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Kenner mayor visits mile-square city. Thanks Hoboken residents for generosity after Hurricane Katrina disaster

Kenner, Louisiana Mayor Phil Capitano and representatives from his city were in Hoboken last week to express their appreciation for the residents' charitable donations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Shortly after the hurricane hit in August, the Hoboken City Council voted to "adopt" Kenner, a town of about of 70,000, which is about 15 miles west of New Orleans.

Residents donated baby food, baby wipes, diapers, flashlights, batteries, and a multitude of other supplies. Enough items were collected to fill an 18-wheel tractor trailer.

Last month, Mayor David Roberts and Councilman Michael Russo were part of a large group that embarked on a 30-hour, 1,300-mile journey to Kenner.

Possible $86M budget is very serious business!

Dear Editor:

I accepted Mayor David Robert's appointment as an Advisor for $1.00 per year to provide advice and suggestions to help with financial planning and quality of life issues important to the taxpayers and residents of the City of Hoboken. At that time I was not aware that the 2008 fiscal year budget (yet to submitted) would rise to $86 million from the current budget of $78 million.

Cops Gone Wild - City upset after Hoboken police caught partying with Hooters women

Weeks after five Latino police officers sued the city, claiming they were the victims of racial discrimination by a white lieutenant, the Hoboken Police Department is again reeling after a series of embarrassing photos were released by the plaintiffs' attorney.

The photos show members of the Hoboken SWAT Team - in uniform - partying with women from the restaurant/bar "Hooters," while on their way home from their trip to Louisiana to aid in the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina.

Although the officers were off-duty at the time of the party or parties, the police were seen in uniform partying and apparently drinking with Hooters girls. Photos show them apparently pouring Jell-o shots down the women's throats and allowing the women to handle their weapons.

"This is a very repugnant and disturbing display seen in these  photographs," said Mayor David Roberts last week. "It's an embarrassment that will never happen again."

Roberts, who also visited Louisiana as part of the relief effort but was not involved in the party, said, "I should point out that this is an anomaly with the Hoboken Police Department that is not representative of the intelligent and dedicated men and women who serve."

Cops: We worked at chief's place on city time

Hoboken's top cop has now been accused of having police officers do manual labor at his home on the city's dime.

Police officers, who declined to be identified because they said they feared retaliation, said they removed debris and building materials from the basement of Chief Carmen LaBruno's home in Clinton in September 2006 when they should have been doing police work.

According to the officers, three of the plaintiffs who now have a suit pending against the former SWAT team commander, Lt. Angelo Andriani, said Andriani supervised the cleanup operation.

LaBruno could not be reached yesterday, but told The New York Times he has all the canceled checks to prove he paid contractors for renovations to his home. LaBruno said he had donated the materials to the SWAT team to build "whatever."

Photos Add to Problems of Beset Hoboken Police

It has been a difficult few weeks for the Police Department in this trendy riverfront town. The beleaguered mayor, David Roberts, heaved a sigh as he summed it all up in a news conference this week: “We have been on a slippery slide of matters getting worse.”

At the top of that slope are five officers, all Hispanic, who filed a lawsuit last month accusing their superior, Lt. Angelo Andriani, of intimidation and harassment, which included charges of racism. The suit also charges that the lieutenant made the officers do maintenance work on his house in Verona while they were on duty.

But it took a batch of photographs that show Lieutenant Andriani and several other officers posing with scantily clad waitresses from Hooters to make people take notice.

“What occurred was some repugnant behavior,” Mayor Roberts said, “and conduct that is not becoming of a police officer of the City of Hoboken.”

GPS helps keep government workers on straight and narrow

Some employees consider the technology intrusive; employers trumpet safety, taxpayer savings

GPS tracking devices installed on government-issue vehicles are helping communities around the country reduce waste and abuse, in part by catching employees shopping, working out at the gym or otherwise loafing while on the clock.

The use of Global Positioning System devices has led to firings, stoking complaints from employees and unions that the devices are intrusive, Big Brother technology. But city officials say that monitoring employees' movements has deterred abuses, saving taxpayers money in gasoline and lost productivity.

"We can't have public resources being used on private activities. That's Management 101," said Phil Nolan, supervisor of the Long Island town of Islip.

Islip saved nearly 14,000 gallons of gas over a three-month period from the previous year after GPS devices were installed. Nolan said that shows that employees know they are being watched and are no longer using Islip's 614 official vehicles for personal business.

Hoboken: Rely on cops, not cameras

In Hoboken, motor vehicles are evil. They clog streets, take away parking from local residents, and are inherently dangerous to pedestrians. The Mile Square City is a dense urban community that would like to rely on mass transit and other less stressful modes of transport - light rail, PATH, buses, taxis, bicycles and shoe leather.

The biggest concern among pedestrians is the danger they face from motorists who run stop signs and traffic lights. Hoboken officials said they will install traffic cameras to capture dangerous drivers. Two cameras were purchased in July and installed at a cost of $74,541.

On tape: Girls handled cop's guns while he handled babes

Hooters girls have now entered the fray between five Latino Hoboken police officers and their commanding officer, who they have accused in a civil lawsuit of being an "unabashed white supremacist."

According to Luis Zayas, the attorney representing the officers, a video recorded in 2005 shows Hooters restaurant hotties holding shotguns, sub-machine guns, and other SWAT team weaponry distributed to them by officers under the command of Lt. Angelo Andriani, the target of the lawsuit.

The video was made during a trip to Kenner, La., where the officers were sent to help with the post-Katrina relief effort. In September 2005, after Hurricane Katrina struck the area, Kenner was "adopted" by Hoboken as a sister city.

Andriani is also caught on tape "caressing" the breasts of a Hooters babe while wearing his Hoboken-issued commanding officer turtleneck, Zayas said.

Hoboken likes'em, but stop light cams may be lawbreakers

With two cameras ready to capture dangerous drivers cruising through Hoboken stop signs, a city ordinance authorizing their use may conflict with state law.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve the "automated red light and stop sign equipment" last Wednesday, but the state Attorney General's Office said yesterday that photographic equipment can't be used to issue traffic violations.

A bill is currently making its way through the state Legislature to allow traffic cameras, but until it is signed into law, it is illegal to use the cameras for ticketing, Attorney General's Office spokesman David Wald said.

A law that was passed in 1992 to prohibit "speeding" cameras also covers images used to catch other traffic violations, Wald said.

New Jersey: City to Install Stop Sign Cameras

Hoboken City Council votes to bring photo enforcement back to New Jersey with stop sign and red light cameras.

A city in New Jersey is testing the waters for the automated issuance of traffic tickets, despite a statewide legislative ban on the use of speed cameras. The Hoboken City Council gave preliminary approval last Wednesday to a measure authorizing itself to use both red light cameras and newer stop sign cameras. Mayor David Roberts expects the devices to generate a significant number of expensive citations from commuters passing through Hoboken.