AP: Jersey City hotels to host NFC, AFC teams during Super Bowl XLVIII

The Associated Press reported last week that two Jersey City-based hotels will host the Super Bowl contenders next year when MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands hosts the big game.
According to the AP, sources with the National Football League have confirmed that Jersey City’s Westin Hotel and the Hyatt Regency, also in Jersey City, will be the hotels of choice for the National Football Conference and American Football Conference teams that reach the 2014 Super Bowl.
The selection of two Jersey City-based hotels is seen as a coup for the city, which is less than a mile from Manhattan and about eight miles from MetLife Stadium. Some observers who have followed the buildup to Super Bowl XLVIII have speculated in the past that the NFL would select hotels in Manhattan over comparable accommodations in New Jersey.
But Jersey City’s hotels regularly have an occupancy rate that is over 90 percent, according to city officials and, according to Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, the city’s Hyatt location, at 2 Exchange Pl., is the chain’s most profitable franchise in the world.
The Westin’s Jersey City location, at 479 Washington Blvd., recently hosted several celebrities who were in the area for WrestleMania.

Heightened security at transit hubs for foreseeable future; local police departments increase security

Security will be beefed up for the foreseeable future at local transit hubs and public buildings throughout the region in response to the Boston Marathon bombings last week.
For the past week, commuters in the New York City Metro area were met with an increased police presence at on subways, in train stations, ferry stops, and transit hubs everywhere.
Some local police departments have also announced plans to increase security at public events and municipal buildings.
“NJ Transit is currently in a heightened state of alert,” according to a statement from spokesman John Durso Jr. “While there has been no specific threat made to our transit system at this time, NJ Transit police have deployed both uniformed and plain clothed officers to further patrol our system and keep customers safe. NJ Transit police are also in constant communication with local, state, and federal authorities. We remind customers to observe their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to NJ Transit police [at] 1-888-TIPS-NJT.”
NJ Transit regulates local bus service throughout Hudson County, in addition to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system, and commuter train lines that run through Secaucus and Hoboken.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – which operates the local PATH system that services Jersey City, Hoboken, Newark, Harrison, and New York – had no comment Wednesday regarding what measures are being taken to increase security on the PATH system.
Local police departments have, however, increased their own security efforts.
Jersey City Police Chief Thomas Comey announced last Tuesday that attendees at the upcoming City Council and mayoral debates will be subjected to bag searches before entering buildings.
“Law enforcement throughout this country remains in a heightened sense of security. Events attended by large numbers of people require an increased level of screening for the safety of all those involved,” Comey said.
While a statement issued on Comey’s behalf said the Jersey City Police Department is reluctant to release the specifics of their ‘high-alert’ tactics to avoid undermining the success and integrity of such, the police chief said that events that attract large crowds will have screenings and searches.
“We urge people to be patient, and, more importantly, observant,” said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy. “If you believe you see something suspicious, call the police department [at 911].”

Jersey City’s McNair Academic ranks high on Washington Post’s Most Challenging High Schools list

The Washington Post has announced its rankings of the most challenging schools in the country and McNair Academic High School in Jersey City has been ranked at No. 3 for the state of New Jersey, 5th in the northeast region, and 73rd nationally.
The Post ranked more than 1,900 schools on its America’s Most Challenging High Schools list. McNair Academic, which is located downtown on Coles Street, has ranked among the top 10 schools since 2010.
The ranking is determined through an index formula that is based on the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated last year.
McNair Academic has also been recognized as a Reward School by the New Jersey Department of Education for its school-wide proficiency, subgroup proficiency, and high graduation rates.

Loew’s to host Fifth Annual Volunteer Expo

On Thursday, April 25 from 1 to 7:30 p.m., Friends of the Loew’s and the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre will host the Fifth Annual Hudson County Volunteer Expo.
At the free Expo, guests can meet with representatives from dozens of nonprofit organizations that are in need of volunteers to help fill the ever-widening gaps in funding.
Guests can explore hundreds of volunteer options, and find out how they can make a difference for youth, families, senior citizens, animals, the environment, small business development, affordable housing, historic preservation, parks, the LGBT community, the disabled, the homeless, arts and culture organizations and more.
No RSVP is necessary to visit the Expo.
The Landmark Loew’s is located at 54 Journal Square, across the street from the Journal Square transit hub. For more information, call (201) 668-0546 or e-mail

