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Fulop chooses City Council candidates for 2013 Mayor slate
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Fulop chooses three City Council candidates for his 2013 slate, including one former Healy ally

Tuesday, May 08, 2012
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Jersey City won’t hold its city election for another year, but mayoral hopeful Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop is already lining up candidates to run on his slate, including one councilman who was until recently an ally of Fulop nemesis Mayor Jerramiah Healy.

Fulop confirmed today that he has selected three City Council candidates to run with him in 2013: Ward B Councilman David Donnelly, a former Healy aide; Councilman at large Rolando Lavarro; and Ward E community activist Candice Osborne.

Both Donnelly and Lavarro will run to retain their seats in the May 14, 2013 citywide election. Osborne hopes to succeed Fulop as the council’s Ward E representative.

“I am excited to have these first three terrific partners who are willing to be part of the team,” Fulop said in a statement. “My goal is that the eventual complete ticket will reflect the true diversity of the city, giving more opportunities to women and minorities.”

Fulop said he intends to announce the next three members of his slate at the end of the summer, and the final three in late fall.

The Ward E councilman only confirmed his selection of Donnelly, Lavarro and Osborne after The Jersey Journal inquired about a campaign document his slate filed with the state on April 30 that named the three as members of “Team Fulop.”

Lavarro, a New Jersey City University administrator who won election to the council in November, would be seeking his first full term. Today, he said he joined Fulop’s slate because Fulop has “a strong commitment to transforming” Jersey City.

“We're talking about jobs, crime, education and taxes, and Steve has shown himself to be at the forefront of all of those things,” he said. “I think this team intends to do it the right way, and make sure that we engage our communities, and engage a lot of diverse communities in the process."

Donnelly, 42, a project manager at the United Way of Hudson County, would also be seeking his first full term. A former special assistant to Healy, the mayor appointed him to the council in October 2009 to replace Phil Kenny, who pleaded guilty that month to accepting bribes from federal informant Solomon Dwek.

Donnelly, who said he couldn’t comment at this time, later won a special election to fill out the remainder of Kenny’s term.

Osborne, 33, is the CEO of C&S Strategies, which provides digital services for political campaigns, nonprofits and small businesses. A political newbie, Osborne has worked on get-out-the-vote efforts for Fulop and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and has volunteered for local parks initiatives and a recent Complete Streets campaign.

Osborne said she expects that taxes, education, jobs and crime will emerge as the central issues.

“Those are the four things we have been talking about,” she said. “We are going to tackle them.”

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... ses_three_city_counc.html

Posted on: 2012/5/8 17:58
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Re: Fulop, Lavarro backing ordinance to boost pay of low-level city contractors
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2 Jersey City Council members plan to introduce measure requiring certain city contractors to raise the wages of their workers

May 07, 2012, 3:00 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald - The Jersey Journal

Two Jersey City City Council members are set to introduce a measure that would require some city contractors and businesses who receive city subsidies to pay some low-wage workers at a rate significantly higher than the federal minimum wage.

Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop and Councilman at large Rolando Lavarro, sponsors of the proposed ordinance, say the requirement would allow the workers to “climb out of poverty” and “level the playing field” between workers and employers.

“Creating new jobs is important but it is equally important to make sure that those jobs pay enough for working people to climb out of poverty and join the middle class,” Fulop said in a statement.

The proposal would set the minimum wage for contracted security guards who work at city-owned and city-leased buildings at 200 percent of federal minimum wage, which translates to $14.50 per hour, plus benefits. For contracted janitors at those facilities, the new rate would be the standard wage set by the state Department of Labor, which is now $15.70 plus benefits.

The measure would also require developers who receive city subsidies to pay security guards and janitors these wages at a minimum. For contracted clerical and food-service workers at city-owned and city-leased buildings, the new wage would be $10.50 per hour, up from $7.50.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
Mayor Jerramiah Healy said in a statement that the city will review the proposed ordinance, stressing that he does not want to “create impediments” for businesses that wish to work with the city.

Healy, who plans to face Fulop in the 2013 mayoral race, added that the measure seems more like a diversionary tactic for the Ward E councilman, who last week was blasted by dozens of Jersey City Incinerator Authority workers over his move to eliminate the city agency.

“Knowing that Steve Fulop does little to nothing without a political motivation, my initial reaction is that this is his response to the criticism he took at last week’s council meeting regarding his plan that could have cut jobs from workers at the JCIA, particularly the Second Chance program.”

Fulop called Healy’s comments a sign of “desperation.”

The measure, set for introduction at this week’s council meeting, has the support of SEIU 32BJ, a property-service workers union representing about 9,000 New Jersey laborers. Kevin Brown, the union’s state director, said it would protect taxpayers and spur economic growth.

http://www.nj.com/jjournal-news/index ... city_council_members.html

Posted on: 2012/5/7 11:40
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950 of 40,000 Jersey City properties are abandoned
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Jersey City Taking Aim at Vacancies

The Wall Street Journal
NY REAL ESTATE RESIDENTIAL
May 6, 2012, 10:03 p.m.

By HEATHER HADDON

JERSEY CITY, N.J.—A historic Episcopalian church left to be claimed by squatters; an abandoned house where police discovered a dead body on the front porch; a vacant brownstone overrun with weeds after its overseer was arrested on bank fraud.

As this gritty former manufacturing town tries to reinvent itself, officials have been wrestling with a stubborn phenomenon of urban blight: hundreds of abandoned buildings. About 950 of the roughly 40,000 properties in this waterfront city were classified as abandoned in a recent count, a number that city officials attribute to the housing-market collapse.

"Almost every block in this city has a vacant building on it," said Mark Redfield, assistant director for housing code enforcement in Jersey City. "It's really a horrible thing for society."

Jersey City officials fanned out across the city in March to flag vacant buildings and add them to a growing registry—part of an aggressive use of the Garden State's abandoned properties law. One of the toughest in the nation, the law allows local governments to set up abandoned property registries, require owners to join them and compel scofflaw landlords to do something with their buildings and pay their property taxes.

If property owners don't respond, the city can take them to court to acquire the properties to sell them or tear them down for redevelopment.

At least 36 other municipalities have undertaken similar efforts, but few with the zeal of Jersey City, said Diane Sterner, executive director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, a nonprofit. Irvington, Newark, Orange and Paterson have also been assertive practitioners of the law's powers, she said.

The registries have become popular across the country as cities look for tools to clean up after the recession and the housing bust, said Alan Mallach, a Brookings Institution resident who focuses on housing. Hundreds of towns have voluntary registries, he said.

"New Jersey is only part of the picture," he said. "It's certainly a major trend."

In Jersey City, the vacancies are situated throughout the gentrifying city, from lower-income areas in the south and west to the city's tonier neighborhoods around Grove Street. Some of the worst streets have several vacant properties per block.

At least 406 properties have been officially registered and another 200 are going to court. The rest are in the process of being registered or served with warrants, Mr. Redfield said.

At least 150 vacant properties that were deteriorating are now being rehabbed, and 15 others were demolished, he said.

The city inspects the properties at least every 45 days to assess their conditions and publishes a list of them periodically in the legal notices of local newspapers and on the city's website.

New Jersey's law—the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act—was passed in 2004 during the housing boom and wasn't used much until the bubble burst in 2008, Ms. Sterner said.

Beyond Jersey City, city administrators have identified 3,330 abandoned properties in Newark, Paterson, Orange and Irvington, she said.

Under the act, a property is defined as "abandoned" if it is unoccupied for six months before inspection. It also must be a nuisance, uninhabitable or have an owner who is delinquent on property taxes.

The law gives the city the power to seize property through "spot eminent domain." Owners who don't respond to notifications from the city are at risk of having their buildings taken over by the government and the property sold.

The real-estate industry has opposed vacant property registries nationwide, arguing that they are cumbersome. Real-estate developers have also said that local governments already had a powerful tool at their disposal—placing property tax liens on buildings owned by scofflaw landlords.

"That's the best way to do it. Eventually the lien is going to be paid off," said Len Rosenberg, a New Jersey real-estate owner at West Hudson Management.

Jersey City officials argue that its registry has been effective. Mayor Jerramiah Healy said in a statement that the "aggressive approach" has helped improved Jersey City neighborhoods in the wake of the real-estate collapse.

Vacant homes depress property values, and officials said the city loses tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes every year due to abandoned buildings. Officials also expect to recoup some property taxes from owners who haven't paid them or through redeveloping the lots they obtain in court.

The city spends roughly $100,000 a year to maintain and secure vacant properties, according to city estimates. Further, the registry has generated $101,000 in revenue for Jersey City from owners who paid the $250 fee for being on the list, said Mr. Redfield.

Many of Jersey City's vacant buildings are in foreclosure, while others are unsold investment properties.

The Episcopalian church where homeless people slept, for example, had gone into bankruptcy. Since its appearance on the registry, the owners have cleaned up the property and installed a fence to deter future intruders, Mr. Redfield said.

The downtown brownstone is also being fixed up by its owner, who hadn't realized that her property manager had been arrested, he said.

And as for the building with the dead body, the owner still hasn't responded and the city is maintaining it. If the owner doesn't respond within 60 days of the original notice, the city can force the matter into court.

If the owner does register, city officials can better communicate with a known entity, as owners often hide behind limited liability companies, Mr. Mallach said.

Statewide, there has been no academic study on the effectiveness of the registries, and it takes a dedication of city resources to make them work, Mr. Mallach said. He called Jersey City's approach "creative."

"It's easy to pass an ordinance, but it's work to make it real," he said.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001 ... 04577374431116383966.html

Posted on: 2012/5/7 11:37
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Re: Honey Bees at the Hyatt
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Jersey City waterfront hotel adds two bee hives so chef will have fresh, local honey for recipes

May 03, 2012, 11:56 AM
By Celeste Little/The Jersey Journal

Some 36,000 new guests checked into the Jersey City Hyatt Regency Hotel this week, but they won’t be taking up much room.

