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Citizen Watchdog Summit with the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

Citizen Watchdog Summit with the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity

We’ve all heard stories of wasteful spending, egregious cases of government abuse and overreach, of double dipping politicians, and even closed door meetings. But why aren’t these stories being told in the media?

That’s where engaged citizens like YOU come into play. We need your help to be government watchdogs in New Jersey.

To learn more, join us at the Atlantic City Convention Center on Saturday, May 18.

 

PARTYTIME IN HOBOKEN, Thursday night joins Friday and Saturday 3:00a.m. Bar closing!

On May 2, 2012, the Hoboken City Council passed an Ordinance amending Chapter 68 "Alcoholic Beverages" to change and update the hours of operation of licensed liquor establishments.

Viewing the City Council meeting video, one would tend to believe the City's reason for making the changes “the City Council wishes to more closely align the City's hours of operation for licensed establishments with the modern holidays recognized and celebrated by the City of Hoboken."

There were no public speakers and no substantive discussion among Council members.  Short, sweet, and the ordinance passed on the second reading.  

Upon closer examination of the “well intentioned changes,” Hoboken now has THREE late night bar closings!  Either by accident or design, Thursday night joins Friday and Saturday nights with lucrative 3:00a.m. closings.

Changing City Council procedures

The Board of Directors of People for Open Government (POG) invited you, and any council colleagues you chose, to meet with us in a public forum to discuss problems with the way the City Council conducts its business. In reply, you have said that, instead of such a meeting, POG should send you a list of remedies to the problems we have identified. POG expects the City Council and city administration to be willing to meet with citizen groups on public issues. Such meetings would foster the accountable and transparent government to which POG is dedicated. Inasmuch as you are unwilling or unavailable to meet with us, this letter will inform you of our thinking.

HUMC sale under scrutiny, Ex-Hoboken cop launches lawsuit over blocked records request

A former police officers’ private investigation into the dealings surrounding the hospital sale has come to a screeching halt after he was barred from accessing records from a related agency.

Ex-Hoboken cop Ed Mecka filed a lawsuit in the Hudson County Superior Court last week against Hudson Healthcare, Inc., (HHI) after his request for access to the organization’s records was blocked.

According to the complaint, Mecka filed an OPRA (Open Public Records Act) request to obtain materials from a July HHI Board of Directors meeting, including a list of attendees at the meeting, and a resolution passed by the board. Mecka’s request, however, was blocked by the HHI, who, according to the complaint, claimed that it was not a “public agency,” and therefore not subject to the Open Public Records Act.

Westerly Holdco Submits Offer for Westerly Hospital in Rhode Island

Westerly Holdco and NS Healthcare Holdco are affiliated with IJKG Opco, a hospital management company in Bayonne, N.J. IJKG Opco owns Hoboken (N.J.) University Medical Center, Bayonne (N.J.) Medical Center and was recently approved by a bankruptcy judge to purchase Christ Hospital in Jersey City, N.J., through Hudson Holdco, another affiliate.

Conflicts of Interest for Municipal Officials In New Jersey

Some of the requirements of the Local Government Ethics Law, set forth at N.J.S.A. 40A: 9-22.1 et seq., are relatively straightforward and easy to understand. Local public officials must file financial disclosure statements under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.6, and members of independent authorities cannot do business with or appear before those authorities for a year after they leave the body under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(b).

However, perhaps the central concept of this law, enacted in 1991 to restore and preserve the public trust in local government, is far less clear. Exactly what type of interest must an official have in a given issue to create a conflict sufficient to prevent him or her from participating in any decisions concerning the matter?

UPDATE: APRIL 20, 2012, Mecka vs. Hudson Healthcare, Inc.

Excerpts from Mecka vs. Hudson Healthcare, Inc., filed April 10, 2012 Hudson County Superior Court by attorney Walter Luers, LLC, Clinton, New Jersey.  

N.J. Senate panel approves bill requiring for-profit hospitals to post financial information

As another bidding war over a struggling nonprofit hospital heats up in North Jersey, a Senate panel today took aim at the spread of for-profit hospitals by approving a bill that would require they disclose financial information to the public.

