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JohnPinho

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  1. During the campaign, Councilman Anselmo Millan asked me to write a descriptive piece for the campaign website. I wrote the following. I tried to convey in the video the same message. Anselmo Millan and his wife Josefa have been residents of Harrison for 39 years. Together, Anselmo and Josefa raised two children—Josie and Anselmo Jr. Now, Anselmo and Josefa are enjoying the blessing of grandchildren. Anselmo has never forgotten the importance of public service. With Harrison facing ever-increasing financial challenges, Anselmo decided to seek the council seat in the 2nd Ward, so that he could lend a hand in helping Harrison’s residents. Anselmo brings with him over 10 years of council experience. If elected, Anselmo will hit the ground running to help the residents weather the economic storm currently hitting Harrison. With life and council experience coupled with boundless energy, Anselmo is uniquely qualified to help lead Harrison through these trying times. Ask yourself, do we want someone who simply complains? Or, do we want someone who looks for solutions to the problems facing the Town of Harrison? Anselmo has been finding solutions for years. Anselmo’s work ethic is well-known. Whether he is heading up a volunteer group of high school students, Harrison’s Beautification Committee, Harrison Fest activities, or meeting the needs of constituents, Anselmo gives his heart and soul. Anselmo draws strength from the simple pleasure of helping someone in need. Anselmo is Ready and Willing to Serve! That is not only a campaign slogan, but reality. View the full article
  2. During the past few months, I have been busy helping Mayor Raymond McDonough and Council Candidate Anselmo Millan in their election campaign. In future postings, I will tell you a little bit more about the campaign and my thoughts on what it means for Harrison's future. During the campaign, I realized that many new voters did not know Councilman Anselmo Millan and his prior accomplishments as Harrison's 2nd Ward Councilman. I decided to put together a video to reach those new voters. Ultimately, I created three videos which were distributed via DVDs in the 2nd Ward. Several people asked me to upload the videos to YouTube. Last night, I uploaded the first of the videos entitled simply Anselmo Millan. Leave your thoughts below or on YouTube. View the full article
  3. The Harrison Red Bulls have just kicked off their 2010 Season in their new Red Bulls Stadium in Harrison, NJ. In at least one newspaper, the Red Bulls were kicking off their season in Harrison, NY. There is a Harrison New York but Harrison New Jersey is a far cry from affluent Harrison New York. It is unlikely that Harrison New York would accept the building of a 25,000+ soccer stadium within its city limits. Red Bulls fans converged by car and by train on the one square mile town of Harrison New Jersey and looked with awe at the stadium as they moved closer and closer to realizing their dream of a brand new soccer specific stadium. Traffic barriers prevented fans from crossing South Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard prematurely and directed them to designated crosswalks. Former Mayor Frank E. Rodgers would have likely been on the corner of then South 4th Street and the Path station welcoming the New York Red Bulls fans and the Chicago Fire fans to his Harrison, New Jersey. Fans however were greeted by Harrison and Hudson County Police and Sheriff officer along with private security officers directing traffic and otherwise maintaining public safety. The Red Bulls stadiums was suppose to be joined by the mixed use development by the Advance Realty Group. Despite advertisement along fences blocking off vast city blocks in front of the Red Bulls stadium promoting the Riverbend District, the Advance Realty Group has failed to start horizontal construction of any of the planned construction. Advance Realty has received permission from the Harrison Planning Board to forgo planned sidewalk and lighting improvements. In their place are temporary blacktop sidewalks and pole lighting courtesy of Harrison taxpayers who footed the bill for PSE&G poll lighting to comply with the agreement with the Red Bulls organization. The property tax revenue which was suppose to be realized by the Advance Realty Group development has failed to materialize and the Harrison taxpayers are facing a reported 3.1 million dollar bond payment this year. The Red Bulls are suppose to pay 2.1 million dollars in an added property tax assessment in November. There are doubts however whether the Red Bulls will actually make any payment since the Town of Harrison owns the property on top of which the Red Bulls stadium sits and nobody in the administration has come forward to state that the ground lease agreement between the Red Bulls and the town contemplates a property tax payment. What could the Red Bulls do to help the Town of Harrison? They could make an advanced payment of the property taxes they will (supposedly) owe in November 2010. They could publicize on their website the various restaurants in Harrison. They could create a handy street guide containing all the Restaurants in Town and select business that would be of interest to Red Bulls fans during their visit to the Town of Harrison. The shuttle that has been set up to bring fans from the Newark Broad Street station is a great start but may I suggest that the Shuttle go down Harrison Avenue and then make a right onto South 5th Street and proceed past the Harrison Mini-Mall on Bergen. Maybe fans would patronize some more local businesses or at least realize that Harrison is more than just the Path station, empty lots in front of a brand new Red Bulls stadium and the new home of the Red Bulls soccer club. Local merchants are suffering from a downturn in the economy and would welcome some increased traffic. I noticed that at least one of the Red Bulls shuttle from the Ironbound section of Newark makes an extended trip