit village set for 100 acres of chromium-tainted land along Route 440 in Jersey City. City officials hope their success in developing Jersey City’s eastern waterfront can be replicated on its West Side.

Captain Bill Sheehan, of Hackensack Riverkeeper, an environmental organization, said Bayfront will give the city “a real shot in the arm.”

Sheehan was on hand earlier this month for a City Council caucus at which city officials presented the governing body with their latest plans for the 100-acre Bayfront, a project first dreamed up during the Glenn D. Cunningham administration.

The development would sit on land formerly owned by Morristown-based Honeywell International Inc, north of Society Hill, along the Hackensack River. Last month marked the four-year anniversary since the city teamed up with Honeywell to create Bayfront.

“Bayfront represents an extraordinary effort among numerous city officials and our partners at Honeywell to transform the West Side by making it safer and more attractive, while also creating substantial economic development, jobs, and tax revenue for our city,” Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy said in a statement.

Chromium contamination at the site has its roots in the late 19th Century, when Mutual Chemical Co., a Honeywell predecessor, started piping chromium processing residue from its plant into the Hackensack River.

Construction isn’t expected to begin until 2016, with initial occupancy beginning the following year. Though work is not scheduled to end until 2043, the city is already at work preparing the area for the massive development.

City officials say much of the contamination has been remediated.

The on-site headquarters for the city Department of Public Works and the Jersey City Incinerator Authority, meanwhile, will be demolished, as will a handful of other buildings used by the city and the JCIA. The DPW and the JCIA will move to a new East Linden Avenue complex, with construction on that facility expected to begin this year.

Councilman Michael Sottolano, who represents Ward A, where most of the Bayfront property sits, has called the plans “dynamic.”

“I don’t know if it’s all going to be done in my lifetime, but I sure hope so,” Sottolano said. ... ty_has_big_plans_for.html

Posted on: 2012/2/29 9:57

Heights: Burglary suspect breaks ankle fleeing neighbor's Jersey City apartment
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Burglary suspect breaks ankle fleeing neighbor's Jersey City apartment, police say

February 28, 2012, 8:21 PM
By Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal

A Jersey City man was arrested after fracturing an ankle in a jump from a window while fleeing an alleged burglary of his 99-year-old neighbor's apartment this morning, police said.

Orlando Vasquez, 51, of the 100 block of Summit Avenue, was arrested at 11:27 a.m. and charged with burglary and theft after jumping out the window of the 99-year-old victim, reports said.

The victim, who lives in the same apartment building as Vasquez, told responding officers he heard noises on the other side of his apartment door when he returned home, reports said. He opened the door, ran into his apartment and said he saw his neighbor jump out his bedroom window, reports said.

Vasquez had dropped from the first-floor window and into a deep external staircase where he broke his right ankle upon impact, reports said. The cops kept an eye on Vasquez until an ambulance arrived and he was taken to the Jersey City Medical Center, reports said. ... suspect_breaks_ankle.html

Posted on: 2012/2/28 23:18

Re: 15-year-old Jersey City boy charged in fatal stabbing of man with 'machete-type' knife in the Height
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Jersey City man charged in machete-murder held on $500K bail

February 28, 2012, 7:29 PM
By Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal

The only adult among five people charged in a gang-related Jersey City Heights machete murder made his first appearance on the charges today and his bail has been set at $500,000 cash or bond.

Joel Santos, 18, of Palisade Avenue, is charged in the Feb. 8 murder of Victor Martinez, 21, of Waverly Street, who was fatally stabbed in an attack on Palisade Avenue at Prospect Street, Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said.

The attack continued as Martinez ran to his nearby home, and he died a short time later died at Christ Hospital, DeFazio said.

Santos was nabbed on Feb. 12 while trying to board a flight to the Dominican Republic, and a 15-year-old Dickinson High School student was arrested soon after the fatal stabbing, officials said.

Another 15-year-old Jersey City boy, as well as a Brooklyn 16-year-old boy who is formerly of Jersey City, have also been arrested. All are charged with murder as accomplices in the attack, DeFazio said.

The prosecutor said his office plans to ask that the 15-year-old charged shortly after the murder be prosecuted as an adult, subjecting him to a potentially far more lengthy term of incarceration if convicted. A Hudson County Family Court judge will make the decision.

