I hope you and your family are enjoying summer and staying cool and dry. With a special City Council meeting happening tonight, I wanted to quickly update you on what's been going on in and around Hoboken.
IMPROVING eSCOOTER SAFETY
I’ve spoken to many of you over the past two months about Hoboken’s eScooter pilot program and it's abundantly clear a rushed roll-out by the mayor has resulted in serious safety concerns. Though I believe eScooters have the ability to revolutionize micro-mobility in Hoboken and am proud to have advocated for this trial program, public safety changes need to be made for eScooters to work.
Last week, the mayor proposed a non-binding referendum, which would have held no other purpose than to politicize an already controversial issue. Kicking the can and delaying action now is not going address the immediate safety concerns that are pressing the city today. I’ve already passed a law on the Council to increase fines for offenders and worked with the City to geofence and reduce speeds along our waterfront, but enforcement still remains an issue. So, at tonight’s City Council meeting I am sponsoring a resolution requesting the mayor to immediately begin renegotiating sustainable contracts with our eScooter vendors to ensure the providers cover the cost of safety enforcement. The City needs to be collecting our fair share of revenue for us to promote rider safety through education and assist our hardworking public safety professionals by contributing funds directly to the police department. Starting early with these negotiations is the only way we can properly address the issues faced by the program and decide how to best proceed moving forward.
In our form of government, the mayor has sole authority to negotiate contracts, with the City Council approving them. As always, the Council is looking to work with Mayor Bhalla and we trust that he’ll send down a better and safer deal for us to vote on as soon as possible.
TAKING POLITICS OUT OF CITY HALL
Last month I was proud to support a City budget that put politics aside and Hoboken residents first. In doing so, we prevented an astronomical tax increase while still making investments in our infrastructure and city services. Checks and balances in any form of government are essential to hold those in office accountable, even when it’s not easy and requires standing up to the mayor to get there. So at tonight’s City Council meeting, I will be sponsoring a comprehensive ethics reform law that will ensure taxpayer funded resources are being used responsibly.
Politics should never be permitted to run out of City Hall which is why it’s concerning that our current law allows for city owned computers, phones and other taxpayer funded services to be used for personal and political gain. The law I am introducing tonight prevents anyone, including myself, from using City Hall resources for anything other than official City business. Those who work for the taxpayers should be focused on providing the best possible services for all of Hoboken, not advancing their political careers.
I’ve always fought to make our local government more transparent and, quite frankly, strengthening our dated ethics laws is personal for me. The mayor has handpicked his own aide, a City Hall insider, to run against me for Council and we’ve already seen this administration abuse the power of executive office. For example, Hoboken residents subscribe to our Nixel alert system to receive emergency alerts -- like last night’s severe storms. Instead, the mayor has used this important communications platform to take cheap political shots at those who have the courage and confidence to speak up and push the administration to do better.
Now is our chance to take a stand against the misuse of taxpayer dollars and I hope you will join me in supporting this reform to begin restoring a sense of accountability to City Hall. Hoboken deserves leaders who aren’t afraid to speak power to truth and that is exactly why I am continuing the push to make our local government operate more transparently and efficiently.
DOWNTOWN DOG RUN
The First Ward’s long-overdue dog run is finally open at the municipal garage on Hudson Street between 1st and 2nd. As a dog owner myself, I’ve spent the past four years advocating to bring more parks like this to Hoboken to keep our city clean and create a more pet friendly community. Not only is this the first dog run in our ward, but it’s also the first city owned dog park to have an all turf surface.
When I began advocating to build this park two years ago, I proposed commissioning a mural for the side of the garage to beautify the rusting parking structure. Now that we’ve accomplished the dog run we need to continue activating underutilized space in Hoboken. With the new arts commission forming, I’m excited to continue engaging local artists and hope to soon activate this piece of municipal property. Let me know what you would like to see painted there!
FIREWORKS ON HOBOKEN'S WATERFRONT?
This Fourth of July I enjoyed watching the Macy’s Fireworks in Manhattan, but as the sky lit up over the East River I couldn’t help but fondly remember when Hoboken had a front row seat to a spectacular show. The day once brought visitors from across the tristate area to our city, helping boost sales for local businesses and adding to our cultural cache.
Tonight, I will be introducing a resolution outlining a plan for Hoboken to engage Macy's, Jersey City, New York City and other public and private sponsors to bring a fireworks display back to the Hoboken waterfront next year at minimal or no cost to taxpayers.
MUSIC FOR OUR SENIORS
On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of bringing my good friend and renowned cellist Daniel Lelchuk to Hoboken to perform at Columbian Towers, an affordable senior living community in my district, the First Ward. Embracing the arts in Hoboken is essential to create a diverse community and it’s important for us to include people from all walks of life and backgrounds in culturally enriching programs.
Daniel is the assistant Principal cellist of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the seniors really enjoyed learning some of the history behind the classical works. I’m looking forward to bringing more quality music and arts to our seniors and entire city in the years ahead.
As our campaign to keep bringing new energy and new ideas to Hoboken starts heating up ahead of the November City Council elections, I am so grateful for your continued friendship, support and engagement in making the Mile Square a better place. Our campaign has always been a grassroots effort to bring the positive change to Hoboken our city desperately needs.
Whether you’ve supported me in the past or like the fresh energy I have brought to local government, I hope we can continue working together to further the progress we’ve already made in building a better Hoboken. If you’re interested in getting involved in our campaign, please let me know!