The two hives of honey bees, brought in from Hilltop Honey in North Caldwell to produce honey for dishes on the Hyatt’s menu, will be staying on the roof.

“Welcome to another Jersey City first,” said Mayor Jerramiah Healy, kicking off Jersey City Green Week. “This fits in with sustainability and a smaller environmental footprint.”

Hyatt executive chef Cathy Kearny thought of bringing the bees to town when she was trying to find ways to use more local food in her menu.

Kearny has already created several honey-infused dishes, including salmon ceviche with creamed honey, Japanese bamboo honey figs, and honey horchata.

Joe Lelinho, the beekeeper at Hilltop Honey, said that honey bees shouldn’t be confused other flying insects, such as wasps or hornets, that attack.

“Bees don’t just sting. The honey bee is a good worker and a servant to mankind,” said Lelinho.

The bees will pollinate a 2-mile radius of the Hyatt and when they do, they will increase the yield and quality of local crops such as cranberries, apples, blueberries, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins, the experts said.

Consuming honey produced by local bees can also help allergy sufferers cope with their bothersome seasonal colds, they added.

Kearny was completely at home with the newbies.

“My brothers used to play ‘throw the apple in the tree’ and that ended in a trip to the hospital,” said Kearny. “You could kick these bees and they won’t bother you.”
http://www.nj.com/jjournal-weeklies/i ... y_waterfront_hotel_a.html

Posted on: 2012/5/4 11:16
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Re: Westside Ave: Another shooting -- Greenville residents duck and cover whenever gunfire erupts
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Jersey City man sentenced to 40 years in prison for murdering man he considered his rival for girlfriend's love

May 04, 2012, 3:00 AM
By Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal

A Jersey City man was sentenced to 40 years in prison yesterday for the 2009 murder of a man he believed had become involved with his girlfriend, officials said.

“I’m happy the family of the deceased can now put this behind them, and I would really like to thank them for their cooperation over the past three years,” Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor John Mulkeen said after the sentencing of Darryl “D” Denmark, 23, of Orient Avenue.

Last Nov. 17, it took a jury less than three hours to convict Denmark in the murder of Ormont Logan, 26, also of Jersey City, on Clendenny Avenue on April 1, 2009. Denmark was also convicted of two weapons offenses.

On the day of the murder Denmark and his girlfriend argued about her relationship with Logan and she threw Denmark out, officials said.

Later, there was a verbal confrontation between Logan and Denmark on the street near West Side Avenue, and Logan had begun to walk away when Denmark opened fire, striking him three times, including once in the chest.

A man who grew up with the murderer witnessed the killing but refused to cooperate until after Logan’s mother sat down with him at homicide headquarters hours after the killing and convinced him to talk to authorities. He identified Denmark and described the car he fled in as belonging to Denmark’s girlfriend, prosecutors said.

Yesterday, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mary Costello sentenced Denmark to 40 years for murder and 10 years for the weapons offenses, to run concurrently, Mulkeen said.
Denmark has prior convictions for aggravated assault and two counts of drug possession, Mulkeen said.

“We had asked for life, but the family was happy with the idea that the defendant will not become eligible for parole until about 2043,” Mulkeen said.

Posted on: 2012/5/4 11:11
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
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Former Jersey City building inspector gets 6 months in prison for tax evasion

Tuesday, May 01, 2012, 6:25 PM
By Jason Grant/The Star-Ledger

JERSEY CITY — A federal judge today sentenced John Guarini, a former Jersey City building inspector, to six months in prison for evading taxes on corrupt cash payments he took in 2007 for trying to help arrange expedited approvals for a dubious condominium-development deal in Jersey City, federal authorities said.

Guarini, 62, of Bayonne had pleaded guilty in May of last year before U.S. District Judge Jose Linares to willfully subscribing to a false personal federal income tax return, authorities said. Linares also imposed the sentence today in Newark. He formerly worked for the Jersey City Housing Department, said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

Guarini was originally charged with extortion, after being swept up in the massive "Bid Rig III" political corruption and money laundering bust of July 2009. Big Rig III has been called the biggest federal sting in New Jersey history — and it was based on the undercover work of the now-notorious Solomon Dwek, a one-time real estate developer from Deal. Dwek had secretly taped meetings with Guarini, as well as with many New Jersey politicians and area rabbis, leading to the arrest of 46 people.

But at last May’s plea hearing, Guarini avoided pleading guilty to the extortion and instead pleaded only to a single count of tax evasion in Bid Rig III. That charge carried with it a year or less in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.

At the time of the plea last May, the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to discuss the specifics of their plea agreement with Guarini, or the significant downgrading of charges. Within weeks of Guarini’s plea hearing, Dwek was jailed for lying to his FBI handlers in connection with a rental car that had been reported stolen — and many defense attorneys said at the time that Dwek no longer had much credibility as a witness for the government.

Guarini first met Solomon Dwek in the empty boiler room of a Jersey City apartment building. There, according to a secret FBI recording of the meeting he took a white, FedEx envelope stuffed with $20,000 in cash.

"Take care of me. I'll take care of you," said Dwek, an undercover federal informant at the time, who was posing as a real estate developer, according to FBI transcripts of the meeting.

"Absolutely," Guarini replied, the transcripts say.
At his plea hearing last May, Guarini told then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Kanefsky he took $20,000 from Dwek to help obtain zoning approvals from other Jersey City public officials for the purported luxury condo development on Garfield Avenue in Jersey City.

The site turned out to be a chromium-contaminated vacant lot located alongside the New Jersey Turnpike.

Guarini also admitted last May that he accepted another $10,000 from Dwek intended as a payoff for Maher Khalil, a former Jersey City health official who has already pleaded guilty in the case. Instead of passing along the money,

Guarini said he kept the cash for himself and did not disclose the money on his 2008 personal income tax return.

Unwittingly, Guarini unwittingly played a key role in the federal government’s Bid Rig III investigation, shifting it from what had primarily been a money laundering probe into a wide-ranging political corruption case.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012 ... sey_city_building_in.html

Posted on: 2012/5/1 19:48
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Re: Proposal to dissolve the Jersey City Incinerator Authority
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JCIA workers to council: ‘Don’t trash our jobs’
Angry employees rail against elimination plan

by E. Assata Wright - Reporter staff writer
Apr 29, 2012

At the behest of Hudson County Freeholder William O’Dea and dozens of nervous and angry Jersey City Incinerator Authority (JCIA) workers, the City Council has agreed to table a proposal that, if passed, would eliminate the autonomous agency and fold its current functions into the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW).

The council unanimously agreed to table the measure, introduced on April 11, after hearing more than two hours’ worth of public comments on the controversial ordinance last Wednesday.

The proposal, initiated by Ward E City Councilman and 2013 mayoral candidate Steven Fulop, could affect the jobs of almost 300 employees between the two agencies. But various conflicting studies commissioned by the city have concluded that taxpayers could save $5 million to $10 million if the two agencies were consolidated.

The state Local Finance Board meanwhile confirmed last week that it is reviewing the ordinance. The board must approve the proposal to eliminate the JCIA before the agency can be dissolved.

Hundreds of jobs on the line

Last spring, the City Council passed a resolution notifying the JCIA that the city’s contract with the agency would likely be terminated in 2012. This 12-month notice is legally required before the city can end its contract with the JCIA. With the requisite 12 months nearly over, Fulop is now formally proposing the JCIA be eliminated.

But Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy has in the past suggested that a consolidation of the two agencies is the better option.

The consolidation of the two agencies, the mayor said, would be a priority this year. Plans to consolidate the JCIA, which now has about 134 full-time employees, and DPW, which has 146 full-time workers, have been discussed for the past decade.

O’Dea criticizes City Council

Freeholder O’Dea, a Jersey City resident who represents the city on the Hudson County Board of Freeholders, railed against the council for failing to understand the scope and limitations of the various reports that have been commissioned on consolidation plans.

He also noted that since the DPW is a department that has civil service protections, it would be impossible to simply absorb JCIA workers in to the DPW. Under civil service rules, workers with seniority who are slated to be laid off can “bump” employees with less seniority. Any cuts made at the DPW to make way for JCIA workers would directly affect employees working at the bottom of the two agencies, several people argued Wednesday.

Former City Councilwoman and Board of Education Trustee Francis O. Thompson addressed the governing body, insisting, “When I was a councilperson, we did our homework…We researched, we studied, and at no time could someone like Billy O’Dea come up here with research and statistics and we didn’t have the answers.”

Second Chance grads praise program

As the cornerstone of the city’s Second Chance program for ex-offenders, several graduates of the program who are now employed credited Second Change for turning their lives around.

Launched in 2001 by the late Glenn D. Cunningham when he was mayor, the Second Chance Program gives non-violent ex-offenders job skills through the JCIA. Since the program was started, at least 60 Jersey City residents have completed the Second Chance Program and have been hired, either by the city or some other employer, according to JCIA CEO Oren Dabney. About 30 to 35 of these graduates currently work for the JCIA, he said, and the remainder found jobs elsewhere.

Matthis Sharpless attended the council with his 16-month-old twin sons, Marlon and Matthis, telling the council the Second Chance Program enabled him to provide for his family.

“I’m not proud to say this, I am an ex-offender,” Sharpless told the council. “Early in my years I had some problems. I got in trouble…I met the distinguished Glenn Cunningham and I explained to him the pitfalls that I was going through in trying to become a public servant and do the right thing.”

With Cunningham’s help, Sharpless became one of the first graduates of the Second Chance program. Today, he said, he is an employed married father of twins. He said he was on his way to becoming a homeowner and taxpayer through the Live Where You Work program, but has now put those plans on hold since he isn’t sure how long he’ll still have his job at the JCIA.

“If this ordinance passes it’s going to demolish families who are trying to rebuild,” Sharpless, a Fulop supporter, said, addressing the councilman.

Another employee, Darlene Costa, said, “I love my job. I couldn’t get a job before because I have a criminal record for a drug charge. But when I got into that Second Chance Program, my whole life changed.”

