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Re: Jersey City Councilwoman Nidia Lopez a Florida Resident?
#1
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


[quote]

In a statement, Raymaker ?urges everyone not to be discouraged by this decision.? Although the residency challenge was not upheld, Raymaker said that the case ?exposed ? a nine-year scheme? in which Lopez ?maintain[ed] a separate identity in Florida so she could duck her responsibilities.? Raymaker continues to call for Lopez?s resignation and asks the community ? and Mayor Healy ? to do the same.

But Mayor Healy, who headed the election ticket on which Lopez was elected and has supported her throughout the trial, told JCI that he is ?happy that this case is closed and that the outcome is positive.?

Healy thinks the outcome is positive? Positive for who? Had he ahd a few when he said this?

Posted on: 2009/12/10 1:37
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Re: Jersey City Councilwoman Nidia Lopez a Florida Resident?
#2
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Judge Upholds Lopez?s Eligibility for Ward C Council Seat
By Shane Smith ? Dec 8th, 2009 ? Category: Featured, News, Politics


Photo: Steve Gold

Ward C councilwoman Nidia Rivera Lopez?s claim to her seat is safe.

A legal challenge against Lopez filed after the May election alleged that she did not establish residency in New Jersey at least one year prior to the election, making her ineligible to hold office here. Hudson County Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli filed a 16-page decision in the suit on Friday, in which he found that Lopez ?intended? to reside in Jersey City, ?and that intention was objectively confirmed? by the facts in the case.

Norrice Raymaker, who ran against Lopez in the May election, joined a legal challenge against Lopez in August; the suit was originally filed by Raymaker?s fellow Ward C candidate Jimmy King, but Raymaker joined the suit when it became clear that King would drop it because of federal corruption charges pending against him.

Lopez?s residency was called into question after it came to light that she had not paid New Jersey state taxes for a number of years. Lopez lived in Florida from 1994 until about 2001, and she continues to own a home in Orlando. From 2001 until this year, she paid her federal income taxes as well as corporate taxes on her Hoboken-based dental consulting business in Florida. Lopez also claimed Florida residency and improperly received a homestead rebate on her property taxes there. Raymaker?s lawyer argued in court that these actions as well others ? including the renewal of a Florida driver?s license and a vote in Florida by absentee ballot ? showed that Lopez never ?abandoned her domicile? in Florida or ?evidenced her intention to establish a new domicile? in New Jersey.

Lopez?s attorney produced an array of documents in court in order to prove that she did intend her domicile to be New Jersey, including a voter profile, medical records and a variety of correspondence mailed to Lopez?s Corbin Avenue address. Lopez also testified that she has served as a commissioner for the Jersey City Parking Authority and that she is an active member of a Jersey City church. When asked in court why she did not pay New Jersey taxes and claimed an improper exemption in Florida, Lopez stated that she wasn?t aware of the matter because she entrusted her tax affairs to her accountant.

Based on the evidence presented and his determination that the burden of proof in the case lies with the plaintiff, Gallipoli ruled that Lopez was a resident of New Jersey as of one year before her election to public office.

However, he did not spare the court his opinion of Lopez?s actions. Writing that he was ?mystified? by her ?apparent lack of attention to many details of her personal and financial affairs,? Gallipoli said that it might be explained by ?any number of reasons, running the gamut from the dumb to the negligent to the criminal.?

Lopez?s attorney William Northgrave told JCI that he and Lopez are ?happy that Judge Gallipoli ? sustained Ms. Lopez.? Calling the challenge an ?unnecessary and unwarranted distraction,? Northgrave said that Lopez will ?continue serving her constituents.?

Diana Jeffrey, who along with Howard Myerowitz represents Raymaker, says that she will appeal. The argument Myerowitz made in court that Lopez never abandoned her Florida domicile was ?overlooked? by Gallipoli, she says.

?This decision is nothing that Nidia Lopez should be proud of,? Jeffrey said. ?It?s not a victory to have a judge say that you might be dumb, negligent, or a crook ? but you live in New Jersey.?

In a statement, Raymaker ?urges everyone not to be discouraged by this decision.? Although the residency challenge was not upheld, Raymaker said that the case ?exposed ? a nine-year scheme? in which Lopez ?maintain[ed] a separate identity in Florida so she could duck her responsibilities.? Raymaker continues to call for Lopez?s resignation and asks the community ? and Mayor Healy ? to do the same.

But Mayor Healy, who headed the election ticket on which Lopez was elected and has supported her throughout the trial, told JCI that he is ?happy that this case is closed and that the outcome is positive.?

Posted on: 2009/12/9 2:19
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Re: Jersey City Government Corruption Scandal - 16 arrested
#3
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


I think this "monetary gift" is a form of income. He should ask Nidia Lopez how to hide it from the IRS. Maybe he can start calling himself Phil Boehringer and open a bank account in Florida using Nidia's address.

