You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig


You can put lipstick on a pig,


but it's still a pig

Everyone agrees that Hoboken has more than it's share of parking problems. One solution, Hoboken's “916 Garden Street automated garage,” has been at the center of controversy since it was first proposed under the Russo administration.

On June 9, 2002, the Hoboken Reporter published an article entitled “City to investigate 916 Garden, Mayor to launch fact-finding task force to probe delayed garage.” The article quotes Mayor Roberts "I want to be very clear about this," Roberts said. "If there is any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever, it will be sent directly to the county prosecutor. We are going to get to the bottom of this, and anyone who has violated the public trust will face consequences. And in the end, we are going to open this garage to provide our residents with urgently needed parking." The investigation will begin immediately, and the mayor expects an initial report of findings and recommendations to be completed within the next two weeks.

Days, months, and years have passed since the Mayor announced the investigation and, to date, there has been no public disclosure of the results. What we do know is that the investigation was actively pursued by the Hoboken Police Department to a point where the investigation was stopped and abruptly forwarded to the New Jersey State Attorney Generals Office, never to be heard of again.

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of the 916 Garden Street Automated Parking Garage and somewhat curious as to why the “investigation may have gotten lost in the shuffle,” I direct your attention to a comprehensive article published by “Mistersnitch” entitled:

Report on the
Hoboken 916 Garden automated garage 
Anatomy of a scandal
released January 23, 2002

Fast-forward July, 2006, Hoboken once again finds itself embroiled in an automated garage controversy. During the past 42 months, January, 2003 to July, 2006, the City Council has authorized over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in payments to Florida based Robotic Parking Systems, Inc. to provide a “temporary management need” for the parking garage at 916 Garden Street.

The city owns the property and equipment at the 314-space garage — but not the software used to operate the intricate system of elevators, pallets and pulleys. In what appears to have caused a legal quagmire, the issue of the software ownership was apparently never touched upon when Hoboken made the agreement to purchase the garage.

To further complicate matters, Hoboken has forcibly ejected the Robotic management staff from the 916 Garden Street facility and immediately replaced them with a new vendor, Israel-based Unitronics, who now exercises access and control over the Robotic proprietary software.

In response, Robotic has filed an injunction against the city in U.S. District Court, asking that the garage be ordered shut down and saying the city might be illegally copying the software used to operate the intricate system.  

If successful, Robotics claims it could win as much as $ 18 million dollars from the city in both civil and criminal penalties for allowing the city to bring another company in to copy trade secrets.

“This is a criminal act,” a Robotic official said. “They may be sending what they are copying out of the country to people elsewhere to be reverse engineered so they have the ability to run it without having to pay software fees. If they get away with this, then (Bill) Gates is at risk.”

Aside from the potential for a lawsuit costing Hoboken taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees, the credibility of our elected officials is in a tail-spin to destruction.

With six of the nine City Council seats up for election in less than 10 months, the Council members facing reelection understand that the automated garage fiasco will rank high on the list of issues if the situation evolves into a costly legal battle.

The Mayor must stand firm in his June 9, 2002 commitments to dispel any inference of corruption or wrong doing with respect to the automated garage project.

First and foremost, the Mayor must make public the results of June 9, 2002 investigation as well as the “Profit and Loss” statements for the 916 Garden Street automated Garage for the past 42 months.

Without voluntary disclosure, it is only a matter of time before the information becomes public under the Open Public Records Act.

Comments (1)

Said this on 3-14-2009 At 08:03 am
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Thanks for the help :p, Dalton.

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