They don’t want a hospital, they don’t want a park

Dear Editor:
Truer words were never spoken by City Council President Bhalla regarding the four members of the minority,Theresa Castellano, Tim Occhipinti, Michael Russo and their leader, Beth Mason.
They don’t want a hospital:
1.) The HUMC transfer has been under a veil of secrecy.
HUMC has held monthly public meetings. At each meeting the public and council members have the right to ask questions. I was a member of the stakeholders committee where we thrashed out the issues to remove a $52 million millstone from the Hoboken taxpayer’s neck and find a way to keep HUMC open and profitable. There was also a public hearing by the NJ Department of Health at Hoboken’s Our Lady of Grace. The council minority members attended, but declined to speak.
Public bodies cannot discuss negotiations or legal matters in public, only in closed session. Does Beth Mason’s husband Ricky discuss his legal cases in public? Does a public safety union discuss the details of their negotiation in public? Of course not. HUMC Board President Toni Tomarazzo has briefed the City Council in closed session more than once.
2.) The $5.5 million bond issue is a tax hike.
If the HUMC sale to HoldCo occurs, the hospital goes from being a tax exempt to a taxable entity. The ratables would be set to cover debt service, meaning a zero percent tax rise.
3.) Beth Mason’s claim that the “secret” goal is to close HUMC and build condos.
HoldCo signed a deal that commits them to operate HUMC for a minimum of 7 years, which is a guideline from the NJ Dept. of Health. In the long run HUMC will either be profitable, or stay unprofitable and fold.
Currently the hospital is not zoned as residential. Therefore it cannot be turned into condos without zoning changes. If Beth Mason or someone like her becomes mayor, then it’s possible. But if the reform majority stays in power it can’t happen unless the hospital fails 7 years from now or later.
4.) There is another buyer!
HoldCo is the only legitimate bidder. They put up a bona fide Letter of Credit backing their deal. P3 had no firm plan of financing other than “we have investors with money.” A late potential buyer JC Medical Center has appeared, but we have no details at this time.

(Editor’s Note: This letter was sent before the JCMC plan was made public.)

5.) We need a deed restriction.
This is a Beth Mason designed “poison pill.” This will cause HoldCo’s financing to fail as stated by Paul Hollander, our attorney.
6) The HUMC bankruptcy was “forced” by the board.
As I stated during the public hearing, one of HUMC’s creditors would demand payment and HUMC would have no funds to expend. That creditor was PSE&G, who threatened to turn the lights off.
9) Gov. Christie saved us.
His generosity keeps hope alive. NJ taxpayers are doing what the City Council should have done.

Scott Siegel

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