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Featured News

Citizen Watchdog Summit with the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity

Citizen Watchdog Summit with the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity

We’ve all heard stories of wasteful spending, egregious cases of government abuse and overreach, of double dipping politicians, and even closed door meetings. But why aren’t these stories being told in the media?

That’s where engaged citizens like YOU come into play. We need your help to be government watchdogs in New Jersey.

To learn more, join us at the Atlantic City Convention Center on Saturday, May 18.


PARTYTIME IN HOBOKEN, Thursday night joins Friday and Saturday 3:00a.m. Bar closing!

On May 2, 2012, the Hoboken City Council passed an Ordinance amending Chapter 68 "Alcoholic Beverages" to change and update the hours of operation of licensed liquor establishments.

Viewing the City Council meeting video, one would tend to believe the City's reason for making the changes “the City Council wishes to more closely align the City's hours of operation for licensed establishments with the modern holidays recognized and celebrated by the City of Hoboken."

There were no public speakers and no substantive discussion among Council members.  Short, sweet, and the ordinance passed on the second reading.  

Upon closer examination of the “well intentioned changes,” Hoboken now has THREE late night bar closings!  Either by accident or design, Thursday night joins Friday and Saturday nights with lucrative 3:00a.m. closings.

Changing City Council procedures

The Board of Directors of People for Open Government (POG) invited you, and any council colleagues you chose, to meet with us in a public forum to discuss problems with the way the City Council conducts its business. In reply, you have said that, instead of such a meeting, POG should send you a list of remedies to the problems we have identified. POG expects the City Council and city administration to be willing to meet with citizen groups on public issues. Such meetings would foster the accountable and transparent government to which POG is dedicated. Inasmuch as you are unwilling or unavailable to meet with us, this letter will inform you of our thinking.

HUMC sale under scrutiny, Ex-Hoboken cop launches lawsuit over blocked records request

A former police officers’ private investigation into the dealings surrounding the hospital sale has come to a screeching halt after he was barred from accessing records from a related agency.

Ex-Hoboken cop Ed Mecka filed a lawsuit in the Hudson County Superior Court last week against Hudson Healthcare, Inc., (HHI) after his request for access to the organization’s records was blocked.

According to the complaint, Mecka filed an OPRA (Open Public Records Act) request to obtain materials from a July HHI Board of Directors meeting, including a list of attendees at the meeting, and a resolution passed by the board. Mecka’s request, however, was blocked by the HHI, who, according to the complaint, claimed that it was not a “public agency,” and therefore not subject to the Open Public Records Act.

Westerly Holdco Submits Offer for Westerly Hospital in Rhode Island

Westerly Holdco and NS Healthcare Holdco are affiliated with IJKG Opco, a hospital management company in Bayonne, N.J. IJKG Opco owns Hoboken (N.J.) University Medical Center, Bayonne (N.J.) Medical Center and was recently approved by a bankruptcy judge to purchase Christ Hospital in Jersey City, N.J., through Hudson Holdco, another affiliate.

Conflicts of Interest for Municipal Officials In New Jersey

Some of the requirements of the Local Government Ethics Law, set forth at N.J.S.A. 40A: 9-22.1 et seq., are relatively straightforward and easy to understand. Local public officials must file financial disclosure statements under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.6, and members of independent authorities cannot do business with or appear before those authorities for a year after they leave the body under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(b).

However, perhaps the central concept of this law, enacted in 1991 to restore and preserve the public trust in local government, is far less clear. Exactly what type of interest must an official have in a given issue to create a conflict sufficient to prevent him or her from participating in any decisions concerning the matter?

UPDATE: APRIL 20, 2012, Mecka vs. Hudson Healthcare, Inc.

Excerpts from Mecka vs. Hudson Healthcare, Inc., filed April 10, 2012 Hudson County Superior Court by attorney Walter Luers, LLC, Clinton, New Jersey.  

N.J. Senate panel approves bill requiring for-profit hospitals to post financial information

As another bidding war over a struggling nonprofit hospital heats up in North Jersey, a Senate panel today took aim at the spread of for-profit hospitals by approving a bill that would require they disclose financial information to the public.

Any hospital that wants a share of the state "charity care" fund for treating uninsured patients would have to supply information detailing their operating budget, such as sources of income, its business holdings and salaries, and other information nonprofit entities are required to file with the IRS, according to bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen).

The state Department of Health and Senior Services would collect and post the information on its website, according to the bill, (S782).

UPDATE: MARCH 19, 2012, OPRA Request Filed with Hoboken University Medical Center’s Former Manager, Hudson Healthcare, Inc.

Attorney Richard Gutman replied to HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC.’s denial of my February 24, 2012 OPRA request.  It is our legal position that the CITY OF HOBOKEN created the private non-profit HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC. to manage HOBOKEN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER for the HOBOKEN MUNICIPAL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY.   Supreme Court of New Jersey, The TIMES OF TRENTON PUBLISHING CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. LAFAYETTE YARD COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellant.

We are confident that, if necessary, the Courts will rule that the non-profit HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC. is subject to the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.

Contractor Charged with Agreeing to Bribe Union City Official for Constuction Approvals

A Union City, New Jersey contractor appeared in court today to face a federal charge that he agreed to give bribes and corrupt payments in connection with a Union City Zoning Board matter, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Bryant Venegas, 26, of Clifton, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with one count of knowingly and corruptly agreeing to give a bribe. Venegas surrendered this morning to the FBI and appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court. He was released on a $50,000 bond.