Assad Pinkney, another graduate, credited the program with “making me a man.”

Other community members who attended the public hearing addressed the larger societal impact of the Second Chance Program.

“This is what really makes me mad, when ex-offenders come out [of jail], they’re not coming to your neighborhood,” said former warden Ralph Green, pointing to Fulop. “They’re not coming home to Ward E. They’re coming home to Ward F. And you wonder why crime in our neighborhood is so high.”

Initiatives like Second Chance help stabilize families and neighborhoods by giving troubled community members marketable skills and economic stability, said Green.

Several other residents and taxpayers also spoke in support of the JCIA employees and expressed concern about the possible elimination of the agency. These residents gave the JCIA high marks for being responsive to the requests and needs of neighborhood associations.

Fulop, Richardson respond

Most members of the council did not address those who spoke from the community. But as the council member who introduced the ordinance to eliminate the JCIA several workers addressed Fulop directly and he eventually responded.

“The goal of putting this forward is not to get rid of the Second Chance Program,” Fulop said. “I believe you can enhance it and make it better. It was reported in the [Jersey City Reporter] that there have been 60 graduates of the Second Chance Program in 11 years. That comes to five per year. Why can’t we do 10 or 15?”

The consolidation of the JCIA and DPW, he added, “is not about cutting at the bottom, it’s about cutting at the top.”

Redundant jobs at the management and professional services level are what would be eliminated under his consolidation plan, Fulop said, not the rank and file workers on the street.

In a sidebar conversation with Councilman David Donnelly, an exasperated O’Dea exclaimed, “Does this guy not understand how Civil Service works?” referring to Fulop.

Councilwoman At-Large Viola Richardson later countered Fulop, saying, “We keep hearing that the JCIA and DPW are ‘top heavy.’ But there are a whole lot of other departments in this city that are more top heavy than the DPW and JCIA. I don’t hear any plans to cut those departments.”

When Fulop’s proposal was introduced on April 11, Richardson and Ward F Councilwoman Michele Massey were the only two members of the council who voted against introduction.

State reviewing proposal

The council voted unanimously to table the ordinance so it can be examined more closely.

The city has, meanwhile, sent the ordinance to the Local Finance Board in Trenton for review.

“The board received an application,” said spokesperson Lisa Ryan. “It is in the process of being reviewed. We won’t comment further until we have completed a review and have had a chance to discuss it with the applicant. The next board meeting will be May 9 and the application may be heard then, if the application is sufficient.”

If approved by the city council and the state Local Finance Board, consolidation would begin sometime in spring 2013.

Fulop told the Reporter he is planning to meet with several rank and file JCIA workers to discuss their concerns further.

http://hudsonreporter.com/view/full_s ... ndary_stories_left_column

Posted on: 2012/4/29 1:28
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Morgan's Corner: Yes, lettuce is sprouting in Ward F
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Morgan's Corner: Yes, lettuce is sprouting in Ward F

April 25, 2012, 5:05 AM
By Earl Morgan/For The Jersey Journal

Elizabeth Perry fairly beams as she shows off the new but promising work she and a group of volunteers have wrought on the site of the "Unified Mothers and Mens Initiative Village Garden" that's sprouting to life on Communipaw Avenue in Jersey City.

The Village Garden joins a growing number of similar sites across the city staffed mainly by volunteers who secure a two-year lease on a vacant, city-owned lot, and then roll up their sleeves to make a million flowers or lettuce, cucumbers, whatever, bloom.

The portion of Ward F, located in the heart of the city, is its most populated and troubled, where overcrowding and crime wreak havoc on the quality of life. Yet, despite all the strum and drang, people like Perry are determined to make something grow. For them, community gardening, an activity being promoted by the city, is just the ticket.

Several community gardens are already flourishing. This newest one is just a stone's throw from the West District Precinct, and is under the initiative of Perry, an activist mostly known for her involvement in community education concerns. The space Perry chose for her garden is in a previously weed-choked lot just across the street from Kentucky Fried Chicken and Ideal Supply Plumbing.

The city has thrown up a cyclone fence around the space and mounds of wood chips and remnants of compost, provided by the city's Department of Pubic Works, are visible along with neat, almost perfectly aligned plots of fresh earth that are proof something new is going on on one of the busiest thoroughfares in Hudson County.

Perry, accompanied by her daughter Tiffany, stands in the middle of the garden surveying several square plots of freshly turned soil, surrounded by wood chips that were only delivered Sunday. One is already sprouting greenery -- lettuce seedlings, Perry said. The plot is being tended by one of the volunteer families drawn to the garden. Perry said she is grateful to Rodney Hadley, the city's DPW director, for his help and to the city for giving her the two-year lease on the lot.

Perry is also effusive about the volunteers who have already laid claim to spaces they tend in the garden and said she's encouraged by the outpouring of support she's received from merchants in the area. Perry says Peter Wells, the owner of the business whose building abuts the garden's west side, offered his wall as a mural space for artists and a single word in large scrawl, "ART."

Other merchants, knowing the gardeners need to line the bottom of their plots with cardboard or vinyl sheets, leave stacks of cardboard along the cyclone fence.

"We've had some really good response here," Perry says as she casts a 180-degree glance around her new domain.

But Liz envisions more for this garden than just planting and cultivating vegetables and flowers. To her it can also be an educational tool for inner city kids to experience the wonder of growing things, even participate in making that happen.

"I've already invited three schools in the area, Lincoln High School, School 12 and School 14 to be involved," Perry said. "And we are going to use a spot over there," she says, pointing toward an area on the lot's east side, "for spoken word artist to perform. We've got a lot of work to do."

All those interested in leasing space for gardening can call the City's Department of Public Works, Forestry and Parks, at (201)547-6584.

http://www.nj.com/hudson/voices/index ... orner_yes_lettuce_is.html

Posted on: 2012/4/25 10:35
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Re: Art House announces JC'S MOST ELIGIBLE a date auction and performance event April 21st!
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Art House Productions raises $2,000 by auctioning talented Jersey City bachelors and bachelorettes

April 24, 2012, 9:07 PM
By Adam Robb/For The Jersey Journal

Wednesday night's Relay for Life benefit in Hoboken wasn't last week's only bachelor and bachelorette auction for a good cause. On Saturday night, 13 of Jersey City's most eligible went on the block in Hamilton Park to raise money for Art House Productions.

The night doubled as an opportunity for the available men and women to promote their own unique talents.

"We wanted to pick bachelors and bachelorettes who were entrepreneurs in Jersey City because we wanted to put a new spin on the auction fundraiser," Art House Productions founder Christine Goodman told us. "We wanted it to also be a promotional opportunity. People can talk about their businesses and what they do here."

Those skills included cooking lessons from Bar Majestic owner Joseph Castro, who used the stage as an opportunity to promote his forthcoming Barrio Bar Cevicheria, a Peruvian restaurant with rooftop Tiki bar opening later this summer on Newark Avenue; closet organizing from Anne McTernan, an interior designer by day, Marco & Pepe waitress by night; and a custom shirt from the well-tailored DeCarlos Morse of Decarlos Bespoke, one of the most pursued bachelors of the night.

But before the evening's emcee, Dancing Tony, called up the first lot, bachelorette Cealleigh Pender took the stage to perform with her band Folderol.

Pender, a California native who is now a massage therapist in Hamilton Park, moved to Jersey City two years ago and instantly found a home in Art House Productions, a non-profit, community performance space.

"And now, because I know two-thirds of the people being sold tonight, because I'm so active in the community myself, anytime I can help Art House raise money, I do it," Pender told us.

Local playwright Summer Dawn Hortillosa -- a former Jersey Journal reporter who now freelances for the paper -- has been involved with Art House Productions since high school and feels a similar bond.

"I saw that they were looking for people who were willing to help the arts by selling themselves and I thought hey that would be great," she said, attributing her emergence as an artist to Art House, where she staged Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night'' as a director at the age of 16.

Saturday night was only the second time Art House hosted a bachelor auction, their first having been in 2010 when they raised $1,600. This year, the group raised $2,000, in part due to the enthusiasm of the desired dates' willingness to do anything for a buck, no matter how humbling.

For Thomas John Carlson, the founder of Jersey City Art School, that meant doing a push-up for every dollar he wanted bidding to increase. For Hortillosa it was tap dancing with jazz hands. Maybe most torturous, McTernan had to confess to the crowd how seeing Snooki in Jersey City changed her life.

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... productions_raises_f.html

Posted on: 2012/4/25 10:32
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Re: Proposal to dissolve the JCIA set for council vote tonight(4/11)
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Long-planned elimination of Jersey City Incinerator Authority appears stalled

April 25, 2012, 3:03 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

A move to dissolve the Jersey City Incinerator Authority has hit the skids, with critics of the proposal seeking to delay or halt the long-discussed elimination of the city agency.

The City Council was set to hold a final vote tonight that would have dissolved the JCIA and hand over its duties to the city Department of Public Works. But that vote may be tabled after critics of the proposed merger said at Monday’s council caucus that the council was moving too fast with too little information about the consequences of the change.

Meanwhile, city officials are devising a plan that would keep both the JCIA and the DPW alive.

Monday’s discussion arose as the council debated a separate proposal set for initial approval tonight that would permit the city to borrow roughly $9 million to pay bills the JCIA owes for garbage collection and disposal.

Councilwoman at large Viola Richardson asked to postpone both that vote and the final vote to eliminate the JCIA. Richardson said the nine-member council seemed to be “speeding” toward the elimination of the JCIA to meet some arbitrary goal.

“What’s the rush?” she asked.

Two weeks ago, the council, led by Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop, voted 7-2 to scrap the JCIA, with Richardson and Ward F Councilwoman Michele Massey voting against. That measure was set for final adoption tonight.

The proposed merger has been discussed for years, with Mayor Jerramiah Healy originally hoping to fold the DPW into the JCIA. That move was blocked in 2010 by state officials who said the JCIA was not permitted by state statute to perform some of the DPW’s duties, such as park maintenance.