along East Ferry and Ferry Street in Newark exposing riders to the various restaurants and stores along Ferry Street. The extended route is a plus for merchants on Ferry Street. What could the Advance Realty Group do for Harrison? They could start horizontal construction and start paying property taxes for buildings. They could take some of the space advertising their development and instead advertise local restaurants and businesses on the other side of Harrison. The good will and increased commerce for local business owners would go a long way towards increasing Advance Realty's image in the face of inaction on their part in starting construction. Advance Realty's CEO, Peter Cocoziello introductory statement in his firm's RiverBend website states that "Surely, the current economic volatility has not paved a smooth road, but for a project of this magnitude we need to look beyond today. After all, to be realized, Riverbend will require strong leadership, hard work, smart planning and determination. We must stay true to a long term strategy and take the daily steps to create the foundation for success." CEO Peter Cocoziello needs to put his company's money where his mouth is. It is time to start horizontal construction. Not with a modified plan but with the plan that was previously approved -- Mixed use properties that would transform the former industrial site that Harrisonians' fondly called the Charles Guyon complex (formerly the Crucible Steel Plant). Advance Realty tore down the massive buildings that helped the United States win War World I and II with ammunition, cannons and other materials from the Crucible Steel Factory on which their planned development is suppose to stand. The buildings that were torn down were a part of Harrison's rich industrial history. Some thought they were eyesores. I always thought the buildings were pieces of art full of rich history longing for someone to come along and convert them once again into a useful Faneuil Hall Marketplace or Quincy Market type use. While I sat on the Harrison Redevelopment Agency, an appraiser stated that the Guyon buildings (former the Crucible Steel Buildings) had an infinite life because of the manner they were constructed. The Advance Realty Group's demolition contractor cut short that infinite life. It is time that Advance Realty start construction on buildings that they promised would replace what they tore down. It is time for strong leadership, hard work, smart planning and determination. Those are Advance Realty's CEO Peter Cocoziello's words not mine. View the full article
  4. The Harrison Red Bulls have just kicked off their 2010 Season in their new Red Bulls Stadium in Harrison, NJ. In at least one newspaper, the Red Bulls were kicking off their season in Harrison, NY. There is a Harrison New York but Harrison New Jersey is a far cry from affluent Harrison New York. It is unlikely that Harrison New York would accept the building of a 25,000+ soccer stadium within its city limits. Red Bulls fans converged by car and by train on the one square mile town of Harrison New Jersey and looked with awe at the stadium as they moved closer and closer to realizing their dream of a brand new soccer specific stadium. Traffic barriers prevented fans from cross South Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard prematurely and directed them to designated crosswalks. Former Mayor Frank E. Rodgers would have likely been on the corner of then South 4th Street and the Path station welcoming the New York Red Bulls fans and the Chicago Fire fans to his Harrison, New Jersey. Fans however were greeted by Harrison and Hudson County Police and Sheriff officer along with private security officers directing traffic and otherwise maintaining public safety. The Red Bulls stadiums was suppose to be joined by the mixed use development by the Advance Realty Group. Despite advertisement along fences blocking off vast city blocks in front of the Red Bulls stadium promoting the Riverbend District, the Advance Realty Group has failed to start horizontal construction of any of the planned construction. Advance Realty has received permission from the Harrison Planning Board to forgo planned sidewalk and lighting improvements. In their place are temporary blacktop sidewalks and pole lighting courtesy of Harrison taxpayers who footed the bill for PSE&G poll lighting to comply with the agreement with the Red Bulls organization. The property tax revenue which was suppose to be realized by the Advance Realty Group development has failed to materialize and the Harrison taxpayers are facing a reported 3.1 million dollar bond payment this year. The Red Bulls are suppose to pay 2.1 million dollars in an added property tax assessment in November. There are doubts however whether the Red Bulls will actually make any payment since the Town of Harrison owns the property on top of which the Red Bulls stadium sits and nobody in the administration has come forward to state that the ground lease agreement between the Red Bulls and the town contemplates a property tax payment. What could the Red Bulls do to help the Town of Harrison? They could make an advanced payment of the property taxes they will (supposedly) owe in November 2010. They could publicize on their website the various restaurants in Harrison. They could create a handy street guide containing all the Restaurants in Town and select business that would be of interest to Red Bulls fans during their visit to the Town of Harrison. The shuttle that has been set up to bring fans from the Newark Broad Street station is a great start but may I suggest that the Shuttle go down Harrison Avenue and then make a right onto South 5th Street and proceed past the Harrison Mini-Mall on Bergen. Maybe fans would patronize some more local businesses or at least realize that Harrison is more than just the Path station, empty lots in front of a brand new Red Bulls stadium and the new home of the Red Bulls soccer club. Local merchants are suffering from a downturn in the economy and would welcome some increased traffic. I noticed that at