Posted on: 2009/12/5 1:27
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Re: Development Oversight in J.C.? Who Watches the Watchmen?
#4
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Not too shy to talk


How "public" are these findings going to be? The firm was retained as legal counsel. It's all subject to attorney-client privilege. What gets released is whatever the Mayor wants released. This is bogus, complete bullshit. If Healy wants an independent, impartial audit, call in the Attorney General. You know what he's done? He's had a fancy law firm do an analysis of the City's legal exposure, all on the taxpayer's dime.

Posted on: 2009/10/28 13:34
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Re: Testimony Finished in Lopez Lawsuit
#5
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Posted on Mon, Oct. 26, 2009


Trial begins in NJ city council residency dispute
VICTOR EPSTEIN

The Associated Press

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - A newly elected councilwoman fighting to keep her seat after her opponent challenged her residency in the state struggled Monday to recall key events at issue in the case, including the last time she had renewed her out-of-state driver's license.

Jersey City Municipal Councilwoman Nidia Lopez is being sued by one of the candidates she defeated in May, who claims she failed to meet the one-year residency requirement because her primary home was in Orlando, Fla., not Jersey City. They want the election voided and a new race held.

"She hasn't filed New Jersey income taxes since 1994," said Howard Myerowitz, an attorney for plaintiff Norrice Raymaker. "She forgot? She didn't forget to vote to raise taxes for the City of Jersey City."

Hudson County Superior Court Judge Maurice J. Gallipoli is expected to rule later this week on whether Lopez can remain in office.

Lopez has homes in both Orlando and Jersey City. She used the Florida home as her primary residence for tax purposes, thereby qualifying for a state homestead exemption, and the New Jersey home for political purposes.

The designation allows Floridians to avoid paying property taxes on the first $50,000 of a home's appraised value by designating it as their primary residence. Lopez also avoided paying state income tax , Florida has none.

Defense attorney William Northgrave said the disparity was unintentional and occurred because Lopez failed to notify Florida tax officials when she moved her primary residence back to Jersey City after her divorce in 2000. He said Lopez has repaid all the taxes she owes New Jersey and is working to pay back more than $30,000 to Florida.

"Ms. Lopez is looking forward to putting this case behind her and getting back to the people's work," Northgrave said after the proceeding.

Myerowitz painted a picture of a professional consultant gaming the system to avoid paying her fair share of taxes. New Jersey is one of the most heavily taxed states in the nation, while Florida is one of the few with no state income tax. Auto insurance is typically cheaper in Florida, too.

Lopez testified Monday that she couldn't remember the last time she renewed her Florida driver's license. She maintained that stance even after being presented with a copy of her 2006 renewal by Myerowitz.

"If you say so," Lopez said when asked if the document refreshed her memory.

Lopez said she didn't obtain a New Jersey driver's license after moving back to Jersey City in 2000 because she drives only in Florida. Proof of New Jersey auto insurance is required to obtain a state driver's license.

In court documents, Lopez claimed she voted only in New Jersey after 2000. However, Myerowitz said she voted in Florida in 2003 via absentee ballot.

The councilwoman also disclosed that she runs her business from an office inside a Hoboken dental practice, where she trades consulting services for space. When asked by a reporter afte the proceeding if she paid taxes on the value of those bartered goods, as required by the Internal Revenue Service, Lopez raised her hand to her face and walked away.

Lopez won the race to replace disgraced Councilman Steven Lipski in an election riddled with corruption allegations. Lipski skipped re-election after being arrested last year for allegedly urinating on concertgoers in Washington, D.C.

Several members of the Municipal Council have been arrested by the FBI in the past four months for raising campaign contributions in exchange for their help with future permitting requests. Jimmy King, who finished second to Lopez and initiated the lawsuit against her, pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit extortion for accepting $10,000 from a developer secretly working for the FBI.

Raymaker, who finished third in the May race and intervened in the lawsuit after King's arrest, said the residency dispute shows the need for the Hudson County Democratic Party to begin conducting background checks on candidates.

Posted on: 2009/10/27 17:54
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Re: Anti-gay group plans protests in Jersey City
#6
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Thanks for the vid, R Pinkowitz. That put it all in perspective. I don't get it -- why did these people pick Jersey City of all places to protest?

Posted on: 2009/10/25 18:38
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Re: Jersey City Councilwoman Nidia Lopez a Florida Resident?
#7
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


What happens if she loses tomorrow?

Posted on: 2009/10/25 18:34
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Re: Commentary from the Politcal Insider: Healy not on Obama VIP list at Gov. Corzine rally
#8
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


The image of Jerry Healy with his nose pressed up against the window like Tiny Tim on Christmas morning...priceless.