Santos spoke through a Spanish translator when he appeared in Central Judicial Processing Court in Jersey City via video link from Hudson County jail in Kearny today. The native of the Dominican Republic was told that if convicted, he will likely be deported after serving his sentence.

Santos was also told that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement will likely place a detainer on him, meaning that even if he pays the $500,000 bail, he will not be freed. ... y_man_charged_in_mac.html

Posted on: 2012/2/28 23:12

Eight candidates vying for three open seats on Jersey City Board of Education
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Eight candidates vying for three open seats on Jersey City Board of Education; race will be incumbent-free

February 27, 2012, 5:29 PM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

The Jersey City Board of Education will have some new faces come April, as neither of the two incumbents up for reelection filed paperwork today to seek new terms.

Eight candidates filed petitions today to run for three open spots on the nine-member body, and neither Bill DeRosa nor Patricia Sebron, both incumbents, are on the list. Sebron would have been seeking her second term, and DeRosa his fifth.

The third seat up for grabs once belonged to Assemblyman Sean Connors, who stepped down from the BOE after becoming a member of the state Assembly in January.

Former acting mayor Marilyn Roman, a longtime educator, has thrown her hat in the ring, because, she said, “our schools are failing.”

Roman, 75, was acting mayor for about six months in 1992 after former mayor Gerald McCann was removed from office. She said it was difficult to decide to re-enter the public arena.

“I wasn’t happy about running for office when I did it, I just wanted to do the work,” Roman said. “I thought perhaps I could help the district.”

Other candidates running in Jersey City’s BOE race this year include Jayson H. Burg, Vidya Gangadin, Amanda Khan, Frank Lorenzo, Gerald M. Lyons, De Jon Morris and Sangeeta Ranade. Burg, Gangadin and Khan ran unsuccessfully last year.

Asked to comment, DeRosa said he is having “health issues,” and doesn’t believe he could campaign this year the way he’d like to. DeRosa has been on the board of 12 years, nine as president. ... idates_vying_for_thr.html

Posted on: 2012/2/27 23:08

Jersey City officials to host public meeting on crime concerns
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Jersey City officials to host public meeting on crime concerns

February 27, 2012, 5:31 PM
By The Jersey Journal

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy and Police Chief Tom Comey are hosting a public meeting this Thursday to address public-safety issues, and to unveil the city’s new Community Response Team.

It will be the first of two “town hall-type” city officials pledged to hold in response to a recent wave of complaints about crime from residents and some City Council members.

The Community Response Team comprises the 17 officers promoted last week to detective, and will address public-safety and quality-of-life concerns.

Rebutting the residents’ and council members’ complaints about crime, Healy, Comey and other city officials have stressed that FBI and State Police figures show a decrease in crime in recent years.

There were 1,851 violent crimes in Jersey City in 2010, down from 2,456 in 2007, according to State Police figures. Most violent crimes are down in that three-year span, though murders are up from 20 in 2007 to 26 in 2010, the last year for which the figures are available. Jersey City police says there were 18 homicides in 2011.

Thursday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the council chambers at City Hall, 280 Grove St. ... ty_officials_to_host.html

Posted on: 2012/2/27 23:03

Re: 'Jersey Shore' Spin-Off in Jersey City
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JWOW and SNOOKI bought a lot of stuff at Sleep Cheap on Newark Avenue today.

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Posted on: 2012/2/27 22:58

Re: HUGE GAS PIPELINE COMING - through Jersey City
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Kill time
City, activist group map out plan if pipeline gets federal approval

by E. Assata Wright - Hudson Reporter staff writer
Feb 26, 2012

Jersey City officials and activists who oppose a proposed natural gas pipeline that could be routed through the city are beginning to publicly map out how they plan to block the controversial project if federal authorities give it approval this summer.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently reviewing an application by the Texas-based Spectra Energy to build a miles-long natural gas pipeline that could be routed through much of Jersey City and near sensitive infrastructure. FERC has said it will issue a final Environmental Impact Statement on the project by March 16. The agency is expected to approve or deny the project by June 14.

City officials and No Gas Pipeline, an anti-pipeline membership organization comprised of Jersey City residents, say they expect FERC to approve the pipeline, over the objections of elected leaders, many residents, the real estate and business communities, and health and public safety professionals.

Should FERC approve the pipeline, as the agency is expected to do, No Gas Pipeline and the city have each said they will sue in federal court to block the project. Part of their plan, they said last week, is to delay construction as long as possible. A lengthy delay could force Spectra or its chief partner in the project, Consolidated Edison (ConEd), to abandon their plans.