least one of the Red Bulls shuttle from the Ironbound section of Newark makes an extended trip along East Ferry and Ferry Street in Newark exposing riders to the various restaurants and stores along Ferry Street. The extended route is a plus for merchants on Ferry Street. What could the Advance Realty Group do for Harrison? They could start horizontal construction and start paying property taxes for buildings. They could take some of the space advertising their development and instead advertise local restaurants and businesses on the other side of Harrison. The good will and increased commerce for local business owners would go a long way towards increasing Advance Realty's image in the face of inaction on their part in starting construction. Advance Realty's CEO, Peter Cocoziello introductory statement in his firm's RiverBend website states that "Surely, the current economic volatility has not paved a smooth road, but for a project of this magnitude we need to look beyond today. After all, to be realized, Riverbend will require strong leadership, hard work, smart planning and determination. We must stay true to a long term strategy and take the daily steps to create the foundation for success." CEO Peter Cocoziello needs to put his company's money where his mouth is. It is time to start horizontal construction. Not with a modified plan but with the plan that was previously approved -- Mixed use properties that would transform the former industrial site that Harrisonians' fondly called the Charles Guyon complex (formerly the Crucible Steel Plant). Advance Realty tore down the massive buildings that helped the United States win War World I and II with ammunition, cannons and other materials from the Crucible Steel Factory on which their planned development is suppose to stand. The buildings that were torn down were a part of Harrison's rich industrial history. Some thought they were eyesores. I always thought the buildings were pieces of art full of rich history longing for someone to come along and convert them once again into a useful Faneuil Hall Marketplace type use. While I sat on the Harrison Redevelopment Agency, an appraiser stated that the Guyon buildings (former the Crucible Steel Buildings) had an infinite life because of the manner they were constructed. The Advance Realty Group's demolition contractor cut short that infinite life. It is time that Advance Realty start construction on buildings that they promised would replace what they tore down. It is time for strong leadership, hard work, smart planning and determination. Those are Advance Realty's CEO Peter Cocoziello's words not mine. View the full article
  5. Mayor McDonough announced at the March 2, 2010 Council meeting that he was not seeking another term as Mayor. Jersey Journal reporter Tom Shortell wrote an article entitled "Harrison Mayor McDonough won't seek fifth term". Should Mayor McDonough seek re-election? I believe he should. For those of you who know me pretty well, you will know that I am not a wholehearted McDonough fan so my opinion that he should not drop out of the race may seem strange. So why I am saying that McDonough should seek re-election? Dropping out of the race would be the easy way out. The residents of Harrison deserve a Mayor who will step up and lead the town out of its current economic mess, not someone who quits when times get tough. Decisions made by Mayor McDonough have gotten us into this mess and he has to step up to the plate and turn the town around. On a personal level, I can understand Mayor McDonough wanting to throw in the towel. He has lost Peter Higgins, a dear friend, a sounding board and confidant. He is facing dire financial cuts both in tax revenues, state cuts, a 3.5 million dollar bond payment, school aid cuts and a growing number of unemployed town residents. The road ahead is not an easy one. Mayor McDonough had banked on redevelopment to assist him in his re-election bid but the redevelopment in Harrison has stalled and unlikely to restart in any significant way prior to November. Four years ago I supported (former) Councilman Anselmo Millan in his bid to become Harrison's Mayor. Despite a well run campaign, the residents of Harrison re-elected Mayor McDonough. Anselmo took a sabbatical from politics and spent time enjoying his family especially his grandchildren. Despite the loss of his Councilman title, Anselmo never stopped helping residents who showed up at his door seeking assistance and advise on varying issues. Anselmo continued to work for the residents of Harrison. He realized that he could continue to help despite not having a Councilman or Mayor's title. He may have not showed up at Council meetings (despite my invitations for him to do so) but he was not afraid to call or visit Mayor McDonough seeking assistance for a town resident or to voice his opinion. If he could help, he would. If he thought something was wrong, he let you know it. When Mayor McDonough announced he was not seeking another term, I called Anselmo and sought his insight on the Mayor's decision. Anselmo told me that the Mayor could not quit now, the town needed him too much. I have been at Anselmo's side through several political campaigns and terms in office. I was not surprised at his reaction. Anselmo wants what is best for Harrison. At this time, Anselmo believes that there is no one better to turn the ship around than Mayor McDonough. McDonough is going to have to make some very crucial decisions in the next few weeks and months. For four years, Councilman Steve McCormick (joined a year later by his wife Councilwoman Marie McCormick) have been trying to get McDonough to change his ways. Open Government and transparency would have prevented some of the poor decisions made in the past especially those related to the Redevelopment Zone. Hopefully, Mayor McDonough will begin the process of making Harrison's government more open to public scrutiny and input. McDonough has nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Councilman Steve McCormick and his wife Councilwoman Marie McCormick have not announced their intentions with respect to one of them running for Mayor. They have earned the right to make a bid for the Mayor's seat. Both would also be qualified to manage the town's affairs. Steve's council seat is up this year. Marie's council seat is only up next year. Marie would run for Mayor in the Primary (June) or in the General Election (November) and still retain her council seat if she was unsuccessful. There may be other candidates who will throw their hat into the ring both for the Mayor's seat and council chairs. The next few weeks will be interesting for those who enjoy following local politics. View the full article