Posted on: 2009/10/25 18:27
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Re: Support Norrice Raymaker's Lawsuit to Determine Nidia Lopez' Eligibility to Represent Ward C
#9
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Judge won't dismiss Nidia Lopez case, trial set for Oct. 26

By Melissa Hayes/The Jersey Journal
October 16, 2009, 1:04PM
Journal file photoJersey City Councilwoman Nidia Lopez will go on trial Oct. 26 for allegations she violated residency laws when she ran for office in May. A Superior Court judge declined to dismiss the case today. Jersey City Councilwoman Nidia Lopez will have to defend her residency in a trial beginning Oct. 26.

Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli denied Lopez' request for summary judgement today, which would have dimissed the case.

Norrice Raymaker, who ran unsuccessfully for City Council, is challenging Lopez' residency, contending the councilwoman's primary residence in is Florida. Lopez has not paid New Jersey income taxes in at least three years, but has filed federal taxes in Florida during that time. Florida does not have a state income tax.

Lopez tried to have the case dimissed on the grounds that it was filed more than 30 days after she was elected and that Raymaker should not have been able to take the case over for James King, who withdrew his claim after pleading guilty to corruption charges.

Raymaker's attorney Diane Jeffrey said the judge dismissed both those claims.

The trial is scheduled to begin in Superior Court Oct. 26.

Posted on: 2009/10/17 3:42
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Re: Times examines causes of corruption in NJ
#10
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Just watched the Guy Catrillo clip on YouTube, where Cory Booker heartily endorses him and the whole "Healy Team." Here's an idea -- why not start contacting Booker and ask him to renouce the Healy Team? And reach out to activists in Newark and get them to help with the effort to force the resignations of obviously corrupt political officials in JC?

Posted on: 2009/7/28 0:18
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Re: Several local politicians arrested on corruption charges
#11
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


During the public portion of the meeting this Wed, someone (or lots of people actually) should get up and just read from portions of Vega's criminal complaint. That's it, just read from it.

http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nj/press/2009releases.html

How arrogant of Vega to actually say the facts are on his side! The Feds have him on tape for God's sake and it's all in print now. He's just counting on being able to ride out the storm. It's really on us to stop him.

Posted on: 2009/7/27 21:43
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Re: Several local politicians arrested on corruption charges
#12
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


I bet JC Official 1, the high ranking official within the Health Department who helped Beldini and Shaw set up bribes for
"JC Official 4," is Harry Melendez. Someone should start a pool.

OKay, who'll be the first to start the recall drive?

Posted on: 2009/7/24 4:15
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Re: Most of the City Council is an Embarassment
#13
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Highlights from the meeting:

--Pete Brennan repeatedly referring to Mayor Healy as "our illustrious mayor." Can he get his head any farther up Healy's butt?

--Willie Flood. Her sentences were one long string of non-sequitors punctuated by repeated, irrelevant references to her gratitude for the good health of her children. Thankfully what finally stopped her was that she fell asleep. (For real!)

--Pete Brennan applauding vigorously after a speaker sited Healy for spending $3 million to get re-elected. Yea - go Healy! Fleeced 'um again! Hey, Pete, here's news for you -- it was a criticism.

--Sottolano's garbled ramblings. I didn't understand one word that man said all night.

--Kudos for Phil Kenny for occasionally breaking ranks and voting his conscience.

Posted on: 2009/6/20 16:32
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Re: please help= animal emergency
#14
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Not too shy to talk


They don't have any record of receiving the page from the police? What kind of crap is that?

Posted on: 2009/6/4 16:06
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Re: ANIMAL CONTROL dumps CATs/KiTTENS in Lincoln Park
#15
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Mariano Vega thinks the Division of Animal Control is capable of "self correcting?" What a joke. He obviously doesn't know, doesn't care, or pretends not to know the history. Well, Mariano, here's a bump for you -- explains why "self correction" is not possible or even reasonable.

Why are they so afraid to get regular citizens involved here? What else is going on at the Division of AC that they're trying to hide?

It's pretty clear to me that greater oversight of the Division of Animal Control is desperately needed. If this were any other municipality, they would toss Joe Frank out of that job IMMEDIATELY. We all know the history with this guy:


--In 2001 the SCI report revealed that Frank took a loan from SPCA president Ed Pulver, then "repaid" the loan by working there under an assumed name. All the while, Frank looked the other way as animals were abused and mistreated.

--In 2004, Frank seized 3 Shih Tzus from the apartment of a women who had been arrested. He took two to the shelter but took the third home -- after having it groomed and deflea'd at the City's expense, to give to his wife as a gift. When this was discovered, the Law Dept forced him to return the third dog to the shelter, but no disciplinary action was taken against him. The woman reclaimed all three dogs later.

--In 2005, Frank told his officers to enter a tenant's locked apartment and remove her dog, as a favor to the landlord (a friend of his wife) who had tried unsuccessfully to remove the dog through the courts. Two officers (Ross and Perez) refused, claiming this would be theft. The third (Machado) entered the apartment, snared the dog on a pole and cut its mouth, leaving a trail of blood up the stairs. He falsely signed it in at the shelter as a "stray." Later, Machado had a pang of guilt and told a mutual friend where she could find her dog. But not until after he issued her three bogus summons to cover up his misconduct. Those summons were all later dismissed by the prosecutor. A public outcry ensued to oust Joe Frank. After months of promising he would be gone, City officials let this peter out. No disciplinary action was ever taken.