On Monday, city Chief of Staff Rosemary McFadden said the administration would like to investigate whether both the JCIA and DPW can survive by paring down their staffs and eliminating duplicative services.

The measure to eliminate the JCIA is still on tonight’s council agenda, though it seems likely the body will move to table it during the meeting. A public hearing on the measure scheduled for tonight is likely to go on as planned.

The council meets at 6 o’clock tonight at City Hall.

http://www.nj.com/jjournal-news/index ... ed_elimination_of_je.html

Posted on: 2012/4/25 10:29
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Re: Corruption indictments hit Louis Manzo and brother Ronald -- charges they accepted $27,500 in bribes
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Jersey City politician Louis Manzo's demand for legal fees reimbursement is rebuffed by federal judge

Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 3:00 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Louis Manzo, the former Jersey City assemblyman whose corruption case was twice thrown out by a federal judge, cannot force the U.S. Attorney's Office to reimburse him for legal fees because he did not prove the government's conduct was frivolous, that same judge ruled Friday.

Manzo has been battling the U.S. Attorney's Office since his 2009 arrest, when he was caught up with 45 others in the massive corruption and money-laundering probe that put a host of Hudson County politicos behind bars.

But Manzo, whose second indictment on those charges was thrown out by Judge Jose Linares on Feb. 17, has not proved that the government's prosecution of him was malicious or intended to harass, according to Linares' ruling, which was filed yesterday.

"While the government argued a novel theory under the Travel Act in attempting to apply it to conduct of an unelected candidate for public office, said theory was not groundless or without any legal merit," Linares writes in his 10-page ruling.

Manzo was originally charged with two counts of extortion under the Hobbs Act and two counts of violating the Travel Act, alleging he crossed state lines to commit a crime. He was accused of agreeing to accept bribes from federal informant Solomon Dwek during Manzo’s unsuccessful 2009 campaign for Jersey City mayor.

Linares in May 2010 threw out the Hobbs Act charges, saying Manzo couldn't be charged under that federal statute because it applies only to public officials, not candidates for public office.

The U.S. Attorney's Office soon amended the indictment, charging Manzo with the Travel Act violations and one other charge, but Linares in February threw out that indictment as well. Manzo then sued to have $150,000 in legal fees reimbursed, claiming the government's actions were "vexatious, frivolous, or in bad faith."

"The court's opinion confirms that this office acted in good faith," U.S. Attorney spokeswoman Rebekah Carmichael said yesterday.

Manzo said yesterday he was withholding comment while he and his lawyer determine whether Linares erred by ruling too early. The government's motion arguing against reimbursing Manzo's legal fees was filed April 16, and Manzo said he believed he had more time to reply before Linares ruled.

"We didn't actually complete our argument," he said. "Some of the points in the government's brief were absolutely falsehoods, so we didn't get a chance to make the court aware of that."

http://www.nj.com/jjournal-news/index.ssf/2012/04/post_133.html

Posted on: 2012/4/25 10:24
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Jersey City breaks ground on first new city police station since 1954
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Jersey City breaks ground on $10.4 million police precinct, the first new city police station since 1954

Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 5:04 PM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Jersey City officials broke ground this morning on a $10.4 million police precinct in the city’s west district, a new facility that will replace the 140-year-old West District precinct on Communipaw Avenue that a police official today called an “abomination.”

The 29,000-square-foot precinct, which is scheduled to be completed in 14 months, has been in the works for more than 30 years. Mayor Jerramiah Healy said it will improve the neighborhood as well as police response times.

“We’re finally getting this done,” Healy said.

It will be the first new police precinct in Jersey City since 1954.

The City Council contracted the work back in 2010, but the losing bidder sued, putting the project in limbo for years.

Situated on the corner of Clinton Avenue and Seidler Street, the new precinct’s entrance would face Martin Luther King Drive. The facility will include a bullet-proof reception area, a secure area for prisoner drop-off and pick-up and energy efficient design, according to city officials.

Police Chief Tom Comey today praised the mayor and City Council members for securing the funds, mostly through the city’s capital budget, to construct the new precinct.

According to Comey, the city has been on the verge of building a new West District precinct for decades. Back in the 1970s, he said, officers stationed in the current West District were told “don’t get too comfortable” because of a rumored new precinct.

Nearly 40 years later, and the new station is finally become a reality, and when it’s finally built, it’ll be like “Christmas morning,” Comey said today.

Officers contacted The Jersey Journal last year to complain about conditions of the current precinct, saying it had numerous Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations. Today, Deputy Police Chief Peter Nalbach called the current precinct, where about 130 officials are stationed, an “abomination.”

Councilwoman at large Viola Richardson, a retired police officer, said she was stationed at the West District for a few years during her time with the Jersey City Police Department.

“That building should’ve been condemned 40 years ago,” Richardson said

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... y_breaks_ground_on_1.html

Posted on: 2012/4/25 10:22
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Re: Eight candidates vying for three open seats on Jersey City Board of Education
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Jersey City mayoral candidate Fulop and his opponents see BOE results differently

By Ray Smith | April 23rd, 2012
politickernj.com

JERSEY CITY - Mayoral candidate and Councilman Steven Fulop’s team received a boost last week when all three of his school board candidates were elected over a slate backed by current mayor Jerramiah Healy and the powerful local teachers union.

The win sent political reverberations through New Jersey’s second largest city as political watchers sought to find significance for the upcoming mayoral showdown.

But the powers opposed to Fulop in Jersey City believe the Board of Education race isn’t an indication of signs to come in 2013, when the downtown councilman will challenge Healy for the city’s most powerful seat.

Assemblyman Sean Connors (D-33), Jersey City, is a Healy ally and former Board of Education member. Connors vacated his Board of Education seat after his recent election to the Assembly, in which he ran on the Hudson County Democratic Organization line. James Madden, Connors’ chief of staff, chalked up last week’s Fulop victory and Healy loss to the county organization essentially sitting on its hands.

“There wasn’t a lot of effort put into the race by the (teacher’s union) or the HCDO,” Madden said.

Parents for Progress, the Fulop backed slate, reported raising a total of $28,175 in their 11-day pre-election filing. Other Board of Education candidates have not yet filed paperwork with ELEC detailing campaign expenses, according to a review of campaign finance records.

Madden said despite the success of Fulop and his candidates, his team “doesn’t see this as a bellwether to anything.”

Fulop sees the results of the Board of Education race differently, calling last week “a very solid week for our team, to say the least.”

“They sent out mailers with Jerry Healy, Charlie Mainor, and Sean Connors,” Fulop said in response to comments made about his opposition not trying. “They all put their name in (the race). It’s just such a childish response. That’s fine. It’s not unexpected that they rationalize.”

Political observers in Jersey City have, since 2005 when Fulop joined the City Council, questioned the councilman’s ability to win outside of downtown, where he built his base on the backs of Wall Street West voters as the Ward E councilman. But Fulop hopes to put the doubts to rest after his Board of Education candidates won all six wards in a diverse Jersey City last week.

Tom Favia, the president of the Jersey City Education Association, endorsed the same candidates as Healy, but has not committed to endorsing any candidates in 2013 when the mayor’s seat is put up for grabs.

Favia said he doesn’t believe Healy’s endorsement played a major role in the Board of Education race.

“As far as the mayor’s endorsement, I don’t know what he contributed to it,” Favia said. “(Councilman) Peter Brennan was very helpful, but I don’t think (the endorsement) really helped much.”

Instead, Favia said a low turnout from his membership plagued his candidates’ chances.

“I’m disappointed because I think we could have won it,” he said. “I don’t think the rank and file of our membership came out the way they should have.”

When asked about the potential of a “Fulop factor” in the election, Favia said he thinks the councilman’s influence contributed to the outcome of the race.

“Oh, there’s no question,” Favia said. “He was down at the tubes handing out fliers. He walked the streets with them. There’s no doubt that he was influential. That was his ticket. He played it for all it was worth because he understood the importance of the election. If he had lost it, I think it would have been a big loss to his campaign...I give him credit for understanding the value of it.”

Multiple messages left for Healy through a press secretary were not returned last week. A message left at the professional office of Raj Mukherji, Jersey City deputy mayor, was also not returned.

Although Healy has declared himself a candidate for mayor in 2013, sources in Jersey City opposed to Healy think other candidates could step in to run on the HCDO line. Fulop echoed those voices on Friday, saying he thinks Healy will “not be at the starting gate” in January.

Fulop’s election fund has raised $657,512 thus far, according to a January ELEC filing, and he’s spent $224,878. Healy, on the other hand, has raised a total of $159,382, according to his January ELEC filing, and spent $109,290.

Sen. Sandra Cunningham, (D-31), Jersey City, has been a long-rumored candidate, but has not publicly committed to entering the mayoral race.

At least one behind-the-scenes source in Jersey City believes a potential candidate could be Assemblyman Charles Mainor, (D-31), Jersey City. However, others in Jersey City think it would be difficult for the assemblyman to leave his comfortable seat in Trenton to enter the ring in what will likely be a hard-fought race for city mayor.

Reached Monday, Mainor said he currently does not have any plans to run for mayor of Jersey City, but wouldn't rule it out in the future.

"At this point in my life, I'm just concentrating on remaining the best assemblyman I can be," Mainor said. "But if the opportunity ever came, it would be something I would take into consideration. But I'm not looking at (running for mayor) now."

Sources also say Jerry Walker could soon announce a bid for mayor. The Star-Ledger’s Auditor column reported in February that Walker, a former Seton Hall University basketball player, was recently searching for a home in Jersey City.

But as of right now, all eyes in Jersey City are focused on Healy and Fulop – where the HCDO will see a major challenge from the downtown councilman in what will likely be a nasty dogfight.

