Anna Roberts, wife of former Mayor David Roberts, passes away

After a long, brave battle with brain cancer, Anna Maria Roberts (nee LaMastra) – wife of former Mayor David Roberts — died on Thursday, surrounded by her family. Anna Roberts was 49 and is survived by David and their three children: David, Amanda, and Christopher. Anna and David, who raised their family in their Hudson Street home, would have celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in April.
Anna has served on the Hoboken Library Board of Trustees and as a member of the Mantoloking Yacht Club. She was also an active member of Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church.
Anna supported her husband for the many years of his career in Hoboken politics, including when he served as mayor from 2001 to 2009 and was a councilman for many years before that. In recent years, he has been relatively quiet in Hoboken politics, preferring to focus on personal matters.
One year ago, during Hurricane Sandy, the couple had to watch their beach home in Mantoloking get swallowed by the bay. The home, appearing to be adrift at sea, was featured in photographs in various media as an icon of the storm’s wrath.
“Through all of that she was strong,” said Hoboken City Clerk Jimmy Farina, a long time friend of the family, on Friday morning, “even though she was going through what she went through.”
Anna was an active member of Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in Hoboken.
“We were blessed to have Anna for the last 49 years,” Farina said. “She was a wonderful woman, very supportive of her children and husband, and a tremendous asset in terms of her community service. She fought to the end. I saw her a month ago and she always had a smile on her face. I didn’t think it was that bad because she was always smiling. She fought ’til the end and that’s going to make her family stronger. There wasn’t a minute of her illness that she didn’t care for her children and her family. No matter what her troubles were, every time you saw her, she asked, ‘How are you doing?’ I still can’t believe it. Dave and her family did everything possible to get her into remission. Sometimes you get a miracle. This was one of those times that they didn’t. It’s a terrible tragedy.”
Anna is also survived by her parents, Domenico and Antonetta LaMastra, and mother-in-law Ann Roberts. She is the sister of Carmela and husband Sam Mezzina, as well as Damiano LaMastra and his wife Dina, Giuseppe LaMastra and wife Nadia, and Margherita LaMastra. She is also survived by her brother-in-law, retired Hoboken Fire Capt. Charles Roberts, and her aunt, uncle, several nieces and nephews, and cousins.
Visitation will be Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 from 3 to 8 p.m. at Sts. Peter & Paul R.C. Church, 400 Hudson St. A Mass of the Christian Burial will be held at Sts. Peter & Paul R.C. Church on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 10 a.m.
Donations can be made in Anna’s honor to the American Cancer Society or the Saints Peter & Paul R.C. Church Legacy Fund.

