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No indcitments for Hoboken police brass

Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio decided today not to seek indictments against the Hoboken police chief and a lieutenant who headed up the now-disbanded SWAT team, both of whom were accused of ordering subordinates to do work at their houses on police time.

DeFazio said there was not enough evidence against Chief Carmen LaBruno and Lt. Angelo Andriani, both of whom found themselves at the center of controversy after photos surfaced of SWAT cops cavorting with Hooters waitresses -- who were seen holding the officers' guns -- and with topless women at Mardi Gras during relief missions to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"We sent the matter back to Hoboken for their review and administrative action as they deem appropriate," DeFazio said. "It was concluded that criminal charges should not be pursued against Lt. Andriani or any other police personnel involved."

Hot water shortage wreaking havoc on tenants' routines

Residents of the city's public housing complex have resorted to bathing in kitchen sinks, getting up at 4 a.m. to shower and using paper plates due to chronic hot water shortages that have lasted nearly three months.

Tenants of 311 Harrison St. and 310 Jackson St. said there is no hot water in the early morning when people are trying to shower for work and school. Hot water returns in the late morning and afternoon, but by 6 p.m. the water is ice cold after residents return and compete for the limited supplies.

Newark officer fighting rebuke - He was suspended over Internet blog

A Newark police officer has filed a federal lawsuit that accuses the police department of violating his constitutional rights by suspending him without pay for anonymously criticizing his superiors on an Internet forum.

The suit by Officer Louis Wohlt man accuses the department of using improper subpoenas to ob tain his identity from an Internet provider, Optimum Online, and the Web forum,

Wohltman's attorneys, Rubin Sinins and Frank Corrado, said they hope the suit will break new ground in establishing the right of public employees to speak freely on the Internet without fear of reprisal.

Reverse Gallipoli ruling that KO'd pay-to-play suit

A Hoboken watchdog group has the right to sue the city in an effort to enforce a municipal "pay-to-play" ordinance, a state appeals court said yesterday.

The court slapped down a prior decision by Hudson County Assignment Judge Maurice J. Gallipoli, who ruled in April 2006 that People for Open Government had no legal standing to bring a lawsuit - filed just before the June 2005 municipal runoff election - challenging what it saw as a failure to enforce the ordinance.

A three-judge panel of the Appellate Division of Superior Court said yesterday it disagreed and sent the matter back to the lower court.

"The individual plaintiffs in this case of great public interest have sufficient private interest to confer standing to prosecute this suit," the panel ruled.

POG claims in the lawsuit that a slate led by Hoboken Mayor David Roberts collected more than $1 million in campaign contributions from businesses that had no-bid professional contracts with the city, in violation of the "Hoboken Public Contracting Reform Ordinance," which voters approved by a 9-to-1 margin in a 2004 ballot initiative.

Former transsexual cop opens up

Former transsexual cop opens up

Now a 'real' woman, Lt. Aiello talks about life after Hoboken PD

In the spring of 1995, Hoboken motorcycle police officer John Aiello told his superiors that when he returned from his leave, it would be as a woman named Janet.

Rumors of the situation began circulating around the mile-square city, but police officials refused to confirm them for the press. Finally, in July of 1995, the New York Post landed an interview with Aiello, then slapped the officer's photo on their cover with the headline, "Sex-op cop fights for job."

The media promptly descended on the mile-square city, and a media frenzy ensued, with a New York radio DJ calling Aiello "one ugly woman."

School board fights about nepotism policy, salary increases

The Hoboken school board ended its 2007 calendar year with arguments among the same board factions that have defined meetings since back in April, when three newly elected "reform" candidates took their seats shortly after the district received a new superintendent.

Although Tuesday's meeting began with 15 eighth graders from the Brandt and Demarest schools singing Christmas carols, the goodwill quickly evaporated into heated exchanges between school board members and at times the public.

The most controversial issue of the night was the first reading of the state's new nepotism policy for the schools, which the state Department of Education is requiring all 31 Abbott school districts (urban "special needs" districts receiving special state aid) to adopt.

The measure proved controversial because the policy calls for the "prohibiting [of] any relative of a board member or chief school administrator from being employed in an office or position in that school district."

The policy was created with the intent of avoiding "both the reality and appearance of conflict of interest in employment," according to the resolution.

Several board members were offended by the resolution, arguing that the measure could be discriminatory against future district employees who have good qualifications but are related to a board member or administrator.

The measure would not penalize any current employees who are already related to a board member or administrator.

Several school board members reacted passionately to the resolution, with former Board President James Farina, who is also the longtime city clerk, describing the policy as "unconstitutional" and warning of potential litigation against the district as a result.

It's Sold - 12- and 8-story buildings will replace Observer Highway Garage

(Click image to hear HANY AHMED's comments to the Hoboken City Council regarding the garage sale)

If all goes as planned, Hoboken residents will soon become accustomed to a new, 8- to 12-story residential complex stretching from Newark Street to Observer Highway as a result of the council’s decision to approve the sale of the Municipal Public Works Garage during Thursday evening’s special session.  

After five years of discussions and setbacks, the City Council finally approved a resolution Thursday night to accept a $25.5 million bid for the city's 1.1-acre Observer Highway Public Works Garage.

In return, a developer will be allowed to build a 240-unit residential structure that will rise to eight stories along Newark Street and 12 stories along Observer Highway.

Conflicts of interest on police investigation?

Recently elected 2nd Ward Councilwoman Elizabeth Mason, who ran on a platform of reform and open government, caused heated discussion with two of her moves at Monday evening's City Council meeting.

At the meeting, she addressed the City Council and asked for a recall of Hoboken's recently appointed public safety director, William Bergin, and also repeated her call for an outside investigation into the recent police SWAT team scandal.

Originally, Mason endorsed Bergin's appointment three weeks ago. But her change of heart came, she said, was based on two possible conflicts of interest.

After Setbacks, Corzine Looks to Make Up for Lost Time

Battered by a year of personal and political hardships, Gov. Jon S. Corzine is struggling to catch a second wind.

“I think the next six months are extraordinarily important in being able to bring to fruition a lot of the things we’ve been working on,” Mr. Corzine said in a recent interview. “And on that score I’m optimistic.”

In April, just as Mr. Corzine began to embark on an ambitious agenda, he was severely injured in a traffic accident and then endured months of painful rehabilitation.

Through it all, he faced mounting criticism from Republicans and fellow Democrats and opposition from the public over his proposal to slash the state’s debt by refinancing its toll roads. He also fended off persistent questions about whether his dealings with a former companion, who is also an influential labor leader, had improperly intruded into the public’s business.

Proposed city budget soars to $87M. Expect 2.49 percent property tax increase; public hearings Wed, Thur

Mayor David Roberts introduced the city’s proposed 2007-2008 Fiscal Year budget of $87 million to the council this past Wednesday, the largest spending increase in many years. The city plans to hold two public meetings about the budget in the coming week.

Prepare for one of the biggest city spending hikes in 14 years - with a tax increase as a result. At this past Wednesday's council meeting, Mayor David Roberts introduced the proposed city budget for July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. If approved at a future meeting, it will see a spending increase of $8 million from last year, to $87 million.

Included in the budget is a 2.49 percent tax increase, which for the average homeowner is an increase of $221 per year for every $250,000 of assessed property, according to Roberts.