Proposed project

If approved by FERC, the proposed pipeline would include 19.8 miles of new and replacement pipes, six new stations, and other related modifications in Linden, Jersey City, and Bayonne. In Jersey City, the underground pipeline route would run through nearly every municipal ward and near such sensitive areas as Jersey City Medical Center, several schools, the Holland Tunnel, the New Jersey Turnpike, and transportation infrastructure near the Jersey City-Hoboken border.

The pipeline would cross the Hudson River into New York to connect the company’s existing pipeline to Manhattan and Staten Island, supplying customers of Con Edison.

Spectra has also said that it will supply energy to power facilities operated by Bayonne Plant Holding and boilers at the International Matex Tank Terminals, also in Bayonne.

But because of the pipeline’s close proximity to sensitive areas, local activists and city officials have argued that a natural gas explosion could cause mass casualties and significantly damage important transportation infrastructure. Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy has also noted that the potential hazards posed by a gas pipeline could hurt future commercial and residential development in the city.

Despite these concerns, the energy company has already received several required environmental permits from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. These permits were approved in December.

Preparing for approval

Assuming FERC approves the pipeline this summer, the city will have 30 days to appeal the ruling, according to Derek Fanciullo, associate corporation counsel for the city.

FERC can take a second look at its original decision, but will likely approve the pipeline again and grant Spectra a building certificate.

Jersey City – and other entities that filed as interveners – then have 60 days to file lawsuits. “Interveners” are people, organizations, businesses, or municipalities that filed for intervener status with FERC. Having intervener status gives these entities the right to sue.

The most visible organization likely to file a class action lawsuit is the nonprofit No Gas Pipeline, an activist group of residents that has been fighting the Spectra pipeline for two years. The organization has already lined up pro-bono legal representation to assist in their fight if the project is approved by FERC.

“We have to sue in federal court. There are absolutely no other ways to stop this pipeline from going through Jersey City [if FERC gives approval],” said No Gas Pipeline co-founder Dale Hardman. “It can’t be done at the presidential level. It can’t be done at the Congressional level. It can’t be done at the lobbyist level…The city obviously has legal standing to file suit. No Gas Pipeline will try to get legal standing to do the same thing. People may ask, why don’t we join forces? It’s simple. We each have our own strategies, both technical and tactical. Plus, the ability to have at least two parties with lawsuits is something that is obviously beneficial to us.”

Thousands of residents, community organizations, and businesses are believed to have filed for intervener status. The city of Hoboken has also filed for intervener status.

Hudson County’s construction unions have been supportive of the project and could play a role as well.

Lawsuits are part of a two-prong approach opponents of the pipeline plan to use to block the project from breaking ground, after federal approval. The other part of their emerging strategy will be to stall the project in the hope that schedule delays will doom its viability.

Stall, stall, stall

ConEd expects to have natural gas flowing from the Spectra pipeline in November 2013. Even Spectra has conceded that if the project can’t meet this target date it might not be economically feasible to move forward with it.

In order to meet this deadline, Spectra needs to break ground at the end of this year.

A lengthy court battle could derail Spectra’s ability to meet its obligations to ConEd, a fact not lost on Jersey City.

“The longer we draw this out, the better it is for us,” said Fanciullo. “Maybe the problem will naturally abate, so to speak.”

Citing documents submitted to FERC, Fanciullo said Spectra is already making contingency plans should pipeline construction be delayed until next year. “What they have done is they have asked FERC to allow them to truncate their construction schedule to meet those deadlines,” he said.

Already, the city has purposely blocked some necessary preliminary work. For example, last year Spectra requested city permits to conduct soil samples in Jersey City. The city denied this request.

In 2009, when the ConEd-Spectra deal was announced, ConEd President and CEO Kevin Burke said in a press release, “The new pipeline will help us meet the growing energy needs of our area, strengthen the reliability of the natural gas system, and improve air quality for all New Yorkers. The Spectra Energy Project will also help us achieve the goals of the mayor’s and governor’s long-term energy and environmental goals as outlined in PlaNYC and the state energy plan.”

But how long will ConEd wait before coming up with a backup plan to get its natural gas somewhere else?

