Pay-to-play compliance officer to investigate dubious contributions to Zimmer campaign
The city of Hoboken’s pay-to-play compliance officer has opened an investigation into two contributions made by city vendors to the Friends of Dawn Zimmer reelection campaign, city spokesman Juan Melli confirmed on Thursday.
The investigation was spurred by a complaint made by Eduardo Gonzalez, a city council candidate running on the Vision for Hoboken slate, which opposes Zimmer. At its head is state Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, who is running for mayor.
“The compliance officer will investigate the issues raised by Mr. Gonzalez and will conduct a thorough review of all campaign finance reports filed by all of the candidates in the upcoming election,” said Melli in a statement. “[She] will advise the Mayor and the City Council if any further action is appropriate.”
The contributions in question, $150 from Boswell Engineering on March 14 and $150 from Bernard Kenny of the law firm Florio & Kenny LLP on April 4, both caused those donors to exceed the aggregate amount any professional firm can donate to a political candidate, $300.
Both firms have longstanding contracts with the city. If the compliance officer, Alicia Propko, deems the contributions illegal, their city contracts could possibly be voided.
With the newest contributions, both Kenny and Boswell have given Zimmer $450 each.
After Gonzalez filed his complaint with the city, Ramos blasted the mayor, saying that her “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude has gone far enough.
“Mayor Zimmer doesn’t seem to care about ordinances, rules or deadlines when they don’t fit her own political agenda,” he said in a press release. “We all have heard over and over that the mayor ran as a reformer, but what she has done since getting elected is grab power and become just another politician that causes a traffic jam in City Hall.”
When questioned by the Reporter in a cover story last week, Zimmer said that she planned to refund the donations, and following Gonzalez’s complaint, her campaign’s treasurer released two letters dated July 25 to Kenny and Boswell, refunding the donations.
The letters, written by the campaign’s treasurer Drew Moss, are both dated July 25, which is still outside the 45-day grace period candidates are allowed to return potentially illegal contributions. However, they do make clear that both vendors had reached their contribution limits.
“While we always welcome you to join us for all upcoming fundraising events, please disregard future solicitations which may be sent to you in error,” Moss wrote. “No further contributions may be accepted in this election cycle.”
In a statement, Moss also said that one of the Zimmer campaign’s top priorities is adhering to all state and municipal pay-to-play codes. He pointed out that legally, following pay-to-play codes is the responsibility of the vendor, but that the campaign keeps a close eye on all of its contributions.
“While the pay-to-play reform law makes the vendor responsible for tracking contributions and requesting any needed refunds, our policy is to proactively return excess contributions as soon as identified,” he said.
Fair housing group to hold meeting about city reval this Thursday
The Hoboken Fair Housing Association (HFHA) will hold a meeting on Thursday night to give information on the ongoing tax revaluation currently underway.
A revaluation brings property assessments up to date, so that people are paying taxes on the current values, not on the market rate when they bought their house. Thus, owners of old houses may have to pay much more since their taxes were based on the last reval from the 1980s. Someone who bought a new home during a hot housing market may see a drop.
The meeting will take place Thursday, Aug. 15 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Community Church, located on the corner of Sixth and Garden Streets.
Their Facebook page notes: “Tenants: Learn how a corrupted property revaluation taking place right now is going to raise your rents dramatically.”
The meeting will have two guest speakers: Matt Shapiro of the New Jersey Tenants Organization and Renee Steinhagen of the New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center.
For more information on HFHA, their activities, and the upcoming meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BINGO! Multi-service center/senior building reopens for first time since Sandy
The senior center at the Hoboken Multi-Service Center finally reopened last week, and the city announced that its daily senior bingo program would resume as normal. The dates and times are as follows: Monday at 1 p.m., Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday at 6 p.m., Thursday at 1 p.m., and Friday at 10:30 a.m.
National Night Out against crime takes place in new location
This year's National Night Out in Hoboken took place in a different location from past years, at Church Square Park at Fourth and Garden streets.
This year, the event was held in memory of recently deceased municipal employee Freddie Moret, who assisted the growth of Hoboken’s National Night Out in recent years.
“We appreciate all Freddie has done for us over the years, and we are looking forward to presenting a plaque to his family that will in some small way allow us to honor the memory of one of Hoboken’s most cherished volunteers,” said Police Chief Anthony Falco in a statement.
Attractions included a bounce house, free ice cream, and a watermelon eating contest.
Coupon book fundraiser
United Cerebral Palsy of Hudson County, Inc. in North Bergen is raising funds to support programs for the developmentally disabled by selling Entertainment Books.
The price is $25 for the Monmouth, Bergen, Essex, Morris and Middlesex counties books. Each edition includes hundreds of discount coupons.
For more information, or to order a book, call Peter LaBarbiera at (201) 662-8120.
Schuetzen Park celebration Aug. 17 and 18
The annual Oktoberfest-in-August celebration sponsored by the Plattduetsche Volksfest-Vereen of New York and New Jersey will be held in Schuetzen Park, 3167 Kennedy Blvd., on Saturday, Aug. 17, and Sunday, Aug. 18.
The festival opens at noon both days, with activities starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
There will display stands that will offer German souvenirs. In addition, food stands will feature homemade potato pancakes and other delicacies.
Profits from the festival will be donated to the Fritz Reuter Altenheim Home and other charities.
For more information about the celebration, call (201) 864-3245.
Help children by attending a CASA information session
Are you interested in helping children in the foster care system? If so, Hudson County CASA (court appointed special advocate) is recruiting volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children. Information sessions are held monthly.
CASA works through trained community volunteers to ensure that needed services and assistance are made available to children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes.
CASA and its volunteers speak for children in court, serve as fact finders for judges, and safeguard the interests of the children while they are in the foster care system.
Hudson County has nearly 700 children in foster care; most have been removed from their homes for abuse or neglect.
For more information, call (201) 795-9855, e-mail email@example.com, or visit www.hudsoncountycasa.org.