  6. Mayor McDonough announced at the March 2, 2010 Council meeting that he was not seeking another term as Mayor. Jersey Journal reporter Tom Shortell wrote an article entitled "Harrison Mayor McDonough won't seek fifth term". Should Mayor McDonough seek re-election? I believe he should. For those of you who know me pretty well, you will know that I am not a wholehearted McDonough fan so my opinion that he should not drop out of the race may seem strange. So why I am saying that McDonough should seek re-election? Dropping out of the race would be the easy way out. The residents of Harrison deserve a Mayor who will step up and lead the town out of its current economic mess, not someone who quits when times get tough. Decisions made by Mayor McDonough have gotten us into this mess and he has to step up to the plate and turn the town around. On a personal level, I can understand Mayor McDonough wanting to throw in the towel. He has lost Peter Higgins, a dear friend, a sounding board and confidant. He is facing dire financial cuts both in tax revenues, state cuts, a 3.5 million dollar bond payment, school aid cuts and a growing number of unemployed town residents. The road ahead is not an easy one. Mayor McDonough had banked on redevelopment to assist him in his re-election bid but the redevelopment in Harrison has stalled and unlikely to restart in any significant way prior to November. Four years ago I supported (former) Councilman Anselmo Millan in his bid to become Harrison's Mayor. Despite a well run campaign, the residents of Harrison re-elected Mayor McDonough. Anselmo took a sabbatical from politics and spent time enjoying his family especially his grandchildren. Despite the loss of his Councilman title, Anselmo never stopped helping residents who showed up at his door seeking assistance and advise on varying issues. Anselmo continued to work for the residents of Harrison. He realized that he could continue to help despite not having a Councilman or Mayor's title. He may have not showed up at Council meetings (despite my invitations for him to do so) but he was not afraid to call or visit Mayor McDonough seeking assistance for a town resident or to voice his opinion. If he could help, he would. If he thought something was wrong, he let you know it. When Mayor McDonough announced he was not seeking another term, I called Anselmo and sought his insight on the Mayor's decision. Anselmo told me that the Mayor could not quit now, the town needed him too much. I have been at Anselmo's side through several political campaigns and terms in office. I was not surprised at his reaction. Anselmo wants what is best for Harrison. At this time, Anselmo believes that there is no one better to turn the ship around than Mayor McDonough. McDonough is going to have to make some very crucial decisions in the next few weeks and months. For four years, Councilman Steve McCormick (joined a year later by his wife Councilwoman Marie McCormick) have been trying to get McDonough to change his ways. Open Government and transparency would have prevented some of the poor decisions made in the past especially those related to the Redevelopment Zone. Hopefully, Mayor McDonough will begin the process of making Harrison's government more open to public scrutiny and input. McDonough has nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Councilman Steve McCormick and his wife Councilwoman Marie McCormick have not announced their intentions with respect to one of them running for Mayor. They have earned the right to make a bid for the Mayor's seat. Both would also be qualified to manage the town's affairs. Steve's council seat is up this year. Marie's council seat is only up next year. Marie would run for Mayor in the Primary (June) or in the General Election (November) and still retain her council seat if she was unsuccessful. There may be other candidates who will throw their hat into the ring both for the Mayor's seat and council chairs. The next few weeks will be interesting for those who enjoy following local politics. View the full article
  7. Governor Chris Christie announced in a speech last Thursday before a Joint Session of the Legislature that he was withholding state aid to school districts including Harrison. Harrison is losing $2.455 million in school district aid. Harrison's $2.455 million may seem high but Christie is withholding $29.3 million from Union City and $25.26 million from Perth Amboy. Other local school districts are slated to lose as follows: East Newark $827,937; Kearny $3.87 million; North Bergen $2.058 million and Jersey City $3.565 million. Christie made an appearance with Michael Aron on NJN's On The Record immediately after his Joint Session of the Legislature speech. Christie explained his budget cuts in more detail. With respect to school funding, he explained that the cuts reflected dollar for dollar local school budget surplus above 2% of the school's district's budget. So the above numbers reflect surplus money in various school budgets above and beyond a 2% surplus which schools were allowed to maintain in case of an unforeseen emergency. In other words, school districts had too much money in reserve and therefore did not need state aid. During the On The Record show, Christie was very comfortable explaining his position on the cuts that he had ordered. He was extremely frank and even stated that if voters were not happy with his decisions they could vote him out in four