Gonnelli inaugurated as Secaucus mayor

With a promise to “make this government run like a business” and “do what’s right for everyone,” former Secaucus 2nd Ward Town Councilman Michael Gonnelli was sworn in as Secaucus’ 15th mayor in a ceremonial inauguration held last Saturday. Officially, Gonnelli took the helm on Jan. 1.
Briefly choking up as he thanked his family and supporters, Gonnelli told an audience of 550-600 at the Arthur F. Couch Performing Arts Center that, “The challenges, we have a few. Everyone knows what the financial [situation] out there is. We’re going to be faced this year with tax appeals. We have a lack of ratables. We have challenges in our school system. We have a lot of development that’s taking place that’s going to mean more children. But I give you my word we’re going to look at everything thoroughly. The town is going to move forward.”
Gonnelli succeeds Richard Steffens who was appointed in September to serve out the remainder of former Mayor Dennis Elwell’s term in office, which was to end Dec. 31. Elwell resigned in July after being arrested on corruption charges.
Last November, Mayor Gonnelli, who was often at odds with Elwell, led an Independent ticket of council candidates who easily defeated a rival slate of Elwell-allied Democrats.
Newly elected councilmen Rob Costantino (1st Ward) and William McKeever (3rd Ward) were also sworn in during the hour-long ceremony Saturday, as was 2nd Ward Town Councilman John Bueckner, who was reelected in November.
During the ceremony, the Town Council held a brief official meeting at which the governing body voted unanimously to appoint Jim Clancy to the council to serve out the rest of Gonnelli’s term, which ends next Dec. 31.
Clancy, a social studies teacher at Secaucus High School, has previously served on the council.

Hoboken emergency workers rescue man from chilly river

Last weekend, Hoboken emergency workers were able to save a man from the Hudson River in the middle of the night, amidst harsh winds and freezing weather.
A reader e-mailed us with an account. (If you have news or comments for us, email editorial@hudsonreporter.com, then watch for it in print or at www.hudsonreporter.com!) The reader wrote:
“In the early morning hours of Jan 2 at 3 a.m., a Pennsylvania man jumped into the Hudson River while [possibly] intoxicated. The man claimed ‘he slipped while walking the rail.’ Responders, Hoboken E.M.S., were on scene ASAP, since they were on their way back from previous job, and happened to be on the same street as the incident.
The two E.M.T.’s working that night were Mr. Butler and Mr. Grapstul, and they quickly went into action once on scene. Both E.M.T.’s quickly prepped a life jacket for the man in waist deep water and dropped it to him via rescue rope that they carry on the ambulance. Even though the victim in the water was unable to put on his life preserver on properly, due to hypothermia setting in already, the E.M.T.’s were able to talk him into hugging it and wrapping his arm repeatedly around the rescue rope till Hoboken Fire and NYPD helicopter and divers could arrive on scene.
The NYPD’s divers were called off due to the fact that the wind being blown from the helicopter wings was drowning the victim. The man was removed safely without any injuries from the water thanks to the joint work of Hoboken’s fire and E.M.S. workers and transported to the hospital, where he is recovering from the freezing minus-10 degree water that night.”

Jersey City councilman wants to let needy residents pay taxes over time

Jersey City Councilman Steven Fulop told the Jersey City Reporter this weekend that he has a plan to help city residents struggling to pay their property taxes in tough economic times.
Fulop said he will introduce an ordinance at the next City Council meeting on Jan. 13 to implement a tax payment plan allowing homeowners to pay back the city over a three-year period, if they show proof that they will have difficulties paying their taxes. He said allowing residents to have time to pay their taxes would help them avoid tax liens and foreclosure.
The plan also has other steps such as:
– Allowing homeowners on unemployment or other financial difficulties to qualify
– Ensuring that the city can only collect interest on the delinquent payment rather than the entire tax bill
– Establishing a council-created subcommittee to review resident applications with a recommendation from the tax collector
“You start the tax lien process, and people start to lose their home; it affects the whole neighborhood around them,” Fulop said.
Fulop said his plan came about as a result of residents contacting his office and asking for help on their tax bills. He also points out that the city has already raised taxes over 11 percent so far in the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, and could raise taxes even higher in a “difficult” budget year. The city’s budget has not been introduced and is six months late.-RK

Prosecutor calls for closing of Jersey City sports bar after fatal shooting

Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio in a interview in a local daily newspaper this weekend called for the closing of the Ringside Lounge, the sports bar located on Tonnele Avenue in Jersey City, after a former Jersey City resident was shot dead in the bar a week ago Wednesday.
DeFazio said Irvington resident Adrian Gerena, 23, formerly of Union Street in Jersey City, was shot once in the chest and once in the forehead at about 11:20 p.m. in the back room of the Ringside Lounge while he was playing a card game.
DeFazio said a 34-year-old Jersey City man who was playing cards with Gerena was shot in the arm but suffered minor injuries and was treated at and then released from the Jersey City Medical Center.
DeFazio said according to an investigation, the gunman and a second man entered the bar and walked to the back bar room where they argued briefly with the two victims, in connection due to a prior dispute.
DeFazio said the alleged shooter has been identified as a Jersey City man and there is a warrant outstanding for his arrest. Surveillance video from the bar showed the man in the establishment at the time of the shooting.
DeFazio also said in the interview that the lounge should be closed down by action of the Jersey City Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, saying the shooting is the latest in such incident in recent years at the Ringside.
On Dec. 16, 2004, Jersey City rap promoter Robert “Tito” Montanez was shot twice in the chest and killed in the parking lot of the Ringside in a dispute over jewelry. Another gunfire incident occurred on Sept. 9, 2006 in the parking lot.
Anyone with information can call the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office’s Homicide Squad at (201) 915-1345.


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