--Also in 2005, Joe Frank filed bogus animal cruelty charges against the former shelter manager of LHS, Niki Dawson after threatening and harassing her for years. The charges were dismissed by the prosecutor. No disciplinary action was ever taken against Frank.

--In 2006, the City Council investigated Animal Control. Evidence was provided by animal advocates demonstrating Frank's long record of violating the Dangerous Dog law and animal cruelty laws. Most people he targets are low income and people of color. Despite the overwhelming evidence of habitual violations of dog owner's rights, no disciplinary action is ever taken, and no greater supervision or oversight is imposed upon him.

--In 2009, two ACOs admit to dumping a resident's pet cat in Lincoln Park. They are spotted dumping another cat there later that day. Vega (also in charge of the County Parks Dept) calls this an "isolated incident" and stands by Melendez who asks Frank to "investigate" the matter. A public outcry ensues; the State investigates and determines that rather than an isolated incident, cat-dumping (versus taking lost cats to the shelter) is AC's standard policy.

AC's failure to respond to after-hours animal emergencies has been a problem for years and apparently continues to be a problem.

Allow it to self correct? Are you kidding me?

Posted on: 2009/6/4 16:00
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Re: Disobedient Dog Owner
#16
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Not too shy to talk


If the dog is outside 24/7 without protection from the weather, direct sunlight, heat, no water, etc., that violates NJ's animal cruelty laws (could be either a disorderly persons offense or a felony, depending on how bad it is). All JC Animal Control Officers can investigate and prosecute this. The failure of JC ACOs to respond is unfortunately, not uncommon -- yet another reason we need an Animal Control Commission to oversee this department.

However, JC Animal Control is not the only agency that can investigate this. The NJ State SPCA can also. They're headquarters are in New Brunswick and they have an 800 number to report stuff like this. You can also call a local SPCA agent at 201-638-3600

But please, please, contact your Ward rep and Vega and the Mayor and let them know that once again, Joe Frank and crew are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. This goes on all the time and now there's a chance to actually do something about it.

Posted on: 2009/5/5 14:29
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Re: Double dipping on JC Council
#17
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Not too shy to talk


I wouldn't vote for either King or Lopez. Vote for Norrice Raymaker. It may only be a protest vote, but so be it.

Posted on: 2009/5/5 14:18
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Re: Double dipping on JC Council
#18
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Good list -- some corrections, though.

Nidia Lopez is not the Director of Welfare for the County. Her husband Ben Lopez is. She claims to be some kind of "consultant," i.e., runs her own business in Hoboken supposedly, where she allegedly finds jobs for women on welfare, but I could find no evidence of her business or what exactly she does. This bears more exploration.

I could not verify whether Viola Richardson still works for the Dept. of Corrections. She did in 2005 but not sure if she still does. She runs a nonprofit Civic Assoc. out of the Mary Bethune Center on MLK. Also, the pension she gets from the police dept. she earned while working as a cop, long before she ran for public office. So I'm not sure it's fair to criticize her for that now or describe it as "double dipping." It's certainly not the same thing as holding mutiple gov't jobs at the same time, like Brennan, Vega and Gaughan.

Also, Mariano Vega is not the head of Human Services for the county any longer. He runs the Parks Dept. This created a conflict of interest for him when JC Animal Control Officers were caught dumping cats in a county park (Lincoln Park). This conflict was never really explored.

Posted on: 2009/5/4 14:14
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Re: ANIMAL CONTROL dumps CATs/KiTTENS in Lincoln Park
#19
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


If anyone wants to contact Harry Melendez and ask him why he keeps shilling for the dogcatcher, his email is harrym@jcnj.org.

Just think, the guy who can't even rein in the dogcatcher is responsible for protecting us from the swine flu. Did a chill just go down your spine, too?

Posted on: 2009/5/1 16:42
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Re: Pit Bulls and other large menacing breeds banned from NYC public housing.
#20
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Not too shy to talk


I remember a couple of years ago, Peter Vallone passed a ban on ferrets as pets for anyone in NYC, because he was personally freaked out by them. I think it eventually got reversed.

Newark Public Housing also bans the so-called bully breeds.

But Boston Terriers?? Huh??

Posted on: 2009/5/1 16:40
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Re: ANIMAL CONTROL dumps CATs/KiTTENS in Lincoln Park
#21
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Now that everything is out in the open and we know that cat-dumping was Frank's policy (since 1976 apparently!), I wonder what, if any, controls have been put in place to monitor Frank and create more accountability? I mean, Harry Melendez is fighting the creation of the Animal Control Commission claiming it interferes with his job to oversee the Dept. of Health. So my question to Harry is

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE LATELY TO ENSURE JOE FRANK IS BEING PROPERLY SUPERVISED?

