With the changing demographics the Old Guard who bought us overdevelopment, patronage, a massive tax rise, underperforming schools, and fiscal gimmicks both in city hall and at the BOE are now attempting a different track.
On the referendum front they are trying to annul the move to bring our non partisan municipal elections to November. They thrive on voter apathy and paying people as little as $40 to “work” for campaigns. Magically most of those workers vote by mail. Even more amazing they universally vote for same candidate! This scenario can only work when we have low volume races where 600-700 VBM’s can make a real difference. Take for example the recent BOE race where less than 4,000 out of Hoboken’s 36,000 voters went to the polls.
The November vote is projected to increase voter turnout, since many residents are newcomers or transient. Ask people when voting takes place and most will say the 1st Tuesday in November. When is the next at large and Mayor’s race? Most people wouldn’t know the answer. This is why the NJ Senate passed this legislation 38-0. If you believe as I do that having more voters is a good thing for our democracy, then I urge you to support this move. If you believe that the VBM scheme and lower voter turnout is good for Hoboken, then vote to support the referendum. If you signed the petition because a paid worker told you it was about the Port Authority toll hike, then shame on you for not reading the petition. It takes 15% of the voters who voted in the last Legislature election (November 2009) or approximately 2,100 valid signatures to become valid.
On the other front is the attempt to recall Mayor Zimmer, Carol Marsh, Dave Mello and three unnamed members of the BOE. While I support the referendum process, a recall should only occur in the case of outright incompetence or legal issues, such as those of former Mayor Peter Camaranno. For the record an elected official must be in office for at least one year, so Peter could not have been recalled. This process requires 25% of total voters to be valid or approximately 9,000 signatures, a much higher threshold.
Mayor Zimmer and her allies have cut the municipal levy from $61.5 million to $55 million. The Mason/Russo/Occhipinti opposition wanted to zero out and gut Hoboken’s surplus. Last week we found out that Hudson Health Care who ran HUMC filed for bankruptcy. Hoboken taxpayers are on the hook for $2 million. I can’t say how much we will recover from the bankruptcy court, but if Beth Mason had her way you, the taxpayer would have seen a corresponding tax increase. This is why I argued and fought to keep a responsible surplus. I spoke to one of petitioners and he said it was the specifically the surplus behind the recall campaign. This only demonstrates the fiscal incompetency of the opposition.
Regarding the BOE, the school levy is at the lowest level permitted by law. Patronage jobs have been pared as administrative positions were cut by 20%, without harming our students. There are funds available to pay for an intensive 6 year capital improvement program and innovative, interactive smart boards will be in every classroom next year.
These are just thumbnail highlights of the progress that is being made. On the first Tuesday in November I urge you to vote no on the referendum and no to recall these exceptional public servants.