PRICE RIGGING – ZONING MANUPULATION, Hoboken begins the process of Eminent Domain to acquire private land for a park.

The City of Hoboken moved one step closer to using Eminent Domain as a “tool” to force the sale of privately owned property to the government for use as a park. 

In a unanimous vote, Hoboken City Council members passed two Resolutions that are necessary to initiate the eminent domain process.   The Resolutions approve the November 21, 2011 property value appraisals and authorizes the issuance of an “OFFER LETTER” based on fair market value to the record title owners of the properties. 

Not everyone in the audience was happy with the Council’s actions as two public speakers made their feelings know, one stating that Hoboken officials engaged in “price-rigging and zoning manipulation.

700-pound Livermore man’s plea for help

A 700-pound Livermore, CA man’s plea for help to lose weight has become a viral sensation on YouTube in less than 24 hours.

Robert Gibbs, who turned 23 on Friday, said he is a prisoner in his own body.
“I spend most of my days right here, watching TV.” Gibbs said from his couch.

For-profit hospital trend dangerous for Hudson County, N.J.

Hudson County is at a crossroads. Last week, the community faced the prospect that Christ Hospital would be sold to Prime Healthcare Services.  If the sale had proceeded, four of the county’s hospitals would have been owned and operated by for-profit entities.  Christ would have joined Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, Bayonne Medical Center and Hoboken University Medical Center as institutions no longer dedicated solely to delivering quality and affordable health care services to their patients.

Prime Healthcare drops bid for N.J. Christ Hospital

Prime Healthcare Services pulled its bid to buy a New Jersey hospital last week, saying it was deferring to the wishes of local elected officials who wanted to see the hospital remain a locally operated nonprofit.

The proposed deal met strong resistance from a health workers union and a community group that aired concerns over Prime’s business model.

Prime leaders and Christ Hospital attorneys also faced tough questions from health regulators and the New Jersey attorney general’s office, including queries about billing practices based on findings of a yearlong investigation by California Watch. The nonprofit investigative news operation has identified a pattern at Prime Healthcare of billing Medicare for treatment of rare conditions among its elderly patients – conditions that enable the chain to reap lucrative bonus payments.

UPDATE: January 3, 2012 Transcript William Campbell vs. City of Hoboken

On Jan 3, 2012, Mayor Zimmer made a second appearance before Administrative Law Judge Jesse H. Strauss and testified in William Campbell vs. City of Hoboken.  For those of you following the case, Mayor Zimmer's previous November 9, 2011 appearance was interrupted after three hours of testimony when the Mayor advised the Court that the FBI was at Hoboken City Hall and she had to immediately return to the City.

Jersey Shore’s Hoboken filming request denied, Mayor Zimmer says informal "verbal agreements" were made involving payments to individuals for"unauthorized filming"

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer advised the "Jersey Shore” production company that their request for a Hoboken filming permit has been denied.  Zimmer wrote;

“After careful deliberation, the members of the Film Commission, including representatives from Health & Human Services, Environmental Services, and the Administration, with input from our public safety officials, have determined that in the interest of public safety and quality of life, the permit application for 495 Productions/MTV's production of the Jersey Shore spin-off has been denied.”

Hoboken Construction Code Official files lawsuit against City; names Mayor, Business Administrator, Assistant Corporation Counsel, and 15 "John Does" as defendants

On December 23, 2011, embattled Hoboken Construction Code official ALFRED AREZZO filed a CEPA lawsuit in the Law-Civil Part division of the Hudson County Superior Court Docket # L 006490 "AREZZO VS THE CITY OF HOBOKEN NEW JERSEY ET AL".

Hoboken Reporter: Mayor testifies for hours about former spokesman’s layoff, Attorney debates juicy Hoboken topics with Zimmer; video obtained exclusively by Reporter

More than a year after the city of Hoboken laid off 13 city workers in a well-publicized layoff plan, Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the city are spending hours fighting one employee’s appeal in the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) court in Newark. Testimony obtained exclusively by the Reporter shows that the laid-off employee’s attorney has sparred with Zimmer over many controversial political issues that have occurred in town over the last year, including raises for Zimmer’s two aides, and internet blogs that appear to favor Zimmer.

Zimmer recently testified for more than four hours in one day in the OAL court regarding the appeal of former city Public Information Officer Bill Campbell’s layoff.

Editorial: Hoboken fells St. Patrick Saturday, January 14, 2012

A ST. PATRICK'S Day parade has been a tradition in Hoboken for a quarter of a century. The tradition ends this year, and it is a loss to all in North Jersey.

New Jersey is often overshadowed by New York. The St. Patrick's Day parade in Manhattan is bigger. Unfortunately, the people pouring out of bars and parties in Hoboken on the day of its parade are drunker or at least less controlled. The Hoboken St. Patrick's Parade Committee's decision last week to cancel the parade traditionally held on the first Saturday in March is an admission that Hoboken cannot guarantee the safety of the spectators who come from far and wide to celebrate.

Hoboken's St. Patrick's Day Parade Cancelled? Time for Finnegan's Wake!

Sadly, the Hoboken St. Patrick's Parade Committee announced that the much anticipated annual parade would be cancelled due to the "City of Hoboken's inability to protect our spectators, bands and participants."

The event is a Hoboken tradition held on the first Saturday of March and attracted hundreds of thousands of celebrants over the past 25 years.   

This year’s event, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, March 3, 2012, would have marked the parade’s 26th anniversary! 

Oscar Acevedo: Hoboken plays parking games, says unhappy motorist

Hoboken parking signs read 4-hour grace period -- how about a 20-minute disgrace?

