Healy: city can’t afford ‘luxury’ of an arson squad
Jersey City Fire Chief Darren Rivers publicly disagreed on Thursday with the city’s decision to have the Police Department take over the duties of investigating suspicious fires after arson investigators have determined cause and origin.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Rivers said. “This would be like an arson investigator being brought on to investigate a homicide.”
Rivers said the arson investigators in the department, down to three from the 13 employed at the beginning of this year, have specialized training in their field. Ten were reassigned to firehouses to replace retiring officers after Mayor Jerramiah Healy slashed the arson unit to deal with the city’s $80 million budget gap.
Rivers said this decision also goes against his duty as a fire chief.
“My job is to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Jersey City,” Rivers said.
Mayor Healy commented on the decision, calling it “strictly fiscal.”
“We felt that in this time of severe fiscal crisis, the Arson Squad was a luxury our taxpayers could no longer afford,” Healy said.
Healy also said that this decision had been considered by his administration for the past three years.
Suspect arrested in murder of JC man trying to break up fight
Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio says a suspect in the murder of a Jersey City man was arrested Sunday night.
DeFazio said Christopher A. Gonzalez, 21, aka “Stars” was arrested and charged with murdering Darryl U. Wilson, 24, of Summit Avenue, at the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Boyd Avenue at around 10:40 p.m. Saturday. Gonzalez is also charged with attempted murder in the shooting of Wilson’s friend in the abdomen.
DeFazio said Gonzalez allegedly opened fire after Wilson’s friend was in a fight with Gonzalez’s friend. Wilson was shot while trying to break up the fight. DeFazio said the friend underwent surgery and is recovering at the Jersey City Medical Center.
“This is a gross overreaction; it is just wanton violence,” DeFazio said.
DeFazio also said Gonzalez made his first appearance in court on the charges this afternoon.
DeFazio said Gonzalez was also charged with weapons offenses. The semi-automatic pistol that Gonzalez allegedly used in the shooting has not been recovered, DeFazio said.
Anyone with further information can call the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Homicide Squad at (201) 915-1345
Peter Stuyvesant statue is coming back to Journal Square
The statue of the legendary Dutch settler Peter Stuyvesant, which stood in Jersey City’s Journal Square since 1913, will be returned to the area by May of next year exactly 97 years to the day that it was unveiled, it was announced at a press conference Monday morning.
Stuyvesant is considered the founder of Bergen Square, the first European settlement in New Jersey in 1650, which makes Jersey City the oldest town in the state.
City officials and local history buffs were on hand for the announcement about the 9-foot high statue, which was removed from its site in the courtyard of Public School 11 on Bergen Avenue in February. The school is located at the site of the first settlement.
The removal, a joint effort of Hudson County Communty College and the Jersey City Board of Education, caused uproar among local residents and City Hall after it was discovered that the statue would be relocated to the plaza in front of Hudson County Communty College’s Culinary Arts Center on Sip Avenue. Meanwhile, a statue of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, the namesake of the school, would replace the Stuyvesant statue.
The statue, which is currently stored at Burns Bros. Memorials on Tonnelle Avenue, will be brought back to a location on the sidewalk in front of the school, near the corner of Bergen Avenue and Academy Street. That’s where the statue was originally located from its 1913 unveiling until the late 1960s when the new School 11 opened.
Speakers at the announcement included Bob Leach of the Jersey City Historical Project, John Hallanan of the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy and Mayor Jerramiah Healy.
Maryanne Kelleher, head of the Jersey City Cultural Affairs division, said the city will have to raise $40,000 to return the statue to its rightful place. Fundraising got underway Monday morning when the Landmarks Conservancy gave a $2,500 check to the city.
Healy and Fulop team up on plastic bag initiative
City Councilman Steven Fulop announced on Thursday that he will introduce at Wednesday’s council meeting legislation that will require the use of compostable plastic, recyclable paper, and/or reusable checkout bags by stores located in Jersey City.
Fulop’s goal for this legislation is to discourage the use of single-use, disposable plastic and paper bags and encourage the use of reusable bags by consumers and retailers in order to minimize the impact of disposable bags on our environmental and waste management systems.
In Jersey City alone, it is estimated that each year, each person uses 350 bags or an estimated gross total of approximately 84,836,150 million plastic bags every year. If the legislation is enacted, large chain and retail stores in Jersey City will be required to make the changes within six months or one year.
Fulop stated, “We have a responsibility to take care of the world around us. This legislation will force many necessary changes to protect our environment and lessen any negative impact.”
Supporting Fulop’s initiative is Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who has long spoken out against the use of plastic bags.
“We think this ordinance is a reasonable approach to that goal and look forward to working with Councilman Fulop on moving this concept forward,” Healy said.
Ramos introduces bill to aid commuters
Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. (D-Hoboken) has introduced legislation to help commuters besieged by increased transportation rates. The New Jersey Commuter Pass Credit Act (A-3414) would provide a temporary gross income tax credit for eight percent of the amount a taxpayer spends on qualified commuting passes up to $100 per taxable year.
“This bill is designed to provide some measure of financial relief to New Jersey taxpayers who rely on train, bus or ferry to get to work,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). ”We also hope this will alleviate congestion and provide incentives for us to reduce our carbon footprint.
The credit would be available for the three taxable years beginning on or after Jan. 1 following the date of enactment of the legislation. A qualified commuting pass includes passes for train, bus or ferry service which taxpayers purchase for their use at a price of no less than $30. Qualified commuting is limited to travel between the taxpayer’s home and work, or terminals near those places, one of which must be located in New Jersey.
“This is a logical, short-term, three-year stimulus measure designed to help those that are struggling to stay afloat and allow us to see just how effective this policy will be in the long-run,” added Ramos. ”Hopefully this measure will help ease a little bit of the strain on the average commuter.”
The bill would also require the Director of the Division of Taxation to complete a report on the credit, which is to be submitted to the governor and legislature in August of the third year of the credit in order to determine if the incentive should be renewed or allowed to expire.
Classical music concert in downtown JC
The Con Vivo String Quartet, based in downtown Jersey City, will be in concert Grace Church Van Vorst, 39 Erie St on Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. It is a benefit concert for the quartet, who will perform Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s Quartet 1 in G minor.
An after-concert reception will follow at 10 p.m. featuring a jam session and open sight-reading featuring Con Vivo musicians and friends, as well as food and wine donated by Jersey Wine & Spirits and Madame Claude Cafe.
Tickets for the concert are $30, for both concert and reception $75.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.convivomusic.org, by mail to Con Vivo Music, 237 Montgomery Street, Jersey City, NJ 07302, or at the door.