News Media

Content Posted by News Media

Hoboken, developer get June court date in garage site battle

A court date has been set for the lawsuit over the sale of the municipal garage site to a developer who plans to put up residential housing.

In January, MDK Development LLC filed a lawsuit against the city and developer S.Hekemian Group, which won the right to buy the property, charging that the city's bidding process was "arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable," and violates the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.

Somerset man frustrated over 2006 Hoboken meeting. Three agencies decline to investigate after he writes letters

John Paff, a political watchdog from Somerset County, has been fighting for two years to get answers about a meeting that took place in Hoboken in 2006.

CLOSED QUARTERS? According to John Paff, an invitation-only meeting called by Mayor David Roberts in 2006 to discuss the school district was in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act. But there was no governmental body willing to follow through on Paff’s allegation.  

In an area known for its corrupt politicians and - lately - lawsuits over access to public records, governmental openness is very important to taxpayers.

But not all of them have time or money to fight for it.

This is especially true if it's happening in a different town than their own.

Canceling bond deals to cost state millions

[New Jersey] Taxpayers are scheduled to pay a New York investment bank $12 million this week to back out of an ill-fated deal that was supposed to lock in low interest rates on state bonds for 20 years.

The fee to Merrill Lynch comes on top of the tens of millions of dollars already paid out by state agencies, hospitals and colleges since the once-placid market for bonds called auction-rate securities collapsed amid investor skittishness in February. 

It would cost the state $513 million to cancel all 33 swaps in the state's portfolio ahead of schedule, according to the state's latest accounting through March 31.

Missing money in the Hoboken Parking Utility

And people wonder why Hoboken has a budget crisis.

Aside from property taxes, parking meter collection is one of Hoboken's biggest revenue sources. But for a two-year period between 2005 and 2007, Hoboken was owed almost $600,000 dollars from a South Jersey company it hired to run its parking meter collection. The city is now looking to collect interest on that money.

In Dec. 2005, Hoboken hired Toms River-based United Textile Fabricators to collect their parking meter coins and return the money to the City. Almost immediately, Hoboken's parking meter revenue dropped. According to an internal audit from the Hoboken Parking Utility, in Nov. 2005, the city made $115,512.82 from the meters; UTF took over the next month and only handed in only $74,470.00.

McCain Girls Are Your New Jalopy

The McCain Girls Have Arrived, and They Have Umbrellas

Barack Obama had the Obama Girl, but now John McCain has a troop of "girls" of his own.

On March 14th, the self-proclaimed "McCain Girls" released a YouTube video "It's Raining McCain," which quietly sat in YouTube limbo for a week until being picked up by The Huffington Post late Friday. On Saturday, the video started to go viral and has now picked up so much steam -- and more than 218,000 views, which is a lot, considering the excruciating material -- that it has become a "most blogged" video, according to Google Video.

Lawmakers to push for improved public access to government

"New Jersey has an exceptional number of issues around open government and open meetings," said Beth Mason, the foundation's president. "Sunshine Week offers a tremendous opportunity for New Jerseyans to learn about what works, what doesn't and solutions on the horizon."

Two New Jersey lawmakers want to make it easier for citizens to learn what their elected officials are up to.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman Joseph Cryan on Tuesday plan to discuss proposed legislation to improve public access to government.

The legislation is being touted in conjunction with Sunshine Week, a nationwide effort by media organizations to draw attention to the public's right to know.

The measures will be discussed at a Statehouse event sponsored by The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government.  New Jersey has an exceptional number of issues around open government and open meetings," said Beth Mason, the foundation's president. "Sunshine Week offers a tremendous opportunity for New Jerseyans to learn about what works, what doesn't and solutions on the horizon."

Cop union chief: SWAT penalties unfair, too harsh

PBA President speaks out on the unfairness of SWAT punishment

The president of the union representing Hoboken's rank and file officers is describing the departmental charges filed by the city against his members in connection with the SWAT team scandal as unfair and is accusing the media coverage of creating a "lynch-mob mentality."

"The level of recommended discipline is not only excessive but also unfair," said Vince Lombardi, president of the Policeman's Benevolent Association, in a recent statement.

The city announced last week that nine cops have been accused of violating several provisions of state administrative code and departmental rules and procedures. Officials said sanctions against the cops range from a 10-day suspension to termination, but would not be specific.

Close to settling suit over Hoboken records

Councilwoman Beth Mason may be close to settling one of her lawsuits concerning transparency in government - this time with the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority.

"The lawyers have worked out the basis for an agreement," said Ira Karasick, an attorney for HMHA.

Both sides stress the agreement has not been finalized and must be approved by HMHA's board of directors - by no means a sure thing. The board next meets March 26.

"The board wants to resolve the litigation," said George Crimmins, HMHA's executive director. "It's a matter of what that resolution is."

HE'S CA$HING OUT Despite scandal, chief will get pension - plus a termination bonus

Retiring a few years early will leave 59-year-old Police Chief Carmen LaBruno with a comfortable landing - and may cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The city has not yet sealed a deal with the chief, sources say, but he is expected to announce this week that he will retire at the end of June, sources have told The Jersey Journal.

LaBruno, who has been chief for the past 18 years, has been under pressure for his role in two SWAT team trips to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina - one in September 2005 and the other during Mardi Gras 2006.

SWAT probe costing Hoboken

Mayor David Roberts has recruited some experienced lawyers to show the city is being "fair and impartial" in its investigation of nine unnamed officers charged in connection the SWAT scandal.

But others say that the city is prepared to throw a few lower-ranking police officers under the bus and pay top dollar to shield itself from further litigation.

Roberts said that he asked criminal defense lawyer Paul Condon, a former Essex County prosecutor, at $150 an hour, to present disciplinary charges on behalf the city in administrative proceedings.