I was ticketed $218 and booted for parking on Third and Grand just for picking up a report at Hoboken University Medical Center.

What favor is Director Sacs doing me? How out of touch is this guy with the community "doing us a favor"? It's a scam and we all know it. I wasn't puzzled, but disgusted.

UPDATE: November 9, 2011 Court Transcript William Campbell vs. City of Hoboken

On Nov 9, 2011, Mayor Zimmer testified in William Campbell v. City of Hoboken.  After three hours of testimony, Mayor Zimmer advised the Court that the FBI was at Hoboken City Hall and she needed to return to Hoboken.   The case was adjourned and rescheduled for continuation on January 3, 2012.  Attached is the 77 page Court transcript of Mayor Zimmer’s Nov 9th testimony.

JNESO's testimony before for New Jersey State Health Committee Hearing on For Profit Healthcare

Senator Weinberg and members of the Senate Health and Senior Services Committee, thank you for the opportunity to address you today about the conversion of non-profit hospitals to ‘for profit’. JNESO, District Council 1 represents over 5000 nurses, techs and other health care related employees in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, 322 of which are employed at Hoboken University Medical Center.
We are not opposed to the sale of this institution. We understand that the sale of this hospital to a well intentioned, ethical entity is vital to the survival of HUMC.  Quality health care should not be jeopardized for sake of profit or politics.   In light of recent news articles, that certainly does not seem to be the case.  In fact, JNESO collected over 3000 postcards from citizens concerned about the lack of transparency of this transaction.  It seems as if the instincts of the many thousands of concerned residents were correct. 

HUMC Holdco, the new owner of Hoboken University Medical Center, and the hospital's nurses unions have reached an agreement on a contract

The contract, which covers from this past Dec. 9 through September 2014, was ratified by a local collective bargaining committee composed of HUMC nurses, JNESO executive director Virginia Treacy said yesterday.

Under the new agreement, nurses will receive raises for three years 1 percent this year, 1.5 percent in 2012 and 2 percent in 2013, Treacy said. After 2013, Treacy said, some will be eligible for a 2.5 to 3 percent raise that also serves as an "employee retention incentive."

Nurses can now use sick time as they earn it instead of waiting to accrue a year's worth of sick days, Treacy said. In addition, full-time nurses now cannot be sent home mid-shift without pay and nurses cannot be sent to units where they lack expertise, experience or practice, Treacy said.

The union, she said, made one painful concession.

"We lost our pension, which was a difficult pill to swallow," said Treacy. "It was a major loss well, it was already lost (even before the new owners took over)."

Treacy said while most of JNESO's nurses, who average about 50 years in age, will be hit hard by the loss, it will save the hospital more than $1 million annually.

Ex-head of Hoboken Parking Utility admits guilt in $600G theft of meter funds, Toms River contractor previously pleaded guilty to theft

The former head of the Hoboken Parking Utility is facing eight years in prison after appearing in Superior Court on Friday to admit his role in the theft of $600,000 from that city’s parking meters.

John P. Corea pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson Jr. to official misconduct, a second-degree crime carrying a potential prison term of 10 years.

In entering his guilty plea, Corea, 45, a Hoboken resident, admitted steering three no-bid contracts to United Textile Fabricators, an arcade game manufacturer headed by a Toms River man, to collect and count coins from Hoboken’s parking meters.

Corea told the judge he made false statements to the Hoboken City Council about the company’s qualifications, and that he came to believe that the head of the company, Brian A. Petaccio, 51, of Toms River, had stolen a substantial amount of the city’s parking revenues.

Hoboken resident one of Fourteen new jersey health care providers arrested, charged with taking cash payments for patient referrals

A Hoboken resident is one of Thirteen New Jersey doctors and a nurse practitioner charged in a cash-for tests referral scheme for allegedly taking illegal kickback payments to refer patients to an Orange, N.J., medical testing facility, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Special Agent in Charge Tom O’Donnell announced.

This morning, more than 65 federal and local agents and officers led by HHS-OIG arrested the 14 health care practitioners, to whom radiology and diagnostic facility Orange Community MRI (“OCM”) allegedly paid monthly cash kickback payments in exchange for their referral of Medicare and Medicaid patients to OCM for testing services.

The defendants arrested this morning are scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court. OCM’s executive director, Chirag Patel, 36, of Warren, N.J., was arrested on Dec. 8, 2011, in connection with the scheme. He appeared that day before Judge Arleo and was released on a $750,000 bond.

Hoboken Police Sergeant Test Postponed Indefinitely

The Sergeant’s exam must be postponed indefinitely, due to the ongoing negotiations between the State of New Jersey and the United States Department of Justice regarding an acceptable revised test plan under the proposed Consent Decree. A new Orientation Guide outlining any changes to the testing process will be issued approximately 6 to 8 weeks before a new test date.

Hoboken Hospital Bankruptcy Lawyers awarded $1,083,941.77 for August through October “first interim allowances”

On December 7, 2011, the United States Bankruptcy Court District of New Jersey signed an order granting the first interim allowance to the law firm representing HUDSON HEALTHCARE, INC. “HHI”, the bankrupt non-profit private corporation “manager” of Hoboken University Medical Center. 

HHI’s bankruptcy counsel TRENK, DiPASQUALE, WEBSTER, DELLA FERA & SODONO, P.C. was awarded $1,083,941.77 representing fees and expenses for the “First Interim Fee Application for the Period August 1, 2011 through October 31, 2011.”