IF the answer is "nothing," then Harry should shut up and let the Council create the Commission.

He can't have it both ways.

Harry is also the one who can answer the question posed by many here, as to why in the hell Frank still has a job. Harry's the one who keeps defending Joe and protecting him.

Posted on: 2009/4/29 17:50
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Re: ANIMAL CONTROL dumps CATs/KiTTENS in Lincoln Park
#22
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Wow, Joe Frank gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "babbling idiot."

As much as it gives me satisfaction to watch Joe Frank admit he lied the first time around when he said cat-dumping was an "isolated incident" and not City policy, I'm amazed at how easily he throws his long-time friend and defender, Health Officer Joe Castagna, under the bus, blaming him for the policy.

And what about those poor guys who got a 5-day suspension for following this policy?

All of you who came out early on defending Joe Frank, saying you "couldn't believe" he would have knowingly condoned this -- how do you feel about him now?

Let's all email the link to the Council and Mayor. How can they keep denying they need more oversight of Animal Control???

City Hall, 280 Grove Street
Room 202
Jersey City, NJ 07302
Tel: (201) 547-5268
Fax: (201) 547-4678

Mariano Vega
email: mariano@jcnj.org

Hilario Nu?ez, Council Aide
Tel: (201) 547-5458
email: hnunez@jcnj.org

Peter Brennan
email: BrennanP@jcnj.org

Robert Noakes, Council Aide
Tel: (201) 547-5363
email: NoakesR@jcnj.org

Willie Flood
email: FloodW@jcnj.org

Yvette Gore-Bell, Council Aide
Tel: (201) 547-5108

Michael Sottolano
email: SottolanoM@jcnj.org

Robert Rybinski, Council Aide
Tel: (201) 547-5060
email: RybinskiR@jcnj.org

Phil Kenny
email:

Sonia Schulman, Council Aide
Tel: (201) 547-5101

Steve Lipski SUPPORTS ORDINANCE CREATING ANIMAL CONTROL COMMISSION
email: LipskiS@jcnj.org

Irina Zaki, Council Aide
Tel: (201) 547-5172
email:

Steven Fulop AUTHOR OF ANIMAL CONTROL COMMISSION ORDINANCE
FulopS@jcnj.org

Althea Bernheim, Council Aide
Tel: (201) 547-5283

Bill Gaughan HAS TRIED TO STALL ORDINANCE
email: bgaughan@hcnj.us

Bridget Dickson, Council Aide
Tel: (201) 547-6817

Viola Richardson SUPPORTS ANIMAL CONTROL COMMISSION ORDINANCE
email: RichardsonV@jcnj.org

Lorenzo Richardson, Council Aide
Tel: (201) 547-5361
email

Posted on: 2009/4/28 12:54
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Re: ANTS!
#23
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


God, if you find anything that works for good, let me know! We have been plagued by ants too. I've tried organic sprays and the usual RAID. The organic stuff gets rid of them for a few weeks but they always come back. Basically, they feed on the organic stuff and take it back to the next where it kills the others. So it reduces their numbers for a while. This solution is okay but requires repeated trips from the exterminator. Forget about Terminix and Orkin -- both rip offs. We also spray our sink, garbage cans, recycling, inside the dish washer wiith white vinegar so the ants aren't attracted. Keeps the numbers down too. We store sugary snacks, honey in plastic bags. Mostly its just maintenance, nothing permanent.

Posted on: 2009/4/25 15:38
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Re: Help Liberty Humane Win a Make Over!
#24
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Not too shy to talk


Does anyone know the outcome? How did Liberty do?

Posted on: 2009/4/23 17:12
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Re: ANIMAL CONTROL dumps CATs/KiTTENS in Lincoln Park
#25
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Lindad, you are absolutely correct. This issue is not just about animals. Everyone should be concerned about this. It's a good lesson in what this administration does when confronted with problems or ineffective government.

First, they deny anything is wrong, and lie to throw the public off track. Then, after public pressure, they admit maybe something might be wrong, but they minimize it, punish a couple of low-level employees, and claim "everything's fine now." They put the guy responsible for the problem in charge of "investigating" it -- clearly to get a preordained result. More self-serving slaps on the back that "everything is fine now." Then, after more public pressure and a public expose by Arnold Diaz, they admit maybe more oversight is needed, but drag their heels about passing the Commission/Ombudsman ordinance. They keep insisting they've "taken care of this" and it was an "isolated incident," and "everything is fine now."

Next, the State DOH investigates and concludes this was no isolated incident but Joe Frank's POLICY -- an illegal policy. The State DOH orders Melendez to a meeting to review all AC policies. More slaps on the back that "everything is fine now," and the Commission isn't needed. Public pressure mounts. The Council finally begins to realize this isn't going away.