When asked whether the utility would drop its commitment to Spectra and re-bid its natural gas contract if Spectra gets embroiled in a long court fight, a spokesperson for ConEd said, “The Spectra project is essential for us to reliably meet growing natural gas demand in future years, particularly with the significant increase we are seeing in oil-to-gas conversions.”

Fanciullo said there are a number of delaying tactics the city can use. However, the city has declined to publicly discuss some aspects of its possible legal strategy to prevent Spectra from having the information.

Marylee Hanley, a spokesperson for Spectra, said in response, “As has been true since the NJ—NY Expansion Project began, we will continue to reach out and work with the community.”

Read more: Hudson Reporter - ... ey_city_story_left_column

Posted on: 2012/2/27 2:48

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy says new fiscal year budget provides for no rise in taxes
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Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy says new fiscal year budget provides for no rise in taxes

February 21, 2012, 10:53 PM
By Charles Hack/The Jersey Journal

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy told the City Council today that the 2012 municipal budget will provide taxpayers with a flat municipal tax levy for the second year in a row.

The $469,300,340 spending plan, which is set for introduction at tomorrow night's City Council meeting, would represent a 6 percent decrease from last year's $501 million municipal budget. The amount to be raised by taxes -- $201,988,256 -- almost unchanged from what was budgeted for 2011.

"The proposed budget provides a flat tax rate -- once again -- for the year 2012, and creates a flat tax, which means once again no tax hike," Healy said.

Healy said the flat tax was accomplished because the city has seen increased revenues and lower costs since last year.

The mayor pointed to increased revenues from the hotel-occupancy tax, construction permit fees, payments in lieu of taxes and the proposed sale of police headquarters on Erie Street.

He noted that state funding is unchanged from 2011.

The mayor said costs are down because of last year's layoffs, a $6 million cut in pension costs due to "legislative reforms" in Trenton and a less-costly healthcare plan for city employees and retirees.

Ward E Councilman Steven Fulop said that Healy mischaracterized the so-called flat tax rate.

"Last year was the same. He said no tax increase, and when the final budget was adopted it showed another tax increase," Fulop said. "This time he has the tax reval waiting to clobber people after the election."

Healy stuck by his statement.

"The municipal tax rate did not go up last year and once again it will not go up this year," Healy said.

The budget will be adopted after a public hearing that is tentatively scheduled for March 28. Tomorrow night's council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 280 Grove St.

Posted on: 2012/2/22 21:37

Re: BOE approves huge $268K settlement -- paves the way for Epps to leave in December
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Jersey City Board of Education hopes to name new superintendent by April, consultant says

February 22, 2012, 3:19 PM
By Charles Hack/The Jersey Journal

The Jersey City Board of Education is continuing its national search for a new superintendent and is hoping to select a new schools chief by April, a consultant for the search said at Tuesday night's Jersey City City Council caucus.

Carol Lester, vice president of the Jersey City Board of Education gave a brief presentation to the city council Tuesday night and asked for council members' input on the selection criteria for the new superintendent.

“We are looking for input from community members, and wanted to make sure the City Council, as elected representatives of Jersey City, have an input in qualification criteria for the search,” Lester said.

The Board of Education has held six community meetings since November to get public input on how the new chief is selected. The next public meeting will be held at School 7, 222 Laidlaw Avenue Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Franklin Walker has been serving as interim superintendent since Charles Epps Jr. stepped down from the position on Dec. 31. Board of Education members agreed to give Epps $268,000 to voluntarily step down after leading Jersey City's public schools for more than a decade.

Last year the board approved a national search and appointed West Hudson Associates and Hazard Young, Attea and Associates to conduct the search.

William Librera, a former commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Education, and now the executive director of West Hudson Associates, told the council that according to the Board of Education’s “ambitious timetablem,” final candidates would be interviewed by mid-April, he said.

Librera said the consultants want to advertise for a new superintendent in March and to interview candidates in early April.

Despite the fact that the state has final approval over the naming of a new superintendent, Librera said he is confident that the Board of Education will have final say over Epps' replacement.

"The state has made clear that this will be a decision that the Jersey City Board of Education makes,” Lester said.

Posted on: 2012/2/22 21:33

Hartz Mountain, Roseland Properties planning 1,000-unit residential building
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Hartz Mountain, Roseland Properties planning 1,000-unit residential building on Jersey City waterfront

February 22, 2012, 10:55 AM
By Ron Zeitlinger/The Jersey Journal

Hartz Mountain Industries and Roseland Property will build a $450 million, 1,000-unit residential complex on the Jersey City waterfront in Jersey City, the two companies announced this morning.