During the bankruptcy process, newspapers and political blogs have reported allegations of bankruptcy fraud with respect to HHI and the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority. 


New Jersey’s commercial solid waste industry remains open to abuse and manipulation by criminal elements that circumvent the State’s regulatory and oversight system, the State Commission of Investigation concludes in a report issued today.

“Individuals banned from the industry here years ago because of ties to organized crime and other criminal activities have nonetheless found ways to conduct a lucrative commerce in waste-hauling and recycling,” the SCI report states. “New Jersey has also become a haven for criminally-tainted entrepreneurs who were kicked out of the business as a result of heightened vigilance and stronger rules elsewhere, most notably in neighboring New York.”

The report focuses heavily on longstanding statutory, administrative and funding weaknesses in New Jersey’s A-901 program, established more than two decades ago in an effort to keep the industry clean. The SCI has reported on regulatory shortcomings in this realm on several prior occasions.

“That the Commission today must repeat some of the same general findings and recommendations is a testament to the price of warnings ignored, opportunities lost, and legislative intent undermined,” the report states. “It is also a testament to the guile and persistence of unqualified individuals who remain willing and able to subvert the system.”

Hoboken parking enforcement officer claims supervisors sexually harassed her: suit

A Hoboken Parking Utility (HPU) employee is suing the utility and two of her supervisors on charges of sexual harassment.

Parking enforcement officer Catherine Stewart said in a civil complaint filed this week with the state superior court that since she began working at the utility in July 2010, she has been subjected to harassment by two employees. She also claims agency officials turned a blind eye to their lewd behavior.

Stewart says that her supervisor Hector Mojica made "direct obscene and vulgar sexual comments" even before he was in a position of authority, according to the lawsuit.

When she refused his advances, he pulled strings to give her less desirable positions (working on the street instead of in a vehicle), took away scheduled overtime hours and threatened to fire her, the suit says.

Helen Hirsch: City’s lack of transparency leaves questions

Mayor Zimmer who, with promises of reform, has waved the banner of openness and integrity, has used every technique and opacity of secrecy in the book to hide the facts concerning the choice of the owners of the Bayonne University Medical Center as the only possible candidates as purchasers of HUMC.

When she became involved in the Hoboken Hospital Authority she did nothing to pull the raps of the organization which was established to outwit the legal requirements of a public body to make operations open to the public. She continues this code of secrecy to this day.

Hoboken University Medical Center Nurse’s Union JNESO Files Objection in Hudson Healthcare Inc Bankruptcy

JNESO, District Council 1, IUOE, AFL-CIO (“JNESO”) , the union representing nurses at Hoboken University Medical Center, filed an Objection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to the two (2) Motions filed by the Debtor,  Hudson Healthcare, Inc. (the “Hudson”)

Hoboken Reporter: Company that wants to buy Hoboken's hospital says mayor 'misrepresented' them by releasing outdated proposal to the public

As the city of Hoboken works out a bankruptcy agreement for Hoboken University Medical Center so that they may sell it to a private company called HUMC Holdco, Mayor Dawn Zimmer's detractors have said that other bidders have given proposals to buy the hospital, and that perhaps they should have been considered.

Yesterday, Mayor Dawn Zimmer released a response, saying that two of the proposals - from Jersey City Medical Center, and from a company called P3 - were not as good as the current bid from HUMC Holdco, for a variety of reasons.

Those proposals are posted on the city website.

When contacted by the Reporter, Jersey City Medical Center declined to comment. But P3 offered a comment late on Thursday afternoon.

They said that the proposal that Zimmer posted was outdated, and that unlike Holdco, they would run the facility as a nonprofit and keep it for health care "in perpetuity." Holdco has given a guarantee for seven years.

For-profit hospitals discussed in Trenton, Hearing draws testimony from Meadowlands CEO; Hoboken head absent

Hudson County hospitals were front and center at a state Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Senate subcommittee meeting on Monday that focused on for-profit hospitals in New Jersey.

The hearing came just days after allegations of bankruptcy fraud were made against Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC), and on the same day it was reported in The Star Ledger that Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus charges up to 3,000 percent higher for certain procedures by using a loophole in the medical system.

In Hudson County and across the country, failing hospitals are being bought by companies that try to turn a profit at these formerly non-profit institutions. But some worry that patient care will suffer as a result.

Jarrett Renshaw: Owners of Bayonne Medical Center spent $350K on lobbyists and political campaigns in past 2 years, records show

The ownership group of Bayonne Medical Center may be as well versed in the art of Trenton politics as it is in medicine.

Facing legislative calls for increased oversight of for-profit hospitals as it pursues a controversial deal at Hoboken University Medical Center, the group has spent more than $350,000 in the past two years on political campaigns and high-powered lobbyists to make their case at the Statehouse, records show.

The Bayonne hospital paid Rosemont Associates, a lobbying firm that employs former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) to help convince the chairmen of the state legislative budget committees to support an $11 million earmark to ease the sale of the Hoboken University Medical Center, records show.

N.J. lawmakers seek to strengthen law requiring attorney general to oversee transfer of non-profit hospitals

Two key Democratic lawmakers are planning to strengthen a law that requires the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to oversee the transfer of non-profit hospitals.

The move comes after the proposed sale of the Hoboken University Medical Center escaped the stringent review by successfully arguing that its status as a city-run hospital exempts it from the Community Healthcare Assets Protection Act, or CHOPA.