So...the Law Dept on the eve of the second reading comes out with an opinion that Fulops' ordinance is "legally deficient" (a conclusion which other outside counsel dispute) and they will rewrite it. How convenient. In the face of intense public pressure, and with egg on their faces for how they handled this up till now, the Council is now enthusiastically in support of more oversight and looks forward to the new ordinance -- which will be here after the election. Surprise, surprise.

Is this the way government should operate? I don't think so, do you?

Posted on: 2009/4/23 16:55
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Re: ANIMAL CONTROL dumps CATs/KiTTENS in Lincoln Park
#26
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


FYI -- The JJ misreported the story -- the ordinances have not been tabled! They will be voted on this Wednesday.

Let's review why this oversight Commission is needed.

First, right after ACOs admitted to dumping Daisy in the park, Jennifer Morrill came out immediately and said the dumping of Daisy was an "isolated incident." (Ignoring the fact that people searching for Daisy saw the ACOs dump another cat in the park that day.)

Then, Director of Health Harry Melendez puts Joe Frank in charge of investigating the Division of Animal Control, i.e., puts Joe in charge of investigating himself.

The ACOs involved were "disciplined" by receiving a 5-day suspension (with or without pay, who knows).

Council President Vega announces everythings been taken care of and there's no more problem.

THEN....Arnold Diaz does an expose. Joe Frank adamantly denies repeatedly that dumping cats in public is his policy. Residents began asking the State Dept. of Health to independantly investigate this incident.

On April 9 the State Dept. of Health issues a letter stating its investigation found this was not an "isolated incident" but City policy (read: AC's or Joe Frank's policy) to release cats in public places. The letter says the policy violates state law regarding the handling of stray cats.

The State DOH requires Melendez and Frank to attend a meeting to go over Animal Control's policies to ensure there are no more illegal policies operating within the Division of AC.

NOW...the City is once again claiming "everything's been taken care of" and there's no more problem.

So, to wrap up, first the City tried to lie and say this was an isolated incident. They put Joe Frank in charge of investigating himself, an obvious attempt at a cover up. Then Arnold Diaz exposed the whole thing. Residents took matters into their own hands and demanded a State investigation. The State DOH found that in fact AC did have a policy to dump cats in public places and Frank's denials were bold-face lies. Residents expressed outrage and demanded the Council pass Fulop's ordinances creating an oversight Commission.

So the moral of the story is that it's up to ordinary residents to keep the pressure on or else the City will just try to duck and weave and lie and cover up.

Yeah, sure. Everything's fine now.

Posted on: 2009/4/21 18:02
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Re: ANIMAL CONTROL dumps CATs/KiTTENS in Lincoln Park
#27
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


I tried to import the letter from the State Dept. of Health but can't do it. Everyone who wrote to them got this letter. The important paragraphs are:

"Thank you for your recent inquiry into the animal control situation which occurred in Jersey City, where a stray cat picked up by animal control officers was later released in a nearby park by the officers.

In response to reports concerning this situation, the Office of Animal Welfare contacted the Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services, which supervises the city animal control unit. It was discovered that Jersey City has a policy that cats are considered to be free-roaming, and therefore, stray cats are not routinely picked up. Even when a stray cat is picked up (if it has entered a resident's house), it is not always impounded, but may be released.

The Jersey City Assistant Health Officer and Chief Animal Control Officer were immediately notified that this policy is not in conformance with State statutes, which requires all stray cats reported to or observed by an animal control officer to be roaming, or causing a nuisance or public health threat to be picked up and impounded or returned to the owner if it has identification. In response, Mr. Harry Melendez, Director, JCDHHS, contacted our office to express his deep concern over this matter and promise it will not happen again, as well as to request state guidance in reviewing their animal control policies and ensuring that proper procedures are followed in the future.

Considering there was a city policy to release cats as opposed to impounding them, we do not feel the animal control officers in question should have their certifications revoked for this incident."

There you have it. Since the Dept. of Health wrote this letter on April 9, we can assume their investigation as well as conversation with Melendez took place prior to that, which means when Melendez showed up at the Council Caucus on Monday April 6 all indignant at the suggestion that something was amiss in his Dept., and that reforms were required, he probably already knew that something was amiss in his Dept. and that reforms are required.

Posted on: 2009/4/17 13:05
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Re: ANIMAL CONTROL dumps CATs/KiTTENS in Lincoln Park
#28
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


I've just received word that Vega is stonewalling the Animal Control Commission ordinance. He won't put it on the agenda. Says the matter's already been "dealt with." Dealt with how? By putting Joe Frank in charge of investigating himself? By telling the officers involved that if they quietly take a one or two week suspension without pay, and agree to keep their mouths shut and not reveal that they were acting according to Joe Frank's policy, nothing else would happen to them? By trying to sweep this whole mess under the rug and hope no one will ask anymore questions, like WHY DID THE OFFICERS DO THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE? or Why can't Joe Frank manage his department? or What's being done to make sure something like this doesn't happen again?

Why doesn't Vega want a public hearing on this issue? What's he afraid of?