years. His business like attitude is extremely refreshing. New Jersey is facing a reported 11 billion dollar budget deficit in fiscal year 2010. I am glad Christie is at the head of our state trying to solve the state's budgetary deficit. As I have stated on several occasions, local residents have been under financial stress for over two years. Our nation is facing the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression. Christie gets it. New Jersey cannot afford to give government employees the type of health, pension, and sick time benefits they currently have. Government employees must face reality. Christie asked legislators to join him in the center of the room to find a solution. He went on to say that those who did not come to the center of the room to help find a solution would be dragged out from their corner and brought into the center. Dramatic but he meant it. You could see him grabbing someone by the collar and dragging him/her out of their corner. New Jersey must be run more like a Business. Christie understands the economic crisis facing New Jersey's residents. He intends to make government employees understand that business as usual is over. I applaud his effort to save New Jersey. View the full article
  8. Governor Chris Christie announced in a speech last Thursday before a Joint Session of the Legislature that he was withholding state aid to school districts including Harrison. Harrison is losing $2.455 million in school district aid. Harrison's $2.455 million may seem high but Christie is withholding $29.3 million from Union City and $25.26 million from Perth Amboy. Other local school districts are slated to lose as follows: East Newark $827,937; Kearny $3.87 million; North Bergen $2.058 million and Jersey City $3.565 million. Christie made an appearance with Michael Aron on NJN's On The Record immediately after his Joint Session of the Legislature speech. Christie explained his budget cuts in more detail. With respect to school funding, he explained that the cuts reflected dollar for dollar local school budget surplus above 2% of the school's district's budget. So the above numbers reflect surplus money in various school budgets above and beyond a 2% surplus which schools were allowed to maintain in case of an unforeseen emergency. In other words, school districts had too much money in reserve and therefore did not need state aid. During the On The Record show, Christie was very comfortable explaining his position on the cuts that he had ordered. He was extremely frank and even stated that if voters were not happy with his decisions they could vote him out in four years. His business like attitude is extremely refreshing. New Jersey is facing a reported 11 billion dollar budget deficit in fiscal year 2010. I am glad Christie is at the head of our state trying to solve the state's budgetary deficit. As I have stated on several occasions, local residents have been under financial stress for over two years. Our nation is facing the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression. Christie gets it. New Jersey cannot afford to give government employees the type of health, pension, and sick time benefits they currently have. Government employees must face reality. Christie asked legislators to join him in the center of the room to find a solution. He went on to say that those who did not come to the center of the room to help find a solution would be dragged out from their corner and brought into the center. Dramatic but he meant it. You could see him grabbing someone by the collar and dragging him/her out of their corner. New Jersey must be run more like a Business. Christie understands the economic crisis facing New Jersey's residents. He intends to make government employees understand that business as usual is over. I applaud his effort to save New Jersey. View the full article
  9. At the February 2, 2010 Mayor & Council meeting, Town Attorney Paul Zarbetski stated that the Red Bulls did not have to make a 2010 1st Quarter tax payment because they did not currently owe any property taxes. Zarbetski explained that the town's Tax Assessor, Al Cifelli, would only be making an added assessment in October of this year and it would not be due until November. Added Assessments are only done once a year in October. Although I was surprised to hear that the Red Bulls were going to pay 2.1 million in property taxes, I was glad the Red Bulls were going to pay their fair share of Harrison's property tax burden. Harrison must make a 3.5 million dollar bond interest payment in June of this year on the bonds it took out to purchase the land that the Red Bulls stadium now sits on. The timing on this interest payment could not come at a worse time. Harrison has already lost 5 million dollars in state aid, will likely lose Abbott District funding for its schools, and no new property tax revenue is being generated as redevelopment has come to a standstill. Harrison's taxpayers may be asked to fill the budget gap that could be significant. Taxpayer's are already overwhelmed with the town's property tax bills. Mayor McDonough has already made plans to lay off town workers to save a reported 2.1 million. But the actual savings for fiscal year 2010 will be far less than the 2.1 million. I suggested at the council meeting that the Mayor immediately consider asking higher paid town employees to voluntarily take pay cuts (3,4 or 5%) and institute furloughs to insure that there will not be a need for further employee layoffs. None of the above are popular but union leaders must come to terms with the reality of the economic storm facing the Town of Harrison and get their members actively involved in finding a solution. I also suggested that the Mayor ask the Red Bulls to make their property tax payment before the October 2010 assessment to assist the town in weathering the cash crunch it will be experiencing this coming year. It may seem like a lot to ask for but Harrison has given a lot to the Red Bull's organization and deserves some consideration. Let us see if the Red Bulls show us the money, sooner than later. View the full article
