Freeholders yank grant money from Loews
In a power struggle for control of the Historic Loews Theater in Jersey City, the Hudson County Freeholders voted on Thursday night to redirect grants to pay for a new park.
Seven of the nine freeholders voted to take away the money with Freeholder Gerald Balmir absent and Freeholder Bill O’Dea abstaining. O’Dea is a board member on the Friends of the Loews Theater, which currently holds the lease on the property.
The freeholders voted to redirect a large portion of the original $600,000 in grants awarded to Loews from the Open Space Trust Fund.
The grants were originally awarded to FOL in 2009, one of which was to install air-conditioning at the theater. But some of the money was redirected to help the theater meet Jersey City building and health codes.
The freeholders voted to honor Mayor Steven Fulop’s request to have the money used to help fund the creation of Berry Lane Park in Ward F instead.
Fulop previously tried to wrestle control of the theater away from the FOL, claiming the lease was invalid. But a court ruling earlier this year ruled in favor of the FOL. Fulop had hoped to turn over the theater to corporate management, allowing the theater to be renovated and operations conducted by a professional talent booking company.
City spokesman Ryan Jacobs said the city saw no point in investing this grant money into the theater when the city plans to spend millions to upgrade the property in the future.
“That makes no sense, said FOL’s director, Colin Egan. “This money was to be used to bring the building into compliance with the city’s code on a building the city owns. Any other property owner would be in jail, if they failed to do it.”
Fulop hires former Obama speech writer
Mayor Steven Fulop has hired a former speech writer for President Obama to serve as the city’s communications director.
Ryan Jacobs has been named director of communications and will oversee public and media relations for the Fulop Administration while Jennifer Morrill will remain as press secretary to assist Jacobs with the day-to-day operations.
“Over the past two years, Jersey City has become one of the most desirable places in the state – and even beyond it – to live, work, and do business,” said Mayor Fulop. “From paid-sick leave, to police reform, to our support for small business, we have become a model for other places to follow. And as our city grows – and becomes a leader in these ways – our need to communicate with our citizens and the press has never been more important.”
Fulop added, “Ryan is the person to help us do just that. He has a track record of success at the highest levels of government. He was one of the youngest lead speechwriters in the Obama Administration. He’s smart, a gifted communicator, and a native New Jerseyan. I’m excited to have him on our team.”
Jacobs was chief speechwriter at the U.S. Department of Transportation. He worked closely with Secretary Anthony Foxx, helping craft the administration’s message on a range of issues, from the Gateway Project underneath the Hudson River to the future of transportation and driverless cars. He also helped the secretary respond to a number of crises, like the crash of Amtrak Train 188 last May.
Before his time with Secretary Foxx, Jacobs worked at West Wing Writers, a speechwriting and strategic communications firm. His speeches were delivered by Fortune 500 CEOs, heads of non-profits, and the occasional rock star. In 2012, he served on the speechwriting team at the Democratic National Convention.
Jacobs grew up in Wyckoff and graduated from Ramapo High School. He attended Yale University, where he earned a degree in history.
“Mayor Fulop has assembled an extremely impressive team of public servants,” said Jacobs, “I’m very grateful to be working with them. I’m also pretty excited to be the mayor’s newest constituent.”
Jacobs began his employment with the city on Aug. 10 and will earn an annual salary of $110,000.
Jersey City pharmacist pleads guilty in drug theft
John Kakowski, 29, of Jersey City, a pharmacist working at two New Jersey hospitals, admitted in court on Aug. 13 he abused his position to tamper with and steal hundreds of vials of medication, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman has announced.
Kakowski pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court on charges of tampering with consumer products and obtaining controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge.
According to Fishman, Kakowski admitted that between 2013 and 2014 he tampered with and stole medications from one hospital by taking vials of Morphine Sulfate, Dilaudid and Fentanyl from the Pyxis machine, an automated medication dispensing system that he could access as a pharmacist. During that time, he also stole Morphine Sulfate from a second hospital by removing the vials from a cabinet that he had access to as a pharmacist. In addition, Kakawoski admitted using a needle to extract medication from the vials for his own use and then refilling them with saline solution.
Sheriff nabs suspects in multiple events
Hudson County Sheriff’s officers made a drug arrest when dealing with an accident situation on Aug. 10.
At approximately 10:22 p.m. Sheriff’s Officers noticed a white Yamaha motorcycle with no license plate traveling on Kennedy Boulevard near Lincoln Drive (Lincoln Park) in Jersey City. The officers activated their lights to stop the motorcycle when the rider sped up north on Kennedy Boulevard.
When the sheriff’s officers got to the intersection of Communipaw Avenue and RT-440, they noticed the motorcycle they were chasing had crashed into a Mercury Mountaineer SUV.
The officers immediately called for EMS and rendered first aid to the motorcycle rider. The rider, Wally Perdomo, 21, of Jersey City, had suffered severe injuries to his right leg and injuries to his face. Perdomo was transported to Jersey City Medical Center and has been charged with multiple motor vehicle violations, including eluding officers.
The driver of the Mercury was also cited for driving with a suspended license. The Sheriff’s Crash Investigation Unit is investigating the incident and believes that Perdomo may have driven the wrong way on RT-440.
Sheriff’s K9 Officers, assisting with traffic at the crash location, were on the street informing people stopped that they would be delayed due to the accident. When an Officer came to a Nissan Pathfinder, the driver rolled down the window and the odor of marijuana was immediately detected, according to the sheriff’s office.
The officer looked into the vehicle at the driver, Robert Garriga, age 37 of North Bergen. The officers said Garriga allegedly had his penis exposed, a bag containing white powder on his lap, and open alcohol containers in the vehicle.