Under the law, the attorney general’s reviews all aspects of the sale of non-profit hospital, including whether the seller is getting fair market value, ensuring conflicts of interest are disclosed, the bidding process is fair and a host of items designed to protect the public. A superior court judge must also give their final opinion on the sale.

One of the major criticisms of the Hoboken sale has been the lack of transparency. Among other items, the public has yet to see the applications of the other bidders beside the successful one — the ownership group of the Bayonne Medical Center. Council members were just provided the financial statements of the hospital Wednesday.

New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority Approves $2.5M loan to Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority

The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority has requested a $2.5 million loan from the Authority to fund the continued operations of the Hoboken University Medical Center (“HUMC”), which is currently owned by HMHA, until the planned sale of HUMC to a company known as HUMC Holdco can be completed. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of September 2011. The loan will be secured by a subordinated pledge of the Revenues of HMHA, including an $11 million State appropriation to HMHA, which will not be available to HMHA until the sale is closed. The loan will be made from the Authority’s fund balance, which is currently over $4 million.

Nurses union JNESO District Council 1 subpoena's documents from Official Committee of Secured Creditors in Hoboken hospital bankruptcy

On Saturday, September 24, 2011, JNESO District Council 1, a union representing several hundred nurses employed by the Hudson Healthcare, Inc. Debtor at the Hoboken University Medical Center, issued a subpoena to Sills Cummis & Gross P.C., counsel for the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of the Debtor.

JNESO is seeking copies of all deposition transcripts in the Bankruptcy Case and  all documents produced to the Committee by the Debtor, the Authority, the proposed purchaser of the Hospital, or the City of Hoboken.

CEO of Jersey City Medical Center is willing to buy troubled Hoboken hospital if bankruptcy negotiations collapse

The CEO of the Jersey City Medical Center has reached out to state and local officials to let them know he is still willing to buy the Hoboken University Medical Center if bankruptcy settlement negotiations falter and the proposed sale collapses.

Joe Scott, CEO of Jersey City Medical Center, said he contacted Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the state Department of Health and Senior Services Thursday morning just hours after Hoboken City Council rejected a last-minute effort to salvage negotiations.

Minutes after the vote, Zimmer said the oldest hospital in the state would close and roughly 1,300 people would lose their jobs.

"I let them know we stand ready to do whatever it takes to ensure there is a organized transition with the hospital if this deal falls apart,'' Scott said. "We have a partner willing to buy the hospital and placed a bid…We were going to lease space from them.''

Audio of Senator Weinberg's Hospital Privatization Hearing

On Monday, September 21, 2011, New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-District 37), chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee held a hearing on the growing concerns of Hospital Privatization issues.

After reading press accounts about an attorney working for the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Arthority who said in a filed certification to the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey;

"During the period of retention, which ended on July 15,2011, I was a firsthand witness to apattern of conduct by HMHA members to intimidate, threaten, control, abuse, and attempt to force the CEO of HHI and members of the HHI Board to take actions adverse to its charter and otherwise to violate the laws of the State of New Jersey."

Weinberg requested an investigation by United States Attorney, District of New Jersey and the New Jersey State Attorney General.

U.S. Attorney, District of New Jersey on behalf of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority that they are not in bankruptcy and therefore not the Debtor

The U.S. Attorney, District of New Jersey on behalf of the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (“the Secretary”) submitted a Federal Bankruptcy filing to apprise the Purchaser and other interested parties of the consequences surrounding the Purchaser’s acceptance of the Provider Agreement or,alternatively, the Purchaser’s rejection of any such assignment and the Secretary’s opposition to anyattempt to transfer the Hospital’s Medicare Provider Agreement without successor liability.

"Moreover, because the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority (and therefore, not the Debtor) is the holder of the Medicare Provider Agreement and is not in bankruptcy, any transaction regarding the transfer of its Provider Agreement with the Secretary must take place outside the scope of this court’s jurisdiction."

In related events, more than one creditor listed by Hoboken Healthcare, Inc. Debtor have filed OBJECTION TO THE DEBTOR’S MOTION FOR ENTRY OF AN ORDER APPROVING SETTLEMENT AND COMPROMISE claiming they have a valid, binding claim directly against the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority, a non-debtor, based upon a contract with the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority. 


Asleep at the switch as Hoboken University Medical Center was spending money it did not have and incorrectly assumed the city would pick up the difference.

The September 19, 2011 nj.com published headline said it all “Lawyer from Hoboken Hospital Authority says critics are wrong about events that led to hospital's bankruptcy filing.”

A lawyer with the Hoboken Hospital Authority says critics are purposefully mischaracterizing the events leading up to the bankruptcy of the city’s hospital to further their own agenda.

In the most detailed defense of allegations that the city-backed authority pushed the hospital into bankruptcy, the authority’s attorney Ken Rosen said the hospital was spending money it did not have and incorrectly assumed the city would pick up the difference.

Hoboken University Hospital creditors want more than $10M to allow for its sale

Creditors are seeking more than $10 million from Hoboken University Hospital as a part of a broad bankruptcy settlement that would allow for the sale of the cash-strapped facility, according to sources with knowledge of the ongoing negotiations. 

However, the city is reluctant to pick up the extra costs, inching the hospital closer to shutting it doors, according to sources who asked for anonymity because they did not want to disrupt ongoing negotiations.   

Officials with the creditors committee, the city and its hospital held a seven-hour negotiating session Monday in hopes of settling the bankruptcy dispute before a pivotal hearing on Thursday, according to sources.