Independent Ward D candidate Yun endorses Lavarro, Connelly for at-large race

Independent Ward D council candidate Michael Yun has announced his support for City Council At-large candidates Rolando Lavarro Jr. and Sean M. Connelly in the upcoming Jersey City municipal election.
Lavarro is an incumbent at-large City Councilman who is running for his first full term as part of the mayoral slate headed by mayoral candidate Steven Fulop. Connelly is on a ticket headed by Jerry Walker.
The election will take place on Tuesday, May 14.
In a release issued on April 16, Yun stated that, after reviewing the platforms and public service records of both candidates, he felt confident that Lavarro and Connelly would each be able to help address Jersey City’s immediate and long-term challenges.
“I am supporting Councilman Lavarro and Mr. Connelly as both a council candidate and a taxpayer,” Yun said in his statement. “The three of us will be able to work together to take swift action and create intelligent solutions to help struggling residents’ throughout the city. No matter who becomes Jersey City’s mayor, I know that Councilman Lavarro, Mr. Connelly, and I will be able to improve public safety and mass transportation while putting an end to wasteful and inefficient government spending.”
Yun is running independently for the Ward D seat and is not part of a political slate.
There are eight candidates running at-large. In addition to Lavarro, Rev. Joyce Watterman and Daniel Rivera are also running at-large with Fulop. Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy’s slate includes Councilwoman At-large Viola Richardson, Council President Peter Brennan, and Omar Perez. In addition to Connelly Walker’s slate also includes at-large council candidate Ramon “Ray” Regalado.
Yun is running against Assemblyman Sean Connors, Fulop’s pick for Ward D, and Grace Giron, who is running with Walker.

Jersey City to lose another Catholic School

According to a report on, the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark has decided to close Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Jersey City after the current academic year.
The website reported that parents received letters this week notifying them of the decision to close the pre-kindergarten-through eighth school.
Several Catholic schools in Northern New Jersey and New York, which is run by a separate archdiocese, have been forced to close in recent years due to decreasing enrollments. In addition to Our Lady of Mercy, the Archdiocese of Newark has announced that the Resurrection School, also based in Jersey City, will also close its doors after the 2012-2013 school year.
According to, parents whose children are enrolled at Our Lady of Mercy have been invited to a meeting next week to discuss what options are available for their children next year. Administrators of other Catholic schools in the area are expected to attend this meeting.

Is the Fulop/Chico pot calling the Healy/Dwek kettle black?

Last week City Councilman and mayoral candidate Steven Fulop released “Healy Got Away with It,” his latest campaign ad which takes opponent Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy to task for his alleged involvement in the infamous 2009 cash-for-favors scheme run by the Office of the U.S. Attorney, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and government informant Solomon Dwek.
The ad features the now-familiar FBI surveillance footage of Healy’s diner meeting with Dwek and political consultant Jack Shaw.
In the months leading up to the arrests of dozens of New Jersey politicians and public figures in July 2009, Dwek met with these public officials posing as a real estate mogul interested in expediting Hudson County development projects in exchange for illegal cash payments. These real estate projects were, in fact, bogus and were part of an elaborate government sting operation known as Operation Bid Rig.
While Healy was never arrested or indicted in the sting, several of his key allies – including former Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega, and Shaw – were. Healy has repeatedly defended his reputation, stating that he never did anything that was illegal and he was not arrested for any crime.
But the timing of this new Fulop ad seems ironic.
In recent weeks, as the four mayoral campaigns have stepped up their get-out-the-vote efforts, Fulop’s Ward B candidate, Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal, has been seen on at least two occasions campaigning with Phil Kenny.
A former Ward B Jersey City councilman, Kenny pleaded guilty in October 2009 to taking $5,000 in bribes from Dwek. Kenny admitted in court that he met with Dwek twice in March of 2009 and agreed to help Dwek fast-track a development project he said he wanted to build on Garfield Avenue. Kenny admitted in court that he received two $2,500 cash payments in exchange for this promise.
Kenny – who had been appointed to the Ward B City Council seat vacated by Mary Spinello in April 2009 before winning the seat in May of that year – had been in office for less than eight months when he entered his guilty plea.
In 2010 he was sentenced to a year behind bars.
With his jail stint behind him, Kenny is apparently back on the campaign trail – this time not for his own election, but to help Ramchal, with whom he is friends. Two Ward B residents have said that they have seen Kenny accompany Ramchal as he canvasses the community seeking votes, most recently on Saturday, April 6.
Ramchal did not respond to two e-mails seeking comment.
But when asked about the unusual pairing of Kenny and Ramchal on the campaign trail, Fulop acknowledged the two are friends and repeatedly stressed that Kenny, “has nothing to do with my campaign. No title. No role. Nothing. We have hundreds of volunteers who show up at every event. I have no idea of everyone who walks or speaks to their neighbors with Chico.”
After doing some further digging, Fulop added that Kenny has not signed up to be an official volunteer for the campaign and the candidates on his slate have been told that, “going forward, if they do their own literature [distribution] or canvass for their own campaign to let us know with whom they walked, as obviously I can’t control that directly.”
At a forum held last Thursday for the Ward B City Council candidates, Ramchal defended his friendship with Kenny and said he would not stop campaigning with him. Kenny attended the forum to support Ramchal.