“Steve is quick to point out the last two years,” Madden said of Fulop’s other Board of Education victories. “But there has been no effort. No one was out to squash him (in the Board of Education races). It was a non-partisan race. The mayor wasn’t that involved in it, he took photos, and Sean Connors was the same way; we weren’t out banging on doors.”

Fulop called the comments about his opposition not trying “amateurish behavior” from the HCDO. The councilman is hoping to carry his recent momentum into 2013.

But Madden also has a confident message for 2013.

“When we rev up that machine, it’s going to be ready,” Madden said.

http://www.politickernj.com/56342/jer ... e-boe-results-differently

Posted on: 2012/4/23 22:34
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Re: Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini -- convicted of bribery
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Former Jersey City Deputy Mayor Beldini on her way to federal prison

Monday, April 16, 2012
By Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal

Former Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini is now federal prisoner number 30118-050.

She boarded a plane yesterday morning to fly to Fort Worth, Texas to surrender at the Federal Medical Center Carswell, officials said.

Officials at the Department of Justice Command Center in Washington, DC, said yesterday they would not be able to confirm the 76-year-old’s arrival at the women’s facility until this morning.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons website listed the former Burlesque queen as being “in transit” to the prison facility yesterday, and the website would not be updated until today.

Beldini, who was treasurer of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s re-election campaign in 2009, was convicted in February 2010 on two counts of bribery. She was sentenced to three years in federal prison.

The jury found she accepted two $10,000 contributions from FBI informant Solomon Dwek in exchange for official action in helping Dwek get approvals for his supposed real-estate deals.

Beldini’s lawyer has said in court that she suffers from a number of medical issues. She left for Texas on a 6 a.m. flight accompanied by her son.

The former operator of a Central Avenue real estate office, Beldini was one of more than 40 people arrested in July 2009 as part of the FBI’s massive Bid Rig III probe. The investigation centered on information gathered by Dwek.

http://www.nj.com/jjournal-news/index ... y_city_deputy_mayo_2.html

Posted on: 2012/4/20 18:08
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Re: Church to Condo Convert
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Jersey City preservation panel backs plan to turn 130-year-old church into condos

April 19, 2012
By Charles Hack/The Jersey Journal

Jersey City's Historic Preservation Commission agreed Monday that a developer's plan to refashion an unused 19th-century brick church into a condominium complex is appropriate for the historic Hamilton Park neighborhood.

The commissioners voted 7-1 to approve -- with conditions -- the application by developer Mohammed Hammami to convert the old Centenary M.E. Church, which is commonly referred to as the Centennial Methodist Church, at 306 Pavonia Ave. into a three-story, nine-unit condominium building.

Commissioner Anthony Sandkamp voted against the plan and Commissioner Stephen Gucciardo recused himself from the vote.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to consider a variance needed to convert the church into a residential building at its meeting at 6 o'clock tonight at City Hall, 280 Grove St.

A handful of speakers at Monday's meeting complained the developer plans to remove many of the church's stained-glass windows and has no plans to provide condo owners with parking in an area "already maxed out" with cars.

After hearing the comments, the commissioners told the developer he had to hire an expert to find out if some more of the stained-glass windows could be preserved. Hammami had previously explained that many of the stained-glass windows could no longer open and close and were therefore considered fire hazards.

Dan Wrieden, the city's historic preservation officer, said the developer has agreed to keep four original "ecclesiastical" style stained-glass windows on the front of the circa 1880 Romanesque Revival style church.

The commissioners also required the developer to seek the opinion of an expert to see if it is feasible to reinstate four slender spires on the roof, which show up in early 20th-Century photographs of the church but have since been removed.

According to city ordinance, the developer is not permitted to provide on-site parking for developments with less than 10 units.

Liliane Freitas, a resident of Coles Street, tried at the meeting to turn in 120 petition signatures calling upon city officials to find a different use for the building.

"To me and the 120 residents who signed the petition, the stained-glass windows are spectacular and should not be removed," Freitas said. "I don't see why the windows are not seen as an asset to the developers plan."

The board's attorney rejected the petitions as "hearsay" since the signatories were not present.

http://www.nj.com/jjournal-news/index ... y_preservation_panel.html

Posted on: 2012/4/20 18:04
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In Jersey City, a LeFrak Office Project Awaits a Tenant - Sixth Street Pier
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In Jersey City, a LeFrak Office Project Awaits a Tenant

By C. J. HUGHES - The New York Times
Published: April 17, 2012

JERSEY CITY — The Newport neighborhood here, at 600 acres among the largest urban mixed-use developments on the East Coast, has seemed in no real hurry to be completed.

Its chief developer, the LeFrak Organization, has sometimes let years go by after finishing one building before starting another, which has occasionally given the waterside parcel, the site of defunct rail yards, a patchwork air. The last office building went up in 2003, a six-story midrise with just 90,000 square feet.

Now LeFrak is ready to break ground again. The company just announced plans for Pier 6, a project that could add up to 1.25 million square feet of office space to a nine-acre pier at the end of Sixth Street, on the southern edge of Newport.

But the company will not build on speculation. The tenant — most likely a financial services or media company that requires a huge amount of room — will determine the size and configuration of the buildings, said Jamie LeFrak, a principal in the company.

“We wouldn’t have stayed in business for 100 years if we were doing wild speculation,” said Mr. LeFrak, who represents the fourth generation to run a company that built LeFrak City, in Corona, Queens, and Gateway, in Battery Park City, among other major projects.

The Pier 6 site could handle a single 17-story building, which one tenant would occupy. Or, if there were demand for a smaller building, LeFrak would build on half the site, though the tenant would have to commit to taking at least 300,000 square feet to make the project financially feasible, Mr. LeFrak said.

Started in 1986, Newport now includes 14 apartment buildings, 7 office buildings and the Newport Centre Mall, as well as shops, playgrounds and a waterfront walkway, though there are still dozens of empty parcels. While 13,000 people live there today, LeFrak says the eventual population of the $10 billion project will be twice that.

The Pier 6 site, which a century ago contained a sheep slaughterhouse, is now used mostly for storing construction equipment and trees for other sites; there is also a helipad there, which will be retained. About a five-minute walk from the Newport PATH station, the site also has front-and-center views of One World Trade Center, rising across the river in Manhattan.

Office rents at Pier 6, which is expected to cost $100 million to $300 million to build, will most likely be far below Manhattan’s, Mr. LeFrak said. In the first quarter of 2012, the average asking rent along the Hudson waterfront in New Jersey, which includes Weehawken and Hoboken, was about $38 a square foot for state-of-the-art office space, versus close to $70 for comparable space in Manhattan, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

And, if the tenants in the new buildings qualify for New Jersey’s Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program, which was created to encourage development in nine cities near subway and train lines, the rents could effectively be around $20 a square foot or less, brokers said. But Mr. LeFrak said that if the tenant spent enough on construction, those rents could be closer to zero.

Then again, most of the credits in the four-year-old, $1.5 billion program have already been spoken for, according to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which administers the program. All applications are currently being reviewed, however, which could free up funds, a spokeswoman said. The State Legislature could vote to expand the program and is now considering a bill to that effect.

Still, even without those credits, Pier 6’s economics are compelling, said Gil Medina, a former state commerce secretary and a current Cushman broker who has worked with LeFrak in Newport in the past. The Hudson waterfront vacancy rate has been below 10 percent for years, a sign of a healthy leasing market, Mr. Medina said. Mr. LeFrak said the company’s office towers had a 2 percent vacancy rate.

Among recent large leases, Citigroup last year added to its presence at 480 Washington Boulevard, a 32-story LeFrak high-rise, leasing 46,000 square feet. Its neighbors there include UBS and Société Générale.

This year, according to reports, Fidelity Investments will finally consolidate some of its operations, including bringing workers from Manhattan, into a four-floor berth at 499 Washington Boulevard, a 14-story tower that also has Bank of America offices, according to reports. And next year, the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, which plays a central backup role in stock transactions, will move the bulk of its operations to the entirety of 570 Washington, from its current address at 55 Water Street in New York.

These tenants have been drawn to Newport from New York in part by low rents — and, sometimes, special tax deals, subsidies or grants. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City has criticized those programs as encouraging a bidding war for jobs.

But Mr. Medina played down any suggestion of a border clash. Companies like JPMorgan Chase, which has 21 floors at 575 Washington in Newport, have relocated only support functions to New Jersey while keeping their headquarters in Manhattan, he said.

“It’s more of a symbiotic relationship,” Mr. Medina said. “We are definitely tied together economically.”

While it might have been a sleepy decade for LeFrak on the office front in Newport, the company has been busily adding residential units. In 2007, it completed the Shore Club, a sprawling 400-unit condo complex on River Drive. A few years later, it developed Aquablu, a 300-unit rental building with tinted windows across the street. Rising next to it is Laguna, a 150-unit rental building to be completed next year.

A new park, with playground equipment and immaculate lawns, sits across the street, by the mouth of the Holland Tunnel. In a sign that there is still room for Newport to grow, it brushes up against a desolate industrial parcel that contains a cement plant.

Even if Newport still has a long way to go, the project has been a success so far, said Robert Cotter, the director of the Division of City Planning in Jersey City and an author of the redevelopment plan that allowed it to happen.

In some ways, Newport was a bold experiment, he said. Previous master-planned developments created separate zones for businesses and homes. In Newport, though, Jersey City encouraged an integrated layout, which creates a livelier streetscape, and which the Pier 6 project should only enhance, Mr. Cotter said, adding that the slow and steady pace was understandable.

The LeFraks’ timing “was cyclical in response to various rises and falls in the economy, and they have lived through three recessions,” he said. “ ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ is absolutely true here.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/rea ... city-awaits-a-tenant.html

Posted on: 2012/4/20 17:59
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Re: Liberty Harbor Developer Companies Declare Bankruptcy
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Bloomberg News
Jersey City Developer Liberty Harbor North in Bankruptcy

By Steven Church and David Voreacos - April 19, 2012

Liberty Harbor North Inc., a developer of waterfront property opposite Manhattan in Jersey City, New Jersey, filed for bankruptcy to resolve a $21 million court judgment related to the urban-renewal project.