State Senator Loretta Weinberg requests investigation of fraud allegations against Hoboken University Hospital

A state senator has asked the U.S. Attorney and the state Attorney General to investigate allegations of fraud raised by the former attorney of Hoboken University Hospital before the state decides whether its pending sale can move forward.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) sent letters to U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and state Attorney Paula Dow asking them to probe charges by Donald Scarinci, who resigned as the hospital’s attorney two weeks before it filed for bankruptcy on Aug. 1.

In court papers, Scarinci said he quit because the city-backed authority created to oversee the hospital withheld millions in contractual payments to help make it appear it was in duress and push it into bankruptcy. The ultimate goal, he said, was to ensure an investment group that owns the Bayonne Medical Center gets to purchase the hospital. The group wants to buy the hospital for $65 million and convert it to a private facility.

Mayor Zimmer, Criminal Allegations against Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority Require Investigation

Donald Scarinci, Esq.

To be honest, I don't give a flying fcuk who buys Hoboken University Medical Center, nor do I care about the day to day jousting between Mayor Zimmer and the Anti-Zimmer foes. 

But what really gets my attention are allegations of criminal misbehavior made by an “officer” of the Court against the Hoboken Hospital Municipal Authority with respect to their overseeing of the Hoboken University Medical Center.

Court Documents Show "Hoboken University Hospital lawyer resigned because he was afraid city was committing fraud"

The Star Ledger reported that "the attorney for Hoboken University Hospital says he resigned in July because he feared the city was committing fraud by engineering the bankruptcy of its hospital."

"During the period of retention, which ended on July 15,2011, I was a firsthand witness to a pattern of conduct by HMHA members to intimidate, threaten, control, abuse, and attempt to force the CEO of HHI and members of the HHI Board to take actions adverse to its charter and otherwise to violate the laws of the State of New Jersey."

In court documents filed September 13, 2011 by Joseph J. DiPasquale of TRENK, DIPASQUALE, WEBSTER, DELLA FERA & SODONO, P.C., Attorneys for Hudson Healthcare, Inc., Debtor,  claim "the Creditors' Committee and Donald Scarinci, Esq. concede that they met on August 25, 2011 at Scarinci & Hollenbeck's office without any notice to the Debtor and for the sole purpose of obtaining information concerning Scarinci's former client, the Debtor.   Scarinci & Hollenbeck, was the general counsel for the hospital and its board from 2009 until July 16, about two weeks before the facility filed for bankruptcy.

North Hudson Sewage Authority says City of Hoboken responsible for $ 473,517.00 past due Hospital sewage charges

In a continuing case of déjà vu, it looks like the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority may have once again exposed the Hoboken taxpayers to legal liabilities associated with the Hudson Healthcare, Inc. bankruptcy.

In a September 13, 2011 Federal Bankruptcy Court filing, the North Hudson Sewage Authority asserts that the HOBOKEN MUNICIPAL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY is responsible for unpaid sewage charges in excess of $ 473,517.00.

Olympus America Inc. claims a valid, binding $ 372,861.08 + claim directly against the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority (City of Hoboken)

As the wheels of justice slowly turn, new filings in the Hudson Healthcare, Inc. bankruptcy case continue to bring eye-opening insight into the troubled finances of the Hoboken University Medical Center and the oversight of the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority.

In court papers filed September 13, 2011 in Federal Bankruptcy Court, Olympus America, Inc. asserted a valid, binding claim directly against the Hoboken University Hospital Authority, a non-debtor, based upon its contract with the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority.  If the Court agrees, the City of Hoboken may be responsible for payments in excess of $ 372,861.08.

Television Commercial About The National Debt That Is Being Banned By Major Networks

A new television ad about the U.S. national debt produced by Citizens Against Government Waste has been deemed “too controversial” by major networks including ABC, A&E and The History Channel and will not be shown on those channels. The commercial is a homage to a 1986 ad that was entitled “The Deficit Trials” that was also banned by the major networks.  Apparently telling the truth about the national debt is a little too “hot” for the major networks to handle.  But perhaps it is time to tell the American people the truth.  In 1986, the U.S. national debt was around 2 trillion dollars.  Today, it is rapidly approaching 14 trillion dollars. The American Dream is being ripped apart right in front of our eyes, but apparently some of the major networks don’t want the American people to really understand what is going on.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver called NJ Gov Christie'a assertions "outright lies," and said she wonders if the governor is "mentally deranged"

N.J. State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver tells the Philidelphia Inquirer that Gov. Chris Christie was lying when he told a crowd of gathered Republican supporters that she had asked him to help save her job during the final tense moments before the landmark vote on pension and benefits reform.  Listen to the audio tape.

Hudson County Victims of Hurricane Irene to get IRS TAX RELIEF

The Internal Revenue Service is providing tax relief to individual and business taxpayers impacted by Hurricane Irene. 

The tax relief postpones certain tax filing and payment deadlines to Oct. 31, 2011. It includes corporations and businesses that previously obtained an extension until Sept. 15, 2011, to file their 2010 returns and individuals and businesses that received a similar extension until Oct. 17. It also includes the estimated tax payment for the third quarter of 2011, which would normally be due Sept. 15.

In New Jersey, IRS filing and payment relief applies to the following counties and municipalities:  Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren

NYSC Honors 911 First Responders With Special Lifetime Gym Membership Rate

Town Sports International (TSI) – the company that owns and operates New York Sports Clubs (NYSC), Philadelphia Sports Clubs (PSC), Boston Sports Clubs (BSC) and Washington D.C. Sports Clubs (WSC) – is honoring first responders by offering a special discounted membership rate to all police, firefighters, EMS workers and military personnel, in appreciation for all of their hard work and sacrifice. Through September 11, first responders can sign up at any TSI Club location to receive a rate of $20 per month for the lifetime of the membership.