Hoboken Councilman Bhalla says he will sue Mason after Election Day

Hoboken City Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla, who is up for reelection on Nov. 5, said in an email to supporters on Wednesday that he will file a lawsuit against 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason over what he called false and defamatory statements regarding his employment with the politically active law firm Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader.
“While I remain focused on this election, please rest assured that after the election is over, I intend to file a defamation lawsuit against Ms. Mason to protect my reputation as a proud member of the Hoboken community,” he wrote. “If what Ms. Mason says is the truth, she will have an opportunity to present that defense under oath in a court of law. I know she will fail completely.”
Bhalla is running for reelection on Nov. 5 on a ticket with Mayor Dawn Zimmer. Mason, who is supporting 4th Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti in the mayoral contest, is an opponent of Zimmer and Bhalla. In recent weeks, Mason has publicly questioned Bhalla’s ethics and the negotiations which led to his joining Florio Perrucci as a partner on Aug. 1.
Mason has asked whether Bhalla was negotiating to join the firm at the same time as he was voting on its contracts with the city. Bhalla has said that as soon as he started negotiations, this past June, he stopped voting on city contracts for the firm.
“These are no ordinary election year dirty political tricks,” Bhalla said in the email. “Ms. Mason’s defamatory conduct towards me has negatively impacted my reputation within the Hoboken community where I reside with my wife and two children, as well as my private employment.”
He said that he will wait until after Election Day to file the lawsuit, and that Mason has already been contacted by his attorney regarding the imminent suit.
On Wednesday afternoon, the councilwoman acknowledged Bhalla’s threats, and responded with a list of 20 questions that she said that she’d like Bhalla to answer under oath.
“I believe that if he truly has nothing to hide, there is no need to wait until after the election,” she said in a statement. “If he is as committed to the truth as I am, I am willing to immediately provide, at my own expense, a court reporter at the conference room of the W Hotel, or any other convenient location, so that he can answer [these questions] under oath.”
The questions range in topic and scope, and include specifics about the negotiations, but also loftier issues related to the controversy, including one regarding whether Bhalla believes the public has a right to know the details of his employment. She also asks whether he considered his voting for Florio Perrucci’s contracts in the past and subsequent partnership with the firm an “awfully big coincidence.”
“If Mr. Bhalla believes threats of frivolous litigation scare me, then he obviously hasn’t paid attention for the last decade,” Mason said. “If Mr. Bhalla and his political machine think I can be bullied out of standing up for the public, he is sadly mistaken.”
The questions over Bhalla’s employment, Mason said, were an effort to establish whether he had voted on contracts for Florio Perrucci while he was negotiating future employment with them.
According to the city clerk, in the first six months of 2013, Bhalla voted five times to award the firm around $42,000 in contracts. Records show that he abstained on claims of $14.80 on June 19 and $3,834.72 on July 10. After announcing his employment on Twitter and LinkedIn on Aug. 1, Bhalla abstained on an Aug. 7 vote for $51.48. Last week, Bhalla said that he had entered negotiations with the firm in mid-June, just before the June 19 council meeting when he began abstaining. He also said that he had not discussed the negotiations with Zimmer, his fellow council members or the city’s attorney because he had already decided that his abstentions were an appropriate course of action.
When asked whether she thought mid-June, prior to his abstentions, was a reasonable answer to her questions about the negotiations, Mason simply said that he should have been more forthcoming sooner.
“He should have made it known from the very beginning,” she said. “There’s an obligation to tell people why you’re abstaining. The council had a right to know.”
In response, Bhalla said that Mason “was interested only in manufacturing a contrived, politically-motivated smear” ahead of next Tuesday’s election.
“It’s election season,” he said. “Our opponents have little to no material with which to critique this administration. What is sad is that many of these attacks are knowingly false and defamatory. People are tired of politics.”
In his email, Bhalla included a link to a document in which he attempts to debunk several of the alleged lies that he said Mason has spread about him. The document is publicly available. – Dean DeChiaro

Menendez, Sires announce anti-tourism helicopter plan

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Albio Sires announced on Wednesday an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that will temporarily reduce the number of tourism helicopters permitted to fly up and down the Hudson County riverfront and the hours during which they are allowed to operate.
Flights will now be limited to one helicopter at a time, instead of the current standard of three at a time. Additionally, hours of operation will be restricted to Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Previously, flights had been allowed until 11 p.m.
Menendez and Sires have been calling for tourist helicopter restrictions to protect quality of life and safety in New Jersey communities along the Hudson River since the summertime. According to a press release from Menendez’s office, the FAA is set to investigate further, permanent measures that can be taken to curb the issue.
“I appreciate the FAA’s efforts in response to our concerns about tourist helicopter flights,” said Menendez. “But there is still more work to be done to ensure tourist helicopter flights doesn’t continue flying over New Jersey riverfront communities at unacceptable altitudes.”
Sires echoed Menendez’s statements, and said that he expects the FAA to take further steps. – Dean DeChiaro

American Legion to hold Sandy recovery fundraiser

Looking to raise funds to restore the historic American Legion Post 107, veterans are holding a cocktail party benefit on Nov. 3 at the Hoboken Elks Lodge from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The requested donation at the door is $25 and will include pasta, hors d’oeuvres, carving stations and a cash bar.
Established in 1919 after World War I, the post served as a home for Hoboken veterans returning from war, but suffered significant damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy last year when flood waters poured in.
John Carey said the post is trying to repair the damage, but will never be able to replace many of the World War I and World War II artifacts lost to the flood waters. This included banners and flags and a number of pictures from both wars.
Carey pointed out that Hoboken was the launch point for all European bound soldiers during World War I, recalling the speech General of the Armies of the United States John Joseph Pershing made on the dock telling the troops that they would either be home, hell or in Hoboken by Christmas.
Unfortunately, many did not make it home despite the war’s ending on Nov. 11, 1918.
The Legion Post, located at 308 Second St., became a historical repository for items that documented the war and those who served, most of which was lost when water came into the facility as a result of Sandy.
Tom Kennedy, credited with restoring the facility and its membership after many years of decline, died in July. He was a prominent spokesperson after Sandy in seeking funds to restore the facility.
Carey said the post will be renamed after Kennedy, an announcement that will be made during the cocktail party on Nov. 3.
Kennedy was former police officer, councilman and lifelong Hoboken resident. He retired from the Hoboken police in 1988 after serving 26 years. A former Marine, Kennedy was the commander Hoboken Post 107 of the American Legion and served on the Hudson County Board of Elections at the time of his death. Kennedy was a Councilman at Large from 1977 until 1985 under Steve Cappiello. He was the grand marshal in the 1968 Hoboken Memorial Day Parade and 1994 Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He also was a member of the Hoboken Elks.
Those who cannot attend the cocktail party but wish to contribute to the restoration can mail a check to American Legion Post 107, 308 Second St., Hoboken. Carey said would be the first in a series of fundraisers the post would likely need to do to raise the estimated $200,000 to rebuild the post. – Al Sullivan