Company President Peter Mocco, a former mayor of neighboring North Bergen, put three companies affiliated with the Liberty Harbor community into bankruptcy to settle a legal dispute with a former landowner.

“We need the quick definitive action of the bankruptcy court to permit me to enter into a settlement,” Mocco said today in an interview.

Liberty Harbor North controls land worth $350 million, the company said in court papers filed April 17 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newark. The project itself is not in bankruptcy and has adequate cash flow, Mocco said.

The development is an example of “new urbanism,” which relies less on cars and more on public transportation in creating a sense of community, Bob Antonicello, executive director of the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, said in a telephone interview.

It is monitored by more than 500 security cameras, served by two light-rail stations, and sits within walking distance of PATH trains run by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Mocco said.
Redeveloping Cities

“People have really looked at this and said this could be a striking example of how to redevelop cities,” Antonicello said.

The bankruptcy filing is “very disappointing,” he said.

“When the developer files a bankruptcy and thinks it won’t impact the future development, that’s ludicrous,” he said. “At the end of the day, bankruptcies have a stigma. This will be a stigma on what has the potential for being a jewel on the Hudson. This cold, calculating business move could have a very damaging effect on the city.”

Mocco said Antonicello “doesn’t appreciate or have knowledge” of the need to settle the land dispute in bankruptcy.

“In order for me to do that, I have to take advantage of the tools the bankruptcy court has given to us,” he said.

The condominiums and town houses at Liberty Harbor sell for about $350,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $1.8 million for five bedrooms. About 650 of the units are occupied, and many of the residents work on Wall Street, Mocco said.
Four-Acre Parcel

The finished project will have as many as 10,000 residential units spread over 80 acres, Mocco said.

The legal dispute involves a four-acre parcel of industrial land once owned by Ron, Lynn and Katherine Kerrigan, he said. The family sued the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, which pursued an eminent-domain action on behalf of Mocco, Antonicello said.

A jury awarded them more than $18 million for the taking, a judgment upheld on appeal, Mocco said. With interest, their claim is now worth about $21 million, according to court papers filed with the bankruptcy court.

Mocco and his wife, Lorraine, signed a personal note and guarantee to the agency, Antonicello said. The agency is now pursuing a collection action against the Moccos in state court, according to Antonicello.
Biggest Creditors

“This bankruptcy filing has nothing to do with the economic downturn and the recession,” Antonicello said. “This is more the result of a strategic bankruptcy where people have the resources but perhaps not the will to work through their difficult times.”

The Kerrigans and the Redevelopment Agency are listed as Liberty Harbor North’s biggest unsecured creditors. Liberty Harbor North owes creditors about $44 million, according to court papers.

The three companies that sought court protection each listed different debt figures. Some of the debt was jointly owed by at least two of the companies, including the Jersey City and Kerrigan liabilities.

The bankruptcy was first reported by the Jersey Journal newspaper.

The case is Liberty Harbor North, Inc. 12-19964, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012 ... orth-files-for-bankruptcy

Posted on: 2012/4/20 17:54
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Re: Hudson County Prosecutor's Office Homicide Squad: Top Cop & 2 Ex-officers Surrender in Fraud Case
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Trevor Williams of Jersey City pleads guilty to bribery cover up

TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
Friday, 20 April 2012

Two sheriff’s officers have pleaded guilty in scheme involving the bounty hunters

Trevor Williams of Jersey City, a bounty hunter, pleaded guilty Friday to trying to cover up commercial bribes that his boss, another bounty hunter, allegedly paid to an insurance company executive.

Two Hudson County sheriff’s officers previously pleaded guilty to official misconduct charges and are awaiting sentencing for assisting the bounty hunter, Adel Mikhaeil, 47, of Jersey City, in an alleged criminal scheme. The charges are the result of an investigation by the state Division of Criminal Justice, the State Police and Hudson County prosecutor’s office.

State Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said Williams, 39, who worked for Mikhaeil, pleaded guilty to third-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution and fourth-degree fabricating physical evidence before state Superior Court Judge Stuart A. Minkowitz in Morristown. Under a plea agreement, the state will recommend that Williams be sentenced to 364 days in a county jail and a term of probation.

Deputy Attorney General Anthony A. Picione is prosecuting the case. Minkowitz scheduled sentencing for Williams for May 25.

In pleading guilty, Williams admitted that he helped to cover up $92,000 in commercial bribes that Mikhaeil allegedly paid to an insurance company executive in return for business. The executive, John Sullivan, 45, a former vice president for Sirius America Insurance Co., pleaded guilty on May 30, 2008 to commercial bribery and financial facilitation of criminal activity. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to 364 days in the county jail and a term of probation. Another employee of Mikhaeil’s, George Formoe, 45, of Ridgefield Park, also pleaded guilty to covering up the payments. He faces probation.

Charges remain pending against Mikhaeil, who was indicted on Sept. 29, 2008. Minkowitz Fridayt scheduled Mikhaeil to go to trial on May 30. Mikhaeil is also charged with paying sheriff’s officers to sign false documents called “body receipts” indicating that he had captured fugitives who, in reality, had been apprehended by authorities. By claiming he caught the fugitives and presenting the false body receipts, Mikhaeil collected higher fees from insurance companies that insured the fugitives’ bail bonds. He faces second-degree counts of conspiracy, official misconduct, offer of unlawful benefit to public servant for official behavior, commercial bribery and money laundering, among other charges.

While a bounty hunter does receive a fee for locating a fugitive who is already in custody – what is called a “paper transfer” – the fee is lower than for a “physical apprehension,” when the bounty hunter actually locates and arrests a fugitive who is at large. The fraudulent body receipts also had the effect of reducing the amount of bail forfeited, resulting in savings for the insurance companies that insured the bail bonds but a loss of funds to the counties where the fugitive jumped bail and the state government, which divide the forfeited funds.

On July 14, 2009, former sheriff’s officer William Chadwick, 56, of Keansburg, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto in Morristown to second-degree official misconduct for signing false body receipts for Mikhaeil. The state will recommend that Chadwick be sentenced to five years in state prison. Chadwick forfeited $5,500 in illegal cash gifts that he admitted receiving from Mikhaeil.

On Jan. 12, 2010, a second former sheriff’s officer, Alberto Vasquez, 43, of Apex, N.C., pleaded guilty before Ahto to third-degree pattern of official misconduct for signing false body receipts for Mikhaeil. The state will recommend that Vasquez be sentenced to 270 days in a county jail and a term of probation. He forfeited $3,500 in illegal cash gifts that he admitted receiving from Mikhael. Both former sheriff’s officers will be permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.

On Feb. 5, 2009, another person named in the indictment, James Irizarry, 43, of Mohnton, Pa., pleaded guilty to commercial bribery before Ahto. Irizarry admitted he took bribes from Mikhaeil in return for hiring Mikhaeil to recover fugitives for his former employer and for approving Mikhaeil’s invoices for payment. Irizarry worked for a firm that locates fugitives for insurance companies that insure bail bonds. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to 364 days in the county jail and a term of probation. He forfeited $5,000 Mikhaeil gave him.

The defendants were prosecuted by Deputy Attorneys General Picione and Jeffrey Manis. They led the investigation along with Det. Sgt. Myles Cappiello and Det. Sgt. Neil Hickey of the State Police Official Corruption North Unit; Det. Scott Donlan and Analyst Alison Callery of the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau; and Det. Sgt. Mary Reinke of the Hudson prosecutor’s office.

http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/stat ... uilty-to-bribery-cover-up

Posted on: 2012/4/20 17:51
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Re: Montgomery Gardens Area: Pack of teens surround man, beat him with brick and shoot him in neck
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Jersey City man sentenced to 40 years in prison for role in fatal 2009 attack

April 20, 2012
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

A 20-year-old Jersey City man was sentenced today to 40 years in prison for the 2009 felony murder of a 26-year-old man who was beaten with a brick, kicked and punched by nine boys in a deadly game of "knock out."

In handcuffs and wearing a green Hudson County Corrections Center uniform, Lucius Smith today apologized to the victim's mother before Superior Court Judge Fred Theemling handed down the sentence.

"I am sorry what I did. I am sorry what happened to your son," Smith said. "I think about it every day.”

Smith, 20, must serve 85 percent of the 40-year sentence before he is eligible for parole.

A jury convicted Smith in March of felony murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and aggravated assault.

A total of nine juveniles ranging in age from 13 to 17 were charged in the Feb. 24, 2009 attack on Carlos Orlando Quinones, 27, of Monitor Street, but four had their charges waved up to criminal court for prosecution as adults.

Speaking on behalf of the mother, who was too distraught to testify, Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Laura Magnone told the court the mother’s life had "drastically" changed after the loss of her youngest son, an incident that led to her losing her job and suffering from various illnesses.

Describing Quinones as a "good" and "quiet" person, Magnone said he had come from Puerto Rico to New Jersey to find work and become an organ donor after his death.

Asking for Smith to be sentenced to 50 years behind bars, Magnone described him as the leader of the group and the person who struck the victim with the brick. Magnone said that Smith had made a statement to authorities saying that the boys often played “knock out,” a game where they would approach a homeless person and hit him with a brick until he lost consciousness.

The other alleged attackers charged as adults were Markise Dawson of Claremont Avenue and Augustus Bey of Dwight Street, who were both 17 years old when waived up to criminal court, and Tyshaun Shannon, of the Montgomery Gardens housing complex, who was 18 years old.

Asking today for the minimum sentence for his client, defense attorney Jim Sheehan asked the judge to consider that Smith's age was 17 at the time of the attack, adding that his client was one of "many, many individuals" involved in the incident.

“To see that on tape was shocking to everybody, but it was the group mentality, the pack mentality," Sheehan said."The defendant has been remorseful from day one."

Sheehan added: “If there was a time machine and he could back and change what happened that night he would.”