Officials with the two companies said in a news release that the total size of the project at 99 Hudson St. will be more than 1 million square feet of rental units and retail space and is expected to create more than 2,000 construction jobs over a 5-year period.

"The waterfront in Jersey City features many compelling pieces, but it lacks a center," Carl Goldberg, partner in Roseland Property Company, said in a statement. "We see 99 Hudson providing the components that would turn an interesting area into a classic neighborhood."

Officials said in the news release the project, part of the Colgate Center, will be the largest rental project and one of the top five tallest buildings in New Jersey, but did specify how many stories the building will rise.

In April 2011 Hartz Mountain sold buildings at 90 and 70 Hudson Street for a combined $310 million. In November Hartz Mountain Industries bought the property from Bank of America for $35 million. Merrill Lynch, which owned the land at 99 Hudson St., intended to build an office tower there for back offices. Bank of America obtained the site when it acquired Merrill Lynch.

Officials said the development of the project is contingent on the revival of the state Economic Development Agency's Urban Hub Tax Credit (UHTC) residential program, which was suspended after depleting its $250 million allocation.

"We submitted an application several months ago that fully qualified for the UHTC program," Emanuel Stern, president and COO of Hartz Mountain Industries, said in a statement. "As we have seen through the history of the UHTC program, the economic climate -- especially as it pertains to financing -- will not permit a project like this to proceed without assistance.

"Our application to EDA for the UHTC program delivers instant economic impact and smart growth benefits that will last for decades, so we are hopeful this necessary program is quickly revived so we can commence construction."

Roseland Property Company manages Hartz Mountain's residential projects and is a partner in four of Hartz's residential developments. The project is expected to include "retail and entertainment on the structure," as well as parking for residents and guests, officials said ... tain_roseland_proper.html

Posted on: 2012/2/22 11:21

Re: 'Jersey Shore' Spin-Off in Jersey City
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Snooki lookalikes compete in Jersey City bar close to set of Jersey Shore spin-off set

February 20, 2012, 11:31 AM
By Dan Rosenblum/For The Jersey Journal

As the “Jersey Shore” spin-off featuring Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Jenni “JWoww” Farley heads to Downtown Jersey City, residents looking to see the stars on their infamous nights out didn’t have to travel too far.

One block away from the old firehouse where the crew is setting up a “Laverne and Shirley”-type apartment for the duo, local bar Pint hosted a “Night of 1,000 Snookis” Friday night that featured Snook-a-like and fist-pumping contests.

Before the event, Pint owner Wolf Sterling worked the room wearing a Snooki wig, but he admitted he ran into a roadblock.

“It’s hard to get a polyester wig that matches a gray beard,” he said.

Though some residents fear the show will lower the city’s image, Sterling wasn’t angry about its coming to town. “Those people suck,” Sterling, 42, said of the show’s critics.

Jersey City, he said, has no national image and the show would give the city a chance to show its vibrant neighborhoods. “What are they afraid of?” he said.

The event wasn’t affiliated with the production company filming the show, but he said it got him more media buzz than he’s had in the four years he’s owned the bar.

Alexandria Kavanagh, 25, of Jersey City, was the first Snooki at the bar. She said people already mistake her for the reality-TV star and she only had to buy a few accessories before entering the costume competition.

Kavanagh said her mom saw the event in a newspaper and told her about the competition. She was happy about the show being in Jersey City.

“It’s better they’re here than Hoboken, because we’d appreciate it more,” she said.

Ultimately, three Snookis showed up. Bar patrons packed around the impersonators, taking plenty of photographs.

Snook-a-like Liz Coschera, 29, of Jersey City, said she liked how the event both embraced and made fun of the show. To celebrate the contest and city pride, she shopped locally for her costume along Newark Avenue and at the Newport Centre mall.

During the contest, Sterling re-created what he called Snooki’s favorite pastime by having the Snookis sit on the bar. He asked them trivia questions, including their favorite food.

“Pickles,” the contestants yelled, showing their knowledge of the real Snooki’s tastes.

Ultimately, Kavanagh won the $200 prize.

“It feels good,” she said afterward. “My mom will be proud.” ... kalikes_compete_in_j.html

Posted on: 2012/2/20 13:26

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