New Hoboken council majority gets down to business
HOBOKEN – Mayor Dawn Zimmer's allies on the City Council wasted no time getting to business after Councilwoman Jen Giattino was sworn into office on Friday, shifting the council majority back to the mayor and her supporters.
Zimmer now has a majority to work with her up until her first term expires in 2013. Three of her council allies' seats also expire in 2013.
The council voted by a 5-4 margin to terminate an investigation called for by Councilwoman Beth Mason into the use of city email by two mayoral aides. Mason asked for all the emails between the two aides to and the local press and bloggers. Mason said she wanted to see if the aides were conducting political work on city time.
A resolution terminated the council's investigation, based on a “lack of factual information,” according to new Council President Ravinder Bhalla, the sponsor of the legislation. However, city emails may be obtained through the use of the Open Public Records Act requests.
Councilwoman Carol Marsh was voted as the council's new designee to the city's Planning Board.
The council also voted on a resolution authorizing St. Ann's Church to conduct their annual festival from July 21 through July 26.
The new council majority members also introduced a group of ordinances that could have major impacts on how the city is governed if they are passed for a final vote at the next meeting.
Bhalla and new Council Vice President Peter Cunningham introduced legislation that would target wheeling, or the practice of exceeding individual campaign limits by donating through self-funded Political Action Committees.
The council voted to introduce legislation that would authorize the hiring of Class II police officers, who would supplement the current police force at a cheaper rate, somewhere between $15 - $18 per hour.
The council also voted to introduce an ordinance that would move municipal elections from May to November, as well as an ordinance to establish spots for the Corner Cars program by ordinance instead of by resolution.
Councilman David Mello and Cunningham also introduced an ordinance that would remove the residency requirements for Hoboken city employees.
The ordinances were introduced at the July 1 meeting, and the public will have a chance to comment on the proposed laws in public hearings during the council's July 20 meeting. If the ordinances pass at the July 20 meeting after a public discussion, they will become law (unless they are vetoed by the mayor). - Ray Smith
86-year-old woman killed with hammer in apparent domestic dispute
UNION CITY – Authorities are saying that an apparent fight between an elderly couple was what killed an 86-year-old Union City woman who was found dead on Sunday
According to an article in NJ.com, a relative of the couple became concerned when she hadn't heard from them since Thursday, and went to the apartment on Sunday. She found Mercedes Figueroa dead and her 74-year-old male companion badly injured. He is in critical condition at Jersey City Medical Center.
The story quotes County Prosecutor Ed DeFazio as saying, “The man has not been charged at this point but it does appear that it was a domestic dispute that elevated to this level” and that it was “mutual combat.”
DeFazio said that a hammer at the scene appears to be what killed the woman.
Meadowlands tax break approved
The American Dream Meadowlands project (formerly known as Xanadu) on Route 3 will be allowed to receive a $350 million tax break after the state legislature passed a bill a week ago Wednesday that makes the project eligible for incentives under the state’s Economic and Redevelopment Growth program.
The changes come after the state awarded a controversial $102.4 million tax break to help Secaucus-based Panasonic Corp. of North America move its headquarters just a few miles to a new building in Newark, a move which Secaucus and Hartz Mountain Industries fought.
Hartz and Secaucus both claimed the tax incentives offered to Panasonic were a misuse of the Urban Transit Hub Program.
The Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program was modified in the bill, which outlines what a company can receive if moving within the state. In particular, a company can get a larger tax break if 500 or more jobs are at risk of leaving the state unless the state grants an incentive. A company can also get a larger tax break with an interstate move if it consolidates two facilities.