  10. At the February 2, 2010 Mayor & Council meeting, Town Attorney Paul Zarbetski stated that the Red Bulls did not have to make a 2010 1st Quarter tax payment because they did not currently owe any property taxes. Zarbetski explained that the town's Tax Assessor, Al Cifelli, would only be making an added assessment in October of this year and it would not be due until November. Added Assessments are only done once a year in October. Although I was surprised to hear that the Red Bulls were going to pay 2.1 million in property taxes, I was glad the Red Bulls were going to pay their fair share of Harrison's property tax burden. Harrison must make a 3.5 million dollar bond interest payment in June of this year on the bonds it took out to purchase the land that the Red Bulls stadium now sits on. The timing on this interest payment could not come at a worse time. Harrison has already lost 5 million dollars in state aid, will likely lose Abbott District funding for its schools, and no new property tax revenue is being generated as redevelopment has come to a standstill. Harrison's taxpayers may be asked to fill the budget gap that could be significant. Taxpayer's are already overwhelmed with the town's property tax bills. Mayor McDonough has already made plans to lay off town workers to save a reported 2.1 million. But the actual savings for fiscal year 2010 will be far less than the 2.1 million. I suggested at the council meeting that the Mayor immediately consider asking higher paid town employees to voluntarily take pay cuts (3,4 or 5%) and institute furloughs to insure that there will not be a need for further employee layoffs. None of the above are popular but union leaders must come to terms with the reality of the economic storm facing the Town of Harrison and get their members actively involved in finding a solution. I also suggested that the Mayor ask the Red Bulls to make their property tax payment before the October 2010 assessment to assist the town in weathering the cash crunch it will be experiencing this coming year. It may seem like a lot to ask for but Harrison has given a lot to the Red Bull's organization and deserves some consideration. Let us see if the Red Bulls show us the money, sooner than later. View the full article
  11. The Regular February 2010 Meeting of the Mayor and Council will be held tomorrow Tuesday, February 2, 2010 starting at 6:30 p.m. with the Caucus (3rd Floor) and at 7:00 p.m. (2nd Floor) with the Regular Meeting. Both are open to the public. The Agenda acknowledges the United Irish Grand Marshall for the 2010 St. Patrick's Day Parade, James Woods. Information on the annual United Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade is available on their website. The Resolution recognizing James Woods states: James ("Jim") Woods is a life-long resident of Harrison, where he attended the Harrison Public School System before attending Kean University. He was appointed to the Harrison Fire Department in 1984 where he served as firefighter until 1998, when he was promoted to the rank of Captain and served as training officer and fire investigator. Jim's thirst for innovative and progressive techniques was a perfect fit for his role. In 2005, Jim was promoted to Battalion Chief and assigned to his current position as a platoon commander. He also is on the staff of the Hudson County Office of Emergency Management, where he continues to work on a part time basis. Jim has been cited for valor and heroism several times throughout his career. Jim has been married to his wife Kim for the past 24 years. They have two sons, Ryan age 20, who is currently a junior attending the University of Southern California, and Conor age 17, a senior attending Hudson County High Tech High School. Jim's passion for his Irish heritage and love of Irish music inspired him to co-found the Hudson County Fire & Police Pipes and Drums, along with teaching his sons, who have been playing since the age of seven. Jim attributes his Irish-American rearing, along with his three brothers and sister, to the many successes he has experienced throughout his life. Other items on the Agenda are adoption of recommendations from the auditor. The list of recommendations are interesting but appear routine in nature. Some are surprising like the Town of Harrison does not have a General Ledger. Also on the Agenda is the appointment of Harold Stahl to the Harrison Redevelopment Agency to fill the unexpired term of Peter Higgins, III. Stahl is a retired Fire Chief from City of Rahway. It is not clear who will undertake the responsibilities of being the Chairman of the Harrison Redevelopment Agency. Commisioner James Fife is a likely candidate although Mayor Raymond McDonough, who also sets on the Harrison Redevelopment Board, may want to assume the Chairmanship. Lastly of note, is a refund of taxes to CJUF (Canyon Johnson Urban Fund) II Harrison Holdings which is the corporate name for the Harrison Commons partnership getting refunded overpayment of property taxes. The amounts are minor compared to the amount of funding provided Harrison Commons through infrastructure bonding you wonder if Harrison Commons is at all grateful for what the Mayor & Council have provided them with through the years. It is not clear whether the refunds are a result of the demolition of tax ratable buildings or if Harrison Commons made a clerical mistake and sent in double payments. The latter is not likely. View the full article