Any hospital that wants a share of the state "charity care" fund for treating uninsured patients would have to supply information detailing their operating budget, such as sources of income, its business holdings and salaries, and other information nonprofit entities are required to file with the IRS, according to bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen).

The state Department of Health and Senior Services would collect and post the information on its website, according to the bill, (S782).

UPDATE: MARCH 19, 2012, OPRA Request Filed with Hoboken University Medical Center’s Former Manager, Hudson Healthcare, Inc.

Attorney Richard Gutman replied to HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC.’s denial of my February 24, 2012 OPRA request.  It is our legal position that the CITY OF HOBOKEN created the private non-profit HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC. to manage HOBOKEN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER for the HOBOKEN MUNICIPAL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY.   Supreme Court of New Jersey, The TIMES OF TRENTON PUBLISHING CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. LAFAYETTE YARD COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellant.

We are confident that, if necessary, the Courts will rule that the non-profit HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC. is subject to the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.

Contractor Charged with Agreeing to Bribe Union City Official for Constuction Approvals

A Union City, New Jersey contractor appeared in court today to face a federal charge that he agreed to give bribes and corrupt payments in connection with a Union City Zoning Board matter, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Bryant Venegas, 26, of Clifton, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with one count of knowingly and corruptly agreeing to give a bribe. Venegas surrendered this morning to the FBI and appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court. He was released on a $50,000 bond.

Recent Articles

Citizen Watchdog Summit with the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

Citizen Watchdog Summit with the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity

We’ve all heard stories of wasteful spending, egregious cases of government abuse and overreach, of double dipping politicians, and even closed door meetings. But why aren’t these stories being told in the media?

That’s where engaged citizens like YOU come into play. We need your help to be government watchdogs in New Jersey.

To learn more, join us at the Atlantic City Convention Center on Saturday, May 18.

 

PARTYTIME IN HOBOKEN, Thursday night joins Friday and Saturday 3:00a.m. Bar closing!

On May 2, 2012, the Hoboken City Council passed an Ordinance amending Chapter 68 "Alcoholic Beverages" to change and update the hours of operation of licensed liquor establishments.

Viewing the City Council meeting video, one would tend to believe the City's reason for making the changes “the City Council wishes to more closely align the City's hours of operation for licensed establishments with the modern holidays recognized and celebrated by the City of Hoboken."

There were no public speakers and no substantive discussion among Council members.  Short, sweet, and the ordinance passed on the second reading.  

Upon closer examination of the “well intentioned changes,” Hoboken now has THREE late night bar closings!  Either by accident or design, Thursday night joins Friday and Saturday nights with lucrative 3:00a.m. closings.

Changing City Council procedures

The Board of Directors of People for Open Government (POG) invited you, and any council colleagues you chose, to meet with us in a public forum to discuss problems with the way the City Council conducts its business. In reply, you have said that, instead of such a meeting, POG should send you a list of remedies to the problems we have identified. POG expects the City Council and city administration to be willing to meet with citizen groups on public issues. Such meetings would foster the accountable and transparent government to which POG is dedicated. Inasmuch as you are unwilling or unavailable to meet with us, this letter will inform you of our thinking.

HUMC sale under scrutiny, Ex-Hoboken cop launches lawsuit over blocked records request

A former police officers’ private investigation into the dealings surrounding the hospital sale has come to a screeching halt after he was barred from accessing records from a related agency.

Ex-Hoboken cop Ed Mecka filed a lawsuit in the Hudson County Superior Court last week against Hudson Healthcare, Inc., (HHI) after his request for access to the organization’s records was blocked.

According to the complaint, Mecka filed an OPRA (Open Public Records Act) request to obtain materials from a July HHI Board of Directors meeting, including a list of attendees at the meeting, and a resolution passed by the board. Mecka’s request, however, was blocked by the HHI, who, according to the complaint, claimed that it was not a “public agency,” and therefore not subject to the Open Public Records Act.

Westerly Holdco Submits Offer for Westerly Hospital in Rhode Island

Westerly Holdco and NS Healthcare Holdco are affiliated with IJKG Opco, a hospital management company in Bayonne, N.J. IJKG Opco owns Hoboken (N.J.) University Medical Center, Bayonne (N.J.) Medical Center and was recently approved by a bankruptcy judge to purchase Christ Hospital in Jersey City, N.J., through Hudson Holdco, another affiliate.

