Clerk: Two dead people signed WNY recall petitions

Even the Grim Reaper can’t stop a man from showing his political stripes in Hudson County.
Numerous signatures on petitions to recall West New York Mayor Sal Vega were disqualified Monday including — in two instances — names of people who are actually dead, according to the town clerk.
The petitions were submitted to Town Hall on behalf of mayoral hopeful Dr. Felix Roque, who has been protesting the tax increase in West New York and was hoping for a recall election against Vega this coming February. Vega is up for regular election in 2011.
West New York Town Clerk Carmela Riccie, who was responsible for validating the recall petitions, noted in her report that Ricardo Martinez appeared to have signed the petitions but has been deceased since Oct. 12, 2006. Another petition was signed by Pedro Costales, whom Riccie stated in her report “has been deceased for two years according to the Statewide Voter Registration Database.”
On Tuesday, Vega said he was going to file a complaint against Roque’s “Yes We Can” political organization because of the suspicious signatures.

Hoboken hospital to get $7 million in state aid

Amist fears that it might close due to financial difficulties, Hoboken’s only hospital will receive $7 million from the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services from the State’s Health Care Stabilization Fund, the city announced Tuesday afternoon.
Last month, the hospital’s CEO said that the facility needed $10 million in aid from the state in order to stay open.
While the aid amount is $3 million short, it is more than some predicted the ailing facility would receive, in light of outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine’s announcement that the state was pulling back on aid to municipalities. Some wondered if the incoming administration of Gov. Christopher Christie would pull back further.
“This funding is very welcome news since it recognizes Hoboken UMC as an essential safety-net hospital and will allow much needed additional time to improve the hospital’s financial performance and pursue its recovery plan,” Mayor Dawn Zimmer commented.
The hospital’s CEO, Spiros Hatiras, previously announced a budget reduction plan with a goal of reaching a break-even financial result for 2010. He said that the Stabilization Grant funding is a part of the recovery plan and does not lessen the need for the hospital to reduce its operating expenses.
Non-union employees have agreed to a 10 percent salary rollback resulting in $2.2 million in savings. Negotiations with two labor unions for identical rollbacks are ongoing. Union rollbacks could save the hospital $3.8 million, according to a hospital official.
Hatiras explained, “success of the plan will require shared sacrifice by everyone at the hospital; the senior management team has set an example and already taken a 10 percent salary decrease.” Zimmer noted that Hatiras voluntarily led by taking a 15 percent reduction.
The financially struggling St. Mary Hospital was made a city entity in 2006. The city guaranteed $52 million in bonds for capital projects starting with the new Emergency Room. Approximately $9 million has been used to fund operating expenses. The hospital lost $22.8 million in 2008 on a budget of $136,000,000.

Another teen dies in Jersey City shooting

Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said on Monday that Altarik Perry, 19, of Bergen Avenue in Jersey City, was shot to death Saturday morning during a wild shooting near Woodlawn Avenue.
DeFazio said Perry had just left a party at a nearby home with a group of people around 1 a.m. when two men allegedly started firing approximately 20 shots at the victims.
DeFazio said a bullet struck Perry in the back of the head and he was killed immediately. DeFazio also said a 31-year-old man was suffered a serious leg injury after being shot. The man is currently being treated at the Jersey City Medical Center.
DeFazio said one bullet went through the living room of one nearby residence, almost hitting the person residing there.
He said the incident was clearly not a robbery and no motive has been established.
Anyone with information about the shooting can call the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Homicide Squad at (201) 915-1345.
This has been a particularly bad year for young men in Jersey City, with several being shot in gang-related issues. – RK

New Year’s parking rules in Hoboken

In Hoboken, meters and alternate side parking will not be regulated from Friday, Jan. 1 through Monday, Jan. 4, according to parking officials.
Rules resume on Tuesday, Jan. 5. The Hoboken Parking Utility’s offices and all other City Hall offices will be closed during that time.
Other parking regulations like crosswalk parking and hydrant blocking will be enforced by police.

Correction and update on Hoboken homeless woman

Because of outreach from the community, the three children of a Hoboken homeless woman, Minerva Hernandez Quinones – who also gave her name as “Maria” and “Carmen” – were located and alerted that their mother had passed away. In the near future, a local church will hold a mass for her.
Minerva became homeless approximately 30 years ago after her children were taken away by social services. She was mentally ill and wandered the streets off and on since then, although for stretches of time, she lived in Puerto Rico with relatives. Her children lost contact with her in the last 12 years and did not realize she had returned to Hoboken. Now, her daughter is raising money for a funeral and burial.
Her name was incorrectly reported in last week’s article as Quintero. Her name was Quinones and her maiden name was Maria Ramirez Hernandez.
To read more on the story, see and scroll down to Hoboken news.

Bill would allow volunteer firefighters to hold elected office

No one’s calling it “Mike’s Law,” but they might as well.
On Dec., 14, Assemblyman Fred Scalera (D-36th Dist.) and Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-32nd Dist.) introduced a bill that, if passed, would allow volunteer firefighters and other emergency volunteers to hold elected municipal office. A comparable bill has been introduced in the state Senate by State Sen. Nicholas Sacco. The language of both bills specifically includes officers of volunteer companies, such as chiefs and directors.
Introduction of the bill comes exactly one year after Michael Gonnelli, a Secaucus town councilman who at the time was about to become chief of the local Volunteer Fire Department, was forced by Secaucus to choose between the two positions. Former Mayor Dennis Elwell, whose Democratic Party controlled the council, argued that Gonnelli’s two positions were in conflict because in Secaucus the Town Council has jurisdiction over the volunteer Fire Department. That meant that in his position as Town Councilman Gonnelli would supervise his own decisions as fire chief.
Gonnelli, an Independent who was often at odds with Elwell, countered that there was no conflict since he always abstained from Fire Department matters that came up before the council.
After a state ethics board failed to rule on the matter for more than two years, the Democratic-controlled council voted to take the matter to Hudson County Superior Court and a judge ruled that Gonnelli’s positions were indeed in conflict and he had to vacate one of them. Since he was already gearing up for a run for mayor, Gonnelli chose to remain on the council and was not sworn in as fire chief, although he remains a member of the Volunteer Fire Department.
If passed, the bills recently introduced would allow someone to simultaneously hold these two positions.
In a joint statement that accompanies the assembly version of the bill, Scalera and Prieto note, that “Volunteer emergency response companies provide a vital public service by augmenting, and in some situations, replacing paid fire and ambulance companies.” The legislation would apply to members of volunteer fire departments, first aid, rescue, and ambulance squads. Scalera, himself a firefighter and former deputy chief, reportedly tried to introduce this bill before but received political pressure to drop the legislation.
Prieto, an Elwell ally and Secaucus resident, stayed on the sidelines when Gonnelli’s conflict case was before the state ethic board and Town Council. – E. Assata Wright

Holiday Hudson Reporter editorial and advertising deadlines

Because of the holidays the next two weeks, the Hudson Reporter newspapers will have special advertising and editorial deadlines.
The office was closed Thursday, Dec. 24, and Friday, Dec. 25.
For the Thursday, Dec. 31 edition of the Midweek Reporter, the classified and display advertising deadline is 12 noon on Monday, Dec. 28.
For the Sunday, Jan. 3 editions of the Reporter newspapers, the editorial deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 9 a.m., and the advertising deadline is 12 noon that same Tuesday.
The office will be closed Thursday, Dec. 31 and Friday, Jan. 1. It will reopen on Monday, Jan. 4.
If you have questions about these deadlines or any other issue, please call (201) 798-7800. Also check Remember that breaking news is continually updated at our website.


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