The K9 narcotics sniffing Niko allegedly found suspected cocaine and marijuana in the car. Garriga was charged with possession of narcotics.
Port Authority bus terminal makes changes to unloading gates
Gate assignments for approximately 30 percent of weekday passengers at the Port Authority Bus Terminal will change effective Tuesday, Sept. 8 – the day after Labor Day – to help reduce crowding and improve the flow of buses throughout the busy facility during the afternoon and evening commute, Port Authority officials announced this week.
“By consolidating the operations of NJ TRANSIT and Coach USA into separate designated areas, we will build on the successes realized earlier this year in improving on-time performance and reliability during the afternoon rush hour,” said Diannae Ehler, general manager of the Lincoln Tunnel and Port Authority Bus Terminal. “This is an ambitious change that would not have been possible without the full cooperation of NJ TRANSIT, Coach USA, and our other carriers.”
The gate reassignment is part of the $90 million Quality of Commute program, which the Port Authority Board of Commissioners approved in 2014. Most notably, it follows on-time initiatives late last year that have helped reduce lines and crowding conditions, and improved bus flow during the afternoon rush hours. This in turn led to significant reductions in complaints about bus delays during the afternoon commute.
The gate reassignment will consolidate bus operations throughout the facility. Specifically, most NJ TRANSIT operations will be consolidated onto the bus terminal’s third floor, while Coach USA’s operations will be consolidated onto a “Coach USA Corridor” on the fourth floor. These changes will free the carriers from the traffic conflicts that can arise when multiple bus carriers, with separate dispatchers and controllers, move their fleets through common areas. The bus terminal also will assign five additional gates to NJ TRANSIT, in order to relieve congestion in gates that currently are over-utilized.
Commuters can learn whether their specific bus routes will be assigned to new gates, atwww.panynj.gov/PABTgates. The Port Authority also will display directional signs at strategic locations, and bus carriers at their gates to help direct commuters to their new gates.
To further inform commuters about the gate changes and receive their feedback, the Port Authority and its bus carriers, including NJ TRANSIT, have scheduled this quarter’s Commuter Chat for Tuesday, Aug. 18 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the second floor’s North Wing. Commuters are encouraged to stop by and speak with senior management about the recent changes, ask questions and provide feedback about additional ways to improve the bus terminal.
First Coptic Festival will start on Aug 21
St. Abanoub and St. Antonious Coptic Orthodox Church, made up of residents from the growing Egyptian Christian American community in Jersey City and Bayonne, will hold its first Coptic Festival from Aug. 21 to 23.
Father Antonious Talka said he hopes the festival will become an annual tradition, and said the church members are existed about sharing the Coptic (Egyptian) culture with the community.
“The first annual festival will showcase a variety of live performance including our own youth music band,” Talka said. “We will also feature a large assortment of traditional and modern influenced Egyptian food from grilled meats to baklava.”
Although the festival will highlight Egyptian culture, members of the non-Coptic community are encouraged to come.
Talka said there will be a number of youth activities, including a large obstacle course, dunk tank, joust area, bounce castle, bungee run, ring toss, hi-striker, shuffle board, stand-a-battle, face painting, sand art, photo booth and more.
The event will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 21, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Aug. 22 to 23.
St. Abanoub and St. Antonious Coptic Orthodox is located at1325 Kennedy Blvd., Bayonne, near the Jersey City border.
Two Hans Christian Anderson tales open next JCTC-KIDS season
Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) gives young audiences the royal treatment when JCTC-KIDS presents “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “The Snow Queen” in August.
JCTC-KIDS, the children’s arm of JCTC, provides professional theater and affordable art classes for younger children (from Pre-K to “tween” age). With the new season of Puppetworks, audiences get two immortal tales by Hans Christian Anderson for the price of one. Shows are on Sundays at 1 p.m., Aug. 16 through Dec. 1 at Merseles Studios, 339 Newark Ave., Jersey City 07302.
For tickets visit jctcenter.org, or go directly to Puppetworks.BrownPaperTickets.com.
The ‘One’ luxury residential tower is 55 percent occupied
One, Jersey City’s newest luxury residential tower, is more than 55 percent leased just one month after its grand opening. Located at 110 First St. in the heart of Jersey City’s burgeoning Powerhouse Arts District, the 36-story tower offers a mix of 439 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments.
“As anticipated, leasing at The One is progressing at a rapid pace and we fully expect this momentum to continue,” said Adrienne Albert, founder and CEO of The Marketing Directors. “Residents are drawn to the unique fusion of urban and luxury living that the property offers, as well as its embodiment of the artistic culture of its surrounding neighborhood.”
17th ‘Fiesta in America’ showcases Asian American products, services this weekend
Fiesta in America, the largest indoor gathering of Filipinos in the northeast, is coming to the Meadowlands Expo Center on Aug. 15 and 16. With the theme of “Filipinos Mean Business,” the two-day event aims to showcase Asian American products and services.
Part trade show and part entertainment event, the fiesta will showcase products that include apparel, jewelry, shoes, cosmetics, and textiles, as well as financial services and real estate. Free workshop will cater to small businesses and self-improvement.
“It is a conscious effort to portray the Filipino American market as an important source of high-income consumers for mainstream businesses that have significant stakes in ethnic marketing,” said Vice President for Marketing Len Manansala, who expects an audience of about 10,000 attendees.
Also featured will be a food court offering native cuisine, and concerts beginning at 5 p.m. each night. Filipino and U.S. musicians and dancers will perform, along with headlining Filipino actresses Vina Morales and Maxine Magalona, and television star Edgar Allan Guzman.
The event runs from noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15 and resumes at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning for Mass, ending at 9 p.m. Tickets on the day of the show are $25 per adult and $18 for students and seniors.