Nancy Pelosi Heckled At Town Hall Over Debt Bill, "Sell-Out"

Nancy Pelosi Heckled At Town Hall Over Debt Bill: "Sell-Out" House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was heckled several times at a town hall meeting in response to her vote for the "Satan sandwich" debt ceiling bill in Oakland, California. Pelo...

New York Sports Club offers "First Responder" membership

The 10th Anniversary of 9/11 is coming up and NYSC (New York Sports Club - Town Sports International) would like to honor all of the First Responder's who put their own lives in danger to help save the lives of others with a special "First Responder" membership.

Like many other New Yorkers and beyond, Town Sports International felt the September 11th attacks very close to home. Four of TSI's downtown NYSC locations were closed due to damage in the days following the attacks. The 30 Wall Street NYSC location opened as a 24-hour "Comfort Center" for World Trade Center rescue and relief workers. Many hundreds of workers took advantage of cots, food, water and medical supplies provided by NYSC and the Red Cross.

Our President and CEO Bob Giardina said recently in a press release "With the tenth anniversary of September 11th upon us, we continue to honor all first responders to let them know that we are truly grateful for all of their hard work and sacrifice. We hold them in the highest regard and will never forget the bravery they exhibited. We are appreciative of every first responder's daily commitment to keep us safe."

Settlement in N.J. sergeant selection process case draws mixed emotions from officers

In January 2010, the Department of Justice sued the state and New Jersey Civil Service Commission, alleging the sergeants exam discriminates against black and Hispanic officers and arguing the tests weren’t necessary to prove candidates could do the job.

The lawsuit cited figures from 2000 to 2008, when 89 percent of white candidates passed the exam, compared with 77 percent of Hispanic officers and 73 percent of African-Americans. Black and Hispanic officers who passed received lower scores and were less likely to be promoted.

Under the proposed settlement, the exam will be revised and New Jersey will provide $1 million in back pay to officers deemed harmed by the promotion process.

FBI to Hire More Special Agents

The FBI is now accepting applications for the special agent position from now until September 23, 2011. In addition to the traditional background in law or accounting, the FBI is also seeking individuals with skill sets in information technology or computer science, intelligence, engineering, science (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.), foreign language fluency (particularly in languages that involve our national security interests, such as Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Farsi, Punjabi, etc.), military and law enforcement. Applicants may also apply under what the Bureau terms the “Diversified” category, which encompasses all other disciplines.

Hoboken University Hospital chief executive received $600K severance package weeks before bankruptcy filing

Less than three weeks before the operator of the city-owned Hoboken University Hospital filed for bankruptcy — putting millions of dollars in taxpayer money and union pension funds at risk — the hospital’s chief executive received a six-figure payout, records show.

Spiros Hatiras, 46, stepped down as chief executive on July 16 after two years on the job with a severance package that includes:

  • $600,000 in compensation,
  • full medical benefits for a year,
  • and stipulated that the hospital authority will pay all of Hatiras’s legal expenses stemming from the agreement.

Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason calls for transparency in sale of University Medical Center, criticizes $600,000 severance package for resigned hospital CEO

Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason spoke out about the $600,000 severance package the former CEO of the Hoboken University Medical Center received after resigning.

"This morning the Star Ledger and Jersey Journal began to shine a light on what is really going behind the scenes as the sale of our hospital moves forward," Mason wrote.

"Financial records reveal that the hospital's former CEO was awarded a $600,000 severance package shortly before the hospital's management company filed for bankruptcy. This golden parachute was approved by Mayor Zimmer and the members of the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority...The parachute is an absolute disgrace and should be terminated immediately," she wrote.

Hudson Healthcare, operator of Hoboken (N.J.) University Medical Center, top 20 unsecured creditors

Hudson Healthcare, operator of Hoboken (N.J.) University Medical Center, filed for bankruptcy on August 1, 2011.  As required by Federal Bankruptcy Rule 1007(d), the debtor is required to submit a list of the 20 largest unsecured claims.

Included in the list are claims from "PSE&G - $2,502,670",  "Hoboken Parking Authority - $1,007,740", "City of Hoboken - $903,638", "District 1199J, the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, AFSCME, AFL-CIO - $1,055,045 and $494,417" and "Verizon - $306,647".

On August 9, 2011, the Jersey Journal reported that the former chief operating officer Spiros Hatiras will receive a $600,000 severance package from the Hoboken University Medical Center even though the agency that oversees the hospital is not obligated to pay it.  Hatiras, who resigned on July 14, was CEO for just two years.

Hoboken taxpayers on hook for $100,000 of severance package that HMHA wasn't obligated to pay

Former chief operating officer Spiros Hatiras will receive a $600,000 severance package from the Hoboken University Medical Center even though the agency that oversees the hospital is not obligated to pay it.

And what Hoboken taxpayers may find more appalling is that they are on the hook for $100,000 of that package. Hatiras, who resigned on July 14, was CEO for just two years.

According to a resolution approved by the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority, the city-created agency that oversees the city-owned hospital, new owners HUMC Holdco LLC are responsible for 80 percent, or $500,000, and the city is responsible for the remaining $100,000.

United States of America Long-Term Rating Lowered To 'AA+' On Political Risks And Rising Debt Burden, Outlook Negative

Standard & Poor’s announced Friday night that it has downgraded the United States credit rating for the first time, dealing a huge symbolic blow to the world’s economic superpower in what was a sharply worded critique of the American political system.

