Post Christmas storm hit before city contracted for snow removal

The $600,000 cost for snow removal may be partly due to the fact that the City Council did not have time to contract for snow removal services.
“We bid for and have a contract for salt,” said City Clerk Robert Sloan. “We went out to bid twice for emergency snow removal with no bidders. That allows us to negotiate with contractors for snow removal. Unfortunately, the blizzard of 2010 hit before a formal contract could be awarded.”
In order to meet the city’s needs, Business Administrator Steve Gallo hired DiBella Construction Co. on an emergency basis to remove snow from the Dec. 26 snowstorm. The City Council is expected to ratify the emergency provision and apply to FEMA to cover the costs.
While many cities and towns have their own snow plow equipment through the Department of Public Works, most municipalities contract for removal of snow from the streets to private companies in an effort to clear areas for parking and business. Uptown residents last week complained about the lack of snow removal from areas above 50th Street, saying that the city had set a schedule but never actually cleared the streets.
“Most of us dug out our cars in order to move them off the street,” said one uptown resident who did not want to be identified. “But the city never removed the snow.”
Meanwhile, a second serious storm is looming over the city for the overnight period from Jan. 11 into Jan. 12, leaving the city with similar snow removal problems.
The city has, meanwhile, already announced that it will suspend evening hours for Mayor Mark Smith, as well as the civilian city departments and Municipal Court for Jan. 11. These include the mayor’s office, the tax collector’s office, and the building department. Defendants scheduled to appear in court after 5 p.m. on Jan. 11 will be notified by mail of a new court date. City offices and the court were scheduled to remain open during the day on Jan. 11.

Marist cancels informational session due to snow

Marist High School has cancelled its scheduled Informational Session for Jan. 12 due to the impending snowstorm. The session has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. If you missed the school’s Open House or if you would like to visit Marist, it is suggested that you attend this event. For more info, call (201) 437-4545, ext. 225.

Bayonne man pleads guilty to extortion

Peter Rinaldi, 45, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge William J. Martini to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion after admitting to a scheme to obtain a $61,000 payment from a Bayonne businessman, United States Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Rinaldi, who was originally arrested on Feb. 1, 2010, was released on a $200,000 bond to house arrest with electronic monitoring pending his sentencing.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in Newark federal court: In late 2009, a construction company and a development company in Bayonne were engaged in a billing dispute, in which the construction company claimed that it was owed for labor and materials provided to the development company during the construction of a 12 unit condominium project in Bayonne.
Rinaldi, whose relative ran the construction company, conspired to extort $61,000 from a principal of the development company, instructing a co-conspirator in late December 2009 to “strike fear” in the victim. The victim was hospitalized for a head injury after the co-conspirator hit him in the head with a bat. Several weeks after the assault, Rinaldi repeatedly called the victim using a disposable cell phone and threatened continue violence if the victim did not pay the money.
Rinaldi made several telephone calls to the victim on Jan. 15, 2010, which were recorded by law enforcement. During one of the calls, Rinaldi instructed the victim to bring a check payable to the construction company in an envelope to a restaurant in Bayonne, place it on the counter, and leave. Later that day, the victim arrived at the restaurant and placed an envelope containing approximately $61,000 in checks on the counter. At that time, a law enforcement officer observed Rinaldi in a vehicle parked across the street from the restaurant. Rinaldi then fled the scene while an employee from the restaurant attempted to bring the envelope to him. Afterward, Rinaldi called the employee and instructed him to destroy the envelope. The employee ripped the envelope up and flushed it down the toilet. The next day, law enforcement played a recording of one of the calls for a principal of the construction company, who recognized Rinaldi’s voice.
At sentencing, Rinaldi faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the pecuniary gain or victim loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for April 21, 2011.

O’Dea asks state money for ARC be redirected

Hudson County Freeholder Chair Bill O’Dea announced today that he will sponsor a resolution at next week’s meeting supporting the governor’s proposal for the Port Authority to fund four major roadway improvements in Hudson County. The improvements are: The Pulaski Skyway, The Wittpenn Bridge, Route 139 from the Holland Tunnel to Route 1 & 9, and The Portway Road Connection from St. Paul’s Avenue to Secaucus Road in Jersey City. While all four of these improvements directly impact Freeholder O’Dea’s district, they more importantly are engines to economic development for the county that will bring jobs and ratables.
“As we move forward to sell and develop the Koppers Koke site in Kearny, these improvements will enhance the value and viability of that site, which may be the largest single commercial/industrial development parcel in the region,” stated O’Dea. “With these improvements, the prospect of creating thousands of blue collar jobs for local residents related to the port economy will be greatly improved.”
O’Dea noted that not only will the Portway Road be a catalyst for jobs, but it will also take trucks off of the busiest section of Tonnelle Avenue, thus alleviating a significant traffic problem for commuter vehicles. O’Dea noted that improvements to the Skyway and completion of the new Wittpenn Bridge are “absolute safety necessities.”
O’Dea said that in addition to passing a resolution of support, he would ask the board’s Transportation Committee to work with the county executive and the Hudson TMA to meet with the state and the Port Authority to get these projects “fast-tracked so we can put people to work on these public works projects.”

Bill to help former prisoners goes to governor for signature

Legislation sponsored by Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham to help former prisoners find jobs, in turn helping to boost the economy and reduce the recidivism rate in New Jersey, was today approved by both houses of the Legislature.
The bill (S-2556) would allow county or municipal governments to establish a program setting aside a certain percentage of their contracts to be awarded to companies that employ former prisoners.
“In order for former prisoners to successfully reintegrate into the community, they have to be given a chance to be productive members of society,” said Senator Sandra Cunningham. “This bill recognizes the need to create reasonable opportunities for those who have rehabilitated themselves to find work, to keep them from returning to the prison system. It also recognizes that everyone – regardless of past mistakes – should be part of the process of building a stronger economy in our state.”
The qualified prisoner re-entry set aside program would be authorized by a local ordinance or resolution. It would require the governing body to establish a goal for its contracting agencies of setting aside a certain percentage of the dollar value of its total contracts for companies that employ former prisoners.
The measure is part of the recently unveiled “Back to Work N.J.” legislative initiative to create jobs and promote the state as a better place for business. The bill cleared the Senate by a vote of 24-13; it passed the Assembly by a 41-33 vote. It now heads to the desk of Governor Chris Christie.

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