  12. The Regular February 2010 Meeting of the Mayor and Council will be held tomorrow Tuesday, February 2, 2010 starting at 6:30 p.m. with the Caucus (3rd Floor) and at 7:00 p.m. (2nd Floor) with the Regular Meeting. Both are open to the public. The Agenda acknowledges the United Irish Grand Marshall for the 2010 St. Patrick's Day Parade, James Woods. Information on the annual United Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade is available on their website. The Resolution recognizing James Woods states: James ("Jim") Woods is a life-long resident of Harrison, where he attended the Harrison Public School System before attending Kean University. He was appointed to the Harrison Fire Department in 1984 where he served as firefighter until 1998, when he was promoted to the rank of Captain and served as training officer and fire investigator. Jim's thirst for innovative and progressive techniques was a perfect fit for his role. In 2005, Jim was promoted to Battalion Chief and assigned to his current position as a platoon commander. He also is on the staff of the Hudson County Office of Emergency Management, where he continues to work on a part time basis. Jim has been cited for valor and heroism several times throughout his career. Jim has been married to his wife Kim for the past 24 years. They have two sons, Ryan age 20, who is currently a junior attending the University of Southern California, and Conor age 17, a senior attending Hudson County High Tech High School. Jim's passion for his Irish heritage and love of Irish music inspired him to co-found the Hudson County Fire & Police Pipes and Drums, along with teaching his sons, who have been playing since the age of seven. Jim attributes his Irish-American rearing, along with his three brothers and sister, to the many successes he has experienced throughout his life. Other items on the Agenda are adoption of recommendations from the auditor. The list of recommendations are interesting but appear routine in nature. Some are surprising like the Town of Harrison does not have a General Ledger. Also on the Agenda is the appointment of Harold Stahl to the Harrison Redevelopment Agency to fill the unexpired term of Peter Higgins, III. Stahl is a retired Fire Chief from City of Rahway. It is not clear who will undertake the responsibilities of being the Chairman of the Harrison Redevelopment Agency. Commisioner James Fife is a likely candidate although Mayor Raymond McDonough, who also sets on the Harrison Redevelopment Board, may want to assume the Chairmanship. Lastly of note, is a refund of taxes to CJUF (Canyon Johnson Urban Fund) II Harrison Holdings which is the corporate name for the Harrison Commons partnership getting refunded overpayment of property taxes. The amounts are minor compared to the amount of funding provided Harrison Commons through infrastructure bonding you wonder if Harrison Commons is at all grateful for what the Mayor & Council have provided them with through the years. It is not clear whether the refunds are a result of the demolition of tax ratable buildings or if Harrison Commons made a clerical mistake and sent in double payments. The latter is not likely. View the full article
  13. Mayor Raymond McDonough announced that forty eight town workers will be laid off as a result of former Governor Jon Corzine cutting 5 million dollars in distressed city aid to Harrison and increasing insurance costs. The lay offs are suppose to save the town $2.1 million. The layoffs come in the same week that the Mayor and Council voted at a Special Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Meeting held on Monday, January 18, 2010 to increase town worker salaries by 3.5 percent each of the past three years (2007, 2008, and 2009). If the Red Bulls make their first of their quarterly property tax payment in two weeks, the town will be on track to making up some of the 5 million dollars it has lost from the loss of distressed city aid. In a press release Mayor Raymond McDonough stated that "The taxpayers of Harrison cannot be called upon to pay additional local property taxes to replace the lost state aid." Local business owners may find it strange that the McDonough administration started out the week giving pay increases to town workers only to turn around in the same week and hand out pink slips. When is the last time a private company announced salary increases and then laid off employees? Unheard of. Government however operates under different rules. Town employees expected pay increases and Mayor McDonough delivered those pay increases. Those with seniority are not affected by the laying off of their fellow town workers. I stated in prior posts that a pay increase would result in layoffs. It was abundantly clear that the taxpayers of Harrison would and could not support another tax increase. They may have to endure a large tax increase even with additional town worker layoffs because the Town of Harrison is facing more than one economic storm. The town must make a 3.5 million dollar interest payment on the Red Bulls Stadium bonds. Councilman Steve McCormick questioned Mayor McDonough about how the town was going to meet its interest payment obligation. Mayor McDonough stated that he was working on it. In addition, the town is likely to have its Abbott District school funding cut. Every dollar cut in Abbott Funding will add that amount that must be raised in property taxes to fund the school district. The Board of Education and Councilman/Superintendent of Schools James Doran must start now looking at cutting costs in the town's schools. Mayor McDonough appoints the school board members so he should have some control over the school budget. The Jersey Journal reported on the lay offs and mentioned the freezing of town worker salaries for 2010 and 2011. The article failed to mention that the town gave 3.5% pay increases for years 2007, 2008 and 2009. I found that to be a interesting fact to miss. The names of the employees given layoff notices were also not released. Let's hope that the layoffs were based on union layoff guidelines (rules) rather than on other factors. Avoiding litigation and the increased legal fees associated with defending lawsuits is crucial to keeping costs down. View the full article