Lowering the nation’s rating one-notch below AAA, the credit rating company said “political brinkmanship” in the debate over the debt had made the U.S. government’s ability to manage its finances “less stable, less effective and less predictable.” It said the bi-partisan agreement reached this week to find $2.1 trillion in budget savings “fell short” of what was necessary to tame the nation’s debt over time and predicted that leaders would have no luck achieving more savings later on.

The decision came after a day of furious back-and-forth between the Obama administration and S&P. Government officials fought back hard, arguing that S&P made a flawed analysis of the potential for political agreement and had mathematical errors in its initial analysis, which was submitted to the Treasury earlier in the day. The analysis overstated the U.S. deficit over 10 years by $2 trillion.

Hoboken University Medical Center: Bad hospital deal is being rushed

Right now the residents of Hoboken are facing a stark reality: the pending sale of the Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC) to buyers with a poor track record in protecting jobs, maintaining needed community services, and providing quality healthcare services. This rushed, backroom deal should be prevented before Hoboken loses an asset it cannot replace. Applicable state law is already on the books to block this sale and start this process again to ensure more community input and transparency.

In the worst economic climate since the Great Depression… Hoboken, New Jersey moves to use Eminent Domain against private property owners to build a Park!

In addition to the faltering U.S. economy, property owners in a six acre area of  Hoboken, N.J. designated  as “Southwest Six (SW6)” will now have to contend with the City’s threaten use of Eminent Domain to acquire their  property for a Park.

Hoboken's approval of Willow Street project violates low-income housing requirements, lawsuit alleges

Fair Share Housing Center has filed a suit charging the Zoning Board and Advance at Hoboken LLC, the developer of a planned 140-unit housing development at 1300 Willow St., with failing to comply with fair housing regulations.

The center, which was created in 1975 to ensure fair housing in New Jersey, filed suit challenging the approval and seeking compliance with Hoboken’s ordinance on housing for lower-income households.

The suit was filed in Hudson County Superior Court on July 6.

Fair Share Housing Center Associate Director Kevin Walsh said 10 percent of new housing in the city is required to be available for lower-income families, but the rule is not being enforced in new developments.

N.J. appeals court rules in favor of Mount Arlington woman seeking borough cell phone records

Mount Arlington must release more records of cell phones used by municipal employees, a state appeals court ruled today.

The court rejected an appeal filed by the borough and upheld a decision by the state’s Government Records Council, which had ordered the borough to release call destinations for municipal cell phones.

The borough had released some records, but removed both the numbers called and the destinations, the court said.

The records are being sought by Gayle Ann Livecchia, a borough resident, who submitted Open Public Records Act demands for calls in September and October 2007.

Livecchia wants to know if employees used their cell phones for personal business without reimbursement and if employees — including, specifically, JoAnne Sendler, who was borough administrator at the time — made personal calls from home during working hours, the court said. She is seeking a list of the towns and states called, but has not requested the phone numbers involved, agreeing that would be a violation of privacy.

Hispanic cops on former Hoboken SWAT team settle discrimination lawsuit

Hoboken has agreed to pay five Hispanic officers $2 million to settle a federal discrimination lawsuit brought by the officers in October 2007, according to sources.

The Newark law firm that represented the officers has scheduled a press conference for noon today at the Hilton Gateway Hotel at Newark Penn Station to discuss the settlement.

The five officers, four of whom were members of the city’s now-disbanded SWAT unit, will also be present, according to a press release from the law firm, Ginarte, O’Dwyer, Gonzalez, Gallardo & Winograd.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants signed an agreement dismissing the case on Friday, according to court records, which noted the settlement was agreed upon in May.

“We are happy it’s over,” said Sgt. Edwin Pantoja, one of the cops who filed the lawsuit. “We can put this behind us and move forward.” He declined to discuss specifics of the settlement.

Examining the Changes to Health Insurance and Pensions

WHO IS AFFECTED All state employees and most local government workers, about a half-million in all, as well as about 260,000 retirees.

HEALTH INSURANCE Employees will pay much more, with the increase phased in over four years.

Most workers had been paying 1.5 percent of their salaries for health insurance, regardless of whether they had individual or family coverage. Under the new system, they will instead pay a percentage of the insurance premium — from 3 percent to 35 percent, depending on how much they earn.

A typical worker making $65,000 to $70,000 a year, who elects full-family coverage, will pay 19 percent of the premium, or about $3,600 at current rates, up from about $1,000.

The new system will offer a broader range of plans, including some lower-cost alternatives. Under the old system, an employee paid the same amount regardless of the plan. State officials hope that basing payments on premiums will encourage more workers to choose the cheaper plans.

Déjà vu all over again, Some see Hoboken hospital deal as history repeating itself

For some officials in Bayonne, the recent announcement by the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority Chairwoman Toni Tomarazzo that a private entity affiliated with Bayonne Medical Center is the final bidder in the process to purchase Hoboken University Medical Center is a bit of déjà vu.

“To tell you, I was a little alarmed when I heard it,” said former Councilman Gary La Pelusa, who was instrumental in providing city funds to help in the rescue of Bayonne Medical Center three years ago.

The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority, according to a member of the BMC transition team, entered into a non-binding agreement with HUMC Holdco LLC, one of the principal owners of BMC, late last week, beginning the process that could result in the purchase of the ailing Hoboken hospital, making it into a for-profit hospital modeled after BMC.