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Hoboken City Council Passes $700G In Legal Contracts

The amount will cover ongoing litigation for the first quarter of 2013.

The Hoboken City Council passed over $700,000 in legal contracts Wednesday night.

Corporation Counsel Melissa Longo said the amount will cover the city's legal fees through April 1, or the first quarter of the year.

"We can certify the funds passed by the temporary budget," she said. "After the budget is passed, we will come back to you to increase their numbers."

Longo noted that each contract is for a firm that is already representing the city in ongoing litigation, including a challenge to the Election Day referendum on rent control.

The amount the city spends on legal fees often comes under scrutiny from the public, as well as some council members.

Among the contracts was also a resolution approving $35,000 for Montville-based attorney Edward Buzak who was chosen to represent the city in its case to use eminent domain to purchase park land in the city's southwest.

Hoboken resident David Liebler, who is often an outspoken critic of the administration, called for a council subcommitee to oversee the city's legal spending. He also accusing the city of short-changing the landowner who is being offered $2.3 million for the lot known as "block twelve."

"I think this is absolutely disgusting," he said. "Did Hoboken's values drop 75 percent over the last three years?"

Councilman David Mello defended the need for legal counsel on the issue.

"If we don't hire Mr. Buzak and we just leave this festering in the courts, then it will die," said Mello. "We will not acquire land in the southwest."

recallbethmason January 17, 2013 at 03:41 PM
can someone explain to me why David Liebler is so concerned about the owner of block twelve? also David, errr, property value has kind of dropped over the last five years if you haven't notice? more specifically i bought a two bedroom about a year ago that had dropped coincidently 31% from the price it was listed at in 2008/9. not sure about your math and 75%...
Ojo Rojo January 17, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Didn't Mason & company also vote down the contract for the law firm representing the city in its attempts to block the Monarch project up in her ward, a project nobody in her ward wants built?
PeoplePlease January 17, 2013 at 06:53 PM
It seems to me that over the last 3 years, we have gone from lining the pockets of developers, to lining the pockets of lawyers.
David A. Liebler January 17, 2013 at 10:55 PM
Recal, I do not even know the owners or even friends of the owners of block 12. What I am disgusted with is a Mayor who does not know what she is doing that is about to cost the town millions of dollars. The case has already been thrown out. Let's start there. So we are paying thousands of dollars in legal fees. Why because the Mayor does not know how to negotiate, because she is over her head and does not know how to!!!! I am 100% against the use of eminent domain in this case scenario. It is just wrong and how they are going about it is 100% incompetence! You can not appraise a property for $10 Million in 2008 and apply for county grants and then use the same appraiser 3 years later and come in at $2 million. There was not a 75% depreciation in real estate values in Hoboken, come on!!! Let's be sensible here. Zimmer is trying to steal a person's property for her pet project and that is just wrong. I would have had more respect for her if she actually met with the owners, but she did not, I would have had more respect for her if she offered $5-$8 million but she did not! Why because she never ran a business and probably never had a budget past her own personal expenses. So crazy. She is committing fraud. And by the way, when this 100% plays out and she losses, the town will also have to pay the plaintiffs legal bills. KEEP RACKING UP MORE LEGAL BILLS ZIMMER! CLUELESS!
FAP January 17, 2013 at 11:25 PM
David any chance that lack of sugar from your crash diet has, how to put this, unbalanced you? You're sounding a bit unhinged. . BTW good luck with your diet.
David A. Liebler January 17, 2013 at 11:50 PM
Fap thanks for the best wishes, the diet is going great. I find it comical that once someone other then the Zimmer Green Machine of online cyber bullies makes to much sense, then the personal attacks have to come out. It is laughable. And you know as well as anyone, considering I gave you all the legal bills that the Zimmer administration is a run away train wreck of legal spending with no end in sight. This case will end up costing hundreds of thousands in legal and millions additional in a final settlement. FYI: the case was already dismissed without prejudice. So, strike one for Zimmer. Strike 2 for the town of Hoboken having to spend millions of dollars on legal bills because this is a person who is incompetent in negotiating.
Ojo Rojo January 17, 2013 at 11:58 PM
The city will save enough money by not following your suggestion to pay its legal bills for several years. By the way, just so you know how appraisals are conducted, they are based on the assumptions used by the appraiser. An appraisal done on a piece of land assuming it will be upzoned for condos will yield far higher values than one done assuming no such change is made or using the value of the land currently zoned and currently used. So next time you wonder why different appraisals yield different results, that is your answer.
David Mello January 18, 2013 at 01:14 AM
The matter was not "thrown out of court" - the judge simply wants to depose the appraiser as to why the two appraisals were so different, before the matter can be brought before the court again. Further, the City may not force the property owner to meet with Hoboken representatives. The property owner has failed to obtain their own appraisal, something that would typically be done in a scenario such as this, where a government entity is looking to acquire privately owned land. Finally, the land owner has not contested the City acquiring the property, they have solely contested the price. The property is located in an industrial zone. If the original appraisal was done based on a residential zone pricing, then it was flawed. I look forward to the appraiser comparing and contrasting the appraisal methodologies that were used during each appraisal - it should be a very informative deposition.
Ojo Rojo January 18, 2013 at 02:04 AM
It may cost hundreds of thousands of legal bills but it will cost far less to acquire the property this way than the way you suggest. Please stop pretending you know what you are talking about. You don't as Mello's response just indicated.
demosthenes January 18, 2013 at 02:36 AM
David - can you please explain the meaning of the phrase 'without prejudice?" I know you're not a lawyer, in fact you don't like lawyers and don't think we need to hire or pay them but I assume since you're using a legal term and implying that it somehow means the lawyer is no good and the City no longer needs legal representation you must know what it means. Can you please explain it so the rest of us can understand? Does it mean the City lost the case or is there still an ongoing matter? Please try to explain in layman's terms so that those of us not as expert as you are in legal matters can follow along.
pdq January 18, 2013 at 03:06 AM
So you must be irate over the missed refinance opportunity that cost the taxpayers 4mm. I didnt hear you speak on that issue, care to opine?
FAP January 18, 2013 at 05:30 AM
Councilman Mello thank you for giving us the straight facts.
Mr.budget January 18, 2013 at 07:10 AM
I love that the city is going to hire Traffic Control Officers. They can direct the traffic thats caused from the Newark and Jackson Street brainstorm idea. What other idiotic idea will they bring from NYC !!
XJS January 18, 2013 at 03:46 PM
I have to agree. The mess they created on Jackson Street (with the unintended mess it's causing on Grove and Marin as people try to circumvent the left turn lane on Newark) needs to be fixed ASAP. Traffic Cops aren't the answer. Bring back the two lanes. Kill the bike lane.
Mr.budget January 18, 2013 at 05:51 PM
They arent cops, they are one step up from crossing guards. The city refuses to hire cops. They think the five guys they just hired are going to keep some people queit
elvisroberts January 20, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Lets not forget that guidelines for Appraisals, particularly how "comparables" are selected/ used changed DRAMATICALLY in the last few years.

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