  14. Mayor Raymond McDonough announced that forty eight town workers will be laid off as a result of former Governor Jon Corzine cutting 5 million dollars in distressed city aid to Harrison and increasing insurance costs. The lay offs are suppose to save the town $2.1 million. The layoffs come in the same week that the Mayor and Council voted at a Special Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Meeting held on Monday, January 18, 2010 to increase town worker salaries by 3.5 percent each of the past three years (2007, 2008, and 2009). If the Red Bulls make their first of their quarterly property tax payment in two weeks, the town will be on track to making up some of the 5 million dollars it has lost from the loss of distressed city aid. In a press release Mayor Raymond McDonough stated that "The taxpayers of Harrison cannot be called upon to pay additional local property taxes to replace the lost state aid." Local business owners may find it strange that the McDonough administration started out the week giving pay increases to town workers only to turn around in the same week and hand out pink slips. When is the last time a private company announced salary increases and then laid off employees? Unheard of. Government however operates under different rules. Town employees expected pay increases and Mayor McDonough delivered those pay increases. Those with seniority are not affected by the laying off of their fellow town workers. I stated in prior posts that a pay increase would result in layoffs. It was abundantly clear that the taxpayers of Harrison would and could not support another tax increase. They may have to endure a large tax increase even with additional town worker layoffs because the Town of Harrison is facing more than one economic storm. The town must make a 3.5 million dollar interest payment on the Red Bulls Stadium bonds. Councilman Steve McCormick questioned Mayor McDonough about how the town was going to meet its interest payment obligation. Mayor McDonough stated that he was working on it. In addition, the town is likely to have its Abbott District school funding cut. Every dollar cut in Abbott Funding will add that amount that must be raised in property taxes to fund the school district. The Board of Education and Councilman/Superintendent of Schools James Doran must start now looking at cutting costs in the town's schools. Mayor McDonough appoints the school board members so he should have some control over the school budget. The Jersey Journal reported on the lay offs and mentioned the freezing of town worker salaries for 2010 and 2011. The article failed to mention that the town gave 3.5% pay increases for years 2007, 2008 and 2009. I found that to be a interesting fact to miss. The names of the employees given layoff notices were also not released. Let's hope that the layoffs were based on union layoff guidelines (rules) rather than on other factors. Avoiding litigation and the increased legal fees associated with defending lawsuits is crucial to keeping costs down. View the full article
  15. The Mayor & Council passed a Salary Ordinance tonight which provided retroactive pay increases for years 2007, 2008 and 2009 but froze Civil Service worker's salaries for 2010 and 2011. A large crowd filled the council chambers. A moment of silence was observed in memory of Peter Higgins. The Holy Cross Church bells began ringing as Mayor McDonough finished announcing the moment of silence as if on cue. Pete wanted us to know he was present in the council chambers once again. Pete's sister Harrison's Chief Financial Officer, Beth Higgins, stated that the money to pay the retro pay increases was in reserve and had been in reserve in anticipation of a possible future settlement. Good news. Although I am of the opinion that the Town cannot afford any pay increases even retro increases, I am pleased that the retro pay increases will not add to the future tax burden of Harrison's taxpayers. In addition, I am pleased that there were will be no pay increases in 2010 and 2011. At the end of the meeting, there was a show of approval for the Mayor & Council's passage of the salary increase. Town workers will be receiving a retro check in the very near future and expressed their approval with a burst of applause. The applause was subdued by rumors that some of the town's workers are scheduled to be laid off. Harrison is about to be hit by a huge budget shortfall forcing the hand of Mayor McDonough's administration. Layoffs are unheard of in the Town of Harrison but they will undoubtedly be necessary in the face of a State budget shortfall and the unlikelihood that the Christie administration is going to restore 5 million dollars in state aid pulled by Governor Jon Corzine. An incident that occurred in front of Town Hall after the meeting demonstrates the level of frustration that taxpayers are experiencing. While Town Workers are receiving retro pay increases, taxpayers are trying to figure out how to pay their ever increasing property taxes in the face of job loses. Town workers should be sensitive to their fellow Harrisonian's plight. One resident got loud expressing his disapproval of town worker pay increases. As expected, a town worker responded back. Although calmer heads prevailed to defuse the confrontation, Harrison Police officers stood by to make sure that the peace was maintained. As one resident pointed out this is not a fight between us and them, it is a fight for the survival of every Harrisonian. True. It is easier to have a clear mind when you know that you have a weekly paycheck. It is harder to think clearly when your weekly paycheck has been cut off and others are getting retro active pay increases. I condone any physical confrontation. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been proud of those who stepped in to defuse the confrontation on his official birthday. The weeks and months to come will test the resolve of all Harrisonians. Our political leaders must get together and put together a plan on how to weather the economic storm facing the town. Town workers must do their best to assist. Every interaction with town residents is going to matter. Town workers should be thankful for all that has been given them. It is significant. I plan on being part of the solution. I ask that the good citizens of Harrison join the effort. It is your Harrison, it's up to you to make a difference. View the full article
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