Sandy stories at Reporter website

Did you miss last week’s Hurricane Sandy stories sent in by readers? Check them out in the Hoboken news section on the lower half of hudsonreporter.com.
Also, the Reporter inadvertently left out of the print edition this remembrance from Allison Singer, but just added it online:
“My most vivid memory of Sandy is walking down Hudson Street and seeing so many extension cords trailing out the front doors and windows of residents who were lucky enough to keep power. Some provided WiFi passwords, others provided coffee and snacks, still others just provided encouraging words and a place to sit – more helpful and important than they’ll ever know. It was the most amazing show of community I have ever seen. It made me proud to live in Hoboken.”

CarePoint offers six-week anti-arthritis exercise program

CarePoint Health Hoboken University Medical Center and the Arthritis Foundation will provide a six-week exercise program for people living with arthritis. Each hour-long exercise session provides participants with improved joint mobility, muscle strength, and endurance through various exercises lead by certified Arthritis Foundation Exercise Trainer, Kathy Geller. Additionally, participants also learned pain and stress management strategies, facts about arthritis, medications, and current treatments. Through this program, participants learned techniques on to how to stay active with arthritis by enabling them to improve their performance in daily activities.
The program takes place at CarePoint Health – Hoboken University Medical Center, Assumption Hall, 308 Willow Ave., Hoboken, throughout October from 2 to 3 p.m., and Nov. 5 from 2:45-3:45 p.m.
For more information, please contact CarePoint Health Public Relations Department at 201-418-2335.

Child advocate group holding informational session on Nov. 12

Are you interested in helping children in the foster care system? If so, Hudson County’s Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program is recruiting volunteers to advance the best interests of abused and neglected children.
An informational session, addressing the program and the role of its volunteers, will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 12, from 6 to 7 p.m. in Room 400 of the Hudson County Administration Building, 595 Newark Ave., Jersey City.
CASA works through trained community volunteers to ensure that needed services and assistance are made available to children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes. Its volunteers speak for children in court, serve as fact finders for judges, and safeguard children’s interests while they are in the foster care system.
Hudson County has nearly 700 children in foster care; most have been removed from their homes for abuse or neglect.
For more information, call (201) 795-9855, e-mail mgarcia@hudsoncountycasa.org or visit www.hudsoncountycasa.org.

‘Skinny Chef’ to discuss healthy Thanksgiving recipes at the Hudson School

Jennifer Iserloh, a classically trained chef and certified yoga teacher who promotes healthy living through a diet of nutritious yet easy-to-cook meals, will speak at the next Think Thursday event, part of a lecture series at The Hudson School. Her talk is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 21, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Iserloh, who is known as the “Skinny Chef,” will also present a Thanksgiving cooking demonstration using what she refers to as superfoods: pumpkin, sweet potato, and kale. She will share her tops health tips for getting the most nutrition in meals; the best ways to choose and cook superfoods; and why superfoods are a must for your diet.
During her presentation, the audience will also get a taste of her recommended and healthy Thanksgiving recipes, along with a take-home gift of a Thanksgiving day-recipe booklet.
Iserloh, a Hoboken resident, is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and the best-selling author of 50 Shades of Kale and Healthy Cheats. She has also generated thousands of articles, blog posts and recipes for publications such as SELF, Health Monitor, Prevention, In Style, People, First For Women, AOL/Huffington Post and Livestrong. She also regularly appears on Fox News, The Today Show and other TV network programs discussing nutrition, healthy eating, superfoods and related issues.
Earlier this year, Iserloh released her new line of superfood sauces designed to promote a healthy lifestyle and support her commitment to natural weight loss.
“I look forward to giving this talk and demonstration at The Hudson School just days before Thanksgiving,” said Iserloh. “I hope a lot of people will come and sample my superfood sauces. It should be a great and healthy evening and I invite all to come.”

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