Smith's mother, two sisters and brother spoke on the defendant’s behalf.

"This is my baby boy," his mother said through tears "He did wrong."

A witness to the 2009 attack told police Quinones was walking at Cornelison Avenue and Florence Street when the boys surrounded him. When Quinones resisted and the boys found he had no money, the homicidal attack began, Magnone said.

Quinones was left in critical condition and in a coma at the Jersey City Medical Center, and it was days before police were able to identify him. He never regained consciousness before he died on March 3, 2009 as a result of injuries from the attack.
http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... man_sentenced_to_4_2.html

Posted on: 2012/4/20 17:47
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Jersey City City Council introduces measure to expand Newark Avenue Restaurant Row
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Jersey City City Council introduces measure to expand Newark Avenue Restaurant Row

March 28, 2012, 6:36 PM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Restaurants along Newark Avenue between Kennedy Boulevard and the Pulaski Skyway in Jersey City will soon be a part of the Newark Avenue Restaurant Row, thanks to an ordinance given tentative approval by the City Council tonight.

The move is a part of the city’s effort to attract new businesses to the area. Restaurants in a Restaurant Row are exempt from state laws that prohibit establishments with liquor licenses from opening within 520 feet of one another.

Restaurant Row eateries are also able to obtain city entertainment licenses without having to apply for a zoning variance.

The measure passed 6-0-1, with Council President Peter Brennan abstaining and council members Steve Fulop and Michele Massey absent. It requires one more vote before it’s adopted.

The council shot down a similar ordinance at its March 15 meeting because it also included one restaurant on Bright Street. Council members called that “spot zoning,” and the city revised the ordinance to exclude that restaurant.
http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... y_city_council_intro.html

Posted on: 2012/3/28 20:22
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public hearing on proposed $469 million Jersey City budget
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Poor participation for public hearing on proposed $469 million Jersey City budget

Wednesday, March 28, 2012
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Only four Jersey City residents offered their thoughts on the proposed $469 million city budget during a public hearing at tonight’s City Council meeting.

The residents, three of which are regular critics of city administration, mostly offered a negative view of the budget, which comes with no municipal tax increase.

Yvonne Balcer raised objections about the city’s compensated absence liability, or the amount of money the city owes workers for unused sick and vacation time. If the city’s entire workforce retired today, the city would owe $64.6 million for unused absences.

“The city’s in bad shape,” Balcer said.

Jayson Burg, who is seeking a seat on the Board of Education, questioned why the city was budgeting $5 million in savings from a possible merger of the Jersey City Incinerator Authority and the Department of Public Works, when an independent consultant said the merge could save the city $10 million.

Burg’s question went unanswered tonight, but yesterday Mayor Jerramiah Healy called the $10 million figure “several years old” and likely “inaccurate.”

Dennis Overend asked the council to require the city to send out annual tax bills instead of releasing them quarterly. Meanwhile, Riaz Wahid questioned why the city budget projects skyrocketing unemployment claims, from $494,000 last year to $1.5 million in 2012. City Assistant Business Administrator Robert Kakoleski blamed last year’s roughly 300 layoffs.

“People are collecting unemployment,” Kakoleski said.

The council has given tentative approval to the budget. There’s no date set for its adoption.
http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... icipation_for_public.html

Posted on: 2012/3/28 20:15
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Re: Embankment- Update Thread
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Jersey City proposes changes that would permit two towers on historic Sixth Street Embankment

Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 7:36 PM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

The Jersey City City Council gave initial approval tonight to changes to a Downtown redevelopment plan that would allow a developer to build two towers on a portion of the historic Sixth Street Embankment.

The changes are required by a tentative settlement the city reached last month with developer Steve Hyman, who has battled the city for years over ownership rights to the embankment. As part of the agreement, the city would purchase most of the roughly mile-long parcel for $7 million, while Hyman would retain one block.

Hyman, who purchased the embankment from Conrail in 2003 for $3 million, wanted to develop the entire property. The city, which hopes to use its six-block portion of the embankment to create a Highline-style park, sued, saying it should have been given first crack at purchasing the property.

The changes given tentative approval by the council, which only go into effect if the settlement is approved by all parties, would permit construction of the two towers, one 35 stories and the other 45 stories. They could contain a maximum of 400 residential units and 200 hotel rooms.

The city Planning Board would not be required to approve any plans to build the two towers. The changes approved tonight would merely amend the Luis Munoz Marin Redevelopment Plan, making construction of the towers possible.

The two towers would sit on a parking base, the roof of which would be level with the adjacent embankment block. The parking base would have at least one restaurant, which could be accessed from the city-owned portion of the embankment via a “decorate and well-appointed” walkway.

The measure passed 7-0, with council members Steve Fulop and Michele Massey absent.
http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... y_proposes_changes_t.html

Posted on: 2012/3/28 20:05
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Re: Jersey City Medical Center CEO says Christ Hospital takeover 'a recipe for disaster,' offers to buy
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Bankruptcy court awards Christ Hospital of Jersey City to Hudson Holdco

March 28, 2012, 3:03 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

A bankruptcy court judge in Newark yesterday awarded bankrupt Christ Hospital to the parent company of two for-profit hospitals in Hudson County.

Judge Morris Stern chose the $43.5 million bid by Hudson Holdco, which owns and operates the Hoboken University Medical Center and the Bayonne Medical Center, over the proposal by Community Healthcare Associates, which had planned to lease the hospital to the Jersey City Medical Center.

The Hudson Holdco bid, which had been endorsed by the Christ Hospital Board of Trustees, was roughly $600,000 more than the CHA bid.

Before making his decision, Stern said he was bound by precedent to defer to the board’s endorsement absent objection from the hospital’s creditors. Stern asked for the opinion of about a half-dozen creditors, all of whom said they did not object to Hudson Holdco’s bid.

CHA attorney Ken Rosen made a last-ditch effort to sway Stern, saying the bidding process was “corrupted” and that the Christ Hospital Board of Trustees made a “determination” long before last week’s auction that they would side with Hudson Holdco.

Stern responded by saying he found no evidence to back Rosen’s claims.

Paul Hebert, a spokesman for Christ Hospital, said hospital officials are pleased the judge selected the proposal the Board of Trustees and the hospital staff endorsed.

Christ Hospital filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month after a proposed acquisition by for-profit Prime Healthcare Services fell through.

In the initial bidding last week, CHA/JCMC emerged with the best and highest offer for the Palisade Avenue hospital, but the Christ Hospital Board of Trustees nonetheless recommended that the hospital be sold to Hudson Holdco. That prompted CHA officials to ask that the bidding be reopened.

After a live bidding process on Friday, Hudson Holdco was deemed to have the best and highest offer.

In its bid, Hudson Holdco says it will operate Christ Hospital as an acute-care facility for at least five years. It also pledges to hire back 100 percent of the hospital’s union staff and 90 percent of its non-union workers.

Jeanne Otersen, spokeswoman for Health Professionals and Allied Employees, the Christ Hospital nurses union, said she’s hopeful Hudson Holdco’s acquisition will be a new beginning for the hospital’s staff.

“Our job now is to make sure that the new owners live up to their commitments,” Otersen said.

In a statement, JCMC spokesman Mark Rabson said JCMC was motivated to bid for Christ Hospital in an effort to keep it open as a nonprofit facility. JCMC’s mission was strengthened by participating in the bidding process, Rabson added.
http://www.nj.com/jjournal-news/index ... _court_awards_christ.html

Posted on: 2012/3/28 19:40
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Re: Downtown Jersey City is a walkers paradise (97 out of 100) according to walkscore.com
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The 25 Best Cities For Walking

These US towns made our top 25 cities for walkers list. Find out why here.

3. Jersey City, NJ

Walk Score: 85.2

Just over the Hudson River in New Jersey is this charming walkers' hot spot, which is among the top-ranked "Best Fitness Walking Cities," according to the American Podiatric Medicine Association. Hop between neighborhood farmer's markets in its historic neighborhoods or earn your walking bona fides trekking Liberty State Walking Trail, which spans the width of the state to the Delaware Water Gap—a whopping 130 miles!

Published March 2012, Prevention

Read more: http://www.prevention.com/fitness/fit ... sey-city-nj#ixzz1qO4KQn1j

Posted on: 2012/3/28 1:41
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Re: Autonomous Incinerator Authority hasn't been paying its trash bills, Jersey City Council told
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Jersey City City Council to consider eliminating the Jersey City Incinerator Authority

March 27, 2012, 10:07 AM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

The Jersey City City Council is set to vote on an ordinance at its April 9 meeting that would eliminate the Jersey City Incinerator Authority, after a debate at last night's council caucus in which Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop said he'd rather vote on the issue once and for all.

Fulop had been tapped to sit on a committee that would discuss whether to fold the JCIA into the city Department of Public Works, or vice/versa. The city, seeking to consolidate services as a cost-saving measure, has been debating the proposed merger for more than a year.

After last night's debate, Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis asked Fulop whether the councilman wanted an ordinance drafted that would eliminate the JCIA.

"Bring it on," Fulop responded.

In 2010, Mayor Jerramiah Healy attempted to merge the DPW into the JCIA, but the state stepped in, saying state statute forbids autonomous agencies from performing certain duties the JCIA would have to perform if it absorbs the DPW.

The planned merger would save about $5 million annually and eliminate around 80 jobs, officials say.

In a statement issued this morning, Fulop explained why he wants to skip the committee and go right to the elimination of the JCIA.

“There is really only one option that will reduce costs and increase accountability, and that is the elimination of autonomous agencies such as the JCIA,” he said. “Jersey City’s residents, the Mayor and this Council know that eliminating autonomous agencies is the the right thing to do and I intend to push this forward now. The tax relief is badly needed."

When the state halted the proposed JCIA/DPW merger, state Sen. Sandra B. Cunningham introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would permit the JCIA to perform duties it now cannot, such as park maintenance.