Conflicts of Interest for Municipal Officials In New Jersey

Some of the requirements of the Local Government Ethics Law, set forth at N.J.S.A. 40A: 9-22.1 et seq., are relatively straightforward and easy to understand. Local public officials must file financial disclosure statements under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.6, and members of independent authorities cannot do business with or appear before those authorities for a year after they leave the body under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(b).

However, perhaps the central concept of this law, enacted in 1991 to restore and preserve the public trust in local government, is far less clear. Exactly what type of interest must an official have in a given issue to create a conflict sufficient to prevent him or her from participating in any decisions concerning the matter?

UPDATE: APRIL 20, 2012, Mecka vs. Hudson Healthcare, Inc.

Excerpts from Mecka vs. Hudson Healthcare, Inc., filed April 10, 2012 Hudson County Superior Court by attorney Walter Luers, LLC, Clinton, New Jersey.  

N.J. Senate panel approves bill requiring for-profit hospitals to post financial information

As another bidding war over a struggling nonprofit hospital heats up in North Jersey, a Senate panel today took aim at the spread of for-profit hospitals by approving a bill that would require they disclose financial information to the public.

Any hospital that wants a share of the state "charity care" fund for treating uninsured patients would have to supply information detailing their operating budget, such as sources of income, its business holdings and salaries, and other information nonprofit entities are required to file with the IRS, according to bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen).

The state Department of Health and Senior Services would collect and post the information on its website, according to the bill, (S782).

UPDATE: MARCH 19, 2012, OPRA Request Filed with Hoboken University Medical Center’s Former Manager, Hudson Healthcare, Inc.

Attorney Richard Gutman replied to HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC.’s denial of my February 24, 2012 OPRA request.  It is our legal position that the CITY OF HOBOKEN created the private non-profit HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC. to manage HOBOKEN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER for the HOBOKEN MUNICIPAL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY.   Supreme Court of New Jersey, The TIMES OF TRENTON PUBLISHING CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. LAFAYETTE YARD COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellant.

We are confident that, if necessary, the Courts will rule that the non-profit HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC. is subject to the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.

Contractor Charged with Agreeing to Bribe Union City Official for Constuction Approvals

A Union City, New Jersey contractor appeared in court today to face a federal charge that he agreed to give bribes and corrupt payments in connection with a Union City Zoning Board matter, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Bryant Venegas, 26, of Clifton, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with one count of knowingly and corruptly agreeing to give a bribe. Venegas surrendered this morning to the FBI and appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court. He was released on a $50,000 bond.

Recent News

Hoboken to hire 15 new cops tomorrow

  • News Item
  • January 23, 2008
Hoboken to hire 15 new cops tomorrow Tuesday January 22, 2008, Jersey Journal Fifteen new cops will be sworn in tomorrow in an official ceremony at City Hall, said Public Safety Director Bill Bergin today. At tomorrow's ceremony,...

Mayor seeks resumes St. Mary Hospital Board of Advisors

  • News Item
  • August 12, 2006
Erratic behavior?Mayor David Roberts is inviting residents interested in the future of St. Mary Hospital to submit resumes to serve as community representatives on its Board of Advisors. ...

Automated Parking Garage 08/04/2006 The GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY

  • News Item
  • August 4, 2006
The GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY reports on Hoboken's 916 Garden Street Automated Parking Garage fiasco....

Deja vu for the democratic party

  • News Item
  • August 3, 2006
It is often said that history repeats itself.  That said, will New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s  recent state sales tax increases lead to a taxpayer backlash in the upcoming November elections?...

you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig

  • News Item
  • July 26, 2006
You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig The untold secrets behind Hoboken's 916 Garden Street Automated Garage....

Taxpayers, hold on to your seats and wallets....

  • News Item
  • July 26, 2006
Taxpayers, hold on to your seats and wallets.... Looks like the bumpy "on again off again" relationship between Hoboken and ROBOTIC, the operators of the automated parking garage, is heading to Federal Court.  Published reports indicate...