Councilwoman drops public records suit after city finally supplies unredacted legal bills
Second Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason has dropped a lawsuit against the City of Hoboken over alleged abuse of the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) after the city gave her unredacted legal bills from a major vendor, a spokesman for the councilwoman said Monday.
The lawsuit was filed after the invoices, billed to the city by the firm Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader and requested by Mason through the state’s OPRA law, were originally delivered heavily blacked out.
According to a report on NJ.com, Mason’s lawyer received no explanation for why the city had felt the need to black out the information before – nor why the city has changed its mind.
City spokesman Juan Melli did not return a call for comment Tuesday.
Originally, the councilwoman requested all invoices billed to the city by the law firm Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader between January and October of last year, apparently in an effort to continue trying to find out about Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla, who took a partnership with the firm in August.
Bhalla has stated that he began abstaining on all votes relating to the firm after he began his private negotiations with them. City records substantiated that he began abstaining in mid-June, which was the time frame in which he says he started negotiating. He was hired Aug. 1, 2013.
Yet, when the city complied with Mason’s request, Mason was billed $130 for the documents, but “all but a few verbs” were blacked out. According to Mason’s lawyer, Jeffrey Kantowitz, the amount redacted exceeds what is allowed by attorney-client privilege laws.
Local mayors advocate for light rail to extend to Bergen County
Will state lawmakers finally put the “Bergen” in “Hudson-Bergen Light Rail?”
When it opened in 2000, the train system was supposed to extend from Bayonne all the way to Ridgefield in Bergen County – but the route thus far terminates in the Hudson County town of North Bergen.
Local mayors and legislators are now hoping to see the route extend to a stop at Englewood Hospital, whose CEO is willing to share some parking garage space with a new station.
Supportive legislators from Bergen County testified before the state Senate Transportation Committee in Trenton on Monday, a committee that includes State Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco.
The 21-mile line currently runs through Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, Union City, and North Bergen.
The Star Ledger noted, “The latest proposal calls for extending the line north from the current terminus at Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen to a new station 12 miles away at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. Funding for the $900 million project has yet to be identified, but NJ Transit plans to submit an amended draft environmental impact statement in late autumn following a 45-day public comment period.”
Sacco is supportive of the extension.
“Hopefully everyone stays focused, and we’ll see this in our lifetimes,” he was quoted as saying in the Star-Ledger report.
Weehawken teen who climbed 1 WTC also scaled Hoboken crane
Can you say, “Don’t encourage him?”
A 16-year-old Weehawken High School student named Justin was charged with a misdemeanor after he allegedly climbed to the top of the under-construction World Trade Center tower and took photos of himself at the top this past weekend.
He took an elevator to the 88th floor around 4 a.m. and then climbed the stairs to the 104th floor. A guard there was apparently asleep, the New York Post said. (That guard has since been fired. The elevator operator was reassigned.)
A different guard caught Justin making his way down.
The Post has a series of photos of the wiry Justin in daredevil positions, including jumping into the Hudson River (whose currents have dragged many a person under) and climbing high on a Hoboken crane.
The teen told the Post, “Ha ha, oh yeah, that. Right. I would really love to talk to you guys because I have a lot that I want to say about it. I was told that I just can’t [talk] without permission.”
CarePoint donates $30,000 in scholarships to Hudson County’s future doctors
The CarePoint Health Foundation recently established a College Scholarship Program to assist financially challenged residents of Hudson County pursuing an education in the health care field. On Wednesday, March 19, 2014, three $10,000 scholarship checks were presented to Saint Peter’s University, Hudson County Community College and New Jersey City University. Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University, Joseph Sansone, vice president of
development of Hudson County Community College Foundation and Sue Henderson,
Ph.D., president of New Jersey City University accepted the scholarships funds. Two students at each of the institutions will be the recipients of a $5,000 scholarship check.
Our Lady of Grace announces ‘Spaghettiaoke’
The Spaghettiaoke Dinner of Our Lady of Grace Church will be held on Sat., March 29 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the School Hall on the corner of Fifth Street and Willow Ave. The spaghetti dinner with Karaoke features fine Italian food and a gravy contest. Tickets are available at the OLG Rectory or by calling (201) 659-0369. Advance tickets are $10 for one; $25 for a family of four; higher prices at the door.
Hudson Regional Health Commission conducting online Sandy survey
Hudson Regional Health Commission has received a grant to conduct a health and wellbeing needs assessment for residents and business owners in Hudson County affected by Superstorm Sandy, the group announced this week. All residents and business owners are encouraged to complete the short survey. This includes, but is not limited to, those who were victims of flooding, power loss or are experiencing stress from the storm.
Through this survey, the group hopes to gain insight on the types of unmet needs that exist in the community. It will then develop a plan to connect individuals to the services they may need for recovery, according to a statement from the group.
If you are a resident or a business owner in Hudson County, your input is very important in order to ensure that any recovery efforts as a result of this survey are directed to all those affected by Superstorm Sandy.
The survey can be found online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HRHCsandysurvey.
Hudson Regional Health Commission will also be conducting focus group discussions about the storm. Participants are encouraged to share any experiences they may have about Superstorm Sandy. Food and refreshments will be served and transportation costs will be reimbursed.
If you have any questions, or would like to participate in a Sandy focus group discussion please contact Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program Representative Paul Teodoro at (201) 223-1133 or firstname.lastname@example.org .