Cunningham denied that the legislation, which was approved by a senate committee last month, has anything to do with saving the JCIA, which is headed by Cunningham supporter Oren K. Dabney.

“It only legitimizes what the Incinerator Authority has been doing for as long as it’s been there,” she said.
http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... y_city_council_to_co.html

Posted on: 2012/3/27 14:24
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Re: HUGE GAS PIPELINE COMING - through Jersey City
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Jersey City officials discuss strategy on proposed natural-gas pipeline

March 26, 2012, 7:59 PM
By Terrence T. McDonald/The Jersey Journal

Jersey City officials tonight blasted a federal report issued about a week ago that says the controversial Spectra Energy natural-gas pipeline proposed for parts of Hudson County would have limited adverse environmental impacts.

Speaking to a group of about 50 assembled inside City Hall, the officials said the report makes it all but certain that the four members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will end up giving the pipeline a green light.

The report, issued on March 16, disregards the city’s position that the pipeline would have adverse impacts on the environment, public safety and future real-estate development, Mayor Jerramiah Healy said tonight.

“Our concerns, once again, have not been heard,” Healy said.

City attorney Derek Fanciullo told the crowd that the timeline from here on will be “a lot faster” than they may think. If FERC’s decision, expected to come in mid-June, is favorable to Spectra, the city will have 30 days to make an initial appeal, and if that’s rejected, it will have 90 days to appeal to a federal circuit court, Fanciullo said.

“If nothing happens, in the worst-case scenario this may be done by the end of the summer,” he said.

Fanicullo added that he could not discuss the city's specific plan of action.

"If for nothing else, we don’t want them to know our strategy," he said.

Spectra proposes to add about 15 miles of natural-gas pipeline starting in Staten Island and running through parts of Bayonne, Jersey City and offshore Hoboken before heading into Manhattan. An additional five miles of pipe running from Linden to Staten Island would be replaced.

The Houston-based energy giant says the pipeline would be one of the safest in North America. It would create jobs and lower energy costs throughout the region, Spectra spokeswoman Marylee Hanley said recently.

Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop, who represents much of the area in Jersey City that the pipeline would travel under, noted that it is “rare” for so many elected officials to oppose unanimously a project the way Jersey City politicos have come out against the pipeline.

“This is a bad thing for Jersey City overall,” Fulop said. “I’m a believer that we can stop it.”
http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... ty_officials_discuss.html

Posted on: 2012/3/27 14:21
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Re: Jersey City holds hearing about Comcast's effort to take over channel 1
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Residents: We want our JC 1 TV!
At cable hearing residents say they want more from Comcast

by E. Assata Wright
Hudson Reporter staff writer
Mar 25, 2012

Residents, members of the City Council, and Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy were all unified last week in what they want to see in the city’s next cable TV franchise agreement with Comcast.

The list of requirements includes continuation of Jersey City 1 TV and a dedicated public access channel; a station set aside for the Board of Education; discounted rates for senior citizens; a service suspension option for seasonal residents; equipment upgrades; improved training opportunities for lay producers; and scholarship, internship, and employment opportunities for Jersey City students.

Whether or not the city gets any or all of these “wish list” requests will depend on the state’s Board of Public Utilities.

In 1998, the city signed a 15-year local franchise agreement with Comcast to supply cable service to Jersey City residents. This agreement expires May 13, 2013, but the city is required by law to file a report this May 13 that evaluates Comcast’s service and details the future cable needs of residents. This report will be filed with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

As a first step in this process, the city held a public hearing at City Hall last Tuesday so residents could discuss their experiences with Comcast and which services they’d like to see from their local cable provider in the future.

Based on the comments made at the public hearing before the City Council, the city will renew its cable franchise agreement with Comcast – but is likely to include its wish list of desired services and resources in the agreement.

“As the process moves forward, my staff will be reviewing the current agreement with Comcast to determine what provisions need to be added, omitted, or amended,” Healy said on Tuesday. “We will listen to the public’s concerns and weigh those issues as we work to develop a new contract with Comcast.”

Jersey City getting shortchanged?

According to City Clerk Robert Byrne, there are only a limited number of circumstances that would allow the city to deny a franchise renewal to Comcast: if the company hasn’t complied with its 1998 agreement; if Comcast’s service is poor; if Comcast lacks the financial or legal capacity to deliver service in the future; or if the company is unable to meet the future needs of the community.

Thus, it is unlikely the city will cut ties with Comcast altogether. But the city can build a number of requirements into its contract with the company that address service problems and other concerns residents raised last week.

In a nutshell, residents, including Mayor Healy, believe that Jersey City receives fewer services from Comcast than other communities receive from their local cable TV providers.

“In other cities, there’s actually money set aside for public access where there is a studio and people can receive training,” said resident and cable access producer Yvonne Balcer. “In Union City, you have a great [public access studio], where the public can receive training and there available equipment. That’s not the case here. In Jersey City, the public has to bring a finished product to the public access station [Channel 51].”

Another resident, Mia Scanga, who produces the public access show “Talking Politics” for Channel 51, agreed.

“Some of us, like myself and Yvonne Balcer, we’ve gone out and purchased our own equipment,” Scanga noted. “But video cameras and other equipment can be $2,000 or $2,500. A lot of people can’t afford that. We are not getting nearly the services at our public access station that other cites get. That [public access] studio on Kennedy Boulevard has nothing in it. In other cities, not only do people get a studio, they get trained how to film, how to edit.”

Throughout the hearing, several community members stated that Comcast’s rates, even for the most basic packages, are not affordable for seniors living on a fixed incomes. This, they argued, posed a problem should there be an emergency, since seniors without cable might miss important information that is broadcast on TV.

Others, including seasonal resident Jim Morley, complained that the city’s current agreement with Comcast does not allow customers to suspend their service during months of the year when they are living out-of-state. Local cable agreements in other cities allow for such service suspensions for “snow birds.”

One sticking point in the city’s new franchise agreement with Comcast could be whether the city is able to keep Channel 1, known as Jersey City 1 TV, a station dedicated to municipal government meetings and city news. City officials believe that Comcast may want to capture the channel for its own purposes.

“My understanding is that 30 yeas ago the cable company gave this station to the city because no one would watch it,” said Esther Wintner. “Over the course of the past 30 years, the city has worked hard to brand this station. It is now ours. There are a lot of people here who look forward to that JC 1 TV, and they should be watching that JC 1 TV. In my home I call the television the Idiot Box. But if anybody is going to turn it on, that should be the first thing that they see.”

Board of Public Utilities: ‘Final arbiter’

Some residents at the hearing suggested cutting ties with Comcast altogether, especially if the company appears unwilling to offer all the services the city is likely to request.

Byrne, however, said that completely severing ties with Comcast is not possible, since it is the company that built up Jersey City’s cable infrastructure and, as such, it has the permanent right to offer local cable service, unless the city can make a strong case against renewing the franchise agreement to the Board of Public Utilities. Still, he insisted the city has negotiating power and leverage.

“Comcast has to be reasonable,” explained Byrne. “The final arbiter in all this is the Board of Public Utilities. They are the mediator if one side or the other makes silly requests. If we’re not reasonable, the BPU is not going to approve our ordinance [to renew the franchise agreement with Comcast]. But at the same time, if Comcast denies all the things we’re asking for the BPU will intervene on our behalf and require that Comcast negotiate.”

Read more: Hudson Reporter - Residents We want our JC 1 TV At cable hearing residents say they want more from Comcast
http://www.hudsonreporter.com/view/fu ... ndary_stories_left_column

Posted on: 2012/3/26 21:08
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Re: 'Jersey Shore' Spin-Off in Jersey City
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Filming wraps up for Snooki, JWoww spinoff

Monday, March 26, 2012, 6:05 PM
By Stephanie Musat/ For The Jersey Journal

With a hug goodbye and the reminder of Snooki's pending child, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Jenni "JWoww" Farley got into their own cars and drove away from their Mercer Street home to end their spin-off filming, closing five weeks of production that took over downtown Jersey City.

"Don't forget I'm pregnant," Snooki yelled to JWoww, before she climbed into her Cadillac and drove away from a film crew taping her exit to end the show.

Before their emotional goodbye, leaving to go to the Westin Hotel, the two walked down Mercer Street to thank neighbors with cookies and oranges.

But only four people answered - two people slammed the door in their face, and one was planted by the production team.

Even if they slammed the door, Snooki replied with an upbeat "Love You," before shoving a cookie through the mail slot and walking to the next door.

Earlier in the day, the boyfriends - Jionni LaValle and Roger Matthews - loaded cars with animal print suitcases and Snooki's favorite alligator. The couples began playing tricks on each other, with LaValle pouring water out of their window onto Matthews.

You might still see production teams around town, as their filming permit goes through next week.

"I'm happy that they're leaving," said Linda Jameson, who stopped by the house to check out the stars. "They didn't bother me much, but at least it's one less thing to worry about."

She said filming didn't interrupt downtown too much, but when production was happening, it was clear that they were out of their element.

"I don't have to worry about being stopped when they're filming or worry about what restaurants to go to in case they are there," she said.

Despite the "annoyance" she said she will tune into the show when it airs on MTV to see how they portray Jersey City.

There was the biggest crowd outside the house today besides the first week of filming, as people took out their camera phones to catch the duo and their significant others as they packed their cars before leaving.

"I wanted to get a picture before they leave," said Nicholas Remin. "It's cool they spent some time here, it gives some place else in New Jersey exposure. But I don't think they liked it very much."

He said he thinks the show will be boring, mostly because there isn't a lot of action in Jersey City. He said the city was a poor choice for the spin-off because it's not "very lively," but is still excited to tune in.

"My town will be on television," he said. "I can say I went to that restaurant or that bar. That's pretty cool."
http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... aps_up_for_snooki_jw.html

Posted on: 2012/3/26 20:58
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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.
http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... y_city_council_can_5.html

Posted on: 2012/3/23 18:58
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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.
http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... _city_deputy_mayo_11.html

Posted on: 2012/3/22 14:19
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