Victory Hall to reopen Drawing Rooms with ‘Night and Day’

Next month, on Thursday, May 2, Victory Hall will reopen Drawing Rooms, a gallery space for contemporary art, with the exhibit “Night and Day.”
Victory Hall’s fall exhibit was cut short due to Hurricane Sandy and “Night and Day” marks its return to regular art showings since the storm forced it to shut down temporarily. The exhibit explores works of contrasting opposites, hidden meanings, and the atmospheric qualities of light and darkness. The show includes seven solo exhibitions by Heidi Curko, Kay Kenny, Steve Singer, Tim Daly, Tomomi Ono, Sandra DeSando, and Michael Difeo. “Night and Day” will be on exhibit through Monday, June 10.
The Drawing Rooms arts center features 10 to 20 rooms of artist project spaces, artist books, a tea shop, and continually-developing exhibitions of new works by artists in New Jersey and New York.
Victory Hall is located at 180 Grand St. For more information regarding Drawing Rooms, “Night and Day,” or Victory Hall, visit

Ex-York Street Project resident Denise Banks to return for spring fundraiser

The York Street Project will hold its annual spring fundraiser on Thursday, May 2 at Liberty House Restaurant in Liberty State Park.
The spring fundraiser is a cocktail reception that will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Liberty House Restaurant in Liberty State Park, Jersey City. Individual tickets are $150 per person. Parking, entertainment, open bar, and hors d’oeuvres are all included. All proceeds are directed to York Street Project’s programs and 60 percent of the ticket price is tax deductible.
The York Street Project was launched nearly 26 years ago by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. Three buildings that were funded by the sisters underwent a $13.1 million rehabilitation and York Street opened its doors in 1989 as a network of four programs that provides education, housing, counseling, child development care, job-readiness, and life-skills training to women and children throughout Jersey City and Hudson County.
This year’s guest speaker will be Denise Banks, a former resident of St. Joseph’s Home, the transitional housing program sponsored by the York Street Project. Banks will share how her life was changed in 1992 when she and her daughter entered St. Joseph’s Home. After earning an undergraduate degree in Urban Studies from St. Peter’s University, Banks began her career in social services at the YWCA of Hudson County while living at St. Joseph’s.
Anyone interested in purchasing a ticket to the fundraiser can contact Bonnie Davis at (201) 451-8225 or visit

Toll Brothers, Aecom Capital to build new tower in Jersey City

Pennsylvania-based Toll Brothers Inc., announced last week that it will be working with Aecom Capital, a Los Angeles-based investment fund, to develop Provost Square, a luxury high-rise building in downtown Jersey City. Provost Square is expected to have 417 units and ground floor retail space at 160 Morgan St.
Harbor Boulevard. See brief.

Sister of suspected Boston bombers lives in West New York, says she can’t understand

WEST NEW YORK AND BEYOND – A West New York woman claiming to be the sister of suspected Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, and his brother Tamerlan, 26, has said that she “doesn’t know what got into” them when they allegedly killed three and injured hundreds in Monday’s attack, according to a report on
“They were great people. I never would have expected it,” said the woman. “They are smart – I don’t know what’s gotten into them.”
The woman would not identify herself by name, and spoke to reporters only through a crack in the door, but public records listed a woman living there with the same last name as the suspects. She referred to the men as her “brothers.”
According to, at least a dozen FBI agents arrived at the apartment building and created a perimeter around it just after 11 a.m. They were let in after a few minutes.
According to the story, reporters asked if the woman was “okay,” to which she replied: “No I’m not okay – no one is okay right now. I’m hurt for everyone who has been hurt. I’m sorry for all the people who are hurt and for all the people who lost their lives.”
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder of the brothers, was killed in a shootout early this morning just outside Boston after a massive manhunt. The search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was ongoing as of 11 a.m.. Of the younger brother, the woman simply said, “He’s an amazing child.” – Dean DeChiaro

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