Please contact Vega and tell him you want the democratic process respected. The ordinances should be placed on the agenda so the Council can vote on them. mariano@jcnj.org and hnunez@jcnj.org

Posted on: 2009/4/6 23:28
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Re: ANIMAL CONTROL dumps CATs/KiTTENS in Lincoln Park
#29
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Councilman Fulop wants to introduce two ordinances at the next Council meeting (April 8) to address systemic problems within the Jersey City Division of Animal Control: one creating an Animal Control Commission to oversee Animal Control's policies and practices, and one creating an Ombudsman in the Mayor's Action Bureau to field and resolve problems with Animal Control.

If you support these ordinances, please contact Mariano Vega and ask him to put them on the Council agenda for the April 8 Council meeting. His email is mariano@jcnj.org. Please cc his aide: hnunez@jcnj.org His phone is (201) 547-5458. When you email, include your address and Ward.

See press release:

Jersey City Councilman Steven Fulop
Contact: Shelley Skinner 201-978-1474
For immediate release
Councilman Fulop proposes creation of Jersey City Animal Control Commission
New position of Animal Control Ombudsman to be created in the Mayor?s Action Bureau
(Jersey City, March 27, 2009) This week, Councilman Steve Fulop will introduce a new ordinance that would establish a Jersey City Animal Control Commission.
As a follow up the recent concerns of dumping cats in Lincoln Park, the ordinance outlines the commission?s mission and responsibilities while providing guidelines for the appointment of its members. An accompanying ordinance, if passed by the City Council, would also create a position of an Animal Control Ombudsman within the Office of the Mayor?s Action Bureau. This would be a similar structure to other cities across the country creating more accountability.
Under the auspices of a Jersey City Animal Control Commission the function, the animal control officer and inspectors would fall under the accountability of this commission, and the Ombudsman, would fall under the prevue of the Mayor and Council.
?Whether its issues with the local SPCA, allegations of animal cruelty or a general lack of responsiveness, it is clear that something needs to be done with the animal control situation in Jersey City,? said Councilman Fulop.
?An Animal Control Commission would provide direct oversight to the Animal Control Ombudsman which would improve the functionality and responsiveness of animal control related services in Jersey City,? concluded Fulop.

# # # # #
Attached is the ordinance that would establish the Jersey City Animal Control Commission and the ordinance that would create an Animal Control Ombudsman in the Jersey City Mayor?s Action Bureau.

Proposed Ordinance:

Purpose: The purpose of the Animal Control Commission shall be to develop and track measurable objectives to ensure a competent Animal Control program.


Powers and Duties of Commission: The Animal Control Commission shall be empowered to:
(A) Assess existing policies and procedures both for their competency, relevance to community needs, and adherence to the requirements of state and local laws;
(B) Identify existing needs within the community for an improved Animal Control response;
(C) Ensure the municipality has a competent Animal Control program, which includes setting standards for Animal Control Officers consistent with those established state law; evaluating job performance; and making recommendations for continuing education requirements.
(D) Receive and handle citizens? complaints and work with the Division of Animal Control to ensure the appropriate response;
(E) Monitor compliance with the requirements of the State Sanitary Code and all applicable state and local laws, and make recommendations to the Director of the Department of Health, Business Administrator, Mayor and Council for appropriate action to ensure compliance and correct noncompliance;
(E) Make recommendations to the Mayor and Council concerning the development of codes, regulations and legislation to authorize and guide the practice of Animal Control.
(F) Review the City?s animal shelter management contract when it comes up for renewal, and make recommendations to the Mayor and Council concerning the terms thereof and compliance therewith, including advising the Business Administrator concerning the development of any Request for Proposals issued by the City.
(G) Monitor compliance with the City?s animal shelter management contract and issue an annual report to the Mayor and Council.

Membership; Appointments: The Animal Control Commission shall consist of __ members, appointed as follows:
(1) 2 members appointed by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the Council;
(2) 2 members from each ward shall be appointed by the Ward Council person.
(3) 5 ex officio members consisting of the Mayor, Council President, Chief of Police; Director of Health and Human Services; and Chief Animal Control Officer for the Division of Animal Control. Any ex officio member may designate a member of his or her staff to attend a meeting of the Commission as a representative of the ex officio member.
(4) The Commission shall consist of representatives from various segments of the community, including but not limited to veterinarians, dog trainers, animal shelter personnel, animal rescue volunteers, disaster planning and response volunteers, and should be affiliated with animal welfare organizations concerned with the health, legal, and housing needs of domesticated animals. Preference should be given to those individuals who have satisfactorily completed the Animal Control Officers? Certification course established by NJSA 4:19-15.16
(5) Of the members first appointed, ___ shall serve for a term of two years; and ___ shall serve for three years. Thereafter, each member shall be appointed for a three-year term and shall serve until a successor is appointed. Vacancies caused by resignation or otherwise shall be filled for the unexpired term by the Mayor or Ward Council person, where appropriate, upon advice and consent of the Council.
(6) The Commission shall elect a Chairperson, Vice Chair person, and Executive Secretary, who shall serve for a term of one year, at the pleasure of the Commission, and without compensation.

Meetings: The Commission shall meet at least once every month at a time fixed by the members of the Commission. The Chairperson, or in the absence of the Chairperson the Vice Chairperson, may call special meetings.


Cooperation of City Departments and Agencies:
A. The Mayor shall through the Director of Health and Human Services, subject to available appropriation, provide for the adequate functioning of the Commission.
B. All city departments and agencies shall cooperate with the Commission.
C. The Director of the Department of Health, the Health Officer, and the Chief Animal Control Officer for the Division of Animal Control shall provide and make available to the members of the Commission copies of relevant documents, upon request.


?3-50.1.1 Animal Control Ombudsman Created

Within the Mayor?s Action Bureau shall be established:
A. An Ombudsman to handle citizens? complaints and inquiries on all aspects of the functioning of the Division of Animal Control.
B. The Ombudsman shall be empowered to:
(1) Receive and handle citizens? complaints and work with the Division
of Animal Control to ensure an appropriate response;
(2) Monitor compliance with the requirements of the State Sanitary
Code and all applicable state and local laws pertaining to Animal
Control, and make recommendations to the Director of the
Department of Health, Business Administrator, Mayor and Council
for appropriate action to assure compliance and correct
noncompliance;
(3) Make recommendations to the Mayor and Council concerning the
development of codes, regulations and legislation to authorize and
guide the policies and practice of Animal Control.
(4) Monitor compliance with the City?s contract for animal shelter
management, receive and handle citizens? complaints and work
with the contractor to ensure an appropriate response within the
terms of the contract;
(5) Make recommendations to the Mayor and Council concerning the
terms of the animal shelter management contract, including
advising the Business Administrator concerning the development
of any Request for Proposals issued by the City.

C. The Director of the Department of Health, the Health Officer, and the Chief
Animal Control Officer for Division of Animal Control shall provide and
make available to the Ombudsman copies of relevant documents, upon request.
D. Within 180 days of his/her appointment, the Ombudsman must enroll in the
Animal Control Officers? Certification course described in NJSA 4:19-15.16 and shall have satisfactorily completed the course within one (1) year of his/her appointment.

Posted on: 2009/4/3 19:35
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Did Matsikoudis perjure himself? You decide
#30
Not too shy to talk
Not too shy to talk


Did Bill Matsikous perjure himself in court last month?

The Jersey Journal reported yesterday that on January 28, Hudson county Superior Court judge Shirley Tolentino threw out a malicious prosecution case filed by former Liberty Humane Society manager Nicole Dawson against Jersey City Animal Control Officer Joe Frank. The reason? Frank had relied on advice of counsel when he filed animal cruelty charges against her in October, 2005. (The prosecutor dismissed the case against Dawson a few months after Frank filed charges.) And on whose advice does Frank say he relied? None other than Corporation Counsel himself, Billy Matsikoudis.

Here's the problem. For three years now, neither Frank nor Billy M have ever mentioned this. Reliance on counsel is an absolute defense to a malicious prosecution case, meaning if this is true, the case could have been dismissed three years ago. And yet Billy remained silent this whole time and allowed both Frank and the City to endure a lengthy and expensive litigation. He even went before the Council four times to request allocation of funds for Frank's outside legal defense -- $56,000 of the taxpayer's money has been spent to defend Frank as of November 12, 2008.

Neither the City nor Frank raised "advice of counsel" as a defense or in any motion before the court. Not until the day of trial did Billy M have a memory jolt. He even got up out of bed and drove through the snow storm from Red Bank to testify at the courthouse on Newark Avenue. And Mr. Frank apparently forgot about this discussion too. Apparently, if you don't raise a defense before trial, you can't raise it at trial. But thankfully, Judge Tolentino had Billy's back.

There's more. When a public outcry ensued in 2005-06 after Frank charged Dawson -- someone he had relentlessly pursued for years and had repeatedly threatened he would eventually take down -- Matsikoudis said nothing. To activists, he expressed astonishment and promised to have Frank removed from his job as Chief ACO. Check out his quotes in the JJ and Huson Reporter via google. He appeared at numerous Council meetings and participated in discussions concerning "What should we do about Mr. Frank?" And not once did he pipe up and say, You know, Frank only did what I told him to.

Then three years of silence. And $56,000 of the taxpayers money.

Hmmm.

So I ask you, is Bill Matsikoudis just a coward who threw Joe Frank under the bus in 2005-06, rather than face public outrage? Did he deliberately misled the Council (his client), and then for years kept silent throughout an expensive litigation, even misusing taxpayer money in an effort to cover his own ass? Or did he just perjure himself last month to save Frank from a damages award?

Liar or coward? You decide.

Posted on: 2009/2/22 17:11
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